Commentary on Ashcroft v: Greenpeace


Fang-Face writes "Here's an interesting assessment of federal prosecutions of Greenpeace. By Rex Weyler of Dragonfly Media, it was reprinted at It is a fair and well balanced piece although I'm sure some conservatist somewhere will allow as to how it can't possibly be because it is posted to a wrong-wing source. Interesting, informative, and well worth the read."


Or so says the title of this site. Was Greenpeace recently accredited by the ALA or something to make this story remotely relevant to this site's mission?

It is a fair and well balanced piece

This sounds like FoxNews, "fair and balanced". Is that where you got it from?

Pchuck, Fox News didn't originate either the phrase, or its application to news reporting--a fact which, if you hadn't noticed it before, you might have deduced from the way they got literally laughed out of court when they tried to sue Al Franken.

>>>>the question goes to the heart of the witness' character.

Agreed. Let’s consider Greenpeace.

  • Ramming French racing boats with the misfortune of being sponsored by nuclear power companies. (despite French law)
  • Occupying nuclear reactors because they prefer people burn old furniture for heat. (despite UK law)
  • Breaking into oil company headquarters because they would rather have folks ride mountain bikes for transport. (despite US law)
  • Using the Rainbow Warrior as a seafaring battering ram against Japanese whaling ships. (despite international law)

I’d rather buy my auto from Uncle Ashcroft’s Used Car Emporium.

Speaking of pompous asses......Come on fang-face pull your head out of the kooky web sites.

Ri-i-i-i-ight; I should just stick to the Big Brother approved web sites for those who won't think for themselves. After all, God knows that no governemnt is ever going to lie about what it's doing.

It all comes down to the vested interests the various players have. Authors who have their works reprinted at tend to have a vested interest in rights and liberties; the Bush administration has a vested interest in circumventing or violating civil liberties. I don't believe that a slave state is in my best interest no matter how much Bush says it is, and that is that.

What is important here, however, is that the author of the piece includes the information as a simple statement of fact.

Riiight. If you believe that you aren't very bright. I've already pointed out that the author has a problem with facts concerning the "unused" statute.

pompous ass

Speaking of pompous asses......Come on fang-face pull your head out of the kooky web sites.

Ashcroft grew up in a family of devout Pentecostal fundamentalists in Missouri.

Ashcroft's religious background is completely irrelevant.

It is well known that Ashcroft is a bible-thumping, pulpit-pounding, pompous ass, and his upbringing is pertinent. What is important here, however, is that the author of the piece includes the information as a simple statement of fact. Not as a judgement.

As for Ashcroft's prayer group, it is an indicator of a corporate culture that violates the Religious Freedom clause in that such a culture creates tremendous peer pressure to conform. Just ask those who prefer to post here anonymously because they fear backlash from their supervisors or employers.

This is a friggin' press release for Greenpeace.

Wrong again. The article is not about Greenpeace, it is about Ashcroft's abuse of due process. It is also, obliquely, about how the government of the United States is a black market wholeseller.

Black market drugs: NO! Black market Mahongany: SI!

It just wasn't Ashcroft.

In 1982, liberal Richard Gephardt joined then Missouri Attorney General John Ashcroft in asking the Justice Department to end forced busing in St. Louis.

It is a fair and well balanced piece

This sounds like FoxNews, "fair and balanced". Is that where you got it from?

I'll bite and quibble with a few points of this "fair and well balanced piece".

Ashcroft grew up in a family of devout Pentecostal fundamentalists in Missouri.

Ashcroft's religious background is completely irrelevant. Substitute Jew of Muslim and see how silly and inflamatory it is. What difference does his religion have to do with the prosecution of Greenpeace members for violating a federal statute? Is Ashcroft or the US Attorney alleging that the Greenpeace members violated the Sabbath when they boarded the ship?

Ashcroft...instituted a Justice Department prayer group

So what if he set up a voluntairy and informal prayer group in the Department of Justice? If he were a devout Muslim, would it be wrong for him to make his daily prayers even if he was at work? Should the government prevent him from exercising his religious beliefs?

More fair and balanced.

As that state's attorney general, he opposed school desegregation.

