Freedom of Conscience

I’ve had an idea bouncing around in my head to little effect. I’m going to disgorge it here just to see what it looks like written down and also to drop a March post for my weird Archive column length vanity thing.

I don’t know the origins of the concept of “freedom of conscience.” I associate it with 17th/18th century enlightenment authors writing about religious freedom. The topic was hot after hundreds of years of “religious” warfare based on the premise that a monarch or government could discern which of a number of unprovable, highly subjective religious experiences were true and which weren’t. I haven’t heard the phrase in use much lately, but it is a good stand in for a whole category of problems/decisions that belong in the hands of the individual–which is all of them.

You should be able to believe any ol’ crazy thing.

Nobody really knows *exactly* how dangerous Waziristani goat herders are to the health and well being of a westerner. My estimation is that I endure nearly 0 risk from said goat herders. My conscience says that it’s wrong to kill somebody like that–somebody who poses absolutely no risk to my well being. If I were allowed the freedom to follow my conscience, I would spend 0 dollars attempting to kill the goat herders and their coreligionists on the far side of the planet. However, I am not allowed such freedom and my future labor has been used as leverage to incur trillions of dollars in debt (well, not just *my* labor) by people who supposedly believe they’re protecting me from some awful menace. On the flipside, other than denouncing you for a dangerous lunatic, I’ll not stand in the way of your spending however many 10s of thousands of dollars you wish trying to exterminate the muslim menace on your own.

Nobody knows how important a building-code compliant structure is to a given person. Sure, it’s nice to live in a safe structure with modern electrical and plumbing, but there are costs associated with doing so. I might find it more important to eat healthier food and save money for my child’s education than to spend money ensuring that my windows are the appropriate distance off the ground or to build a fence around a camper in my driveway. Maybe another person would prefer precisely the opposite for their own reasons. We should both/all be granted the freedom to follow our own consciences in these matters–the idea that a rule can be made that enforces the correct priorities for thousand or millions of people is laughable on its face.

Nobody knows when life begins, there’s a near consensus that, after being born, a human should be given a shot at living. Except under situations of extreme large scale deprivation, there are people willing to take custody of a child that would otherwise die. Before birth, however, this is a matter of debate and each person has their own opinion about “when life begins.” Each person should be allowed the freedom of their conscience in this matter. Nobody should be compelled to give birth or to abort a fetus against her will. It seems silly to even have to say it.

Always remember the alternative. I can honor your freedom of conscience in a matter, or I can compel you to go against it through force or threat of force. Of course there are circumstances, however rare, when I my conscience may dictate that I violently intervene to override your freedom of conscience (maybe you’re walking drunk into traffic, maybe you’re sleepwalking with a loaded gun). Currently, our rulers intervene as soon as we choose to purchase beverages that are too large, or to buy unpasteurized milk, or to visit a un-permitted wilderness camp. People who are brave/foolhardy enough to attempt to withhold their resources from the imperial prison/surveillance/warfare state can have any or all of their possessions taken from them and spend some or all of the rest of their lives in cages.

Of course there are complex and mind-bending rationales for all of these and other crimes against humanity carried out by those calling themselves “government”–just as there are complex and mind-bending rationales for an omnipotent, yet omniscient, god that allows humans free will. The simple truth is, no such god exists, and “government” is simply a group of humans who wish to rule over other humans. A simple litmus test of whether a human relation is just and equal or unjust and hierarchical is whether the freedoms of conscience of all the participants are being honored.

Do Not Call the Police

I know I sound like a broken record on this and many other issues, but unless you want someone beaten, killed or thrown into a cage–and you don’t get to choose which–do not call the police.

For example, if you wake up in the night and you house is being robbed by an axe wielding man, calling the police might be appropriate. If the assailant doesn’t leave in the next hour, there is a non-zero chance that the police will arrive to kill or capture him–assuming they don’t show up at the wrong house and kill your neighbor or mistake you or your loved ones for the home invader and kill you. If all goes well in the case of the axe wielding home invader, it’s not impossible that calling the police is the best option–assuming you’re unarmed.

As a counter-example, if a nice, young special needs gentleman won’t leave a movie theater when asked, you should probably call his parents, find some other non-homicidal adult to persuade him or, if all else fails, let him watch the damn movie again. The absolute wrong move in this case is to call in the brute squad to try out their pain holds and torture techniques on him. They’re most likely not going to care if they “accidentally” kill him, but assuming you’re not completely evil, it might bother you for the rest of your life.

