Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

America is not the "land of the free."

   A phrase can be used by political cheerleaders. We are "The Land of the Free"! Alternate that with a chant of "U--S--A!" and see how many people stand up to question the validity of the former.

   1) Prisons. We have 25% of the world's inmate population, but only five percent of the World's total population. The War on Drugs---a "war" that has cost tens of billions of dollars, ruined many lives with felony convictions, and resulted in a loss on that weird battlefield---has engorged our correctional facilities. It makes no sense that a person could go to jail if she or she ingests---by brownie or smoke--- a plant that has evolved over these many millennia and exists as a matter of nature and appears to be beneficial to humans.

   2) Illegal searches and seizures. In the second Harold & Kumar movie (the latter character played by an actor who later worked as a member of the Obama administration, so he has to have his finger on the pulse of things), a Federal agent wipes his ass with a copy of the Fifth Amendment. Fourth Amendment, Fifth---police stops, searches, all those things, when "unreasonable," are matters from which we are supposed to be protected. If our rights were not sufficiently eroded, along came the Patriot Act---now there's a good Orwellian title for a law---and poured water down the slope to take away most of what remained.

   3) Free speech and press. I am on the internet. Recent legislation passed by Congress means the government can track what I write. The government can look at my e-mails. It used to be that probable cause was required to monitor such things. Free speech and free press are nice and dandy in good times. When the powers of government are threatened, not so much. I will go back only a hundred years. I could go further. During World War One, people were imprisoned for their protest of the draft. In the 1960s, when Paris was rocked by student protests and this country seemed ready to follow suit, people were prosecuted for the exercise of free speech and assembly. Dellinger and Others v. United States---a/k/a the Chicago Eight or seven (depending upon whether Bobby Seale's case had been severed)---involved people charged with felony offenses for their plan to demonstrate at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Now there are demonstration areas, cordoned off and a nice distance from national political party convention sites---where people can exercise a meaningless right to express themselves.

   I could go on---and will on today's Show.  Our guest panelists will include Indianapolis criminal defense attorney Ginny Maxwell and Indiana Libertarian Party official James Nease. We stream "live" at 11.

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