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from:
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<A HREF="http://www.umsl.edu/~skthoma/lword.htm">Free Press My Ass </A>
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Steamshovel Press

The Latest Word

Free Press My Ass

by Robert Sterling


A Trumpeter, bravely leading on the soldiers, was captured by the enemy. He
cried out to his captors, "Pray spare me, and do not take my life without
cause or without inquiry. I have not slain a single man of your troop. I have
no arms, and carry nothing but this one brass trumpet."

"That is the very reason for which you should be put to death," they said;
"for, while you do not fight yourself, your trumpet stirs all the others to
battle."

The Trumpeter Taken Prisoner, Aesop's Fable's

The names may change, but the song remains the same.

Nearly 35 years ago, in the first issue of the Los Angeles Free Press, the big
story was an attempt to censor a film by Kenneth Anger, the occult superstar
and underground filmmaker (as well as author of the "Hollywood Babylon" book
series.) Anger mixed a unique cinematic style with his anti-authoritarian
philosophy in the (for the times) sexually taboo masterpiece "Scorpio Rising",
a film he called "a death mirror held up to American culture." Blaring 13 rock
songs as a soundtrack - including "He's a Rebel", "Heat Wave," and "Wipeout" -
images of bikers, Christ, the grim reaper and others were combined in a
dazzling destructive display which more than hinted at homo-eroticism,
influencing a list of future filmmakers as diverse as Martin Scorsese, David
Lynch, and Steven Spielberg. For this, his work was attacked by the police
department and the district attorney's office of San Francisco as obscene. In
the end, Anger and the theater which showed his film were victorious, and soon
the floodgates opened to the most creative period in the history of cinema.

Fast forward to the present, and it's clear the battle for the First Amendment
right of free expression is hardly over. In fact, it could be argued that the
Freedom of Speech is under assault, though the attack is more covert than it
was 35 years ago. Consider the following:

* David Hoffman, author of "The Oklahoma City Bombing and The Politics of
Terror", was indicted December 30, 1998 on charges he attempted to influence
jurors in a grand jury investigation of the 1995 Oklahoma blast. The grand
jury, convened by a petition drive, was formed to investigate allegations of a
wider conspiracy and a government cover-up. Instead, it handed its sole
indictment against Hoffman for sending jurors copies of his book, as well as
sending a note to an alternate grand jury member. Hoffman, who also runs the
Haight-Ashbury Free Press, could get two years in prison if convicted. Hoffman
insists he didn't contact jurors directly and that the note wasn't
threatening. The second claim appears true, as the note says, "do not let them
tell you what to do, and do not take your cues from them. If you do, you will
be making a grave mistake, and shortchanging the people of this nation."
Hoffman accused Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy of attacking him
for writing on and investigating what he describes as "the biggest government
cover-up since the Kennedy assassination." According to Hoffman, Macy is
"trying to prosecute a lowly reporter for speaking the truth about a crime he
was charged to investigate but failed to do so." Hoffman also called the
charges "absolutely ludicrous," saying, "For them to indict a reporter is
insane. When they talk about jury tampering, who has had more influence, me or
the District Attorney's Office or the judge?"

* Jim Goad, author of "The Redneck Manifesto" and editor of the underground
zine ANSWER ME!, was arrested and jailed on May 31, 1998, on charges of
kidnapping and assault. He faces up to 25 years for the alleged crimes.
According to writer Jim Hogshire, a friend of Goad's, during the reputed
kidnapping of his ex-girlfriend in his car, Goad obeyed all traffic rules,
stopped at all red lights, and did not drive recklessly. Goad didn't have any
weapons on him, use any force, or make any threats against her. The doors of
the car were unlocked, and when she left, he did not try to stop her,
understandable since he had a restraining order against her that was still in
effect - an order she had violated repeatedly - and apparently, Goad didn't
want her in the car in the first place. The alleged victim, Sky Ryan, has a
documented history of lying as well as violence (last spring attacking a
perceived rival for Goad by bashing her in the head with an axe handle) and
has given Goad Tyson-esque bites, including one chomp on his chest a police
officer described as "the worst human bite he has ever seen." Despite the
dubious evidence surrounding the charges (as well as the fact Goad has no
criminal history, poses no flight risk, and is no threat to the community)
bail was set at the astronomical amount of $760,000. The reason for his
unusual treatment is Goad's work, especially the notorious ANSWER ME! #4, also
known as "The Rape Issue". The issue satirically glorified rape and violence
against women in an over-the-top, intentionally shocking manner, and was
previously the subject of a trial, during which prosecutors failed to convict
two booksellers of violating obscenity laws by displaying the issue. The
prosecutor in Goad's current battle, Mr. Rod Underhill, was so outraged when
he discovered Goad's work he declared him to be "vile" and "not human." He
announced his intention to use his writings against him in court, and did use
them during the bail hearing. Rather than sympathizing with Goad's plight,
even the "alternative" media has displayed an attitude that he got what he
deserves, as though bad taste in women and sick taste in humor are criminal
offenses. Spin magazine initially hired William Abernathy to write an article,
then apparently fired him for being too good to Goad in the piece. Jim Goad
remains in jail today, eight months later and counting.

