JR'S Free Thought Pages
The Arbitrary Nature of Laws, Cops and Prisons
By JR, www.skeptic.ca, August 2021
On abolishing innumerable unjust insanely immoral laws (such as the criminalization of drugs and legal definition of corporations as people - but with corporations holding more power and rights), cops and prisons
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it – Upton Sinclair
If everyone held to the Golden Rule, surely we’d fashion a much more ethical, equitable and just world; moreover it’s difficult to imagine that if everyone held to this moral principle capitalism would last another week. Ask anyone at random on the street “What is the Golden Rule?” and it’s likely the person won’t even know what it means, namely a minimalist ethical requirement for civility and decency that my mother taught me before grade school. This was qualified by her assertion that there’s much more to being a good person, such as compassion, generosity, tolerance and empathy. Assuming laws are motivated by and grounded in morality, which in most cases they are not since they are written by those who have wealth and power, I believe that the essence of the ethical life is to do less than you are permitted to do and more than you are expected to do. Morality cannot be rooted in authority such as god, religious doctrine or our current fraudulent “democratic” neo-liberal capitalist states which are merely governments of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. Invoking the lame excuse “I was just following orders”, as did the Nazi war criminals at the Nuremburg tribunals, is prudence at best and not to be confused with one’s ethical conscience and rational reflection. And let’s not continue to delude ourselves about capitalism and democracy; these are two concepts that are, for the most part, antithetical. In fact all politico-socio-economic systems throughout history from theocracy, monarchy, feudalistic fiefdoms to capitalism have been hierarchical, authoritarian and exploitive with capitalism, particularly the neo-liberal mutation, perhaps the worst of the lot.
Surely if the golden rule was accepted by everyone, would we need cops and the barbaric cages called prisons, many of which have now been privatized and motivated by profit? The United States has 4-5% of the world’s population yet 25% of the global population are incarcerated in US prisons and almost half a million people languish in jail because they don’t have the money for bail, even for non-violent crimes such as drug possession. Most people do not like cops, hate being confronted by them and don’t trust them. If we eliminated cops, prisons and prison guards, many of whom were former cops or soldiers, we’d at most require much more sensible community based policing. Those regulatory officials would be elected by the members of the community to regulate uncooperative, unruly, recalcitrant and anti-social people not unlike the increasing prevalence of “neighbors from hell” (aka assholes) that exist on every neighborhood street these days.
For compelling arguments against cops and prisons, read these essays by Peter Gelderloos:
And on the meaning of real democracy that does not exist today in our exploitive authoritarian capitalist neo-fascist states and has never existed throughout human history…
In addition to Bertrand Russell, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Victor Serge (and several other brilliant anarchists such as Mikhail Bakunin and Emma Goldman), Richard Feynman, Richard Dawkins and many others, one of my primary intellectual influences has been the great existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980). A character in one of Sartre’s many plays declared “Hell is other people” but without doubt qualified by a certain type of person (the quintessential asshole) that varies from person to person. I would include cops, military officers, bosses, managers, blockhead bureaucrats, religious fundamentalists, dogmatists and other authoritarians, lawyers, calcified conservative and pseudo-liberal politicians, bankers (aka financial mafia) capitalist vultures (aka entrepreneurs), corporate oligarchs, selfish manipulating halfwit neighbors and other sociopathic self-absorbed narcissistic assholes. The list varies from person to person but every workplace has at least one of these jerks from hell. So far these subhuman mutants have been in the minority but in the past three or four decades psychopathic behavior and the preponderance of assholes has steadily grown.
But alas the golden rule is not the customary habit in our global capitalist neo-liberal new world order and toxic culture grounded in greed, deceit, exploitation and plunder in which the real existing golden rule is “those who have the gold make the rules.” One should never conflate today’s system of laws with ethics; laws exist to protect capital and private property so if there is any moral substance to any law, it’s merely incidental or accidental. It is rare that one becomes super wealthy by adhering to moral principles or through honest toil. When the rich man tells you he acquired his wealth through hard work, ask whose? The manner in which the rich get money almost without exception is the result of moral compromises and in many cases, outright swindles - what Henry David Thoreau called “A Life without Principle”.
