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Op-ed says 'passive resistance to government overreach' having an impact

Tea Party protest.
Tea Party protest.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In a column posted Sunday at USA Today, University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds, author of "The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself," said "Irish Democracy," that is, "passive resistance to government overreach" seems to be having an impact at both the state and federal level.

"America's ruling class," he said, "has been experiencing more pushback than usual lately."

And, he added, it seems there's more to come as Americans are becoming more fed up with a larger and more intrusive government.

Reynolds cited three specific areas where the pushback from average citizens are having an impact.

As a result of protests, the Department of Homeland Security canceled plans for a national license plate database.

Although a number of local law enforcement agencies already use such a system, the proposed program would let the federal government track people's movements like it tracks phone calls and emails.

"But the proposal was suddenly withdrawn last week, with the unconvincing explanation that it was all a mistake," he said.

"The most plausible explanation is that someone up top at the DHS or ICE suddenly realized that publicly calling for bids on a nationwide surveillance system while nationwide surveillance systems are being hotly debated was ... a horrible idea," said Techdirt's Tim Cushing.

The second example Reynolds cited was the recent plan by the FCC to place "researchers" in newsrooms to monitor news coverage.

Last Friday, the FCC said it was shelving the program that Reynolds said would also include print publications the FCC has no authority to regulate.

But, Fox News reported, the plan has only been put on hold "at least until a 'new study design' is finalized."

"Many folks in and out of the media found it Orwellian," Reynolds said.

The third example Reynolds cited was a mini-rebellion by Connecticut gun owners who refused to register firearms the state now deems "assault weapons."

As we reported earlier this month, thousands refused to obey the new law. While some may not be aware of the new requirements, some have decided to engage in non-violent civil disobedience to protest the law.

But will Americans take to the streets?

"Though people have taken to the streets from Egypt, to Ukraine, to Venezuela to Thailand, many have wondered whether Americans would ever resist the increasing encroachments on their freedom. I think they've begun," Reynolds said.

But Americans have already taken to the streets -- many times -- and a major protest -- Operation American Spring -- is set to take place this May. That protest seeks nothing less than the removal of Barack Obama and Joe Biden along with congressional leaders from both parties.

A Facebook event, "I will not comply," encourages Americans to disobey Obamacare enrollment requirements in protest of the law. Over 50,000 have said they would participate in the online, non-violent protest, set to continue until March 31.

Dr. John Vigil, organizer of the event, recently cited former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas: "When a legislature undertakes to proscribe the exercise of a citizen's constitutional rights it acts lawlessly and the citizen can take matters into his own hands and proceed on the basis that such a law is no law at all."



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