Recently we were fortunate or maybe as the case turned out, unfortunate. We received in the mail a copy of an Ohio State Bar continuing legal education seminar. The subject was on obscenity. You would think that a seminar sponsored by the Bar, since the Bars are made up of membership from the lawyers throughout the State, who have obviously different opinions and beliefs, would include lawyers who have prosecuted and those who have defended obscenity cases. You would expect there to be speakers with a conservative mind set while others like ourselves who believe that freedom means the right to possess adult material, no matter how prurient. You would expect a fair and balanced agenda. And most of all, you would expect those who could educate others on how to practice both sides of the legal profession as to this issue.
However, to our utter amazement, disappointment, and eventual anger, all of the speakers were cut from the same cloth. None of them are defense attorneys thereby immediately lessening the value of the seminar as any good trial lawyer will tell you “knowing both sides of an issue, prosecution, or even mind set, can only help you no matter which side of the issue you are on”. But rather than have just prosecutors which, as we just pointed out would be bad enough, who they had speaking were political ideologs and moral agendists.
To my surprise, when my partner James Benjamin handed me the notice, he also handed me a letter that he had dictated as President of the First Amendment Lawyers Association to the Ohio Bar and more specifically its president and those who decided on these speakers. What my partner did in writing that letter took little time, little effort and true dedication of his belief in the First Amendment and his fear that this country is being taken over by the religious right. What my partner did was an act of saying “I am not going to take it anymore”. And you know what? He was right.
If there ever was a time that we do not need to take it anymore, it is now. For the past, at least five years, and if one counts the control of Congress during Clinton’s last years, possibly seven years, there has been an ever growing theocracy in this country, government and apparently Bar Organizations. But Iraq has shown the American people finally something that all of you who read these columns already know, our emperor has never had any clothes. His polices in Iraq have failed. His administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina made us look like a third world nation and had those same third world nations laughing at us and sending us aid. No matter how much he tries to make up from it, he looked aloof, uncaring and inept. His major support in the polls has always been that it is viewed by the American people as being able to keep us safe. No longer is that the case.
Already there are those in the Senate and in the House who fear being too closely associated with him, come election time. It’s time that we started fighting back. It is time that we started flexing our muscles. Simple letters like that my partner wrote saying once again “I’m not going to take it anymore”, letters to your congressmen, your senators, calls to elected officials, letters to opinion pages and papers can change opinion, force government action and make a difference. If you think I am wrong just ask Cindy Sheehan.
Speaking of Cindy Sheehan, for those of you who haven’t heard, apparently the war in Iraq is over. It’s not over because the fighting has stopped, or that peace is now the order of the day throughout Iraq, or because we have taken our soldiers and we have gone home. No, rather, apparently the war in Iraq is over, because of Hurricane Katrina.
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, every front page in every paper in every city across this country had one or two articles, at least, about the war in Iraq. Whether it was prison or torture, roadside bombs, inadequacies of the amount of troops on the ground, Sumi vs.Shiite, the elections in Iraq, whatever the topic, for the past two and one-half or three years, Iraq was in everybody’s view.
The electronic media was no different, scarcely was there an evening news broadcast, that did not begin with something occurring in Iraq. All this changed once Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and reeked the damage that it did. Now, every headline is “Katrina”. Every news cast begins with Katrina’ aftermath, the homeless, the displaced, and the ineffectiveness of our government. Yet, the war in Iraq still goes on. Deaths are occurring every day, and our soldiers are losing their lives on a daily basis. However, one would not know that anymore by reading the papers or listening to the news.
Apparently, those in charge of disseminating the news, feel that the American people are only capable of focusing in one topic at a time. Iraq was the flavor of the day and now it has been replaced by Katrina. Just because Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, does not mean that the war in Iraq has lessened or stopped. All of the horrors of the war in Iraq, seem to have gone away on August 30, 2005 when the aftermath of Katrina became to be known.
Nothing has changed in Iraq. The war is not going any better than it did before. But the news media fails to cover the war in Iraq as it once did. It fails to point out the follies in Iraq as it started to do. It now covers Iraq as a second rate story.
No one should be more pleased about this then George W. Bush. Instead of having to defend his administration’s incompetence dealing with Iraq, a situation that he created, he now only needs to defend his incompetency with Hurricane Katrina, a situation that mother nature created. Given that Iraq was going nowhere, and that our policies in Iraq were failed, it is sad to say but it is the truth, Hurricane Katrina was George W. Bush’s lucky day.