Do Not Trust The Federal Ones

Activism, Outreach and Education

“What started as a legitimate effort by the townspeople of Salem to identify, capture and kill those who did Satan’s bidding quickly deteriorated into a witch hunt.”

Army Man Magazine

Ever since Reagan took office in 1981, bringing belligerent nationalism and patriarchal facism and religious fundamentalism to a new dimension in the American political arena, the rich have gotten substantially poorer (and more abundant), and the income of the so-called “middle class” has not been able to keep up with the cost of living. 

And this is just the beginning. In about a decade, the Supreme Court has been packed with reactionary conservatives, including, most notably, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who said, in 1985, that “the wall of separation between church and state is a metaphor based on bad history. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned.” I wonder whose constitutional history he’s interpreting—the one I’m familiar with maintains that, while Organized Religion is granted federal funding (parochial) and tax exemptions, Judeo-Christian theology is not considered a sound or constitutional basis for congressional legislation, executive order or judicial decision.

Meanwhile, the boot-licking, Democratically controlled Congress has passed law after Draconian law supporting the Nazi—I mean Republican—policies of increased government control of our lives. For example, the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act granted George “New World Order” Bush  the power to conduct covert operations anywhere in the world without telling anybody. Things like “electronic surveillance,” “surreptitious entry,” “low visibility insurgency” and other “extreme prejudice” artifice used in the National Security Business were legalized, including the type of crimes committed in the Iran-Contra conspiracy. Then there’s the National Drug Emergency Act, which prompted the building of concentration-style prison camps for people who are found possessing even minuscule amounts of marijuana. In fact, suspected drug users can be confined in these camps while they await trial. And most recently, along with the 7 day waiting period for handgun purchases, 51 additional crimes became punishable by the death penalty. This while the U.S. is the only industrialized, Western nation that even executes anybody at all! Inhumane vengeance in the guise of deterrence.

Yes, to reduce the crime rate, Bush has vowed that he will double the U.S. prison population within the next 10 years. The U.S. prison population is already the highest per capita in the world. Does this sound like a rational, intelligent, “kinder, gentler” solution? Who will be the scapegoats to be persecuted by our monolithically counter productive criminal justice system?

War of Attrition

“Drugs are a menace, and if it was up to me I’d have public hangings out in front of the courthouse.” – Garfield Hammonds, Atlanta DEA.

An amazingly unsuccessful and profoundly damaging attempt to eradicate the use and presence of certain drugs, has resulted in innumerable tramplings of our constitutional rights. As David Ross points out, in Pissing Away The American Dream, the 4th amendment “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, shall not be violated … but upon probable cause.” and the 5th Amendment guarantee that “no person … shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,” have been violated by the institution of random urine testing (RUT). Also, the statute that “no conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate,” has been reversed, allowing police powers to seize a suspected drug users property and possessions without ever establishing the guilt of the defendant, often without even bringing criminal charges! This type of seizure, known as “in rem forfeiture” is also used to harass and silence “obscene” and “subversive” artists (such as Jock Sturges) as well as computer “hackers.” In rem forfeiture, because it is a civil suit against property, not person, is not subject to “due process of law.” Unless an attorney can be retained, seized property is automatically “guilty” until proven “innocent.” And considering that, according to the American Bar Association, 80% of the American people can’t afford a lawyer. These recent measures appear more as a “war on the poor” rather than the “war on drugs.”

In Central and South America, the Pentagon provides $1.2 billion in military assistance (up from $439 million in 1989) for what Bush had hoped would eliminate 50% of the cocaine supply to the U.S. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports, however, that there are as many people using cocaine now as there were three years ago. It’s also curious to note that 85% of the domestic “Drug War” budget is devoted to enforcing marijuana prohibition. It makes one wonder if the National Security Council and the boys at the Pentagon might possibly have ulterior motives for US intervention in the internal politics of our Latin American neighbors. 