* On January 19th, Steve Kubby and his wife Michelle were arrested in a police
raid of their California home. The Kubbys are charged with unauthorized
cultivation, harvesting and processing of marijuana, possession with intent to
sell, and conspiracy. Steve was diagnosed with adrenal cancer in 1975
(currently in remission) and has high blood pressure, and uses medical
marijuana under doctor's orders, which he was denied while in jail. Bail was
set at $100,000 each. All this despite the fact that Steve, 52, and Michele,
32, have no criminal history, and (contrary to what many believe) Proposition
215, the medical marijuana initiative which voters passed in 1996, is STILL
the law of the state. While gross violations of civil liberties is the norm in
the so-called "Drug War", what makes this example exceptional is that Steve
Kubby was also the 1998 Libertarian candidate for governor of California,
playing a key role in the passage of 215, which he was a vocal supporter of.
"This arrest is an outrage and a slap across the faces of California voters,"
declared Libertarian state chair Mark Hinkle. "Steve and Michele Kubby are
law-abiding citizens and the police have no authority to raid their home,
throw them in jail, and jeopardize Steve's health." Hinkle added, "How long
will the state of California continue violating the will of the voters? How
many people will have to suffer or die before the government realizes the
extreme harm it is causing medical marijuana patients who are denied their
rightful medicine?"

* Sadly, this isn't the first time in the post-215 environment that medical
marijuana advocates have been targeted: Peter McWilliams, an AIDS and cancer
victim, was charged on July 23, 1998 with conspiracy to grow marijuana plants,
which he says he planned to distribute to sick people under the state's
medical marijuana law. McWilliams is the best-selling author of "How to
Survive the Loss of a Love" (which sold over two million copies) and co-
author of "DO IT! Let's Get Off Our Buts", which placed number one on The New
York Times bestseller list. He is also a Libertarian Party member and author
of "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do", which criticizes consensual crime laws
as immoral and destructive, and is a high-profile advocate of medical
marijuana, having published the e-journal Medical Marijuana Magazine Online.
Just 19 days before his arrest, McWilliams blasted the federal government's
war against medical marijuana at the Libertarian National Convention, saying,
"Marijuana is the finest anti-nausea medication known to science, and our
leaders have lied about this consistently. Medical marijuana is the most
hideous example of government interference in the private lives of
individuals." Seven months before this, his home was raided by DEA agents, who
seized his computer and a book-in-progress, "A Question of Compassion: An AIDS
Cancer Patient Explores Medical Marijuana". The book "How to Grow Medical
Marijuana", by Todd McCorrmick (arrested for operating what was dubbed the
"Bel Air Medical Marijuana Mansion" by the press when shut down by the L.A.
County Sheriff's Department a year earlier) was scheduled to be online the
week of his arrest. In a written statement, McWilliams said, "I am a vocal and
occasionally effective proponent of medical marijuana and that is why I am in
jail," a claim backed up by the circumstances surrounding his arrest. He
added, "This is not The United States of America vs. Peter McWilliams; it is
The United States of America vs. The People of California, whose political
will is being trampled-on by the Federal Government."

Granted, in none of these cases was the person officially charged with the
crime of promoting dangerous thoughts. Still, to think that any of these
people would be facing the judicial system right now if it wasn't for
advocating views radically different than those authorities approve of would
be naive, to say the least.

