June 04, 2012

Future Normal: Enemy of the State!

ANNOUNCER: And now ... [fanfare and drum roll] ... another edition of Down with Doug! The only show that dares to tell you the full, unvarnished truth! The only genuinely open discussion that brings you all sides of the hottest debates of the day -- and lets you decide who's right! The show that embodies the freedom that makes America unique, that makes America the greatest nation in the history of the world! That's why we say ... [shots of the live audience, all of whom join in the show's signature chant] ... GOD, WE LOVE TO BE AMERICANS!!!

DOUG ENORD: [Laughing and joining in the applause himself] God, we surely do! [Quickly adopts his serious expression] My friends, we have very important, even disturbing, issues to talk about today. I also want to tell you about a meeting I had this past week with officials from the Department of Domestic Normality and Tranquillity. Now, a few people make fun of the acronym for that agency -- DO-DON'T -- saying it captures the dangerous contradiction in some government policies. These critics say the policies encourage us to believe that we're still free, but we actually aren't. That seems a little extreme to me, and I think we can say that such people don't love to be Americans the way we do! [Booing from audience] But I do love to be an American [audience cheers]. A few people -- the same critics, doncha know -- are afraid of the folks at DO-DON'T, but I know that the people leading our government, even though I may have some serious disagreements with them here and there, are only trying to do their best, trying to make sure that good, normal Americans have safe, secure lives. So let's say it together one more time! [Signals to the audience, leading them in the cheer] GOD, WE LOVE TO BE AMERICANS! [Laughing again] Okay, I'll tell you about that meeting later on. But first [puts on his serious expression once more], we need to discuss the long article that appeared a few days ago about the Internal Prisoner Relocation Program.

I'll briefly summarize the article. The government commissioned a series of studies of our prisoner population. All of the studies were led by experts in their fields. As you know, we now have a huge prisoner population, one that's growing by leaps and bounds every year. Now, some people say a lot of those in prison haven't actually committed any crimes at all. They say that many of the prisoners have been incarcerated, sometimes for years, even decades, for things like non-violent drug offenses, while others have been imprisoned for activities protected by the First Amendment. But we can't rehash all of that at this point, and we need to confront the problem as it exists today. That's what the government studies did, and they were conducted by experts, after all.

And the experts concluded, with great reluctance and even serious misgivings, that we simply can't maintain this huge prisoner population, especially given the ongoing financial crisis, food shortages, skyrocketing energy prices and related problems in the country generally. So many of the prisoners have been relocated to internal detention and work camps. The article pointed out that it's very difficult to find out what happens to the prisoners in these new camps. Some of the family members of the prisoners say they've tried to make contact with prisoners in numerous ways, but have been unsuccessful. Of course, extremists and similar types have come up with dire scenarios, some going so far as to suggest that the relocated prisoners are being "exterminated" in some fashion. [Enord sneers, just a little bit.] As if something like that could ever happen in America! [Catcalls from the audience, and shouts of "Traitors!," "Insurgents!," and "Enemies of the State!" Enord grimly nods, in apparent agreement.]

I also want to note that a long section in that long article described how a five-member panel of psychiatric experts -- experts, I emphasize -- interviewed all of the prisoners selected for relocation. The prisoners were only relocated after the expert panel concluded that the prisoners would almost certainly be unable ever to reintegrate into society, and to become good, normal Americans again. Only those people who were labeled as "lost causes" were relocated. Some critics of the program demanded that the government make public its criteria for a finding that an individual was a "lost cause" and therefore eligible for relocation. So the government released a list of the factors that it examines, and that list was published just yesterday. So we see again how wonderfully responsive our government is! It will always respond to reasonable requests, made in the proper spirit of cooperation. [The audience cheers wildly.]

But we still feel that, as responsible citizens of this great country, we should discuss this. Among the questions we want to consider are: Is this relocation program legal? Are there alternatives to the relocation program that might be less drastic? And, what does happen to the prisoners who have been relocated?

Let's start our discussion with Sandra Goalong, of CLIBUGER. The organization used to be called the AC--, well, why bring up perhaps unpleasant memories. Now it's called Civil Liberties But Get Real, or CLIBUGER for short. Sandy, do you want to address the name change?

GOALONG: Sure, Doug. We haven't lessened our full commitment to civil liberties in the slightest degree. Recognition of civil liberties is what makes this the greatest country in the history of the world! [Audience cheers] But we also recognize the gravity of the problems we face today. So we want to assure people that, while civil liberties are critical to our freedom and happiness, we aren't ridiculous absolutists about this. And after all, if we can't even survive, what good are civil liberties? You mentioned the food shortages and other life-threatening problems we're dealing with. In light of the perilous times, we felt we needed to indicate our willingness to be flexible and realistic about this.

ENORD: Great, great! That's the American, can-do spirit! But, Sandy [with his most serious expression], is this relocation program legal?

GOALONG: Well, you know, it's hard to say. I applaud the government for being so forthcoming about many aspects of the program, including the release of that list of factors for a determination that someone is a "lost cause." Still, we'd like to know more about the process for appealing that determination. Also, we don't know a lot about what happens in the interviews the prisoners have with the expert panel. I mean, are the prisoners there alone? Are they entitled to representation during the interview? Still, on balance, and since the government is obviously taking this very seriously and isn't happy about having to do this, it seems they're being very careful about it all. Given the severity of the crisis that faces us, we're not sure it's reasonable to ask for more.

ENORD: That sounds very balanced and fair to me. I guess you're showing some of that new flexibility there, right, Sandy? [Enord and Sandy laugh.] Let me turn to Brad Killem. Brad was a member of our noble, voluntary armed forces -- for which he volunteered, I emphasize -- and now he writes for the website America First, Last and Always. Your take, Brad?

KILLEM: I think we need to remember that we're talking about people who are prisoners. In other words, these people committed crimes. Many of these prisoners are the worst of the worst. If they weren't criminals, they wouldn't be in prison, right? So I think all the delicate concern some people are showing is fundamentally misplaced. And for God's sake, is anyone suggesting that we in America would put people in prison who didn't deserve to be there? Americans wouldn't do that! [Cheers and shouts from the audience: "Never!" "No way!" "We're the greatest!"] And the government is obviously being very, very careful about this program. Look at all the experts they have running it! Who are we to question experts? The fact that the government has told us so much about how this program works is another demonstration of just how great this nation is! I have only one question, and that's to wonder if this program goes far enough. It's incredibly expensive to keep someone in prison, especially when the rest of us -- all the good, normal Americans who would never dream of causing trouble -- are struggling to get by. So I think this program may need to be broadened and put into practice even more stringently.

ENORD: Food for thought, as always, Brad. Our third panelist is Johnny Mebbenuts, an independent investigative journalist. I'm sure you probably have a very different perspective, Johnny. Am I right, or am I right? [Enord chuckles with delight at himself.]

MEBBENUTS: [Looking around wildly, in disbelief. He seems about to explode, but takes a deep breath and tries to speak quietly, but firmly.] I find it hard to believe what I'm hearing. Doug, you mentioned that we have no idea what happens to any of the relocated prisoners. I've talked to a lot of people and even tried to get into one of the detention camps. I wasn't able to, no one who's independent seems to be able to get in, but I spoke to a lot of people who live nearby. They say that thousands of people go into the camp, and none of them is ever seen again! What happens to them? Are they being murdered? Just because some experts decide they're "lost causes"?

ENORD: Now, Johnny, I'm not sure you want to use a loaded word like "murder." Why would you use a word like that?

MEBBENUTS: Doug, not one of the relocated prisoners has ever been seen again. What do you think is happening to them? I know that almost no one cared when the government murdered "bad" people overseas, but I expected that at least a few more people would care when it started happening here at home. I guess I was wrong about that. The logic of the government's own argument is that the prisoners are being eliminated. If it's very expensive to keep prisoners in jail, it's still expensive to maintain them in detention camps. And the government says it's trying to conserve resources for "good, normal" Americans. So what does that tell you? And the list of factors the experts use to say someone's a "lost cause" could apply to almost anyone who strongly disagrees with government policies. I mean, it could apply to me, for God's sake! Just because I question the legitimacy and fairness of what the government is doing, especially if it's actually murdering people. [He looks at the audience with an expression that grows increasingly uncontrolled and hysterical. His voice keeps rising until he's shouting.] What's wrong with all of you? They're murdering people who could be your relatives or friends! Don't you care? And they're throwing more and more people in jail every day, including almost everyone who attends any kind of protest against the government. Are they going to murder all of us who resist? Are they going to murder me?

