Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Attacks on a free press don't just involve Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia; Legal Schnauzer has been targeted in Alabama and Missouri -- and we urgently need your donations to stay in the battle

Jamal Khashoggi
(NoteLegal Schnauzer needs your help. Loyal readers have sustained this blog for years, and support is especially needed now that my wife, Carol, is recovering from a fainting spell, which led to a broken arm last week. The healing process has started for Carol, but her doctors indicate this likely was fallout from political thugs cheating both of us out of our jobs [and health insurance] in Birmingham -- and the stress of dealing with financial wreckage that comes with being targeted for right-wing attacks.  If you are able to help us along our journalism journey, please click on the yellow donation button to the right, under the "Support the Schnauzer" headline. We are deeply grateful for your support through the years.)

U.S. coverage on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has tended to have a "Yes, that is horrible, but it can't happen here" tone. That notion, however, is misplaced. It can happen here, and it has happened here. I know because I'm a U.S. journalist who has been targeted and abused, very much in the way Khashoggi was targeted.

Evidence suggests Alabama thugs intended to kill Carol and me -- and did not only because Carol managed to avoid capture. (See here, here, and here.) We still fear for our lives every day, just as Jamal Khashoggi did.

Roger Shuler mugshot
A free press is not attacked only in places like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Bulgaria. (Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova was raped and murdered on Oct. 9.) It has been happening in the United States for a while, and the attacks -- along with associated court corruption -- have left us nearly destitute.

Abuse came for my wife, Carol, and me in two American states -- Alabama (where we lived as a married couple for 25 years) and Missouri (where we have been forced to live as refugees for more than four years) -- and it started between 2008 and 2013, long before Donald Trump took office. Alabama has an ugly history of being "ahead of the curve" on white privilege and extremism, and the Missouri Ozarks aren't much different; I refer to the southern half of the Show Me State as "Alabama with snowballs."

Neither Carol nor I has been beheaded or dismembered -- yet -- but we have the bruises and broken bones to show that American thugs mean business when they try to shut down a free press. In October 2013, Alabama deputies broke into our home in Birmingham, slammed me to a concrete floor three times (much like the "body slam" of a Montana journalist that Donald Trump celebrated to much laughter at a recent rally), doused me with pepper spray, and hauled me for a five-month stay at the Shelby County Jail -- making me the only U.S. journalist to be incarcerated since 2006, and likely the only journalist in U.S. history to be arrested over a preliminary injunction that has been an unlawful "prior restraint" under more than 230 years of First Amendment law.

Carol Shuler
This all was over a 100 percent civil matter -- with no criminal allegations -- involving a bogus defamation lawsuit that GOP political thug Rob "Uday" Riley and his "close friend," lobbyist Liberty Duke, filed in an effort to shut down this blog. To this day, my reporting on the Riley-Duke relationship never has been found to be defamatory, as a matter of law.

Here is some irony that hits close to home: Khashoggi was murdered while visiting the Saudi consulate in Turkey to obtain a document that would allow him to get married. His wife-to-be was waiting outside in a vehicle while Khashoggi, according to multiple reports from Turkish officials, was being dismembered alive inside the consulate. In essence, Saudi butchers used Khashoggi's desire to get married against him.

U.S. thugs have done much the same thing to Carol and me. Here in Missouri, thugs concocted an eviction that was unlawful in at least 10 ways as an excuse for throwing us on the streets and causing almost all of our possessions to be stolen. In the process, a thug-cop we call "Mr. Blue Shirt" viciously slammed Carol to the ground and yanked on her arms in an upward and backward motion, breaking her left arm so severely that it required eight hours of trauma surgery and almost six months of physical therapy.

Have the cops taken any responsibility for what they did? Hah, are you kidding? They brought bogus "assault of a law enforcement officer" charges against Carol, falsely hinted she broke her own arm by flailing about while handcuffed in the back seat of a patrol car, and stuck us with a bill of several thousand dollars for medical expenses.

Yes, you heard that right: In the U.S., cops can beat you up (when they had no lawful grounds to be on the property), break your arm, blame you for it, and leave you stuck with the bill. (More on that in an upcoming post.)

X-ray of Carol Shuler's
broken arm
The bottom line: Freedom of the press has been under assault in the United States for at least 10 years, especially in right-wing hot spots like Alabama and southern Missouri. As I've read about the Khashoggi case, it's been stunning to see how many similarities there are between his case and our experiences.

Carol and I believe it is possible to turn the situation in America around, to make this a country where constitutional rights and the rule of law are respected and protected. We plan to be part of the fight to make that happen, but we need a roof over our heads and a few of life's necessities, like food.

Your donations will be greatly appreciated.

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