Tread on Me: The Case for Freedom From Terrorist Bombings, School Shootings and Exploding Factories

The past few months show that the government must protect the public even if it has to limit individual rights

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Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Mike Murphy of the Newton, Mass., fire department carries an American flag after a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the bombing at the Boston Marathon in Boston on April 22, 2013

We’re often told that our liberties are under assault. The right warns that our Big Government nanny state is plotting to seize our guns and our Big Gulps, while strangling our economic freedom with taxes and regulations. The left rails against our Big Government security state — the drone warfare, indefinite detention and electronic surveillance that make the war on terrorism sound like an Orwellian nightmare. The National Rifle Association had just finished bellowing about background checks violating our Second Amendment rights when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) started shrieking about the FBI violating the Boston bombing suspect’s Miranda rights.

America was born from resistance to tyranny, and our skepticism of authority is a healthy tradition. But we’re pretty free. And the “don’t tread on me” slippery-slopers on both ends of the political spectrum tend to forget that Big Government helps protect other important rights. Like the right of a child to watch a marathon or attend first grade without getting killed — or, for that matter, the right to live near a fertilizer factory without it blowing up your house.

Our government needs to balance these rights, which is tough sometimes. But not always. Requiring gun owners to pass background checks and restricting access to high-capacity magazines would be a minuscule price to pay to help avoid future Newtowns and Auroras. If the FBI waits a few days to read Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the Miranda boilerplate he’s already heard a million times on Law and Order, the Republic will survive, and the authorities might learn something that will help prevent another tragedy. (In fact, if America’s ubiquitous surveillance network hadn’t captured Tsarnaev on video, he might still be at large.) Even in a free-enterprise system — especially in a free-enterprise system — a factory owner’s right to run his business without government interference is trumped by the public-safety rights of the local community.

In the Obama era, Tea Party Republicans like Senator Rand Paul have portrayed the U.S. government as a threat to individual liberty, an oppressive force in American life. They just want government to leave us alone. But while the “stand with Rand” worldview is quite consistent — against gun restrictions, traffic-light cameras, drone strikes, antidiscrimination laws, antipollution laws and other Big Brother intrusions into our private lives — it’s wrong. And most of us know it’s wrong, which is why we celebrate our first responders, our soldiers, our law enforcers. They’re from the government, and they’re here to help. We know our government is fallible, because it’s made up of people, but we still count on it to protect us from terrorists, from psychos with guns, from exploding factories. We also need it to protect us from floods and wildfires, from financial meltdowns and climate change. We can’t do that kind of thing ourselves.

I don’t want to imply that we live in a Game of Thrones episode — our nights are dark but only occasionally full of terrors — but last week, an Elvis impersonator trying to poison the President didn’t even make the front page. There’s dangerous stuff out there, and while it’s probably fun to stand with Rand, I’m more inclined to stand with the public servants keeping us safe, even when the al-Qaeda operative they ice in Yemen is an American citizen, even when they shut down an entire city to hunt for a single teenager, and yes, even when they try to regulate coal plants and oil rigs and Wall Street casinos that would greatly prefer to be left alone. That’s why I pay my taxes, and that’s why I don’t feel like I’m being tyrannized when I pay them.

I guess you could call me a statist. I’m not sure we need public financing for our symphonies or our farmers or our mortgages — history will also recall my stand with Rand on the great laser-pointing controversy of 2011 — but we do need Big Government to attack the big collective-action problems of the modern world. Our rights are not inviolate. Just as the First Amendment doesn’t let us shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, the Second Amendment shouldn’t let us have assault weapons designed for mass slaughter. And if the authorities decided it was vital to ask Tsarnaev about his alleged murder of innocents before reminding him of his Fifth Amendment rights to lawyer up, I won’t second-guess their call. The civil-liberties purists of the ACLU are just as extreme as the gun purists of the NRA, or the antiregulatory purists in business groups like the Club for Growth.

Those of us who support aggressive government action to protect the public ought to acknowledge that it does, at the margins, limit individual rights — the rights of gun owners, the rights of business owners, the rights of the accused. Go ahead, quote the Ben Franklin line about those who would sacrifice some liberty for security deserving neither. But what about the rights of 8-year-old Martin Richard, blown away after watching his dad finish the marathon? Who safeguarded the liberty of 6-year-old Charlotte Bacon, gunned down in her classroom in her new pink dress? What about Perry Calvin and Morris Bridges and the other victims of the West Texas explosion? Nobody read them their rights.

