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How many rights do you have? You should

check, because it might not be as many today as it was a

few years ago, or even a few months ago. Some people I

talk to are not concerned that police will execute a search

warrant without knocking or that they set up roadblocks and

stop and interrogate innocent citizens. They do not regard

these as great infringements on their rights. But when you put

current events together, there is information that may be

surprising to people who have not yet been concerned: The

amount of the Bill of Rights that is under attack is alarming.

Let’s take a look at the Bill of Rights and see which aspects

are being pushed on or threatened. The point here is not the

degree of each attack or its rightness or wrongness, but the

sheer number of rights that are under attack. Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of

religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging

the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the

people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the

Government for a redress of grievances. ESTABLISHING

RELIGION: While campaigning for his first term, George

Bush said “I don’t know that atheists should be considered

as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots.” Bush has

not retracted, commented on, or clarified this statement, in

spite of requests to do so. According to Bush, this is one

nation under God. And apparently if you are not within

Bush’s religious beliefs, you are not a citizen. Federal, state,

and local governments also promote a particular religion (or,

occasionally, religions) by spending public money on

religious displays. FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION:

Robert Newmeyer and Glenn Braunstein were jailed in 1988

for refusing to stand in respect for a judge. Braunstein says

the tradition of rising in court started decades ago when

judges entered carrying Bibles. Since judges no longer carry

Bibles, Braunstein says there is no reason to stand — and his

Bible tells him to honor no other God. For this religious

practice, Newmeyer and Braunstein were jailed and are now

suing. FREE SPEECH: We find that technology has given

the government an excuse to interfere with free speech.

Claiming that radio frequencies are a limited resource, the

government tells broadcasters what to say (such as news

and public and local service programming) and what not to

say (obscenity, as defined by the Federal Communications

Commission [FCC]). The FCC is investigating Boston PBS

station WGBH-TV for broadcasting photographs from the

Mapplethorpe exhibit. FREE SPEECH: There are also laws

to limit political statements and contributions to political

activities. In 1985, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce

wanted to take out an advertisement supporting a candidate

in the state house of representatives. But a 1976 Michigan

law prohibits a corporation from using its general treasury

funds to make independent expenditures in a political

campaign. In March, the Supreme Court upheld that law.

According to dissenting Justice Kennedy, it is now a felony

in Michigan for the Sierra Club, the American Civil Liberties

Union, or the Chamber of Commerce to advise the public

how a candidate voted on issues of urgent concern to their

members. FREE PRESS: As in speech, technology has

provided another excuse for government intrusion in the

press. If you distribute a magazine electronically and do not

print copies, the government doesn’t consider you a press

and does not give you the same protections courts have

extended to printed news. The equipment used to publish

Phrack, a worldwide electronic magazine about phones and

hacking, was confiscated after publishing a document copied

from a Bell South computer entitled “A Bell South Standard

Practice (BSP) 660-225-104SV Control Office

Administration of Enhanced 911 Services for Special

Services and Major Account Centers, March, 1988.” All of

the information in this document was publicly available from

Bell South in other documents. The government has not

alleged that the publisher of Phrack, Craig Neidorf, was

involved with or participated in the copying of the document.

Also, the person who copied this document from telephone

company computers placed a copy on a bulletin board run

by Rich Andrews. Andrews forwarded a copy to AT&T

officials and cooperated with authorities fully. In return, the

Secret Service (SS) confiscated Andrews’ computer along

with all the mail and data that were on it. Andrews was not

charged with any crime. FREE PRESS: In another incident

that would be comical if it were not true, on March 1 the SS

ransacked the offices of Steve Jackson Games (SJG);

irreparably damaged property; and confiscated three

computers, two laser printers, several hard disks, and many

boxes of paper and floppy disks. The target of the SS

operation was to seize all copies of a game of fiction called

GURPS Cyberpunk. The Cyberpunk game contains

fictitious break-ins in a futuristic world, with no technical

information of actual use with real computers, nor is it played

on computers. The SS never filed any charges against SJG

but still refused to return confiscated property.

PEACEABLE ASSEMBLY: The right to assemble

peaceably is no longer free — you have to get a permit. Even

that is not enough; some officials have to be sued before they

realize their reasons for denying a permit are not

Constitutional. PEACEABLE ASSEMBLY: In Alexandria,

Virginia, there is a law that prohibits people from loitering for

more than seven minutes and exchanging small objects.

Punishment is two years in jail. Consider the scene in jail:

“What’d you do?” “I was waiting at a bus stop and gave a

guy a cigarette.” This is not an impossible occurrence: In

Pittsburgh, Eugene Tyler, 15, has been ordered away from

bus stops by police officers. Sherman Jones, also 15, was

accosted with a police officer’s hands around his neck after

putting the last bit of pizza crust into his mouth. The police

suspected him of hiding drugs. PETITION FOR REDRESS

OF GRIEVANCES: Rounding out the attacks on the first

amendment, there is a sword hanging over the right to

petition for redress of grievances. House Resolution 4079,

the National Drug and Crime Emergency Act, tries to

“modify” the right to habeas corpus. It sets time limits on the

right of people in custody to petition for redress and also

limits the courts in which such an appeal may be heard.

