Editor: Clinton Fein


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Monday, December 21, 2009

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Condemn No Evil

The latest issue of Index on Censorship magazine includes an interview with Jytte Klausen about her new book on the Danish cartoons crisis and why Yale University Press chose to publish it without any illustrations. Index on Censorship positions itself as Britain's "leading organisation promoting free expression."

With more than a touch of irony, Index on Censorship also elected to publish the interview without including the cartoons, instead publishing the board's decision not to publish the cartoons, and the sole but vigorous dissent of a board member, Kenan Malik.

Islamic scholar Reza Aslan, describing Yale’s original decision as “idiotic”, pointed
out that he has “written and lectured extensively about the incident and shown
the cartoons without any negative reaction”. And, as Jo Glanville, editor of
Index on Censorship, observed in an article in the Guardian earlier this year
critical of Random House, pre-emptive censorship often creates a
“self-fulfilling prophecy”. In assuming that an “offensive” work will invite
violence one both entrenches the idea that the work is offensive and helps
create a culture that makes violence more likely.

Back in February 2006, I made the decision, in my capcity as editor and publisher of, to publish all of the Danish cartoons.

Along with the following explanation

"The following 12 images were published in Denmark's Jyllands Posten newspaper, which
sparked the furor among Muslims globally. The reason they are being displayed
here is not to provoke, despite this site's name, but to allow our users to make
an informed evaluation themselves. For the same reasons, we published Nick
Berg's beheading and James Kirkup's poem. After two federal court cases, one
before the United States Supreme Court,’s hard fought commitment to
free speech – not an automatic guarantee, even in the West -- cost a lot in
terms of time, determination and resources.

We are not oblivious to the fact that religious and cultural differences are far more
complex than anything we could articulate in this small space, but our
fundamental belief is this. Freedom of expression is not reserved for those
wishing to express their religious beliefs, but also those who question

Author of The Jewel of Medina, Sherry Jones' response to Index on Censorship's decision on Redroom:
No Laughing Matter: Index on Censorship Censors Itself

Index of Censorship magazine: See No Evil

Index on Censorship board member, Kenan Malik's, dissent.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Ralph Lauren: Impossibly Skinny, Impossibly Fashionable

Ralph Lauren: Impossibly Fashionable

Yep. Believe it or not, the Ralph Lauren model above has not been manipulated. At least not by me. By Ralph's fashion empire. He placed her in a slightly different context however. Note the body types though. Spot any differences?

I cannot believe in 2009 we still have to vomit our guts out, or slice off half our abdomens to fit into crappy clothes designed for holocaust victims. It's not just Ralph Lauren. The entire fashion industry seems to be fixated on perpetuating this bullshit. I hope Ralph Lauren comes after me. I'll have to gorge on laxatives to fit into one of his outfits to wear to court. Below would constitute my response: deals with a subjects of intense public concern. These subjects have been and are the subject of acute debate in the media. constitutes both a reference work and a visual commentary that is relevant and important to the debate. It is speech entitled to the greatest and strictest protection under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

As far as their trademark is concerned, I acknowledge those rights. However, protection for trademark rights under the Lanham Act is limited to protection against another's use of a designation to identify its business or in marketing its
goods or services in a way that causes a likelihood of confusion. Such trademark
rights do not override First Amendment rights.

Eat it Ralph. Or at least have your models eat it.

For more context:

Last month, Xeni blogged about the photoshop disaster that is this Ralph Lauren advertisement, in which a model's proportions appear to have been altered to give her an impossibly skinny body ("Dude, her head's bigger than her pelvis"). Naturally, Xeni reproduced the ad in question. This is classic fair use: a reproduction "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting," etc.

However, Ralph Lauren's marketing arm and its law firm don't see it that way. According to them, this is an "infringing image," and they thoughtfully took the time to send a DMCA takedown notice to our awesome ISP, Canada's Priority Colo. One of the things that makes Priority Colo so awesome is that they don't automatically act on DMCA takedowns. Instead, they pass them on to us and we talk about whether they pass the giggle-test.

This one doesn't.

Cory Doctorow, The criticism that Ralph Lauren doesn't want you to see!,, Octber 6, 2009

Dude, her head's bigger than her pelvis.

Xeni Jardin, Ralph Lauren opens new outlet store in the Uncanny Valley,, September 29, 2009

When Ralph Lauren tried to remove a creepily retouched advertisement from the net, was it embarrassed by graphic design woes, or by a cutting hatchet job by an unknown prankster?

It's obvious by now that Ralph Lauren *hates* being mocked. They hate being mocked so much that they ordered their attack lawyers to send letters trying to fool ISPs into pulling an "infringing" advertisement featuring a ridiculously skinny model (in fact, our posting of the image was fair use, not infringement; Ralph Lauren's takedown notices are bogus and they should know better).

