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Civil liberties eroding but apathy and fear abound

If you haven’t heard of the ridiculousness that has happened at the Republican National Convention, it’s not surprising. I stumbled on it by grace of my Obama communities on LiveJournal.

While I cannot deny there weren’t some people intending to do some property damage among the many who protested, I think that, as reported by CNN, firing chemical agents at a noisy but peaceful crowd is crossing the line from overprotective to downright totalitarian behavior.

Via YouTube, I was able to witness the arrest of Democracy Now! radio host Amy Goodman who was obviously weaponless. Except for her press tags. Maybe those things are sharp, I guess. I also watched the arrest and a press conference from a visibly wounded young protester Elliot Hughes, who described torture and homophobic taunts he received in Ramsey County Jail. Visibly shaken, he told the audience of press and flashing cameras about how they called him “princess” and put a bag over his head and refused to remove it even after he vomited inside it. Overprotection is one thing, but this. is a whole different ball game.

I’m frightened as a journalist for fellow journalists. I’m frightened as a protester for fellow protesters. I’m frightened as a straight ally of the LGBT community for the members of my community. But mostly, I’m just plain frightened as an American citizen.

This story needs to be told. I want to know why there is so little focus. Is it fear? Is it politics? Or is the clash of the titans via interview, O’Reilly and Obama, just too enticing to focus on rather than pesky little things like civil rights abuses and “advanced interrogation techniques” crossing from Guantanamo to St. Paul? Maybe when it’s a slow news day, we’ll get back to the small stuff.

My generation’s past and future are clouded by war. We have watched September 11th, watched the Iraq invasion, seen the photos of Abu Ghraib, been compelled by the colors of the terrorist warnings and coffins draped in American flags, and are now looking toward the possibility of a future dimmed by conflicts in the Middle East, Russia, Georgia, and God knows where else.

In a speech in Nashua, NH on Jan. 7th, McCain blatantly said he expects “these young people,” pointing out into the crowd, to serve. The combination of this anti-protester behavior with the whispers of future conflicts sends a chill down my spine. For our generation’s sake, these events need recognition.

The violation of rights while the dogs of war bark and the eerie silence of major pundits are not mixing well in my stomach.