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Screaming Out Loud

Resisting the McCain-Feingold speech police. Speaking nonsense. Stolen Munch. Schori visa canceled. Plus more.

8.25.04

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INDEPENDENTS' DAY
Re: George Neumayr's Gag Orders:

Thank God for the Swift Boat ads. Without this 527 we would have to rely on both political parties and the media for information on the events surrounding John Kerry. Bush and Kerry of course would not have brought it up. That would leave us with the media. Most of the media on this subject has followed the lead of the NYT and Washington Post. These two papers in turn have followed the lead of the latest Democratic talking points memo. These past few days we find that multiple eyewitness accounts of Kerry's actions in Vietnam aren't credible according to the media's high journalistic standards. Yet Democratic accusations that Bush is behind the Swift Boat ads are taken as fact because a donor to his campaign has also donated to that 527. It truly is a scary thought to think that soon most political dialogue might very well be left to the media and both major political parties.
-- Sean Conness
The Colony, Texas

This is a dreadful situation. The crazies now run the asylum. Or maybe Big Brother finally arrives? The Founding Fathers would be ashamed and furious. We all should be -- and we ought to take action.

This First Amendment gag rule, which some predicted McCain-Feingold would be, insults the memory of any soldier who gave his or her life, or was wounded, maybe crippled, for the Republic. They did so, so we could forfeit one of our most cherished freedoms? One that's envied the world round?

It's disturbing now to see the Bush and Kerry camps wanting to quench the outside-the-campaign ads. Kerry I understand; Bush, no.

But it's even more alarming and frightening to see the mainstream media support that. But, hey, what's to be expected from them these days?

Last Thursday, when the New York Times awoke from its slumber about the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth and their allegations against Sen. Kerry, it scorched alternate and free news outlets for even reporting the news. "The assault is gaining attention, with Internet and cable television zealots debating combat minutiae and even whether Mr. Kerry enacted wartime events with his political future in mind or held secret meetings with Communists."

We need more zealots, tens of millions of them, who'll demand our Constitution be liberated and given back to us. That is, if free speech and redress of grievances aren't further criminalized.

But even if they are, how can we allow more erosion of our rights without doing something?
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

The saddest aspect of all re: McCain-Feingold is its evidence of John McCain having sold his soul to...John McCain. In pandering to the benefit of the conventional media -- an entity whose utility is in a historic freefall -- McCain simply hoped to extend his visibility and cachet in a place where Liberals Rule. Without his canny ability to play opposites against each other as an "Independent" (i.e. "Sellout") Republican, McCain would scarcely receive even a Dennis Kucinich's worth of a mention anywhere in the press. One thinks that the saddest aspect of all this is the sense that somewhere in the night of his own personal Hell at the Hanoi Hilton, an extraordinary and courageous young man vowed never to be left powerless again. Never. No Matter What. Thus, as mindless and constitutionally destructive as McCain-Feingold may be, it is only symptomatic of the Tragedy of John McCain. For his world does not envision Mr. McCain, or Lt. McCain, or Alderman McCain, Mayor McCain, Senator McCain, President McCain, Dictator McCain, King McCain, Master of the Universe McCain or even McCain Almighty. It sees only McCAIN!!!!.
-- Gene Wright
Laguna Niguel, California

Much thanks for raising the First Amendment issue. Keep punching.

I see that President Bush has asked the Swifties to pull their ad. Their response should be to politely tell Bush to go straight to Hades, on First-Amendment grounds among others. It's not about Bush, it's about Kerry. If a tenth of what the Swifties are saying is true, we have a serious character issue (not a re-dredging of long-forgotten Vietnam as some have tried to dismiss it). If half of what they're saying is true, we've got a raving sociopath who wants to be president.

I'm not even a Bush fan, but Kerry terrifies me.
-- John Ortmann
Fort Collins, Colorado

People complain about the Patriot Act but they are missing the forest for the trees.

