Free speech limps along

Posted: Tuesday, March 05, 2002

This letter is prompted by the unfortunate situation of Joseph Frederick.

The conduct of the Juneau Police in this matter continues a long and well-documented history of contempt for constitutional principles and written law. But this incident was especially egregious: That the Juneau Police intentionally engaged in false arrest and stole and vandalized a private automobile to assist school officials in harassing and retaliating against a student engaged in free speech is pathetically unprofessional.

All of this is in the context of a present-day U.S. in which American liberties and constitutional standards are under constant attack in the guise of a "war on drugs." Under unconstitutional "civil forfeiture" laws, many thousands of Americans, who are never convicted of any crime, have collectively had billions of dollars in cash and property stolen from them by federal, local and state police and prosecutors. And many hundreds of thousands of ordinary, non-violent Americans rot in America's drug gulag prisons today simply because they prefer some "controlled substance" to alcohol or tobacco.

Many of us, including - I assume - Joseph Frederick, choose not to use drugs. But, of course, this matter is not about drugs. Mr. Frederick was not using drugs, he was engaging in free speech. That so many officials in positions of responsibility and authority in Juneau are so anxious to harass and muzzle free speech is pathetic. Patriotism involves more than just waving a piece of colored cloth.

My best wishes to Joseph Frederick. He might consider himself fortunate that his experiment in free speech resulted only in a suspension from school to harass him and negate his rights as an American, and in the Juneau Police only stealing $90 from him, falsely arresting him and stealing and vandalizing his car, and that they didn't plant and "find" some drugs while vandalizing it. Many in my generation were murdered, maimed or bloodied at Kent State, Chicago and elsewhere by military and police thugs over free speech. Perhaps Mr. Frederick can take some consolation that free speech manages to limp on after a fashion in spite of the determined efforts of officials who are threatened by it and abhor it.

Donald R. Douglas


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