Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Things We Dare Not Do (and What That Says About Society)

12.02.2010 (8:05 pm) – Filed under: Crime,Free Speech,Justice,Society ::

Despite being married, 23-year-old Alyssa Branton was stalked for months by a much older man who recently shot her dead outside her office building after she refused his advances. Despite providing more than 70 pages of documentation detailing Roger Troy’s bizarre and unwanted behavior, Branton was denied the restraining order that might have saved her life by a Florida judge. His reasoning? She hadn’t provided proof that Troy was a menace.

Evidently for some judges a victim’s knowledge of the danger she’s in doesn’t become proof until the murder is on the books. Judge Moxley, a former prosecutor, should have known better than to allow Troy to harass Ms. Branton unfettered. Her death is the direct result of his failure to intervene on her behalf. When did it become wrong to protect young, beautiful women against perverted, violent older men? That fear of wrongly limiting Troy’s rights caused Moxley to rule as he did is conjecture on my part, yet why else would he fail to execute his duty to protect Alyssa Branton?

Significantly, the Branton case is but one example of society’s impotence in the face of violent criminals. The failure to act to protect the defenseless from violent attacks has never been more evident than in the recent beating of Aiesha Steward-Baker in a Seattle transit tunnel. This brazen stomping took place in full sight of at least two Metro Transit system’s security guards who did nothing to stop the attack even after Baker was knocked down and was kicked repeatedly in the head and face.

Baker, who her attackers allege was violent herself, had repeatedly asked Seattle police for help that evening and was obviously hoping Metro security would protect her. Instead the men ignored her pleas for help and allowed the attack to escalate while they tried to talk the other girl out of her violent frenzy.

When did the idea that paid security forces are not allowed to use force to fulfill their basic duty become the rule that must be obeyed? The guards’ failure to act is an abomination and an abdication of their manhood. Yet they do not deserve the blame; rather, our system that is dominated by the ever-present fear of being sued in court is what created the circumstances that forbade them from interfering on Baker’s behalf. Such is duty and chivalry in the age of the liberal trial lawyer.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government is actually increasing the scope of its police powers by obtaining personal cell phone call data, not only for matters of national security but also for routine matters such as bank robbery, etc. This is in addition to making increasingly sophisticated attempts to mine Internet browsing and email history.

The pattern is clear: Americans are discouraged, at risk of their freedom, from taking matters of their own personal security into their own hands even as local law enforcement fails to meet their needs for fear of making mistakes that might lead to public embarrassment or civil lawsuits. At the same time, the federal government is moving to make personal privacy a thing of the past.

Indeed:

the Obama administration has argued that warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no "reasonable expectation of privacy" in their–or at least their cell phones’–whereabouts. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers say that "a customer’s Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records"

The three cases I’ve briefly outlined above reveal a deeper pattern that we must strive to correct. Individual rights to privacy and personal security have, far from being protected by our system of jurisprudence, been diminished to the point at which Alyssa Branton was murdered in plain view of witnesses after the system failed her.

The cause of the system failure is clear, for the ability of both law enforcement and individual citizens to make judgments has been removed and a complex, legalistic web of process and procedure has been band-aided together in place of common sense and decency.

The number and type of actions that we dare not take has increased dramatically in the post-WW II era. Gone with such acts of courage and principle seems to be the American ideals of truth and justice. In their place, politically correct, non-offensive behavior is required and society has become a dimmer, less secure place as a result, at least for people like Alyssa Branton and Aiesha Baker. In contrast, the criminals who attacked them seemed confident enough in their right to act as they damn well pleased, didn’t they?

Highlighting a 1st Amendment Hero

25.09.2009 (6:34 am) – Filed under: Free Speech,Islam ::

Mike Adams says that Dr. Indrek Wichman is a First Amendment hero and proceeds to prove it using Wichman’s own words:

Dear Moslem Association: As a professor of Mechanical Engineering here at MSU I intend to protest your protest. I am offended not by cartoons, but by more mundane things like beheadings of civilians, cowardly attacks on public buildings, suicide murders, murders of Catholic priests (the latest in Turkey!), burnings of Christian churches, the continued persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, the imposition of Sharia law on non-Muslims, the rapes of Scandinavian girls and women (called “whores” in your culture), the murder of film directors in Holland, and the rioting and looting in Paris France. This is what offends me, a soft-spoken person and academic, and many, many, many of my colleagues. I counsel you dissatisfied, aggressive, brutal, and uncivilized slave-trading Moslems to be very aware of this as you proceed with your infantile “protests.” If you do not like the values of the West–see the 1st Amendment–you are free to leave. I hope for God’s sake that most of you choose that option. Please return to your ancestral homelands and build them up yourselves instead of troubling Americans. Cordially, I. S. Wichman, Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Predictably, Wichman’s letter was followed by the expected coercion and legal threats against his free speech rights and his career.