It's also obvious that the photo of Filippa Hamilton used in the Ralph Lauren advertisement was digitally manipulated. But we still have three questions: 1) who, exactly, gave Ms. Hamilton the Olive Oyl physique? 2) If the photo was manipulated after it appeared in the advertisement, why didn't Ralph Lauren's law firm make mention of that in their silly DMCA takedown notice? and 3) Where's the original advertisement?

Mark Frauenfelder, Searching for the skinny on Ralph Lauren ad,, October 8, 2009

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Anonymity: Social responsibility, civility...or fear?

An article in the New York Times, China Web Sites Seeking Users’ Names, reveals a new intrusion by Chinese authorities. This argument against anonymity has been made here in the United States as well. Recently Google revealed the name of a formerly anonymous blogger who had dared to call former model, Liskula Cohen, a skanky ho. The outed blogger, Rosemary Port, has threatended to file a $15 million lawsuit against Google. While most attorneys think she stands little chance of winning, most of the coverage I read appeared largely unsympathetic to Port's privacy claims. But back to China...

... in early August, without notification of a change, news portals like
Sina, Netease, Sohu, and scores of other sites began asking unregistered users
to sign in under their real names and identification numbers, said top editors
at two of the major portals affected. A Sina staff member also confirmed the

The editors said the sites were putting into effect a
confidential directive issued in late July by the State Council Information
Office, one of the main government bodies responsible for supervising the
Internet in China.

The new step is not foolproof, the editors
acknowledged. It was possible for a reporter to register successfully on several
major sites under falsified names and ID and cellphone numbers.

Does government regulation represent an incursion on free speech and individual
privacy, or are we truly unable to manage this stuff ourselves

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Cry My Diluted Swastika

Clinton Fein: Cry My Diluted Swastika, August 2009

As the rhetoric heats over healthcare reform, the swastika has taken center stage. The problem is that no one knows whether the once dreaded symbol is being used to identify the target or the perpetrator. And therein lies the danger.

We live in toxic times.

The increasing displays of vitriolic calls to violence, fueled by frothy-mouthed commentators like Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, Michelle Malkin and Rush Limbaugh, and condoned – if not exacerbated – by cowardly elected officials are menacing and troubling.

The tone of discourse that America saw during the Presidential election, unbridled anger and blatant racism stirred by politicians like Sarah Palin was finally overshadowed by the media’s shift in focus once Barack Obama won the election.

As the world rejoiced in a President with a beautiful, intelligent wife, adorable young daughters and the ability to string a sentence together without sounding like a village idiot, the racists and the haters stewed and simmered. The seeming dissipation did not last long however, despite the media’s love fest with Obama, and although critics on the right loudly condemned Obama’s economic stimulus package before the ink had even dried, they strained credibility, covered only by Fox News and right wing blogs.

On April 7, 2009, a report released by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” was greeted with outrage by Republicans and naturally right wing extremists, who used it as a tool to warn against the President’s nefarious agenda to curtail both the First and Second Amendments.

The report included a caveat that “threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts,” although the election of the first black President, a faltering economy and “the possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”

The stated goal of the report – to “effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States” -- was irrelevant. From Joe Scarborough on MSNBC to the obvious suspects on Fox News and right wing blogs, the report was roundly criticized as nothing more than a slanderous attack against anyone opposed to Obama’s liberal, socialist agenda.

On June 10, 2009, 88-year-old white supremacist and vocal Holocaust denier, James von Brunn shot and killed Stephen T. Johns, a guard at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. Racist and anti-Semitic screeds were found in his car parked outside the museum. According to a court affidavit, a notebook was found with a handwritten note reading, "You want my weapons — this is how you'll get them. The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews."

On May 31, 2009, Dr. George Tiller was assassinated as he attended a Sunday church service in Wichita, Kansas. Frequently targeted by extremists for willingness to perform late-term abortions, Dr. Tiller was gunned down by Scott Roeder, who has since become a darling of the radical and ironically termed “pro-lifers.” Jail visits have included prominent leaders of the anti-abortion movement, such as the Army of God, a fringe hate group that unapologetically and openly glorifies murder and violence against physicians, women and clinics in their purported defense of the unborn. And, of course, homosexuals.

Obama’s healthcare plan was the perfect catalyst to rile up anyone ideologically opposed to his policies, notably bitter McCain/Palin supporters – the same ones who were chanting “kill him, kill him” at pre-election rallies. Particularly after the fringe “Birthers” movement headed by Orly Taitz and Alan Keyes challenging Obama’s citizenship gained widespread support following support by CNN’s Lou Dobbs, was widely discredited after offering an easily refutable fake Kenyan birth certificate as evidence.

Astroturfing campaigns – namely well funded campaigns by industry lobbyists to appear as if they are grassroots efforts -- have turned town hall meetings into increasingly high-pitched battlegrounds. Egged on by groups with ties to insurance industry lobbyists, the “disruption” of town hall meetings continues to get more explosive by the day.