Nor is the threat of legal prosecution left to marginalized supporters of
dissident conspiracy theories, politically incorrect satire and marijuana
legalization. It has even been used against the most prominent reporters of
the absurd Peckergate circus surrounding Bill Clinton's lies and sexual
activities. When Clinton-apologist Salon Magazine revealed the fact that
Congressman Henry Hyde was a wife cheater of his own, Hyde announced that the
story, though true, may be judged a crime, part of a diabolical plot against
him and other upstanding GOP members. "Efforts to intimidate members of
Congress or interfere with the discharge of their duties in relation to the
impeachment matter could constitute violation of federal criminal law," he
proclaimed, then Mr. "Rule of Law" urged the FBI to investigate. Then, as
Hustler porno merchant Larry Flynt (the previous owner of The Free Press)
revealed Bob Barr was a wife cheater as well who paid for an abortion in his
previous marriage, a GOP source told the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post,
"Flynt let them know he has the goods on them. Now he's waiting to see how
they vote. Since the Senate has been sworn in, this is jury-tampering." The
amusing charges against Salon and Flynt (as though their work had any more
influence than campaign contributions by business interests) remain idle
threats, but are warning shots for others to not enter the fray. On the other
side of the fence, Matt Drudge, cyberstar gossip writer who was center to
bringing the Lewinsky affair to the masses, has faced his own legal
difficulties in a $30 million dollar libel lawsuit filed by White House aide
Sidney Blumenthal. Blumenthal was falsely alleged in a Drudge Report to be a
wife beater by unnamed sources, an error Drudge quickly corrected. While
Drudge may be guilty of poor judgement (which certainly isn't the first or
last time for him), he clearly wasn't aware the story was false, a factor key
to any libel suit. Officially, the lawsuit is a private action, but since the
litigator is part of the executive branch, the distinction is a minor one.

The strategy used in these cases is the one implemented to full effect against
Mumia Abu-Jamal, the African-American journalist currently languishing on
Death Row. At the time of his arrest at age 27, Mumia was already a celebrated
broadcast journalist, having started at age 15 as lieutenant minister of
information for the Philadelphia Black Panther Party. (FBI files reveal he was
quickly placed under government surveillance.) Mumia won a Peabody Award and
became president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. This
changed in December 1981, when Mumia intervened as his brother was being
beaten on the street by a Philadelphia cop, Daniel Faulkner. Both Mumia and
the officer were shot, Mumia almost killed, the Faulkner gunned to death.
Witnesses saw two men run from the scene, and the dead officer was holding the
drivers license of yet another man. Despite this, when police arrived, they
beat Mumia before taking him to the hospital, then charged him with murder. No
attempt was made to identify the men seen fleeing the scene, and Mumia's
brother and witnesses to the slaying were harassed until they left town. Two
months after the murder, the police insisted Mumia had confessed in the
emergency room, but they forgot to write it down in their reports (a story
emergency room doctors deny.) The judge in Mumia's 1982 trial, Albert F. Sabo,
was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, described as a "defendant's
nightmare" by the Philadelphia Inquirer, having sentenced 31 men to die, 29 of
which were African-American (even a fellow judge called his court a "vacation
for prosecutors," and six former Philadelphia District Attorneys swore under
oath no one could receive a fair trial from him.) Among evidence withheld were
statements by an eyewitness that another individual was the shooter who fled,
that a critical prosecution witness was actually not present at the scene,
that a prosecution eyewitness failed to identify Mumia in a photo array, and
that a medical examiner's report stated the officer's wounds were made by a
.44 caliber gun, not the .38 Mumia held, along with the fact police had
extensive files on Mumia regarding his political associations, even though
Mumia had no previous criminal record. Sabo wouldn't allow Mumia to defend
himself because his dreadlocks made jurors "nervous," and Mumia was barred
from most of his own trial for protesting his court-appointed attorney (the
attorney was later disbarred and has filed an affidavit in Mumia's support
admitting incompetence.) What wasn't barred from the trial was Mumia's radical
writings, read when the prosecutor argued for the death penalty. During
sentencing, Sabo told the jury, "You are not being asked to kill anybody" if
they imposed the death penalty, since the defendant will get "appeal after
appeal after appeal," instructions which are considered unconstitutional.

