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Then They Came For Me… A New Age of McCarthyism and The Witch-Hunt For "Obscenity"

“In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me – and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoller, Dachau, 1944

In 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice created the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force (OPTF); according to their website the OPTF is:

“[D]edicated exclusively to the protection of America’s children and families through the enforcement of our Nation’s obscenity laws… investigates and prosecutes the producers and distributors of hardcore pornography… and is mounting a determined effort to coordinate resources at all levels of government to give people the protection the laws are intended to provide.”

Oh, isn’t it grand, to be alive and kicking in the Third Reich United States of America today! In the past month alone, the OPTF has successfully charged and prosecuted American’s for:

a. “non-existent obscenity”;

b. “movies made-by, exclusively-for, only available-to and purchased-by, consenting adults”; and most recently,

c. “films created by a self-described ‘shock’ artist.”

The L.A. Times ran a story today, regarding the above-mentioned, Government prosecution of Ira Isaacs, a Hollywood filmmaker who describes the videos he sells as “works of art.” His artistic expressions feature scenes which would, admittedly, make most people queasy. Some scenes in his videos include acts of bestiality, defecation and consensual adults having sex. “The sex,” he says, “is incidental to the art. It’s merely a marketing tool to drive sales of the videos on the Internet.” He adamantly argues, that the whole purpose of his films, is to shock the viewer (I mean, he wouldn’t a very good ‘shock’ artist if his art contained only scenes to tickle ones’ funny-bone). However, in a turn of (hopefully) good fortune, the judge presiding over the case (the honorable Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) is seen as a staunch defender of free speech. Judge Kozinski even led a successful effort to have filters banning pornography and other materials from computers in the appeals court’s Pasadena offices, removed.

Only time (and a panel of jurors) will tell, if the thought police will win this important battle for free speech and expression; but in the meantime, do not sit idly by as your First Amendment rights are ripped out from under you. We are at war with our own government; who apparently would love nothing more, than to waste the tax dollars we pay them, in order to fight a mythical “enemy.” You may not agree with others’ tastes of artistic expression; or others’ opinions of what “art” is; and you may find the artistic expression “disgusting,” “distasteful,” and even “nausea-inducing.” That does not give anyone, including our government, the right to censor free speech and expression, without a substantial cause. As Supreme Court Justice Kennedy once said,

“First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought.

Heed these words; great men and women, have shed unfathomable amounts of blood, sweat and tears, throughout the history of this great nation so that you and I may enjoy the rights instilled in us by the Constitution. Write to your representatives, senators, judges, journalists and anyone else that will listen; tell them (eloquently) that you adamantly disagree with the recent positions taken by the Department of Justice, prosecutor’s offices and the judiciary. Let them know that you will not stand for your rights, freedoms and civil liberties being taken away because a minority of the country, filled with ultra-conservative zealots, has had their ears for the last few years. Educate them, on the fact, that you won’t be voting for those who allow those zealots to conduct modern-day witch hunts, ala Joe McCarthy, for non-existent threats, harms or enemies. Most importantly, you must fight, in every legal way possible; fight against the growing tide, of those who wish to oppress you in the name of protecting you; because,

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

Do not go gentle into that good night… Rage, rage against the dying of the light; IF WE DON’T STOP THEM NOW, they will eventually come for you and me, and by that time there will be no one left to speak up for us.

– Zac Papantoniou (Guest Blogger)

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