Monday, August 27, 2001

Week of 08/27/2001

For Our Own Good? Like Hell!
- by David Matthews 2

"The anointed don't like to talk about painful trade-offs. They like to talk about happy ‘solutions’ that get rid of the whole problem- at least in their imagination." - Thomas Sowell

There is nothing more annoying than an individual who is hell-bent on trying to "save" everyone.

It’s one thing if there is a real threat involved, such as a building on fire, a car accident, or someone drowning. But when the tragedy is of one’s own creation, whether that tragedy is real or imaginary, then the "help" often is more of a nuisance than an aid.

Religious crusaders are notorious in their zeal to try to "save" every soul they encounter, whether that soul needs to be saved or not. They are not happy until everything around them reflects their beliefs, and everyone they know thinks like they do.

It is because of the religious crusaders that we have this notion of an "activist government." Rather than try to convince people one person at a time, our more self-righteous ancestors discovered that they can fulfill their mission faster and with less effort when they can get government to force their beliefs onto others.

But while the whole notion of an activist government is a wonderful idea for moralists, it has not been successful when put in practice. Oh, yes, slavery was outlawed in America thanks to the activist government in Washington, but the discrimination behind it was not removed. And it resulted in a bloody civil war that is still visible in some parts of the southern part of America even a century after it had ended.

The notion of the activist government is prevalent when government tries to "save" institutions like marriage and the family. So-called "family-friendly" legislation often fail when put in practice. Teenage pregnancy is still an issue today as it was decades ago. Out-of-wedlock children are also still as prevalent today as they were centuries ago when the issue was highly stigmatized. Despite all the efforts by those in government to "save" the institution of marriage, divorce is still prevalent.

Government activists have not likewise "saved" the people when they try to outlaw anything they deem to be "indecent". Banning certain books or movies only make them more popular. I mean, come on, do you really think that people would even know of writers like John Stenbeck, Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, comedians like Lenny Bruce, musicians like Emenem, or even publishers like Hugh Hefner, if government wasn’t trying to "save" us from their works?

And then there is "the great experiment" – Prohibition.

Religious crusaders, having already declared victory in their crusade against slavery, turned their attention towards a crisis of their own creation, namely alcohol. The "demon rum", they declared, was a cancer on society. As such, they pledged to have it outlawed, hoping that society would be "saved" simply by obeying the law.

It was a wonderful fantasy. Certainly a delusion worthy of any that could ever be induced by alcohol. All that it lacked were the pink elephants.

In practice, however, Prohibition was a complete failure. Crime did not decrease, as the temperance crusaders predicted, but exploded. Instead of obeying the law, many people turned to criminal suppliers. Bootleg and moonshine suppliers got rich, and criminal leaders like Al Capone got powerful.

Fourteen years after its passage, the "law that would not die" did.

But the bastard legacy of Prohibition, the notion of an activist government, remains firmly in place.

You can see it in the failed "War on Drugs", which is the modern day version of Prohibition. Rather than admit defeat, though, government crusaders are adamant in their belief that they would much rather arrest every single individual in America than to take even a miniscule step back to consider whether or not their efforts are even succeeding.

And now states like Georgia are considering another Prohibition of sorts – a ban on video poker.

Gambling is supposed to be illegal in America… unless you happen to be on an Indian reservation, or visit Atlantic City, or anyplace in the state of Nevada. But that doesn’t mean games of chance don’t exist. Anyone happen to play skee-ball? Ever pay a visit to Dave and Buster’s? Ever play bingo?

The catch, of course, is that you don’t really play for money. Quite often you play for prizes. A stuffed animal, a toy truck, a $50 gift certificate. Something other than money.

And that is how video poker was allowed into stores all over states like Georgia. They were supposed to be played for anything other than for money. A gift certificate or some kind of token that the winner can exchange for discounts on merchandise, food, or gas. Not for money.

But the anti-gambling crusaders in Georgia say THAT is a delusion. They claim that stores are paying winners of video poker with money, which is against state law.

"They’re giving out cash payments!" they bleat out in their cult-like mantra.

