Associated Press scandal matters to all of us

"Then through the town the Hangman came and called in the empty streets my name - and I looked at the gallows soaring tall and thought: "There is no one left at all for hanging, and so he calls to me to help pull down the gallows-tree." And I went out with right good hope to the Hangman's tree and the Hangman's rope.

He smiled at me as I came down to the courthouse square through the silent town, and supple and stretched in his busy hand was the yellow twist of the hempen strand.

And he whistled his tune as he tried the trap and it sprang down with a ready snap— and then with a smile of awful command he laid his hand upon my hand.

"You tricked me, Hangman!" I shouted then. "That your scaffold was built for other men. And I no henchman of yours," I cried, "You lied to me, Hangman, foully lied!" 

Then a twinkle grew in his buckshot eye: "Lied to you? Tricked you?" he said, "Not I. For I answered straight and I told you true: The scaffold was raised for none but you.

"For who has served me more faithfully than you with your coward's hope?" said he, "And where are the others that might have stood side by your side in the common good?" 

"Dead," I whispered; and amiably "Murdered," the Hangman corrected me; "First the alien, then the Jew... I did no more than you let me do."

Beneath the beam that blocked the sky, none had stood so alone as I - and the Hangman strapped me, and no voice there cried "Stay" for me in the empty square." (The Hangman/Maurice Ogden)

I usually avoid politics like the plague in this column. I do enough opinion writing for other entities. I am making an exception here. The Associated Press scandal affects each and every person who lives by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

I am a hardcore defender of freedom of the press, expression and speech. I may not like what you say or express. I may think what you say or express is deplorable, detestable, despicable, and disgusting. You might even be offensive, abusive, or hateful. I do not have to like what you say or express. I have to except it. I reserve my right to criticize it. I do not have the right to shout you down, shut you up, or shut you out. No one in America does, especially the government.

The AP scandal has been widely reported. I will not go into the details here. Google it for yourself. From all appearances AP committed two crimes. They published a story that contradicted the president and the published it before the White House could put their own spin on the contradiction. For that, Eric Holder unleashed his political dogs of war on Associated Press.

Eric Holder took an oath to defend and protect the United States Constitution. No where in that oath does it say protect and defend the President of the United States. He is supposed to protect the rights of a free press to report and publish stories. He is not supposed to place chilling effects on them.

This issue is not a conservative, liberal, right or left wing issue. It is not about Democrats or Republicans. It makes no difference whether you love or hate the president, his administration, or his governance and stewardship.

The secret investigation of Associated Press puts a chilling effect on and struck a major blow to the First Amendment. The courts have ruled that the press has the right to publish leaked classified information. The Pentagon Papers case put that to bed a long time ago.

If the government can go after the press, who is to say they cannot go after writers, artists, or musicians who express and publish things the government does not like? It has been done before. Remember the House Un-American Activities Committee? Remember the Senate hearings starring Joe McCarthy? McCarthy crashed and burned, but HUAC had a long run, from 1938-1969. I am old enough to remember the devastation they caused. Congress blatantly and willingly defied the United States Constitution. Artists, writers, reporters, and others who spoke or expressed themselves suffered.

We do not need a return to those evil days. Take a few minutes and send a short, polite email to the  White House. Demand the President order the Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to stop the probe of Associated Press. Remember, be professional and polite.

Do this for yourself and all others who value freedom of speech and expression. If we do not protect each other there will be no one left to protect. We will all be hung one by one.


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