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Opinion Elvis is no terrorist

George HasaraIt's good to know that Elvis has not been implicated in a terrorist act, but he could have been. While events unfolded in the Boston Marathon Bombing, a lesser story played out concerning the sending of ricintainted letters to the President, a U.S. senator and a judge. Initially, Paul Kevin Curtis, a 45- year-old Elvis impersonator from Corinth, Mississippi was charged and arrested for the threatening act, with charges being dropped days later.

The arrest of Curtis was in part facilitated by statements made on social media, matching up with those contained in the ricin letters. Conveniently, images from Curtis' Facebook account were readily available for publication to go along with stories of his arrest. Along with accounts of an uneven mental-health history, Curtis hardly fits the description of a criminal mastermind.

Perhaps the FBI realized that Curtis wasn't playing dumb when he confused the word ricin with rice. He said that he didn't eat rice or have rice in the house. Also, there was no evidence that Curtis had any materials necessary to manufacture the toxin or even had a clue how to do so. The public information on social media is believed to have been used to frame him and Curtis has since named another man who is the current ricin-mailer suspect that is in custody.

Ricin, processed from the common castor bean, apparently, was not in “weaponized” form in those letters. What concentration and how dangerous of a threat it posed is unclear. Fluoride is a poison, but smearing a letter with toothpaste is hardly attempted murder. I'm not a chemist and for sake of argument, let's assume something serious transpired with the letter mailings. What I find encouraging is that Curtis was not treated by the FBI as a “terrorist” but as a suspect with rights. You know, those antiquated, innocent-tillproven- guilty kind of rights.

In our post-9/11 world there is no shortage of voices insisting that we can never be too sure or too safe. We must suspend (indefinitely) our freedoms in order to preserve them for future use at some undetermined point when the “war on terror” is over. No doubt, ending after the “war on drugs” is won. For many, there is no such thing as a “suspected” terrorist, if our government says a person is a terrorist – then they are one.

If the Feds had played hardball with Curtis instead of “coddling” him, just think of all the amazing intel that could have been collected through “enhanced” interrogation techniques formerly known as torture. None of it is true of course, but packed with sensationalism and fear-mongering. Yes, the man with the three-octave vocal range could have been made to “sing,” so we could all “feel” safer.

Curtis does a decent version of Johnny Cash's “Folsom Prison Blues” and fortunately he won't be “stuck” there or in any other penitentiary. Curtis is quoted as saying, "I can't help but think now how many people are thrown in jail because of circumstantial evidence and somebody can frame you that easily." That's something for us all to keep in mind and as Elvis would say, “thank you very much” for doing so.


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