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With so much flag-waving, so much flinging of now-loaded buzzwords like "freedom" and "liberty," I cringe at some of the definitions of patriotism I hear about these days. Tonight I stumbled upon a case where the word freedom felt right; it wasn't used to sell fried potatoes or Chevy trucks: the send-off party for the Freedom Riders in Powderhorn Park. A thousand immigrant workers from cities cross-country are now en route to Washington DC in a re-enactment of the Civil Rights freedom rides that began four decades ago. This time around, the ride focuses on the rights of a much-scapegoated part of society: immigrant workers. After stopping in some 100 cities, the rides will converge on DC on October 1-2.

. . . .

Why is it that, in this country of supposed free thinkers, criticism of the media is only exercised when the viewpoints don't jive with the status quo?

No one gives a fig if Bush distorted evidence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction or Saddam's supposed links to al-Qaida, but it's easy to find critics who'll attack anybody who's anti-war, anti-gun, or anti-Bush. Case in point: recent criticism of Michael Moore's film Bowling for Columbine. Some of the big networks have been giving ample airtime to gripers who have undisclosed vested interests in taking Moore down a notch. One--a contributing editor of Gun Week magazine, a relationship not disclosed to CNN's viewers--asserted the film contained "so many falsehoods, one after the other, after the other, after the other." Another--a writer for Rev. Moon's rightwing Washington Times, who also served on the campaigns of Jesse Helms and Pat Buchanan (again, facts not disclosed on-air)--called it "one of the most dishonest films ever made." Trouble is, no lawsuits have been filed against the film, and not a single fact has been effectively disputed. Moore recently launched a website to debunk criticisms of the film, one by one. And he sticks by one assertion: every single fact is researched, legally backed up, and unquestionably true.

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