Slinging a smooth stone

Copyright C.F. David

War doesn't justify giving away all our rights

Each day, when the Oklahoma legislature is in session, I get a plethora of
information on the various bills put forward, defeated and passed.

I scan/read most of them with passing interest doused by a healthy amount of
"Panhandle cynicism". For instance I read recently that $125 million would
be set aside to repair and or replace dangerous bridges in Oklahoma . The
aforementioned "Panhandle cynicism" makes me assume that the bulk of the
$125 million will be spent in and around Tulsa and Oklahoma City . I figure
any bridge in the Panhandle will be lucky to get a five-dollar reflector to
go on its abutment.


But then, they [the legislators] decide to do something that on the face of
it might be a good thing, but it might slowly erodes our rights. The
Oklahoma House of Representatives is considering legislation [HB2115] which,
if passed and signed, would allow street gangs to be treated as terrorists.

Rep. Thad Balkman, a Republican from Norman , is the power behind the bill,
and in Balkman's words, ".gangs use terror as a weapon. It's time law
enforcement treats gang members like the terrorists they are."

Now don't get me wrong, I know street gangs are a growing problem. But
calling them terrorists may be a stretch.

Currently, Oklahoma law reads that a terrorist act is defined as ".something
meant to coerce a government."

Timothy McVeigh's bomb at the Murrah Building was by definition, legal and
otherwise, a terrorist act, and should have been treated as such. However,
unless a street gang declares war on city hall, or the DA's office, I still
think terrorism is a stretch.

My biggest concern.OK, we've "made" gangs terrorists, who defines who and
what a gang is? Are they just thugs who sell and traffic drugs, sex and
stolen property? This would include every ethnic gang in the state plus
potentially any number of roving or stationary motorcycle gangs such as the
Hells Angels. Well perhaps, depending on who you are, this is no real
problem yet.

What if all of a sudden, through some legal description, a district attorney
decided that a striking labor union, or a particularly odd church was a
"gang"? Can't happen you say? I beg you to remember Waco, and reread the
history of U.S. labor unrest in the early 20th century. It has and can
happen.

We are at war, we need to be protected from enemy strikes. But, we have
already allowed our government to over reach their realm. Under the recently
renewed Patriot Act, American Citizens might be held indefinitely if they
are deemed to be "enemy combatants". How might this play out in Oklahoma
under the "gangs are terrorists"? Will we soon have hundreds of young men
and women locked away without benefit of legal representation?

Since the creation of the patriot Act, we have new legal terms such as
"narcoterrorists". If the American Ag Movement started again would we have
Agraterrorists? Could the Jewish Defense League be someday classified as a
gang? The NRA, the PTA? Where does it start, and more importantly where does
it stop?


As citizens, and voters, we need to be ever careful on what and how much
power we give to our legislators, and thereby our police and military
forces.

A voting democracy can give way to a police state, without ever firing a
shot. It happened in Germany in the 1930s; and it was aided and abetted by
voters at the polls.

The word for the week is vigilant.

Boise City News
P.O. Box 278
105 W. Main Street
Boise City, Oklahoma 73933-0278
Phone: 580 544-2222
Fax: 580 544-3281
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