Really? Well, this commentator is SHOCKED to hear that! Simply SHOCKED!

So why don’t these crusaders take their allegations to the police? I mean, if these allegations are true, and it is against the law, why don’t they go to the police? After all, video poker IS supposed to be regulated, right? So where are the regulators?

And, yes, the police HAVE been making arrests and shutting down stores that do hand out cash winnings. But, claim the crusaders, the police can’t be expected to shut down EVERY story that breaks the law.

Oh, but why not? You expect the police to stop every drug dealer on the street. You expect the police to stop every underage kid from getting their hands on beer and cigarettes. You expect the police to stop every driver who refuses to put on a seatbelt. You mean to tell me that you supporters of big government have FINALLY found something that the police cannot do?

No, claim the crusaders, the only way we can effectively "save" the public is to OUTLAW these vile machines! After all, we have to think about all of the poor people who spend their life savings on these things! They’re addictive!

So is religion. For that matter, so is ice cream, chocolate, television, aspirin, caffeine, tobacco, campaign contributions, and media publicity. But nobody is ever tossing up the idea of outlawing these things. Regulate them to death, certainly, but never outlaw them.

And for that matter, let’s talk about the idiot who spends his or her entire paycheck on these video poker games. That person has a problem, to be certain. But nobody’s putting a gun to their heads and forcing them to play. If they’re spending all of their money on gambling, how are they getting money to pay for food and bills? At some point, there’s got to be a bottom, right?

And how has this become the government’s problem? If this person went hog-wild on NASCAR commemorative plates, the government wouldn’t be asked to step in, would they? Or the complete Elvis Presley collector’s edition stamps? Or if they spent every penny they had on Reverend Billy-Bob-Ray’s "Feed The Starving Piggy Bank"? Maybe if there was some kind of fraud, perhaps, but not because people are being stupid!

Let’s get brutally honest here… behind every self-righteous "crusade" is an ulterior motive. For religious groups, the ulterior motive is simple: MONEY. No gambling means more money for the collection plate, and more money for their bingo games.

For the State of Georgia, the ulterior motive for banning video poker is equally simple: LOTTO.

The State of Georgia has a very lucrative lottery program set up, funneling millions upon millions of dollars into education and scholarships. Maybe Georgia’s self-styled emperor, Governor Roy Barnes, can explain how someone blowing their life savings on lottery tickets is okay, but doing so for video poker is somehow wrong. Would it help if you got a bigger percentage of the money, like the state does with the lottery? Would THAT make it okay, governor?

The truth of the matter is, there are some addictive personalities out there in the world. They latch on to something and they won’t let it go no matter what happens. It doesn’t matter if that thing is love, sex, food, work, religion, politics, television, computers, video games, or popularity. And once they latch on to it, it will cost them their family, their marriage, their careers, and even their life savings. A blanket ban from the government will not stop that destruction. Only an individual focus will do that.

Supporters of an activist government do not like seeing other people freely walk down the path towards destruction, but sometimes that journey is needed before that person can realize they have a problem. Sometimes what is done "for our own good" only makes the problem worse.

Or as Calvin Coolidge once said, "Four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear, if we would only sit down and keep still."

Monday, August 20, 2001

Week of 08/20/2001

Licensing Stupidity
- by David Matthews 2

"There is no great concurrence between learning and wisdom."
Sir Francis Bacon

I guess we could blame it on the "Love Bug".

Or the creators of the Anna Kournakova or Jennifer Lopez nudie pix virus. Or Joke-A-Day’s "AOL Virus" spoof. Or the SirCam virus. Or the Chinese-created Code Red worm and its various sequels.

Or we could blame them all for this idea that is being seriously mulled about by software developers, programmers, and quite soon by some politicians…

The mandatory licensing of computer users.

That’s right, folks. We’re talking about having to not only seriously look at those computer courses you see on TV or in college, but actually being forced to ATTEND them if you want to use a computer! Yes, we’re talking about schooling, books, homework, and boning up on "crash" courses on not crashing your computer. You too may someday have to report to the local government office and get yet another laminated card with a butt-ugly picture of you on it saying you are licensed to use a computer and surf the Internet.

