Wednesday, May 03, 2006

How to pick a scab till it bleeds
Montana Gov. to Grant Pardons for Sedition

HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- Nearly seven dozen Montana residents convicted of sedition during World War I are finally getting official pardons from the governor, years after their deaths.

In a ceremony Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, the grandson of German-Russian immigrants, planned to sign posthumous pardons for 78 men and women convicted in 1918 and 1919 for criticizing the U.S. government or its war effort.

Relatives of some of those being pardoned were expected to attend.

Montana's Sedition Act, passed in 1918 but since repealed, was one of the harshest in the country and a basis for a national sedition law passed the same year…

In a letter to Schweitzer in late March, more than three dozen professors, lawyers and historians nationwide urged him to grant the pardons "to affirm Montana's commitment to free expression and to bring a measure of justice and redemption to these people and their living descendants."

Couldn't more be done?

The “three dozen professors, lawyers and historians nationwide” should take up a collection and build a monument to “these people.” Perhaps the governor could declare July 5th to be a state holiday called Pardoned Seditionists Day (that would give Montanans a four day weekend whenever the 4th falls on a Thursday or a Monday). Perhaps “their living descendants” could all chip in and set up a Pardoned Seditionists Scholarship fund at the University of Montana; it could be awarded annually to the student ‘most wronged’ that year by the Montana government.


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