Think things better before Bush?
May 3, 2006 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Forty men and one woman went to prison for sedition in Montana Seems that we make faulty assumptions about how we have protection and rights in our democracy, and that things used to be much better than they now are...not so. A big difference, though, is that now our Big Brothers have technology to help snare misbehaving citizens.
posted by Postroad (38 comments total)
Oh, okay. I guess since no one's been outright arrested for sedition, everything's good.
posted by blacklite at 11:11 AM on May 3, 2006

Whats' worse than moral relativism? Moral relativism on the down "rights ... not so" b/c if no one stands up for your rights then you dont have them?

Nooo you just have an evil consensus / seditious or anti-constitution? consensus

But ti's ok! do what chya like.
posted by nervousfritz at 11:20 AM on May 3, 2006

"I will not kiss that thing. It might be covered with microbes."

That's always a good policy, seditious or no.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:24 AM on May 3, 2006

This is a really fascinating link...but I'm not sure what sedition charges in early 1900's have to do with Bush now. I mean, lots of stuff happened before Bush, that doesn't make Bush's regime any less insane.

Before Bush there was slavery and civil war and women as chattel, and McCarthy and on and on and on. None of that mitigates the fact that Bush's puppet government uses the Constitution as potty paper, has reversed the US stand on torture, kidnaps the wives of people they want to "interview", has killed god knows how many brown people who apparently don't matter enough to even get a government head count, sold vast amount of national resources to his cronies, thinks he has a mandate from the Sky God, and pisses on souls of every *real* small government conservative that paved the path for these psychopathic, murderous, ravaging chicken hawks.
posted by dejah420 at 11:31 AM on May 3, 2006

I'd love to ask some conservative blowhard to kiss the flag on live television.

"Nooo you just have an evil consensus / seditious or anti-constitution? consensus"

If You Constrict anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey?or Effective Way?
posted by 2sheets at 11:33 AM on May 3, 2006

This is a good link, thanks. The FPP is made odious and annoying by the overt editorializing about present political conditions. Smart people can draw such parallels, if they're warranted, for themselves, and the addition of the frame and the tags makes this seem the post of a partisan rather than a curious person.
posted by OmieWise at 11:36 AM on May 3, 2006

kidnaps the wives of people they want to "interview",

Here's a link for people regarding this.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 11:42 AM on May 3, 2006

One witness reportedly quoted him as saying, "Ha, ha! You proud Americans will be glad to eat herring and cold potato before you are through with this war."

Well, the political insults were certainly better before Bush.
posted by bonecrusher at 11:43 AM on May 3, 2006

Think things were better before Bush? There were cannibals in Utah 150 years ago. Now thank your lucky stars he's our president.
posted by destro at 11:48 AM on May 3, 2006

They weren't cannibals until they got to California.

Which isn't unusual.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:51 AM on May 3, 2006

Seems that we make faulty assumptions about how we have protection and rights in our democracy, and that things used to be much better than they now are...not so. A big difference, though, is that now our Big Brothers have technology to help snare misbehaving citizens

So, uh, you got a link to all the people that have been arrested for sedition since 2001? Since it's so easy to track and take us down, you know.

Hmm, 1918, 1918... That year seems to stick out in my memory. Ah yes, 1918 - isn't that the year that the Sedition Act of 1918 was passed? Why, yes it is. Wasn't the same act also repealed in 1921? Why, yes it was. What does this have to do with Big Brother again? That's right, nothing!

What the fuck!
posted by SweetJesus at 11:52 AM on May 3, 2006

Interesting stuff, especially in light of a recent FPP about the Haymarket Riots.

But please spare us your proselytizing Postroad. It falls into the "America tortures, but not as bad as Saddam tortured!" routine. Two wrongs and all that.
posted by bardic at 11:52 AM on May 3, 2006

Well, so much for getting anything done today. This is a great FPP.

I like that a major factor in this guy's conviction (for 10-20 years!) was his mustache.

Serves him right.
posted by bonecrusher at 11:56 AM on May 3, 2006

Can someone explain why this has a Bush tag?
posted by keswick at 11:59 AM on May 3, 2006

Mr Klipstine said in 1918
It is a wonder that our God Damned Government didn't send us some papers before we got in war so we could have had something to say about it and then we wouldn't have had war; we had no business to be in war as the people didn't want it; it was only the damned officials we sent to Washington that got us in war; only the big moneyed men wanted war, the rest of the people didn't want it and our damned government didn't give the people a chance to say whether they wanted war
Now that's a piece of history repeating
posted by elpapacito at 12:15 PM on May 3, 2006

They weren't cannibals until they got to California.
Which is why we discourage having Utahns move to California. The resemblence between cows in Utah and California surfers is just eerie.