The fact that our laws were written by selfish people of wealth, power and privilege to serve them and that the police (and military if required) serve and protect those privileges, power and wealth render most of our laws irrelevant to at least 95% of people on our seriously overpopulated planet. The real criminals are the undemocratic institutions we tolerate such as corporations, banks and parasitic financial mafia that populate the reeking cesspools of disaster capitalism and the equally corrupt government institutions and boot licking politicians who do their bidding. Yet the billionaires, corporate oligarchs, family plutocracies and their offshore tax havens don’t even try to hide their depravity and just don’t a damn. They flaunt their wealth, mansions and yachts complete with helicopter pads. Their narcissistic nihilism is revealed in their obscene conspicuous consumption and their predatory behavior; like the parasitic British royal family they want everyone else to see it too as most have become celebrities for the credulous masses. Their wealth is built on theft and the blood and suffering of millions of indigenous and poor people throughout the world. Indigenous People, by the way, reject punishment as a means of behavior modification not only within their families, but in the societies and communities as a whole. Furthermore, they had no need for racist red neck dumb ass cops and the barbarism of prisons.
Sadly, many people seem to prefer wage slavery, docility, willed-ignorance and ignoring the often harsh realities of the truth that include our all too brief lives and ultimate oblivion. Like the delusions of religion, it shelters them from intense psychic discomfort and rage by the realization that the wealthy power elites who own and run the world, control the corporatized mass media and systematically hold them in utter contempt. We are endlessly subjected to mind numbing marketing, bullshit, indoctrination and lies: lies about everything, including history, justice and freedom in our fraudulent capitalist democracies. Any thinking person would surely think that these revelations would demand an appropriate response including dissent, revolt, taking to the streets with pitchforks and pillories and ultimately, revolution; but no.
Moreover, where is the moral outrage over obscene global economic inequality, homelessness and the institutions of torment and death in which mostly the impoverished who have committed “crimes” against the right to war and plunder subsist in tiny prison cages where the wealthy power elites, corporate oligarchs and their henchmen incarcerate and torture truth tellers like Julian Assange, an innocent man relegated to a living hell.
The recent news of Barack Obama’s ostentatious 60th birthday celebration for his rich celebrity “friends” at his 29-acre estate and mansion along with his other eight-million-dollar mansion in Washington, D. C., on Martha’s Vineyard is a recent egregious case in point. If he thinks this sordid display is proof of his stability and strength – which obviously he does – then he is a con man not much better than the monstrous moron Donald Trump. But those who do the bidding of the techno-military-intelligence-media complex are amply rewarded and want to inform the world that this is so.
Anyone who cannot see all these pretentious spectacles for what they are, like the alleged omnipotent, omniscient and beneficent Christian and Islamic deities, is either asleep the wheel or doesn’t give a shit. You don’t need expressions such as the “deep state” to explain the depravity of our socio-economic dystopia; it’s all out in the open for anyone willing to pay attention. There is no sense of community, no friendship, caring or compassion in a world in which only power and money are valued – there’s no trust, love or inspiring sense of solidarity or enlightenment. Why, in rich countries, are people either languishing in prisons for non-violent “crimes” or living on the street? The corporatist crooks and banking bandits don’t care about visibility because they are above the rule of law that they have fashioned for themselves. And unlike workers, they don’t need unions to protect their rights; they have the government and permanent “get out of jail free cards”. For these moral degenerate so-called “entrepreneurs” who hypocritically peddle the bullshit of “business ethics”, anyone who kissed your butt today will be only too willing to use your skull as a spittoon tomorrow.
On June 16, 1918, Eugene V Debs made a speech in Canton, Ohio in opposition to World War I and was arrested under the Espionage Act of 1917. He was convicted, sentenced to serve ten years in prison and disenfranchised for life. A famous excerpt from his address to the courts upon being convicted:
“While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”
In the 1940 movie of John Steinbeck’s remarkable novel The Grapes of Wrath, Tom Joad’s talk with his distraught mother was lifted from Deb’s speech; also so were some lines in Bruce Springsteen’s best song “The Ghost of Tom Joad” taken from The Grapes of Wrath. In the words of Debs who in a life of fighting injustice would know, “As a rule only the poor go to prison. The rich control the courts and the poor populate the prisons.”
