Suspicious Reading


Many years ago, I lived down the street from a writer named Hal Crowther. Don't tell the FBI.


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  1. But, but… according to all the good sheeple trolls on this blog, we have nothing to fear from the benevolent, all-forgiving John Ashcroft and his loving angels of holiness in the FBI! They couldn’t be wrong, could they?

  2. There is an article running on Reason right now,Radical Cheek Who’s rad?By Michael Young, that says, perhaps I am too liberal because I fear John Ashcroft more than Osama. Well, John Ashcroft is much more likely to do me harm, as far as I can tell. Remember this article when your children ask you about the old days when we were free. I actually agree that the “Left” has made buffons of themselves over the past 60 years, ignoring Stalin and Lenin. But that does not excuse anyone going over to the facist side either. It’s a sad day when the only choice is to be afraid of thier facists or ours.

    Well, being free was nice while it lasted.

  3. Skepticos:

    I’m glad you’re OK with not being free…but I’m kinda curious what makes you all of a sudden fear Ashcroft. He has done either the same things or logical progressions from what Janet “Freedom” Reno did in the previous administration. Additionally, last time I checked, acts of congress and determinations of POW/”Enemy Combatant” status were not made by the AG, but by Congress and the President, respectively. And PATRIOT, IIRC, was passed by a Democrat-controlled Senate.

    So while it’s this guy carrying out all these things, the fact that the Left has just woken up to the idea that unchecked prosecutorial power is a *bad thing* kinda reveals their blinders and their desire to blame the messenger. The people you helped elect likely voted for most of the things you’re objecting to. And the President you helped elect by running the pathetic Al Gore and then voting for Nader is doing the rest. Ashcroft is no gem, but quite frankly, he’s just carrying on the Clinton “Clipper Chip/V-Chip” legacy.

  4. Exactly where is the horrendous civil rights violation here? A citizen phoned in a tip to a hotline and our intrepid journalist was (gasp) interviewed. Wow!!! This is a clear violation of the Constitution! Afterall, it says … well I mean it could say…hmmm… Jesse Walker thinks this is bad. Therefore it must be unconstitutional, since it violates the “sweet mystery of life.” (Lawrence v. Texas)

  5. evilcor,
    Where do I get one of those bran-spankin new iraqi slaves. Becuase the negro I share my office with just isn’t cutting it anymore. I just told him what I was writing and he told me to “fuck off whitey.”

    Now is that the behavior of a good slave?

  6. LB, I think PriceLine has name-your-own price on ’em, but you might have to accept up to six layovers to take delivery.

  7. Skeptikos. . .
    There never will be a day when children ask what it was like to be free. Everything that’s being done now (and has been done for at least a century) is done IN THE NAME OF freedom. We preserve our freedoms by snitching each other out to the FBI, we spread freedom by enslaving whole populations, we label the enemies of our grand imperium “freedom-hating cowards” despite the abundant evidence that what Osama et. al. want most is to BE free; of us at least.
    Germany went to Hell singing Die Fliedermaus.
    America will go preaching from the Bill of Rights.

  8. T. Hartin: you and condoleezza rice both.

  9. I almost feel sorry for the FBI here, which is amazing. After all the (deserved) flak they’ve taken for being a bunch of incompetent bureaucratic sleazebags in the last two years, once they receive a tip about a dark haired (and dark bearded, it appears) person reading something “subversive”, they don’t really have a choice but to look into it. One thing bureaucracies do extremely well is ass-covering, and that’s what the FBI was doing here. To Jesse (Walker)’s point, this does say something interesting about the public, that someone would sic the FBI on someone else because of what they were reading in a coffee shop. Does this mean that the FBI should interview everyone who subscribes to the Nation? Actually, it might almost be worth it just to see the unholy hell that would be unleashed!

  10. How interesting. The exact same thing happened in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, just last week.

    A guy was sitting in the Caribou Coffee off Jones Ferry Road, when somebody called the FBI on him and the exact same things happened to him. He was also reading some left wing editorial. I believe it may even have been the same two agents. The story is right here:

    Now I’m not saying that this is a completely fraudulent story, or that it’s made up, and an effort to slander the FBI and the Bush administration…

    But let’s just say it’s awful odd that the denizens of Caribou Coffee are so vigilant in fighting against the reading of left wing reading materials — probably the same editorial by Hal Crowther both times.

