Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Another hatch on the police state's gun

Grover Norquist is going to have a hard time drowning the government in a bathtub if his buddy doesn't stop expanding the definition of illegal conduct in contravention of First Amendment protections. Bush yesterday signed into law a bill making anonymous "annoying" speech illegal on the internet. The provision was buried in legislation funding the DOJ and it's likely most of our lobbyist driven "well informed" legislators didn't even know what they were sigining off on. Here's the relevant portion via DeClan McCullagh.
"Whoever...utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person...who receives the communications...shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."
Kip Esquire says it doesn't apply to blogs and that we're being alarmists but with an administration that finds the rule of law quaint and unapplicable to themselves, it doesn't take a rocket scientist or a legal expert to envision ways this legislation could be misapplied to "annoying" dissenters.

Update: There a really eloquent anonymous comment on this post. I should give up writing and give the blog to this person.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

No people ever recognize their dictator in advance.

He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument of the "A Free America," "Service to the Lord," or some other useful, supercilious buzzwords.

You can depend on the fact that our Dictator is one of the boys, and he stands for everything traditionally American. And although nobody will ever say 'Heil' to him, nor call him 'Fuhrer' or 'Duce,' they will greet him with one great big, universal, democratic, sheeplike bleat of 'O.K., Chief! Fix it like you wanna, Chief! Oh Kaaaay!'

What's happening in America is the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government has to act on information which the people cannot understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it cannot be released because of national security.

This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, is taking place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real security purposes. And all the crises and safeguards (occasionally real safeguards, too) so preoccupy the people that they cannot not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most ever have occasion to develop. Each step is so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that, unless one is detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understands what the whole thing is in principle, what all these 'little measures' (that no 'reasonable, patriotic American' could resent) must some day lead to, one no more can see it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head. One day, the government can do anything (and does) that it sees necessary, law or no law.

One doesn't see exactly where or how to move. Each Neocon outrage, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a *little* worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in dissenting somehow. You don't want to act, or even to talk, alone; you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' Why not? -- Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Britain there will be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in the U.S., even in the largest cities, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, 'It's not so bad' or 'You're seeing things' or 'You're an alarmist.'

And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can't prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don't know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end?

As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does fascism. In both instances, there is a twilight. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air -- however slight -- or we all become unwitting victims of the darkness.

4:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Libby said...

Well said anon. I should give up writing and give this blog to you.

6:26:00 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

I concur, very well said anonymous. I posted something similar but different on my blog yesterday:

I recently read Ayn Rand's comment on what it was like to live through the Russian Revolution. She said the most horrible thing, to her, was how fast people accepted the unacceptable.

The Revolution came upon them quickly, but the events leading up to the Revolution crept in little by little.

6:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This train of thought brings to mind an analogy I've heard before:

If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling hot water it will sense the danger immediately and leap to safety; but if you place the frog in a pot of luke-warm water and slowly increase the temperature it won't realise the danger until it is too late.

Every flood begins with a few drops of water...

11:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Casey said...

Anon - chilling and articulate, thank you.

What you describe is also happening in another country, one of our allies - Israel. The ever worsening but gradual escalation of autocratic government action is evident in the Israeli government actions against the Palestians.

This I know because of my experiences living there (on both sides of the "green line") off and on since 2000. While one does not need to have lived there to know this, it helps because getting accurate info in the MSM is so difficult.

When I have spoken out publicly against Israel's actions (on the Det News Weblog) I have been called a "Jew hater" and anti-semetic.

You state that uncertainty is a major cause of hesitation to speak up. I would add that fear is just as powerful a deterent.

Speaking out against the disturbing actions of our government, particularly the executive branch, one risks being called unAmerican or unpatriotic, even traitor.

Being on the receiving end of name calling is no longer just an unpleasant experience. Now we know that our government, specifically our President, can spy on us and when discovered he hides behind the "security" excuse. (Incidentally the same thing Israeli government has done for years.)

Is this why you are Anon? Perhaps I should do the same.

10:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Llibby said...

This is what drives me crazy. By the time the Bush supporters realize they've been taken and we were right all along, it's likely to be too late. Small comfort.

11:38:00 AM  

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