Ah, the Kansas City School District desegregation case. It took 2 billion dollars down the hole to screw up an already screwed up school district. There was also the St. Louis School Desegregation case. The Cato Institute has a wonderful Policy Analysis entitled "Money And School Performance:
Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment". Perhaps Ashcroft opposed it for reasons other than racism? This was a pretty complex issue and opposing the deseg cases in Missouri didn't mean you were a racist.

Are these minor points? Perhaps. But it does go to the claim that this is a fair and balanced piece.

I think a more important allegation in this article concerns the federal statute that the defendants are charged with violating. The article claims:

The obscure law has been enforced only twice. The New York judge who presided over the first conviction called the language "inartistic and obscure." In 1890, a second conviction followed the boarding of a ship by seedy characters at the mouth of Oregon's Columbia River. For the next 112 years, the law remained unused and obsolete, until the Greenpeace arraignment in Miami.

This statute was used in California in 1998 against a couple of Greenpeace Activists who pulled the same stunt in Long Beach. Bernard Mcleod, Omi Morning Song Hodwitz,Patrick Michael Finnand, and Madeleine Habib were arrested at approximately 2:10 p.m. on October 22, 1998 by the Long Beach Police Department in California after boarding a vessel transporting newsprint made from rain forest pulp and protesting the savaging of the rain forest. Three of Greenpeace members were charged with conspiracy to violate 18 United States Code, Section 2279, predicated upon use of the California Penal Code Section 182(a)(1) definition of conspiracy. All three defendants were convicted. The fourth was deported. So much for this obscure law that hadn't been used since 1890. This article is factually incorrect.

Here is the relevant statute 18 U.S.C. 2279:

Whoever, not being in the United States service, and not being duly authorized by law for the purpose, goes on board any vessel about to arrive at the place of her destination, before her actual arrival, and before she has been completely moored, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

The master of such vessel may take any such person into custody, and deliver him up forthwith to any law enforcement officer, to be by him taken before any committing magistrate, to be dealt with according to law.

This statute was enacted into positive law by the Congress in 1948 (62 Stat. 805) and was subsequently amended in 1994 (108 Stat. 2146). So much for being unused. If it was so insignificant, why did Congress amend it in 1994?

This is a friggin' press release for Greenpeace.

I posted this submission from Fang-Face because it was related to free speech. That's a part of what libraries and librarians do, although we tend to be focused on print issues related to free speech. If you'd like a say in what gets posted here, feel free to request that Blake add you as an author. You'll have to sign your name to it, though.

Blake has made it pretty clear, I think, that this is a community site, not a micromanaged fiefdom. As cranky as I'm made by lots of the "conservative wave" stories, I welcome their addition because it gets me out of my bubble and forces me to defend and sometimes question my positions. We all see stuff posted that rankles us, or makes us ask, "what the fu....!?" Some folks are able to make broader leaps and see more tenuous connections between posted stories and lisnews. There is no magic formula for what gets posted, what sits in the queue, or what gets deleted immediately. Depends on who's hanging out on any given day and what kind of mood they're in.

If you look at the monster drop-down list of story categories, it should give you an idea of just how broad this site can be and sometimes is. We've got school librarians who might wonder what wi-fi has to do with them. We've got public librarians who could give a rip about ACRL. We've got children's librarians who probably skate right past any of the wonderful posts from Bob Cox about archives and British authors. I'd be bored silly with LISnews if it was as narrow and tidy as some wish it were.

Given the controversy over Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and which act is a tool at the service of the aforementioned Attorney General, the question goes to the heart of the witness' character, Your Honour. Given that I wouldn't buy a used car from Ashcroft, and his deliberate abuse of due process as detailed in the article in question, how can anyone trust him with the power S.215 gives him to snoop into what private citizens are reading?

Aside from which, we, the participants (read "people" if you will), only suggest these stories to the editorial staff for LISNews. They accept or reject according to their discretion. If you don't like the stories the editors are selecting to post to the frontpage, you have two alternatives: 1) Complain to Blake via e-mail; 2) stop accessing the site.

Have a nice day.

>>1) Complain to Blake via e-mailDon't listen to Fang-Face, he doens't know what he's talking about, complaining to Blake in any form does no good, I just don't listen.

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