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Man reading article critical of FOX gets turned in to FBI

Reported by Chrish - August 28, 2007 -

Newsdesk.org reports this scary bit:

Marc Shultz couldn't quite recall what he brought into the coffeeshop that Saturday morning, the day the last Harry Potter book hit the shelves. But as a worker at a local bookstore, a cup of coffee was a mandatory prelude to what would surely be a hectic day.

In his hand, it turned out, was a printout of an article -- a bit of media criticism to start the day and accompany his ritual caffeine boost. This he later recounted to the FBI agents who quizzed him at length on the topic. They were tipped off by someone at the coffeeshop who considered a critique of Fox News to be a risk to national security.

This is what Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, and the entire Bush/Cheney cabal have brought us to. People are so ready to turn on one another for opposing views that someone, obviously a FOX fan, actually turned in another American for reading something "subversive." The victim of this incredibly un-American invasion, Marc Schultz, recounts:

"The FBI is here,"Mom tells me over the phone. Immediately I can see my mom with her back to a couple of Matrix-like figures in black suits and opaque sunglasses, her hand covering the mouthpiece like Grace Kelly in Dial M for Murder. This must be a joke, I think. But it's not, because Mom isn't that funny.

"The who?" I say.

"Two FBI agents. They say you're not in trouble, they just want to talk. They want to come to the store."

The agents came to the small independent bookstore where the bearded journalism student worked and questioned him about his whereabouts on a certain day, and :

" Then they ask if I carried anything into the shop -- and we're back to me.

My mind races. I think: a bomb? A knife? A balloon filled with narcotics? But no. I don't own any of those things. "Sunglasses," I say. "Maybe my cell phone?"

Not the right answer. I'm nervous now, wondering how I must look: average, mid-20s, unassuming retail employee. What could I have possibly been carrying?

Trippi's partner speaks up: "Any reading material? Papers?" I don't think so. Then Trippi decides to level with me: "I'll tell you what, Marc. Someone in the shop that day saw you reading something, and thought it looked suspicious enough to call us about. So that's why we're here, just checking it out. Like I said, there's no problem. We'd just like to get to the bottom of this. Now if we can't, then you may have a problem. And you don't want that."

You don't want that? Have I just been threatened by the FBI? Confusion and a light dusting of panic conspire to keep me speechless. Was I reading something that morning? Something that would constitute a problem?"

Schultz searched his memory and recalled that it was an article from the Web sent to him by his dad, and looked behind the counter, in his car, and finally called his dad to see if he remembered which left-wing Internet article it was that day. The agents had to leave without specifics but later, when they had both calmed down, Schultz called the agent with the name and origin of the article his fellow citizen had called the FBI about: Weapons of Mass Stupidity (Fox News hits a new lowest common denominator).

This story, which you should read in full, is a sad testament to where we have come as a nation in the past six years. Manipulated by fear and faux patriotism, not called on to make any sacrifices so feeling that fulfilling one's "duty" can be achieved through paranoid tattling, Americans are eating their own.

Ari Fleischer infamously warned that we need to watch what we say in the Bush era; now we have to watch what we read. Next stop, thought police.

Amend: I didn't notice that this happened in '03, so please disregard the reference to Gonzales. The rest of it is still relevant today.
(I since notice the newsdesk.org post, from last month, also was fooled, probably by the HP reference. Order of the Phoenix was released in July 2003.)