Death of Democracy in Eureka, Day 84

this letter to the editor from Robin Donald of Fortuna was published in the Eureka Times-Standard on June 19, 2012:

On June 7 of this year I was arrested forchallenging the Curfew provision of the Humboldt Urgency Ordinance. Why did Ido this? I could tell you that I did it because of moral and ethical concernsto protect the California and United States Constitutions guarantees of FreeSpeech and Assembly. Which would be true. Instead I will tell you somethingelse.

 At the February 4, 2012 “Take Back the Courthouse Rally” in opposition to Occupy Eureka, I had this conversation with one of its supporters, Eureka City Council Member Mike Newman. I told Mike that, regarding the “mess”which some people found to be so upsetting, I had been in many houses whichwere far messier. In regard to the behavior of mentally ill street people, Itold him that my father, a successful businessman, was an alcoholic who beat my mother. She died from health complications after one of his beatings. Mike’sresponse was that “at least these things were done privately, inside.”

 I didn’t find his comment to be particularly callous.  He was quite right.   The defining distinction between the culture of houseless people and the rest of us is that houseless people do their drinking, drugging and fighting in the plain view of all,   in the street;   the rest of us, so-called “upstanding citizens” conduct our dysfunctional behavior within the confines of our houses,  in private,  in secret.

 Now I ask you to consider the case of Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.   Neither the Office of the President, theCongress, nor the Military is denying that any of the horrific murders, the tortures,  the official coverups,  nor the diplomatic blackmail revealed in the released documents are false.   Behind the stated concerns that publicizing these documents has or will endanger National Security is one fear. I believe it is the same fear that motivated Mike Newman to say what he did.

 It is the fear that when the façade of what passes for normal – whether in the domestic realm or the public and international realm – is stripped away and the dysfunctional element of our culture is put out on the street with no walls for it to hide behind, then the moral and ethical claim about the superior way of life known as the American Dream with the U.S. as the Land of the Free and the Bulwark of Democracy will be seen forwhat it is:  self-serving hypocrisy.

 Many people will not like the words I have just written. I did not write them to curry favor with anybody.   I wrote them because I could.   Because existing alongside the criminal and murderous hypocrisy and greed of some of our Government bodies and Business institutions,   there also lives a community of people and a historical tradition which values human and civil rights.   Some of these rights are codified in the U.S. Constitution andits Bill of Rights.

 Predominant amongst these Rights is the 1stAmendment which says in its entirety: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;   or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;   or the right of the people to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 The same night I was arrested challenging the Urgency Ordinance, two U.S. Veterans were also arrested.   One was a Veteran ofthe Korean War, the other a Veteran of the Vietnam War.   Their participation in the Military earns them the right to be called Veterans. But also arrested that night were three women.   Given the lengthy and ongoing second class status of women in the United States; given the current attack on women’s rights emanating from the Republican Party;   and given the horrific reality of domestic violence against women,  of which my mother was a victim, I consider these womento also be Veterans.

 Yes, I wrote these words because my freedom of expression is guaranteed, not only in the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution,  but also by the State of California Constitution.  These documents also guarantee my standing on the Humboldt County Courthouse at any time, day or night.   The unconstitutional Urgency Ordinance must be rescinded.


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