Steve Baker joins history’s long parade of political repression


by Chris Bray

A personal note to Steve Baker: Remember Matthew Lyon.

Lyon, a congressman, was prosecuted by the John Adams administration for violating the Sedition Act — which he did by fiercely criticizing the Adams administration. When he was dubiously convicted, the federal marshal who took him to prison made a show of it, dragging him around town to let people see an enemy of the government reduced to the condition of a prisoner. Criminal justice was political theater, and not by accident. You can read a detailed description of Lyon’s ordeal here or a shorter one here.

Many American writers and activists have been arrested by their government for publishing criticism of politicians or for giving speeches that expressed disagreement with officials.

The lawyer and former congressman Clement Vallandigham was arrested by soldiers and tried by a military court for (among other things) calling Abraham Lincoln a tyrannical king who had usurped power by unilaterally suspending the right of habeas corpus during the Civil War.

The administration of Woodrow Wilson shut down dozens of newspapers and magazines for criticizing American participation in World War I and questioning the use of conscription, while the socialists Charles Schenck and Elizabeth Baer were prosecuted for distributing leaflets that encouraged men to resist the draft.

From time to time throughout our history, the federal government arrests people for saying things the government doesn’t like. It’s a tradition, like beer luge or bad cover bands.

Steve Baker is about to get the Late Federalist shaming parade for covering the January 6 protest as an independent journalist. As he recently wrote, his arrest on Friday is being stage-managed for optics: “The prosecutor informed my attorney that I am to arrive at the @FBI field office wearing ‘shorts and sandals. …’ Rather than issuing a simple order to appear, they seem to feel the need to give me a dose of the personal humiliation treatment.”

Like Matthew Lyon, Steve Baker is getting a political perp walk from the government, in a ritual designed to demean a critic.

But what happens next is the important part. John Adams and his Federalist administration criminalized disagreement, prosecuted critics, repressed freedom of speech, and lost the presidency to Thomas Jefferson. Their crackdown on dissent was the sign of a dying party. They lashed out as they felt power slipping out of their hands.

Matthew Lyon was re-elected to the House of Representatives, by the way. From prison. Because voters were disgusted to see him prosecuted for political disagreement. Maybe you can think of some ways to apply that observation today.

We join hands across the years with Thomas Jefferson and his contemporaries. Thugs and scumbags arrest critics and journalists who work in a spirit of fearless independence, and normal people know this. Periods of political repression are followed by periods of popular repulsion and backlash. (Unless you’re Alexander Hamilton, in which case you get a Broadway musical.)

In 1798 and 1799, Federalists knew that all the finest people were Federalists, and everyone else was low-status trash. But look how the National Archives and Records Administration describes the Sedition Act today:

The laws were directed against Democratic-Republicans, the party typically favored by new citizens. The only journalists prosecuted under the Sedition Act were editors of Democratic-Republican newspapers.

Sedition Act trials, along with the Senate’s use of its contempt powers to suppress dissent, set off a firestorm of criticism against the Federalists and contributed to their defeat in the election of 1800, after which the acts were repealed or allowed to expire.

Count no man happy until he is dead.” Today is temporary and will be followed by another day, with other prevailing opinions. And in the long run, or even the fairly near-to-medium run, most Americans loathe officials who arrest their critics and opponents. History’s clock is running. Joe Biden will be thought of poorly in the very near fut — well, OK, everybody already thinks poorly of Joe Biden.

We have many examples of political repression, and none are remembered warmly. But this is where the story turns to dark comedy. While we’re remembering historical examples of journalists being targeted and the American response to it, take a moment to click on this link and remember something: Donald Trump criticized reporters during his presidency, and we heard four years of hysterical fearmongering about how vicious and repressive it was to say that Jim Acosta is an idiot.

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MUST READ… A Thousand Years of Prison Time Over A 6-Hour Delay of Congress: January 6 Show Trials Now Represent The Gravest Injustice In U.S. History

Boy, that democracy sure does need saving, doesn’t it? I guess the 1st Amendment is not part of the Democrats’ democracy.

Tear the 1st, 2nd, 5th 6th 8th out of that document, retard all the others, Ignore the SCOTUS and keep trying to save what the founders hated a democracy.

If you were still wondering why nobody gives a damn about Navalny….

The FBI told Steve Baker to wear shorts and flip flops for his arrest.
Notice he put on a suit instead.
He wasn’t going to play into their narrative that he wasn’t “really” a journalist.
His boss showed up in a tux.
It ended up being leg irons and handcuffs for 4 misdemeanors.