Here’s an opinion by Noam Chomsky, one of finest public intellectuals of the past 70 years, world renown expert in linguistics, professor emeritus of MIT, anarchist and severe critic of his countries many injustices and crimes against humanity:
“Just take a look at the different prosecution rates and sentencing rules for ghetto drugs like crack and suburban drugs like cocaine, or for drunk drivers and drug users, or just between blacks and whites in general―the statistics are clear: this is a war on the poor and minorities. Or ask yourself a simple question: how come marijuana is illegal but tobacco legal? It can't be because of the health impact because that's exactly the other way around―there has never been a fatality from marijuana use among million reported users in the United States, whereas tobacco kills hundreds of thousands of people every year. My strong suspicion, though I don't know how to prove it, is that the reason is that marijuana's a weed that you can grow it in your backyard, so there's nobody who would make any money off it if it were legal. Tobacco requires extensive capital inputs and technology, and it can be monopolized, so there are people who can make a ton of money from it. I don't really see any other difference between the two of them, frankly―except that tobacco's far more lethal and far more addictive.” - Noam Chomsky
A contemporary of Mikhail Bakunin (who spent much of his life in the Tsar’s infamous prisons) and one of the earliest anarchists and proponents of direct democracy:
“To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-ridden, regulated, penned up, indoctrinated, preached at, checked, appraised, seized, censured, commanded, by beings who have neither title, nor knowledge, nor virtue. To be governed is to have every operation, every transaction, every movement noted, registered, counted, rated, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, refused, authorized, indorsed, admonished, prevented, reformed, redressed, corrected.” - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865), General Idea of Revolution in the Nineteenth Century
From Fyodor Dostoevsky who knew something about being locked up in the Tsar’s cages:
“A society should be judged not by how it treats its outstanding citizens but by how it treats its criminals.”
“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”
In civilized social democratic Norway, prisons don’t exist, at least not in the punitive retributive sense they do in the cruel cage gulags employed in the US and Canada. In Norway they believe in the value of every person and that any transgression by any person is forgivable and open to rehabilitation. Watch this:
Read the dedication to Norwegian prison activist and reformist Nils Christie by David Cayley:
An excellent article from the most recent edition of the humanist periodical Free Inquiry:
Chipping Away at the Cement and Imaginary Prison Walls
By Shari Stone-Mediatore, Free Inquiry, August/September 2021
“[T]his is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen … that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it. … It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.” —James Baldwin, “Letter to My Nephew”
As I struggle with months of corona virus-imposed isolation from friends and family, I think of my colleagues who have been isolated from their families and loved ones for decades. Joe, Howard, Mike, and Raúl regularly spend twenty-three (or often twenty-four) hours a day alone, with only a steel bunk bed, sink, and toilet for furniture and in forced proximity with another adult stranger. They are among the over 200,000 Americans sentenced to spend the remainder of their lives behind bars. Despite confinement in barren cells, my colleagues have taught themselves history and foreign languages, earned college degrees, won national essay contests, written state legislation, cared for the infirm, counseled youth, cheered me when I’ve been down, and founded an organization for a more humane legal system.
Although my colleagues are extraordinary individuals, a cartoonish tale of “criminals” has allowed Americans to feel righteous about condemning these men to a lifetime of spirit-crushing incarceration that isolates them from loved ones, strips them of individuality, and cages them for days on end in cells the size of parking spots.
Many of us now take for granted that people who have been convicted of breaking a law must be sent to prison. But the idea that people who have broken a law have no place in society is a Euro-American construct with a specific political history. Seventeenth-century English philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke peddled this story when they defended the emerging liberal-capitalist state by presenting state law as the guarantor of domestic tranquility and the banishment of lawbreakers as crucial to the social order. Tellingly, while English elites and intellectuals extolled the virtues of a law-governed state, English law upheld the displacement of villagers from land sought by the wealthy, the torture of women branded as witches (many of whom were prominent occupants of the coveted land), the execution of unemployed people, the theft of land from indigenous Americans, and the kidnapping and enslavement of human beings. A seventeenth-century English folk poem noted that:
The law demands that we atone
Such contradictions of the modern state are disguised, however, by our myth of “Law,” which vilifies lawbreakers and obscures the political factors that criminalize some kinds of violence and legalize others.
The story of law as “protector of the people” gained new political utility and racial undertones in the post-1960s United States. With the country gripped by uprisings against the Vietnam War and racist violence at home, politicians boosted their careers by blaming social strife on criminals against whom they promised harsh discipline.