Can someone explain why this has a Bush tag?
posted by Postroad
Nuff said; you have to learn to mentally tone down the rhetoric 75% when Posty's poting.

The Sedition Act of 1918 is right up there with the Japanese Internment Camps and House UnAmerican Committee (yeah, I know the real name's longer, but it sounds more accurate like that), and oh, yeah, that social institution that ended in the 1860's, that should keep reminding us that those lofty words about rights in the U.S. Constitution did not get a truly literal interpretation until my lifetime (although I am older than most of you). Abuses, even under Democratoid Presidents and Congresses, always disturb me, but the current trend is especially disheartening, since I wonder if, after all the work he's done to establish a very Imperial Presidency, whether he'd ever hand it over to a Hillary Clinton or even a Rudy Giulianni (although it's a good explaination why McCain has turned into such a toady lately). But I digress. At least nothing I just wrote is subject to prosecution... besides, youI know they'll come for Postroad first, so I'll have plenty of time to escape to Canada.
posted by wendell at 12:20 PM on May 3, 2006

(I accidentally left out the name "Bush" after the "if" in the second long sentence... but then, that'll help me avoid getting discovered by the sedition-bots)
posted by wendell at 12:24 PM on May 3, 2006

Governor Schweitzer is posthumously pardoning 78 people today.
posted by Guy Smiley at 12:28 PM on May 3, 2006

I didn't know it was possible for my eyes to roll up that far.

Interesting link, had it not been in the context of ZOMG BUSH. Sigh.
posted by symphonik at 12:28 PM on May 3, 2006

Should some of this discussion get moved to meTa?

The fact that WWI and the years after were some of the darkest for political dissent in the U.S. is one of the rather nasty hidden secrets of U.S. history. The fallout of this spread wide with provisions of the U.S. Sedition act practically eliminating a rich tradition of multilingual jounalism.

I'd agree that today is not as bad as WWI, or even WWII. Still however, Federal law enforcement is engaged in some pretty dodgy acts to try to reduce more outspoken dissent, and has been since '99.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:34 PM on May 3, 2006

Alien and Sedition Acts passed by our second president in 1798.

The fear back then, of course, was of hidden British cells and lingering fears of French interference, given the horrendous "Revolution" they were underdoing. To his great credit, Jefferson opposed them as an affront to the First Amendment, and he became president in 1800.
posted by bardic at 12:36 PM on May 3, 2006

Also, back in 1918 the Red Scare was at greater heights than it was even in the 1930's and arguably the 1950's. The November revolution had swept across Russia not-even a year earlier, and many people in the US were just waiting for the Bolshevik-hordes to rise-up and the same thing to happen here. We had become reluctantly involved in World War I, mostly out of fear that Germany was attempting to get Mexico to fight on their behalf, so there could have been yet another Mexican-American war. I mean, this post without any context about what was actually happening in 1918 is useless. The siltations are similar on the surface, but have little to do with the reality of each time period.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:38 PM on May 3, 2006

Politics aside -- those are some dang interesting photographs. Seriously.
posted by davidmsc at 12:39 PM on May 3, 2006

They came for Postroad and I did nothing, because he was a bit of a douchebag, honestly.
posted by klangklangston at 12:55 PM on May 3, 2006

What KSJ and Sweetjesus said. The 1950's Red Scare was a repeat, not a birth, of an unhealthy tradition in America. You can actually find examples of it going back to the turn of the century and McKinley's presidency. Fear of the Bolshies ties marvellously into any xenophobic or racist impulses a person might have at any time in America (and what drove the fears of the French back in 1798 but a sense of a quasi-communist "mob rule"?).
posted by bardic at 1:02 PM on May 3, 2006

I sweat that this guy is Kenneth Branagh with a really bad wig on. These pictures are fantastic!
posted by witchstone at 1:12 PM on May 3, 2006

Anything that makes witchstone sweat is OK in my book.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:20 PM on May 3, 2006

The FPP is made odious and annoying by the overt editorializing about present political conditions.

Oh, so you've met Postroad.

This is a fantastic link, although it's too bad nobody found it before it was newsfilter. I hope the governor also saw fit to pardon some of these gentlemen for their haircuts.

