Thursday, May 04, 2006

It can't happen again. Can it?

For casually saying that American troops were "getting a good licking" in France during World War I, a blacksmith named August Lambrecht was imprisoned by the State of Montana for seven months in 1919. Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, yes a Democratic Governor of Montana posthumously pardoned 78 people convicted of sedition during the anti-German hysteria of World War One. The list of those pardoned included farmers, butchers, carpenters and cooks. One man was charged merely for calling the conflict a "rich man's war" and mocking food regulations during a time of rationing. Another man, Herman Bausch, was a pacifist who refused to buy war bonds and spent 28 months in prison for being outspoken about it.

Then there was Eugene V. Debs who ran as a Candidate of the Socialist Party for President of the United States in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912 and 1920. On June 16, 1918 Debs made a now famous anti-war speech in Canton, Ohio protesting World War I. He was arrested and convicted in Federal Court in Cleveland, Ohio under the war-time espionage law. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and disenfranchised for life, losing his citizenship. In 1919 The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the conviction in Debs v. United States. The Court said that Debs had actually planned to discourage people from enlisting in the Armed Forces. The Court refused to grant him protection under the First Amendment freedom of speech clause, stating that Debs "used words [in his speech] with the purpose of obstructing the recruiting service." Debs' conviction under the Espionage Act would stand, because his speech represented a "clear and present danger" to the safety of the United States. From prison in 1920 he got nearly a million votes for president.

Can't happen again right? Think again. You may remember W's first Press Liar Ari Fleischer who after 9/11 darkly warned Americans "need to watch what they say, watch what they do." Then there was former Attorney General John Ashcroft who accused Congressional critics of aiding terrorists when he told them on December 7, 2001, "To those who pit Americans against immigrants, citizens against non-citizens, to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies and pause to America’s friends."

Aid and comfort to the the enemy. Aiding terrorists. Sedition. Treason. All the ground work being done to have posthumous pardons 80 years from today.


Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

"those who pit Americans against immigrants, citizens against non-citizens?" Now who would do that?

12:47 PM  
Blogger rMatey said...

And add to that the fact that the Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the Presidunce both agree that the Constitution is just a quaint piece of paper, neither recognize that the Congress has equal power or the people have ultimate power of government.

2:38 PM  

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