“Law,” said former President Gerald Ford in a 1975 message to Congress, “pledges safety to every member” of society, but such safety is threatened by “street crime … that invades our neighborhoods and our homes” and “makes us fearful of strangers.” He struck a chord with middle-class White people by promising “strong measures” in “the fight against crime.” Two decades later, then-Senator Joseph Biden championed the Crime Bill with images of “predators,” who were grown from people “born out of wedlock … without structure,” who must be “cordoned … off from the rest of society … away from my mother, your husband, our families.” We must “take back the streets,” he said, “by: more cops, more prisons, more physical protection for the people.”
The tough-on-crime tale is a captivating one for privileged-class White Americans. For those of us hooked on our own and our country’s innocence, the tale conveniently buries centuries of legally sanctioned racist violence in edifying imagery of a sacrosanct Law that protects upstanding citizens from dangerous malefactors. With this framing, those of us not targeted by the police can feel righteous about supporting prison sentences that are more extreme than any in the industrialized world and treating the people sentenced as mere specimens of criminality. At a recent Illinois legislative hearing, State’s Attorney Julia Reitz mocked a proposal for sentencing review for elderly incarcerated people by invoking specters of this de-individualized criminal. “You can call them nice words like ‘folks’ and ‘elderly,’” she scoffed, but they are “criminals” who must “serve every day of their [lifelong] sentences.”
Cell phone cameras have begun to trouble this story. As incident after incident of lethal policing is caught on video, facile oppositions between “law-enforcement” and “violence” have been upended. Calls for “more cops” to “protect the people” have been matched by calls to shift resources from armed police to community-based organizations that better serve the health and flourishing of all members of our communities.
Cell phones are prohibited in prisons. But testimony can cross prison walls, and my colleagues’ testimony challenges us to consider prisons as part of the same state violence that has killed people on the streets. “Brutal policing,” explains award-winning incarcerated writer Joseph Dole, “drives wrongful convictions. It is part of a system in which prosecutors bury police lies and the courts mirror police and prosecutorial prejudices that peg some people as disposable, fit to be locked up for decades—even before their cases are heard.” As incarcerated master’s student Howard Keller puts it:
Some people die right away from violent police encounters, some die after a few minutes, as was the case of George Floyd. Countless more, however, are being choked to death by … unduly long sentences. If the police are so brazen and racist so as to shoot a black teenager 16 times on camera or choke a handcuffed black man to death on camera, then what makes people think they won’t frame an innocent person or fabricate evidence to give someone a harsher sentence? Why don’t people see that as a continuation of the same racial violence?
Four decades of “tough-on-crime” laws have institutionalized harsh sentencing, whose impending death toll dwarfs that of police brutality. In 2019, police killed 1,098 people. Currently, over 200,000 people (two-thirds of them people of color) carry sentences that require them to grow old and die in prison. The National Research Council reports that the exploding U.S. prison population of recent decades is not a result of crime increases but changes in our sentencing schemes, including a barrage of laws that increase sentences for the same crimes. As incarcerated author Raúl Dorado explains: “Even as crime rates were decreasing, [politicians] fanned the flame of fear and sold the public on [sentence increases], while simultaneously catapulting themselves into office with tough-on-crime propaganda … tax payers were stuck with the bill and people of color were crammed into cells.”
Within prisons, the tale of amoral criminal-beings sanctions abuse unfathomable against any other population. Formerly incarcerated author and activist James Kilgore describes how “racist guards use clubs and block guns and pepper spray and often live ammo to ‘keep the order.’” Like police, prison guards are trained in the language of force, which “confirms” the lack of human connection between the punishers and the punished and becomes self-justifying. Incarcerated theology student Michael Simmons says, “I now see the cuffs, the chains, the shake-downs of our cells, the long prison sentences as all part of the same state-sanctioned violence that dehumanizes us, and then uses the dehumanization to rationalize the violence against us.”
When we ignore the violence of our own society, warned James Baldwin, we must invent monsters—“beasts,” “savages,” “criminals”—whose vices supposedly rationalize the brutality unleashed against them. Our myths assure us that we are innocent and that the violence is a civilizing force, or righteous punishment, against beings different from ourselves. The imaginary walls fortify the cement ones. But Baldwin also warned that our myths make those of us who invent them into monsters, void of self-awareness and alienated from our fellow humans.