Think it can’t happen? Ask the folks in China, where Internet users there have to be registered with the government.

Think the imperial US government can’t track you down were they to impose this? Remember the scare with Intel’s Pentium III chip and their traceable ID program imbedded in every processor? Do you REALLY think Intel simply scrapped the program after the brief public outrage from privacy groups? Do you think that Intel wouldn’t transfer the whole program to their Pentium 4 chip? And for that matter, what makes you think AMD and Apple haven’t done the same thing with their processors?

All potential hysteria aside, though, one cannot deny that it has been the cherished goal of many in government to control the deluge of data and information out there in cyberspace. They see unrestrained access to information as a threat. That’s why the more extreme governments bent on controlling information move to ban access to the Internet. If they cannot control it, they feel obligated to outlaw it. Just ask any member of the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan about the Internet and see what their reaction is. That country has not only banned Internet access, but they’ve also banned computer use itself.

Sure, regulating content on the Internet has been stymied here in America thanks to the US Constitution, but if you can’t get to the content, why not get at the people who have access to that content?

Supporters of regulating and licensing computer users say that forcing computer users to be licensed would force them to be educated about computers and software, and make sure all virus systems are updated, and new patches are installed. After all, they say, we license automobile drivers, don’t we?

Well, that’s not really a good example if you think about it. Have you seen the idiots who are out there on a daily basis roaming our highways? Even after driver’s education, there are plenty of people out there who drive like maniacs, often just one misstep away from an accident or a vehicle breakdown.

In fact, depending on the state and local governments, there are plenty of businesses that require licenses. Everything from so-called "professions" like doctors and lawyers all the way down to taxi drivers and dog groomers. Even security guards and strippers are licensed!

And let me ask you, does that make them better people? Sure, in some cases it may give them a little more information to play around with, but does having a license in whatever business they’re engaged in magically transform them into ethical, responsible "professionals"? No, it does not.

Let’s get brutally honest here… licensing doesn’t make a person a better one. All it really does is gives government yet another layer of bureaucracy to it. It gives them another pound and half of regulations and paperwork to play around with. It gives them another venue of revenue through "licensing fees". It gives them another excuse to bring in more state-employed people to process the paperwork and – heaven help them – TRY to police people.

In other words, the only thing all this crap about licensing and regulating really "improves" is the power, scope, and girth of government!

Now let’s look at the people who are bitching and crying for this demented idea to license PC users. These software developers and programmers really are a piece of work. First they bitch and cry "free speech" when the government tries to regulate them over content. But now they’re bitching and crying for government to go regulate other people! Mister pot, meet Mister kettle!

The hard truth to these hypocritical techies is that the computer world is no longer their exclusive domain.

Once upon a time, the computer was something only techies would understand and deal with. Being a computer user was special. They were in a league all their own. They were the true "geeks" that we all used to make fun of in school. These were the people who would become the future Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of the world. They even had their own exclusive convention – Comdex.

Part of the reason why computers were so exclusive way back then were the costs of getting one. People didn’t have $5000 to foot for those really neat computers, and then they didn’t have the patience to figure out all of the software behind it. The only people who did were the "geeks" of the crowd.

Now, however, the computer world has come home to the common man. You can go to the local K-Mart and buy a decent computer for under $500. Thanks to companies like Compaq, Microsoft, and Apple, computers became more and more accessible, not to mention easier for the common man to use.

Even Comdex lost its exclusivity back in 1995 when it was opened up to the general public. What was once the playground of adult techies soon became the modern day toy store of the kids of Joe and Jane Six-Pack. Now that really is a crime!

And with that move towards the most common denominator came the dumbing-down of computer software. After all, most people may not know how to use a database, but they can figure out how to with some software wizards. Joe and Jane Six-Pack may not have a clue how to set up access to the Internet, but they can get there via an online provider like America Online, which does everything for them.

