So many snitches, so few weeks.
This week's snitch is particularly relevant to me because of the end of the year surge democracy has been making.
Whether it is Hamas surging in the Palestinian elections, Sunni Muslims crying foul over the Iraqi elections or growing evidence of civilian spying in the good ole US of A, the idea of "true democracy" is having some problems.
But nowhere is struggling with democractic growing pains worse than China. With its 1 billion + people, even their minor problems are major.
So this is why I'm giving a little shine to Gao Zhisheng.
As a civil liberties lawyer, he's fighting enormous battle and odds against a government that has no problems with a troublemaker disappearing in the middle of the night.
And the way he came up isn't anything to scoff at either.
"Mr. Gao was born in a cave. His family lived in a mud-walled home dug out of a hillside in the loess plateau in Shaanxi Province, in northwestern China. His father died at age 40. For years the boy climbed into bed at dusk because his family could not afford oil for its lamp, he recalled.
Nor could they pay for elementary school for Mr. Gao and his six siblings. But he said he listened outside the classroom window. Later, with the help of an uncle, he attended junior high and became adept enough at reading and writing to achieve what was then his dream: to join the People's Liberation Army.
He scraped together the funds to take a self-taught course on the law. The course mostly required a prodigious memory for titles and clauses, which he had. He passed the tests easily. Anticipating a future as a public figure, he took walks in the early morning light, pretending fields of wheat were auditoriums full of important officials. He delivered full-throated lectures to quivering stalks.
By the late 1990's, though based in remote Xinjiang, he developed a winning reputation. He represented the family of a boy who sank into a coma when a doctor mistakenly gave him an intravenous dose of ethanol. He won a $100,000 payout, then a headline-generating sum, in a case involving a boy who had lost his hearing in a botched operation."
I'm a little disturbed by his recent conversion to Christianity, which in China, is done through underground churches with customized Bibles and preachers claiming to be the second coming of Christ.