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Thread: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

  1. #1
    Barbarian Member Ldvs's Avatar
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    Default Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    A vote was passed to amend the Patriot Act, used to help investigators monitor terrorist activities, which restricts fundamental liberties.

    Bush snubbed on 'terror book' law

    Powers to gather information on the books people buy in US bookshops and rent from libraries should be repealed, the House of Representatives has said.

    The House voted by 238-187 to pass an amendment to the USA Patriot Act, despite threats from the White House to veto changes to the anti-terror law.

    Backers of the amendment said elements of the act were unconstitutional.

    The US Senate, which needs to approve any bill for it to become law, has not yet voted on the measure.

    "We can fight terrorism without undermining basic constitutional rights," said Bernie Sanders, an independent representative from the north-eastern state of Vermont, who proposed the measure.

    "Parents want to know that just because their kid is researching the life of Osama bin Laden, or researching terrorism, that that fact should not place the student on a government list," he added.

    Liberty argument

    The White House has strongly opposed any changes to the Patriot Act, which was passed by a strong majority in both the House and the Senate in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001.

    The US Counterterrorism Center in Virginia
    Millions of dollars have been invested in counter-terrorism

    Under current legislation US investigators have the right to access library records and details of which books people buy in bookshops.

    There is no requirement to prove that those under observation are suspected of committing or planning any crime or act of terror.

    The Patriot Act has become a key issue for civil libertarians in the US, who allege that the provisions of the act undermine the US constitution and restrict basic freedoms.

    "If the government suspects someone is looking up how to make atom bombs, go to a court and get a search warrant," New York Democrat Jerold Nadler said.

    Government angry

    Mr Sanders' amendment was passed with the help of 38 Republican members, who voted for the measure alongside Democrats.

    A similar measure that also proposed outlawing the right to monitor internet use was defeated in the House last year.

    "The passage of this amendment helps rein in an administration intent on chipping away at the very civil liberties that define us as a nation," he said.

    But Assistant Attorney General William Moschella lambasted the amendment in a letter to Congress.

    "[Bookshops and libraries] should not be carved out as safe havens for terrorists and spies, who have, in fact, used public libraries to do research and communicate with their co-conspirators," he wrote.
    Source
    See also this and this

  2. #2
    zombologist Senior Member doc_bean's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Good , they're regaining their senses
    Yes, Iraq is peaceful. Go to sleep now. - Adrian II

  3. #3
    Ignore the username Member zelda12's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Took them long enough though....

  4. #4
    Lord of the House Flies Member Al Khalifah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    I never actually realised this was covered under the Patriot Act, but I guess it's the sort of thing I assumed would be contained in its grim words.

    I (small) triumph in the battle to regain our civil liberties.
    Cowardice is to run from the fear;
    Bravery is not to never feel the fear.
    Bravery is to be terrified as hell;
    But to hold the line anyway.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    If youre not a terrorist, why should you worry?

    I (small) triumph in the battle to regain our civil liberties.
    Oh please.. How have you or your liberties been affected by the Patriot Act?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    If youre not a terrorist, why should you worry?
    Well that depends on what they do with the information , if you buy a copy of Mein Kampf do you appear on the list of possible neo-nazis , if you buy a Koran do you appear on the list of possible Muslim fundamentalists , if you buy a biography of Che Guevara do you appear on the list of possible communist revolutionaries ?

  7. #7
    Jillian & Allison's Daddy Senior Member Don Corleone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Actually, from what I understand, access to those memory banks isn't all that secure. There's a lawsuit pending in Nebraska where 4 employees were fired from an insurance company. They were fired because their employers accessed the book list through a 3rd party vendor, and discovered that these employees had bought porn at a local adult bookstore (on their own time). So they got canned on 'ethics & morality' clause in their contract.
    "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."
    Don Vito Corleone: The Godfather, Part 1.

    "Then wait for them and swear to God in heaven that if they spew that bull to you or your family again you will cave there heads in with a sledgehammer"
    Strike for the South

  8. #8

    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJager
    If youre not a terrorist, why should you worry?

    Oh please.. How have you or your liberties been affected by the Patriot Act?
    sooo...I take it it's ok with you that the government knows what books you're reading, what TV programs you're watching, what you're thinking and who you're talking to...

    perhaps a re-read of 1984 is in order ? ...

    hold on a sec, there's a couple of gentlemen dressed in black suits that are loo-
    Therapy helps, but screaming obscenities is cheaper.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Senior Member Ser Clegane's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Corleone
    Actually, from what I understand, access to those memory banks isn't all that secure. There's a lawsuit pending in Nebraska where 4 employees were fired from an insurance company. They were fired because their employers accessed the book list through a 3rd party vendor, and discovered that these employees had bought porn at a local adult bookstore (on their own time). So they got canned on 'ethics & morality' clause in their contract.
    I am not quite sure what I find more disturbing about this - that the employer got access to this kind of information or that people can get fired for buying porn in their freetime

  10. #10

    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Does it really matter what "list" your on? If you arent a criminal such a list, that may or may not exist, means nothing.

    I just dont see it as the Bush administration's goal to create some big brother state.

    This whole thing is just like Gitmo - a mountain made out of a mole hill for political reasons.

    Ive been living under the patriot act for a few years now and - big surprise - nothing has changed. That might have to do with the fact Im a law abiding citizen though.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    sooo...I take it it's ok with you that the government knows what books you're reading, what TV programs you're watching, what you're thinking and who you're talking to...

    perhaps a re-read of 1984 is in order ? ...

    hold on a sec, there's a couple of gentlemen dressed in black suits that are loo-
    ^A perfect example of what im talking about. Leave the hysterics and Orwellian references at home please, they dont apply here.

