The Muzzle Awards were inspired by noted civil-liberties lawyer and Phoenix contributor Harvey Silverglate, and are named after similar awards given by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Freedom of Expression. They were compiled by tracking freedom-of-expression stories in New England since last July 4, and are based on reporting by various news organizations — especially the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Providence Journal, the Portland Press Herald, and the Hartford Courant, as well as other local and national sources — and the Phoenix newspapers in Boston, Providence, and Portland.
The envelopes, please.
ROMNEY: elect him, put those scary Muslims in their place.
Governor would wiretap mosques, spy on students
Mitt Romney would like to be president, and it appears that he’ll say anything if he thinks it will help make that dream come true. Last September, for instance, the Massachusetts governor traveled to Washington and delivered a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation. The ostensible topic: homeland security. The not-so-hidden subtext: elect him president, and he’ll put those scary Muslims in their place.
First Romney took on foreign students at Massachusetts colleges and universities. “How many individuals are coming to our state and going to those institutions who have come from terrorist-sponsored states?” he asked. “Do we know where they are? Are we tracking them?”
Next he went after Muslim houses of worship, continuing, “How about people who are in settings — mosques, for instance — that may be teaching doctrines of hate and terror? Are we monitoring that? Are we wiretapping? Are we following what’s going on?”
No doubt Romney believed his remarks would play well with Republican-primary voters in 2008, and he may be right. For the governor, it’s all part of a political strategy to cast himself as a pillar of conservatism, doing the best he can to hold back the liberal tide in the bluest of blue states.
But there’s something especially pernicious about proposing to strip an entire class of people of their basic civil liberties. Whatever happened to the legal concept of probable cause — that is, of investigating people and organizations only if there is specific reason to believe they’re engaged in criminal activity?
Later Romney and his spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, denied that the governor advocated doing away with constitutional protections. If that’s the case, then he ought to be more careful before he opens his mouth. Ali Noorani, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, put it this way: “There’s a need for the US government and the intelligence system to better understand the Muslim community. The way not to do it is to wiretap and surreptitiously surveil an entire community.”
His anti-terror program targets peace activists
In Maine, anti-war activists are worried that the Pentagon has been keeping them under surveillance. “The government should be congratulating us for our service to our country when we try to help young people make an informed decision about whether or not to join the military. Instead, they are spying on us in a desperate act of a frightened administration,” said Rosalie Paul, clerk of the American Friends Service Committee’s Maine Program on Youth and Militarism.