Michigan’s CAIR Executive Director Mr. Dawud Walid said it was “unconscionable for a professor to use his university e-mail account to foster a hostile learning environment for Muslim students.” He added, “The University needs to take appropriate disciplinary action in this case to demonstrate through its actions that anti-Muslim bigotry will not be tolerated on campus.”

Adams had this to say:

CAIR and MSA’s public call upon MSU to take “disciplinary action” against Wichman’s “Islamophobic” email was a classic example of Muslim cowardice.

I’d like to agree, but I cannot.  It’s important to realize that the Muslim groups’ actions, while cowardly, do not originate in cowardice.  Rather, these strident demands for special treatment are carefully designed strategies intended to force outcomes favoring their special interests at the expense of ordinary Americans, including true heroes like Dr. Wichman.

It is therefore imperative that these groups be resisted at every turn, including the legal and electoral: Exercise your right to free speech, even when it’s inconvenient; refuse to let your jury give in to un-American demands; vote for judges and representatives who will uphold the existing rules of law, common sense, and American values; at all times remain vigilant in your defense of the American way of life.

Denmark’s ex-Leader to Kowtow to Islamofacists

05.04.2009 (8:29 pm) – Filed under: Free Speech,Islam,World ::

Michael van der Gailen reports that Denmark’s just-resigned Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen will publicly apologize to the Islamic world because Danish newspapers printed what have become known as the infamous Mohammed cartoons.

If true, the reports are the latest in a long string of unfortunate moral failures on the part of European leaders in dealing with the rising tide of Islamic radicalism. 

Rasmussen has heretofore refused to cave in to pressure from Muslim fundamentalists and was widely celebrated as a hero by those to whom the right of free speech is important.  This set him apart among European leaders as the one man able and willing to refuse to appease militant Muslims at every turn.

No longer, it seems.  The reason?  Rasmussen’s personal ambition.  van der Galien reports that the former prime minister resigned his national position to accept the post of NATO Secretary-General and had to submit to Turkey’s demands for an apology before his appointment could be cleared:

If true, it’s a major blow to the freedom of speech the prime minister said he held so dear. Rasmussen should have stuck to his guns and defended Western principles. This is not about whether one agrees with him on every single subject, nor about whether or not one is a fan of his (country’s) policy towards Turkey. It’s about the freedom of newspapers to publish whatever cartoon they want, no matter how controversial they may be in some quarters.

Before today Rasmussen’s taking the S-G job at NATO could have been viewed as a positive step.  Now his entire legacy as a defender of western democratic principles is in doubt. 

What price ambition, Mr. Prime Minister?  No mere job is worth the compromise Rasmussen seems poised to make with his enemies.

More Congressional Censorship, Inadvertent This Time?

14.02.2009 (12:24 am) – Filed under: Child Care,Free Speech,Politics ::

I recently wrote about public libraries planning to ban older books because of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act passed by Congress last year.  The NY City Journal has picked up on the story now that the damage seems to be spreading to retail book resellers.

Not until 1985 did it become unlawful to use lead pigments in the inks, dyes, and paints used in children’s books. Before then—and perhaps particularly in the great age of children’s-book illustration that lasted through the early twentieth century—the use of such pigments was not uncommon, and testing can still detect lead residues in books today. This doesn’t mean that the books pose any hazard to children.

As many have written in regard to the Democrats’ colossal spending bill that’s just passed into law, the first priority of all governmental action should be this simple maxim – First Do No Harm.

Old books never hurt anyone save for the barbed words written on the page.  Certain of them have been toxic in that regard and remain in the hands of readers to young, naive, or foolish to make proper evaluations of their contents.  Yet there is no complaint from Congress on that score despite the damage wrong by bad ideas spread in the 60s.

One can only make two assumptions about legislation such as CPSIA: Either Congress fears children will consume by mouth sufficient quantities of lead trace ink in proportion to lab rats testing the cancer-causing profile of artificial sweeteners or they are simply incompetent.

