Editor's note: Marc Shultz's account (July 16-22) of how he was questioned by the FBI after somebody saw him reading a Weekly Planet cover story got national attention. A sample of the responses we received:
This article really scares me. I live in the Tampa Bay area and read the Weekly Planet. The only difference between Marc Schultz and me is that I have a light complexion and do not look like a so-called terrorist. I just hope the FBI will not check out the books I read from the library. I have read books by Noam Chomsky and Arianna Huffington, and the FBI may think I am planning to overthrow the government.
To get my news, I rely on World News International for what's really going on in the world. In the United States, the news is nothing but whitewash. Fox News is the worst of the bunch. To hear them talk, you would think George Bush was Jesus reincarnated.
Holy mackerel! Is this what I fought in WWII as a Marine Corps machine-gunner for? I thought I spent 2 1/2 years in the Pacific jungles to protect America's constitutional liberties. What the hell is happening to our country?
—Albert C. Mezzetti
What you say when the FBI (or any other law enforcement agency) asks if they can ask you some questions is "Am I under arrest?"
If the answer is yes, ask to phone an attorney immediately. Tell them you will not answer any questions outside the presence of your attorney. Whatever they ask — however innocuous it sounds, however pompous and melodramatic you feel — keep saying that, and only that.
If the answer is no, say "goodbye" and go elsewhere. Repeat this sequence, word for word, as many times as necessary.
Anything else can get you, or other people, in trouble. What were you reading? Oh, your dad gave it to you? Where did he get it? Who are his friends?
Of course, you can try to stop answering when you think the questions are too intrusive, but — this is important — you will be too late, because questions of this kind are intrusive from the beginning.
The surveillance state soaks up information, collates it, cross-indexes and links it, and uses it in ways we — the citizenry — have no control over and indeed very little knowledge of. They rely on the uninstructed cooperativeness of most Americans to create a body of information about us all. Don't fall for their creepy mélange of menace and affability. DON'T TALK TO THE COPS, EVER.
—John V. Burke
It just amazes me how politics and bureaucracy can make an intelligent community completely inept. Granted, it is a challenge to allow freedom to exist while trying to protect the public from terrorists, and I know that there are many devoted, hardworking intelligence agents who are very committed to their jobs. But it seems like we have gone overboard in the wrong direction.
The worst thing is, you and I are paying those guys to do the kinds of things you just wrote about. And there are some even higher paid government officials who spend their time telling those guys to do those things. It's absurd and sad.
Santa Rosa, Calif.
The FBI's reasoning is so blazingly simple I'm amazed you guys missed it: If Duh-bya can't do it, it must be evil terrorist activity!
I'd be laughing, but I'm too busy crying.
Good money after bad
It is very evident that as long as the David Catons of the world are given any semblance of credence in the legislative arena, Joe Redner and his ilk will prosper at an extreme cost to the community.
I am not a legal expert by any means, but I am certain of the end result in any court battle or legal exchange in this case. The losers will be the county — and in very clear-cut, fiscal terms. Tampa's new mayor Pam Iorio senses this already, and her good common sense has already convinced her that attempting to legislate morality is a loser. Always has been; always will be.
Redner licks his chops, and the county will be forced to open the checkbook. The P.T. Barnum of live porn will win another high-profile battle hands down.
Who pays for this? We do.
I enjoy reading the Planet each week (when it gets delivered to the building café, which is sporadic) and I dove right into the article on Sunshine eager to read about our weekend hangout.
But alas, I was immediately disappointed that the writer seemed to have done little to verify his statements. First paragraph: "The street connecting Pinellas Park's Sunshine Speedway to Ulmerton Road isn't used for drag racing." Anyone familiar with the facility knows it is an IHRA sanctioned drag strip and is run on every Friday night by cars exceeding 130-140 mph in the 1/8th mile. The strip is used as the entrance road to the round track when the drag strip is not in use; otherwise you would enter from the west off 49th Street taking a side street in.
Did he not even interview any of the track officials to get his facts straight? Ask a regular fan? It kind of wrecked the rest of the story leaving me doubting that he verified his statements. This drag strip has been in operation for more years than his age I'm willing to bet. Just a little more effort in checking the accuracy of statements before printing a story goes a long way!
Anyway, I still like the Weekly Planet even with these common goofs.
Lewis Family Racing