  12. #12
    Ignore the username Member zelda12's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    The applied force of a Democratic Government (I know its a republic but democracy sounds snazzier) is something that is one of the most brilliant inventions of Mankind. It has many flaws but it works, it may not work well at times but it is as fair and just a system of Government that we have come up with that will work on a large scale.

    However when a Democratic Government takes one step beyond the line then it is no longer a Democratic Government (or Republic) it is only a totalitarian regime in the making.

    That line is very simple, it is the line that says that every man is entitled to freedom within the law and that he will receive a fair and just trial, which he knows that he knows that what he does cannot be recorded by the Government and used against him, unless he was committing a crime.

    Panzer if you think the Orwellian references are just silly I suggest you take a long hard look at what the Patriot act does, it allows the US Government to pry further and harder into almost every aspect of your life. That information will be stored, it won't go away and someday maybe a government official will have a reason to get you arrested and will use the records as evidence.

    The Patriot act took the Republic of the United States of America closer to the invisible line than any Government should ever go, it is sitting right on the line, and if hinging towards the step over.

    A democracy is a fragile and beautiful thing, it is our greatest hope for our children and any move that constricts the freedom of its citizens without them committing a crime is a crime itself, even more so as it may or may not have been introduced to heighten fears as well as protect the country.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Panzer if you think the Orwellian references are just silly I suggest you take a long hard look at what the Patriot act does, it allows the US Government to pry further and harder into almost every aspect of your life. That information will be stored, it won't go away and someday maybe a government official will have a reason to get you arrested and will use the records as evidence.
    You would have legs to stand on if you had been saying this in the 1930s, but unfortunately the government already knows far more important things about us than what books we check out of the library.

    Its idiotic to throw a hissy fit about the government being able to look at your library books if you currently have and use a social security number. The intrusion has been going on a long before the Bush administration and its been much more intrusive.

    Simply being a normal citizen in modern America means the government has all kinds of information on you - this whole Patriot Act fit is simply that - an act. Its just another tool against the Bush administration.

    The Patriot act took the Republic of the United States of America closer to the invisible line than any Government should ever go, it is sitting right on the line, and if hinging towards the step over.
    If thats the line between Republic and Big Brother, weve already crossed it years ago.

    But its not the line. The real distinction is what the government does with the information. As I said, if youre not a criminal - how does this affect you?

    A democracy is a fragile and beautiful thing, it is our greatest hope for our children and any move that constricts the freedom of its citizens without them committing a crime is a crime itself, even more so as it may or may not have been introduced to heighten fears as well as protect the country.
    Democracy is nothing sacred and hardly beautiful - but thats another discussion altogether.

    Now please tell me how my freedoms have been constricted.

  14. #14
    Ignore the username Member zelda12's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Well according you your own words you don't have any any way...see you in the concentration camp.

    Also as I said just because your not a criminal doesn't mean the data they collect can't be used to falsely say you are a criminal. Try to remember the utter bastards who who are in charge, if they don't like you, then you my friend are as good as guilty no matter what you do. The Patriot act just makes it easier for them to do it and harder for you to contest it.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Well according you your own words you don't have any any way...see you in the concentration camp.
    More hysterics.. why is it so impossible to discuss this without evoking such emotional buzzwords?

    Try to remember the utter bastards who who are in charge, if they don't like you, then you my friend are as good as guilty no matter what you do. The Patriot act just makes it easier for them to do it and harder for you to contest it.
    Ahh now I see where you are coming from.. Just as I said: people who dont like Bush blow this so far out of porportion, the reality is almost unrecognizable when compared to the fictional portrayal that the liberals try to push on normal Americans who arent informed.

  16. #16
    Ignore the username Member zelda12's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Oh no not old Dubya, but politicians in general, both democratics and republicans, tories and Labour. They're almost all, with some exceptions, lieing cheating devious bastards whose lust for power is only equaled by their enormous ego's.

    The buzzwords are how you win debates, take the moral high ground and don't use them if you must but don't complain when other people do.

  17. #17
    Dyslexic agnostic insomniac Senior Member Goofball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJager
    Quote Originally Posted by Blodrast
    sooo...I take it it's ok with you that the government knows what books you're reading, what TV programs you're watching, what you're thinking and who you're talking to...

    perhaps a re-read of 1984 is in order ? ...

    hold on a sec, there's a couple of gentlemen dressed in black suits that are loo-
    ^A perfect example of what im talking about. Leave the hysterics and Orwellian references at home please, they dont apply here.
    Now you know how us lefties feel when you guys swear that the inevitable result of allowing gays to marry will be farmers shagging their livestock and fathers impregnating their daughters. You can't belittle somebody else for using "slippery slope" arguments if you use them yourself.
    "What, have Canadians run out of guns to steal from other Canadians and now need to piss all over our glee?"

    - TSM

  18. #18

    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Panzer, do you think you can have an argument without insulting people ?
    So far you have called me and Zelda hysterics, and him an idiot, without any kind of insult from our side.
    Is that the only way tou can take part to a conversation ?

    I would have liked to be part of this discussion, but if by replying to your baits is the only way to do it, I'd rather not.

    Edit: Oh, and I honestly can't see anything in my or Zelda's posts that can be qualified as hysteric, not by a lng shot. I only see calm, lucid statements. Nobody "threw a hissy fit" or went into a frenzy...
    Last edited by Blodrast; 06-16-2005 at 21:26.
    Therapy helps, but screaming obscenities is cheaper.

  19. #19
    Pinko Member _Martyr_'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    So let me get this straight...?

    You see no potential or very real problems with this sort of carry-on. But, you view a safety law requiring people to wear seatbelts as an assault on your personal liberties!!!