You be the judge.

“Imagine, if you will, that I am an idiot.
Then, imagine that I am also a Congressman.
But, alas, I repeat myself.”
— Mark Twain

Great Britain, a Lost Country

12.12.2008 (3:29 pm) – Filed under: England,Free Speech,Religion ::

Students singing in the choir at Arthur Bugler Primary School in Great Britain spent weeks practicing Christmas music only to be told that the songs weren’t appropriate for the Corringham "Winter Festival", an event undoubtedly once known as a Christmas Festival.  The reason?  The songs were "too religious".  The decision was called ridiculous by parents who said, "It’s ridiculous that you can’t sing religious songs. It’s Christmas – when can you sing them?" and "I can’t see how the Christmas carols they were going to sing would have been offensive to anyone."  If only the latter statement were true.   

Hold my gifts, everyone.  All I want for Christmas this year is for people to call it by its proper name.

To do that, people first have to recognize that it is in fact acceptable to not care if others are offended by their beliefs.  That sounds uncaring, I know, but like so many things in life the real effect of that statement is the exact opposite of how it appears at first blush. 

Tolerance is a broad brush.  Ergo, it’s perfectly alright for you to hold views – and take actions – that offend me, so long as they’re within the confines of the law.  The mechanisms of restraint have always been two-fold:  the rigidity of the law and the flexible lines of common sense.  Today’s third mechanism, political correctness, recognizes neither historically applied standard.  The freedom to do as we please, regardless of race, religion, creed, or color, is the fundamental building block of democracy.  Sacrificing it to placate groups of people who choose to take offense to traditional cultural mores is too high a price to pay to accommodate them.

In a country in which domestic and international policies can be turned on their ears by 2% of swing voters and a majority of 60% is an unassailable position of power, the right of children to sing Christmas carols during the Christmas holiday should be guaranteed in Thurrock, where self-described Christians number about 75% of the population.

That this was not the outcome for the Bugler students is a strong indication that Great Britain has lost her way and, perhaps, her soul.

Gays’ Entitlement and Incivility

14.11.2008 (11:57 pm) – Filed under: Free Speech,Gay Rights,Society ::

The aftermath of Proposition 8’s passage in California has put the spotlight on the glaring incivility of homosexual activists in the state.  Understandably disappointed, they’ve gone too far by staging high-profile personal attacks on individuals who sided against their cause. 

It seems that everyone in America mistakenly believes that they are entitled to have their every whim emblazoned into law.  What ever happened to the idea of bringing society’s questions to a vote and accepting the result afterward?  It’s certainly gone out of vogue, if it was ever in, and we’re the worse for it.

The irony of California’s unrest is that proximate cause of the current high was the state supreme court’s controversial decision to legalize gay marriage at the expense of an existing voter-approved ballot measure to the contrary.  Had the activists on the court simply accepted voters’ wishes the current situation would not have come to pass. 

In that respect the court’s ruling is similar to the one that initiated years of forced integration in the nation’s public school system.  Although busing was a largely failed effort that left cities half-empty and half-broke and helped create suburban sprawl without achieving significant social integration, desegregation at least dealt with a fundamental question of equality – the distribution of the tax-funded education system’s resources. 

Gay marriage does not and cannot meet the same standard for two reasons.  First, homosexuals in America are perfectly free to live the lifestyle they’ve chosen.  It’s even hip in certain circles to be gay.  Second, the issue as it’s framed is little more than an attempt to redefine the all-important institution of marriage so as to grant homosexuality a legitimacy it does not have on its merits.

If the discussion, if what’s going on in California can be termed such, were about rights of survivorship, inheritance, access to insurance benefits, or other such legal construct, I suspect that gays would have encountered much less resistance.  Certainly I would not be writing this article, if that’s any indication of the country at-large.

Instead, and suddenly, gay activists are publicly demonizing blacks, straights, Mormons, and the elderly as bad people who deserve to be ambushed in person and in print for daring to exercise their constitutional right to vote their conscience.  If that doesn’t epitomize the chilling of free speech I don’t know what does.

It’s one thing to disagree with a law, to work to have it overturned, and to march on City Hall.  But it’s quite another to accost and attack the opposition simply because your position – no matter how closely held – is rejected.

