Letters to the Editor
I finally received your letter ... and belatedly — YEAH! It's always OK to use my letters in your newsletter (editing out any personal "case" material!) ie: things that could get me dead in here) ....
— Name Withheld
Thanks for your enjoyable letter .... Forgive me if I respond a bit curtly to some things; only due to time limitations here, ever imposing to impossible degrees.
I'm flattered about using the letter in your nwsltr; I would ask just one thing. Because of the circumstances I'm under, the parole people, look for anything, I do mean under every rock, to use in the most stupid ways to destroy our lives. My parole date, even had I been guilty, was .... They have often used guilt by association to simply impose life without parole, even though that is not the sentence issued. Mine is a classic case. Hence, I've learned, to overcome their guilt by association imposition of "life without" every 5 years again, and again, there are certain places I would be better off if my name wasn't visible. I note that you've usually posted only first names or initials ....
— Name Withheld
Just got & read July 2002 nl. Excellent as consistent with all. Explanation of the issue distinguishing adolescents from children, etc was helpful.
I know you hadn't had time yet to receive my ltr. ... by the time you published my first .... That worked out fine, as that was innocuous. But hopefully, can go with [withheld], for the future, as the parole bd. really would use it to continue to keep this innocent man in prison for good otherwise. Believe me, I have the courage to stand up & be counted; it's just that I can do it best and more of it, from a position of freedom, rather than under the gun. Many other prisoners don't have this problem, as they do not have the so-called "life" top, which did not mean "life" when sentenced, but was changed over the years, so now it is used to keep political prisoners in for natural life without parole .....
Keep up the good work.
— Name Withheld
I hadn't thought much about the possible repercussions, for prisoners, of my publication of their letters to the editor. I have several subscribers who are in prison and I didn't intend that printing their letters would contribute to their problems. I apologize for any such problems that might have resulted from my use of such letters. From now on, I'll try to remove anything, including the name when appropriate, that I think might reveal the identity of a prisoner or which might be used against him.
Having said that, I can't help making a couple of observations. The letters that are sent to me by prisoners include all of the unedited material as well as the complete names and return addresses of the prisoners who wrote the letters. If the Gestapo thugs at the prisons read the prisoner's incoming mail, then maybe they also read the outgoing mail, regardless of assurances to the contrary. Maybe the Gestapo thugs have already seen the unedited letters, when they're mailed to me by the prisoners.
I'm writing in response to your August 2002 issue "unintended consequence". I am not a scholar of the 4th amendment, and until now I have never even written a letter to the editor about the 4th amendment. I'm just thinking out loud to you. Although I've never even read an essay on the 4th amendment, I am looking at it [the Fourth Amendment] as I wrote this. It seems far weaker than the 1st amendment. It only bars "unreasonable" searches. By contrast, the 1st amendment section on speech bars all speech prohibitions by Congress. It seems plausible to me that the government could argue that it is reasonable to search airline passengers, given the history of hijacking over the past 35 years or so.
is, hijackings were more common before airlines all around the world started
searching the passengers. It may not be sound policy, but it is "reasonable"
because a reasoned argument can be made in favor of that policy.
Yes indeed, the Fourth Amendment is a very weak prohibition on government misbehavior. Not only does it prohibit only searches that are unreasonable, it doesn't even say what is unreasonable or who gets to decide. In practice, the government gets to decide. What's the point of a prohibition on government misbehavior, if the government gets to decide what the prohibition means? In case you haven't read it yet, I recommend my essay, In Search of the Supreme Flaw of the Land: The Bill of Rights.
I'm skeptical that hijackings were more common before the airlines began searching passengers. Where did you get that information? If you're referring to the hijackings to Cuba several decades ago, then I'm even more skeptical. Have you considered this possibility? Maybe those hijackings to Cuba were orchestrated by the government in order to stampede people into accepting unreasonable searches at the airports. Maybe not but, if so, then of course those hijackings diminished after the searches were in place. The government needed to demonstrate that the searches worked, so they stopped hijacking planes to Cuba. It's always good to question the government's motives.
I also dispute the "reasonableness" argument that you propose. Just because there have been hijackings doesn't provide probable cause that I am a potential hijacker. That's the whole point of the presumption of innocence. I'm not included in suspicion generated by the bad behavior of other people. Rather, I must be presumed innocent. The government cannot search my bags merely because other people have been hijackers. To do so is an unreasonable search. If the government believes that I am a potential hijacker, then it must bear the burden of proof. It must have probable cause for the suspicion. I'm innocent in the airport until proven guilty, regardless of the prevalence of hijackings in the past.
The "reasoned" argument that you propose must be based on certain assumptions with which I disagree. For example, you must assume that the perceived safety that allegedly results from the searches in the airports is more important than my right to be presumed innocent. I reject the assumption. I believe that my right to be presumed innocent is more important than somebody else's right to feel safe. I also reject the idea that the searches have made riding in an airplane any safer. Rather, I believe that people have sacrificed their rights (and mine) for a false perception of safety. People who do that don't deserve either rights or safety. I believe Benjamin Franklin said that first.