    Say what!??
    Eppur si muove







  20. #20
    Dyslexic agnostic insomniac Senior Member Goofball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Quote Originally Posted by _Martyr_
    So let me get this straight...?

    You see no potential or very real problems with this sort of carry-on. But, you view a safety law requiring people to wear seatbelts as an assault on your personal liberties!!!

    Say what!??
    _Martyr_, get out of my head!

    From the other thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by Goofball
    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJager
    Couldnt have said it better myself. I thought i was the only one who had a problem with these "safety laws".

    Goofball also had a point that this is a minor thing.. It should be included in a broader fight against all these safety laws.
    Like the Patriot Act?



    I find it ironic (to say the least) that you defend the right of your government to search you home without telling you and compile lists of what books you read, but you feel that forcing you to complete a physical act that takes less than one second and will possibly save your life is an infringement upon your freedom.
    "What, have Canadians run out of guns to steal from other Canadians and now need to piss all over our glee?"

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  21. #21
    Scandinavian and loving it Member Lazul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    God im so happy im living in Sweden, and I feel sorry for you americans to have such stupid laws in your country!
    Hope they go away faster then.... ehr... something fast.
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  22. #22
    |LGA.3rd|General Clausewitz Member Kaiser of Arabia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    We're doomed.

    Why do you hate Freedom?
    The US is marching backward to the values of Michael Stivic.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Panzer, do you think you can have an argument without insulting people ?
    So far you have called me and Zelda hysterics, and him an idiot, without any kind of insult from our side.
    Is that the only way tou can take part to a conversation ?
    Show me where I called either of you hysterics or idiots please.

    So let me get this straight...?

    You see no potential or very real problems with this sort of carry-on. But, you view a safety law requiring people to wear seatbelts as an assault on your personal liberties!!!

    Say what!??
    The seatbelt law actually affects me. The Patriot Act does not in any way, shape or form. Is that so hard to understand?

    You can try as hard as you like to trash Bush by claiming this is harming our rights as citizens, but until it does, youre only fulfilling your own fantasies about Bush.

    When this law affects me, anyone I know, or even anyone ive ever heard of, then Ill treat it like the seatbelt law.

    I guarantee you that more people's individual freedom have been breached by the government forcing them to wear seatbelts in their own vehicles than by the Patriot Act.

  24. #24
    Ignore the username Member zelda12's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJager
    More hysterics.. why is it so impossible to discuss this without evoking such emotional buzzwords?
    Don't you just love being wrong...

  25. #25

    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    God im so happy im living in Sweden, and I feel sorry for you americans to have such stupid laws in your country!
    Hope they go away faster then.... ehr... something fast.
    Id take America over your socialist paradise anyday.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Does it really matter what "list" your on? If you arent a criminal such a list, that may or may not exist, means nothing.
    Oh forgive my presumptions , being placed on a "list" means nothing unless you are a criminal .
    I must be getting old and senile as my memory seems to be failing me .
    Could you refresh my memory about some incidents involving some well known public figures in America , in fact I think they may have been so well known that people actually voted for them and made them part of the government .
    They were not allowed to board aeroplanes bacause they were on a list of suspected terrorists , even when they identified themselves as members of the US government and proved their identities beyond any possible doubt they were still not allowed to travel because they were on a "list" .
    But of course it means nothing does it , as they were not terrorists and being placed on a list didn't affect them in any way at all did it ?

    When this law affects me, anyone I know, or even anyone ive ever heard of, then Ill treat it like the seatbelt law.
    Have you ever heard of Cat Stephens ?

  27. #27
    Member Senior Member Proletariat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Quote Originally Posted by zelda12
    Well according you your own words you don't have any any way...see you in the concentration camp.
    As an American who is against what the Patriot Act could become, I must say this comment is stupid.

    Were you joking or do you really think that America sometime in the future will be shoveling people who have bought a Koran into ovens?

  28. #28
    Member Member Kanamori's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    HONEST, DECENT, WRONG
    by LOUIS MENAND
    The invention of George Orwell.
    Issue of 2003-01-27
    Posted 2003-01-20

    "Animal Farm," George Orwell's satire, which became the Cold War "Candide," was finished in 1944, the high point of the Soviet-Western alliance against fascism. It was a warning against dealing with Stalin and, in the circumstances, a prescient book. Orwell had trouble finding a publisher, though, and by the time the book finally appeared, in August, 1945, the month of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, the Cold War was already on the horizon. "Animal Farm" was an instant success in England and the United States. It was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection; it was quickly translated into many languages and distributed, in some countries, by the United States government; and it made Orwell, who had spent most of his life scraping by, famous and rich. "1984," published four years later, had even greater success. Orwell was fatally ill with pulmonary tuberculosis when he wrote it, and he died in January, 1950. He was forty-six.

    The revision began almost immediately. Frances Stonor Saunders, in her fascinating study "The Cultural Cold War," reports that right after Orwell's death the C.I.A. (Howard Hunt was the agent on the case) secretly bought the film rights to "Animal Farm" from his widow, Sonia, and had an animated-film version produced in England, which it distributed throughout the world. The book's final scene, in which the pigs (the Bolsheviks, in Orwell's allegory) can no longer be distinguished from the animals' previous exploiters, the humans (the capitalists), was omitted. A new ending was provided, in which the animals storm the farmhouse where the pigs have moved and liberate themselves all over again. The great enemy of propaganda was subjected, after his death, to the deceptions and evasions of propaganda—and by the very people, American Cold Warriors, who would canonize him as the great enemy of propaganda.