The strategy has been not to argue any counterpoint, but rather to drown out any other expression at all, and to ironically dismiss any criticism other than to bolster arguments that their First Amendment protections are being eroded. Fear mongers continue to propagate lies designed to play on the fears of those already scared, and who have yet to reconcile that a black man was elected President of the United Sates. Their America!

According to ABC News, the Secret Service has launched an investigation of a Maryland man who held a sign reading "Death to Obama" and "Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids" outside a town hall meeting this week.

The batty, barely coherent former half-term governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, who excoriated late night TV host, David Letterman, for making a joke about her daughter being “knocked up,” (even though one of her daughters had indeed been), and daring to shine a public spotlight on her children, took to Facebook to attack Obama’s “death panels” that she irresponsibly and inaccurately alleged would kill her parents and child with Down Syndrome, using her defenseless child as nothing more than a political prop to foment fear, hatred and mistrust.

On Fox News, Glenn Beck claimed President Obama harbored a "deep-seated hatred of white people" and accused him of being "racist." Only after he simulated poisoning Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, did advertisers begin bolting in droves; while Beck continues to spew his Rupert Murdoch funded hatred. Apparently UPS, HSBC, Visa, Pearle Vision and Broadview Home Security are still willing to affiliate themselves with this whack job. Visa, it’s everywhere you don’t want to be.

As the rhetoric heats, the swastika has taken center stage. The problem is that no one knows whether the once dreaded symbol is being used to identify the target or the perpetrator.

An astonishing editorial on healthcare reform in the Washington Times, laced with Nazi imagery, titled “No 'final solution,' but a way forward,” saw fit to inform readers of Nazi Germany’s Aktion T4 program in which “children and adults with disabilities, and anyone anywhere in the Third Reich was subject to execution who was blind, deaf, senile, retarded, or had any significant neurological condition, encephalitis, epilepsy, muscular spasticity or paralysis.”

Demonstrators both inside and outside town hall meetings hold up signs depicting Obama as Hitler, and his attempts to reform healthcare as a giant step in his radical socialist, communist fascist agenda, seemingly unaware of the inherent differences among socialism, communism and fascism.

On August 5, 2009, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi suggested the opponents at town hall meetings were there as a result of astroturfing. “They’re carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on healthcare." Brian Baird , a Washington Democrat who has received death threats, later apologized for accusing health care opponents at town halls of a “lynch mob mentality” and their “close to Brownshirt tactics.”

The same week, radio-host Rush Limbaugh, told his listeners: “Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate." He also stated; “"There are far more similarities between Nancy Pelosi and Adolf Hitler than between these people showing up at town halls to protest a Hitler-like policy."

Limbaugh told Washington Examiner's Byron York, “I've been listening to the left compare George W. Bush to Hitler for eight years. I've been listening to Democrats and the left compare conservatism to Nazis my whole career. This time I responded. In kind, by comparing the radical left policies of the Nazis to today's radical left leadership of the Democrat (sic) Party.”

Limbaugh’s comment is possibly the only intelligent remark he’s made over this whole fracas. That the left likened George Bush, and his policies, to Hitler is true. As an artist, I personally made frequent references to similarities to policies of the Bush administration and those of the Nazi Party.

The fundamental difference is that the left’s opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the constitutional desecration wrought by the Patriot Act, eavesdropping and spying outside the purview of FICA courts, black sites conducting torture on foreign soil, the politicization of the Department of Justice, extraordinary rendition and a host of other flagrant violations of the constitution were not masking a real and dangerous racism. And comparing those to Nazi regime tactics is not that difficult. Indeed, it may alienate some, or leave little room for meaningful debate or for others, trivialize the Nazi’s murderous rampage.

The coverage on the left by the likes of Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, point to the Nazi rhetoric as a disturbing trend in a rise of hate speech. Seeking to criticize Obama as a Nazi, whether through imagery or rhetoric, is speech firmly protected by the First Amendment. Nazi comparisons, not matter how distasteful to some, are not the same as inciting people to violence, expression that the First Amendment does not protect.

Protestors at town hall meetings, like William Kostric, carrying signs with the same quote that Timothy McVeigh had on his T-shirt when arrested, packing unconcealed 9-mm Smith and Wesson handguns (actions protected by both the First and Second amendments respectively), are a lot more alarming than those hurling Nazi accusations, to be sure, but are still protected. And, more so than under the previous administration. As USA Today reported in 2006, “months before the 2004 election, dozens of people across the nation were banished from or arrested at Bush political rallies, some for heckling the president, others simply for holding signs or wearing clothing that expressed opposition to the war and administration policies.”

During the Presidential campaign, a man with a Star of David atop his head, admitting he doesn't want a black man as president hanged an Obama effigy in his front yard. An act mimicked by an unidentified protester at an anti-Obama healthcare rally in Salisbury, Maryland, where freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil was hung in effigy, the protestor smilingly posing with his handiwork, reminiscent of photographs of lynchings from the South, where such disturbing imagery was used to send postcards.

