And in local journalism, we turn to the Op-Ed page of the Opelika-Auburn News, where the editorial board has — with their characteristic courage and insight — taken a bold and controversial stand by saying that Auburn’s football team is pretty good this year.
I sent a letter to the editor of the Opelika-Auburn News the other day, after reading this little piece about recent efforts by Mike Hubbard to intimidate his critics with legal threats. As far as I know the letter hasn’t appeared in the paper, and my guess is that it’s not likely to, since the opinion page is currently flooded with letters for and against an upcoming city property tax referendum. So, I reprint it here. Of course, if the accusations being made against Hubbard are false, then I think it’s a bad thing for people to tell lies or spread misinformation. But his efforts to enforce his preferred version of events, by means of legal force, is a loathsome attempt at censorship. It is no less preposterous, and even more contemptible, than if he went around challenging his critics to duels.
To the Editor:
I was disappointed to read that Rep. Mike Hubbard has decided to respond to his critics with intimidation and legal threats (“Hubbard enlists attorney to investigate libelous claims,” Sep. 11). Apparently, he is angry about bloggers who made “negative comments” about him on the Internet, so now “he has hired an attorney to stop” the authors, by tracking them down and threatening a libel lawsuit.
Hubbard says that he has done this because “certain individuals” are trying to damage his good name. But a good reputation is not the private property of Rep. Mike Hubbard. His reputation just is the sum total of other people’s opinions about him; and other people’s opinions of Mike Hubbard belong to the people who have them – not to Mr. Hubbard. If people change their mind about Hubbard after reading about him on blogs, then the comments they read may be true or false, justified or unfounded, honest or malicious. But whatever the negative comments are, they are not “destroying” anything that Hubbard has a right to exclusively control.
You might say, “But the comments were libelous; he has legal rights.” That’s what the law says, but the law is wrong: libel actions are shameful and chilling assaults on the freedom of speech and the press.
If the comments are true, Hubbard has no right to complain about them. If the comments are false, Hubbard – a well-connected politician, and a well-positioned local media owner – has plenty of outlets for responding to the accusations, and more than enough opportunities to peacefully persuade us he’s in the right. Either way, sending a lawyer to intimidate and silence critics is an abuse of power, and the act of a bully – and a desperate one at that. Hubbard ought to be ashamed of himself.
Charles W. Johnson
-  A local media mogul, GOP honcho, currently Speaker of the Alabama state House of Representatives, and the man who preposterously claims to
representme in Alabama’s state government. ↩
-  I’m agin’ it, because I’m against all tax laws, but I won’t be voting agin’ it next week, because I am not registered to vote. ↩
-  Challenging them to duels would be less contemptible because he would at least be taking the risks of his violent outbursts on his own person, rather than throwing his wealth and power around in a court-room against bloggers much less able to defend themselves. It would also actually be much less dangerous and tyrannical — since his chosen victims would always be free to refuse him. ↩
So here’s the National & World News page, from this morning’s edition of the Opelika-Auburn News.
Obama signs $633B defense bill …
New tax law packed with breaks for business …
American missiles kill senior Taliban militant in Pakistan …
Progressives and social-justice voters can be thankful — thank goodness we re-elected a Progressive Democrat as President. Just imagine if some Right-wing corporate warmonger got into office. Good God, just imagine what he’d be doing now.
To-day’s clipped stories, from the Opelika Auburn News (September 20, 2012).
Front Page. Nothing to clip here, actually. The biggest real estate is occupied by a story about how some super-millionaire said something in private that turned out to be aired in public that may or may not hurt his chances on the margin in his attempt to go from being one of the most massively privileged people in the entire world to the single most massively privileged person in the entire world. This may or may not help out the chances of his super-millionaire opponent to remain the most massively privileged person in the entire world, if it convinces more people that the super-millionaire challenger cares less about ordinary folks than the incumbent super-millionaire does. Somebody is supposed to care about this. I don’t: it couldn’t possibly matter less how much the most massively privileged person in the entire world cares, or who he or she cares about, because the existence of such massive, ruinous and lethal structures of social and economic privilege is exactly the problem, and it is the one problem which such debates over the less-worse of a pair of party-backed super-millionaires will never raise.
2A. Donathan Prater, Bo’s nose: Auburn police get new K-9 tracker. A fairly typical police puff piece to announce that the police force occupying Auburn, Alabama has a new dog that they are going to use to hound people who are trying to get away from them, and to get or fabricate
probable causefor harassing people suspected of nonviolent drug offenses.
Bo has a nose for finding trouble. But in his line of work, that’s a good thing.
The Auburn Police Division welcomed Bo, an 11-month-old Belgian Malinois, to the force on Wednesday.
Trained in both narcotics detection and human tracking, Bo was officially introduced to members of the media at Auburn Technology Park North.