And it is that move towards making things simple that is making techies mad. Now these "experts" are being called in by their clueless pointy-haired bosses to figure out how this software works. They’re getting asked to deal with destructive worms and viruses unleashed by the techno-aware kids of the techno-clueless. And they don’t like having to deal with that pressure.

Well, I say TOO BAD! You guys were hawking the benefits and joys of software, now you have to deal with your own success!

Besides, the techno-genie had long since escaped from the bottle to be talking about regulating computers, and especially regulating who has access to the Internet!

Do you know all the various ways people have access to cyberspace? Maybe if the Internet was simply a matter of huge network servers, there MIGHT have been room to regulate who gets that access. But between cellphones, pagers, handheld organizers, WebTV, and the soon-to-be-released video game systems, people have greater access to the Internet than ever before. Can you REALLY expect to corral all of that?

Of course, the best way to deal with the techno-clueless is to simply let them make their own mistakes. Let their systems get infected with worms and viruses. Yes, they’ll bitch and cry about it. But then you can bitch and cry back at them and remind them that they wouldn’t HAVE these kinds of problems if they bothered to update their software regularly and look out for strange-looking e-mails from total strangers. That’s the only way they’re going to learn to be more responsible. They’re not going to get that from some kind of mandatory government program.

I want all of those supporters of user licensing to think back to when they were in school. What did they used to do when faced with a course that they didn’t have an interest in but they HAD to pass? That’s right, they CRAMMED. They took up just enough information to pass whatever test they needed to pass, and then they forgot about it.

Well, that is PRECISELY what you’re going to get when stuck with a bunch of people who are FORCED to pass some kind of class or test in order to get a PC User’s license. They’re going to take in just enough information to get that license and then they’ll chuck the rest of it out.

Guess what? Now you’re back to square one; with the techno-clueless STILL screwing things up.

And then you’ll learn a very important lesson… that the only way people will learn to be more responsible is if they WANT to be more responsible! It cannot be taught by force.

Well, at least SOMEBODY would be learning a lesson! Just not the people that we want to have learn.

Monday, August 13, 2001

Week of 08/13/2001

Religion To The Extreme
- by David Matthews 2

"Beware of the man of one book."
Saint Thomas Aquinas

When it comes to religious beliefs, I’m not your "hellfire and brimstone" kind of believer. I do believe in a heaven and a hell, but I don’t believe that it is the obligation of everyone to "save" their fellow human beings from themselves by imposing their religious beliefs onto others. In fact, I’m sort of saddened to see religion be taken to such extreme zealous ends. Although, I’m not really surprised by it.

In the Old Testament, God was a vengeful patriarchal deity. He wasn’t above killing the entire world and starting all over again. He had his "favorite children" that he said should have the best of everything. In the New Testament, however, we find a somewhat different God. He is more forgiving than dictatorial. He promises, not threatens. He’s not limited to one group of people, but actually encourages acceptance of all.

It is understandable, then, to see so many fervent believers of Christianity, from Paul on forth, yearn for that more stricter Old Testament God. It is much easier to bash religion into people’s heads like a club than to reason with them. With reason, you run the risk of being told "no."

And let’s get brutally honest here, that really is the goal in many of these religious crusaders. It is not to "save" souls as it is to enforce their personal beliefs onto as many people as possible. They are not content until everyone they know thinks like them, and everything they see reflect their beliefs.

That’s why religious crusaders often find themselves attracted to government like flies to crap. Government is the biggest stick in the game, and whoever can wield that stick controls the game. Sure it’s a cheap short cut for the true believers, but when the end result is mind control, government is the fastest means to that end.

Take a look at what is going on in Afghanistan. This former servant-nation of the Soviet Union has become a theocratic wet dream, with the ruling Taliban doing more to that nation in a few short years what the mullahs in Iran couldn’t do in almost three decades. They blew up ancient Buddhist statues, simply because their religious beliefs consider statues to be taboo. They are forcing native Hindus to wear distinctive yellow badges on their clothing. (I know a few Nazi generals are rolling in their graves laughing on that one.) They’re holding 24 relief workers – including several American and European citizens – under arrest for supposedly spreading Christianity (which, by the way, is a death-penalty offense). And they’ve recently issued their list of "banned" items, which includes just about everything from the past millenium that doesn’t involve guns or explosives.

