By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
In the wake of Fleischer’s unguarded remark, and the sinister-seeming editing of the transcript, Maher became worthy of mention in the same breath as the journalists who lost their jobs when they dared to critique George W. Bush: Tom Gutting, who was fired from the Texas City Sun after writing a column questioning Bush‘s leadership ability, and Dan Guthrie, who, after eight years as a columnist and copy editor for The Daily Courier in Grants Pass, Oregon, was told to leave after writing that Bush ”skedaddled“ after the suicide attacks. Thanks to Fleischer, free expression can now be considered officially under fire.
But it’s wrong to assume this is war-time hysteria. For the Bush administration, as well as Clinton‘s before him, it’s business as usual. If there happens to be a lot of squelching of free expression right now, it‘s at least in part because a lot more is being said. It’s useful to remember that before September 11, John Ashcroft‘s Justice Department had already jailed Houston book researcher and freelance writer Vanessa Leggett for refusing to disclose her sources to a federal judge. Associated Press reporter John Solomon had seen his personal telephone records subpoenaed when he declined to identify the law-enforcement officials who told the AP about a government wiretap of New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli. Earlier this year, the White House had pledged to deny any further access to writers from Talk after the magazine published an article with mock photographs of the Bush daughters.
Nor is corporate America’s insistence on patriotism all that unusual. In 1996, the NBA suspended Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf of the Denver Nuggets without pay because he refused to stand during the national anthem. Abdul-Rauf protested that the song‘s patriotic fervor conflicted with his religion, Islam. ”You can’t be for God and for oppression,“ he said. A few weeks after his suspension, two talk jocks from a Denver radio station broke into the Colorado Islamic Center and spat out ”The Star-Spangled Banner“ on a trumpet. One of them wore a turban.
Rosendahl doesn‘t regret his last-minute decision to pull Wells off Local Talk -- he argues that an unprecedented level of ”fear and bewilderment“ requires a delicate approach to patriotic matters. But he has learned a little more about who Wells is and what she does, and has rescheduled her for an October 19 show -- provided she presents a wide variety of political art. ”I’d like to do what we did with Robbie Conal,“ he says. ”I‘d like to put all this political artwork in context.“
”That was my intent all along,“ says Wells, ”to put this art in context. That’s what I do for a living.“
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