Amendment II A well regulated Militia, being necessary to

the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep

and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. RIGHT TO BEAR

ARMS: This amendment is so commonly challenged that the

movement has its own name: gun control. Legislation banning

various types of weapons is supported with the claim that the

weapons are not for “legitimate” sporting purposes. This is a

perversion of the right to bear arms for two reasons. First,

the basis of freedom is not that permission to do legitimate

things is granted to the people, but rather that the

government is empowered to do a limited number of

legitimate things — everything else people are free to do;

they do not need to justify their choices. Second, should the

need for defense arise, it will not be hordes of deer that the

security of a free state needs to be defended from. Defense

would be needed against humans, whether external invaders

or internal oppressors. It is an unfortunate fact of life that the

guns that would be needed to defend the security of a state

are guns to attack people, not guns for sporting purposes.

Firearms regulations also empower local officials, such as

police chiefs, to grant or deny permits. This results in towns

where only friends of people in the right places are granted

permits, or towns where women are generally denied the

right to carry a weapon for self-defense. Amendment III No

Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house,

without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in

a manner to be prescribed by law. QUARTERING

SOLDIERS: This amendment is fairly clean so far, but it is

not entirely safe. Recently, 200 troops in camouflage dress

with M-16s and helicopters swept through Kings Ridge

National Forest in Humboldt County, California. In the

process of searching for marijuana plants for four days,

soldiers assaulted people on private land with M-16s and

barred them from their own property. This might not be a

direct hit on the third amendment, but the disregard for

private property is uncomfortably close. Amendment IV The

right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,

papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and

seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue,

but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation,

and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the

persons or things to be seized. RIGHT TO BE SECURE IN

PERSONS, HOUSES, PAPERS AND EFFECTS

AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND

SEIZURES: The RICO law is making a mockery of the right

to be secure from seizure. Entire stores of books or

videotapes have been confiscated based upon the presence

of some sexually explicit items. Bars, restaurants, or houses

are taken from the owners because employees or tenants

sold drugs. In Volusia County, Florida, Sheriff Robert Vogel

and his officers stop automobiles for contrived violations. If

large amounts of cash are found, the police confiscate it on

the PRESUMPTION that it is drug money — even if there is

no other evidence and no charges are filed against the car’s

occupants. The victims can get their money back only if they

prove the money was obtained legally. One couple got their

money back by proving it was an insurance settlement. Two

other men who tried to get their two thousand dollars back

were denied by the Florida courts. RIGHT TO BE

SECURE IN PERSONS, HOUSES, PAPERS AND

EFFECTS AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES

AND SEIZURES: A new law goes into effect in Oklahoma

on January 1, 1991. All property, real and personal, is

taxable, and citizens are required to list all their personal

property for tax assessors, including household furniture,

gold and silver plate, musical instruments, watches, jewelry,

and personal, private, or professional libraries. If a citizen

refuses to list their property or is suspected of not listing

something, the law directs the assessor to visit and enter the

premises, getting a search warrant if necessary. Being

required to tell the state everything you own is not being

secure in one’s home and effects. NO WARRANTS

SHALL ISSUE, BUT UPON PROBABLE CAUSE,

SUPPORTED BY OATH OR AFFIRMATION: As a

supporting oath or affirmation, reports of anonymous

informants are accepted. This practice has been condoned

by the Supreme Court. PARTICULARLY DESCRIBING

THE PLACE TO BE SEARCHED AND PERSONS OR

THINGS TO BE SEIZED: Today’s warrants do not

particularly describe the things to be seized — they list things

that might be present. For example, if police are making a

drug raid, they will list weapons as things to be searched for

and seized. This is done not because the police know of any

weapons and can particularly describe them, but because

they allege people with drugs often have weapons. Both of

the above apply to the warrant the Hudson, New

Hampshire, police used when they broke down Bruce

Lavoie’s door at 5 a.m. with guns drawn and shot and killed

him. The warrant claimed information from an anonymous

informant, and it said, among other things, that guns were to

be seized. The mention of guns in the warrant was used as

reason to enter with guns drawn. Bruce Lavoie had no guns.

Bruce Lavoie was not secure from unreasonable search and

seizure — nor is anybody else. Other infringements on the

fourth amendment include roadblocks and the Boston Police

detention of people based on colors they are wearing

(supposedly indicating gang membership). And in Pittsburgh

again, Eugene Tyler was once searched because he was

wearing sweat pants and a plaid shirt — police told him they

heard many drug dealers at that time were wearing sweat

pants and plaid shirts. Amendment V No person shall be

held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime,

unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury,

except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the



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