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As previously noted, last night's Boston Legal was a doozy, a balls-out no-holds-barred protest against the current administration's dismantling of the Constitution and the lack of response from the American people. The ever-reliable Crooks and Liars has the video of, as they say, "one of those great monologues that we all wished would be said by somebody other than a great actor." Upon watching, I knew I had to transcribe the speech. So here it is.
When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out not to be true, I expected the American people to rise up.

Hah! They didn't.

Then, when the Abu Ghraib torture thing surfaced and it was revealed that our government participated in rendition, a practice where we kidnap people and turn them over to regimes who specialize in torture, I was sure, then, the American people would be heard from.

We stood mute.

Then came the news that we jailed thousands of so-called "terrorist" suspects, locked them up, without the right to a trial or even the right to confront their accusers. Certainly we would never stand for that.

We did.

And now it's been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive illegal domestic surveillance on its own citizens. You and me.

And I at least consoled myself that finally, finally the American people will have had enough.

Evidently we haven't.

In fact, if the people of this country have spoken, the message is, "We're okay with it all."

Torture, warrantless search and seizures, illegal wiretappings, prison without a fair trial--or any trial, war on false pretenses . . . we as a citizenry are apparently not offended. There are no demonstrations on college campuses, in fact, there's no clear indication that young people even seem to notice.

Well, Melissa Hughes noticed.

Now, you might think instead of withholding her taxes she could have protested the old-fashioned way, made a placard and demonstrated at a presidential or a vice-presidential appearance, but we've lost the right to that as well. The Secret Service can now declare "free speech zones" to contain, control and in effect criminalize protest.

Stop for a second and try to fathom that. At a presidential rally, parade, or appearance, if you have on a supportive T-shirt you can be there. If you're wearing or carrying something in protest, you can be removed.

This in the United States of America. This in the United States of America.

Is Melissa Hughes the only one embarassed?

He sits down in the witness chair.
Mr. Shore, that's a chair for witnesses only.
SHORE (resignedly)
Really long speeches make me so tired sometimes.
Please get out of the chair.
Actually, I'm sick and tired.
Get out of the chair!
SHORE (angrily, as he gets up)
And what I'm most sick and tired of is how every time somebody disagrees with how the government is running things he or she is labeled un-American.
Evidently, it's speech time.
And speech in this country is free, you hack! Free for me, free for you, free for Melissa Hughes and say, "Stick it!"
COUNSEL (shocked)
I object to government to abusing its power to squash the Constitutional freedoms of its citizenry. And God forbid anybody challenge it, they're smeared as a heretic.

Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American!

Mr. Shore, unless you have anything new and fresh to say please sit down. You've breached the decorum of my courtroom with all this hooting.
Last night I went to bed with a book--not as much fun as a 29-year-old--but the book contained a speech by Adlai Stevenson. The year was 1952. He said, "The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live, and fear breeds repression. Too often sinister threats to the Bill of Rights, to freedom of the mind, are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-communism."
Today it's the cloak of anti-terrorism.

Stevenson also remarked, "It's far easier to fight for principles than to live up to them."

I know we are all afraid. But the Bill of Rights--we have to live up to that. We simply must.

That's all Melissa Hughes was trying to say. She was speaking for you.

I would ask you now to go back to that room and speak for her.

Originally posted to The Cunctator on Wed Mar 15, 2006 at 06:04 PM PST.

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