    Howard Hunt at least kept the story pegged to the history of the Soviet Union, which is what Orwell intended. Virtually every detail in "Animal Farm" allegorizes some incident in that history: the Kronstadt rebellion, the five-year plan, the Moscow trials, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the Tehran conference. But although Orwell didn't want Communism, he didn't want capitalism, either. This part of his thought was carefully elided, and "Animal Farm" became a warning against political change per se. It remains so today. The cover of the current Harcourt paperback glosses the contents as follows:

    As ferociously fresh as it was more than half a century ago, "Animal Farm" is a parable about would-be liberators everywhere. As we witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals through the lens of our own history, we see the seeds of totalitarianism in the most idealistic organizations; and in our most charismatic leaders, the souls of our cruelest oppressors.

    This is the opposite of what Orwell intended. But almost everything in the popular understanding of Orwell is a distortion of what he really thought and the kind of writer he was.

    Writers are not entirely responsible for their admirers. It is unlikely that Jane Austen, if she were here today, would wish to become a member of the Jane Austen Society. In his lifetime, George Orwell was regarded, even by his friends, as a contrary man. It was said that the closer you got to him the colder and more critical he became. As a writer, he was often hardest on his allies. He was a middle-class intellectual who despised the middle class and was contemptuous of intellectuals, a Socialist whose abuse of Socialists—"all that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking toward the smell of 'progress' like bluebottles to a dead cat"—was as vicious as any Tory's. He preached solidarity, but he had the habits of a dropout, and the works for which he is most celebrated, "Animal Farm," "1984," and the essay "Politics and the English Language," were attacks on people who purported to share his political views. He was not looking to make friends. But after his death he suddenly acquired an army of fans—all middle-class intellectuals eager to suggest that a writer who approved of little would have approved of them.

    Orwell's army is one of the most ideologically mixed up ever to assemble. John Rodden, whose "George Orwell: The Politics of Literary Reputation" was published in 1989 and recently reprinted, with a new introduction (Transaction; $30), has catalogued it exhaustively. It has included, over the years, ex-Communists, Socialists, left-wing anarchists, right-wing libertarians, liberals, conservatives, doves, hawks, the Partisan Review editorial board, and the John Birch Society: every group in a different uniform, but with the same button pinned to the lapel—Orwell Was Right. Irving Howe claimed Orwell, and so did Norman Podhoretz. Almost the only thing Orwell's posthumous admirers have in common, besides the button, is anti-Communism. But they all somehow found support for their particular bouquet of moral and political values in Orwell's writings, which have been universally praised as "honest," "decent," and "clear." In what sense, though, can writings that have been taken to mean so many incompatible things be called "clear"? And what, exactly, was Orwell right about?

    Indifferent to his own person as Orwell genuinely was, his writing is essentially personal. He put himself at the center of all his nonfiction books and many of his essays, and he often used personal anecdotes in his political journalism to make, or reinforce, his points. He never figured himself as the hero of these stories, in part because his tendency to self-abnegation was fairly remorseless. But self-abnegation was perhaps the most seductive aspect of the persona he devised. Orwell had the rare talent for making readers feel that they were dealing not with a reporter or a columnist or a literary man—not with a writer—but with an ordinary person. His method for making people believe what he wrote was to make them believe, first of all, in him.

    He was a writer, of course—he was a graphomaniac, in fact: writing was what he lived for—and there was not much that was ordinary about him. He was born, a hundred years ago, in Bengal, where his father was a sub-agent in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service, and he came to England when he was one, and was brought up there by his mother. (The family name was Blair, and Orwell's given name was Eric.) Orwell's father visited the family for three months in 1907, engaging in domestic life with sufficient industry to leave his wife pregnant, and did not come back until 1912. By then, Orwell was boarding as a scholarship student at St. Cyprian's, the school he wrote about, many years later, in the essay "Such, Such Were the Joys." He studied hard and won a scholarship to Eton, and it was there that he began his career in self-denial. He deliberately slacked off, finishing a hundred and thirty-eighth in a class of a hundred and sixty-seven, and then, instead of taking the exams for university, joined the Imperial Police and went to Burma, the scene of the essays "A Hanging" and "Shooting an Elephant." In 1927, after five years in Burma, while on leave in England and with no employment prospects, he resigned.

    He spent the next four years as a tramp and an itinerant worker, experiences that became the basis for "Down and Out in Paris and London," the first work to appear under the pen name George Orwell, in 1933. He taught school briefly, worked in a bookstore (the subject of the essay "Bookshop Memories"), and spent two months travelling around the industrial districts in the North of England gathering material for "The Road to Wigan Pier," which came out in 1937. Orwell spent the first half of 1937 fighting with the Loyalists in Spain, where he was shot in the throat by a fascist sniper, and where he witnessed the brutal Communist suppression of the revolutionary parties in the Republican alliance. His account of these events, "Homage to Catalonia," which appeared in 1938, was, indeed, brave and iconoclastic (though not the only work of its kind), and it established Orwell in the position that he would maintain for the rest of his life, as the leading anti-Stalinist writer of the British left.

    During the war, Orwell took a job with the Indian section of the BBC's Eastern Service, where he produced and, with T. S. Eliot, William Empson, Louis MacNeice, and other distinguished writers, delivered radio talks, mostly on literary subjects, intended to rally the support of Indians for the British war effort. For the first time since 1927, he received the salary he had once enjoyed as a policeman in Burma, but he regarded the work as propaganda—he felt, he said, like "an orange that's been trodden on by a very dirty boot"—and, in 1943, he quit. He worked for a while as literary editor and as a columnist at the Tribune, a Socialist paper edited by Aneurin Bevan, the leader of the left wing of the Labour Party in Britain and a man Orwell admired. In 1946, after the success of "Animal Farm," and knowing that he was desperately ill with lung disease, he removed himself to one of the dankest places in the British Isles: the island of Jura, off the coast of Scotland. When he was not too sick to type, he sat in a room all day smoking black shag tobacco, and writing "1984." His biographers have noted that the life of Winston Smith at the Ministry of Truth in that novel is based in part on Orwell's own career (as he experienced it) at the BBC. Room 101, the torture chamber in the climactic scene, was the name of the room where the Eastern Service held compulsory committee meetings. Orwell (is it necessary to say?) hated committees.

