Sunday, October 08, 2006

In 1917, after the United States entered the "Great War," the Wilson
Administration and the Congress passed a series of draconian new laws
that greatly restricted Americans' civil liberties. The Baltimore
journalist, H. L. Mencken, wrote: "Holes began to punched in the Bill
Rights, and new laws of strange and often fantastic shape began to slip
through them. . . . The espionage act enlarged the holes to great
fissures. Citizens began to be pursued into their houses, arrested
without warrants, and jailed without any form of trial. The ancient
of habeas corpus was suspended: the Bill of Rights was boldly thrown
overboard." Mencken also noted the way it was done. It was the
tactic of politicians, he wrote, "to invade the Constitution
and then wait to see what happens. If nothing happens they go on more
boldly; if there is a protest they reply hotly that the Constitution is
worn out and absurd, and that progress is impossible under the dead
hand. This is the time to watch them especially."

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