For years, we have called on (Lee County) Sheriff Jay Jones and (Opelika Police) Chief Thomas Mangham for use of their tracking K-9s, for which we’re thankful, but we felt like it was time for us to have our own,Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson.
We’re very excited about putting this dog to work.
… Dawson said Bo was purchased last month from the Alabama Canine Law Enforcement Officers Training Center in Northport with approximately $10,000 in seized assets from drug arrests.
… The acquisition of Bo puts the APD’s number of K-9 officers at four, said Dawson, a former K-9 handler.
— Donathan Prater, Bo’s nose: Auburn police get new K-9 tracker. Opelika-Auburn News, September 20, 2012. A2.
Well, that’s a damn shame. The primary purpose that they will use Bo for, as they use all police dogs, will be to provide pretexts to justify what are essentially random sweeps, searches and seizures; to harass, intimidate and coerce innocent people on easily fabricated, often mistaken and incredibly thin
probable cause,with the minutest of ritual gestures at a sort of farce on
due process,in order to prosecute a Drug War that doesn’t need to be prosecuted and to imprison, disenfranchise, and ruin the lives of people who have done nothing at all that merits being imprisoned, disenfranchised, or having their lives ruined by tyrannical drug laws. It’s not the dog’s fault, of course; he looks like a perfectly nice dog. But the people who bought him (with the proceeds from their own search-n-seizure racket), and who are using him, are putting him to a violent and degrading use, and they ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Op-Ed Page, 4A.
Muslim religion should be feared in US.Rudy Tidwell, of Valley, a God-and-Country fixture on the Op-Ed page, decides that he doesn’t like Church-State integrationists when they aren’t part of his favorite church. Then, by means of an insanely ambitious collectivism, he assimilates the actions of his least favorite hypercollectivists to the thoughts and feelings of literally all 1,600,000,000 (he rounds up to 2 billion) Muslims in the world.
Arab Springhas become a catchphrase for the media and other liberals to minimize the real dangers of the actual enemy of America. The so-called Arab Spring is actually a
Muslim Spring,meaning that the growing takeovers we see in various Middle Eastern countries are Muslims rising up worldwide.
Why is this aspect of the Middle East unrest not recognized for what it is? The euphemism made between so-called radical Muslims and peaceful Muslims. Islam is a dangerous body of more than 2 billion people who are determined to convert or kill, and there is no compromise to be made?
It’s not just a few radical Muslims who make terrorist attacks. How then do you account for the fact that when the attacks on 9/11 occurred, Muslims around the world rejoiced and danced in the streets?
More recent events in Libya and Egypt have been recognized as and declared to be planned attacks, not benign protests. Were all the people burning the embassies and tearing down and burning the American flags peace-loving Muslims?
We have a growing number of Muslims in the United States. There are enclaves of Muslims who rule with rigid and brutal Shariah law. Dearborn, Mich, is perhaps the most notable. Muslims are entering the U.S. in numbers that would shock us if we knew the full extent.
I encourage you to get a copy of the Quran and read it. It is a frightening book that demands faithfulness to its teachings to the point of death. It is the guide book for a worldwide takeover, not by reason and diplomacy as Communism said it would do over time, but by conversion or death.
Well, then. 2,000,000,000? Really? Did they all do the converting and killing and rejoicing and dancing all at once, or do they maybe take it in turns? Well I suppose the gigantic hive mind that they all link up to when they join that
dangerous bodyno doubt ensures that such problems of coordination don’t really arise.
Op-Ed Page, 4A. Today in History.
In 1884, the National Equal Rights Party was formed during a convention of suffragists in San Francisco.
In 1958, Martin Luther King Jr. was seriously wounded during a book signing at a New York City department store when Izola Curry stabbed him in the chest. (Curry was later found mentally incompetent.)
In 1996, President Bill Clinton announced that he was signing the Defense of Marriage Act, a bill outlawing same-sex marriages, but said it should not be used as an excuse for discrimination, violence or intimidation against gays and lesbians.
Section A contains no international news at all today, unless you count the collecto-eliminationist letter from Rudy Tidwell on the Op-Ed page.
-  [For whom? —R.G.] ↩
-  [Sic. Of course what he means, as he makes clear, is the enemy of the United States government. Which is not true either, but in any case obviously not the same thing. —RG.] ↩
-  [Sic. Of course all governments are usurpers, and thus are ongoing
takeoversby nature. That includes
revolutionarystates; on the other hand it also obviously includes the hyperauthoritarian regimes recently challenged or thrown out. What the hell was the Mubarak regime, say, if not a constantly repeated, jackbooted takeover of innocent people’s lives? —RG.] ↩
-  [Sic. What he describes is not a
euphemism,but rather a distinction that he regards as being misapplied. —RG.] ↩
-  [Rudy Tidwell is speaking outside of his area of expertise. —RG.] ↩
-  [ —R.G.] ↩
-  [Sic. —RG.] ↩
-  [Sic. —RG.] ↩
This was on the front page of to-day’s OA News (front page, continued on p. 8A). The online copy is a bit longer than what appeared in print (there are a couple paragraphs at the end that the OA News cut from the printed edition). The U.S. Civil Rights Commission recently held a meeting in Birmingham to discuss SB 1070 and HB 56, the international apartheid police-state bills in Arizona and Alabama. Demonstrators showed up to inject some reality into the proceedings.
