People located all over the political spectrum tend to overuse terms like “fascist” to describe their foes. Catastophisizing and demonizing is a lot easier to do than engaging in actual debate. The downside is, the actual meaning and power of those terms gets diluted and worn down through overuse (similar to comparison to the Nazis), so that when they might actually be valid, people just roll their eyes.

But consider some facts. These are actual facts, not hyperbole.

Yesterday, at an appearance by John Kerry at the University of Florida, a student who was unruly and disruptive was in the process of asking John Kerry a long, hostile, and somewhat incoherent question. The other students in attendance were trying to shout him down, but Kerry requested that they let him finish. What happened? The police came, Tasered him, and took him away.

In its first term, the Roberts court considered the case of Morse v. Frederick, where the Court upheld the School District’s right to suspend a student because he put up a banner that said “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” when the Olympic torch bearers ran by. Not during school, mind you; outside of school.

(I’m not going to go into here the mental gymnastics the members of the Supreme Court go through to justify this nonsense. Just as an example, donating large sums of money is constitutionally protected free speech, but wearing arm bands to school is not. Yeah, okay; whatever. Jefferson and Hamilton are probably fighting for grave-rolling privileges with John Jay.)

In its term of office, the Bush Administration has suspended habeas corpus and given themselves the right to slap American citizens in jail without trial and without accusing them of a crime indefinitely simply by calling them “enemy combatants.” Bush has unilaterally declared entire sections of various laws invalid simply by issuing “signing statements.” And finally, he’s continuing a war in direct defiance of the opinions of a majority of Congress and the American people.

These are facts; I ain’t making this stuff up.

At the risk of being pedantic, “fascism” is defined as “a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.”

Now I know some people will consider it hyperbole, and we are certainly a ways from, say, Germany in 1937, but what term other than “fascist” can be used to describe where we are today? We have police tasering people to shut them up; people pretending to be secret service and stopping citizens from attending speeches because of bumper stickers on their cars; White House press secretaries saying that we “have to watch what we write; watch what we say”; people who dare to debate the wisdom of public policy not disagreed with, but accused of being traitors and “giving comfort to the enemy.”

And when when we have a President who values personal loyalty above competence, who fires military leaders when they dare to say things publicly that are at odds with what he wants to hear (remember Gen. Shinseki?), and whose Administration engages in vicious retaliation against anyone who doesn’t do their bidding (Carol Lam, the former U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, who was fired for not persuing “illegal voting” hard enough, and of course Valerie Plame being outed as a covert CIA operative as punishment for husband having the temerity to question Bush in the pages of the NY Times being just two examples), what else can we call him but “dictatorial?”

So as much as it puts me in danger of being accused of hyperbole, I have to say we live in a fascist state. It is not being abused to the point it could be, no, but it’s a fascist state. If the State Apparatus wanted to slap me in jail tomorrow under some trumped-up pretext, they could. And that’s a fascist state, folks.