Monday, June 17, 2013

so who is Tom Francois anyway and why should we care?

Secret Service Invades Home Of Obama Critic Over Twitter Followers

Tara Dodrill
Off the Grid News
13 June 2013

"The Secret Service agents asked Francois to sign an Authorization to Review Medical and Mental Health Records form after a search premises document was signed. Tom signed the forms simply to facilitate matters so future visits would not be necessary. While the decision was both pragmatic and understandable, an American citizen should not feel compelled to share their medical and mental health records with the government simply because they exercised their First Amendment rights in front of 11,692 Twitter followers."


Secret Service "Visits" Outspoken Critic of Obama - Because of Twitter?

Harriett Baldwin
11 June 2013

""The Secret Service officers claimed that "they were concerned that since I have a large Twitter following, and the things I said could be acted upon by some nut case out there!""

from a delightfully plain-spoken Right Wing Granny
another Examiner post
includes some of the cartoons
lists some of the tweets
Tom's Twitter page

Most of the posts out there (and there are not many) on the April incident between Tom Francois and the Secret Service are reposts of the Examiner and "Off the Grid News" articles. I do not know why a time lag between April and 'now' delayed the matter becoming public.

As I read through Tom's tweets (and I only scrolled down quickly through the most recent, up to somewhere in 15 June), I found him a bit rough around the edges (as the links above also suggest).

Last time I checked, that was not against the law. I have private correspondents who forward items about Mr. Obama to me via email that are as obnoxious as some of Tom's tweets, and I hate to think of the Secret Service knocking at their door (à la NSA or, as one commenter at a site not linked herein suggested in Tom's case, a disgruntled reader) asking questions.

Nor do I define said individuals by their rabidity.

Given the present landscape, this breach of Constitutional rights disturbs, regardless of who Tom Francois might be, or how disrespectful his tweets and cartoons might or might not be. He has a right to lampoon and/or satirize and/or ridicule the president (whose wife likewise is a public figure), regardless of how irreverently he might choose to do so. Lampooning public officials is an old art and some even take political satire to heights that are preserved in the canons of literature. Tom is under no obligation to answer to anyone's standards on this but his own.

This post is tagged intimidation for a reason. We live in an environment now where we are not as comfortable venting our ire against what we believe wrong.

In a free society, no adult should feel like a first-grader sent to the principal's office. Intimidation works because it feeds on self-doubt. The pure in heart, I have noted, are especially prone to self-doubt. Not to suggest that Tom is or isn't pure in heart. Just to remind that people who are masters at manipulation know this. (Which is to say. What pureness in heart allows might surprise, but that is an essay for another day.)

However, intimidation also works because it depends on a 'muscle' that is inappropriate in a free country.

An individual has a right to vent frustration. If you have not committed a crime, you are not guilty. Once, these items were clearly comprehended in this country, as were these: "maybe" is not a crime. The possible future action(s) of others because of your words (whether rant or ill-spoken tirade) is not a crime.

Plans to commit a crime—possible different scenario. Worthy of notice, at least, although the burden remains on the prosecution to prove that intent was not mere dreaming to an extent that is so fraught with difficulty that the very idea that such could slip past us so easily should amaze: again, maybe is not a crime.

We hear reports so often now of kids who 'planned to blow up schools' that we are being primed.

One more time. Maybe is not a crime.

The Secret Service (based on the information the public has) had no right to knock at Tom's door. To go further and interview his daughter and ex-wife (both of whom have separate residences, to the best of my understanding) ups the ante of intimidation. Threats to remove his privately-owned guns should he cross a line, likewise.

I am also concerned about the size of Tom's Twitter audience being a problem for the government.
If even a hint of an inhibition of freedom of assembly/association were being suggested by such [subjunctive mode, there], it should surely be roared from the rooftops...

Because you can only circle back from that to the crime that has not been committed yet...

Is not a crime.

And certainly, as others have suggested, if anyone were plotting such in Tom's very plastic community of followers [and all who have followers quite know how plastic they are; busy lives we all lead and few devote all their attention at all times to anything any one says]...

The government has the tools without knocking on anyone's door to find out exactly who is doing what.

Which circles back to intimidation.

Of the most deliberate kind. Completely intended to and schooled for exactly that: intimidation.

So I say it again: none of Tom's followers are anxiously waiting his next word.

However, if this sort of thing is going to happen as a matter of course now to those who publicly disagree with or criticize the president and his administration, it is of note to remind that standing on your legal rights in such incidents helps to keep those rights in the forefront for all. If those who are in positions of authority are not held to law, rule deteriorates to that of hooligans.