Much of this isn't abnormal: numerous people have been released from jail
because they were convicted thanks to phony evidence fabricated by the
Philadelphia police. Abuses in Corcoran Prison and the thuggish assault of
Rodney King only hint at the modern history of police abuse of minorities.
Still, there was a specific focus here: at the time, Philadelphia was in
battle against black radicals, in particular their war against the radical
MOVE organization, climaxing with the 1985 police bombing of the MOVE house.
The attack killed 11 occupants (including 5 children) and caused 60
neighborhood homes to burn. Back in 1978, Philadelphia Mayor (and former
police chief) Frank Rizzo ranted about what he termed a "new breed" of
journalists and how it was influencing the public. "They believe what you
write and what you say, and it's got to stop. One day - and I hope it's in my
career - you're going to have to be held responsible and accountable for what
you do."

Mumia was a leader of this new breed. Mumia had exposed an earlier police
attack on MOVE, and allowed MOVE activists to present their side of the story
on the air. Rizzo's threat of vendetta was and is being fulfilled in the
persecution of Mumia, an attack which may still culminate in the first public
political execution since the Rosenbergs in 1953.

The vendetta, lies and suppression continue. In 1995, Mumia was put in
disciplinary confinement for writing a book, "Live From Death Row". A witness
against Mumia at the trial later admitted in a hearing she lied under intense
police coercion. As she stepped off the witness stand, she was arrested in the
courtroom on an old warrant from another state that she was unaware of. In
1994, NPR's "All Things Considered" canceled a series of his commentaries
after the Fraternal Order of Police objected. Faulkner's widow went on TV,
accusing Mumia of smiling at her when her husband's bloody shirt was presented
in trial. Records show Mumia wasn't even in the courtroom that day. Despite
the overwhelming evidence of misdeeds by the state against Mumia, it is still
given the benefit of the doubt by korporate media organs. The most recent
example is Sam Donaldson - who earned a reputation as a supposedly "tough"
reporter for barking lightweight questions at President Reagan - and his
support for Mumia's execution after a 20/20 "investigation". In the December
9, 1998 issue of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Donaldson stated, "Everything that
we looked at compellingly points to the fact that Mumia shot Faulkner in cold
blood... and was convicted properly, and was sentenced according to the laws
of the state of Pennsylvania. And as far as I'm concerned, as long as it's on
the books, the death sentence has to be carried out... The people who support
his release don't do so from a position of knowledge... They either oppose the
death penalty, or they're campus rebels, or they're African-American activists
who believe that a black man was railroaded, and will continue to believe it,
no matter what's presented to them."

Donaldson's proclamation aside, anyone with even minuscule knowledge of law
enforcement's treatment of subversives can't help but think of the FBI's
secret COINTELPRO (short for "Counterintelligence Program") when hearing this
sad tale. COINTELPRO was the FBI's attempt to suppress the sixties rebellion,
an operation that included intense surveillance and wiretapping, financing of
propaganda and disinformation, threats of monetary or physical damage (threats
that often became reality), and infiltration for spying as well as to provoke
criminal activities, tainting the reputation of targeted organizations and
their members. When that didn't work, the FBI would setup a false arrest or
frame innocent individuals.

More than 2000 actions were officially approved, and the FBI regularly worked
hand in hand with local authorities (including the Philadelphia PD.) The
targets ranged from Communist Party members, Socialists, Black Nationalists
(including the Black Panthers) and the New Left coalition of anti-war
advocates, student organization leaders and feminist groups. White Hate Group
such as the Ku Klux Klan and other organizations were targeted as well, often
used as a fall guy for COINTELPRO programs against New Left targets. Covert
action was also waged against Puerto Rican independence promoter, Chicanos,
and Philippinos, as well as Arab-Americans and Jewish groups (which were
naturally pitted against one another.) Both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X
were heavily targeted before their assassinations, slayings which have federal
fingerprints all over the place. One victim of COINTELPRO's campaign, former
Los Angeles Black Panther party leader Elmer Geronimo Pratt, was released in
June 1996 after serving 27 years in San Quentin on murder charges. Released
FBI records revealed wiretaps backing up his claim of being 400 miles away at
the time of the murder, and the fact a key witness for the prosecution was a
paid informant, a fact withheld during the first trial which the witness lied
about on the stand. (Gil Garcetti, showing his predictable cynicism - and
knowing he'd likely lose a retrial - is trying to overturn the decision and
reinstate conviction.)