Writing about the crude behavior Chicago students toward a lone, daring McCain supporter, Katie Allison Granju says:

…most people  who express political disagreement via trashtalk somehow find a way to justify their own ugliness, blaming it on the opposition rather than owning their personal decision to resort to insults and nastiness as they try (and usually fail) to make their points.

Gays and lesbians are failing to make their point in California for exactly these reasons.  Their cause lost in the court of public opinion and they now think they can shout down and bully their opponents into compliance using sheer shrillness.  Not so.

Washington D.C. Endorses Atheism

12.11.2008 (4:01 pm) – Filed under: Free Speech,Religion ::

Washington D.C.’s Metro Transit Authority has decided to allow the American Humanist Association to put billboards reading "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake" on its buses during the Christmas season.  Sounds like an endorsement of a religious position to me.  Odd how it’s A-OK to mock the faithful using public property while high school football announcers are forbidden to pray before a game.  Where is the equality?  Where is my due protection under the law?

Note that last is a bit of a snark; I think people need to develop thicker skins and remember that the Constitution does not grant any of us the right to never be offended by our fellow citizens.  Still, something doesn’t seem quite right about the slap in the face the AHA will be delivering this Christmas.

Perhaps it’s the fact that serious consideration and legal resources are being given to lawsuits like the one filed on behalf of the Summum church that has found its way up to the Supreme Court.  The Summum are unhappy because the city of Pleasant Grove, Utah had the temerity to honor the most fundamental legal precepts of all, the Ten Commandments, by placing a monument to God’s law in a park across from City Hall.

In 2003, the president of the Summum church wrote to the mayor here with a proposal: the church wanted to erect a monument inscribed with the Seven Aphorisms in the city park, “similar in size and nature” to the one devoted to the Ten Commandments.

The city declined, a lawsuit followed and a federal appeals court ruled that the First Amendment required the city to display the Summum monument.

Now, I can take a joke like the D.C. Metro’s with nothing more than a grimace of distaste.  My atheistic bretheren certainly have the right to express themselves, after all.  But when it comes to the courts mandating that localities must give equal time and space to crackpots like the Summum, I’m afraid not.

Admittedly I am biased against religions not embraced by the Founding Fathers of this country.  And I’m immediately suspicious of faiths founded by construction workers named "Corky", to say nothing of the Summum’s practice of counting membership based on the number of individuals who buy their Soma nectar wine.

Discriminatory, perhaps.  Wrong, hardly.  There will never be an end to the debate over whether the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation.  Yet even those who maintain that the Founding Fathers were largely deists cannot deny the influence of the Ten Commandments as the country’s fundamental principles.  If that makes some people uncomfortable, tough.  I’m sure the seats on D.C.’s Metro buses are comfortable enough and the view, for such atheists, is amusing.

More (Un)Fairness Doctrine

14.10.2008 (6:32 am) – Filed under: Conservatism,Free Speech,Liberalism ::

Stephen Green knows that the Fairness Doctrine is anything but.  How could it possibly represent fair outcomes given its birth in a bastard Congress and possessing a name like that?

Stephen writes:

If (when?) Obama is elected, by my estimation there’s an at least even chance that the newly-reconstructed FCC will reverse course and attempt to apply the New Fairness Doctrine to blogs.

I count the chances of that happening somewhat lower than Stephen’s even-money, but the mere suggestion that free speech might be impeded by a particular ideologically-minded group – any group – ought be be enough to arouse furious opposition.

Would resistance matter in this case?  Progressives, aka ultra-liberals, aka neo-socialists, are masters at playing games with words and pretending they’re not doing what they’re doing.  Like not putting bias into the media.  Not hijacking the agenda of college campuses.  Not promoting anti-American, anti-Christian agendas.  Etc. 

How does one fight vaporous lies?  Political correctness, which by definition cannot be wrong, contains no principles to oppose.  Yet there is power in these nullities, the power to distort and destroy, and that sly force must be countered through the use of speech, skill, and even muscle.

Stephen again:

Republicans, given the kind of power the Democrats are about to accrue, would maybe take away your right to get a completely totally naked chick to grind on your lap in a publicly licensed bar. The Democrats will do their damnedest to take away your right to speak. There’s the First Amendment, and then there’s the First Amendment. Be careful what you wish for.

The distinction he draws is ultimately the one that must be acknowledged:  There are worse things that having one’s behavior bounded by morality, loathe as many are to admit that it’s so. 

