Friday, July 18, 2008

NOW IT STARTS HERE

You don’t often get the experience in writing – although it happens in these bizarrely troubled times more often than in less ‘interesting’ times – that something you had been discussing and warning about suddenly raises itself above the radar, tearing away the veil of daily habit and the miasm of the citizenry’s communal and individual concerns.
But it has happened.

I know it must seem a bit obsessive, maybe off-putting, that in the course of a number of Posts I have so often mentioned the sex-offense ‘thing’, this mania that has swept over the country in the past 25 years (if you start with the pre-school cases) and in the past dozen years (if you start with the sex-offense registry cases that flared up in 1997 and since then continue to morph even more ominously).

As I have said in other Posts: what fascinates me in all this is that such a mania has started, grown floridly, wreaked obviously significant damage to the legal system, degraded The People’s capacity to deliberate and to understand and to speak out, all in the space of such a short time.
That such clear abuses of truth and the justice system have been almost gleefully indulged; that so many ‘solutions’ and responses so clearly similar to those adopted by 20th century nations on the path to non-democratic government have been passed into legislation with less debate or objection (and, it must be considered) lack of mature legislative analysis than even went into the Patriot Act, the Authorization To Use Military Force, and the Military Commissions Act (to name only the largest perpetrations).

That so much dubious ‘science’ has been credited while more sober and cautious, substantive, mainstream scientific and legal thought has been ignored; that such dubious ‘true’ stories initiated many of the most damaging initiatives (the parents of the girl Megan Kanka who was taken, abused and killed by a neighbor, the case becoming the basis of the sex-offender Registry, did indeed know all along, as many of the neighbors on the street knew and acknowledged as well to a local reporter at the time, that the perpetrator was a potentially dangerous individual, thus undercutting the claim that a Registry would have ‘prevented’ this shocking act).
That even now politicians for a host of secondary and ulterior purposes are continually seeking to expand this highly dubious and historically ominous trend.

And as I have said often, that the run-up to the present monstrous war in Iraq (and perhaps a coming one with Iran) matched with disturbing precision the scripted phases of ‘stampede’ that first fueled and still fuels the sex-offense mania, which thus red-flags an awesomely profound corruption of The People’s capacities to think maturely and thereby discharge Its task as the very ground of the Branches that were raised up to execute and implement The People’s will according to the vision of the Constitution.

Today, July 17th, in the ‘Boston Globe’, although there is no news story (and thereby hangs a tale, no doubt), an Op-Ed by the executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, Carol Rose, (http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/07/17/they_could_be_eavesdropping?mode=PF) reveals that after all the current brouhaha about Executive and Congressional acquiescence in torture, in the aggressive, invasive and pre-emptive waging of foreign wars, and the long, long list of erosions of Our civil liberties … Ms. Rose reveals that a bill has been introduced in the Legislature of the Commonwealth – that Great and General Court that only too late stepped back from the witch trials of 17th-century Salem – which would enable prosecutors to obtain information about any citizen, without a warrant or court supervision, merely by quietly issuing a state-level equivalent of the baneful FBI ‘national security letter’ to any Internet or telecom provider. And, as a shrewd sop to such anxieties as telecommunications providers may still harbor after the recent FISA cave-in on Capitol Hill, the bill grants ‘immunity’ to any providers so served.

And as evidence of just how shrewdly the sex-offense ‘wave’ is being surfed by the agents of a dangerously engorged police power, the pretext for such a profoundly un-American grant of discretionary power to the police agents of the government is … to ‘protect the children’. Although the actual text of the provisions apparently exercises no such specific discretion, and leaves any citizen for whatsoever reason, open to such intrusions as the Attorney General or the District Attorneys may wish to deploy. Apparently, that D.A. in Durham, North Carolina in the case of that gang-rape-that-wasn’t, was just a ‘bad apple’, and anyway, if the Attorney-General in Washington can get away with things, why not give this a shot? Congress seems to be OK with it.