Not too shabby for a bunch of religious students-turned bodyguards, huh?

Of course, that’s not to say the US branch of the God Squad is slacking off in their zealous crusade to force-feed religion. They just happen to have a few more barriers that stand in their way from attaining that theocratic utopia they so long to have. A few of those "wrong" people out there who happen to believe that when our founding fathers made mention of either "Nature’s god" or "their creator", that they were not making any mention of any one religion any more than saying "a dog" would be an endorsement of one breed of dog over another.

The US holy crusaders have certainly been making a lot of noise, though, especially since one of their supporters – Da Big W himself – is in the White House. For eight long years, they were stymied by the walking hypocrisy that is Bill Clinton. Now, with George Bush Junior as president, the bible-thumpers thought they would be calling all of the shots in government. How wrong they were!

Bush’s policy on allowing some stem cell research served as a well-placed kick in the political groin of the bible-thumpers. Everyone all the way up to Pope John Paul II had hoped that Junior would simply nod his head like a good little follower and outright ban this kind of research. Guess what? Didn’t happen. Junior strove for that "happy medium" that he campaigned on. That certainly took everyone by surprise.

But far from the unity that he’s seeking, the president’s unprecedented decision on this issue may have only served to further drive a wedge between religion and science.

However, the debate on stem cell research is only one front of this seemingly all-out offensive by religious leaders to impose their standards onto the rest of us. The debate on government funding for faith-based organizations is another. Rather than support efforts to get the government out of social programs, some religious groups would prefer to have Uncle Sam pay some of their private costs.

Education is another issue. Rather than support the effort to get the government out of public education and support private and home-schooling, some religious groups would much rather have their standards imposed on all students, irregardless of their own religious beliefs. One public school principal thought nothing of handing out bibles to students, whether they wanted one or not, and whether that student was of the same religious belief or not. Another public school principal thought nothing of briefly converting a janitor’s closet into a student prayer room, complete with pews and a pulpit.

Of course, the religious crusaders have not stopped with our schools. Our US God Squad would not be content until everything in America reflects THEIR beliefs. Anyone remember who put the words "In God We Trust" on our money? If you’re guessing the founding fathers, you’re dead wrong. Congress and President Eisenhower authorized it in 1955 under the pretense of "fighting communism". The same with the inclusion of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. (Ironically, a self-professed Christian Communist authored that pledge!)

And then there is the great quest by the bible-thumpers to suppress anything concerning sex. Their efforts can be summed up with one word: NO. No expression, no mention, no discussion, no education, no hinting, no alluding, no "safe use". If it doesn’t demonize sex, they don’t want it brought up, ever. Even when such an extreme position only serves to create more problems, as it so often does, these so-called "experts" simply brush such problems off by claiming society is being too lax, and needs to be wound up just that much more tighter.

Of course, anytime you question the crusaders, they’re quick to play the victim card and claim they’re being "persecuted". Oh woe is the religious crusader who cannot ram his or her beliefs down our throats at their leisure! One letter writer to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently claimed that Christianity has long being treated like the stereotypical ugly redheaded stepchild. Oh, they only WISH they were treated like that! I don’t know where these people get such delusions, but whatever medication they’re taking, they’re not taking enough of it.

Folks, I have no doubt there are some serious, legitimate cases when the bible-thumpers have been truly wronged, but nine times out of ten, these people have absolutely NO IDEA of what it is like to be persecuted for their religious beliefs! In fact, in most instances in America, they are often the persecutors, not the persecuted.

You know, our religious crusaders constantly whine about why we should care about the minority religions. Why is it that when the issue of church and state comes up that people start talking about the Hindus and Buddhists? Why should we give a rat’s ass about those religions? Well, gee, Bubba-Ray, maybe it’s because the last time someone failed to take those other religions into account, six million Jews got buried under something called "The Final Solution." Maybe it’s because the Hindus and the Buddhists and the Native Americans and a few other religions are quite often the first religions to be trounced upon by the religious fervor of the more "mainstream" beliefs.

