A Reno businessperson who bought a quarter-page advertisement in the Reno Gazette-Journal to blast dogmatic Republicans and spineless Democrats on civil liberties issues says he’s gotten some positive feedback.

Mitch Lau, a Money Tree Services exec, says it was worth the $3,947.57 it cost him to run the ad for several days.

“You know, there’s some people, you’re just never going to change their mind,” Lau said. “And there’s some people who feel the same way I do and haven’t been able to put it into words.”

He said he’s received a half-dozen calls at home and a couple at work, all positive. The only negative comment came from his 20-year-old daughter’s best friend. “Her family—they’re all Bush supporters—she said, ‘What was that about?’ Because so many people don’t get it. And it’s not that I’m a Democrat or necessarily anti-Republican. I’m neither, I’m not a Republican or a Democrat.”

Lau is not easily categorized politically. He once wrote a letter to the editor in the RN&R critical of government requirements for personal behavior like mandatory helmet laws (“Define ‘risk,’ please,” March 22, 2001) and is a member of a group that opposes fluoride supplements in the water supply, attending legislative hearings on the topic. He contributed $250 to John Kerry’s presidential campaign.

His newspaper advertisement, made up entirely of text, ends with a warning—not to politicians but to citizens.

“Just this month it was revealed that two federal judges have ruled in secret that the provisions of the PATRIOT Act can be used in any criminal investigation, not just those involving alleged terrorism. Some might say, ‘I never do anything wrong, so it won’t affect me.’ Adolf Hitler grew powerful because of that kind of attitude. … You will be able to tell your children and grandchildren that you stood by and watched as our freedom was stolen. But don’t lie and tell them, ‘I didn’t know it was happening.’”

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...