In any case, the modern relevance is that there are many who would bring back sedition laws. For instance, La Malkin (or perhaps Jesse, you never know who's actually doing the writing any given day) not only posted the contact numbers of those student demonstrators at UCSF, she said "this used to be called sedition" -- and even linked to the Wikipedia article on sedition that (yes, that day) said sedition did not consist of peaceful protest against a government, which the action under consideration most surely was (unless you want to count the slashing of the tires last year of the recruiters' vehicle -- though it was probably a federal pool car, so big whoop, that's obviously out of bounds behavior but barely counts as "violence"). Really, to them any dissent is effectively "aid and comfort to the enemy", which is an interpretation of treason the Supreme Court has somehow failed to recognize.

In any case, there's no doubt that there's a claque who would dearly like to see a Sedition Act of 2006, and apply it to a wide range of public voices. (It was, of course, Jim Robinson of Free Republic who had to ban several users in late 2000 for trying to get active-duty generals to announce their support for Bush, telling them that if they wanted to plan a coup, they weren't going to do it on his site.)

while being grilled by a local committee about why he hadn't purchased Liberty Bonds

That's the scariest part about this. So you're obligated to buy Liberty Bonds?

if he was drafted he would not fight for the U.S. but would fight for the Kaiser

Well, that seems overt enough of a declaration, though still short of actually taking any kind of action toward that goal, but ...

after Fay's conviction, Sarah could not hold on to the homestead and it was foreclosed on ... Most of the children went to orphanages or were "let out" to other people and did not find each other until many years later.

There were more victims of this witch-hunt than people who spent a few months in jail.
posted by dhartung at 1:20 PM on May 3, 2006

Great link, thanks. The PDFs of the descriptive notes on the convicts are wonderful little vignettes, e.g.,

for Fay Rumsey: "WARDEN'S REMARKS: Looks like I.W.W."
for Joe Reilly: "Warden's remarks: Seditioner, Sinn Finnderu [presumably Sinn Fein or other Irish Republicanist group?]"
for Frank Wasra "Warden's remarks: looks like a German Sympathiser"
for Albert Brooks: "I.W.W., German Sympathiser"
for John Harrington: "Warden's remarks: Just an old, drunken Irishman"
for Ben Kahn: "Warden's remarks: Loud Mouth German Jew Sympat-"

Some of those make you wonder what the real crime was here ....

Also the average male height/weight is something like 5'7", 150 pounds. Small men doing hard jobs, busted for having opinions.
posted by Rumple at 1:23 PM on May 3, 2006

Can someone explain why this has a Bush tag?

Because Postroad was being a douchebag. Good link, crappy framing.
posted by languagehat at 1:25 PM on May 3, 2006

Clearly part of the problem is things SHOULD be getting better and folks get very put out of kilter if they aren’t. I think Bucky Fuller outlined well why/how technology should be improving our lives as a matter of course. Efficiency alone should be doing that. Yet proportionally we’re making less money than our parents and grandparents did. We have greater freedom, but some of those are being curtailed. Indeed, we should now have vastly greater individual freedom and very very sharp and strong controls on our government precisely because technology exists which can literally destroy all humans on the planet. A variety of media exists concerning nuclear war and other kinds of nuclear engagement. Remarkably, there is little thought concerning nuclear weapons and class warfare. Would the big moneyed men (who can get the government to make war) give up their wealth to the carpenters, laborers, teamsters, farmers, or would they use the nukes on the citizenry?
Long history of putting the peasants on the front lines to fight. Seems to me the folks in the piece went to jail for saying something along those lines.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:18 PM on May 3, 2006

"Marty McFly from Back to the Future is in that list."

Great, another paradox.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:19 PM on May 3, 2006

Holy Shit!! Marty McFly from Back to the Future is in that list.

hahaha... not only that but:

Abe Lincoln?

and just maybe a decendent of Conan O'brien?
posted by Raoul.Duke at 2:25 PM on May 3, 2006

/I’m assuming we know this was about class warfare
posted by Smedleyman at 2:26 PM on May 3, 2006

Smedleyman writes "/I’m assuming we know this was about class warfare"

Or was it about xenophobia? There are a lot of immigrants among the convicted...
posted by mr_roboto at 2:52 PM on May 3, 2006

Interesting and disturbing education. Thanks for this FPP Postroad.
posted by nickyskye at 4:02 PM on May 3, 2006

xenophobia - same diff. Food first, then politics, to loosely quote Brecht.
It's rooted in the same resource thing.
Pure xenophobia is closer to what the skinheads are today, say, as opposed to something exploited by the money heavyweights and legitimized by state power.
Hate usually doesn't really get rolling unless there is a percentage in it.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:08 AM on May 4, 2006

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