Officially, COINTELPRO ended in the 70s, but clearly this isn't the case, with
Mumia's sad tale an example of the continued campaign. Dissident groups of
various ideologies (of special note Earth First! in the environmental movement
and those within Patriot/Militia groups) have received similar harassment in
recent years, proving it isn't so much a battle of ideological purity as a war
against those who don't get with the program. The korporate machine demands
people don't ask questions and become happy docile consumers. All groups
(left, right or center) that stand in the way of this goal become an enemy of
the state that must be attacked. Rebellion is fine and dandy, so long it is
left to getting a pierced nose or some other wholly symbolic gesture: in fact,
rebellion is a chic marketing ploy. But those whose defiance goes into
questioning the rules of society will not be tolerated.

A special focus, however, is reserved for those who inspire, motivate, and
empower others to act in rebellion. Those who infect minds with insidious
ideas such as liberty and democracy are the biggest menace to society today,
just as they always have been. Whether it be to question the official story in
acts of terror, write subversive literature which shocks as it enlightens, or
demand the right to take non-pharmaceutical patented medicines, these are the
real enemies, for they inspire others to join their cause.

The good news is attacks on dissident voices may decrease in coming years. The
even worse news is the reason: dissident voices may become so marginalized
they no longer pose a threat. The reason is, paradoxically, at a time in
history when the internet allows greater decentralization in information
transmission, media power is concentrated in fewer (and richer) hands. This is
a trend existing for many years, a trend accelerated by the telecommunication
"deregulation" which allowed media oligopolies to own an increasing percentage
of the public airwaves, all supposedly for the benefit of the people. Instead,
the fewer hands ensure views challenging their authority are discredited and
suppressed.

Yes, it's easy to set up a website to wage an independent information
campaign, but visitors will be a drop in the bucket compared to powerhouse
sites by CNN, Time and ABC, thanks to immense advertising budgets. All major
web portals (AOL, Yahoo!, Excite & Microsoft) have high-profile links to these
sites, while alternative information sources must be requested to be found.
The Wild, Wild West image of the net is transforming by the korporatization of
it, and what was once presented as a sinister underground network threatening
to topple the status quo has become another mouthpiece for elites. Even the
most cited example of an "outsider" influencing society on a massive scale,
Matt Drudge, is shown to be a mirage on closer examination. His key source on
many of his "exclusives" is reputed to be George T. Conway III, a wealthy
Phillip Morris Corporation lawyer, another being Lucianne Goldberg, former
Watergate-era CREEP agent and peddler of lurid reactionary tomes. Much of
Drudge's status was due to promotion by numerous conservative columnists,
notably Arianna Huffington, Chris Ruddy and Jim Pinkerton. The leaks fed to
Drudge, and his promotion by influential commentators, are a shrewd (and wise)
exploitation by the right of a new outlet to promote their well-financed
agenda, an agenda Drudge admits favoring, allowing stories that once wouldn't
see the light of day release by an "independent" source. Drudge has been
rewarded with a well-paid job hosting a show on the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox
News Channel. His boss, Roger Ailes (chairman of the news division),
previously was a political consultant vital to the political successes of
Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush, and was the executive producer
of Rush Limbaugh's TV show.

Drudge isn't alone in serving higher masters: the truth is, anyone wanting a
paid gig as a writer or journalist has to answer to someone. While media
konglomerates tolerate taking sides on the left-right spectrum, they don't
approve any attack on the basic presumptions of the status quo. Thus, while
Salon (labeled as a "liberal" magazine) regularly features rabid right-winger
David Horowitz as a columnist (which supposedly provides "balance" and proves
"objectivity"), others having something worthwhile to say are shut out. Even
established names are silenced if they speak the ideas of the damned. Here are
some recent examples of note:

* In 1996, CBS investigative reporter Roberta Baskin did a piece on abuses of
workers at a Vietnam Nike factory. CBS resisted her requests to do a follow
up. When the 1998 Nagano Olympics were televised, CBS News staff wore the Nike
logo on camera during coverage. Baskin accused CBS of caving in to advertiser
pressure, derailing her investigation to ensure Nike's sponsorship. The charge
seems logical, but CBS News President Andrew Heyward called her comments
"reckless and irresponsible," and Jeff Fager, executive producer of the "CBS
Evening News", stated, "I cannot imagine how she drew those conclusions."
Baskin's letter was sent to Rather, who remained silent on the manner.