    His first wife, Eileen, with whom he adopted a son, died in 1945. He proposed to several women thereafter, sometimes suggesting, as an inducement, that he would probably die soon and leave his widow with a valuable estate; but he struck out. Then, in 1949, when he really was on his deathbed, he married Sonia Brownell, a woman whose sex appeal was widely appreciated. Brownell had slept with Orwell once, in 1945, apparently from the mixed motives of pity and the desire to sleep with famous writers, one of her hobbies. The marriage was performed in a hospital room; Orwell died three months later. He ended up selling more books than any other serious writer of the twentieth century—"Animal Farm" and "1984" were together translated into more than sixty languages; in 1973, English-language editions of "1984" were still selling at a rate of 1,340 copies a day—and he left all his royalties to Sonia. She squandered them and died more or less in poverty, in 1980. Today, Orwell's gravesite, in a churchyard in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, is tended by volunteers.

    Orwell has been posthumously psychoanalyzed, but there is no great mystery behind the choices he made in his life. He explained his motive plainly and repeatedly in his writing: he wanted to de-class himself. From his days at St. Cyprian's, and possibly even earlier, he saw the class system as a system of oppression—and nothing but a system of oppression. The guilt (his term) that he felt about his position as a member of the white imperialist bourgeoisie preceded his interest in politics as such. He spent much of his time criticizing professional Socialists, particularly the leaders of the British Labour Party, because, apart from the commitment to equality, there was not much about Socialism that was important to him. His economics were rudimentary, and he had little patience for the temporizing that ordinary politics requires. In 1945, after Germany surrendered, Churchill and the Conservatives were voted out and a Labour government came in (with Bevan as Minister of Health). In less than a year, Orwell was complaining that no steps had been taken to abolish the House of Lords.

    He didn't merely go on adventures in class-crossing. He turned his life into an experiment in classlessness, and the intensity of his commitment to that experiment was the main reason that his friends and colleagues found him a perverse and sometimes exasperating man. His insistence on living in uncomfortable conditions, his refusal (despite his bad lungs) to wear a hat or coat in winter, his habit of pouring his tea into the saucer and slurping it noisily (in the working-class manner) struck his friends not as colorful eccentricities but as reproaches directed at their own bourgeois addiction to comfort and decorum. Which they were. Orwell was a brilliant and cultured man, with an Eton accent and an anomalous, vaguely French mustache, who wore the same beat-up tweed jacket nearly every day, made (very badly) his own furniture, and lived, most of the time, one step up from squalor. He read Joyce and kept a goat in the back yard. He was completely authentic and completely inauthentic at the same time—a man who believed that to write honestly he needed to publish under a false name.

    Orwell's writing is effortlessly compelling. He was in the tradition of writers who—as Leslie Stephen said of Defoe—understand that there is a literary fascination in a clear recitation of the facts. There is much more to Orwell than this, though. As Christopher Hitchens points out in "Why Orwell Matters" (Basic; $24), a book more critical of Orwell than the title might suggest, "Homage to Catalonia" survives as a model of political journalism, and "Animal Farm" and "1984" belong permanently to the literature of resistance. Whatever uses they were made to serve in the West, they gave courage to people in the East. The territory that Orwell covered in "Down and Out in Paris and London" and "The Road to Wigan Pier"—the lower-class extremes—was by no means new to nonfiction prose. Engels wrote about it feelingly in "The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844"; Jacob Riis studied it in "How the Other Half Lives." But Orwell discovered a tone—"generous anger" is the phrase he once used to describe Dickens, and it has been applied to him, but "cool indignation" seems a little more accurate—that has retained its freshness after seventy years.

    Orwell's essays have recently been collected, with exceptional thoroughness, by John Carey (Everyman; $35). The essay on Dickens, published in 1940, is weaker criticism than Edmund Wilson's "Dickens: The Two Scrooges," which came out the same year. But Orwell's essay on Henry Miller, "Inside the Whale," which also appeared in 1940, was original and unexpected. His personal essays, especially "Shooting an Elephant" and "Such, Such Were the Joys," are models of the form. Still, his qualities as a writer are obscured by the need of his admirers to claim for his work impossible virtues.

    Honesty was important to Orwell. He was certainly quick enough to accuse people he disagreed with of dishonesty. But there is sometimes a confusion, when people talk about Orwell's writing, between honesty and objectivity. "He said what he believed" and "He told it like it was" refer to different virtues. One of the effects of the tone Orwell achieved—the tone of a reasonable, modest, supremely undogmatic man, hoping for the best but resigned to the worst—was the impression of transparency, something that Orwell himself, in an essay called "Why I Write," identified as the ideal of good prose. It was therefore a shock when Bernard Crick, in the first major biography of Orwell, authorized by Sonia Orwell and published the year of her death, confessed that he had found it difficult to corroborate some of the incidents in Orwell's autobiographical writings. Jeffrey Meyers, whose biography "Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation" came out in 2000, concluded that Orwell sometimes "heightened reality to achieve dramatic effects."

    Crick has doubts that the event Orwell recounted in remarkably fine detail in "A Hanging"—he describes the condemned man stepping aside to avoid a puddle of water on his way to the scaffold—ever happened, and Meyers notes that, during his years as a tramp, Orwell would take time off to rest and write in the homes of family and friends, something he does not mention in "Down and Out in Paris and London," where the narrator is sometimes on the verge of death by starvation. Both Crick and Meyers suspect that "Shooting an Elephant" has fabricated elements. And everything that Orwell wrote was inflected by his predilection for the worm's-eye view. When biographers asked Orwell's contemporaries what it was really like at St. Cyprian's, or in Burma, or working at the bookshop, the usual answer was "It was bad, but it wasn't that bad."

