Wednesday, February 22, 2012

We Don't Need This Again...!

This is the kind of thing we have to be watchful for.

It was bad when it was passed the first time, and it would be just as bad if it were even hinted at today! Believe it or not, that's not as far fetched as it seems. The only way to make sure that violations like this never occur again is to be ever vigilant!

Feb 22, 1918:
Montana passes law against sedition

Swept along by hysterical fears of treacherous German spies and domestic labor violence, the Montana legislature passes a Sedition Law that severely restricts freedom of speech and assembly. Three months later, Congress adopted a federal Sedition Act modeled on the Montana law.

The roots of the Montana Sedition Law lay with the hyper-patriotic sentiments inspired by World War I and growing fears of labor unrest and violence in the state. A sizable number of Montanans had resisted American entry in WWI, and the Montana congresswoman Jeanette Rankin (the first women elected to Congress) had voted against U.S. involvement in the Great War. Once the U.S. did become involved, though, many pro-war Montanans viewed any further criticism of the war effort as treasonous-especially if it came from the state's sizeable German-American population.

At the same time, the perceived need for wartime unity sharpened many Montanans' distrust of radical labor groups like the socialist International Workers of the World (IWW). The Montana mining town of Butte had been rocked by labor violence in recent years. In 1914, a group of men who may have been IWW members destroyed the offices of an opposing union with dynamite. An IWW leader named Frank Little had also recently given speeches in Butte condemning American involvement in the war, claiming it was being fought for big business interests.

Determined to silence both antiwar and radical union voices, the Montana legislature approved a Sedition Law that made it illegal to criticize the federal government or the armed forces during time of war. Even disparaging remarks about the American flag could be grounds for prosecution and imprisonment. Through the efforts of Montana's two senators, the act also became the model for the federal Sedition Law of May 1918. Like the Montana law, the federal act made it a crime to speak or write anything critical of the American war effort.

Later widely viewed as the most sweeping violation of civil liberties in modern American history, the federal Sedition Law led to the arrests of 1,500 American citizens. Crimes included denouncing the draft, criticizing the Red Cross, and complaining about wartime taxes. The Montana law led to the conviction and imprisonment of 47 people, some with prison terms of 20 years or more. Most were pardoned when the war ended and cooler heads prevailed, but the state and federal Sedition Laws proved highly effective in destroying the IWW and other radical labor groups that had long attacked the federal government as the tool of big business. Since many of these radicals were vocal opponents of much of the government wartime policy, they bore the brunt of the Sedition Law rebukes, and suffered sorely as a result.

Don't be surprised if something like this doesn't raise it's ugly head again, maybe buried deep in a harmless looking, never read bill! My suggestion? Never let your guard down...NEVER!

Coffee out on the patio! It may not be official, but Spring is certainly in the air here!


Anonymous said...

This is interesting. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I wasn't aware that such a thing was ever made into a law. I guess the key difference is that the law applied to a declared war and we haven't formally declared any war since WWII. Most people now feel the Iraq War was a mistake or are at least unsure about it, yet when it started there were many people who got angry at the folks who didn't like this war from the beginning, considering it unpatriotic. It is true that a strong united effort is necessary to ensure victory so I understand the reason for wanting to silence everyone else, yet it truly is against everything this country was founded on. Interesting.

chinasyndrome said...

Eyes wide open! Good one Jim.


Sixbears said...

With any one of us being able to be called an enemy combatant and have our rights stripped, it looks like we are there now.

There's enough on the books now to strip away all of a person's rights.

Rob In His Bunker said...

Have we gone 360 degrees and we have gone back in time with some of our new laws involving our rights like those from W.W.1/2??

Think about it folks Hermit Jim has a point here.

linda m said...

This is very scary. Especially when a bill in Congress gets passed that nobody has read. What will get put into law next that nobody has read. Thanks for this great post today.

HermitJim said...

Hey Anon 4:21...
It is a little shocking that a bill like this was ever allowed to pass, but I feel that today there would be more folks against it than were for it.

Most politicians know that passing a law such as this would mean political death for them. Like I say, never let your guard down!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey China...
This would be a good time to learn from our own history and watch out for the blatant violations that might show up!

Thanks, my man, for coming over today!

Hey Sixbears...
Right you are about that, my friend! The PTB don't even try and hide some of what they do anymore!

Ever vigilant is certainly important in this day and age!

Thanks for coming by this morning.

Hey Rob...
Way too many folks think that this sort of thing will never happen again! But if you look at all that's going on today, especially with the Homeland security folks, the FDA, the LEO is already here!

Time for a wake up call for many of the non-believers!

Knowledge is our best weapon! Hey, thanks for coming by today!

Hey Linda...
That's the way so many crazy laws get passed! The excuse of "we don't have the time to read them all" is not going to be accepted anymore!

Let's hope that we are paying enough attention!

Thanks for coming by today!

Dizzy-Dick said...

I am sure glad that I am not starting my life in this day and age. I feel sorry for the young people of today.

HermitJim said...

Hey Dizzy...
I certainly hear ya on that, my friend! I'd never make it!

Have a great day, and thanks for the visit!

Ben in Texas said...

Those who don't learn from their History are doomed to repeat it.

Craig Cavanaugh said...

That's what the guns and ammo are for. The 2nd Amendment was meant to uphold the 1st...

Pam and Wayne said...

What?! I've got to read more history! Of course, here in Wisconsin union busting is alive and well! Hopefully when we have the recall election Governor Walker will be voted out. Imagine if it had been illegal for the unions to descend upon the capital last year in protest or for petitions to circulate to recall our governor! I'm new to your blog, enjoyed the post immensely!