  11. Evilcor, give me a freaking break here.

    Exactly which “whole populations” have we enslaved?

    And in your view, what exactly should we call our enemies? “Good people with honest disagreements”?? Come on, sports fans call their rivals by nastier names than that… we should call people who want us dead something nice?

    I think you need to get out in the sun a little more, and your note skirts dangerously close to Godwin’s law.

  12. ^ i used to know, but i forgto. whats Godwins Law?

  13. Stephen:

    Looks like simple plaigiarism.


    Godwin’s Law is that the first person to bring up the Nazis, Nazi Germany, or Hitler loses the argument.

    Hmmm…just read the screed that got him into trouble. It really bothers me more that Hal thinks that anyone who disagrees with him is “mentally unbalanced.” And if Fox News doesn’t fill you with revulsion, you’re a moron. Somebody’s just feeling a little Ubermensch today. So I guess if he gets his way, anybody who thinks that getting the right wing equivalent of NPR and the Sun on TV isn’t the end of the world will be put in the nuthouse?

    That being said, there is indeed something wrong with the FBI coming to intimidate every person who is reported reading subversive literature. I just wish I had more confidence that the subject of that intimidation and good ol’ Hal would raise similar objections if I were reading something about how NPR listeners were mentally unbalanced, diseased imbiciles who threaten children and kittens and the FBI came to visit me. Sadly, I think they would crow about how it was “About time!”

  14. Stephen: Sounds to me like the columnist for the Chapel Hill News heard a garbled version of Marc Schulz’s story and ran with it.

    Glenn: Try reading the story without looking for a “horrendous civil rights violation,” and instead for insight into the mentality of certain FBI agents and, worse yet, certain FBI tipsters.

  15. Jesse (not Walker):
    To answer your first point, we have reduced to slavery all or a significant part of the following populations:
    West Africans
    Seminole Indians
    The many tribes of the Great Plains
    The Japanese (sort of)
    Mexicans in CA and TX during and after the war
    Now, the Iraqis
    And a fairly large number of:
    El Salvadorans
    et. cetera
    We have also colluded with the enslavers of numberless countries, invaded coutless others time and again (and again in the case of some, like Haiti), rigged elections, lied outrageously about our motives abroad, and shown a shocking insensitivity to local culture and sensibilities.
    With regard to your point about Godwin’s Law, I can only say: If it walks like a goose, thinks like a bully, and acts like a wolf, check for swastikas.

  16. Almost forgot, Jesse:
    I’d call our enemies “Al-Qaeda”. I know it sounds nuts, but I prefer not to dull the higher functions with agitprop designations as this has an insalubrious effect on higher brain function.
    To designate them “cowards” is to roundly deny an obvious truth; 9/11 took balls. To say they hate our “freedoms” is to ignore their real complaints against us. In case you’re as propagandized as the average Joe (or Jesse) their gripes include our physical support for the Saud family (up to and including a military presence), support for Israel (not an outrageous point of contention), and our overwhelming cultural dominance (which may be a pity, but it’s hard to see how ANYONE can stop Eminem).
    Try to think things out next time Jesse (not Walker), it will save me time.

  17. perhaps we have invaded those countries, but “enslaved” connotes something else. since i think there are no reported cases of US soliders engaging in forcing iraqis to involuntary servitude, i’m going to have to dismiss that as senseless hyperbole

  18. Exactly what is the logic behind Godwin’s law? Is there any, or is it just a rule of thumb to keep arguments fresh? Evilcor maybe right on that one, however, I disagree that we “enslave” the above populations. Were you being serious? Or did has the term “slavery” been updated? Maybe your first post used the wrong tense.

    Osama wanted to be free of us? Interesting if true. Just what did we force him to do exactly? Or did you mean “free of us” in the sense that he didn’t want us to exist, in which case I want to be free of McDonalds, even though I never eat there.

  19. My dear Mr. Dreyer:
    Slavery may be defined as a basic denial of human rights, forced servitude, and an abrogation of self-determination.
    So far we have:
    Invaded Iraq
    Smashed its government
    Arrested hecklers
    Shot dissenters
    Stripped locals (thieves though they supposedly were) and made them run through public
    Stolen their oil (no bullshit about holding it “in trust”)
    Kunta Kinte slavery? No. But it sails mighty close to my above definitions.