Finally, these points are part of a larger issue, the issue of consequences. Indeed, the consideration of consequences has always been the justification for the fundamental principles of liberty. In this case, we're concerned with the consequences of a decision to search or not to search. If we do not conduct the searches, then a few people might be inconvenienced, injured, or killed by an occasional hijacker. That, of course, is much less likely if the passengers are armed. If we do conduct the searches, then a once free people will take one more step along the road to abject servitude. I believe that the consequences of conducting the searches are far worse than the consequences of not conducting the searches. I say, don't conduct the searches.
*---- Quote of the Week ----*
Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.
— Thomas JeffersonOur leaders know this. That's why we have the dumbing-down of school students, misinformation on the TV news casts, liberal newspapers, and years of brainwashing to make the population apathetic to what is really important. After all, you really couldn't care less could you, as long as you have "sports," "soap operas," and "sex-ridden" movies to distract you from what is REALLY important --- your freedoms. If you think I exaggerate, watch how easily the government shoves the "Homeland Security" plot down America's throat. Hitler imposed a similar plan --- the Gestapo!!!
Rotten and corrupt Public Servants as moral models for our kids. Is it no wonder that our kids are getting the idea it is all right to lie and steal. Our schools are teaching kids that a good life style is to develop your life without discipline or punishment for wrong doing. A parent can end up in jail for abuse if he is not careful how he corrects a child. I have actually heard of cases where children tell a parent they will turn them in for child abuse if they attempt to correct them. In Germany the kids were told to spy and tell on their parents if they did not strictly follow German statue law or do what Hitler wanted ... America is getting more like Germany was under Hitler. As a man 81 years old I see it happening. America is not free anymore. The People are beginning to fear their government more every day. It makes me sad to see it. I was a soldier for over twenty five years and all the time I thought I was guarding and protecting American liberty. I was wrong and I feel I and the American People have been lead down a path to slavery to a strong central government now headed into New World Order and People afraid to talk about it or do anything to stop it.
The following message was part of an ongoing e-mail discussion.
Your belief that our laws, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies care about or actually dispense justice is a sad joke. Try this on for size. New laws are making their way through the U. S. Congress that would criminalize the promotion of any event where "the promoter knows or ought to know that a controlled substance will be used or distributed in violation of Federal Law" and that the "guilty" promoter "... shall be fined ... or imprisoned for not more than 9 years, or both." The law as drafted is so vague that it *requires* almost complete police and prosecutor discretion in determining whom to charge — which means it will typically be deployed against groups that police and prosecutors don't like; e.g., Burning Man or any noisy rave party. This law would have made the entire SF Rock Scene of the Sixties impossible — Marijuana saturated as it was. I swear to God, police and prosecutors have so much discretion and we have so many people in prison, this country is feeling more and more like East Germany every year. It makes me sick to think about it.
The following letter is to Glinie, in response to his letter to the editor in the August issue.
I was once arrested for saying the word "gun" on the telephone. So I am inclined to believe the worst. I handled my own case very badly because I never believed that freedom of speech was not a reality. I now believe the best defense is a good offense. The more you can keep the enemy off balance, the better. If I had a chance to do it over, I would have become a lawyer in self defense.
I would like to hear from you about what you would have done differently if given the chance to do it over with your current knowledge.
Thinking on it, I have some thoughts on what I would try to do if I can remember when it happens. One; make sure the intruder is dead. In every case I know of, the victims are usually the people in the home. A solid claim of self defense would be more likely appreciated by the jury if the defender of the home were to empty a full clip in a panic. Two; call for medical assistance. If possible, not to mention guns, shots, or anything else that would prompt the operator to include the police. Let the emergency medical personnel deal with the police. Three; make sure there are witnesses around before the police arrive. The more, the better. Solicit the presence of everyone you can contact. Ask them to bring cameras and video cameras. Call the news media. This is not a time to be shy. The more visible support you have, the less likely the police will pull any stunts.
One thing to always remember is that the police are trained to handle confrontational people. This behooves the person that has come under the scrutiny of the police to be as friendly as possible, but without saying anything that will prejudice their case if it does go to trial. When questioned, the answer should be a variant of requiring a lawyer's advice before discussing your case because of your ignorance of the law.
The only problem with the above is that it can be followed only by someone with a cool head. Most people would be in a panic in a situation like that and react instinctively. Even I may fail to follow my own suggestions as I never had to kill anyone that was invading my home. I hope I am never tested in such a way, but that is not going to stop me from being prepared to defend my life, my family, and my home.
Buck Hunter Shoots Off His Mouth
I'd like to try using the flying buttress on the design of a modern building. What do you think?
— Eager Young DesignerDear Eager Young Designer
What are you, some kinda sicko terrorist? I'm reportin' this ta tha cops!
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— Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor