Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Dirty Rats

My kid memories are good ones. My folks were active, a bit quirky and had a vision, early on, of what kind of life they wanted to wrap around us. We lived in northern Illinois, but my summer adventures based out of a 1920's bungalow on a clear Wisconsin lake. The "Cottage" as my Mother christened it, was three tiny bedrooms in a sea of bead board paneling, a huge screen porch, and a tiny added-on kitchen and half bath. If a shower was required, you had to go outside, "rockle" down the ancient stone steps to the basement, and brave the spiders.

Our nearest neighbor had five kids. They ranged from one year younger to 10 years older than me. Summertime threw us together, and we learned the ropes. How to hang, how to swim, that potato chips should be dipped in catsup, and the code.

The code was sacrosanct. Kids did not rat each other out. You had the back of a kid in your group. Big kids could razz the crap out of any little kid in their group, but God forbid some other kid tried it. The code was pure kid world. It was the beginning of the definition of self, sans parent.

The thing about the code is, it never leaves you.

My friends know they can count on me, and I them. I like that. Through our teens, young adulthood and mid years, choices document our lives. Children vs. childless, money, vs. struggle, party-on vs. AA or rehab, Dem vs. Rep, or divine vs. rewind; the choices are part of my friends. They get to drive their ride in peace. It's their life; they're in the driver's seat. I'm kicking back and watching kids or careers grow, big houses and small ones, three o'clock Yeeeee Haaaaaa's and O'Doul's, the like and not so like political leanings, and the decisions to seek or turn from God.

Part of being an adult is choosing how you want to live your life. Part of the code is respecting that.

HR1528 is the antithesis of everything I believed was the norm.

From Downsize DC:

The politicians want You — to be a snitch

HR 1528 has already passed through one committee, and appears likely to pass through another and come to the floor for a vote. This bill, if passed, will force you to inform on your neighbors if you have any knowledge of drug related activity. We're not making this up. First it was illegal to deal drugs, then use them, and then to be caught with them. Now, Congressman James Sensenbrenner wants to make it the law that if you do not inform on your neighbors you can be sentenced to prison! This kind of a system — neighbors informing on neighbors — was a key feature of past totalitarian regimes. Is this really what we want for America?

I cannot fathom living my life like that. If a married couple wants to smoke a bowl and make love after the kids are in bed, good for them. Under this bill, families would be destroyed, with parents going to prison. The bill is deceptive, making it sound like it's protecting children, but in actuality, it's another effort to control the American citizen in the name of controlling terrorists.

Yo, Washington. WE are not the terrorists.

How 'bout you take HR1528 and your damned Real ID card, and stick'em.

Again from Downsize DC:

This proposed new law also requires you to provide full assistance in investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting drug law offenders who are personally known to you. This could involve working undercover and wearing a wire to entrap and convict friends, family members, and neighbors.

This law, as with so many others, is constructed in such a way that it can be justified as a measure to protect children, which includes anyone under the age of majority, including many college students. It also ensnares the private activities of parents related to substances like marijuana. The government considers parents who smoke pot in the privacy of their bedroom after hours a serious threat, whereas Senators and Congresspersons who drink large amounts of alcohol in front of their children in the light of day, are not.

Examples of activities that could force you to inform or face the risk of prison time:

--You see a joint passed to a college student. Call the police immediately.

--Your child has a substance-abuse problem and begs someone else to acquire drugs. You cannot deal with this as a family matter, or in a drug-treatment setting. You must inform on both of them.

--Your hear someone say they bought Ecstasy to share with College age friends. Report this within 24 hours or risk prosecution.

--Your sister, who has kids, mentions that she bought some pot to share with her husband. Inform on your sister or risk prison time.

Downsize DC offers a link to email your rep, or I have one on the sidebar. If a Congressperson hears from 300 constituents, that small number is enough to get them to consider other opinions. I especially encourage Wisconsinites to give Mr. Sensenbrenner a call. Call early. Call often. And next election, vote that boy out. Please.

Think about what it would be like to strip all trust from the relationships in your lives. Knowing that a single choice, made in anger, could ruin the lives of an entire family has zero appeal to me. I am unwilling to concede the people in my life to an insecure government who can't find Osama, manipulates intel in order to enter a war, and is attempting to undermine the judiciary to further their personal agendas.

If they think the code means nothing, they underestimate this American. I'm getting busy here. I urge you to do the same.


At June 02, 2005 7:52 AM, Blogger Unadulterated Underdog said...

The scary thing is how will they know you knew something about your neighbor? Will they "prove" it with their special Guantanamo Bay-flavored interrogation techniques or will they "prove" it some other way?

At June 02, 2005 8:34 AM, Blogger frstlymil said...

And will they start lurking around the entrances to Narcotics Anonymous meetings so they can make their bust quota of newcomers that would test positive? Raid rehab centers and arrest those who are trying to get help and the doctors that help them? Troll methadone clinics? I mean - wouldn't they have to under this bill? Shoot. Well, all drug addicts will simply need to start using prescription drugs and vast amounts of alcohol and ruin their lives and those of their families that way - at least it's legal. And the neighbors and friends are in the clear, martini in hand as they answer politely - "No, I've never seen him take the pot...but he does get drunk and beat his wife occasionally - that's okay, right?"

At June 02, 2005 9:30 AM, Blogger Jet said...

Even worse, this could be used to harrass Universities, public schools, inner city programs, you name it.

At June 02, 2005 11:53 AM, Blogger Brother Kenya said...

All I can say is, Jesus Christ, what next?!

At June 02, 2005 2:11 PM, Blogger Sar said...

Damn, I'd either loose a lot of adult pals who enjoy "relaxing" in the privacy of their own homes or spend a great deal of time in prison for not ratting them out. Neither sounds appealing. Nor does this stupid idea, especially when it distracts attention from the multitude of serious issues in our country.

At June 02, 2005 2:35 PM, Blogger mulligan said...

Potato chips and catsup?! bleah!

Let's just say this gets passed, how the hell would they enforce it? First off, they'd have to prove that you knew something. Just because someone lives next to you doesn't mean you know everything that goes on in their house. Even if they could prove it, what then? Arrest the entire country?

What a dumb ass law!

At June 02, 2005 2:41 PM, Blogger windspike said...

What ever happened to win-win scenareos when it came to legislation? This sounds wholly lose-lose. Legislating to fix an extremism situation makes us all terrorists, and does nothing about the real ones. Perhaps they should use laser like focus to root out and eliminate the threat of those we already know are terrorists rather than assuming we are all terrorists and going from there.

This is akin to tossing all Japanese or Japanese looking folks into the slammer or concentration like camps simply becuase they have surnames and look japanese during WWII. You know, there were Japanese American's who fought on OUR side during WW II and some folks of German descent was well.

Go see "Crash" and see how spurious the situation already is. No matter how fictional the movie is/was, it only points to the reality and scratches the surfface.

Jet, you are right when you said in your comment over at my blog, this keg is gonna blow, all it's craving is one small spark.

At June 02, 2005 3:00 PM, Blogger Ken Grandlund said...

Holy crap! This is new to me but is now on my radar. How on earth can this bear any resemblance to American democracy and freedom?

I've decried the rants of "state nazi behavior" before as little more than sour grapes and political hyperactivity, but this really smells.

You can bet that I'll be signing that petition, and would likely fight this one tooth and nail. Not because I'm worried about myself, but because I'm worried for us all.

At June 02, 2005 4:26 PM, Blogger Jet said...

BK, I have to agree. This is a bold, scary move.

Sar, you're right. It's ridiculous to contemplate. But who would you prefer to save, your friends, or the father of your kids? The manipulation could be sickening. Ridiculous.

Laura, to a nine year old, chips and catsup was da bomb.

Windspike, it's almost like they have to push until we push back. We learn nothing from history.

Hey Ken, glad to see you here! It's odd that the longer this goes on, the more the (insert historical bad boy here) reference grows. I think the real issue is manipulation of civil rights to enable personal agenda. I just hope we shut it down before it gets too far out of hand.

At June 02, 2005 7:39 PM, Blogger Gun-Toting Liberal said...

I hate to say it but I'm beginning to HATE and DESPISE what THIS Government is doing to the Constitution and our Civil Liberties! What gets ME is, on my blog I keep ranting and raving against this totalitarian type CRAP and the hardest core right-wingers in the bloggosphere chime right in with me against these things. Then the next thing yannow, they're pulling the handle for "straight ticket R's" on Election Day.