I’ve been told that invoking the death of innocents is an emotional appeal rather than a logical argument. And I do admit these tragedies make me angry. But I think it would be logical for our government to try to limit these tragedies in the future. We already sacrifice liberty all the time — our right to automatic weapons, our right to walk through airport security with our shoes on, our right to run our businesses however we please. The rights of the next Martin Richard and the next Charlotte Bacon matter too.

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1092 comments
jnri001
jnri001

Wow.. Hey mike, is this the response you expected? hmmm you seem to forget that 90% of the people who support Obama are either government rump swabs like yourself or people who would rather live "persecuted" because it gets them free stuff.  Most of the thinking, hard working people of America look at this country and shake their heads in disgust.  It's people like you who can't see the forest for he trees in regard to loss of liberty.  You tossed out Ben Franklin's line about safety and freedom like it was talking about a Sunday brunch - trying to minimize I am sure - It is the most relevant important sentence ever uttered in my opinion when you look at what is happening in this country.  You are a disgrace and I will go out of my way to advertise how pathetic you are whenever I get a chance.

fothmow
fothmow

"The Government *must* protect the public."  Dang, we have become a nation of quivering, frightened children.  Does it occur to this guy that when you live in terror, then the terrorists have won?  Standing up to them and saying "up yours" is patriotic.  Wetting our pants, tearing up the Constitution and fleeing for the perceived safety of Big Brother is not.  Grow a pair, Grunwald.

Machill
Machill

"We already sacrifice liberty all the time — our right to automatic weapons, our right to walk through airport security with our shoes on, our right to run our businesses however we please. The rights of the next Martin Richard and the next Charlotte Bacon matter too."

No one has a right (as nice as it would be) to a perfectly safe existence. Similarly, your argument is massively flawed when you say extrajudicial drone strikes are OK, because the same "rights" you talk about for Martin Richard were not given to Anwar al-Awlaki, nor to his son, nor to the children and civilians of the middle east as documented by the Stanford/NYU study.  


Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2013/04/23/tread-on-me-the-case-for-freedom-from-terrorist-bombings-school-shootings-and-exploding-factories/#ixzz2cXORIx4z

reinertorheit
reinertorheit

Grunwald, you worthless douchbag!! Why don't you just crawl off to Faux News where your fascist drool belongs?? 

neko.el.gato
neko.el.gato

Rather than canning this weasel, Time allows him to continue to spew garbage.



SpikeLee
SpikeLee

This could have been written by Joe Klein or Mark Halpern or Mickey Scherer or Dave Von Drehle.

How many conservative white men at Time does it take take to put us in our place?

chrisabray
chrisabray

"Just as the First Amendment doesn’t let us shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater..." 

 Christ, the banality. If I learn to bang on these reliably clumsy undergraduate tropes, can I be a senior national correspondent too? 


BruceMajors4DC
BruceMajors4DC

But we have big government, 16 trillion in debt of it, and the planes still hit the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, the kids in Boston still go blown up, and so did the workers in Texas. Looks like markets would have worked better.

MikeFreeman
MikeFreeman

Global capitalism is the antithesis of the free market

ConspiracyExaminer
ConspiracyExaminer

Why do I get the gut feeling not even this Grunwald guy believes his own garbage?

donatellospaghettio
donatellospaghettio

What you don't know, obviously, Michael, is that you are more likely in America to be shot by a police officer then you are to be attacked by a terrorist.

donatellospaghettio
donatellospaghettio

There are places in the world where you can have the government tread on you as much as you'd like, one such example is North Korea.  I mean, Michael, no one is stopping you from packing up and heading on over.  Personal freedom is that, the freedom for you to be fed up with freedom and choose to live under a totalitarian regime.  Myself?  I don't want such a regime and feel that people like me need to start standing up and pushing back against people like you as hard as we can.  All I want is the freedom to opt out, that's all.  I want the ability to say, "No thanks, I'm going to go over here where they don't prevent me from owning a weapon for personal protection or where they don't tax me on every item I buy in any store".  This is the benefit of opting out of a federal form of government.  We need to, in fact abolish the federal government or at the very least minimize it to the point where it has little power beyond defending life, liberty, and property.  But hey, you say "Tread on me", so I imagine you want the government to have cameras in every home, Telescreens, secret police, and a big brother like figure to command us.  Sorry, this just isn't going to happen, eventually even the most subservient of Americans will have their line crossed and they will move to the other side and stand up against this police state, and you will be alone.  