I’m reminded of the ominous saying “Once you’re in the CIA, you’re in for life,” every time I reflect that our President once directed that most corrupt, unholy and unconstitutional covert corporation, whose flagrant disregard for civil liberties and human rights is well documented, as with the exploits of former CIA official Ray “It’s only an Amendment” Cline and former director “Mad” Bill Casey.

Fetus Worship

“For those who say I can’t impose my morality on others, I say ‘just watch me.’” – Joseph Schneider, Executive Director, Pro-Life Action League.

And now, as a new criminal class is about to be created by the Reaganized and Busherated Supreme Court: women who demand that the law respect and protect their rights before the rights of accidental embryos. It is expected that Roe. vs. Wade will be overturned by a 6-3 vote) and abortion will, once again, be declared a crime. However, in the wake of the Clarence Thomas nomination and the spectacle of the Anita Hill hearings, feminists have been mobilizing and the “sleeping pro-choice majority” is waking up to the fact that, with William Brennan and Thurgood Marshal gone, the Supreme Court has been made into an enemy of the people.

Previous Supreme Court cases allowing states to ban nude dancing and sodomy, based on what then—Justice Rehnquist called “moral revulsion” and “societal standards,” broke with earlier precedents establishing the right of the individual to choose the nature of her personal relations. More recently, the court’s decision prohibiting federally funded hospitals and doctors from even mentioning abortion as a birth control option subverted the precedent set with the decision allowing forms of birth control (contraceptives), which established the right of the individual to engage in sexual intercourse without producing offspring. 

Most striking about the proposed ban on abortion, is its sexist discrimination. At the moment of conception, a woman would automatically be subject to an anti-abortion law, while the man whose sperm is involved in the matter is only indirectly affected, for he can simply pay child-support (or move periodically from state to state) if he doesn’t want the responsibility of parenthood. The woman, of course, would be legally obligated to pregnancy and then faced with the choice, after carrying her infant for nine months, of adoption or child bearing. And the fact that 80% of welfare recipients are single mothers doesn’t make it any easier to accept that the world population will double in less than 40 years with the current birth rate. 

Being a woman in male-dominated America of the ’90s can be problematic enough, under economic inequality and institutionalized patriarchy, without religious politicians and holier-than-thou do-gooders imposing “the divine will of God” upon their reproductive freedom, under the guise of “family values” and “majority consensus.” From this debacle of church/state-sponsored repression, I’m reminded of Mel Brooks’ classic line from History of the World Pt.1, “Oy the agony, oy the shame; to make my privates public for a game.”

Active Intelligent Revolution

Apathy is a luxury which can no longer be afforded. The bills are coming due and the government means to collect. First our net worth and our ability to think for ourselves, then our bodies and souls. The Democrats have largely sold out, bowing to political and economic pressure and presenting little opposition (aside from advocating the obvious need for national socialized health care) and have been supporting the Reagan/Bush/Quayle Administration’s attack on our civil liberties, scapegoating to keep their jobs in these troubled times.

Of course both parties will clamor for improving the economy that the Republicans have been fucking up for the past decade, just as empty rhetoric is spewed forth about solving the environmental crisis. Meanwhile, the future of freedom and dignity is being defended by the extreme-left radicals; democratic Liberals, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Libertarians, the Socialists, environmentalists, feminists, pro-choice activists, the euthanasia movement, the hemp movement, the progressive media and other anti-prohibitionists who are standing up for equal rights and civil liberties that the current government has been bastardizing and subordinating in the name of “traditional values.”

As Barbara Ehrenreich (feminist, secular humanist and author of The Worst Years of Our Lives) reminds us, “Dissent is also a traditional value, and, in a republic founded by revolution, a more deeply native one than smug-faced conservatism can ever be.”

Next Month: The Fall of Communism, and Other Myths.

For more from the SLUG Archives:

Books and Literature: February 1992

Comics: February 1992