Thursday, March 30, 2006

The First Amendment according to Michael Bloomberg

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." B. Franklin (via

When I first heard the sounds bites of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's press conference regarding the 2 week suspension of Imam Umar Abdul-Jalil, I applauded the refusal to give into yet another chance to squash free speech. I'm sure Bloomberg knew that certain voices would loudly criticize him for not firing Abdul-Jalil outright. Oh so predictably, the NY Post ran a scathing editorial. I won't dignify it with any quotes here. I will say I always find it amusing when any newspaper or news organization, whose life blood is the freedoms that the first amendment guarantees, argues for limits on free speech. It's kind of like a coach arguing that the other team's air has too much oxygen, when they're competing in the same air.

In a speech last year UmarAbdul-Jalil, referred to "The Zionists of the media" and said "the greatest terrorists in the world occupy the White House." You'll notice these quotes aren't exactly 'hate speech', but they are critical of the President and the media .

On March, 14 Bloomberg said, "I know that this decision will not satisfy extremists on either side of the political spectrum... Some will demand he be fired and others would prefer no penalty at all." He also added, "As Americans, we should never pander to xenophobia, anti-intellectualism or convention. We must never be afraid of free speech or multiculturalism, the genesis of America's founding. And we must never use the war on terror, or political correctness, as the pretext for stifling political speech." When I heard these words, I felt proud. I wanted to go up to Mike on the 4/5 train and give him a hug. Then my mind wandered back a few years to Mayor Mike's republican National Convention, when protesters were being herded into "free speech zones" and being detained inside a chain link paddock on a sooty, motor oil covered parking lot for up to 24 hours. I've been there. It's nasty. Additionally, for the last few years the NYPD has been video taping and secretly monitoring many protests, usually posing as protestors. The list goes on. I suppose the next step for the NYPD, FBI, et. al. is instead of secretly compiling the lists of who says what and belongs to which organization, just coming out and demanding that these organizations submit lists of their members - with photos, of course. Yeah, that's a great idea. I bet the NY Post, would even come out with an editorial praising the idea and suggesting that these organizations members should be required to wear a little patch on their sleeves. You know, a cute little star or something like that.

In all these little ways, the "terrorists", or who I like to refer to as "the people who use terrorism as a weapon" are already winning. The people who use terrorism as a weapon have already had a lot of victories: the "Patriot" Act, Abu Ghraib, NSA wiretapping, Guantanamo "detainees", etc., etc. This is because the ultimate goal of terrorism is not necessarily to kill people, but to make people afraid. Because when people are afraid they will do almost anything. Actually, the "terrorists" must be happy, since for the last five years, the republican party has already been doing a great job of making everybody afraid, at least around election time. It's simple, they want their version of freedom and they're causing our government to take away our version of freedom to stop them.

Everbody fears the 'next attack' on American soil. I fear it for two reasons. I fear it, because I don't want anyone I know and love to die, though logically I know the chance of that is very slim. Literally, the chances of me winning the lottery in my lifetime are greater. What I fear more is how many more freedoms would be taken away with no public discussion, no referenda, no debate and no dissent tolerated. If you think that some of the "crazy" things I write here would never happen, just wait. Pick up "1984" and read it at bedtime. Try to convince yourself that it's only fiction.

Sleep well.

1 comment:

samh said...