JoshuaDaleSmith
JoshuaDaleSmith

Hey Michael, you do realize that the majority of those killed by drone strikes are non-combatants, many of them children, right?

AdamL
AdamL

The tragedies you point to as a rationale for why we need NSA snoops digging through Americans' private information happened *in spite of* the hugely problematic spying already occurring. PRISM, as far as we know, has been in effect for at least a few years, yet it was somehow unable to stop the Boston Bombers while it was busy keeping track of everyone's viagra spam mail count. Simply put, they're too broadly intrusive to be constitutional, and too ineffective to defend as somehow having any positive impact.

mkachel67
mkachel67

Yeah, just don't forget to give uncle Sam a reach-around. It's just common courtesy. Also, if things continue the way they have been, soon people like you will not be recognized as legitimate journalists and you will not be able to print whatever you want to print. Look, you are obviously a coward and people like you that would give up your freedom to feel safe do not deserve freedom or safety.

jdgalt
jdgalt

Hey Mike, are you just angling for a place among Obama's czars, or are you running for Führer?

jbevan70
jbevan70

Hey Mike, you're a f**king idiot and a hypocrite. I bet if Bush was still in office you wouldn't be so willing to "sacrifice liberties". Dolt.

jbevan70
jbevan70

Hey Mike, you're an idiot. 

TeresaTannahill
TeresaTannahill

Oh dear. Isn't it true that more Americans die after slipping and falling over in bathtubs than die from terrorist attacks, or am I missing something here?

milotais.zvirbulis
milotais.zvirbulis

Securitist... new word for this group of people who want to live under surveillance. Maybe those massive Fema camps are for the securitists.  Then all the Grunwalds will have a place to check their freedom in at the gate. Finally, I solution to this mess. Thank you, Grunwald. You are a true visionary. You should win a prize, or something.

Jim-Tom
Jim-Tom

I have to say I am impressed with Edward Snowden's moral strength and character to do what he did.  He has exposed a huge criminal organization.  But credit should also go to Bradley Manning and Julian Assange for their work – also very non-trivial.  These men of courage have and are risking their lives to expose a huge criminal organization that has been purpose-built to control governments, people (citizens), and corporations all over the world.  Michael Grunwald is nothing but a paid mouth-piece.  A hired keyboard hit man.

Edward, Julian, and Bradley – men of courage that stood up to the world’s biggest ever tyrants - a criminal organization larger and more extensive than ever witnessed in history.  These 3 men want this discussion out in the open and on the table – what brilliance on their parts.  

I am incredibly honored they did this for freedom and in defense of the US Constitution.  I honestly believe Edward, Julian, and Bradley are great American heroes for what they did and I hope, because of this, the 3 of them become America’s greatest heroes ever.  

I also hope there are more freedom fighters and defenders of the US Constitution just like them that come forward and risk their lives to tell the truth about our criminal government and military.  Whistle blowers if you will.  

Terrorism is likely a false flag operation of the largest magnitude ever seen by mankind.


michaeltong
michaeltong

Michael Grunwald: "I can't wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange."

Real classy you Nazi wannabe. I hope you eventually realize that you are a monster. There is something very dark and evil inside you Mr. Grunwald. You are a disgusting person. Shame on Time magazine for not firing you immediately after calling for the murder of a Journalist, and gleefully wanting to write a defense of that murder. The crazy thing is that I'll bet you already have that defense written up (well, you didn't write it, the white house e-mailed you their talking points and you put it in your own words). This is what becoming a Nazi looks like. Do you understand that? Think Grunwald, really think about what you have become.

karate
karate

This writer is a real work of art. Never heard of him before. never will bother to read again. what a clown.

