Something Smells In Kansas

Today’s article actually displaced another I had originally planned for today. While it is easy to dismiss as a “Who cares?”, “It’s someplace I never heard of or will never even visit” or “Not my problem, man.”; the core issue is much larger and could end up being a problem we all share if we ignore it. Let’s “travel” Kansas for a few minutes.

Last Friday the entire five person Marion Kansas Police Department raided the offices of the Marion County Ledger and the home of its publisher. Needless to say, this alone raises First Amendment concerns. Don’t worry, it gets worse.

It appears one of the motivations for the raid was that the newspaper had recently published some less than flattering articles about the Police Chief, Gideon Cody. It seems that Cody took the job of heading the police department of the town of just under 2,000 people after he left his job as a captain in the Kansas City (Missouri) Police Department in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations.
Another was that the owner of a local restaurant who was in the process of attempting to obtain a liquor license was concerned that the paper would publish the fact that she had a DUI conviction.

I will admit that I’m often influenced by what I am reading and I’m currently reading a trilogy that is centered around small county and red state corruption where some are certainly more equal than others which allows them to break the law with impunity and intimidate the masses into compliance. Sounds a lot like what may be going on here.

The Republican party and much of its base seem to be (I hope unwittingly in many cases) infatuated by authoritarian rule. The restaurant owner in question recently hosted an event for far-right Republican Representative Jake LaTurner. (Don’t agree with my far-right analysis? I suggest you look at LaTurner’s congressional voting record.)

It appears this is a case of small-town government officials abusing their authority and at least two attempts at a coverup by trying to criminalize journalism. (I’ll leave the issue of the need for a bad cops database to another day.) Journalism and the freedom of the press are the core issues here. Fear of the truth appears to be the motivation of the “bad guys” in this story.

I am certainly against censorship. However, I’m all for let’s say a penalty of $787.5 million for knowingly disseminating false information. (Yes, I’m talking about Fox News and the $787.5 million doesn’t appear to be the end of the settlements.)

Oh, just for the record, one person died as a result of the raids while no drag queens or banned books are reported to have been involved.

A free press isn’t free and the price of maintaining one in America is the vigilance of its people. Stick a pin in this one.

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