From the Associated Press.
Civil rights panel has first meeting to discuss laws
BIRMINGHAM — A quarrelsome U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held its first hearing on state laws that target illegal immigration, with Republican backers arguing Friday that the measures are vital to protecting American jobs and fighting crime.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped write similar immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama, said unemployment in Alabama has dropped three times faster than the national average since parts of the state’s law took effect last fall — a change he credited at least in part to the act.
Attempting to head off claims that the laws lead to racial profiling by police, Kobach said the immigration enforcement specifically bars officers from making stops or arrests based on appearance.
As he spoke, four Hispanic women and a girl stood in the audience with their backs toward Kobach. Demonstrators, some speaking Spanish, stood up holding signs that saidUndocumentedand shouted at Kobach.
These laws are based on hate,said one man.
The meeting room quieted after officers escorted protesters away, but the commissioners still bickered among themselves. Congressional appointee Todd Gaziano, legal director of the conservative Heritage Foundation, accused the demonstrators ofhateful speech. Gaziano and chairman Martin R. Castro, appointed by President Barack Obama, exchanged sharp words throughout the opening session. Members even disagreed over who should be allowed to testify, with organizations accusing each other of being hate groups.
The commission will issue a report within months on the findings of the hearing, which focused on whether the state laws foster discrimination and run counter to civil rights laws. But the panel doesn’t have any enforcement power, and it can’t make states alter their laws.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down three parts of Arizona’s law in June, but it upheld a section that requires police to check the status of people who might appear to be in the country illegally. The ruling was closely watched because Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and Utah have approved similar laws.
Courts have blocked all or parts of the laws in each state, and legal challenges are now moving forward since the justices ruled on the Arizona statute .
Law opponent Tammy Besherse, an attorney with South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, accused law officers of destroying immigrants’ legal documents and of playing computer games in which participants kill Mexican immigrants.
GOP state Sen. Scott Beason, a key sponsor of Alabama’s law, said opponents of the laws and the media place more value on the rights of illegal immigrants than the plight of legal U.S. citizens who can’t find work because of people living in the country unlawfully.
We cannot solve the world’s problems, but we can make sure we don’t import some problems,Beason said. Responding to a question about a U.S. Chamber of Commerce that cast immigration in a positive light, Beason said the business organization ispretty slantedbecause some of its members employ illegal immigrants.
Castro said the Alabama hearing was the commission’s first outside Washington, D.C., in years. The panel’s first-ever was held in Birmingham in 1958, when state and local laws mandated racial segregation.
— Jay Reeves, Associated Press, Quarrelsome commission: Civil rights panel has first meeting to discuss laws. Opelika-Auburn News, 18 August 2012.
The article goes to some effort to make it out that the fights amongst the panel members were signs of
a clear divide between
Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. Of course the notion that the Democratic Party appointees maintain any
divide, or have any
quarrel, other than a purely rhetorical one, from the Republicans, is absurd. In 2008, presidential candidate Obama promised comprehensive immigration reform, paths
out of the shadows for undocumented immigrants, and promised that immigration reform would be
a top priority in my first year as President. In 2012, four years later, Liberal Democratic President Barack Obama has accomplished nothing at all towards comprehensive reform or towards paths to citizenship. The claim that it would be a top priority in his first year in office was a lie; he abandoned it as soon as he sat down in the Oval Office, concentrated on pushing stimulus bills and fighting wars and bailing out failed capitalists — and then he radically escalated the militarization of the border, and he presided over the largest mass deportations of peaceful immigrants in the history of the United States. Even his weakest, latest-coming promises have been lies, broken as soon as they were made. But there is a real divide here. It’s not a divide on the panel; it’s the divide between the panel, and the protesters who courageously stood up to challenge them. I am glad to see people calling out Kobach, and challenging this kind of political palavering over the lives and livelihoods of immigrant families. More power to them.
- GT 2012-08-06: Free Alfonso Perez
- GT 2011-10-24: Letter to the Editor of the Opelika-Auburn News, October 10, 2011
- GT 2011-10-22: Change You Can Believe In (Vol. III, No. 10)
-  [I-word and xenophobia sic. —RG.] ↩