April 2, 2009

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if when you were late taking the kids to work one morning, and in the rush you rolled through a stop sign. You probably would be embarrassed by the flashing red lights that called for you to pull over to the side of the road. But instead of a friendly warning, or even a misdemeanor traffic ticket, you were forced out of you car at gunpoint, handcuffed or detained for questioning... all for running a stop sign. Nope, traffic safety played little part in this disturbing picture, instead you can blame it on that Bob Barr for president bumper sticker your spouse placed on the minivan. Or maybe it was the Constitution Party emblem displayed in the vehicle window? It could have been the anti-abortion slogan, or perhaps it was the site of the Christian fish emblem that gave you away.

According to a recent report disseminated to law enforcement agencies across the state, all of these items are signs that you may be a militant militia member and an extreme public safety concern. The Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) report entitled, “The Modern Militia Movement” has come under fire since its release earlier this year, dropping the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Department of Public Safety and even Governor Jay Nixon in plenty of hot water for the apparent political and social profiling the report seems to encourage in law enforcement.

The eight-page report is an apparent attempt by the agency to prepare law enforcement agents for the dangers of dealing with militant militia members. It points out possible ways to identify suspects in today’s world, which the report states “due to the current economic and political situation, is a lush environment for militia activity.”

I’m going to try to beat Jeff Foxworthy to the punch line here... You might be a militia member, if.

According to the MIAC report:

If you’re concerned about the possibility of President Barak Obama tightening gun control... You might be a militia member.

Failure to register your motor vehicle or renew your driver’s license means you might be a militia member.

“Anti abortionists have been known to take up arms in support of their beliefs,” the report states, so if you are pro life you might be a militia member.

Late on paying income taxes... yup you guessed it you might be a militia member because they resist the Internal Revenue Service and are strongly opposed to income tax collections.

Did you vote for Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin or Bob Barr for president... if so, you might be a militia member.

If you are a legal resident of the United States and have the audacity to oppose sharing your citizen rights with illegal immigrants in this country, you might be a militia member.

Finally, if you display anti-government propaganda making fun of the IRS or law enforcement, depicting them in a negative light, you might be a militia member.

Wow, most of us country folk didn’t even know we were militia material. Of course, the majority of us could care less if law enforcement wants to profile us based on these stereotypes. As a matter of fact, the bulk of our law enforcement officers must be militia too for that matter.

However it is disturbing to learn that the Show-Me State is gaining national notoriety for this political gaff. On March 25th the Constitution Party issued a warning to Americans traveling within the state of Missouri that they might be considered a threat by law enforcement if they display certain bumper stickers on their cars.

“The Constitution Party decries this report as ‘political profiling’ and strongly suggests those considering a trip to the Show Me state be aware of the possibility they could be pulled over by a Missouri State Police officer simply for displaying a politically oriented sticker on their vehicles” read a statement from the party’s national headquarters.

The Constitution Party’s Chuck Baldwin voiced outrage saying, “This is a classic case of broad-brushed police profiling. Can you imagine the fallout of this preposterous report had the names Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Maxine Waters been used instead of the names Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr?”

Highway Patrol Superintendent James Keathley issued a statement announcing changes to the oversight of MIAC reports, which he stated previously had not been reviewed by the patrol’s leadership or by the director of the Public Safety Department, John Britt prior to being released to the state’s law enforcement agencies. Governor Jay Nixon, who’s name appears on the report letter head along with Britt, Keathley and MIAC Director Van Godsey, also is distancing himself from the report, albeit only after the national ire overcame his initial defense of the state-wide scandal.

According to the Missouri Press Association Capital Report, Nixon, while criticizing the report, appeared to also defend it, stating “Basic police work takes intelligence. Takes information from various sources that could present a package of how we can chase down the bad guys. That is appropriate use of law enforcement.”

Lieutenant Governor of Missouri Peter Kinder took Nixon to task for the report and his handling of it.

“There are certainly individual extremists in many religious and political groups (both conservative and liberal), but Gov. Nixon and Director of Public Safety John Britt have created a dangerous precedent of profiling lawful citizens as threats to public safety simply based on their political or religious beliefs,” Kinder said.

Careful what you say Mr. Kinder, they may want to label you a militia member like the rest of us.

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