* Two award-winning reporters, Steve Wilson and Jane Akre, were hired by a Fox
affiliate in Tampa to produce a series on rBGH (recombinant bovine growth
hormone) in Florida milk. Among the report's stunning facts: rBGH wasn't
properly tested before the FDA allowed it on the market, evidence dairy herds
grew sick soon after treatment, lack of testing for excessive antibiotics, and
Canadian government officials claiming Monsanto (the chemical giant and key
rBGH promoter) tried to bribe them for approval in Canada (they failed.) After
more than a year's work on the series, Fox executives (most notably the
previously-named Ailes) canceled it the last moment, receiving letters from
Monsanto lawyers saying Monsanto would suffer "enormous damage" and warning of
"dire consequences" for Fox if the series aired. Fox lawyers tried to water
down the series, and when Wilson and Akre refused, Fox threatened them with
dismissal if they didn't broadcast false and misleading material, promising to
replace them with reporters who would. These actions violated the station's
license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the reporter
informed Fox they'd file a formal complaint if that happened. Because of this,
they weren't fired, instead being offered large settlements to keep quiet
about the story and how it was handled. There is a pending lawsuit over Fox's
treatment of Wilson and Akre.

* In 1998, CNN premiered CNN NewsStand with a report on the Vietnam War-era
Operation Tailwind, called "Valley of Death". The report, after an eight month
investigation which included interviewing about 200 witnesses, concluded a SOG
(Studies and Observations Group) team of Special forces were sent on a covert
mission into Laos to hunt down and kill US "defectors" in September 1970.
During the attack, they allegedly used sarin, the lethal nerve gas developed
by the Nazis and used in the 1995 Tokyo subway terrorist attack. Soon after
the report aired, Tom Johnson and Rick Kaplan, CNN's top executives, had a
private meeting with Richard Helms (former perjuring CIA head and the main man
behind the atrocious MK-Ultra program) Henry Kissinger (National Security
Adviser at the time of Tailwind, meaning he approved any sarin use) and Colin
Powell (Uncle Tomish evader of perjury while lying before the Gulf War
Syndrome Congressional hearings because, for some strange reason, they forgot
to place him under oath.) Pressure was placed, the report was viciously
attacked, and soon CNN made a stunning retraction. A superficial probe by CNN
concluded the allegations "couldn't be proven" and "overlooked contradictory
evidence," and the two producers of the report, April Oliver and Jack Smith,
were fired.

* In the most infamous case, Gary Webb, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist,
presented the shocking investigative work "Dark Alliance" in August 1996
through The San Jose Mercury. The series documented the connection between the
Central Intelligence Agency, the Nicaraguan Contras, and the rise of the crack
epidemic in the eighties. Many, particularly in the black community, were
rightfully outraged. An intense counter-attack soon followed, with the New
York Times, Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times all pulling hatchet jobs
against the series. Soon, Jerry Ceppos (the Mercury editor) disavowed the
series, and Webb was demoted for refusing to back down from his piece,
eventually leaving after receiving an undisclosed cash settlement. Nearly all
of Webb's accusations have since been admitted as true even by the CIA itself,
but Webb remains a pariah in the mainstream press.

