Politics: March 2000 Archives

Open Letter to the Census Bureau

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Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000 07:08:48 -0500
To: webmaster@census.gov
From: Chris Nandor <pudge@pobox.com>
Subject: Question
I could not find an adequate address to mail this to, so I have a question.

Why does your director lie to the American people?  In a story at CNN:


>The Census Bureau maintains that it has added just one question to the
>long form since 1990. Census officials say all of the questions they ask
>on the form are approved by Congress ahead of time, and most are
>essential for the distribution of federal funding.
>"It is actually needed, this information," said Census Bureau Director
>Kenneth Prewitt, at a news conference on Thursday.

That is demonstrably false.  Most of the questions on both forms are
blatantly unconstitutional.  As you know, you have a mandate to count
people.  I have a Fourth Amendment right to privacy.  It is therefore
unconstitutional for you to ask me -- and require me to answer -- any
question on the census but how many people live at this address.  You need
a warrant specific to me in order to legally require me to answer.  And the
crime in question to warrant a warrant must be something other than
refusing to comply with an illegal law that says I have to forfeit my
Fourth Amendment rights to you.  I will tell you who lives here, and that
is all, because that is all I have an obligation to provide, and it is all
you have a right to mandate of me.

So it cannot be the case that you need this information from me, because
the government cannot reasonably be said to need something that is so
blatantly unconstitutional.  Please ask your director to stop lying.  Thank

Oh, and if your agency or another of the federal government attempts to
force me to comply with your illegal laws, I will come down on your
organization, very hard, with civil rights violations charges.  This is not
a threat, it is a warning.  I am quite serious about my personal liberties,
and those of my fellow citizens.  I'm not worried about it, though, because
I know that your organization knows that if it did force the issue, it
would end up going to the Supreme Court and your bureau would lose the
case, and along with it almost all of its power (at least, with the current
Supreme Court; you may very well decide to be more bold if Gore becomes
president and gets a few more liberals on the bench).

But I've spent too much of my time on this garbage, so I bid you good day,

Chris Nandor          mailto:pudge@pobox.com         http://pudge.net/
%PGPKey = ('B76E72AD', [1024, '0824090B CE73CA10  1FF77F13 8180B6B6'])

And in response:

From: webmaster@census.gov
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000 12:19:08 GMT
Subject: [PIO2000033100000105] Question
To: pudge@pobox.com

Dear %receipientname%,

This is an automated response from Public Information Office. We received your message
on 3/31/00.

We are currently investigating the questions you asked in your message,
and will have an answer for you shortly. Some requests take longer than others,
and we appreciate your patience.

In the event you need to contact us regarding your original message,
please refer to the tracking number at the top of this message.  This will help
our staff locate and review your correspondence with us.

Thank you for your request, you should be hearing from us shortly.

Peace & Safety

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Throughout the course of organized civilization, there has been a balance that has been struck between safety and freedom. We see it in most families, where we protect our kids by not letting them have certain freedoms. We saw it in the alien and sedition acts in the early part of our nation's history, where we took away the rights of individuals for the safety of the nation, and again when Linoln suspended writ of habeus corpus. Most of the time, when the government strips away rights in order to preserve peace and safety, it is flatly in the wrong.

The shooting at Columbine gave birth to a new call for peace and safety. Some legislators are looking to license all gun owners, a clear violation of privacy under the second and fourth amendments. Some legislators want to ban certain types of guns and clips without any evidence that they are more or less harmful than other kinds of guns. Some legislators want to even strip away your right to have a gun at all.

To be fair, most of the federal gun legislation under consideration is not unconstitutional. Some of it is good. But certain things are clear:

  • Many of the legislators and Presidential advisors behind the proposed legislation also have stated agendas that are to abridge our rights, and these laws seem to be stepping stones to a breach of the Constitution, even when they are not directly at odds with the Constitution.
  • Most of these laws are entirely unnecessary as they are redundant and not enforced now. For instance, Al Gore -- who cast the deciding vote on the last big gun bill -- was pushing for a ban on gun show sales to kids 18-20, even though such sales are already illegal. The federal government is pushing for waiting periods, even though most states already have them, and when criminals are found to be trying to buy guns illegally they are rarely prosecuted under the laws they break.
  • Part of the background checks wanted in this latest legislation involves checking documents that the government does not have a clear right to review, such as medical records.
  • In many states, such as Massachusetts, where I live, the right to keep and bear arms has already been abolished entirely, and as such, many of us do not want what few "privileges" remain to be stripped away, too. We do not trust the legislators who have illegally stolen our rights and do not side with them.

You probably think I am being facetious or something when I say my right to keep and bear arms has been abolished. But it is true. In Massachusetts, I cannot have a gun in my own house without asking permission of the chief of police, who has full discretionary power to accept or deny my application. In Massachusetts, I have no right to keep and bear arms, I have only the right to ask permission, and if I am denied, I have no recourse. And even if I am granted permission to have a gun in my own house, and even purchase one, I am not allowed to transport it to my house. I am not even allowed to have pepper spray in Massachusetts without a license.

Legislators here are clearly not interested in the safety of the people, but control of the people. Owning a gun and keeping it in my house is not a danger to anyone, except for criminals and the government. It is a measure of safety for my family and neighbors. And it is my Constitutional right, not my privilege.

And with my rights stolen from me, you think I should give a damn about whether or not there are waiting periods and mandatory trigger locks? Give back my rights to keep and bear a gun, and then I will consider supporting your legislation to make guns "safer." Until then, bugger off.

Peace and safety are a poor substitute for freedom. Even if they could be assured, they would not be worth the price. The phrase is "live free or die," not "live in peace and safety or die."

<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from March 2000.

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