by Urizenus Sklar on 04/09/13 at 9:18 pm
It seems like just today that I published a long article explaining the strange case of Barrett Brown and how a beloved Second Life alumnus was looking at 105 years in prison for sharing a link to an online document dump. Come to think of it, it *was* today! And this afternoon, I received the news that a gag order has been issued for Barrett Brown and his defense team. A gag order? Let’s reflect on that.
The prosecution, to make the case for a gag order, offered up a number of articles that had been published in places like the New York Times, The Nation, The Huffington Post, etc – seven by that mild mannered tweed wearing lovable professor Ludlow! The view of the prosecution was that given all the people in Texas that read The Nation and the annual NYT articles on Barrett Brown it just would not be possible to find a neutral jury pool. Because you know, all people in Texas do is read The Nation.
Let’s put this in even more perspective. This is the judicial system that convinced itself that there was not too much publicity for OJ, or for Jodi Arias, or for really any trial that shows up on Nancy Grace. But OMG someone publishes a story in The Nation and the scales of justice are out of balance. You just can’t find a neutral jury anymore.
Allow me to opine: Barrett Brown was exercising his constitutional right to *defend* himself against charges for which he has not been convicted. And, by the way, these are charges which he believes, as do I, that are not just false, but absurdly false. Ditto for the lawyers. If they can’t defend their client in public against false charges then the public will be ignorant of the specifics of the trial and will not be able to judge whether justice is being served or whether it is being miscarried. Of course that is probably the point – if justice was being served there would be no point in a gag order; there would be no reason to fear open discussion of the specifics of the case.
And so, as the Herald yacht powers its way towards Long Island New York, I stare at the now dormant Barrett Brown hotline wondering: Is this how the American system of justice finally collapses into a system for oppression and tyranny? Not with a bang or even a whimper, but just a dial tone?