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This Day in My History

George Washington's
Rules of Civility
and Decent Behaviour

15th:   Keep your nails clean and short, also your hands and teeth clean, yet without showing any great concern for them.

Yesterday's Entries

2000: Maybe it was the Ham
 She's Gone Global
2002:  It's Only Money--Right?
2003:  Disney Was Wrong


The Other End of the Leash
by Patricia McConnell


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The husky didn't want to come in, for some reason.

Sheila Video 1 ("See Sheila Run")
Sheila Video 2 ("Meet Barkley")
Sheila Video 3 ("Play time")



7 September 2004

There is a new TV ad, sponsored by the ACLU, which I’ve seen a few times around here lately. I sincerely hope that it’s running nation-wide.

In a series of quick cuts, men and women in a variety of settings express concern about sections of the Patriot Act that allow the government to spy on innocent Americans: “The government can search your house…without notifying us…treating us all like suspects.” Questioning parts of the Patriot Act, they said, “isn’t liberal or conservative…left or right…it’s American.”

I don’t know if it was Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson who said it (I’ve seen variations of it, one attributed to each):

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

-- Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Josiah Quincy, Sept. 11, 1773.

Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.

-- President Thomas Jefferson. 1743-1826

It has bothered me from the beginning that we as a nation were so willing to give up freedoms; that we were behaving like sheep being led to the slaughter. I’d listen to reporters, in the days when reporters still questioned such things, asking what people thought about the government’s ability to tap telephones without prior authorization or pick up people for questioning without real cause, or hold them without counsel, or any one of a number of freedoms that we’ve given up in the name of "patriotism," people would shrug their shoulders and say "well--if it’s going to keep us safer..."

At this time the terror level was changing every day. We’d have yellow alerts and orange alerts and we were all supposed to be on our guard for anything "unusual." What the hell did that mean? But because the level changed from day to day, we felt that the government knew what it was doing and so we gave up our freedoms in the name of Patriotism.

It is a fundamental right of every American that s/he is innocent until proven guilty and that s/he is granted the right to know the charges against him/her and to have legal counsel. Anyone who watches cop shoes on television can recite a suspect's Miranda rights. Where are the Miranda rights for those who have been detained for months...years...without knowing the charges against them, without contact with their families, and without legal counsel? We hear about cases all the time, now, of prisoners who are being held, who don’t know why they are being held, who have not been able to meet with counsel. People who were picked up for having the wrong complexion or wearing the wrong clothes, or for having relatives living in the wrong country.

Those who remember the days of Japanese internment have forgotten those black days in our country’s history--those who cannot remember the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them, and we seemed to be repeating that terrible mistake.

The Patriot Act says it right there in plain English: "Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and Americans from South Asia play a vital role in our Nation and are entitled to nothing less than the full rights of every American." But where are the full rights of these detainees to counsel?

I came across the case of Penny McClurg in a journal the other day. Ever suspicious of rumors which fly across the Internet, I checked a few hoax web sites and the case does not appear, so I am assuming it is legitimate.

You can read the full story for yourself, but Ms. McClurg, who came to this country from South Africa in 1986, at age 15, was summoned to a meeting with the Department of Homeland Security and subsequently detained for reasons which were not made clear to her. She left behind two children and lost a third she was carrying while in custody, when her request for medical assistance went unheeded.   She has been incarcerated since July 2004.

...to this day, no official has informed her as to what is happening with her or why she is being detained. No information has been provided by any officials regarding this matter.

The account I read was written by her fianc and may be exaggerated--I don’t know, but the thing that frightened me the most, perhaps more than all the frightening information contained in this story, is that there was a petition to sign, requesting "relief for Penny McClurg." My initial reaction was to sign and my second reaction was to be afraid to sign. Afraid I’d get on a Homeland Security list myself.

I have said time and time again--and I am hearing more people repeating this same sentiment--that living under the Bush administration makes me understand how Hitler came to power. How good people were afraid to say anything.

David said it better in his speech last week:

Today—I have moments of despair and resignation when I feel what the watchful citizens of Germany must have felt in 1932, as their government went insane, as their rights and freedoms were deliberately and methodically stripped away, as their leaders made "preemptive war." Like they must have asked, I ask: What is happening to my country?

Website of the Day

The ACLU's explanation about its ad.



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Spring is returning to Australia
This Wattle bush was photographed by Claire Amy Atkins



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