A four-foot wide swastika painted over the sign at congressman, David Scott's Smyrna, Georgia office stood out from some of the hyperbolic signage at town hall meetings. A "Blue Dog" Democrat, David Scott is black, and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Unlike Nazi references related to Obama or Pelosi, the painting of a swastika on the premises of a black man has that unmistakable message that crosses that First Amendment line. As unmistakable as a fiery cross.

For the right wing extremists, neo-Nazi’s, resurgent Ku Klux Klan members and others harboring racist sentiments, comparing Obama to Hitler is blasphemous. Imagery of Obama as a Nazi must irk neo-Nazis and white supremacists as much as it did Hitler when Leni Riefenstahl’s cameras captured the beauty and grace of athlete Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

It’s not the people holding signs comparing Obama to Hitler that America needs to be worried about. Fueled and fed by commentators, politicians and the media, it’s the ones whose racist hatred is being masked by more sinister, less obvious expression. Like heathcare.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Fair Use and Copyright

"Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University provides this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms."

For more information:

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

American Liberal Liberties Union

In an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, The American Liberal Liberties Union, Wendy Kaminer takes the ACLU to task for trending towards what she sees as a selective approach to free speech.

This is not the same organization that once took pride in its costly, principled decision to defend the rights of neo-Nazis to march in a community of Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Ill. Of course the ACLU hasn't definitively abandoned its defense of speech: Large, national organizations change incrementally. But people should no longer depend on the ACLU to defend what they preach (especially at a cost), if it disapproves of what they practice.

In June 1998, my attorneys filed a request to allow my former company, ApolloMedia, to submit an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court of California in a First Amendment case, Oscar Aguilar et al. vs. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc., et al., that was being observed nationwide as a harbinger of speech in the American workplace. ApolloMedia's amicus marked the first time that Supreme Court determinations pertaining to the Internet were being applied to speech in the workplace, following the Court of Appeal's instruction to the government to create a list of "proposed epithets" or what we termed "Government-Forbidden Words."

ApolloMedia opposed the position taken by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in this case. The ACLU had filed a brief in support of the plaintiffs alleging that inappropriate workplace speech created a hostile work environment. An appellate court required the trial court to propose a list of "proposed epithets" or "Government-Forbidden Words" to be enjoined from the workplace.

As I stated in a media release back in 1998:

We respectfully disagree with the ACLU on this particular issue. We are not implying that inappropriate or racist speech be an acceptable workplace protocol, or encouraging its use, but the courts should not confuse pure speech with conduct, nor allow government to determine which words may or may not be uttered, especially without any regard for context or occasion.

One of my attorneys, William Bennett Turner clarified the distinction between recourse available to victims of verbal abuse versus a prior restraint enacted by the court itself:

Making certain kinds of workplace speech illegal is a difficult issue. The main problem with the lower court's ruling in this case is not whether the victim of verbal abuse can sue for damages, but whether the government -- the court -- can issue orders prohibiting certain disfavored words from being said at all, regardless of the context in which they're said.

While we had taken a position that opposed the ACLU, it's worth noting that a year earlier, in 1997, in addition to filing a lawsuit against Attorney General Janet Reno (ApolloMedia v. Reno) challenging a provision of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) which was ultimately heard by the United States Supreme Court, we had also filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the ACLU in another CDA challenge before the Supreme Court, Reno v. ACLU.

So although I generally believe the ACLU to be well intended, and have demonstrated my support by filing court documents supporting their position, their tendency to allow political correctness to muddy their free speech purity, as Kaminer refers to in her editorial, is not all that new a phenomenon.

Declan McCullagh, the CNet journalist who also happened to be one of the plaintiffs in the 1996 CDA case, ACLU v. Reno, made the same point on his Politech website:

It's true that ACLU litigators have done terrific work on free speech cases before, and will continue to do so. It has represented me as a plaintiff in the 1996 CDA case, for which I will always be grateful, and has devoted countless resources to COPA as well. The organization boasts the most principled and ardent First Amendment lobbyists in Washington, who are willing to take controversial stands on things like outlawing morphed child porn (a stand later vindicated by the Supreme Court).

But those attorneys and lobbyists ultimately report to a national board that seems to be growing more politically correct by the day. (Wendy was a dissident board member; I'm not sure if she's still on the board.)

This is not exactly a new phenomenon. Liberals and progressives have long been split between their totalitarian-minded leftist wing that loves to enforce political correctness through "hate speech" laws and campus speech codes -- and those who recognize the social and political dangers inherent in banning speech that someone dislikes, and believe the answer to objectionable speech is more speech.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

The Right of Peaceful Assembly. Gone.