A nice man that was killed by police.
This young man was killed by police.

It is a testament to the power of state schooling and corporate media that anyone, anywhere, ever considers calling the police to resolve a situation that is not already life-threatening. The police are simply thugs with one prerogative, to compel obedience. If they can’t achieve submission of their victim, they will kill the victim. This is completely unrelated to context and they have no need to account for their actions after the fact.

In this case, there are even reports that the police were off-duty and serving as private security. Their status as cops seems to have kept them from prosecution thus far.

Selfishness, the Individual, and the Collective

This post was inspired by a conversation with Jim Rigby who I follow on facebook. It started with a short conversation-provoking post, and the follow up highlights the resulting discussion. I recommend following Jim (on facebook, not in real life) and/or reading his blog, he’s a thoughtful and stereotype busting guy and never shies away from debate.

“We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society.”

I recently learned of this old quote from Hillary Clinton (circa 1993). At first glance, it seems to follow the aesthetically pleasing moral’ish guideline of “don’t be a greedy bastard, there are other people to think about.” Reminders to put perspective on one’s own wants and desires and to balance them with the wants and desires of your fellow human beings are all to the good, in my opinion.

But notice, that’s not really what’s being said. The quote doesn’t read, “stop thinking of yourself and start thinking about what is best for society.” The purpose of the quote isn’t to check the listeners greed, it’s to check the listeners concern for other individually recognizable people.

All of us humans have a subjective experience of being part of a larger whole. In a physical, this is clearly the case. Every physical part of our body is interacting with every other material object in the universe; we absorb and exchange material from all around us; we are literally composed of star dust; and every physical speck of each one of us will exist until the end of . . . well, existence.

On a social level, we belong to a species whose every advance is based on collective action, peaceful cooperation. To quote Jeffrey Tucker slightly out of context:

Without it, our world would fall apart. All progress is due to it. All order extends from it. All blessed things that rise above the state of nature are owed to it…. [W]e need ever more . . . to make the world a more beautiful place.

Speaking of “society” or “community” or “humanity” is entirely reasonable as a shorthand for the collection of individuals being discussed. The politicians trick which perverts the concept (and, secondarily, turns non-violent people into seeming lunatics stuck on the idea of individuality) is to talk about the collective concept–I’ll use “society”, but all have been used–as if it were an actual entity apart from the individuals that make it up with its own measurable level of well-being.

Once that fiction is in place, any number of individuals can be harmed in pursuit of the good of the society–as if there’s something somewhere that’s doing better even though the individuals that supposedly comprise it have been hurt.

As a quick, concrete example, 1 in 3 African-American men are entangled with the criminal justice system–mostly as part of the war on drugs. Thousands of people have been murdered on the border. Thousands more are threatened by various armed agencies, kicking down doors (sometimes even the intended ones), breaking up families and shooting anyone who resists or is slow to comply. Millions of individuals have clearly been aggressed against in a whole variety of ways. No individual can be identified as a beneficiary (other than the prison-industrial-complex and police state). The political argument is that drug suppression is for the greater good. It benefits society. We should, after all, stop worrying about the individual so much.

Another great example is the “liberation” of [name of American occupied country here] where whole civilizations have been destroyed, countless persons killed, millions of refugees created, in the name of improving the state of the social abstraction that is supposedly comprised of the victims of American aggression.

It’s possible, of course, that there’s some citizen who is better off because of the drug war. There are certainly people better off under one political regime than another. It’s impossible to coherently argue that the “greater good” is being served, or not served. It doesn’t have a physical existence and it’s well-being can’t be measured.

This makes talking about abstractions an ideal way to manipulate people into supporting aggression against other people. Part of the politician’s trick is to speak for the “greater good” the way the Pope speaks for God. We’re meant to believe that we common folk can only access our own subjective state, while political leaders can calculate any number of weighted sums of millions of individuals’ subjective experiences and then determine which weighting to maximize with each policy decision.

It’s nonsense on the face of it. Politicians do what they want, or what their patrons want, and call it the “common good,” just as the Pope does whatever he and/or his patrons want and call it the “will of God.”

