Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Don't Read About It And Don't Know About It

“Read It And Weep” was going to be my headline for this piece. It's more appropriate to write: “Don’t Read It And Don’t Weep Because You Don’t Know.” This is another little thing that's slipped under the radar...

In 12-step programs we talk about “slippery slopes.” That would be like trying to not drink but hanging out in bars, with people who do drink, stuff like that. Or trying to avoid smoking marijuana but hanging around Rastafarians. I knew a woman who was trying to keep to the straight and narrow but she was working in titty bars. Self-defeating behaviors are just that: self-defeating.

There’s another slippery slope, and this country is on it. It’s a slope that leads to totalitarianism. We’ve slipped way down the list of countries with freedom of the press; our phones can be wire-tapped because somebody in power thinks we might be dangerous, somehow; our bank records are open secrets to the government, we’re watched by TV cameras just about everywhere we go, the government wants internet providers to keep records of where we go on the WWW, we need special ID cards to vote, and...oh yeah, if someone in power decides we’re supporting the “enemy,” we can be arrested and tried in secret.

Got the picture?

All these pieces are in place. If the government wants to pick someone up, they can do it; no warrant, no evidence, no lawyers, no habeas corpus. Jawohl!

U.S. Rank on Press Freedom Slides Lower
By Nora Boustany
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, October 24, 2006; A15

Some poor countries, such as Mauritania and Haiti, improved their record in a global press freedom index this year, while France, the United States and Japan slipped further down the scale of 168 countries rated, the group Reporters Without Borders said yesterday.

The organization's fifth annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index tracks actions against news media through the end of September. The group noted its concern over the declining rankings of some Western democracies as well as the persistence of other countries in imposing harsh punishments on media that criticize political leaders.


Northern European countries top the index, with no reported censorship, threats, intimidation or physical reprisals, either by officials or the public, in Finland, Ireland, Iceland and the Netherlands. All of those countries were ranked in first place.

Although it ranked 17th on the first list, published in 2002, the United States now stands at 53, having fallen nine places since last year.

"Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of 'national security' to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his 'war on terrorism,' " the group said.

"The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 U.S. states, refuse to recognize the media's right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism," the group said.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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