Somepeople I talk to are not concerned that police will execute a searchwarrant without knocking or that they set up roadblocks and stop andinterrogate innocent citizens. They do not regard these as greatinfringements on their rights. But when you put current events together,there is information that may be surprising to people who have not yet beenconcerned: The amount of the Bill of Rights that is under attack isalarming. Let’s take a look at the Bill of Rights and see which aspects arebeing pushed on or threatened.
The point here is not the degree of eachattack or its rightness or wrongness, but the sheer number of rights thatare under attack. Amendment I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, orprohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and topetition the Government for a redress of grievances. ESTABLISHING RELIGION: While campaigning for his first term, GeorgeBush said “I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, norshould they be considered patriots. ” Bush has not retracted, commented on,or clarified this statement, in spite of requests to do so. According toBush, this is one nation under God. And apparently if you are not withinBush’s religious beliefs, you are not a citizen.
Federal, state, and localgovernments also promote a particular religion (or, occasionally,religions) by spending public money on religious displays. FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION: Robert Newmeyer and Glenn Braunstein were jailedin 1988 for refusing to stand in respect for a judge. Braunstein says thetradition of rising in court started decades ago when judges enteredcarrying Bibles. Since judges no longer carry Bibles, Braunstein says thereis no reason to stand — and his Bible tells him to honor no other God.
Forthis religious practice, Newmeyer and Braunstein were jailed and are nowsuing. FREE SPEECH: We find that technology has given the government an excuse tointerfere with free speech. Claiming that radio frequencies are a limitedresource, the government tells broadcasters what to say (such as news andpublic and local service programming) and what not to say (obscenity, asdefined by the Federal Communications Commission FCC). The FCC isinvestigating Boston PBS station WGBH-TV for broadcasting photographs fromthe Mapplethorpe exhibit. FREE SPEECH: There are also laws to limit political statements andcontributions to political activities.
In 1985, the Michigan Chamber ofCommerce wanted to take out an advertisement supporting a candidate in thestate house of representatives. But a 1976 Michigan law prohibits acorporation from using its general treasury funds to make independentexpenditures in a political campaign. In March, the Supreme Court upheldthat law. According to dissenting Justice Kennedy, it is now a felony inMichigan for the Sierra Club, the American Civil Liberties Union, or theChamber of Commerce to advise the public how a candidate voted on issues ofurgent concern to their members.
FREE PRESS: As in speech, technology has provided another excuse forgovernment intrusion in the press. If you distribute a magazineelectronically and do not print copies, the government doesn’t consider youa press and does not give you the same protections courts have extended toprinted news. The equipment used to publish Phrack, a worldwide electronicmagazine about phones and hacking, was confiscated after publishing adocument copied from a Bell South computer entitled “A Bell South StandardPractice (BSP) 660-225-104SV Control Office Administration of Enhanced 911Services for Special Services and Major Account Centers, March, 1988. ” Allof the information in this document was publicly available from Bell Southin other documents.
The government has not alleged that the publisher ofPhrack, Craig Neidorf, was involved with or participated in the copying ofthe document. Also, the person who copied this document from telephonecompany computers placed a copy on a bulletin board run by Rich Andrews. Andrews forwarded a copy to AT officials and cooperated with authoritiesfully. In return, the Secret Service (SS) confiscated Andrews’ computeralong with all the mail and data that were on it. Andrews was not chargedwith any crime.FREE PRESS: In another incident that would be comical if it were not true,on March 1 the SS ransacked the offices of Steve .