When you hear somebody lamenting collectivist thinking or championing a world-view where the individual is exalted over the collective, it’s possible you’re listening to some selfish asshole who just wants to do what he wants and to hell everybody else.

It’s also possible that you’re talking to somebody who has noticed the pattern by which individuals are being harmed, on an epic scale, in the name of some abstraction and always for the gain of the advocates of said abstraction.

One more caveat and I’m out: there are obviously good people in the world who would self-describe as serving the common good/greater good/society. This doesn’t bother me at all, though they may be adopting political language beyond the convenience of using collective nounts–I have no evidence of this at all, mind you.

The litmus test for whether or not someone is using abstractions manipulatively is whether they are advocating violence against certain individuals in the name of the abstraction. If not, they may still be trying to manipulate you personally (into donating money, time, etc), but they’re certainly not violating any core moral principle. If their devotion to the “greater good” *does* require the harming of individuals, then they’re either delusional or criminal; they should be shunned by all good people and their duplicity should be exposed as far as possible.

Last Minute October Post and New Podcast

In a nod to the arbitrary divisions of time, I am motivated to post *something* to void the goose egg in October. I have been working on a podcast, so here’s my first promotional post for it. It sounds alot more carefully produced than the bikecast. Though the lack of wind and traffic has alot to do with it. jkpod.com Go have a listen and tell us what you think.

Salman Rushdie and the “Innocence of Muslims”

Salman Rushdie has some harsh words for President Obama and other western leaders:

I think if we wish to live in any kind of a moral universe, we must hold the perpetrators of violence responsible for the violence they perpetrate. It’s very simple. The criminal is responsible for the crime.

Oh no, wait. He’s talking about the US armed militants that turned on their masters and killed 4 Americans . . . in a country where the United States indiscriminately bombed 1,000 civilians (very conservatively) out of existence in the previous year.

I hesitate to tell someone who grew up Muslim about the recent history of the Muslim world, but anybody who says:

. . . in the last half-century, these cultures seem to have slid backwards into medievalism and repression is one of the – I think it’s one of the great self-inflicted wounds. And out of that comes the rise of this new, much harsher Islam . . . the readiness to believe that it’s OK to kill people if you declare yourself offended by something. This is the mindset of the fanatic, the mindset of the tyrant. And it’s a real shame that it seems to have spread so widely across the Muslim world,

needs, perhaps a quick refresher.

The “slide backwards into medievalism” wasn’t a “self-inflicted wound.” The people of the muslim world were dragged into the torture chambers of medievalism by colonial secret police; were herded into medievalism by western armed and supported dictators; and were finally bombed into medievalism by 30 years of relentless aggression from western militaries and their proxies.

Yes, Islam is awful and stupid and can be a rallying point for hostilities that are boiling over. The same is true for any Abrahamic religion. The idea that some 13 minute Youtube clip is really actually driving the entire Muslim world in a batshit firebombing rage is remarkably stupid. I’m sure Salman Rushdie is not remarkably stupid. He sort of sounds like it in this interview though.

Which brings me to point #2:
The idea that some 13 minute Youtube clip is really actually driving the entire Muslim world in a batshit firebombing rage is remarkably stupid.

And yet, that’s the story–at least the headline–nearly universally across all media. Man those people are crazy! They’re going nuts over an offensive Youtube clip? Another round of bombing is too good for them!

I *have* actually heard a couple of reports that at least hint at the fact that perhaps, just maybe, daily drone attacks, constant military occupation and the propping up of a whole chain of awful governments against the will of the population have *something* to do with the recent violence. Literally, like 2–maybe 3–in a solid week of coverage.

Pepe Escobar of Asia Times makes a convincing case that the Libya attck was “blowback” from the killing of Abu Yahya al-Libi, an ally of the United States in the fight against Gaddafi who was then assassinated. The death was announced on 9/11:

An immediate effect of al-Zawahiri’s video was that an angry armed mob, led by Islamist outfit Ansar al Sharia, set fire to the US consulate in Benghazi. The US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed. It didn’t matter that Stevens happened to be a hero of the “NATO rebels” who had “liberated” Libya – notoriously sprinkled with Salafi-jihadis of the al-Libi kind.

This isn’t conclusive, of course, but it’s infinitely more likely than a crowd of would-be peaceful muslims driven into a lunatic rage by a Youtube clip.