None of this is particularly assuring. It gets even worse:

* Filmmaker Oliver Stone, already reviled in the mainstream press for making
"JFK" (a treatment which D.W. Griffith never received for "Birth of a Nation",
indicating that arguing against the official story in the Kennedy
Assassination is a bigger taboo than glorifying the Ku Klux Klan), was set to
produce a program on ABC called "Declassified", covering the theory that the
1996 TWA 800 disaster which killed 230 was caused by a Navy-missile. After
receiving pressure about the piece, ABC killed it. Stone would later state,
"The script is done, the show is ready to go, and there are a lot of witnesses
not allowed to testify who saw the plane go down, and I think ABC just folded
to pressure. I don't know where it came from, it could have been the FBI, or
their response to a media furor. But it was so abrupt, considering they knew
exactly what we were doing for six months. We weren't hiding anything, and
then all of a sudden, they shut it down." This follows the harassment of 800
Navy-missile investigators Ian Goddard and Jeremy Crocker (Crocker having
disappeared December 1997) and trashing of Pierre Salinger for supporting the
theory. Meanwhile, James Sanders, journalist and author of the book "The
Downing of Flight 800", and his wife Elizabeth were charged with stealing seat
fabric recovered in the wreckage, fabric obtained from an official
investigator of the crash, who believed that politics between the FBI and the
NTSB was getting in the way of an honest investigation. The fabric,
incidentally, was tested by a laboratory which concluded that red residue from
the seat cushion contained missile fuel. The Sanders may face up to ten years
in prison for their crime of trying to find the truth, and yet mainstream
journalists have failed to speak out in defense of him.

* Powerful TV Talk-show host Oprah Winfrey had on her April 16, 1996 show
cattle rancher turned vegetarian activist Howard Lyman. He shocked viewers
with the news that common U.S. agricultural practices, namely animal
cannibalism - the feeding of diseased and waste animal parts back to farm
animals and pets on an industrial scale - are likely to lead to a domestic Mad
Cow crisis in the USA. The information so disturbed Winfrey, that she blurted
out advocation of becoming vegetarian. Two wealthy Texas cattlemen sued
Winfrey and Lyman because of this under "food slander" statutes that are found
in 13 states, even though what was stated in the show was accurate. Of the
lawsuit, Winfrey says, "I maintain my right to ask questions and to hold a
public debate on issues that impact the general public and my audience."
Although the most admired and popular celebrity (not to mention one of the
richest) ended up being victorious in court, the issue of violating First
Amendment rights have not been settled in this case.

The key point here is that two of the more powerful people in the media,
Winfrey and Stone, either were silenced or attacked in court for daring to ask
questions. What chance do those with lesser power stand in presenting
dissident views?

The battle continues, even on issues that should have been settled long ago by
the likes of Kenneth Anger. There are courtroom fights over the mandatory use
of Internet filtering software in public library computers and the Child
Online Pornography Act, a federal bill attempting to place restrictions on the
internet. Meanwhile, Larry Flynt and his brother are accused of obscenity for
selling sexually videos at their Hustler Magazine & Gifts store, after a
14-year-old boy said he bought a video at the store. If convicted, each could
get 24 years in prison and $65,000 in fines.

Still, there is good news on the horizon. Besides the availability of the
internet as an innovative information distributor, the FCC, responding to
criticism for unpopular suppression of non-licensed radio broadcasting (aka
"pirate radio"), is expected to unveil a plan creating thousands of
independent radio stations across the country by licensing low-power
broadcasting, allowing cheap community radio stations to spread values and
ideas rarely heard on the airwaves. Both are examples of going in the right
direction, putting the power of speech in the hands of the many rather than
the wealthy few. And perhaps that so many attacks on people who speak out are
happening now is a sign of success itself, reflecting a paranoia by elites of
losing control of how people think (a paranoia which hopefully has some
basis.) In the meantime, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and
clearly eternity has yet to be reached. Until then, the battle continues.

Robert Sterling is Editor of the underground internet magazine The Konformist
( http://www.konformist.com )


Steamshovel Debris:

Since this article was written, Jim Goad has plead guilty to lesser charges,
rather than face full prosecution with a weak public defender at his side.
There are other examples of media suppression in recent years: most notably,
the debacle involving The Cincinnati Enquirer and Chiquita Brands
International, which lead to the firing of the lead reporter on the Chiquita
stories, Mike Gallagher, and media suppressions involving Bill Clinton (both
pro and con).
-----
Aloha, He'Ping,
Om, Shalom, Salaam.
Em Hotep, Peace Be,
Omnia Bona Bonis,
All My Relations.
Adieu, Adios, Aloha.
Amen.
Roads End
Kris

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