By Nezua Limón Xolagrafik-Jonez
May 3, 2007

THERE IS NO RIGHT TO PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY IN AMERICA. There were signs earlier, it's true. But now it can be said to be official. File this along with what you read on blogs about habeas corpus and wiretapping, this latest display of contempt for our rights: here is a clear example of excessive use of police force, of tyranny by weaponry, of unwarranted police aggression, assault and battery—on women, children, and citizens alike. The police issue their typical statements about investigations and being upset, but give it a month (when the results of thier "internal report" is due and we've seen how these turn out time and time again) and it doesn't matter anyway. They have done what they wanted, made their mark, instilled fear. And despite what they say, they didn't do this because some people stepped off the sidewalk, bullshit. We know why the cops were there and in such gear, and with such attitudes and agendas. The government fears the numbers they saw last year on 2006. In 2006 we actually showed, lived out, demonstrated the Power of the People, and it scared the living shit out of our keepers. Because America is only about the Power of the People in word. That's advertising to keep us defending our jailers, paying our taxes, and joining the grinder military. America is really about the Power of the Few. And the Power of the Gun. And the Power of the Dollar. And the Power of the Lie.

So this year not only did the press keep very quiet about the May Day marches (as if they wouldn't be important to report on in context of all the ICE raids since, if nothing else!), but the city of LA—a city infamous for their brutal and lawless police—sent out their goons in riot gear to chase Americans out of a public park and fire weapons at them, disregarding the children, of all things.

I was over on the Southern side of Macarthur park and I saw the police move in on the park, shooting non lethal weaponry, tear gas guns openly into a crowd of women and children, unarmed women and children, unarmed men...this was a peaceful demonstration, the police showed up here and turned it into a violent demonstration.

—L.A. man at MacArthur park [YouTube vid below]

We got a right to be here. Fuck this running shit! This is how they got us all scared. Nobody wants to stand their fucking ground.

—L.A. Woman at MacArthur park [YouTube vid below]

I know what these cops do. I've seen it. They flood the area with hostile, armed men looking for a fight. Ordered to have a fight. I've lived it. I've seen their faces up close, seen them snarl at requests for help or aid, seen them grab girls by the hair, seen them stomp on instruments just to watch them crumple. They are sadists. I can't speak for their life or totality of spirit, but once they are in those uniforms, they are pure sadists. Once you send in these numbers armed in riot gear, you are sending in bullies to begin a fight. You are free to disagree, but you will not convince me, because my life has not only spun out in front of a computer monitor or TV screen, you see.

Basically everyone is out of the park, and they are still firing.

—Narrator of video taken at May Day 2007 police action [below]

A naked display of violence acted out upon the powerless by the power-holders in violation with the bedrock of our codified "rights," and today the blogs and news sites discuss Republican debates, TV-shapes, and one of the many wars we started overseas. Wars started in the name of preserving our Freedoms and Laws. Which were, yesterday, mocked and made irrelevant. They will excuse endangering lives and causing blind panic to break out and military type formations of tear gassing, rubber bullet firing battallions because people "stepped off the sidewalk." We know what this means. It's like when someone walks into a bar or a gathering of other people and insults and pushes around people until he gets them to glare or raise a hand or stand up. Then the bully gleefully engages in the fight they wanted so badly the whole time. The one they lacked the courage to outright state was their goal. It's what I call the "Rio Grande" method of beat-down, for my own reasons.

Oye: Fuck the police and thier terrorist tactics. Yes, I am very pissed off. Maybe I have enough for both of us. Dunno. But it shouldn't work that way. I hope once you watch the video below, you will join me a bit. There is a huge and egregious violation of our most dear rights being mocked here, the Constitution itself made a joke. Yes, it is made a joke on brown people. But not only have laws been violated, but basic human morality has been completely disregarded, and our National Media has said what? Nada? Just passed along the cops' lawyer's words? That they are investigating to determine IF excessive forced was used? Watch the video! People fleeing in terror, as if an invading army has stormed the streets in black riot gear and is firing tear gas and hard, rubber bullets into the crowd! Because it is, and they are! Rubber bullets fired on crowds where women and children are? And innocent men, let's not forget! We have the right to peaceful assembly, too! By birth, let alone the "Goddamned Piece of Paper!" Pardon me garçon but WHAT THE FUCK is WRONG with you people, you so-called "Fourth Estate? Has all the People® magazine, and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and American Idol, and polyethylene glycol wiped the very essence of your molecules out, churned them into pixels that respond to whatever thugs pronounce? How can you claim any "America" and "American ideals" and "American freedoms" and NOT be enraged at this? What if that woman was your MOTHER? They are people's mothers!!!!

But yeah—the press and cops are counting on Average Americans not to care because they will tout the gathering and the abuse as nothing more than ALIENZ being corralled. And who cares about ALIENZ????

