Independence Day

On this day in the year 2000, the evil Boston Globe muzzled its only conservative voice, Jeff Jacoby, for submitting the well-traveled history of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Globe called it plagiarism, but everybody who can read knows it’s not an original work, and that Jacoby wasn’t trying to pass it off as one. The net effect of the Globe’s action was to deprive its readers of a conservative voice during the Bush/Gore contest of 2000, not that Massachusetts was ever in danger of leaving the plantation.

I mention this just to remind you that even in these enlightened times, standing up for America can cost you your job, or worse. This is especially true in the bastions of left-wing thought, such as Boston and the San Francisco Bay, where free speech is only valued when the speech is politically correct. But that just makes speaking your mind all the more worthwhile, doesn’t it?

This year, left-wing critics are lambasting Patriot II and the supposedly massive erosions of civil liberties that it represents (a good example: San Jose Mercury News South Bay columnist L. A. Chung invoking 75-year-old peace activists to make her point emotionally.) Not to suggest that these critics are less than sincere, I wonder how they would feel about a law that provided for such things as these:

  • All bank records, utility accounts, cable TV, and phone records to be turned over to the government every month for examination.
  • Prosecution of criminal offenses in a civil court in order to deny indigent accused the right to counsel at taxpayer expense.
  • Suspension of professional licenses and drivers licenses by administrative process without court intervention.
  • Seizure of property without court order.
  • Property liens against people who had violated no law and owed no unpaid debt.
  • Elimination of the requirement that court orders be served on the defendant.
  • Issuance of court orders kicking people out of their homes on hearsay evidence submitted to a court by fax.
  • Court-ordered, mandatory political re-education in the values of a particular political organization.
  • Elimination of the right to confront the accuser and the presumption of innocence in certain criminal cases.
  • A national database, updated in real-time, of the names, addresses, and social security numbers of all working Americans.
  • Arrests without warrant and detentions without charge, often of the wrong people, in “midnight sweeps.”
  • Debtors’ prisons.
  • A law forbidding the correction of court orders made on the basis of false information.
  • A sweeping denial of equal protection based on gender.
  • Court orders requiring some working adults to live in poverty in order that they support other adults, who don’t work, in high style.

    Now, on the face of it, we’d expect anyone with the least concern for civil liberties to be up in arms over a law with just some of these provisions, let alone all of them. Yet the very critics of the Patriot Act and of Patriot II sat on their hands while every single one of the provisions I listed above passed into law in the name of child support, child custody reform, alimony, and domestic violence prevention. And in some cases, the critics weren’t just silent (as the ACLU and EFF were), they actually sponsored the legislation, as the National Organization for Women did.

    So who do you trust on civil liberties, the occasionally overzealous guardians of national security in the White House and Justice Department, or the left-wing organizations criticizing them who give “hypocrisy” a whole new dimension?

    (note: I am not saying, of course, that child support is bad or that domestic violence is good; I am saying you’re either in favor of civil liberties for all or you aren’t, and the vast majority of those hammering the Bush Administration on this issue today have proved they aren’t.)