It is very easy to talk about wanting to impose religion onto others when you’re of the dominant faith. It is very easy to want government to have a role in morality as long as it is YOUR moral decisions and YOUR beliefs that are used as the model. But how many of those people would be so flippant in getting government to impose their beliefs if they were the next ones under the government’s scrutiny?

Maybe some of those religious crusaders who do not believe in the separation of church and state would be willing to experience that theocracy as a believer of a minority faith. Perhaps in some place like Afghanistan, they might have a greater appreciation of the kind of religious freedom they have taken for granted here in America. Let them go around with a bright yellow badge on their clothing showing everyone of their minority status. Let their lives be scrutinized by the religious police. Let them be constantly told to convert to the dominant religion. They certainly would know what persecution REALLY is like… and I’m sure they won’t like it one bit.

In the meantime, however, other freedom-lovers and myself will continue to bring up things like Afghanistan, and Hindus, and Buddhists, and Wiccan, and a few other examples to remind our more passionate crusaders about the dangers of religion taken to any extreme. Who knows? It might even teach them of a virtue that they have sometimes forgotten about: humility.

Monday, August 6, 2001

Week of 08/06/2001

The Gold Club – Just Another Bloody Shirt
- by David Matthews 2

"Morality, thou deadly bane,
Thy tens o' thousands thou has slain!"
- Robert Burns

Moralists, bible-thumpers, and anti-sex activists were cheerfully awaiting the following headline from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on August 3rd:


After months of testimony, after months of accusations, after months of alleged sordid details of sex, drugs, celebrities, credit card fraud, and Mafia connections, the trial of the Gold Club more or less ended when the principal players accepted plea deals with the imperial federal government. Out of the 89 charges filed among five defendants, club owner Steve Kaplan plead guilty to only one – racketeering. For that, he gives up three to five years of his life in prison, five million dollars, and the ownership of the most prestigious money pit in Atlanta. The four others, including a dancer accused of prostitution, would get probation for "failure to report a crime."

But all of the details don’t matter to the anti-sex and anti-freedom crowd. They don’t care about that. They only care about one single thing: the closing of a strip club. That’s all that matters to them.

The anti-sex and anti-freedom crowd rejoiced when they saw the US Marshals put chains on the doors of the strip club. They rejoiced when they saw how empty the club was. They rejoiced when they saw the tears from the eyes of the dancers who used to make thousands of dollars per week pack up and leave, never to return to the club again. They were waiting, hoping, and praying for years to see that scene of their self-righteous victory. And they got it.

The surreal part about the whole Gold Club trial, though, was the lack of credibility from the prosecution. Most of their witnesses were admitted perjurers and criminals who cut deals in exchange for their testimony. Even after calling two sports figures and the former president of World Championship Wrestling to the stand, they couldn’t prove prostitution. The only connection between Kaplan and his employees and the Mafia came from hearsay testimony. And as for credit card fraud, rather than prove "hundreds" of cases like the imperial government STILL claims happened, only one or two real cases were produced. The rest were easily dismissed as men being drunk and stupid. The government’s own witnesses even made the accused look good in front of the jury. Court observers speculated that two jury members were dismissed because they knew the government did not prove their case.

And yet, five of the seven defendants on trial still went for a plea bargain. That makes me wonder just what the imperial government held over their heads. Jackie Bush, the dancer accused of prostitution, was a mother of three. Did the government threaten to take her children away and declare her to be an unfit mother? Did they threaten to do the same to Kaplan’s children? Why did these five make deals that would forever taint their names and give credence to the anti-freedom crowd?

Of course, those answers will remain a great mystery. Just like a magician doesn’t like to have his secrets exposed, the all-powerful government does not like having their tools of coercion made public.