And you think this doesn't apply to you? Do you, then, silently give up your right to assemble in great numbers? Because that's what this is about. Power of the People. Numbers that freaked out the old white men in Washington. They don't want to see us in numbers, and they don't want us to feel empowered. But they don't want that for any of us! Brown, black, or white! They want us all living in fear. Always in fear. And when the rhetoric fails to corral us, the violence is loosed. This is the same tactics they used on us in NYC, on the RNC 1800. Same marching lines, same "sidewalk" terminology, same mass attack that ignored your actual complicity in any crime.

They are testing themselves out, flexing their crowd-assault/control, practicing on us like the USA Military tests new weapons each time they bomb, and horrors like Shock And Awe become corpse-littered gleeful practice ranges for the white-hearted men in the halls of American power.

Another way to say all of this is that if the rhetoric of superiority works to maintain the entitlement, hatred and direct physical force remains underground. But when that rhetoric begins to fail, force and hatred waits in the wings, ready to explode.

The Culture of Make Believe, Derrick Jensen

Isn't it interesting what happens to those who speak truth to power and remind the people where the power truly lies—in themselves? To those who preach unity and love? Why are those who live this, show this unity, demonstrate the awareness of this locus of power always gunned down, shot, strung up, crucified? Why are they always answered with violence? Because in the void of truth and reason thrives violence. Today we see the forces of control still hate the Power of the People, and the "goddamned piece of paper," the Constitution. We see they operate in a void of reason, and now live in a new post-9/11 fear-based mentality. A place where there is no room for reason or quaint documents.

They are not following constitution law, they are totally taking away our unalienable human rights...women...children, i mean would they do this to their own mother? to their own little sister? terrorize? They put on the uniform and think everyone is bad."

—U.S. Citizen at LA Park, May 1, 2007

People talk to me about not holding troops personally responsible for their actions. But do we then forgive police when they shoot at us, en masse, for no reason? When they teargas us because we peacefully fill a public park? They were, after all, clearly acting on orders. Police do not organize like that on a whim, or off-the-clock. So do we say they had the right? Of course some heartless and mindless maniacs on the far right are bound to justify this. Just as the chuckling, budding, Police State prefers. It will always have its defenders, acting freely on their own will and hate. Always those sad humans who think they are speaking out and making themselves stronger, not seeing the walls close in around them as they cheer.

What happened to our peaceful right to assembly? Curious? We do not have this right. If you are a teacher, don't you be lying to your classes. We do not have it. In fact—and I've known this since I was 16, learned it firsthand and have had it reinforced multiple times since—you have whatever right the cops feel like giving you at any given moment. And that, my friends, is ALL. Don't you be a naïve subject.

Here, what rights did the mothers have who could not run fast? What rights did babies or kids with respiratory issues have when the tear gas settled? what rights did the humans have who were shot at, point-blank, with huge, hard, rubber projectiles? No, the only "right" la chota gives these people is the right to run away in terror. The cops march in a tight line through the very streets of the city, as if it is a war zone, as if people were rioting, when it was these pigs themselves who brought the violence, the black-masked, stick-handed violence. They fire rubber bullets right in public, right on public streets, randomly into the terrified crowds. They attempt to hem in the people so they can mass-arrest them, or mass-attack them. For what? Tell me again? For what?

For gathering in a park. And for being brown and loud and present in great numbers.

They are making the people work for miserable wages and then on top of that they come here and fucking oppress them.

Man at MacArthur park, May Day 2007 [YouTube vid below]

One day this shit isn't gonna be people running. And one day they are gonna come prepared for the police to come.

Woman at MacArthur park, May Day 2007 [YouTube vid below]

But you will not stop us, O ancient force of force and oppression and hate and "racism." Now, again, you come. For the people. With your weaponry. That we paid for. You tiny, scared men.

Little kids are hitting the floor, bleeding, and then cops fucking shooting!....

Man at MacArthur park, May Day 2007 [YouTube vid below]

Remember Brad Will! Remember MLK! Remember the old dream of America—if you must think Like an American—the good parts of it. Remember that there are MANY more of us than them. We will need to keep this in mind one day soon, I fear. Unless we're happy with less and less and less freedoms. You gun lovers think you are safe in your home with your "right to bear arms"? You radical libertarian types think you will be safe with your collection of rifles when the Federal government drops down martial law? No, you are not. We saw in New Orleans what happened to people. The military swooped in and took away everyone's guns. Constituationally guaranteed or otherwise. You are not protected by any document. Our government knows this. They redact it at will.

Remember we have asked how so few could control and harm so many! We've asked it before! We are moving there now. They will act again, in different ways. Time and time again, chipping away at everything. Until all the talk of American Freedom is a joke to every single country and person but us, here, still living smiling and wrapped tight with the binding and blinding gloss of marketing, packaging, State propaganda, until it is only you, and your movement has been curtailed to such a tiny space you are doing jumping jacks in front of a telecreen and fearing your eyes will give away your thoughts. [Metaphor alert, trolls.]

