Sunday, December 18, 2005

Studying totalitarianism in the land of the free

Mao's Little Red BookThis is beyond parody:
A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book..."
The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security

The student certainly got a more first-hand experience of totalitarianism than he expected. With items like this in the news, it isn't surprising that the Senate has just refused to renew key snooping provisions in the Patriot Act. The FBI's ability to demand personal records like library loan requests without any judicial oversight is one of the most invasive aspects of the act.

UPDATE: It seems the student involved made the whole story up. If only the same were true about the other news items that caused the US Congress to refuse renewal of key Patriot Act provisions beyond five weeks.

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