Mrs. Schnauzer and I were scrolling through the cable offerings on a Saturday evening during the holidays when we stumbled upon the The History Channel and a documentary called 102 Minutes That Changed America.
The film depicts the New York-based events of the September 11 attacks, primarily using raw video footage from amateur citizen journalists. 102 Minutes premiered on September 11, 2008, and probably has been rerun numerous times--but we had managed to miss it until late December 2009.
The documentary is compelling viewing and kept us riveted to our TV. It also raised a couple of powerful questions:
* Are you seriously getting old when you watch The History Channel on Saturday night?
* Did the 9/11 attacks really change America?
The answer to the first question appears to be a definite yes. The answer to the second question, best I can tell, is no.
I asked Mrs. Schnauzer what she thought the producers meant by the title they chose for the program. She said she thought the title was intentionally vague, hinting that the 9/11 attacks had undoubtedly changed America--but leaving it to the viewer to determine whether those changes had been positive or negative.
I disagreed, which I don't often do with my beloved (or at least I don't often verbalize those thoughts). I thought the title implied that 9/11 had somehow changed America in a positive way--had made us tougher, more resolute, more determined to protect and uphold the principles that made us a great democracy.
Based on that interpretation of the title, I had to ask myself: Did 9/11 really change America? The only answer I could come up with? Not one bit. If anything, we've gotten worse--weaker; whinier; more self-obsessed; more divided; less united; more willing to turn a blind eye to dishonesty, corruption, and injustice.
In the spirit of self-obsession, I couldn't help but think about our own experiences since 9/11:
* We see trial judges in Shelby County, Alabama, repeatedly rule unlawfully in a lawsuit that our troublesome neighbor filed against me;
* We see Alabama's appellate courts allow the unlawful judgment to stand;
* We see a trial judge in Jefferson County, Alabama, unlawfully grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss in a legal-malpractice claim I brought against the first attorneys I hired (Jesse P. Evans III and Michael B. Odom) to defend me in the Shelby County case--the ones who took almost $12,000 of our money and did nothing to keep a judge from cheating us raw;
* We see Alabama's appellate courts again allow an unlawful judgment to stand;
* We see another trial judge in Jefferson County, Alabama, unlawfully dismiss a legal-malpractice claim I brought against the second attorney I hired (Richard Poff) to defend me in the Shelby County case--the one who took $4,500 of our money up front and preceded to do almost nothing on our case. In this instance, the judge butchers the law, essentially allowing Poff off the hook because he had filed for bankruptcy in federal court--even though Poff had not named me as a creditor in his bankruptcy case.
* Having learned my lesson about Alabama's appellate courts, I don't even bother to appeal the Poff ruling;
* After experiencing all of this, and realizing the George W. Bush Department of Justice was prosecuting innocent people for political reasons (see Siegelman, Don and Minor, Paul), I decide in June 2007 to write a blog about injustice in Alabama and beyond;
* Mrs. Schnauzer and I, damaged financially from our encounters with corrupt lawyers and judges, begin to receive calls from debt collectors. After several months go by, we realize these scuzzy outfits are violating the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) with impunity;
* On May 19, 2008, I am fired from my job as an editor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), in apparent retaliation for complaining about age discrimination and for writing a blog that someone considered politically sensitive. Recent discoveries indicate our problems with debt collectors might also have contributed to my unlawful termination at UAB, after 19 years of service.
* On September 25, 2009, Mrs. Schnauzer is fired from her job at Birmingham-based Infinity Property & Casualty Corporation, after almost three years of service. Her mysterious "firing" comes as our lawsuit against debt collectors is hitting a critical stage in discovery. It also comes as we learn that one of the law firms defending the debt collectors just happens to have extremely close ties to Infinity Property & Casualty.
This chronicle of crookedness involves only the stuff Mrs. Schnauzer and I have witnessed personally. It doesn't include the many other injustices we've written about on this blog, including the fact that we know of at least four people--Richard Scrushy, Paul Minor, Wes Teel, and John Whitfield--who are wrongfully imprisoned for "crimes" they did not commit. It doesn't include the fact that someone we know personally--former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman--will be heading back to prison for a "crime" he didn't commit unless the U.S. Supreme Court or the Obama administration intervenes.
Imagine how many times--and in how many ways--the U.S. Constitution has been trampled just in cases connected to our little SchnauzerWorld. And all of these wrongs have been committed by "officers of the court"--lawyers, judges, prosecutors, etc.--people who take our tax dollars in order to ensure that our justice system operates according to the law.
These aren't small-time crooks, committing crimes. These are people of power and privilege, desecrating the very foundation upon which our nation is built. And this all happened since the attacks of 9/11.
Does it sound like America was changed in some substantive, positive way by 9/11? Sure doesn't look like it to me.
Did the some 3,000 Americans who were killed on 9/11--and the many more who gave their lives in wars sparked by the terrorist attacks--essentially die in vain? Did they die so that people in authority could abuse their positions, all to serve some selfish, greed-filled, power-hungry, un-American agenda?
Sadly, the answer appears to be yes.