Who’s Knockin’ On My Door?

by J.D. Tuccille
August 2, 1996

It should probably come as no surprise that the current calls for extraordinary anti-terrorism legislation are sending an even icier chill down my spine than the latest visitations from the angry-militants-with-a-chemistry-text club. As horrific as the foreshortened TWA flight and the unscheduled Atlanta fireworks were, I know that such incidents touch the lives of an unfortunate few. Roving wiretaps, however, especially when permitted without court authorization, strikes a bit close to home for the scion of a Bronx-based Italian-American family with a history of ... err ... first-name-basis relationships with the forces of law and order.

Now, the American republic is two centuries old, so there’s no excuse for our refusal to learn that panic and demands to “do something” provide a lousy backdrop for rational legislation. This is especially true when the “something” is eagerly provided by an administration that has produced Waco, Filegate, and the Clipper chip, with a supporting cast of congress-critters whose civil libertarian credentials seem to begin and end with lamentations over the long-time demise of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

The current climate may be best demonstrated by the arrest and incarceration of Jason Paul Moreland for advocating the “overthrow of the U.S. government.” Ya see, Moreland wrote and distributed a pamphlet to that effect in an Atlanta suburb just as terrorist fever set in -- an unfortunate coincidence, as I’m sure he’d tell you if he wasn’t currently expending the bulk of his effort in keeping his 18-year old butt firmly planted against the wall of the Clayton County jail. And in jail he’ll stay until he raises the $50,000 bond.

What actual threat Mr. Moreland represents may be a matter of some doubt — especially to those of us who passed through High School with a large “A”-in-a-circle emblazoned on a handy item of apparel and political slogans on our lips. But you can’t say the police aren’t doing something.

Richard Jewell may also have a few things to say about today’s anti-terrorist frenzy. Mr. Jewell, who descended from heroic heights in the hours after the bombing to the lowest depths as the prime suspect in that same incident. Now, I don’t know if Richard Jewell is a mad bomber, and as I write this, neither does anybody else aside from Jewell himself. But Jewell has had his life snickered over by the press (unmarried, thirtyish, spotty employment record, likes guns ... huh ... who’s that knocking on my door?) and his personal possessions carted away, numbered, tagged, and pawed through by the earnest servants of law and order. All because he fitted the profile of an over-eager, over-aggressive law-enforcement type who might take up bomb-making as a hobby. Is a psychological profile really grounds for a public inquisition? And does anybody care to guess at Mr. Jewell’s employment future if cleared of any role in the bombing after his tour through the headlines?

But panic is panic, and when results are demanded they will be supplied by any number of uniformed schutzstaffel-wannabe thugs and their opportunistic overseers.

And now we even have another ... yawn ... call for Internet censorship from a group of especially unsavory U.S. Senators, including California’s Diane Feinstein, who has rapidly established herself as the Anthony Comstock of things that go BANG. These politicos screech that bomb recipes are available online for the asking, and that the world won’t be safe until the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms conducts virtual raids on electronic anarchists’ dens. This all comes as a bit of a surprise to those of us who as pyrotechnically precocious children copied our first recipes for black powder from an encyclopedia in the public library.

So far, the worst of the proposals have stumbled over pitfalls of residual sanity in the U.S. Congress. But as the panic-fueled rush towards the uncertain embrace of the police state picks up speed with every act of hate in a strife-torn world, the sanity of a few legislators will be an increasingly thin shield behind which to hide. It may be only a matter of time before ... ssshhh ... uh oh ... I think they’re here ...

From the Notebook

I was afraid to speak for fear of jinxing such a blessed event, but here’s a belated cheer for the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. This bill actually takes a bit of the wind out of the sales of the single most intrusive agency yet devised by the U.S. federal government. It’s even so radical as to apply the traditional presumption of innocence to tax cases. What daring!

And likewise, kudos for the imperfect but perfectly acceptable welfare reform bill. May it be a portent of government downsizing to come.

But what’s going on in the U.K. with this latest crazy drive towards even more restrictive gun control? I understand that a few Tory Members of Parliament have been holding the line (much to the displeasure of the British press, which sniped at “libertarian and traditionalist” Conservatives), but the thrust seems to be towards disarming British civilians.

So what happened to the British tradition of liberty and resistance? Or is that yet another legacy that’s been handed over to the U.S?

Ah well, and so much for the power of argument. So back you go to Full Automatic or to my home page.

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Copyright (c) 1996 Jerome D. (Il Tooch) Tuccille. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Il Tooch is prohibited. Mess with me and I’ll use your polished skull as a beer mug.