    The point is not that Orwell made things up. The point is that he used writing in a literary, not a documentary, way: he wrote in order to make you see what he wanted you to see, to persuade. During the war, Orwell began contributing a "London Letter" to Partisan Review. In one letter, he wrote that park railings in London were being torn down for scrap metal, but that only working-class neighborhoods were being plundered; parks and squares in upper-class neighborhoods, he reported, were untouched. The story, Crick says, was widely circulated. When a friend pointed out that it was untrue, Orwell is supposed to have replied that it didn't matter, "it was essentially true."

    You need to grasp Orwell's premises, in other words, before you can start talking about the "truth" of what he writes. He is not saying, This is the way it objectively was from any possible point of view. He is saying, This is the way it looked to someone with my beliefs. Otherwise, his work can be puzzling. "Down and Out in Paris and London" is a powerful book, but you are always wondering what this obviously decent, well-read, talented person is doing washing dishes in the kitchen of a Paris hotel. In "The Road to Wigan Pier," Orwell gave the reader some help with this problem by explaining, at length, where he came from, what his views were, and why he went to live with the miners. Orwell was not a reporter or a sociologist. He was an advocate. He had very definite political opinions, and promoting them was his reason for writing. "No book is genuinely free of political bias," he asserted in "Why I Write." "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it."

    Here we arrive at the challenge presented by the "Orwell Was Right" button. Hitchens says that there were three great issues in the twentieth century, and that Orwell was right on all three: imperialism, fascism, and Stalinism. What does this mean, though? Orwell was against imperialism, fascism, and Stalinism. Excellent. Many people were against them in Orwell's time, and a great many more people have been against them since. The important question, after condemning those things, was what to do about them, and how to understand the implications for the future. On this level, Orwell was almost always wrong.

    Orwell thought that any Englishman who boasted of liberty and prosperity while India was still a colony was a hypocrite. "In order that England may live in comparative comfort, a hundred million Indians must live on the verge of starvation—an evil state of affairs, but you acquiesce in it every time you step into a taxi or eat a plate of strawberries and cream," he wrote in "The Road to Wigan Pier." Still, he did not believe that India was capable of complete independence, and was still saying so as late as 1943. At first, he had the idea that the British Empire should be turned into "a federation of Socialist states, like a looser and freer version of the Union of Soviet Republics," but eventually he arrived at another solution. In 1943, entering a controversy in the pages of the Tribune over the future of Burma, which had been invaded by Japan, he laid out his position. The notion of an independent Burma, he explained, was as ludicrous as the notion of an independent Lithuania or Luxembourg. To grant those countries independence would be to create a bunch of "comic opera states," he wrote. "The plain fact is that small nationalities cannot be independent, because they cannot defend themselves." The answer was to place "the whole main-land of south-east Asia, together with Formosa, under the guidance of China, while leaving the islands under an Anglo-American-Dutch condominium." Orwell was against colonial exploitation, in other words, but not in favor of national self-determination. If this is anti-imperialism, make the most of it.

    Orwell took a particular dislike to Gandhi. He referred to him, in private correspondence, as a "bit of a charlatan"; in 1943, he wrote that "there is indeed a sort of apocalyptic truth in the statement of the German radio that the teachings of Hitler and Gandhi are the same." One of his last essays was on Gandhi, written two years after India, and one year after Burma, became independent, and a year after Gandhi's assassination. It is a grudging piece of writing. The method of Satyagraha, Orwell said, might have been effective against the British, but he was doubtful about its future as a tactic for political struggle. (A few years later, Martin Luther King, Jr., would find a use for it.) He confessed to "a sort of aesthetic distaste" for Gandhi himself—Gandhi was, after all, just the sort of sandal-wearing, vegetarian mystic Orwell had always abhorred—and he attributed the success of the Indian independence movement as much to the election of a Labour government in Britain as to Gandhi's efforts. "I have never been able to feel much liking for Gandhi, but I do not feel sure that as a political thinker he was wrong in the main, nor do I believe that his life was a failure" was the most that he could bring himself to say.

    Hitler, on the other hand, Orwell did find personally appealing. "I have never been able to dislike Hitler," he admitted, in 1940. Hitler, it seems, "grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life," which Orwell called the attitude of "nearly all Western thought since the last war, certainly all 'progressive' thought." This response—the idea that fascism, whatever might be wrong with it, is at least about the necessity of struggle and self-sacrifice—is not that far from the response of the relatively few people in England (there were more in France) who actively endorsed fascism.

    Orwell was opposed to Nazi Germany. But he thought that Britain, as an imperial power, had no moral right to go to war against Hitler, and he was sure that a war would make Britain fascist. This is a theme in his novel "Coming Up for Air," which was published in 1939, and that winter he was urging friends to begin planning "illegal anti-war activities." He thought that it would be a good idea to set up an underground antiwar organization, in anticipation of what he called the "pre-war fascising processes," and predicted that he would end up in a British concentration camp because of his views. He kept up his antiwar agitation until August, 1939. Then, with the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact, he flipped completely. In "The Lion and the Unicorn," in 1941, he accused British antiwar intellectuals of "sabotage." They had become "Europeanized"; they sneered at patriotism. (This from a man who, two years earlier, had been proposing an illegal campaign against government policy.) They had weakened the morale of the English people, "so that the Fascist nations judged that they were 'decadent' and that it was safe to plunge into war. . . . Ten years of systematic Blimp-baiting affected even the Blimps themselves and made it harder than it had been before to get intelligent young men to enter the armed forces." The prediction of a fascist Britain had evidently been forgotten.

