Chilling effect

December 18th, 2005  |  Published in old and busted

Student investigated by DHS for requesting a book:

> A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung’s tome on Communism called “The Little Red Book.”

> Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library’s interlibrary loan program.

> The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand’s class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents’ home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.

They didn’t leave the book with the student, either. Why risk thoughtcrime? I wonder if they apologized? Or knew to be embarrassed?

This stuff isn’t about finding terrorists. It’s about making sure people know they’re being watched. They can’t watch everyone, but that’s not the point, either. It’s enough that you know they might be watching at any given moment.

At the risk of howls of “moral equivalence!” do you want to tell me why creating a surveillance state that cows its citizens into submission by periodically harassing and intimidating students who reserve the wrong book isn’t its own sort of terrorism?

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