The entire Bill of Rights has been under attack for many years. The War on Drugs allows law enforcement to seize property without due process and in many states citizens are required to put up a bond before they are granted the opportunity to prove their innocence. All the different Wars on Crime are eroding our rights faster, more methodically and more permanently than any emergency war time suspension of civil liberties. Can anyone say eminent domain? Many states use this to steal private property and then give it or resell it to another private individual or company. And this is all in the name of exacting higher tax revenues.

The FEC is a joke. Campaign finance reform is a joke. I have absolutely no problem with any of the 527s or any other group putting out any ad of any kind however I believe that if any ad can be proved false jail time should be mandatory. We may have the right to free speech but no one has the right to maliciously slander and libel anyone no matter how much you dislike the object of your hatred. This is partially what makes civil society possible. Everyone should be allowed to participate in the debate but civil society does require rules that ensure honest debate.
-- RW

Good article by George Neumayr and quite true. This election has shown just how entrenched the politicos are in this country and how close we have come to losing our fundamental freedoms. Sad to say, G.W. Bush has shown himself to be not much better than the rest of the pack in this. Basically, the only thing Bush has going for his re-election right now is that he's better than Kerry. Free speech has been under attack for decades in this nation. It started with the 7 dirty words case and escalated to the point of restricting religious expression in the public, particularly the government school system. From there it went downhill. McCain-Feingold is merely the Coup-De-Grace on that. I mentioned the 7 dirty words case as a starting point because that is where things got turned upside down. Pornography and profanity are protected while prayer and piousness are not.…

Like I stated before, Bush, instead of attacking this assault on our freedoms, is going along with it also. We, the people, are left with no alternative this time around. Either we re-elect Bush and hope he smartens up a bit on this or we let Kerry win and face the worst disaster we, as a nation, have ever faced. Either way, it's not a pretty picture.
-- Pete Chagnon

It is outrageous that Republicans dare to impugn the military record of John "Do YOU Know Who I AM?" Kerry.

But please feel free to question the credibility of John O'Neill, and to mock George Bush's military record.

Michael Moore can make a movie. But John O'Neill should not be allowed to write a book.

Moore is a multi-millionaire, making millions from his film.

O'Neill might be a millionaire, but he's not profiting from his book, so this must be a hit piece springing from his vanity and anger.

O'Neill is doing Bush's dirty work. Michael Moore is exercising his First Amendment rights.

Moore gets a skybox in Boston. Will O'Neill be in New York?

John Kerry has shrapnel in his ass, but he's never set off a metal detector in an airport. Oh, I forgot, John DYKWIM Kerry, doesn't fly commercial.
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

SPEAKING OF TRUTH
Re: Mark Goldblatt's Malaprop Hypocrisy:

Mark Goldblatt writes, "The trouble is, Sojourner Truth never escaped her bondage...."

According to Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Sojourner Truth, the Libyan Sibyl" (Atlantic Monthly, April 1863), Mrs. Stowe heard Mrs. Truth preach a sermon entitled "How I Found Jesus" in which she prays to God:

"'Ef you'll help me to git away from my massa an' missis, I'll agree to be good; but ef you don't help me, I really don't think I can be. Now,' says I, 'I want to git away; but the trouble's jest here: ef I try to git away in the night, I can't see; an' ef I try to git away in the daytime, they'll see me, an' be after me.'

"Then the Lord said to me, 'Git up two or three hours afore daylight, an' start off.'

"An' says I, 'Thank 'ee, Lord! that's a good thought.'

"So up I got, about three o'clock in the mornin', an' I started an' travelled pretty fast, till, when the sun rose, I was clear away from our place an' our folks, an' out o' sight...."

Looks like Stowe claimed that Truth claimed to have escaped bondage. Of course, there is no reference to her ever having been a conductor on the Underground Railroad, so Senator Clinton was probably, as Mr. Goldblatt writes, confusing her with Harriet Tubman.
-- Mark LaRochelle
Managing Editor
National Journalism Center
Herndon, Virginia

I read Mark Goldblatt's column with a certain amount of amusement, but also with a certain amount of resignation. I knew what he was going to say before I got past the third paragraph because it was exactly what I was thinking.