(We will recall that Janet Reno claimed – long after the fact and after the bodies or what was left of them had been recovered and quietly buried – that the Waco attack was launched because there was concern that ‘the children’ in the compound were possibly being ‘abused’; and that in the recent Texas raid on a Mormon community the same state-government accusations have started to collapse as we speak, as numerous of the ‘children’ are discovered to be adults, or to be not-abused but indeed to be suffering greatly from having been forcibly removed from their parents’ care by the police power of the state. And let us pass over for the moment in painful and prayerful silence that Madeleine Albright opined publicly that the deaths of a couple-three hundred thousand Iraqi children was an acceptable price to pay for imposing draconian sanctions – children, of course, being far too tender to be asked if they would mind being starved or bombed. Are We all mad in this country? Will We be able to defend Ourselves in history’s dock, in God’s, any better than the Germans of 1945?)

And, stealthily, the relevant provisions are buried in this law, which is actually entitled “An Act To Further Protect Children” or – as is the contemporary usage for popular consumption – “Jessica’s Law”, named after another unfortunate child victim (upon whom be great peace). Shrewd, devilishly so. And it seems to me a sign that the two monstrous fires are now burning together: as the Iraq war mania roared easily down pathways already forged by the sex-offense mania, so now the sex-offense mania seeks to insinuate itself into the states using as its template the Patriot Act and all the other unholy Beltway spew of the past 7 years.

Any legislator who doubts the wisdom of gutting the very foundations of democratic society will run the risk of being brassily labeled ‘anti-child’ or pro-child-rape by a now-well-practiced advocacy machine. Any legislator who simply seeks to look good or to keep his or her head down, can simply say that he or she did it ‘for the children’. And any legislator – and We can no longer imagine that there are few, if any, on any level of government – so treacherously stupid as to think that such engorgement is a good idea will be in on the creation of the de-creation of the very core of the American heritage. Franklin had said, in response to citizens’ inquiries: You have a democracy, “if you can keep it”.

“The next logical step” … that soporific assurance that is proffered to The People by the police power like a candy-bar is proffered to a 4 year-old by the archetypal ‘stranger-sex maniac’, the age-old yet so recently (1945; 1989) exposed soporific dangled before the German people and the Russian people, to their great discomfiture and moral debasement … that step is now being dangled before Us.

Or not. Decades of sex-offender mania and its spawn, 9-11 mania, have given such aid and comfort to the government police power that it now feels confident simply sneaking it in, using a child for a shield in best sex-maniac fashion.

Or not. Perhaps the government police power realizes that it’s still too soon to trot out its new program, to be seen in public in its crisp new uniforms, to call what it is doing or what it wants to do by a clear and accurate name, placing it before Us in the clear light, awaiting Our decision.
Perhaps so. The citizens of Massachusetts have historically demonstrated a sturdy concern for liberties. Not a perfect concern – the hanged and the crushed of Salem and Sacco and Vanzetti were only the most well-known of those who were sent into the void before The People stirred, hearkening to voices that called forth the best of the democratic spirit.

So it comes. The greasy, darkling, fuming cloud that has long hung over ‘the Beltway’ has begun to move into the states.

I have often wondered, looking at those old newsreels, what the French people were thinking, on that Bastille Day – July 14th – of 1939. Did they seek to escape their anxieties looking at the massed camel corps and the divisions of infantry and horse-cavalry surging down the avenue, the great Arc, symbol of France’s heritage and dedication to Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, looming behind them as if it were a mystical gate that sent all those troops forth as if from a more pure and powerful world, to ‘save’ France? Did they imagine that whatever Hitler would do, the world as they knew it would survive such whacks as he might be able to strike upon it without their having to bestir themselves? Were they pre-occupied with their personal concerns, not really hearing or seeing as it all went by and disappeared in the clouds of dust? But it was the last Bastille Day of the Third Republic, and ahead lay years of supine occupation, for when push came to shove, few really Resisted.

No ‘America’ will come ‘over here’ to save Us. Nor, I think, legions of angels – especially in these benighted and obtuse precincts where the fuming God of the Apocalypse is not often given credence.

No, We will have to do this Ourselves.

I will post further when I have found out what I can. In the meantime, the site of the ACLU of Massachusetts and the Legislature’s own website might be the very places for enterprising engagement to begin.

Allons enfants de la Patrie … while there is still time.

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