My colleagues and I founded an organization, Parole Illinois that chips away at the walls that divide us by sharing the stories of people directly affected by extreme sentencing and educating the public about the need for people with life sentences to have fair opportunities to return home. Working with them has impressed on me the tremendous lessons that we “innocents” might learn from those incarcerated individuals who have reckoned with their own human flaws as well as our society’s worst abuses and made themselves into agents of change for a world in which no person is treated as disposable.
My incarcerated colleagues invite those of us in free society to join them in cultivating dialogue across prison walls and providing paths for people saddled with inhumane sentences to return to full lives. Such work is necessary to repair American families and communities from the violence of extreme sentencing. Perhaps it is also needed to repair our moral integrity. Baldwin told his nephew that “those innocents who believed that your imprisonment made them safe are losing their grasp of reality.” Our only hope, he suggested, is to “cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.”
Shari Stone-Mediatore is a professor of philosophy at Ohio Wesleyan University and author of Reading Across Borders: Storytelling and Knowledges of Resistance. She is currently on leave from her teaching position and working as managing director of Parole Illinois, an organization dedicated to reversing the harms of extreme sentencing.
The United States, with about 4-5% of the global population, has 25% of all people on the planet locked up in their massive prison gulags, many of which are privatized for profit hell hole institutions. This statistic alone qualifies the country as a fascist police state. Canada and most other countries in the world are not far behind. But authoritarianism and oligarchy have always been the ideological norm - and capitalism is no exception.
It always annoys me when I read dissenting articles that mention the erosion of our “democracy”. What democracy, I say? For anyone paying attention, it’s a farce and always has been. Here is American lawyer and dissident John W Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute with his A to Z on American tyranny:
In the interest of liberty and truth, here’s an A-to-Z primer that spells out the grim realities of life in the American Fascist Police State that no one seems to be talking about anymore.
A is for the AMERICAN POLICE STATE. A police state “is characterized by authoritarian bureaucracy, secrecy, perpetual wars, and a nation of suspects, militarization, surveillance, widespread police presence, and a citizenry with little recourse against police actions.”
B is for our battered BILL OF RIGHTS. In the militarized police culture that is America today, where you can be kicked, punched, tasered, shot, intimidated, harassed, stripped, searched, brutalized, terrorized, wrongfully arrested, and even killed by a police officer, and that officer is rarely held accountable for violating your rights, the Bill of Rights doesn’t amount to much.
C is for CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE. This governmental scheme to deprive Americans of their liberties—namely, the right to property—is being carried out under the guise of civil asset forfeiture, a government practice wherein government agents (usually the police and now TSA agents) seize private property they “suspect” may be connected to criminal activity. Then, whether or not any crime is actually proven to have taken place, the government keeps the citizen’s property and it’s virtually impossible to get it back.
D is for DRONES. It was estimated that at least 30,000 drones are now airborne in American airspace, part of an $80 billion industry. Although some drones may be used for benevolent purposes, many are also being equipped with lasers, tasers and scanning devices, among other weapons—all aimed at “we the people.”
E is for EMERGENCY STATE. From 9/11 to COVID-19, we have been the subjected to an “emergency state” that justifies all manner of government tyranny and power grabs in the so-called name of national security. The government’s ongoing attempts to declare so-called national emergencies in order to circumvent the Constitution’s system of checks and balances constitutes yet another expansion of presidential power that exposes the nation to further constitutional peril.
F is for FASCISM. A study conducted by Princeton and Northwestern University concluded that the U.S. government does not represent the majority of American citizens. Instead, the study found that the government is ruled by the rich and powerful, or the so-called “economic elite.” Moreover, the researchers concluded that policies enacted by the governmental elite nearly always favor special interests and lobbying groups. In other words, we are being ruled by an oligarchy disguised as a democracy, and arguably on our way towards fascism—a form of government where private corporate interests rule, money calls the shots, and the people are seen as mere economic units or data bits.
G is for GRENADE LAUNCHERS and GLOBAL POLICE. The federal government has distributed more than $18 billion worth of battlefield-appropriate military weapons, vehicles and equipment such as drones, tanks, and grenade launchers to domestic police departments across the country. As a result, most small-town police forces now have enough firepower to render any citizen resistance futile. Now take those small-town police forces, train them to look and act like the military, and then enlist them to be part of the United Nations’ Strong Cities Network program, and you not only have a standing army that operates beyond the reach of the Constitution but one that is part of a global police force.
