From the JMBzine Vault – Oct 15, 2001 – Roger Ebert re: the internet, human rights in the 9-11 era


This post is from the JMBzine Blog Vault, which means it is a very old blog post that I wrote at a very different time of my life. My views on religion, politics, and many other subjects have drastically changed over the years, so please bear this in mind when reading this post. – I generally do not edit my past writings, except to fix obvious spelling issues, or to fix broken links (most often replacing with links to I do add some more recent editorial updates, which are shown in blue and italicized, along with dates.

From the JMBzine Vault – Oct 15, 2001 – Roger Ebert re: the internet, human rights in the 9-11 era

2:02 pm

Yahoo Internet Life has a very good column by Roger Ebert on whether its time for a celebration or obituary for the internet.

(2023): I forgot that Roger Ebert commentated on topics besides movies. And — it is funny how undated this op-ed sounds. While the mode of the internet has changed, the boom and bust hype cycle hasn’t changed much at all.

1:19 pm

Well my most avid reader, “Bob Jones” has posted a very thoughtful response to an earlier post (one concerning the networks censorship of bin Laden’s video clips) on my guestbook. Most notably, Bob said I needed to read a story on (2023: Broken Link) on this. After reading it, I think I should clarify a few things….

It’s not the decision to not air the tapes which bothers me. If I was an editor for MSNBC or one of the other networks, I could very easily make the same decision. However, what does bother me is the way that the Bush administration was “leaning” on the network executives to make the decision. The issue is whether the media is truly independent or is merely a lapdog for the government. I should have made this point more clear.

Now, as to another issue brought up in the MSNBC story, I do think it is wrong for news broadcasters to wear flag lapel pins. If they are editorializing, fine they can wear red, white, and blue underwear if they want, but if they’re presenting straight news, wearing flag pins is showing their bias.

The “patriotic duty” of the press is to be truly independent, to question what the government is doing, and to be the watchdog for the people. There have been plenty of examples of this happening (read my last post on the LA Times story for example) which I am very proud of.

Thanks again Bob for posting your thoughts. Also, for you and anyone else who wants to tell me what you think about my posts I’ve added a new comment link for each of my posts. Please feel free to post what you think in the comments area.

(2023): Sadly spam killed the commenting on blog posts, but I’m slightly hopeful that the may revive this tradition in a new form.

12:24 pm

The LA Times is reporting horrible human rights abuses (2023: Broken Link) that are being perputrated against the 700+ folks the FBI has “detained” after the terrorist attacks.
Here are some excerpts from the article: (2023: Broken Link) 

  • In Mississippi, a 20-year-old student from Pakistan said he was stripped and beaten in his cell by other inmates while jail guards failed to intervene and denied him proper medical care. The FBI is investigating the incident.
  • In New York, prosecutors are investigating an Egyptian detainee’s courtroom allegations of abuse by a guard, and the Israeli Consulate is concerned about five Israeli men who say they were blindfolded, handcuffed in their cells and forced to take lie detector tests.
  • In Denton, a man from Saudi Arabia initially was denied an attorney and was deprived of a mattress, a blanket, a drinking cup and a clock to tell him when to recite his Muslim prayers, his lawyer said. . . . Dallas attorney Paul Zoltan is representing a Saudi man being held in Denton. The lawyer declined to identify his client, except to say that he is in his 20s, works as a sales representative and faces only minor immigration charges.”He was kept in leg irons when meeting with his family,” Zoltan said. “They didn’t give him a drinking cup. They didn’t give him a mattress. They didn’t give him a blanket. He had to ask what time of day it was so he could pray toward Mecca, and they wouldn’t tell him. He’s very frightened.”
  • Judges are denying bond, closing hearings and sealing documents. Prosecutors are refusing to divulge what is occurring behind closed doors in jails and courtrooms. Even defense attorneys often do not know what is happening to their clients, or they refuse to discuss them. Because of the extraordinary level of secrecy surrounding the investigation, it is impossible to ascertain how many individuals may have been mistreated. Federal authorities refuse to disclose even the number of people in custody.In an attempt to find out who is detained and how they are being treated, the Los Angeles Times contacted more than 20 defense lawyers and civil rights monitors. In every case, the lawyers complained that their clients were being held too long, and almost all said their clients had suffered some kind of mistreatment or undue hardship.
  • Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller insist there has been no disregard for the rights of detainees. . . “This Justice Department will never waver in our defense of the Constitution nor relent in our defense of civil rights,” Ashcroft told the House Judiciary Committee last month. “The American spirit that rose from the rubble in New York knows no prejudice and defies division by race, ethnicity or religion.”
  • There have been numerous allegations of people being kept from their attorneys. According to the law, defendants charged with a crime are entitled to an appointed attorney if they cannot afford to hire their own. In immigration court, detainees are told they may hire a lawyer but that one is not automatically assigned.
  • Abdulsalam Achou, a Syrian bread salesman living in Jersey City, N.J., has been detained since Sept. 15 for staying in this country 19 days past his visa permit, a minor infraction, said his lawyer, Lamiaa Elfar.
    “His wife is close to nine months pregnant, and she has a 1-year-old daughter who was born here,” Elfar said. “She has nobody here except him. She doesn’t even know how she’s going to get to a hospital. She has no one to take her.”

It’s time that we reign in facists like Attorney General John Ashcroft. Contact President George Bush and tell him we demand that human rights be respected for all!

By jmb

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *