Saturday, March 28, 2009

Are Missourians Rights and Freedoms at Stake?

By Dan Brown
State Representative, District 149

Not on our watch. Last week was mid-session break in the State Capitol. It gave me the opportunity to head home and spend time with my family and close friends. I was also able to meet with several of my constituents and local organizations and businesses in my district. Soon, the week came to an end and I headed to Jefferson City, ready to get back to business and reach across party lines to continue working for our State. Much to my dismay, my return was greeted with a shocking report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC). The report is a clear display that our freedoms and basic rights are now being bullied by Missouri’s Governor and his appointed Public Safety Department.

As part of the Department of Public Safety's intelligence gathering and dissemination to law enforcement agencies, the MIAC released a report with instructions as to how to identify members of the modern militia movement who may be domestic terrorists. The report, printed on State letterhead, points directly to Missouri citizens who support small government, gun rights, those who are pro-life and those who voted for Ron Paul, Bob Barr or Chuck Baldwin in the November 2008 election. The report accuses these people of being possible threats to our society. This means, if you drive down the street with a pro-life sticker on your car, you may be considered for criminal profiling by Missouri’s public safety officials and other citizens who may not believe the way you do.

Not only is this an act of political profiling, it is an infringement on our First and Second Amendment rights. Our great nation was founded on freedom; the freedom of speech, the freedom to have our own opinions and voice those opinions, the freedom of religion. These are all key components of the United States of America – our free country. American citizens should not be fearful that their beliefs regarding abortion, government size, and other social issues separate them into terrorist categories. Unfortunately, Governor Nixon doesn’t think there is anything wrong with this. He is throwing the ideals of our founding fathers out the window. In fact, the Governor outwardly defends this practice by saying, “Getting information, especially public information, out of our fusion center out to local law enforcement agencies is what we do everyday and what we’re going to continue to do. Anyway they take that information and can analyze what the threat levels are, is important to make sure the public stays safe.”

Undoubtedly, the MIAC report was an attempt by the Governor to abuse his power and alienate those with conflicting beliefs. Not only is he infringing our basic rights, he is targeting right-wing groups. There is no mention of the left-wing groups related to his political party. If he is truly fearful of our Missouri citizens being criminals, he would include all groups; not just the side that opposes his personal beliefs. It looks to me like he’s against a third party and maybe the right-side all together.

After much national and local media attention, the Department of Public Safety issued an apology. If you ask me, it wasn’t good enough. They apologized to Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin. They made no mention to those of you that they singled out for being pro-life, pro-guns, small government supporters, etc. This morning, Lieutenant Governor Kinder called for the Director of Public Safety, John Britt, to take administrative leave pending an investigation into this despicable political profiling done by MIAC. We can only hope Director Britt will follow the call.

Regardless of our economic conditions, we still live in the greatest country in the world. It is a privilege to be a U.S. citizen and freely exercise our freedoms, having a Bill of Rights to enforce them. We are free to have different beliefs, different ideas, and different ways of life; all without fear of persecution. Others are not so lucky so for this we should be grateful. We should never compromise the rights and ideals that our great nation was founded on. I can assure you, House Republicans will not stand by and watch our constitutional rights be ignored and abused by our State government. We will continue to fight for you, our constituents and for the great State of Missouri.

As always, thank you giving me the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives. Your thoughts and suggestions are important to me so please feel free to contact me at 573-751-5713 or by email at dan.brown@house.mo.gov.

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