Implementation (and tolerance) of the TSA as a security measure against terrorism shows how close we are to that chaos, even without other such incidents as have already been documented herein.

Don't allow a search of your private property without a search warrant. Respectfully, to be sure.

Don't sign documents without an attorney present. Don't answer questions without an attorney present. The ACLU outlines standard rights and protocol in the event of interrogation by any officer of the law in a document linked here; however, these are items that all Americans should know, and follow as a matter of course.

With the burgeoning losses of privacy happening in the country at large, it is imperative to not only be aware of but act on our rights as citizens. Anarchy escalates in an environment where people do not use the rights that belong to them. In this case, the infringements we are experiencing too often are at the hands of officers who should know better, but do not. It is not a good idea to tolerate (within the frame of the laws we are given and, always, proper respect) any exercise of authority that does not follow proper restraint.

The rights and protections written into the great documents that framed the founding of our country predate the 'great experiment in self-government' that we know as America and are founded in a knowledge of and respect for the personal liberty and dignity of the individual, housed within a greater community in which government restrains.

The influences that helped shape the American government derive from such great documents as the Magna Carta, and include a wide range of thought and endeavor dating all the way back to ancient Greece and Rome. They were not merely some ideas a group of disgruntled British citizens living far away from the motherland decided to implement because they were tired of being bossed around.

Judeo-Christian understanding likewise helped shape the frame of our government: it is only the saddest sort of ignorance that does not recognize that a legal jurisprudence is the very stuff of the ancient Jewish thought from which Christianity found its own roots. To reduce the moral coding of the Judeo-Christian thought to 'mere' morality and religion is to miss the point completely.

To be sure, the Christian faith goes much further than mere morality or mere encoding. But that, too, is another essay.

When we do not utilize the protections built into our government to protect us from tyranny, we lessen the power of these mainstays to protect. An ordered society results from following the laws that are the foundation of that order, while chaos does and will feed its own fire.

I think that a great deal of what Tom tweets is the sort of stuff from which a great many of us would prefer to distance ourselves. However, given that a tyranny that will outstrip the worst of nightmares will be the way of the final empire/empire of the Beast, any moves toward tyranny must be recognized, documented, and handed on.

Some there are whose view is to be taken most seriously who warn that even the basics of the Bill of Rights and Constitution are no more in this land. Many conspiracy theorists do think this very thing; it is quite scary, however, when people who are trained/skilled/educated in these matters begin to warn.

The following links help clarify what is now 'law' in this land:

from the ACLU
from the 10th Amendment Center
more from the 10th Amendment Center
'how to' for being pulled over by police (Hat tip to Activist Post & ignore at your own risk)
website that publishes Mr. Obama's Executive Orders

Some states are nullifying the NDAA. If you are not in one of them, be certain you understand what is happening in America now, before you end up on that long train to Siberia…

So to speak.

For the rest of it, God be with us. We have known this day would come; may we prove, in Him, sufficient to the hour at hand.

FURTHER UPDATE (2 October 2014)
When I was a very young newlywed (c. 1979), my husband and I were stopped by officers in our small home town in Georgia while riding a motorcycle. I acted like exactly what I was, a youngster a bit too big for the britches (err, jeans) I wore like a badge.

However, my husband had a more level head, and when the officer asked for his driver's license, handed it over to him with an appropriate, "Yes, sir."

If an officer of the law stops you and asks for your driver's license, please give it to him without asking if you are being detained (and yes, these days, alerting the officer to where it is, and may you reach into [wherever] to retrieve it might be the better option).

A police officer has a right to check your identity when he for any reason suspects anything might be amiss. This has been the rule of law for generations before this one.

However, within a time frame some six to eight years prior to that, my older brother was pistol-whipped by a Mississippi state patrol, merely for daring to be a long-haired hippie driving down a highway in a van through the patrolman's state.

Had a hitchhiker my brother had picked up not wakened, towards the end of that event, said brother would not have made it.

Police violence and brutality can be traced to eras before the present one as well.

Requesting your driver's license, however, is not a breach of law. The wise hand theirs over, remembering their manners. And if, these days, a bit more caution might be requisite for all concerned prior to the handing over, nothing to be said for it but do your part properly, and quietly, and with the respect needed, which ever side of a situation you might be on.

Would that none needed that reminder.

I am not an attorney and do not proffer legal advice. My work is more defined as 'social commentary' and lament: for legal advice, please consult an attorney.