Saturday, April 08, 2006
W: "How ... did this get past network censors?"
Two weeks ago, in the "Stick It" episode of ABC's Boston Legal, actor
James Spader, as attorney Alan Shore, delivered a speech one might pray someone
would have the chutzpa to deliver to Congress, a speech the likes of which
I've never heard on television, and it's frightening pathetic that it has
to come out of the mouth of a fictional character to get aired on a network.
How in heavens name did this get past network censors?
A woman has been accused of not paying her income tax. Her attorney
doesn't know how to defend her since she admits she's guilty, but he finally rises
to the occasion, delivering the following summation to the jury...
ALAN SHORE: When the “Weapons of Mass Destruction thing” turned out not to be true, I expected the American people to rise up! Huh! They didn’t.
Then, when the Abu Ghraib “torture thing” surfaced, and it was revealed that our government participated in “rendition,” a practice where we kidnap people and turn them over to regimes who specialize in torture, I was sure, then, the American people would be heard from. We stood mute.
Then came the news that we jailed thousands of so-called “terrorist suspects” — locked them up, without the right to a trial or even the right to confront their accusers. Certainly, we would never stand for that. We did.
And now, it’s been discovered, the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens — you and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, finally the American people will have had enough.
Evidently we haven’t. In fact, if the people of this country have spoken, the message is, “We’re okay with it all.” Torture, warrantless search-and-seizures, illegal wiretappings. Prison without a fair trial — or any trial. War on false pretenses. We as a citizenry are, apparently, not offended. There are no demonstrations on college campuses; in fact, there’s no clear indication that young people even seem to notice.
Well, Melissa Hughes noticed. Now, you might think instead of withholding her taxes, she could have protested the old-fashioned way: made a placard and demonstrated at a Presidential or Vice-Presidential appearance. But we’ve lost the right to that as well. The Secret Service can now declare “free speech zones” to contain, control, and, in effect, criminalize protest.
Stop for a second, and try to fathom that: At a Presidential rally, parade, or appearance, if you have on a supportive T-shirt, you can be there. If you’re wearing, or carrying something in protest, you can be removed. This, in the United States of America. This, in the United States of America! Is Melissa Hughes the only one embarrassed?
JUDGE: Mr. Shore, that’s a chair for witnesses only.
ALAN SHORE: These long speeches make me so tired sometimes.
JUDGE: Please get out of the chair.
ALAN SHORE: Actually, I’m sick and tired.
JUDGE: Get out of the chair!
ALAN SHORE: And what I’m most sick and tired of, is how every time somebody disagrees with how the government is running things, he or she is labeled “un-American.”
PROSECUTOR: Evidently it’s speech time.
ALAN SHORE: And speech in this country is free, you hack! Free for me, free for you, free for Melissa Hughes to stand up to her government and say, “Stick it!”
ALAN SHORE: I object to Government abusing its power to squash the constitutional freedoms of its citizenry. And, God forbid, anybody challenge it, they’re smeared as being a heretic. Melissa Hughes is an American! Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American!
JUDGE: Mr. Shore, unless you have anything new and fresh to say, please sit down. You’ve breached the decorum of my courtroom with all this hooting.
ALAN SHORE: Last night, I went to bed with a book. Not as much fun as a 29-year-old, but, the book contained a speech by Adlai Stevenson. The year was 1952. He said, “The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live, and fear breeds repression. Too often, sinister threats to the Bill of Rights, to freedom of the mind, are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-communism.”
Today, it’s the cloak of anti-terrorism.
Stevenson also remarked, "It's far easier to fight for principles then to
" live up to them." I know we are all afraid, but the Bill of Rights? We
have to live up to that. We simply must. That's all Melissa Hughes is trying
to say. She was speaking for you. I would ask you now to go back to that
room and speak for her.
The jury finds Melissa Hughes "not guilty".
The speech won a well-deserved "Wings of Justice" Award from
Buzzflash, and a predicable write-in campaign from repressive wingnuts to cancel the
show. Please write to ABC and thank them for having the courage to air
it, not to give in to political pressure, and to continue to air one of the best shows on television.
Here is the comment I left at Digby's blog, regarding his comments about how Knight Ridder is reporting the truth, unfiltered.
Maybe somebody finally watched "Good Night and Good luck." Knight-Ridder seems like the most Murrowesque right now, and, as Molly Ivins pointed out, theirs was the only Washington bureau to "report skeptically on the administration's claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before the war." The Headline read, "Lack of Hard Evidence of Iraqi Weapons Worries Top U.S. Officials" and ran on 9-6-02.
A bit OT, but in another example of members of the MSM with cajones grandes, did anyone catch James Spader's speech to the jury on Boston Legal a couple weeks ago?
A snippet, "And now, it’s been discovered, the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens — you and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, finally the American people will have had enough. Evidently we haven’t."
The entire speech can be found at
but, like the Knight Ridder stories, the author deserves our support for being one of the few people who are pointing out the emperor's nakedness when most of the MSM have their chins too high to notice. The fact that it had to be done through a fictional character- instead of on the news- speaks volumes where we're at right now.
Still, these people who are speaking out need our support since nothing triggers the wrath of the right wing more than pointing out the obvious.
The buzz flash award and article is here, and you can leave your comments at the Boston Legal site here.