Trithemius
Trithemius

"Give me tyranny because I am terrified of statistically remote(more likely to be killed by police officers) manners of death I have been taught to fear by Gov't propaganda parroted by media conglomerates!"

JillJilley
JillJilley

Michael, I guess you are a man who lives by principle. So it would maybe time for you to "come out from the closet" and not apologize your tweets; you really think that way, and while many think it is really idiotic, let the history take its course and just tweet all your thoughts about murdering fellow journalists. It will set you free (kind of)!

davis1
davis1

"Requiring gun owners to pass background checks and restricting access to high-capacity magazines would be a minuscule price to pay to help avoid future Newtowns and Auroras"

Thank you for your typical idiot liberal train of thought, Michael. You forget, or more likely you choose to ignore, that criminals don't care about laws. If someone is determined to murder as many people as possible, they're gonna do it. They'll do it with guns, and if they can't find guns they'll use homemade explosives and pressure cookers. That should still be pretty fresh on your idiot liberal mind, since it just happened. I'm not willing to trade my ability to own or purchase a rifle or any ammunition feeding device based on the POSSIBILITY that they MAY make it somewhat more convenient for some sicko to shoot a room full of people.

I disagree. It WOULD NOT be a miniscule price to pay. It'd be a price that we pay over and over, and over again from here on out, to lay down our rights and our freedoms based on what MIGHT or COULD happen. I'm not willing to pander to such kneejerk, fruitless legislation.

thefladaboscan
thefladaboscan

Mr. Grunwald,

1) More people in the US have been killed by toddlers than terrorists in 2013. Therefore we should abandon the TSA, the DEA, the FBI and the CIA and institute KID, whereby we monitor ALL finger painting, sand castle building and poopoohead making in all the preschools, all the day cares, all the YMCA camps and lordy lordy lordy all the Baskin-Robbins after school soccer league get-togethers.

2) Last year 430,000 more Americans died from tobacco related diseases than terrorism in the US. We need to install sniff-o-matics in the schnozzes of all those who smoke, and special taste detection sensors in the uvulas of the so called smokeless users.

3) This year in America there are likely to be more than 40,000 more deaths from colorectal cancers than terrorism and we need to, uh, I think we should, er, uh, I uh..

4) You are nuts. Sorry but that's the truth.


misdirects.by.mr.x
misdirects.by.mr.x

Yes, let us extend the joy of the TSA, NSA, and other State Authorities, and begin by penalizing the authors of opinion articles with death. 

MrX1776
MrX1776

Mantis let's discuss how your Civil War 2.0 endlosung to America's bitter clinger problem will play out:

"Let’s see, what else… oh, then there’s the “rebellion” argument. You know, how we need guns in case the government ever becomes tyrannical (or because it apparently is, in the eyes of alarmists). Because clearly, if the government ever did actually become tyrannical (as opposed to providing healthcare), you would surely be able to fend off stealth bombers dropping bombs on you from 40,000 feet with handguns, and your assault rifle is really going to chip the paint of their tanks."

I seem to recall a group of poorly educated, poorly trained Pashtun tribesmen driving two of the world's most awesome military superpowers from their homelands and into bankruptcy with little more than IEDs and small arms...now how you think it will play out with hundreds of thousands of combat veterans from Vietnam to Afghanistan on the 'insurgent' or 'insurrectionist' side, well let's see...

Tanks, Bradleys and Homeland Security's shiny new domestic armored vehicle fleets need fuel which must be delivered by highly flammable easy IED/targetable trucks over long distances, as shown in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then there's the fact that drone pilots, NSA/DHS threat fusion center operators have to eat, sleep, and commute to 'work' killing Assange, Anonymous Occupiers or 'insurrectionists'. Once word gets out dissident movement leaders aren't dying in Hastings style fiery 'accidents' but in drone strikes on American soil, well then it's ON without any front lines. 

Think Malvo and his sidekick wreaked havoc and made people crap their pants around D.C.? How about hundreds or thousands of them, operating offline, without cell phones or any other NSA trackable electronic devices, as lone wolves outside every base gate looking for the senior commanders with responsibility for 'operations in the homeland'? 