    What were Orwell's political opinions? Orwell was a revolutionary Socialist. That is, he hoped that there would be a Socialist revolution in England, and, as he said more than once, if violence was necessary, violence there should be. "I dare say the London gutters will have to run with blood," he wrote in "My Country Right or Left," in 1940. And a year later, in "The Lion and the Unicorn," "It is only by revolution that the native genius of the English people can be set free. . . . Whether it happens with or without bloodshed is largely an accident of time and place." Orwell had concluded long before that capitalism had failed unambiguously, and he never changed his opinion. He thought that Hitler's military success on the Continent proved once and for all the superiority of a planned economy. "It is not certain that Socialism is in all ways superior to capitalism, but it is certain that, unlike capitalism, it can solve the problems of production and consumption," he wrote. "The State simply calculates what goods will be needed and does its best to produce them."

    A Socialist England, as Orwell described it, would be a classless society with virtually no private property. The State would own everything, and would require "that nobody shall live without working." Orwell thought that perhaps fifteen acres of land, "at the very most," might be permitted, presumably to allow subsistence farming, but that there would be no ownership of land in town areas. Incomes would be equalized, so that the highest income would never be greater than ten times the lowest. Above that, the tax rate should be a hundred per cent. The House of Lords would be abolished, though Orwell thought that the monarchy might be preserved. (Everybody would drink at the same pub, presumably, but one of the blokes would get to wear a crown.) As for its foreign policy: a Socialist state "will not have the smallest scruple about attacking hostile neutrals or stirring up native rebellions in enemy colonies."

    Orwell was not a cultural radical. Democracy and moral decency (once the blood was cleaned off the pavement, anyway) were central to his vision of Socialism. His admirers remembered the democracy and the decency, and managed to forget most of the rest. When "Homage to Catalonia" was finally published in the United States, in 1952, Lionel Trilling wrote an introduction, which Jeffrey Meyers has called "probably the most influential essay on Orwell." It is a work of short fiction. "Orwell clung with a kind of wry, grim pride to the old ways of the last class that had ruled the old order," Trilling wrote; he exemplified the meaning of the phrase "my station and its duties," and respected "the old bourgeois virtues." He even "came to love things, material possessions." A fully housebroken anti-Communist. It is amusing to imagine Orwell slurping his tea at the Columbia Faculty House.

    Understanding Orwell's politics helps to explain that largely inaccurate prediction about postwar life "1984." There was, Hitchens points out, an enormous blind spot in Orwell's view of the world: the United States. Orwell never visited the United States and, as Hitchens says, showed little curiosity about what went on there. To the extent that he gave it any attention, he tended to regard the United States as vulgar, materialistic, and a threat to the English language. ("Many Americans pronounce . . . water as though it had no t in it, or even as though it had no consonant in it at all, except the w," he claimed. "On the whole we are justified in regarding the American language with suspicion.") He thought that, all things considered, Britain was better off as a client-state of Washington than as a client-state of Moscow, but he did not look on an increased American role in the world with hope. Since Orwell was certain that capitalism was doomed, the only future he could imagine for the United States was as some sort of totalitarian regime.

    He laid out his view in 1947, in the pages of Partisan Review. There were, he explained, three possible futures in a nuclear world: a preëmptive nuclear strike by the United States against the Soviet Union; a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union, wiping out most of the race and returning life to the Bronze Age; and a stalemate created by the fear of actually using atomic bombs and other weapons of mass destruction—what would be known as the policy of mutually assured destruction. This third possibility, Orwell argued, was the worst of all:

    It would mean the division of the world among two or three vast superstates, unable to conquer one another and unable to be overthrown by any internal rebellion. In all probability their structure would be hierarchic, with a semi-divine caste at the top and outright slavery at the bottom, and the crushing out of liberty would exceed anything that the world has yet seen. Within each state the necessary psychological atmosphere would be kept up by complete severance from the outer world, and by a continuous phony war against rival states. Civilizations of this type might remain static for thousands of years.

    Orwell's third possibility was, of course, the path that history took. Mutually assured destruction was the guiding policy of the arms race and the Cold War. Orwell himself coined the term "Cold War," and after his death he became a hero to Cold Warriors, liberal and conservative alike. But he hated the idea of a Cold War—he preferred being bombed back to the Bronze Age—because it seems never to have entered his mind that the United States would be a force for liberty and democracy. "1984" is, precisely, Orwell's vision of what the Cold War might be like: a mindless and interminable struggle among totalitarian monsters. Was he right?

    Some people in 1949 received "1984" as an attack on the Labour Party (in the book, the regime of Big Brother is said to have derived from the principles of "Ingsoc"; that is, English Socialism), and Orwell was compelled to issue, through his publisher, a statement clarifying his intentions. He was a supporter of the Labour Party, he said. "I do not believe that the kind of society I describe necessarily will arrive," he continued, "but I believe (allowing of course for the fact that the book is satire) that something resembling it could arrive. I believe also that totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere, and I have tried to draw these ideas out to their logical consequences."

    The attitude behind this last sentence seems to me the regrettable part of Orwell's legacy. If ideas were to stand or fall on the basis of their logically possible consequences, we would have no ideas, because the ultimate conceivable consequence of every idea is an absurdity—is, in some way, "against life." We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices, intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation; a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most tiresome arguments against ideas is that their "tendency" is to some dire condition—to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all. Orwell did not invent this kind of argument, but he provided, in "1984," a vocabulary for its deployment.