What happens if we begin showing up at peaceful assemblies with padding under our clothes? Or football facemasks? Will they then outlaw football facemasks? Or would they then fire real bullets? I think you know my guess.

And how did this happen again? because of what, again? What caused platoons of police in riot gear to begin making war on people in public American streets and parks?

The Brown™ dared take the Constitution literally, as if it applied to us. The average person dared think they were safe from American police tyranny in 2007 in a public place exercising Constitutional rights. That was the first mistake.

What made the cops think they could get away with it? Because they know the American Media very well. And they remember all the times they get away with police brutality.

What I think is funny about this is its like the working class people pitted against the working class cops. It's just an irony that like...its a system of oppression, and when you have a fascist state...and it works. You keep people in fear and you can keep them from rising up.

They are concerned with this, these days. Because they have big plans, you know. And they don't know at what point it will be, but they know at some point, instinct will kick in and Americans will resist.

Add up the recent years, the unreported Halliburton prisons, the way they habituate the public to mass arrests and detentions, the police actions like this and the RNC mass arrests, the troops on the ground in Katrina, the loss of the Posse Comatitus protection, the Decider making clear his philosophy and hunger. Keep telling yourself they are isolated incidents. Keep thinking small. You may, one day, need to economize your range of motion.

update: Reader RickB points the way to this last video, the News take on it, from a Fox affiliate station, no less. Watcha. Even the female camera operators reporting the news and the reporters themselves get beat down by the cops. Now what ya say? Are they strange Newscast-ey Alienz? Shapeshifters perhaps? Dangerous Alien Wimmenz assuming the guise of Constitutionally-protected Americans? Good thing we have so many well-armed thugs to protect us from the scourge from outer space.

Nezua Limón Xolagrafik-Jonez is an artist and writer. His talent can be found at, which is a site he runs. Reposted with permission.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

FISA Revisited

April 16, 2007

Remember all the hooplah, and righteous indignation, on the part of Congress, when the National Security Agency electronic surveillance program story first broke, several months ago, and word got out that Bush & Co. have been illegally monitoring e-mails, and conducting warrantless eavesdropping in defiance of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act law of 1978?

As you recall, several prominent elected officials, at that time, insisted that the practice stop and itself have oversight, unless, o f course, efforts were made to revise FISA to accommodate the bogeyman war on terror; (bogey, short for bogus, of course)

Well, over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that, as part of his legacy, the president has now decided to make changes to the existing FISA laws, changes that would allow for greater surveillance of non-citizens as well as expanded "interception" of international communications. Under the current law, a person has to be associated with a specific "terrorism" suspect, or group to come before FISA court, and be deemed eligible for for authorization to monitor their overseas calls, and e-mails. But, as part of its policy of planned obsolescence of the Constitution, the administration now to expand its snooping authority to any noncitizen it deems worthy of surveillance, using a broad brush to define that worthiness. Additionally, the new bill allows the current, and future administration, the power to store information that has only a tenuous connection to their investigation, as well as any data they come across "unintentionally," as long as it is considered it to have what they deem "significant foreign intelligence."

Importantly, the proposed legislation does not deal with the pattern of abuse in the NSA scandal, late last year, which revealed that the government has been intercepting domestic communications, and demanding telephone and Internet records, whenever it believed that there contact between someone within our borders and someone overseas posed a threat to our elusive national security..

And, lest anyone could include inconsistency as among this administration's failings,and using the Military Commissions Act as a pernicious paradigm, this proposed bill also seeks to grant immunity, not from war crimes, but from prosecution, for those telecommunications carriers, and Internet service providers, who cooperate with the government in turning over confidential telephone, and e-mail records, should you or I decide to take them to court for doing so. What's more, this immunity would be retroactive for those companies that compromised your privacy by surrendering your personal information to the government dating back as far as the wee hours after 9/11. (WaPo)

When you consider that FISA has remained intact for nearly 30 years, and that, should this president have his way with this legislation as he did with the USA Patriot Act, it, too, will remain in place for decades, it's chilling to think about its longterm effect on freedom of expression. Think about how future generations will grow up with the constant thought that Big Brother may be reading their e-mails, letters, and/or listening in on their phone calls, and not only is Ma Bell going along for the ride, but their taxes may well go to keep this national (in)security infrastructure in place. Who will write the history books, and how credible will those history books be, when the government gets to breathe down the necks of those who, in some way, try to communicate about their authentic experience of events?

It's time, yes, and way overdue, that each and every one of us who got out to vote for change, in the mid-term elections, contact members of Congress and tell them that this is not what we had in mind by a changing of the guard. It's time we let them know that the 2006 election wasn't just about the war in Iraq, it was about the war on our civil liberties, too. And, those intelligence committee meetings that dealt with NSA spying, and government overreaching into our affairs, can be seen as little more than theatre of the absurd if this is how they plan to counter the excessive, and egregious legislation being enacted, and proposed, in the name of preventing another terror attack. We need to let them know that we want our Bill of Rights back; if they can have their secrecy, we can have our privacy.