  20. Hot damn, who knew we had all those slaves so long after the Civil War! I want me an Eye-racki slave! What’s the going rate? Do you get them on ebay, or what?

    Beanie – Godwin’s Law came about because someone (a Mr. Godwin, I believe) noticed that, in any internet discussion, someone will, eventually, compare their opponent to Hitler or tne Nazis. Godwin’s Law was originally put out as a sort of experiment in how memes are spread, with the idea that Godwin’s Law would serve as a countermeme to the obnoxious and lazy “you’re a Nazi!” meme.

  21. “Mr. Godwin” is Mike Godwin, a contributing editor to Reason.

  22. T. Hartin,



    I see where you are going, but “smashing their government” was which of the following three:

    denial of human rights,
    forced servitude
    abrogation of self-determination

    perhaps the third, but who’s self determination and at the expense of whom?

  23. dunno if this violates godwins law but lets compare this to invasion of nazi germany

    Invaded Iraq (“..” germany)
    Smashed its government (“…”)
    Arrested hecklers (“…”)
    Shot dissenters (nuremberg included execution as well as i’m sure perfunctory executions of minor officials)
    Stripped locals (thieves though they supposedly were) and made them run through public
    seen no evidence of this but i am sure we did similar things to the germans in the category of intentional humiliation
    Stolen their oil (no bullshit about holding it “in trust”)
    uh, actually, such neo-conservative rags as The New Yorker have published articles verty recently saying that the whole oil thing is evry much in flux. no contracts have been signed and in addition mr bremer has lauded the alaskan thing whee they give like bonds or dividends for oil to alaskans.

    so what the hell are you referring to HERE.

    btw i wonder what joschka fischer will say when he learns he is bush’s slave?

  24. Contracts?!?!?! HAH!!!!
    We don’ neeeed no stinkin’ contracts.
    I was actually thinking of the reverse Nazi metaphor Jacob. You know, the one where Hitler bullied other countries in an attempt to enforce his will, lambasts the League as outdated and irrelevant, and finally does whatever the Hell he wants to anyway.
    Albert Speer wrote about his first trip to the Ukraine. Apparently as late as the summer of 1942, it was safe for a Nazi Reichsminister to travel without a guard. One year later it was suicide to try.
    The Nazis were hideously incompetent masters. So are we. America has sown something in the world that will someday consume us.

  25. So Evilcor, abrogation of self-determination is slavery?

    I guess what the Florida Supreme Court and Al Gore tried, and what the U.S. Supreme Court may have managed in 2000, amounts to an imposition of slavery? And the fact that kids don’t get a vote in where the family goes for vacation is slavery? And the fact that I have to follow rules and laws is slavery? And the fact that if I want to break into a house, somebody will probably shoot me, thereby denying my right to self determination — and that is slavery?

    Well, call me Fredrick Douglass…

    Honestly Evilcor, is that you talking in the posts above? Or is the CIA / Alien joint mind control project telling you to say that stuff, using mind control gamma waves beamed in from the antennae in the corner of your room?

  26. Apis:
    I realize my post wasn’t written in big crayon letters, but it’s still not hard to understand. Please read the WHOLE definition before firing off pathetic attempts at wit.

  27. The info we don’t have with this story (and the chapel hill one) is what the caller said to the FBI. Granted, it seems both silly and disturbing to think the FBI is checking up on people who happen to read editorials critical of the government. But what is the likelihood that this is what was called in. More likely, the person caught a few words over the shoulder, misinterpreted what it was (a computer print out, oh my god), and called the FBI saying they saw some one reading orders to blow up a building. Of course the FBI has to go check on something like that. Did they ask him questions? Yes. Did they make him nervous? Yes. This is meaningless. I’ve got a distant relative in the FBI, and when I see him every few years at weddings and such, he makes me nervous. He asks me things like, “How’s it going?” and I start to sweat.

    Could there be something diabolical going on here? Possibly. Is it more likely a paranoid phone call that had to check on, was, and then was over and done with. Yes.

  28. “btw i wonder what joschka fischer will say when he learns he is bush’s slave?”

    Well, THAT image is permanently etched on the inside of my eyelids now. eeeeewwww.

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