In Civil War 2....Appomattox rules would not be in effect in a nation with 150 million long rifles and billions of rounds in 'civilian' hands, not to mention all the heavy weapons like .50 cals and Javelins defecting Marines, Army and Guard would bring to the 'insurrectionist' side out after armories get looted and 'weapons/ammo falling off the Ft. Campbell and other trucks' for use by nearby militias.

To root out the 'insurgents', you'd have to:

1) use terror on American civilians as collective punishment. That worked for the Nazis in the occupied USSR from 41' to 44' didn't it? How about a repeat of Sherman's March to the Sea, burning whole parts of the country out? Well, then you leave people with no choice if they can walk and hold a rifle from hooking up with the insurgency for survival.

2) due to the large number of defections and 'insider tips', Washington brings in foreign troops, whether Mexican, Chinese, whomever. Which only makes Washington's treasonous war on its own people rather than Abe Lincoln 2.0 status plain to the whole world.

3) Last but not least Bubba with his AR-15 you're expecting to be an easy drone kill from 10,000 feet might instead be laughing as your Predator goes down in flames from an F-16 or A-10 Sidewinder kill....or when the Arc Light lights up the fusion centers with napalm. You see the 'insurrectionists' on top of everything else might have air support in the Rocky Mountain states. And did I mention loose nukes in all those Dakotas and Montana silos being the ultimate reason why foreign nations might wind up recognizing the 'insurgents' as the authentic U.S. government and the folks in what's left of D.C. as traitors?

So yes, that's how your Nazi fantasy of the federal government finally crushing all states and gun owners resistance will go.


Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2013/04/23/tread-on-me-the-case-for-freedom-from-terrorist-bombings-school-shootings-and-exploding-factories/#ixzz2cHDSjnHk


giantsloar
giantsloar

@chrisabrayChrist, the pedantry. You focus on his example and ignore his point. There are many reasonable exceptions to the First Amendment (copyright, trademark, libel, slander, "fighting words," etc.), just as there should be (and are) for the Second Amendment.

BruceMajors4DC
BruceMajors4DC

It bought him a million dollar South Beach house.

BruceMajors4DC
BruceMajors4DC

No he's white and politically connected. Just hope his fans don't call in a swat.

MikeFreeman
MikeFreeman

@donatellospaghettio I reaize this but it's the same here in Britain except we don't have ay guns to defend ourselves. Terrorists kill thousands at a time and no doubt Jihadists are planning a strike with an even bigger body count. Islamists were moving out of New York in their thousands just before 9/11 because their relatives in Islamic countries knew it was going to happen and when are warned their families in the city. The next target is planned to be on US nuclear facilities creating a gigantic dirty bomb.   

MikeFreeman
MikeFreeman

@donatellospaghettio  You misunderstand me I hated living in the most spied upon nation in the world and left several years ago. I agree abolish federal government (central gov here) and emigrate to the state where you think that you and your family will survive. I stand united with you against the police state and those who control it... I know Americans will fight if they are pushed...   

MikeFreeman
MikeFreeman

@JoshuaDaleSmith Like in any terrorist action state terrorism being no exception. Governments conspire complicitly to terrorize each others people.


MikeFreeman
MikeFreeman

@jdgalt  Leader, theorist and designer of the symbols and images of the coming revolution

donatellospaghettio
donatellospaghettio

@TeresaTannahill  

That is absolutely true.  But Mike is a Mainstream Media shill for the powers that be.  He needs the ignorant masses to believe that there is a Taliban around every corner waiting to blow them up to justify this police state we live in now.

MrX1776
MrX1776

@misdirects.by.mr.x I never called for anyone's death. I merely present the scenario below in much the same way the filmmakers of "The Day After" dramatized (NOT advocated) a nuclear exchange between the USA and USSR which did not happen. The intent of the below is deterrence, not to threaten any individual.

I must say I'm flattered that someone decided to create an account for the sole purpose of arguing with me, and despite my accounts being shut down on Twitter, I have had online propaganda DHS/NSA/federal propaganda minions dispatched post haste to argue with my scenaro. 

smjhunt
smjhunt

@MrX1776 You scenario is laughable in so many ways.

