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Contact Your Local Thought Police
May 1, 2003
By Japhy Ryder

Yes, yes, yes. We should be concerned about the implications of the Patriot Act. We should be acutely concerned about the Bush Administration's seemingly unabated thirst for power and control. Yes, Ashcroft should be feared.

But these are the things that should be concerning us most about our eroding freedom of speech:

The conservatives are now in control of all three branches of the federal government. Talk radio passes for news, and the news no longer concerns itself with objectivity or presenting a balanced story.

This again should cause concern, but not as much as the everyday thought police throughout the country.

I'm talking about the local school that bans children from wearing a shirt that questions the President. I highly doubt there would've been much consternation if a child had worn a "Slick Willy" shirt.

Wearing a peace symbol is now considered traitorous. Believing in peace is now considered anti-American; worse, conveying those beliefs can get you into serious trouble.

We've so far only had a few unwarranted arrests for advocating peace, generally among protestors, where it's been well known that police will arrest a protestor for doing anything other than simply standing. But we are headed down the path where expressing a view, contrary to the party in power, might land you in prison. And there seems to be no outrage!

Kids are sent home from school for voicing their opinions. People are losing their jobs for questioning the Administration. Artists are receiving death threats from the rabid right-wingers for having the audacity to question whether Bush really has the best interests of the country in mind.

And there is no outrage.

Sure, there's outrage among the left. We're trying to tell people what's happening, but the Administration, along with getting the general population to go along with the Thought Police mentality, has convinced them that liberals are wackos, flitting along with our silly liberal ideas. Give the Bush team this, they are wonderful propagandists.

I don't want us to be right about this. I really don't. I will derive no satisfaction from telling them that we were right after the fact. But it is happening before our very eyes. There is less and less dissention against this Administration, and they couldn't be happier. Senator Kerry made a completely valid statement about regime change in America, Bush questioned his patriotism. A privileged military evader questioned the patriotism of a veteran. And got away with it! Kerry was forced to apologize to feed the salacious appetite of our increasingly right wing media and populace.

And this sort of thing is happening every single day in America. Most of the stories go unwritten, but rest assured they are happening. Living in the South (Jerry Falwell's Lynchburg, VA to be exact) I dare not mention my political views or thoughts of the Administration while at work. I understand the consequences that my doing so could bring about. Meanwhile down the hall from me another manager blasts Hannity in his office for all to hear.

Were I to hang a peace symbol in my office, I would probably be hauled into my boss' office to hear how important it is to support the troops.

There is a brainwashing going on right now. And it is reactionary, nationalistic, paranoid and frightening. It's being led by George W. Bush and a cadre of right wingers starving for power, money and complete control. And it seems way too familiar.

I hope that we aren't right about what comes next.

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