The Statism Meme

Tim May tcmay at
Mon Feb 3 20:16:05 PST 2003

OK, so I watch a lot of t.v., or at least have t.v. dramas on a lot.

I'm struck by how many of them this year treat civil liberties as gone, 
either as old-fashioned or as just plain ignorable.

* On the episodes of "Law and Order" (three different versions weekly, 
often repeated on other nights), the cops routinely roust citizens, 
shop owners, hotel clerks, etc. Warrants are the exception, and when 
they are produced, they are merely waved in front of the targets. 
Whether this represents reality is not the point--the point is that the 
Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments are treated as technicalities to be 
violated at will. Cops, prosecutors, and judges violating the 
Constitution are not sanctioned.  Those being violated never fight 
back, whether with shotguns or their own lawyers.

* I just watched a new series called "Miracles." A planeload of 
passengers is held without charges, without arrest warrants. One 
passenger is simply taken away by the NSA because he may have 
information of use to them someday. Again, maybe not plausible, but 
this shows the meme Americans are becoming conditioned to accept.

* On one often execrable show called "Judging Amy," "Child Protection" 
workers are shown bursting into homes and apartments, sans warrants of 
course. One memorable line was "Yes, we can enter your home without a 
warrant...because we're not the police."

* Even t.v. commercials are spreading the meme that Big Brother is our 
friend. G.E. has one such commercial where doctors are told: "Wouldn't 
it be wonderful if you could just type in a name and see every medical 
treatment your patient has ever received?...with G.E.'s new software, 
you'll be able to." (paraphrase of their actual commercial)

* "Hate speech" is presented on these cop and lawyer shows as being 
ipso facto illegal. "These people think the Constitution gives them the 
freedom to spew hate."

* Nearly all of the programs present the Internet as a place which 
needs government control. The lawyers and cops editorialize (actually, 
the script writers, of course) about how the "Wild West" atmosphere is 
a haven for terrorists, gun nuts, pornographers, and Islamic militants. 
Various plots on the court shows have involved ISPs being forced to spy 
on customers.

* "9/11 changed everything" is heard at least weekly. The judges cite 
it to justify unconstitutional measures, the prosecutors use it to 
justify warrantless searches and coerced admissions.

Yes, I understand this is all fiction. Well, some of the scripts are 
based on actual events, including coerced confessions, warrantless 
searches, "sneak and peek" wiretaps, concentration camps in Cuba, etc. 
That so many of these popular programs have themes as I've described 
tells us what to expect.

The statism meme is growing under hothouse conditions.

--Tim May, Corralitos, California
Quote of the Month: "It is said that there are no atheists in foxholes; 
perhaps there are no true libertarians in times of terrorist attacks." 
--Cathy Young, "Reason Magazine," both enemies of liberty.

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