Which brings me to point #3:
Does anyone thinks it’s strange that this movie trailer isn’t actually associated with a movie? I checked the Googles, Amazon, even Ebay. There is no movie “Innocence of the Muslims.” I’m not trying to spin a conspiracy yarn . . . not yet anyway . . . but this is just a true statement. The movie does not exist. The clip on Youtube can’t really be a trailer for a movie, then can it? Where did this story even come from?

Segueless jump to point #4:
Guess what, almost no muslims are protesting at all. Even given the occupation, the appropriation of their resources, the secret police, the constant surveillance, the desecration of everything . . . sacred, etc., there are a few hundred up to a couple thousand people engaged in protest at each of these events.

In one of those rare instances in which something on the Internet gets lost, I can’t find a site I saw yesterday that had the size of the protests vs. the populations of each country. Suffice it to say that the burner/rioters represent tens-of-thousandths of percents of the population (i.e 00.0001%)

Take a look at the #MuslimRage Twitter hashtag. It’s adorable. Here are 13 pictures of Muslim rage. Take a look. Just like you, amazingly enough, almost everybody else in the fucking world just wants to live their lives and be left alone by the lunatic %00.0001 percent of busy bodies and psychopaths that ruin it for everyone.

To conclude:
This story in which cultures are clashing and a mad and unfathomable “other” is just waiting to destroy you and your happiness is bullshit. It’s just a story–completely fabricated by people who will take your money, at gunpoint if necessary, to kill and enslave innocent human beings, just like you and your family, all around the world.

It’s just a story to blind you like Salman Rushdie is blind–who can look at a history of the last 50 years and not see that the murderers who need to be held accountable are the leaders of the western powers?

Don’t believe the stories. Don’t become blind to evil. Let’s leave the stone age relics of religion and rulers that the 00.0001% would have us cling to behind and forge a new path for humanity. A path that most of us have been on this whole time.

Badass Doctor Single-Handedly Doubles Access to Abortion in Mississippi

This is a small part of a much bigger thought, but I can’t think of a better place to start. Mississippi is down to its last abortion clinic. Tennessee has lost half its providers in the last decade; for some residents, the nearest clinic is upwards of 240 miles away. As we zip through the end of another election cycle, we’ll no doubt hear–well those of us who are in the half-dozen or so swing states will no doubt hear–about how great the incumbent ruler has been on reproductive issues.

For women in rural areas, however, the last 4 years have seen the barriers to abortion raise with alarming quickness. Nevertheless, progressives are marching on with the mantra of “four more years.” The only action that can prevent the outright banning of abortion is the one that is currently leading to the de facto banning of abortion. “Bullshit,” says this guy [1]

We know world-wide that when abortion is legal and accessible, women remain healthy, and when it is not they die, often in populations with profiles similar to what I describe for Mississippi. Cognizant of this, I recently obtained a medical license and began travel to this great state.

– Dr. Willie Parker, MD, MPH, MSc

Holy shit.

You really should go read the rest of the article which is pretty much the good doctor holding forth like a medical Braveheart:

. . .to the question of why I go to Mississippi, the answer is, I want for women there what I want for myself: a life of dignity, health, self-determination, and the opportunity to excel and contribute. We know that when women have access to abortion, contraception, and medically accurate sex education, they thrive. It should be no different for the women of Mississippi.

I only wish this guy was an anarchist, or that I was a medical doctor (*and* that I didn’t have to cover my eyes anytime there’s a surgery scene on teevee). This is the real answer to the question of how abortion remains available and accessible to women. Imagine if, as our rulers cynically dangle Roe v. Wade over the ballot box compelling women to participate in the illusion of protecting their right to bodily autonomy, a legion of grey market agorist clinicians appeared across the country providing a desperately needed service regardless of changes to the law.

Then we could also build roads.

In any case Dr. Parker is doing his part. I really can’t stop marvelling at his bad-assedness. I hope he has a “donate” button somewhere.

  1. [1] At least that’s what I pretend he might say

More Things We Should Know By Now

In a post from last month (probably the post from last month), I was thinking about ignorance as an excuse for poor and/or immoral choices. There’s a category of ills (racism, homophobia, misogyny) that have become decreasingly acceptable by society at large. While we might excuse the racist ramblings of great-aunt Edna, a member of our peer group with the same beliefs is willfully ignoring the evidence against 19th century theories of racial hierarchy; or is aware of them but wants to be a racist anyway.

