The Secret Service is VERY touchy these days about things like political protests, potentially possibly implied threats, and the like. Have you seen this flapdoodle about Indymedia publishing the “Phone numbers, addresses, and e-mails of over 1600 RNC delegates“?
Apparently the Secret Service perceives some kind of threat in this publication and has issued a grand jury subpoena against the site and the site hosting company. The ACLU objects:
- In a letter sent today in response to a grand jury subpoena issued by the Secret Service, the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union said they are representing a web hosting service and administrators of an independent media website regarding the anonymous posting of publicly available information about delegates to the Republican National Convention.
The groups said the investigation is but the latest example of government agencies using law enforcement powers to chill free speech and intimidate protesters.
“This type of investigation is really a form of intimidation and a message to activists that they will pay a price for speaking out,” said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson. “The posting of publicly available information about people who are in the news should not trigger an investigation. Indeed, if the mere posting of the delegates’ name is cause for alarm, then the Secret Service should be investigating the many Republican websites where the same kind of information is available.”
Beeson added that the posting did not include anything remotely threatening, but involved political speech fully protected by the First Amendment. Indymedia.org is the website of the Independent Media Center, a collective of independent media organizations and journalists.
….In its letter to the Secret Service today, the ACLU provided the e-mail addresses of the four Indymedia administrators — Matt Toups, Brian Szymanski, Micah Anderson and one man who prefers not to be named publicly — and advised the agency that they are representing them in any formal or informal questioning of them or Merrill.
In a statement issued today, Toups, a 22-year-old undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University, said: “The right of an author to choose anonymity is an important part of what Indymedia stands for because we work to create a safe space for dissenting views. Unfortunately, the United States is becoming an increasingly repressive and chilling environment for free speech, thanks to government harassment like the recent attempts to question Indymedia and other activist groups in New York for the Republican National Convention.”
Beeson said she found it ironic that the Secret Service subpoena said that the men were sought in connection with an investigation of voter intimidation. “The only intimidation taking place here is the Secret Service intimidating people who speak out against the government,” she said. “Unfortunately, the Secret Service has a very recent history of preventing Americans from exercising their First Amendment rights.”
I’m not exactly sure where I stand on this particular issue: if you’re one of the RNC delegates, it pretty well sucks having your name, address, phone number and email address published so a bunch of deranged zealots can harass the hell out of you.
As the Indymedia post says:
- Our objectives are to:
– Supply anti-RNC groups with data on the delegates to use in whatever way they see fit.
– Supply a body of information that can be easily added to.
– Encourage the republishing and redistribution of this data.
– Facilitate making local connections. Many of these delegates are involved in politics and business on a town or county level.
i.e., so they can harass the hell out of them. The intent is doubtless malicious, but I would also guess that is protected free speech.
So now I’m waiting to hear that the dogged men with permanent frowns, shades, and mysterious ear plugs are going after this guy:
- Morris often catches Presidents in their own acts of mimicry. “What I pride myself on is becoming a character’s id, making available all the discarded and covered-up stuff from his past, and that’s why I dislike doing Bush,” he said. “It just feels too easy to do this cartoon, so much of which—the denim shirts, the brush-clearing, the shrug—Bush borrowed from Reagan.” He squinted. “‘I uh-preciate it. Henh. We’re takin’ care of it.’ I saw Bush as a mix of Alfred E. Newman and Rick Moranis, who had that snarky, smirky ‘Henh, henh, henh’ thing going. But there’s a bit of Bush’s father in there as well.” Morris had been thrusting the right side of his jaw out; now he parked his tongue there, and became George H. W. Bush. “Jimmy Carter did that sort of thing, too: when he got a crowd’s adulation, he curled his tongue under his lower lip. You can see them doing that as kids, as little bashful kids.”
Jim Morris is a political impressionist and he is working a Kerry impression for a show in the fall:
- That night, Morris performed a short set at Stand-Up NY, on West Seventy-eighth Street. The audience was young and noisy, so he began with his impressions of Richard Nixon having sex and Dan Rather on Viagra. Then Morris announced that he was going to unveil his John Kerry for the first time. “John Kerry is very difficult to do,” he said. “I’m still working on the face, so be kind. It’s a mix of Herman Munster”— he went all stiff and bolt-necked, and got a big laugh. Then he boomed “Whee believe” a few times, drawing appreciative chuckles.
….Afterward, on the street, Morris said, “I was happy with their response to the Kerry face, at least. It’s coming together. At the moment, I see John Kerry as two parts Herman Munster and one part Bill Walton—his build and facial structure and the cavities in his head, the nasal stuffiness. Then, there’s a bit of Hugh Grant in his smile; some Robert Stack raspiness in the voice; some Jim Nabors in the shoulders and face; some Bea Arthur in the face; and a hint of that Indian who cried from the highway about the litter. Oh, and a little bit of my dog, Tex.” He gave a dignified woof. [New Yorker]
Positively disrespectful of the Leader of the Free World and he who would supplant him. I’d be waiting for that knock on the door, Jim – keep the ACLU’s number handy.