Carolyn Laments the Patriot Act's
Repression of Freedom
I wasn't going to say anything. It seems I may have already gotten
myself into hot water by voicing an opinion (something that I thought
was impossible in America--at least getting yourself into official
hot water). But here I am in an airport in Reno, Southwest Airlines
counter, and the agent is looking at me through his bifocals, me
with hair as white as any granny's hair. He looks at my driver's
license again. Notes the age. Not exactly the kind of person who
looks like a security risk. (Throw into that USA born--Utah of all
places. Well, OK, that could be suspect!) Carrier of a passport
since pre-terrorist 1970s. Never had anything more than a speeding
ticket. Never been to jail.) I didn't need to convince him with
this litany however. He apologizes profusely for the trouble my
husband and I are being put to.
I had been on this list of security risks quite awhile and just
didn't put two and two together. The fact that my husband can order
tickets online and I can't. That I get so thoroughly frisked every
time I go through security. That my bags seem to take a different
route from his when we check in. "It's probably because you
have such a common name," says the uncomfortable agent. (My
passport reads Carolyn H. Johnson.) I'm thinking, sure, and my husband's
name isn't common? "Yeah," he says. "There is probably
someone else out there who is a risk with the same name. It happens
all the time." All I can do is smile, tell him it's OK and
that I'm not upset with him.
you're wondering how I got on this list, so am I. I have to assume
it's because I am vocal about the portion of the so-called Patriot
Act that limits the privacy of our citizens. (See www.MyShelf.com
archives.) This act allows the government to check what books we
buy at bookstores, what books we take out of libraries, etc. As
a writer, I feel especially strongly that this kind of observation
limits law-abiding Americans and is not all that effective or necessary
in diminishing terrorism. Think of how this kind of surveillance
could be used by a totalitarian regime. How can we feel free (read
that "unspied upon") enough to read what we want, form
our own opinions?
we also can't write what we want without risking our reputations
and being put through some very grueling security measures. Think
what you go through when you fly. I suffer double that and I travel
a lot. I now give myself three hours to undergo the process I must
when traveling internationally. That I am on this list appears to
prove that the Patriot Act does need to be tweaked in matters related
to free speech.
the opening day of the famous Book Expo America (in New York the
first week of June), prominent philanthropist and author George
Soros took questions from the floor. Soros appeared at BEA live
via satellite from the Ukraine, where his Open Society Institute
is working to establish services, such a free legal assistance,
to ensure human rights and access to justice for all citizens. He
said that contemporary America is an "open society that doesn't
subscribe to the principles of an open society,'" and that
"We have to recognize our fallibility.... The first principle
of an open society is, we may be wrong." Soros said that he
sees a threat to our Constitutional safeguards. Luckily he also
sees "a growing awareness among people of the danger.... The
general public is not extremist, and the public is beginning to
take exception." He was quite confident that "we're going
to see a reversal, we're not going to lose our democracy."
am glad to hear he is confident. I decided to risk getting into
something more undesirable that hot water. If those of us who are
true patriots don't stick our necks out, that "reversal"
Soros mentioned may not come.
Each month in this box, Carolyn lists
a writing or promotion tidbit that will help authors and a
tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected books
or a sapphire among the newly-published.
demand for my THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR
PUBLISHER WON'T has been so great I started a free newsletter
called “Sharing with Writers” that will continue
to feed tips and resources on book promotion and writing to
authors long after they’ve read FRUGAL. Send an e-mail
with “subscribe” in the subject line.
Tip: It is not easy to provide some
kids with enough books to keep them away from the TV. Enter
Lea Schizas's new e-book (only $6.95)! It asks: What if you
were hit with the realization that you were of royal lineage…to
another realm? This is what fourteen-year old Alexandra Stone
has to face in The Rock of Realm. It incorporates
three learning elements – discovery friendship and courage.
But the biggest lesson the young adult reader will absorb
is that ‘things are not always as they appear to be’.
The Rock of Realm will shatter the concept of ‘villain’.
Find it at http://starpublish.com/starbooks.htm.
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