Oh yes, and those Democrats, in the Senate , who said that if the president thought that FISA needed to be reformed, in light of 9/11, then he should reform it, surely this isn't what they had in mind by that reform. And, if it is, then we need to give them a piece of our mind before the Senate Intelligence Committee convenes tomorrow , and for as long as it takes until everyone we elected to represent us understands that 2008 is just around the corner, and we're not going to accept these ongoing, and outrageous efforts to put the First Amendment on the endangered species list.

Jayne Lyn Stahl is a widely published, poet, playwright, essayist, and screenwriter; member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

ACLU Reading: The Bookseller Who Fought for "Ulysses"

"The Battle for Ulysses" tells the story of an American bookseller's struggle to publish a banned novel that became a literary classic: James Joyce's "Ulysses." Sylvia Beach moved to Paris, opened a bookstore, and was the first to stand up to censors to publish the novel. "The Battle for Ulysses" recounts Beach's personal tragedies, including the loss of her beloved bookstore and the six months she spent in a Nazi concentration camp rather than sell one of Joyce's novels to a member of the SS. It is a witty and passionate story of her tenacity and grace. Jayne Lyn Stahl adapted the play from a feature-length screenplay she wrote in 2001.

What: Staged reading of "The Battle of Ulysses" to benefit the ACLU Foundation of Southern California

When: Wednesday, April 18, 8 p.m.

Where: Odyssey Theatre Ensemble 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A.

How Much: $35-$50

RSVP: (310) 477-2055 ext. 2

The reading is co-sponsored by Stanley K. Sheinbaum, Ed Asner, Danny Goldberg, and Linda and Arthur L. Carter. Proceeds support the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Putting a Noose around the News

February 16, 2007

If it seems to you you're getting the same news no matter which channel you watch, you're right, and you can thank newspaper consolidation for that. There are only three or four major newspapers left in this country, The New York Times, The Washington Post, among them; there is only one Reuters, one Associated Press, and now the FCC is investigating claims by Rep. Maurice Hinchey, a New York congressman, that CBS television is "seeking to consolidate newsrooms," (United Press International) thereby introducing the concept of central command to television newsrooms.

CBS and the Writer's Guild are currently in the process of revamping their 50 year contract in some of the nation's biggest cities, which would involve mergers in such high octane markets as New York, Washington, and Los Angeles. These discussions center around staff layoffs, as well as divesting news producers of negotiating power. Clearly, the goal is to create corporate media empires which micromanage at the expense of diversity of opnion, and dissent.

Yet another remnant of the American Dream has been sacrificed at the altar of the almighty buck in an effort to reduce our collective field of perception to the size of an escargot. What's more, declaring preemptive war on news producers bolsters CBS, and others who are working towards newsroom consolidation, and a network central control, thereby emulating the empire-in-chief currently running this charade we call democracy. When there is micromanagement from the top down, decisions made by one or two people carry over to several stations, and there isn't any room for contrarianism. A climate that doesn't allow for difference, and the expression of contrary viewpoints, can expect only Slim Fast, not substance, in return.

Here in Los Angeles, we're used to reruns of the weather. On most major holidays, we're even treated to repeats of human interest stories, but to think that we, the American consumer and electorate, are being force fed pre-packaged, and often recycled tripe, much of which is inaccurate in the first place, should be more than enough to make our blood boil. Worse still, newsroom consolidation isn't so much about conceptual unilateralism as it is about ensuring swift, and steady profit at the expense of diversity of thought.

The good congressman from New York is concerned that newsroom consolidation will lead to the ultimate demise of independent news stations much as newspaper consolidation has. How does this affect each and every one of us? Imagine a world with only one Internet Service Provider, or being able to only access those Web sites that can afford to pay gargantuan fees if, and when, the world wide web becomes IRS territory. The only ones to benefit from consolidation are the behemoth corporations who tell us which underarm deoderant to wear, which cat food to buy, and which cars to drive. When newsrooms become profit delivery vehicles, as well as promoters of uniformity of thought, we're in even greater danger of losing ourselves in the totalitarian void that has cost us much of our civil liberties these past few years.

The FCC which has been hugely preoccupied with "public decency" ratings, over the past 6 years, must now be prevailed upon, as Rep. Hinchey told UPI , to "ensure that corporate interests stay out of newsrooms so that the American public can be on the receiving end of journalism...Any further consolidation of newsrooms and attacks on journalists would be contrary to the best interests of the public." Moreover, assaults on the First Amendment are "contrary to the best interests of the public;" it's high time Congress, and we, the viewing public, said so!

Jayne Lyn Stahl is a widely published, poet, playwright, essayist, and screenwriter; member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

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