The main thrust of the previous post: only a willing dupe still believes in government as a force of positive social change. Given a goal, no matter how universally laudable, writing it down on paper and handing it to a pack of unaccountable and heavily armed goons to carry out will never go well. It will rarely turn out otherwise than awful.

The same principle applies to police, military, and other members of the enforcement arm of the United States government. I’m not sure if it was ever the case that people trusted in the police or if Mayberry and Officer Friendly are just straight-up 1950s post-war propaganda. In any case, nobody in their right mind trusts in the police now.

This has several important ramifications (that we should all know by now):

1. Unless you want someone shot or in jail, do not call the police. Since we live in a largely disarmed and submissive society, there are many time and places where a person’s only recourse against violations of person or property is a government thug. In those instances, by all means, engage the police.

Necessary or not, it’s often a terrible and lifechanging ordeal. If you’re lucky, the casualty will be a family pet–either yours or one belonging to a neighbor. Otherwise, you may have unintentionally called in a hit on someone–maybe a member of your own family.

To reiterate, I’m not passing judgement on anyone who calls the police in self-defense. It should be an absolute last resort and you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself, a loved one, or a neighbor shot or put in a cage. That’s what police do. Everyone should understand this by now.

2. If someone signs up to be an enforcer today without the full understanding that they’re accepting money to obey orders, no matter how immoral; they can’t reasonably claim to care about the possibility of having to murder, torture, or imprison innocent human beings. That’s what the job of law enforcement *is*.

If you sign up to “enforce the law”, you are not a hero. People don’t respect you, they are afraid of you. If you find yourself in harms way, it’s probably because you’re employed to be a thug who orders people around at gunpoint–or would if they didn’t comply with your barked orders. Some people don’t have the right psychological makeup to debase themselves and submit when bullied[1].

The time has past when anyone who wants to be police can be considered anything other than a brute. If you really want to help or protect people, there are a million other avenues that will fulfill those needs. The only reason anyone is police today is that they are willing to do anything to anyone in order to get a paycheck. Most probably, they enjoy doing it–the pay isn’t *that* great if you have any marketable skills at all.

3. The same thing goes for “our troops.” Soldiers are mercenaries who will kill anybody they’re ordered to regardless of context. Sadly, for those who acting out of financial necessity, enough people still exist who blindly “honor the troops,” to provide a shadow of moral sanction. Countless souls on the margin have been tipped to the side of obeying evil for pay by the omnipresent message that their “fellow citizens” will “honor their sacrifice”.

The true nature of the United States military is willfully ignored by a huge number of Americans. As with all of our above examples as well as the the effects of smoking and the theory of evolution, the evidence is ample, universal, and unequivocal. 40 years of incontrovertible evidence plus an additional 180 years of less mainstream history indicates that the purpose of the military is to kill for the advantage of bankers, plantation owners, mineral extractors, and weapons manufacturers.

It’s time we stopped pretending that there’s anything positive about being a gang enforcer. Even if the gang is the biggest one on the planet.

  1. [1] For the record, I totally do. Don’t shoot me.

Stop Calling These Consequences “Unforeseeable”

I tend to err on the side of believing those who claim ignorance. We live in a world chock-full of narratives. It’s possible, in some cases, to go through a large part of one’s life without hearing a particular counter-narrative to a given belief–even if the counter-narrative cleaves more closely to reality. As humanity advances, and reality wins through, claims of ignorance become less believable. At some point, we have to accept it as evident that someone is either willfully ignoring a fact, or that they do not feel compelled to act on it.

As an easy opening example, take the practice of hitting (a.k.a. spanking) children as a “teaching” tool. This was a universal practice for . . . well, ever–”spare the rod, spoil the child” is 2500+ years old. Fast forward to the enlightenment and you get the first people hypothesizing that it might not be a great idea, based on the premise that children are humans and stuff. Fast forward to the mid-late 20th century, and observational evidence begins to accumulate that the best outcomes are associated with peaceful parenting. In the current day, the evidence appears overwhelming. The only remaining advocates of hitting children “for their own good” cite the Bible as their principal authority.