Millions of people in the former Soviet bloc, in China, in Cambodia, and in dozens of other places have experienced that horror.  The first step down that road is the silencing of dissent.  It’s no coincidence that progressives seek that end-game. 

Will you let it happen here?  Or will you speak out in recognition of the fact that freedom on Earth exists only between the poles of oppression that extremists of either side would enforce?

The Intellectual Left and Censorship

11.10.2008 (10:52 pm) – Filed under: Conservatism,Free Speech,Liberalism,Media ::

It’s common knowledge that conservatives are old, white-haired, white-skinned men with money who don’t care what anyone thinks save for those like them.  The corollary is that it’s the left who are the staunch defenders of freedom in everything from retroactive birth control to homosexual marriage to free speech.  Everyone knows that.

Unfortunately there’s one little problem with the last of these in that it’s not true.  The American left abhors free speech.  They hate it even though it gives them the right to fling their ideological dogma about in the air as if it were manna from heaven.  They hate it because it gives others, people who dare to disagree with them – how rude! – the ability to say so out loud.

Michael Barone discusses several well-known examples of the left’s determined chilling of free speech in this piece, one that deserves to be read.  So read it.  Now!  One pithy quote:

Today’s liberals seem to be taking their marching orders from other quarters. Specifically, from the college and university campuses where administrators, armed with speech codes, have for years been disciplining and subjecting to sensitivity training any students who dare to utter thoughts that liberals find offensive. The campuses that used to pride themselves as zones of free expression are now the least free part of our society.

America’s college campuses have largely been abandoned by conservative thinkers who, tired of low wages and fighting uphill against the leftist tide, fled the field in recent decades.  This leaves the shaping of young minds and our next generation of leaders in exactly the wrong hands.  That’s the thing about an ideological agenda – it seeks to gain positions of advantage.  In this case it’s been very successful to date.

In other areas of national life, the ascendancy of politically correct thought has not been as completely achieved; therefore, it seems to me that a discussion of the “Fairness Doctrine” would be rather illuminating.

Wikipedia:

The Fairness Doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows or editorials.

One of Ronald Reagan’s little-known but rather important accomplishments was the dismantling of this regulatory function of the Federal Communications Commission.  The left, recognizing that they were the ones whose views had to be forced onto consumers, quickly tried to re-institute the FD but were repelled, first by Reagan and then by the George Bush (41).

In the 20 years since conservative talk radio has burst into being like a flower in the desert, much to the dismay, loathing, and hatred of the left.  The new version of the FD that they have been attempting to force into law is meant to crush the windpipes of the conservative voices they so despise by forcing talk radio to transmit liberal messages whether they want to or not and whether anyone wants to listen or not.

Barone again:

Liberal talk-show hosts have mostly failed to draw audiences, and many liberals can’t abide having citizens hear contrary views.

To their credit, some liberal old-timers — like House Appropriations Chairman David Obey — voted against the “fairness doctrine,” in line with their longstanding support of free speech. But you can expect the “fairness doctrine” to get another vote if Barack Obama wins and Democrats increase their congressional majorities.

Obey’s disobedience will likely get him punished at some point – one doesn’t go against the progressive wing of the party in this day and age without paying a price eventually.  But his vote illustrates the point that liberals have lost their way.  Where they once stood for something there is now only the mad desire to force their views on people whether we want them or not.

In the case of the FD it’s unclear that Americans whether Americans want it revived or not, despite vocal, public support from leading Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin, and John Kerry.

In this Rasmussen poll, 47% of Americans agreed with these Democrats that the FD should be forced back on radio and television stations while 57% thought it should NOT be mandated on the Internet.  Puzzling.

More significantly, 71% of Americans believe that there’s already enough distribution of alternative points of view in the media.  This should tell proponents of the FD that it’s not needed.  But backing off would conflict with the twin goals of modern liberalism: 

  • the forcing itself into every area of America and American’s lives, wanted or not, and
  • the silencing the voices of those who disagree. 

That’s why I suspect that we’ll see the FD voted back into law during the coming Obama administration.  The fact that the FD violates one of the oldest and most elemental principles of liberalism is completely lost on today’s Democrats, though with notable exceptions like David Obey.

