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Dylan Brody Headshot

You Have Only the Right to Remain Silent

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In Florida, Trayvon Martin, a black teenager, was shot to death by a civilian white man who has admitted to the crime but has not been arrested. Allegations of serious police misconduct have arisen, including the "correction" of a witness who said the boy called for help and not his attacker, George Zimmerman, who claims he shot in self defense.

In several states, laws have been passed requiring that, even in cases of rape, women seeking abortions go through medically unnecessary procedures before being allowed the treatment they choose. One male politician suggested that if a woman does not want to see the image from the trans-vaginal ultrasound, she can "just close her eyes." So if, say, a rape victim doesn't want a child from the act of violence perpetrated against her, Tom Corbett, gracious Governor of Pennsylvania, suggests she close her eyes while she is again violated for no medically justifiable reason. Elsewhere, a law passed saying that doctors must inform women of a link between abortion and breast cancer even though no such link has ever been established. When Sandra Fluke spoke out about the expense of birth control for women, she was publicly pilloried by Rush Limbaugh, called names and her honor besmirched.

In those cases, as in the case of the Occupy Protesters who have been tear gassed and pepper sprayed, bludgeoned and shot with non-lethal but painful ammo, the message is the same. Whether it is a message sent to the black, women or anti-corruption demonstrators, the message is this: "Dissent at your own peril. We can shame you, humiliate you, violate you, kill you if we choose. Be quiet. Comply. Know your place. You have the right to remain silent and that is all."

There has been a push in the past several months for anyone who sees bullying taking place to speak up. Well I see it and I am saying something. Trayvon Martin did nothing wrong and citizens of all races should be able to walk the streets unafraid. People, regardless of gender, must be allowed their own reproductive, medical and recreational choices regardless of the religious beliefs of politicians. Freedoms of speech and peaceful demonstration are the people's right. As a white male and a tax-paying citizen, if I do not speak up, I am a conspirator.

I will not be cowed into playing the role of collaborator. If we want our kids to behave decently toward one another, to stand up on behalf of one another, we must set the example. The bullying must stop.