Mind you, I’ve never been to the Gold Club. I’ve only seen it once in making my way down Piedmont Road. But I did get enough information through the Internet and other sources to know that the club was there primarily for big spenders. Of course, if looking out for big spenders were considered to be a crime, then so would a lot of luxury items be as well.

But let’s get brutally honest here… the crux of the Gold Club trial wasn’t about what was going on in the club. The trial itself proved that there was more fluff than substance to the allegations the government presented. The trial was there for two simple reasons.

First, because the government wanted their pound of flesh. Prosecutors wanted Kaplan to be their patsy and testify against his associates in New York, and he refused. So they did to him what they did to the owners of another strip club called Scores: they made outlandish allegations of racketeering, drug trafficking, prostitution, and credit card fraud, and then struck up plea deals with them. Just ask Richard Herman, who was indicted by the government on similar charges and was acquitted, but still was forced to testify for those same prosecutors.

If you ask me, the real racketeers here are with the government.

The second motivation for this trial was not made apparent until after the deal was struck where Kaplan would give up the Gold Club. That motivation was simple – land.

The Gold Club is located in a very desirable stretch of Piedmont Road. Businesses looking to set up shop there would pay a pretty penny for that property. It should be no surprise to my fellow freedom-supporters that the biggest aggravators looking to ban "undesirable" businesses just happen to be real estate brokers. After all, seized and shut down businesses mean quick profit and hefty commission checks for realtors!

But more than that, guess who owns the property on either side of the club? The Metropolitan Atlanta Transit Authority! That’s right… the Atlanta city government itself! And they have not hidden their desire to covet that property for their own expansion programs. Why do you think Atlanta’s thug mayor Bill Campbell was quick to want the club shut down when the indictments were first issued? He was salivating at the prospect of MARTA taking the land. Don’t be too surprised if MARTA becomes the highest bidder in the government’s auction of the now seized property.

In colonial New England, citizens of the town of Salem were tried and executed on the allegations of witchcraft. But what went on without little mention was the real motivation behind those allegations – the seizing of land of those accused for the gain of those in power. When the trials were put to an end, those involved behind this heinous crime managed to get away with it simply because they could claim they were sold into the hysteria of the accusers. A perfect crime, carried out by those who were considered above reproach.

Today, you don’t have to accuse someone witchcraft. In fact, if you do, you’d be reminded that witchcraft is protected by the Freedom of Religion. Instead, accuse them of being in league with the mob, or with drug dealers. That will give the government authority to take their property and forever blacken their names. Then you can covet their belongings at cut-rate prices thanks to the government.

Of course, the closing of the Gold Club only means that business will pick up at the other clubs all over Atlanta. Big spenders will spend their money where they are welcomed. And the two hundred or so dancers, bouncers, disc jockeys, cooks, waiters, and valet attendants will probably find work in those other clubs. But they won’t be making the kind of money they used to make at the Gold Club. And that is sad.

But the really sad part is that, thanks to the government, the Gold Club has become yet another "bloody shirt" for the moralists to waive about in their quest to force their opinions upon us.

Of course, the moralists LOVE to waive their bloody shirts about. They love to exploit victims of tragedy and use it in their crusades. Some young woman dies from an overdose, and she happens to be a dancer, and instantly the strip club is blamed for her decisions. They supposedly created "the lifestyle" – which has become yet another demonized catchphrase. Some jackass gets drunk and plows his car into a family of six, and he just happened to have visited a strip club hours before getting sauced, so instantly the club is blamed for the drunk driving accident.

That’s all that the Gold Club is to these tyrants now, just another instrument for them to use in their PR campaign, another sound-byte to be used for the media.

Mark my words: at some town meeting someplace in America, some self-righteous activist will stand up and proclaim that they do not want "THAT" kind of a business in the area because they don’t want the area to be involved with drugs and the Mafia. And then they’ll wave the Gold Club bloody shirt about as proof. Whether or not the business in question is even remotely involved with drugs or the mob is immaterial. After all, we’ve all seen "The Sopranos", right?

As history has shown, the facts are irrelevant in a witchhunt. Only the results matter.