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Back on the Chain Gang

John Stossel of ABC's 20/20 calls himself a libertarian. But rather than criticizing the reappearance of chain gangs as an assault on human liberty, Stossel promoted them on the June 9, 1995, broadcast as "reasonable punishment" and "only fair." When one Alabama prisoner pointed out that "you're not allowed to chain an animal up in Montgomery," Stossel retorted, "Animals don't break the law." (The same logic could be used to justify burning at the stake.) 20/20 anchor Hugh Downs also could not see what was wrong with using shackled prisoners for slave labor: "I can't see the cruelty," said Downs, who serves as the chair of the U.S. committee for UNICEF.

Reprinted from Extra Update , August, 1995.

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