[During the last part of Mebbenuts' outburst, Enord has been listening to someone talking on his headset. He pointedly looks at Mebbenuts and slowly nods his head.]

ENORD: You know I have a lot of respect for the work you've done, Johnny. So it pains me to have to tell you that these gentlemen [Enord gestures to two men in military uniform carrying automatic weapons, who slowly advance toward Mebbenuts] need to ... well, deal with you. I'm assured this is being done in full accordance with the list of factors the government experts use to determine if someone's a "lost cause." [Enord looks very sad.]

[The two uniformed men take Mebbenuts by the arms and escort him to a different part of the show's set. They strap Mebbenuts' arms and legs to a blank, white wall. They walk about six feet away, turn back toward Mebbenuts and raise their weapons.]

MEBBENUTS: What ... what ... what's happening? This is insane! [He looks desperately out to the audience, which has grown very quiet.] Aren't you going to do anything to stop this? This is CRAZY!!!

ENORD: I mentioned that I had a meeting with DO-DON'T recently. They reminded me how important my program is, and how important debates like this are to America, the greatest country in the history of the world! And they explained how they wanted to show all of you how transparent, open and serious this process is. The government's expert panel of psychiatrists has been watching this program, and they tragically had to conclude that Johnny Mebbenuts satisfies all the criteria required for a finding that a person is a "lost cause." Not just one or two of them, but all of them. If Mebbenuts continued to live, he'd be taking food out of your mouths, out of the mouths of your children! This crisis demands action. No one is happy about any of this, but the government wants only what is best for us, that is, those of us who are good, normal Americans. Your lives and well-being, and the lives of those you love including your children, are threatened by people who consistently demonstrate that they are Enemies of the State. And [his voice rises triumphantly] that's the name of our new program segment: Enemy of the State! [On cue, the audience begins chanting: "Enemy of the State! Enemy of the State!" The chant grows louder and louder during the following.]

ENORD: I want to emphasize that all of this has been done in a completely open manner. You've seen all of it. You've heard Mebbenuts condemn himself with his own statements. No one made him say any of those things. He said what he truly and genuinely believes. He believes the worst of our government, the best government the world has ever seen! He believes the government is murdering people when it doesn't have to! Can we have that -- in America? [The audience screams: "NO!!!" Immediately followed by further, unanimous screams of: "Enemy of the State! ENEMY OF THE STATE!"

The men in uniform raise their weapons. They shoot at Mebbenuts for five, long seconds. Mebbenuts' body slumps lifeless, still held to the wall by the straps. Blood splashes across the white wall and begins to spread across the floor. Complete silence descends on the studio for what seems like an endless period of time. Then, suddenly, the audience begins screaming its approval, together with additional screams of: "ENEMY OF THE STATE!"]

ENORD: [Yelling to be heard over the audience screams] Be sure to join us next week, when we'll have another debate -- and another segment of ENEMY OF THE STATE! And let's say it one more time! [Enord screams, along with the entire audience] GOD, WE LOVE TO BE AMERICANS! [Enord smiles broadly and begins laughing. The camera pans across the wildly cheering audience. Slowly, a pool of dark, red blood spreads across the viewer's screen. Finally, the entire screen is red. Blackout.]


Related links:

Secret 'Kill List' Tests Obama's Principles and Will

Too Much Power for a President

Hymns to the Violence: The NYT's Love Letter to Obama's Murder Racket

MSNBC's Chris Hayes 'Uncomfortable' with the Word Hero

How Coverage of Obama's Role in Drone Executions Provokes Liberal Outrage