These people know NOT what they're doing to a great Country. Dividing it? HELL NO. These people are cats and our Constitution is nothing but a freaking SANDBOX to them. I'm ABOUT to latch onto that 2nd Amendment with both hands and one eye sqinted.

This NeoKon agenda is REALLY starting to piss me OFF! My GOD, these people are getting dangerous.

At June 02, 2005 11:07 PM, Blogger frstlymil said...

Ditto what Windspike said about going to see "Crash" - I'm saying this as an L.A. resident of many years - it's a very truthful look, (albeit told through a very narrow and contrived filter of ten intertwined lives), of the real face of what has become of the Californian. Pretty depressing stuff and something needs to change. I don't know if it's that bad elsewhere in the U.S. because I don't live there - but I can assure you it's all true here.

At June 03, 2005 3:39 PM, Blogger Unadulterated Underdog said...

What comes next? Coronation day? The dissolution of Congress? Restrictions against second parties? Elimination of public discourse? Freedom gin? Give me a break! We should seriously throw all the extremists out of Congress (boy would it be quiet then) and call for new elections in their districts. This is insane and anyone who supports it is insane too.

At June 03, 2005 7:26 PM, Blogger Jet said...

It sounds like "Crash" is something I need to check out.

Joseph, it seems like each sucessive piece makes the picture a bit clearer. I'm not liking the puzzle much, though.

At June 03, 2005 7:33 PM, Blogger Gun-Toting Liberal said...


Jet, sorry, my dear. But I've had little choice but to meme you. Here you go:

At June 05, 2005 3:30 PM, Blogger pia savage said...

wonderful post, Jet. Begins so nostalgic--and rightly so--for our freedoms might be just a dream some day soon.


I would die before I ratted out anybody. Rats belong in sewers. yet we have an entire world of Repub's who seem fine with all this

And college students who think it's okay to take away freedoms.


At June 05, 2005 4:18 PM, Blogger Jet said...

GTL, I will accept you meme, but only because you saved my carcass over at Stop the ACLU when I needed saving. Much appreciated!

Pia, radical hums under my skin, but I don't think today's kids feel it. Maybe the differences between 1940's parents and 1960's kids was more significant somehow. A 2000's kids is not feeling the buzz of rebelling against a 1980's yuppie...big corp's score a point. Now get out there and go shopping!

At June 06, 2005 6:42 AM, Blogger PATCAM2005 said...

It still amazes me that these types of law are acceptable to anyone. I think that the whole country is going to be forced into this "Stepford Wives" version of reality, that seems to be appealing to someone. Could you imagine the outrage against the first person to follow through on this law. The media attention that would be invoked at the first case would be overwhelming. There would be the three-part sides all over again. The Pro-Shiavo's, the Anti-Shiavo's (both of whom would love the media attention) and the people that knew it just wasn't any of their damn business to begin with. Just like that spree, this should be way over the top. Now I have to go to the links.


At June 06, 2005 7:24 AM, Blogger ~Betsy said...

It's infuriating what is happening in this country! It's appalling that there are not more pepole incensed by the further curtailing of our rights. My right to NOT rat on a friend; who would ever think that was a right we had to defend!? Sensenbrenner is over the top on this one. Who's ass is he kissing?

There were two lines of dialogue in the new Star Wars movie that I think were directed at our current administration.

In one scene, the senate hands over ruling power to (bad guy) Palpatine under the pretext of galactgic security while the admiring throngs cheer and applaud. Princess Amidala woefully comments (under her breath): "So this is how liberty dies, to thunderous applause..."

In another scene, Anakin Skywalker paraphrases GW when he says: "If you are not with me you are my enemy." He was speaking to his best friend.

I just heard on NPR that when congresspersons receive so many form letters that all say the same thing, they begin to ignore them. When you have the optoin to, try to provide your own words when you sign on to a letter or petition. Paraphrase what is said and add your own two cents worth. If that helps get the sentiment across, it's worth the extra time and effort... starting with HR1528.

At June 07, 2005 4:57 AM, Blogger Jet said...

I always add my two cents to the mass emails, just cause I'm usually pretty pissed and want to share...

The mass emails do show numbers to congresspeople, and I think filling them out is important. Communication methods are changing; this is an important medium to express yourself to your rep.


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