Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Actual Monster - Radio Fear America

My regular readers know I'm perfectly willing to kick the NYT on occasion and do it where it hurts. I also find things there I'd like spread to those who don't read it regularly. Radio Fear America is one of those things and for more reason than they might have intended. They put the money right in the opening paragraph:

Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia read the funnies over the radio to cheer up New Yorkers during a newspaper strike. President Franklin Roosevelt gave “fireside chats” to bolster Americans during the depression. President Bush used his radio address on Saturday to try to scare Americans into believing they have to sacrifice their rights and their values to combat terrorism.

You certainly have read here enough times that fear mongering needs to be resisted. Yes, I've implied if not outright stated that there are too many scaredy cats in this country. A little truth telling doesn't hurt:

Mr. Bush announced that he had vetoed the 2008 intelligence budget because it contains a clause barring the C.I.A. from torturing prisoners. Mr. Bush told the nation that it “would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror — the C.I.A. program to detain and question key terrorist leaders and operatives.” That is simply not true. Nothing in the bill shuts down the C.I.A. interrogation program. It just requires the C.I.A.’s interrogators to follow the rules already contained in the Army field manual on prisoners.
So in the first two paragraphs the situation is made pretty clear. It is in this particular context and they back it up with some more facts I encourage you to peruse. If I have a problem with the Editorial Board in this one is that it stops short. It stops right at BushCo terrorism. What the NYT stops short of is addressing this in its larger context, the Bills passed or vetoed on the basis on nothing but fear mongering and not facts nor civil liberties.

Back in the bad old days of Mafia pre-eminence in crime and control of legitimate business they were backers of the RICO Act. You see, the mafia were nasty people and were misbehaving in a major way, so special tools were necessary. The problem is that such laws not only apply to Mafiosos, they apply to us all. There is real conflict with the 4th Amendment here, not only in theory, but in practice. A fear driven piece of legislation the NYT did nothing to help block.

NYC has some of the most restrictive firearms regulations in the US, what they don't have is a fall in crime or firearm violence matching their introduction. The NYT lately bemoaned the possibility that the Supreme Court might restore the 2nd Amendment in such localities. What they don't have are any facts to back up their fear mongering. New Yorkers will die in untold numbers because...well, because it's a scary prospect.

What we have is very selective outrage. These are only a few instances of the disconnect between their stands depending on whether it is their pet issue or simply one of principle. I understand the difference in immediate impact on the NYT of freedom of press and right to keep and bear, but what the NYT seems unable to do is make the connection to people of the retention of their individual rights.

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