The 1st Amendment of the Constitution is the one that gives the voice of the minority its right to exist.  By definition it protects and empowers agents of change by ensuring their ability to speak.  And liberalism originated as a social agent provocateur to bring much-needed causes such as women’s voting rights and black’s civil rights to fruition.  Now the guardians of the right to speech, ideologically the very ones who have benefited the most from it, no longer acknowledge its sacredness to America.

I’m reminded of an occasion I’ve mentioned before, I think, in which I was debating with a liberal commenter the rights of parents to make and view “clean” versions of popular movies.  When I mentioned the excessive vulgar language in Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, he shot back with, “Kevin Smith gets to have his free speech and you get to shut the fuck up.”

While this is a fine intellectual argument – certainly on par with John Kerry’s parroting of the liberal pro-FD argument last year – I am somehow nonplussed by its logic.  At the same time, I clearly recognize how the same argument is being used by today’s liberals to shut down open discussion and free thought by their opponents.

Fundamentally the issue is simple:  There is not enough interest in liberal talk radio to warrant its existence.  It’s been tried and it failed, on more than one occasion. 

(In part this is because of the pre-existence of public broadcasting, a government-funded endeavor that ensures that liberal thought is present whether commercially viable or not.  Having an advantageous cost structure helps the public stations against would-be liberal upstarts, no doubt.  Government interference in the market stymied liberals’ attempts at innovation, IOW.  But try to get them to understand that’s what happened.)

That should be the end of the discussion.  But the market’s rejection of the liberal’s antidote to Rush Limbaugh, et al, cannot be allowed to stand.  Not only does it sting liberals’ pride that their baby was called ugly, but the damnable, thriving conservative radio market is still there!  This cannot be allowed, naturally, as its continued success casts doubt on the left’s ideological superiority and denies the inevitability of its ultimate implementation. 

Hence the Fairness Doctrine, version X, my friends.  Long may it live in the infamy of defeat and shame, whence it was banished and to where it should be confined for eternity.  But that it could be so.

Looking ahead to the next 4 (or 8) years, with full knowledge of how small a matter it is, I have to say that I will nuke this site and its content before I will allow “unsatisfactory material” to be published here, Fairness Doctrine or no.

 

h/t gaius

RNC Raids

30.08.2008 (8:50 pm) – Filed under: Free Speech,Politics ::

Glen Greenwald writes that Minneapolis police were out in force today, “dropping in on” some of the Twin Cities’ hippy crowd and making them feel right at home in Minnesota.  Looks like we’re gonna party like it’s 1968 again.

After that little brouhaha in Chicago, no one in authority wants to see riots in their city.  I certainly can’t blame them for that.  Still, it’s disturbing to see police seeking out and harassing people based on little more than their political contrariness.

Greenwald:

There is clearly an intent on the part of law enforcement authorities here to engage in extreme and highly intimidating raids against those who are planning to protest the Convention. The DNC in Denver was the site of several quite ugly incidents where law enforcement acted on behalf of Democratic Party officials and the corporate elite that funded the Convention to keep the media and protesters from doing anything remotely off-script.

The attitude of the powers-that-wanna-be seems to be that they’re paying big bucks to put on a show – the political convention – and they’re not about to let a little thing like freedom of speech interfere.

A couple of people were booked for conspiracy to riot.  Bruce Nestor, President of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild calls the charge ridiculous:

It basically criminalizes  political advocacy.  I mean, the essence of conspiracy law is if a single individual takes an overt act towards accomplishing an illegal goal such as purchasing a brick, and the police then claim that someone else in his group has an intent to throw that brick, then everyone who advocates that you attend that demonstration…

Maybe.  The charge itself makes sense – if it’s supported by evidence gathered using a warrant justified by probably cause.  Nestor’s explanation seems overly paranoid.  Common sense dictates that a conspiracy must be planned.  In turn this means that multiple people must be aware and actively participating.  Certainly I’d expect to see this level of evidence if I was sitting in the jury box.

What’s unfortunate – and probably illegal – about these arrests is that there doesn’t seem to be any conspiracy or intent to do anything at all.  Evidence?  Police took some computers and journals, nothing more, something that begs the question:  What drew police down on these people?  Where is the probable cause, in other words?

This situation gives the feeling that the police are being instructed to trump up something, anything, to keep the locak wackos and their drop-in friends from doing any ad hoc protesting during the RNC.

Much as I despise leftist politics and thought I find this pre-emptive attack against dissenters unsavory, uncalled for, and un-American.