    "Big Brother" and "doublethink" and "thought police" are frequently cited as contributions to the language. They are, but they belong to the same category as "liar" and "pervert" and "madman." They are conversation-stoppers. When a court allows videotape from a hidden camera to be used in a trial, people shout "Big Brother." When a politician refers to his proposal to permit logging on national land as "environmentally friendly," he is charged with "doublethink." When a critic finds sexism in a poem, she is accused of being a member of the "thought police." The terms can be used to discredit virtually any position, which is one of the reasons that Orwell became everyone's favorite political thinker. People learned to make any deviation from their own platform seem the first step on the slippery slope to "1984."

    There are Big Brothers and thought police in the world, just as there are liars and madmen. "1984" may have been intended to expose the true character of Soviet Communism, but, because it describes a world in which there are no moral distinctions among the three fictional regimes that dominate the globe, it ended up encouraging people to see totalitarian "tendencies" everywhere. There was visible totalitarianism, in Russia and in Eastern Europe; but there was also the invisible totalitarianism of the so-called "free world." When people talk about Big Brother, they generally mean a system of covert surveillance and manipulation, oppression in democratic disguise (unlike the system in Orwell's book, which is so overt that it is advertised). "1984" taught people to imagine government as a conspiracy against liberty. This is why the John Birch Society used 1984 as the last four digits in the phone number of its Washington office.

    Orwell himself was a sniffer of tendencies. He, too, could blur moral distinctions among the things he disliked, between the BBC and the Ministry of Love, for instance; he apparently thought of the Ministry of Love as the logical consequence of the mass media's "tendency" to thought control. His most celebrated conflation of dislikes is the essay, for many years a staple of the freshman-composition syllabus, "Politics and the English Language."

    Orwell wrote many strong essays, but "Politics and the English Language," published in 1946, is not one of them. Half of the essay is an attack on bad prose. Orwell is against abstractions, mixed metaphors, Latinate roots, polysyllabic words, clichés, and most of the other stylistic vices identified in Fowler's "Modern English Usage" (in its fourth printing in 1946). The other half is an attack on political dishonesty. Certain political terms, Orwell argues, are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements like Marshal Pétain was a true patriot, The Soviet Press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent to deceive.

    Fowler would have found nothing to complain about, though, in the sentences Orwell objects to. They are as clear as can be. Somehow, Orwell has run together his distaste for flowery, stale prose with his distaste for fascism, Stalinism, and Roman Catholicism. He makes it seem that the problem with fascism (and the rest) is, at bottom, a problem of style. They're bad, we are encouraged to feel, because their language is bad, because they're ugly.

    This is not an isolated instance of this way of thinking in Orwell. From his earliest work, he was obsessed with body odor, and olfactory metaphors are probably the most consistent figure in his prose, right to the end of his life, when he congratulated Gandhi for leaving a clean smell when he died. But Orwell didn't think of the relation between smell and virtue as only metaphorical. He took quite seriously the question of whether it was ever possible to feel true solidarity with a man who smelled. Many pages in "The Road to Wigan Pier" are devoted to the problem. In his fiction, a bad character is, often, an ugly, sweaty, smelly character.

    Smell has no relation to virtue, however. Ugliness has no relation to insincerity or evil, and short words with Anglo-Saxon roots have no relation to truth or goodness. Political speech, like etiquette, has its codes and its euphemisms, and Orwell is right to insist that it is important to be able to decipher them. He says that if what he calls political speech—by which he appears to mean political clichés—were translated into plain, everyday speech, confusion and insincerity would begin to evaporate. It is a worthy, if unrealistic, hope. But he does not stop there. All politics, he writes, "is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia." And by the end of the essay he has damned the whole discourse: "Political language—and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists—is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable." All political parties? Orwell had sniffed out a tendency.

    Orwell's prose was so effective that it seduced many readers into imagining, mistakenly, that he was saying what they wanted him to say, and what they themselves thought. Orwell was not clairvoyant; he was not infallible; he was not even consistent. He changed his mind about things, as most writers do. He dramatized out of a desire to make the world more the way he wished it to be, as most writers do. He also said what he thought without hedging or trimming, as few writers do all the time. It is strange how selectively he was heard. It is no tribute to him to turn his books into anthems to a status quo he hated. Orwell is admired for being a paragon when he was, self-consciously, a naysayer and a misfit. If he is going to be welcomed into the pantheon of right-thinking liberals, he should at least be allowed to bring along his goat.

    http://www.newyorker.com/critics/atl...27crat_atlarge

  29. #29
    Dyslexic agnostic insomniac Senior Member Goofball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    Quote Originally Posted by Proletariat
    As an American who is against what the Patriot Act could become, I must say this comment is stupid.

    Were you joking or do you really think that America sometime in the future will be shoveling people who have bought a Koran into ovens?
    Who said anything about ovens?

    concentration camp
    n.
    1. A camp where civilians, enemy aliens, political prisoners, and sometimes prisoners of war are detained and confined, typically under harsh conditions.
    2. A place or situation characterized by extremely harsh conditions.
    And the comment is far from stupid, given that the U.S. has already established a konzentrationslager where they are holding undesirables indefinitely without charge.

    I think Gitmo fills the definition quite accurately.
    "What, have Canadians run out of guns to steal from other Canadians and now need to piss all over our glee?"

    - TSM

  30. #30
    Member Senior Member Proletariat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Liberty's revenge in the USA?

    concentration camp
    n.

    1. A camp where civilians, enemy aliens, political prisoners, and sometimes prisoners of war are detained and confined, typically under harsh conditions.
    2. A place or situation characterized by extremely harsh conditions.
    Forcing the 20th hijacker to listen to Aguilera into the wee hours of the night?

    Quote Originally Posted by Goofball
    I think Gitmo fills the definition quite accurately.
    Big deal. So do some high schools.

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