For starters, there's not a single battle in Afghan or Iraq that ended up with a US platoon being captured/killed by the Taliban/ The taliban have either fled or were killed or captured.  That goes for any other militia type organization that the US has fought in the past two decades.  There were of course US casualties but no rout like you imply.  The training and technology available to the US military is overwhelmingly superior to anything a group of untrained gun toting civilians has available. Beyond that they have gained immeasurable experience fighting three guerilla style wars.

The notion that drones would be used to counter an insurrection shows your complete lack of understanding of military tactics as does the notion that in the event of an insurrection, personnel required to counter it would somehow be left vulnerable to guerilla attacks by rifle toting civilians.

Finally, the number of people who are involved with or have allegiance to militias, etc. is far smaller than you would like to believe and most would quickly give up when their fantasies came face to face with the real deal.

MrX1776
MrX1776

@smjhunt @MrX1776 "For starters, there's not a single battle in Afghan or Iraq that ended up with a US platoon being captured/killed by the Taliban". Nice, the fed propaganda fusion centers sent out somebody posing as a Sergeant Major to create sympathy for their 'crush any American insurrectionists' position. Won't work. No real Sgt. Major would take the time to argue with me here. But in truth, all I'm doing is repeating Bob Owens' points from late last year:

http://www.bob-owens.com/2012/12/what-youll-see-in-the-rebellion/

Here's the problem 'sergeant' (probably a fat middle aged Fusion Center 'cyber warrior' who never saw any combat) -- you didn't rebut my point. The Taliban haven't HAD to win any battles. Like their mujahadeen forebears they've already won the WAR. America is about to leave Afghanistan with its tail between its legs, just like the Russians. 

In fact, I would argue the Soviets had already made the decision to withdraw long before the CIA massively supply the muj with Stinger missiles in 85' and 86' in levels sufficient to force the Soviets to fly higher. The Black Hawk Down incident also forced the U.S. military to withdraw from Somalia, albiet not forever. These 'rag tag militias' you deride in a full fascist police state scenario would have plenty of vets who know insurgent tactics from having fought against Iraqis and Afghans in their ranks!


"The training and technology available to the US military is overwhelmingly superior to anything a group of untrained gun toting civilians has available." Problem 2 - when did I ever say the U.S. military would be used? I didn't say that exactly. I said their equipment would be used by DHS, BATF, cops playing at military, and foreign troops. Any large U.S. military unit ordered to round up civilians or kill Americans on American soil in large numbers is not only going to have one hell of a morale problem, but also experience defections, tip offs,'weapons that fell of the truck', looted armories, and even insider attacks. Any politicians who order such round ups unlike Abe Lincoln will have to spend the duration of the fighting in bunkers, terrified of appearing in public for fear of snipers. Same goes for their senior loyalist commanders. 

Thus, any patriot force in the 21st century won't have to fight the whole U.S. military. In fact significant numbers of Marines, Army Guard and possibly even Air National Guard would defect to the patriot side in an all out Civil War 2. Hence, the need for foreign troops and for indoctrinated fed thugs that D.C. and DHS hope can contain any revolt quickly. But the more this indoctrination makes itself known to be against gun owners, libertarians, Constitutionalists, and Christians, the more 'insider threats' of leaks and even possibly 'blue on blue' engagements they create. How long for example do you think the NSA's Utah Data Center could last if it faced a serious threat of being overrun by Utah National Guardsmen with orders to arrest NSA commanders on sight for participation in illegal surveillance and/or round ups of American dissidents? What about the flight time from Hill AFB where live bombs are dropped on ranges to Bluffdale? Think man, your dreamed of fascist federal forces are more vulnerable in a second American Civil War than they can possibly imagine. There will be no front lines and no safe rear areas for door kickers hunting fellow Americans to operate out of. No way to guarantee convoys won't get ambushed, and treasonous Oathbreaking commanders who waged war on fellow Americans and the Constitution won't be put up against a wall if captured on the spot.

Nor do the vast majority of the American people even have to support an insurgency against D.C. for it to be effective and last for years. You need only create a few million sympathizers by making the IRS a politicized thug force to intimidate opposition, kill journalists like Michael Hastings with the flimsiest pretenses that it their deaths are accidents, and publically call for the droning of dissidents as Grunwald has done, and call for the banning of firearms in civilians hands and that the Constitution is an 'outdated document' to get us...halfway to the horrific scenario I have described. Tread carefully 'sergeant'.