Whereas the parents of the 60s and 70s could perhaps claim never to have heard the position against hitting their children, today’s parents can’t say the same. A parent who hits a child today can’t reasonably claim to be doing so in the child’s interests. He or she wants to inflict abuse[1]

There’s a similar lesson that should have been learned, amply, in 10+ years of public access to full-spectrum information: when you send agencies whose existence depends on violence to carry out your social agenda, awful things will happen. In political and economic science, these were once called “unforeseen consequences,” but given the premise of this article, we should change that to “entirely foreseeable consequences.”

In 2008, the EU decided “to obtain 10% of all transport fuels from biofuels by 2020.” I assume in pursuit of the laudable goal of taking some heat off the environment (pun intended)–something we can all get behind. According to the Guardian, “the total land area required to grow industrial biofuels . . . has been estimated as 17.5m hectares . . . more than ½ the size of Italy.”

In a world of equals, should the EU be serious about meeting this goal, there would need to be a lot of exploration in pursuit of uninhabited regions suitable for growing biofuel crops. In light of the scarcity of such land, there would probably also be alot of “wheeling and dealing,” trying to make it worth the while for the world’s farmers to grow biofuels and/or offering them buy-out levels of wealth in exchange for their land.

Luckily for the EU and their corporate creatures, no such equality exists. The lands were simply seized from their rightful, mostly indigenous, owners by the various puppet states around the world, and handed to the corporations seeking legistlated profits susidized and protected by the western armed militaries of the 3rd world.

A parallel land grab is on to depopulate indigenous farmland to grow forests for carbon credits, which, apparently will be worth alot in the future.
master
The Guardian continues, “The latest data suggests that up to 203 million hectares of land has been acquired by companies in land deals and two-thirds of that is for biofuels.” By my math, that’s just short of 4 Italies’ worth of arable land moving out of the hands of its actual owners, those who live on and work it and into the hands of multi-national corporations.

This is the result of demanding that government, “do something,” about a problem. It is an inevitable result and it has countless parallels in the modern world as well as throughout history. This does not mean, by any stretch, that there aren’t myriad social problems that must be addressed; anybody who votes to hand them over to the corporate-state, or worse yet, collections of multi-national-corporate-states, is either wilfully blind, or evil.

  1. [1] with the possible exception of a few religious folk who really can hit their children thinking that they’re carrying out God’s plan.

Those Crazy Egyptian Infowarriors!

I’ll try to keep this one quick, though I could really go on for hours about it.

Apparently, Hillary Clinton was recently in Egypt, where her motorcade was the target of tomatoes, shoes, and other signs of “anti-american” behavior.

The New York Times (blog, I think) and Rachel Maddow (citing the Times), blame American right wing “conspiracy theorists” (Glen Beck, Michelle Bachman, two other people I’ve never even heard of) for riling up the Egyptians. Said riling took the form of said theorists claiming that the United States meddles in Egyptian politics.

You can watch/read if you want a reasonably convincing argument, source to “several protestors,” in support of this supposition. I’ll offer the following arguments against it.

The government of Egypt has been a creature of the United States for almost 60 years. The series of long ruling dictators were less than beloved by the Egyptian people who were well aware that the United States was providing the arms and intelligence that prevented them from any degree of political self-determination.
The Egyptians have watched several hundred thousand of their co-religionists starve to death, die from embargoes of medical goods and be vaporized and disappeared to concentration camps by various US lead coalitions. These atrocities happened in countries in extremely or relatively close proximity. Somewhere north of 30,000 were killed in a neighboring state just a less than a year ago. Outside of the US propaganda sphere and a handful of particularly callous western european commentators, these deaths are rightly seen as cold blooded murder by an invading empire.

I have less evidence for this last point, but I just can’t imagine too many Egyptians watch Glen Beck. I didn’t even know Michelle Bachman was still in congress.

Now, every person living in Egypt is, of course, an individual. I’m sure there are a couple who believe that Obama is secretly a Muslim bent on the creation of a neo-caliphate because Michelle Bachman told them so. Who knows, this entire protest could actually have been peopled by an unlikely seeming Egyptian Glen Beck meetup group.

Allow me to assure you, though, that the average Egyptian is not indulging in conspiratorial thinking along the lines of lizard people and alien visitations by thinking that the US might–just might–be fucking with their political system. It’s akin to one of us hypothesizing that Exxon or Goldman Sachs might be, in some way, trying to influence the outcome of American elections.

