Thursday, January 25, 2007

Exchange With An Assemblyman

We don't know how people get to highwayscribery. And we don't know how a full-fledged member of the California Assembly got to highwayscribery and left a pair of comments, but Republican Chuck DeVore did, horns raised, ready to rumble. Devore is coauthor of a bill that got some rough treatment in the scribe's previous post, "highwayscribery: Nuts But Not a Terrorist Organization," and he had some things to say in response. We played it straight and reproduce the exchange here for your reading pleasure.

Dear Scribe [he didn't really write that],

I appreciate the comments, but clearly you have not read the bill, AB 137. Also, I know full well the difference between "terrorist" and "communist" having studied comparative political thought at Claremont McKenna College and American University in Cairo, Egypt. That there is a difference in the above two categories of people in their beliefs and methods does not render invalid the adaptation of law on the books meant for one group into a new law for another. As for an "exhaustive analysis" of the differences between the two, allow me to provide one: the chief means of qualifying to be one of the 42 foreign terrorist organizations is by kidnapping or killing an American citizen in the past five years. As for the "scribe’s problem with the legislation" regarding donating to a foreign terrorist organization, if one reads the bill, one will readily discover that the bill mirrors current federal prohibitions. Further, that the bill proscribes knowing membership or financial donations to a foreign terrorist organization while on the state payroll. Similar provisions against active members of the Communist Party (vs. a democratic Marxist), have, in fact, been upheld by the Courts as reasonable restrictions on employment. Thus, in the hypothetical case suggested, the "scribe’s sister-in-law" who gave to a charitable cause to assist "Afghani women" would first of all have to be on the state payroll, and second of all have to be knowingly assisting a foreign terrorist organization.Your second hypothetical doesn’t really even make much sense. Past support for terrorism is not prohibited in the law (again, it helps if the "scribe" were to first READ the bill, rather than simply WRITE about it). Knowing support for a foreign terrorist organization while on the state payroll is, however, prohibited. As for the teaching of "untruths" on the state payroll while a member or financial contributor of a foreign terrorist organization, please allow me to elaborate. I do not think it helpful for the peace and welfare of the people of the State of California that a professor on the state payroll would teach that the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is a truthful document, rather than the Tsarist-era secret police forgery that it is, designed to justify pogroms and the killing of Jewish people in Russia. Yet, many foreign terrorist organizations today use "Protocols," along with Holocaust denial, as part of their propaganda arsenal to justify the killing of certain people and the destruction of an internationally recognized state, Israel. Now, the bill does not outlaw Holocaust denial conferences (as is the case in Germany), nor does it outlaw the teaching of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" as fact – it only does so by people who are members of foreign terrorist organizations and are trying to advance their hateful and destructive agendas while on the payroll of the people of the State of California. I hope this clears a few things up for you. I look forward to the ongoing debate as I try to repeal the nine Cold War era statutes in California’s Education Code and Government Code and replace some or all of them with appropriate and reasoned restrictions on using a position of trust or authority in state government to advance a violent and hateful cause.

All the best,
Chuck DeVore
California State Assemblyman,
70th District


What the..what are you doing here? Listen, (and first) the scribe studies comparative political thought every day of his life at home with resources from the public library, so no pulling rank on us small fries big guy. Second, the highway scribe thinks the difference DOES invalidate the adaptation. Life is nuanced and legislation is too important to be dropping in one pariah where another once existed. Third, that's a very neat and clean definition of terrorist. Do you think it applies to everyone under suspicion of the charge right now? Mark Twain warned that, "lawmakers know the laws they draft by their words, not by their effects." Fourth, mirroring federal legislation is not a virtue here at highwayscribery (but you couldn't know that). Fifth, same goes for earlier litigation targeting leftists in the U.S. We didn't like what the courts said then and hope to avoid another generation of witch hunts now. Sixth, who said she wasn't a state employee? Anyway, what we on the left see in such provisions is a hallmark of creeping Fascism, wherein one group at a time is done away with until those remaining have nowhere to turn, never having cared, because the persecution was always someone else's problem. Seventh, the scribe's sister-in-law might rot in jail and then, if lucky, get to spend a lot of money proving the fact she didn't "knowingly" assist a foreign terror organization. Most federal cases turn on this simple distinction. Scooter Libby is a good and current case in point. Eighth, point taken, the scribe will hold his nose and read the bill, but thinks you know his critique is general rather than particular: that we shouldn't go around making terrorism the new communism. The old charge of "red" destroyed a lot of lives unnecessarily. Finally, the "untruth" provisions sound well-intentioned, but the scribe's fear revolves around the need to tar someone with the "terrorist supporter" brush before slamming them with the "untruths" charge, which is a double slam made worse by the fearful and suspicious environment such a law creates. But thanks for dropping by.

the highway scribe

My pleasure. I enjoy the debate.

All the best, Chuck DeVore
State Assemblyman,
70th District

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