Saturday, August 1, 2015

Scrap the I-Phone. It's Illegal to Take Pictures

I don’t like politics.  It has become, or maybe it always was, synonymous with lies, manipulation, deceit, corruption, greed, pride, idolatry, ah, did I mention lies, and crushing control of any people deemed to be irrelevant or inconsequential.  Unfortunately, since the majority of us remain apathetic voters, the irrelevant include people like us, people like Americans, you know, those who claim the benefits of being the brave and the free, but who are too disinterested, too timid, and too intimidated to take 30 minutes every couple years to cast a vote.  Admittedly there are many things more important than politics, but the crime is that we are controlled by politics, also spelled m-o-n-e-y.  In a book by Patrick Dobson, he defined his mission as a journalist as “comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable.”  That is a mission worthy of a journalist, but it has eroded into ‘afflict the weak and patronize the wealthy and powerful,’ and so those things that are indeed more important than politics are the very topics we never hear about.

Here’s are three perfect examples.  We have already heard, very briefly, how Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s administration in Florida has been ordered to not use words like ‘climate change, global warming, or sustainability’ in any communications, emails, or reports.  We already know that the worst thing you can do to a Republican is to tamper with the 2nd Amendment.  That’s the mantra they scream, that their guns are at risk, and overpowering big government is trampling personal liberties and the Constitution.  Of course when they can use big government to their own benefit, to squash personal liberties that they find inconvenient, that is okay, which means an attack on the 1st Amendment is totally justified if it helps conceal the abuses committed by commercial interests, big business, and the wealthy.  Then it is okay to tell people that their freedom of speech goes only as far as being told what they may or may not say, and which words or phrases have state approval, and which ones clearly don’t.

If you think this is an isolated incident, it is more like the continued loss of personal freedoms that are inconvenient for Republicans.  Just a month after the attack on free speech in Florida, a Republican controlled Board of Commissioners of Public Lands in Wisconsin issued a gag order restricting their employees.  They are directed to not do any work related to climate change, can’t even answer emails directed to them on related issues, and can’t even talk about climate change issues while at work.  It was felt that such things distracted employees from their primary mission---making money.  Their official position was, “That’s what we want our employees working on.  That’s it.”

Now, it’s illegal to take pictures in Wyoming.  In May, Republican Governor Matt Mead signed Senate Bill 12 into law.  It’s called the ‘data trespass law,’ and here’s how it works.  If you are paddling down a stream and see a creek or pipeline flowing some foul smelling, strangely colored liquid into the stream that is obviously a pollutant, and you take a picture of it to report the violation to a government group, like fish and wildlife or natural resources, without first tracking the effluent back to its source and asking the polluter’s permission to take the picture, you could be subject to a fine of $5,000 and a year in jail for obtaining evidence of a violation without the violator’s permission. Taking samples or preserving data by any other means would also be illegal.

Government can’t be everywhere, and it’s logical for an honest government to rely on its citizens to make it known when illegal, hazardous, or dangerous situations exist.  This law does just the opposite.  It is a blatant effort to protect the illegal activities of those permitting or causing dangerous runoff from cattle or pig farms, those dumping raw sewage into waterways, the illegal dumping of hazardous chemicals by industry, the failure to prevent leakage from tailings ponds at mining operations, the improper handling of crude or other materials, and so on.  This rips the First Amendment right out the Constitution and makes it clear to every citizen that he would be wise to hear no evil, see no evil, and certainly to speak nothing about the evil.  It is designed to protect the financial interests of industry and the wealthy over the health and safety of the public.

If anyone should jump to the conclusion that this is a diatribe against Republicans, that simply isn’t the case.  I have included references for all of these so you can check them out for yourself.  These are actual laws that have been enacted, and perhaps it is just coincidence, or perhaps part of a larger plan, that all of these have come from Republicans.  I give myself an equal opportunity to be sickened by stupid politics and dumber politicians regardless of party affiliation.  These should, however, give one serious reservation about what is taking place in our country, and should be kept in mind when picking a candidate for office.  Special consideration should also be given to the $900 million dollars the Koch brothers are spending to buy the election so as to deny American citizens the right to have a say in the destiny of our country.  That’s just my two cents.  If we as a people are stupid enough and apathetic enough to permit a one-percent minority to control the other 99% of us, we deserve what we get.  In that case, I will change my beliefs.  As Henry David Thoreau said, “Everyone must believe in something.  I believe I’ll go canoeing.”

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