Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Secession of St. Paul

or, Words Fail Me

It appears that St. Paul, MN, is no longer a part of these United States. It has seceded (or succeeded) and become something entirely separate.

Surely, something like what happened there earlier this week -- when three exemplary college journalism students and two producers and Amy Goodman a well-known on-air personality, were arrested for alleged rioting, when police arrested people and took personal property on the suspicion of a political protest and vegetarian groups were raided at gunpoint and labeled as dangerous anarchists -- could never happen in the rest of the country that I know and love.

Because this country was built on words. Powerful words: the Declaration of Independence ("all men are created equal"), the Constitution ("We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility , provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America"), the amendments, and generations of journalists free from governmental muzzling.

We believe in our words. People have fought and died for what those words stand for. It occurs to me that if owning words, dispersing words (according to reports, political pamphlets criticizing various current events were among the contraband seized by the St. Paul police), saying, or shouting words becomes regulated, then the area in which that is allowed to happen is no longer a functioning part of what keeps these States united.

It also occurs to me that if the trend continues, my freedom to write words such as this may soon be a thing of the past.

"Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear."

Harry S Truman, August 8, 1950
33rd president of US (1884 - 1972)

In that case, it could truly be said that words -- utterly -- failed me. Failed us all.