There’s a good deal of really, really well founded anger directed at the American ruling class by a whole world of victims of American foreign power. The anger would be universal except for soothsayers like Maddow and the New York Times (and the rest of the media establishment for that matter) insisting that everyone else in the world’s anger is directed at our government because of “our freedom,” “our prosperity,” or because they’ve fallen victim to zany tinfoil hat conspiracy theories.

Update: Jon Stewart makes the point funnier.

A Typical Crime with an Atypical Victim

One of the leading indicators of the diseased nature of our political system is the dramatic militarization of and the increasingly brazen acts of inhumanity carried out by those calling themselves “law enforcement.” We’ve moved into another era of popular resistance to the existing power structures unseen since the late 1960s. Police are transitioning from the task of the last 40 years–satisfying the racist demands of the power structure by locking-up non-whites for non-crimes–back to the job of cracking down on political dissent and disobedience.

One thing authoritarian thugs will absolutely not countenance is being called out for their thuggery. It’s a rare, brave, and disciplined soul who would even dare to challenge a uniformed police officer–a state agent with the power to do literally anything to any “normal” without repercussions.

One such hero is Austin’s own Antonio Buehler, who attempted to intervene–not physically, apparently he wasn’t suicidal–while cops assaulted a 100 pound woman (pictured) at a gas station early on New Year’s day.

I leave it to you to review the facts of the case, should you be disinclined to accept my opinion. As far as I can tell, Antonio, who was probably the only sober person in Austin at that point in time, did nothing illegal and certainly nothing wrong (and yes, those are largely unrelated categories). His ongoing entanglement with the “justice” system since that night is entirely due to his failure to submit and obey. It’s also a highlight reel for modern american “police work.”

Antonio is facing 10 years in prison for “felony harassment of a public servant.” You see, one officer took a couple minutes off from abusing the young woman to shove Antonio around. When Antonio put his hands in the air and backed away, refusing to engage the officer physically, the cop dragged him to the ground and arrested him. He was accused him of 1. charging the “officer” and 2. spitting in this face.

Historically, Anthony Buehler would be at the whim of the “justice” system and would join the legion of other previously free people about whom some bullshit charge was ginned up for the purpose of putting them in cages for large parts of their lives.

Unfortunately for brazen, legalized thuggery, the 21st century has seen a proliferation of recording devices, and there was somebody across the street videoing the entire encounter. Also unfortunately for those who would lock up a stranger for 10 years just because they want to: Antonio is a pretty industrious fellow. Beside finding the person who recorded the event, he also found other witnesses who were willing to testify to his innocence.

Additionally, he’s actively pursued getting the dashboard camera footage released. As per usual, when they contain evidence of officer misconduct–which is most of the time--the footage is sequestered
while “under review” by some internal investigatory arm
with a 100% track record of clearing officers of their crimes. I’m surprised they even admit the cameras were on and functioning and that no one “lost” the recording media.

Despite all this (and 2000+ signatures on a petition to investigate his assailants , and 6000+ members of the related facebook page), the state is moving forward with its attempt to put Antonio in a cage. It’s reasonably likely, despite being clearly in the right at every point in the encounter, he’ll go to prison. It’s almost certainly the case that, despite committing a series of crimes–and being awful, cretinous human beings to boot–the police involved will continue to roam the streets, abusing people and putting them in cages.

It’s important to focus the mind on the reality that this style of injustice happens to dozens or hundreds of people every single day. Anyone who faces law enforcement without witnesses is entirely at their mercy. Anybody who has already been a victim of the “justice” system (i.e, with a record), or who can’t martial the tremendous amount of mental and material resources to defend oneself against the state is going to prison.

Antonio Buehler happens to be very capable, courageous and motivated, and he had witnesses with recording devices–even he might go to prison.

Along those lines, another important point: do not fuck with Antonio Buehler. Since being attacked, he has started an organization, The Peaceful Streets Project that is distributing video devices to activists in an attempt to provide evidentiary protection to other victims of the police. The group is collecting stories from victims of Austin police, is holding “know your rights” trainings, and is organizing a Police Accountability Summit on July 14.

I’m hoping that his case is high-profile enough that they can’t cage him. As I noted at the start of the post, the state’s “justice” system is transitioning from caging undeclared political prisoners to overt and active dissidents. If the process can be stopped or slowed, it will be through efforts like Peaceful Streets Project and people of honor like Antonio Buehler.