We Southerners have long known that many outside the South view us as "dumb" merely because we speak slowly, pronounce some words differently, and are generally courteous to others. It's just something that we have come to accept and have to tolerate, even with the condescension that is sometimes present.

Even though Bostonians and New Englanders mispronounce many words (or at least say them differently than their spelling would indicate ... e.g., "Cuber" for "Cuba"), the general conception seems to be one of acceptability and something that indicates sophisticated speech. While I feel certain that Kennedy's gaff mentioned by Goldblatt was merely a verbal typo, his general linguistic expertise is no better than that of our down-home, good ole boy, crooked-grinning, drawling President.
-- Gary Johnson
Madison, Alabama

I recall that, during a televised senatorial debate between Senator Kennedy and future governor Mitt Romney, the senator referred to college students who were "totally emerged (sic) in debt."
-- Mike Haire
Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

NOT WORTH IT
Re: Reid Collins' Stolen Scream:

Hilarious piece. Though I must confess to liking "The Scream," I agree with the notion of devaluing it. Let's continue the process with the overpriced U.S. professional sports and entertainment personalities.
-- Jenny Woodward

I can verify that the Munch Scream painting is tripe. I earned an M.F.A. in painting and have been ignored ever since, so I qualify as an obscure (and getting more obscure) painter. No serious painter pays any attention to The Scream.

The Scream is one of those paintings that Art Historians value for its place in the Hip Hop narrative of early 20th century styles. This Slam of styles, one right after the other is what gives meaning and value to a painting for an Art Historian. What gives value to a painting for a painter is that it is a good painting.

But it is the Art Historians who assign the dollar value of a work of art. And Rich Know Nothings follow the Art Historical dollar value just like they are buying real estate or stock.

It is enough to make one Scream.
-- Darrell Judd

HIS HONOR
Re: Paul Beston's Radical National Convention:

Has everyone forgotten that Bloomberg is a lifelong Democrat? His current party affiliation is a flag of convenience, nothing more. His sympathies lie elsewhere.
-- Jon Brenneman

END OF THE LINE
Re: Kurt Schori's letter ("My Turn") in Reader Mail's The Rest of the Schori:

"Dropping nuclear warheads to erase entire cities and their civilians in Japan isn't trivial either (obviously your generals wanted to prove they were capable of genocide and didn't care to find less crowded military targets)."

What a smug, self-serving .... It must be nice to sit in judgment of acts he knows nothing about. My father was to be in the invasion of the Japanese home islands and -- gasp! -- he thought dropping the bombs shortened the war and saved millions of lives, both Japanese and American. Your favorite Swiss probably learned about WWII from a high school textbook.

Maybe someday, when tiny neutral, smug and self-satisfied Switzerland is attacked it might just have to make some decisions that might just save it -- and be criticized for it by other smug and self-satisfied small insignificant countries.

My guess is that your favorite Swiss wasn't around for WWII and if he was, he was scared out of his wits that Hitler might want a place on Lake Geneva.

His smugness is astounding. Were we to criticize his country, we'd have another rant excoriating the smug USA for daring to criticize his beloved Switzerland.

I could go on for hours.
-- Pete Brittain
Sandpoint, Idaho

What you have yet to understand, Mr. Schori, is that we, Americans, don't give a damn what you think! You say you like Americans but your disdain bleeds through every line of text you painstakingly scribed. Yes, we dared to drop a nuclear bomb, and it was devastating and tragic, but necessary. And it is that specifically that makes us Americans -- action. But again, in case you missed it, WE DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK!!!!!
-- Peter Amato
Palm Harbor, Florida
P.S. I got an "A" in logic.

Mr. Schuri just won't let it go. I waded through his polemic and found almost nothing that was factual. I did however agree with his assessment of CNN as being the "world's most subtly camouflaged (French word) propaganda network." Well, maybe except for Al Jazeera and the NYT.…
-- J. McDonald Reno

I'm thinking Swiss Guy is maybe 12-16 years old, quite precocious, and a bit irritable because the school term is starting soon.

Once he's wrestling with his Cultural Anthropology and Gender Studies classes, he won't have time for us any longer, more's the pity.
-- Paul Kotik
Plantation, Florida

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