H is for HOLLOW-POINT BULLETS. The government’s efforts to militarize and weaponize its agencies and employees is reaching epic proportions, with federal agencies as varied as the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration stockpiling millions of lethal hollow-point bullets, which violate international law. Ironically, while the government continues to push for stricter gun laws for the general populace, the U.S. military’s arsenal of weapons makes the average American’s handgun look like a Tinker Toy.
I is for the INTERNET OF THINGS, in which internet-connected “things” monitor your home, your health and your habits in order to keep your pantry stocked, your utilities regulated and your life under control and relatively worry-free. The key word here, however, is control. This “connected” industry propels us closer to a future where police agencies apprehend virtually anyone if the government “thinks” they may commit a crime, driverless cars populate the highways, and a person’s biometrics are constantly scanned and used to track their movements, target them for advertising, and keep them under perpetual surveillance.
J is for JAILING FOR PROFIT. Having outsourced their inmate population to private prisons run by private corporations, this profit-driven form of mass punishment has given rise to a $70 billion private prison industry that relies on the complicity of state governments to keep their privately run prisons full by jailing large numbers of Americans for petty crimes.
K is for KENTUCKY V. KING. In an 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that police officers can break into homes, without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home as long as they think they may have a reason to do so. Despite the fact that the police in question ended up pursuing the wrong suspect, invaded the wrong apartment and violated just about every tenet that stands between the citizenry and a police state, the Court sanctioned the warrantless raid, leaving Americans with little real protection in the face of all manner of abuses by law enforcement officials.
L is for LICENSE PLATE READERS, which enable law enforcement and private agencies to track the whereabouts of vehicles, and their occupants, all across the country. This data collected on tens of thousands of innocent people is also being shared between police agencies, as well as with government fusion centers and private companies. This puts Big Brother in the driver’s seat.
M is for MAIN CORE. Since the 1980s, the U.S. government has acquired and maintained, without warrant or court order, a database of names and information on Americans considered to be threats to the corporatist nation. As Salon reports, this database, reportedly dubbed “Main Core,” is to be used by the Army and FEMA in times of national emergency or under martial law to locate and round up Americans seen as threats to national security. There are at least 8 million Americans in the Main Core database.
N is for NO-KNOCK RAIDS. Owing to the militarization of the nation’s police forces, SWAT teams are now increasingly being deployed for routine police matters. In fact, more than 80,000 of these paramilitary raids are carried out every year. That translates to more than 200 SWAT team raids every day in which police crash through doors, damage private property, terrorize adults and children alike, kill family pets, assault or shoot anyone that is perceived as threatening—and all in the pursuit of someone merely suspected of a crime, usually possession of some small amount of drugs.
O is for OVERCRIMINALIZATION and OVERREGULATION. Thanks to an overabundance of 4500-plus federal crimes and 400,000 plus rules and regulations, it’s estimated that the average American actually commits three felonies a day without knowing it. As a result of this overcriminalization, we’re seeing an uptick in Americans being arrested and jailed for such absurd “violations” as letting their kids play at a park unsupervised, collecting rainwater and snow runoff on their own property, growing vegetables in their yard and holding socialism studies in their living room.
P is for PATHOCRACY and PRECRIME. When our own government treats us as things to be manipulated, maneuvered, mined for data, manhandled by police and other government agents, mistreated, and then jailed in profit-driven private prisons if we dare step out of line, we are no longer operating under a constitutional republic. Instead, what we are experiencing is a pathocracy: tyranny at the hands of a psychopathic government, which “operates against the interests of its own people except for favoring certain groups.” Couple that with the government’s burgeoning pre-crime programs, which will use fusion centers, data collection agencies, behavioral scientists, corporations, social media, and community organizers and by relying on cutting-edge technology for surveillance, facial recognition, predictive policing, biometrics, and behavioral epigenetics in order to identify and deter so-called potential “extremists,” dissidents or rabble-rousers. Bear in mind that anyone seen as opposing the government—whether they’re Left, Right or somewhere in between—is now viewed as an extremist.
Q is for QUALIFIED IMMUNITY. Qualified immunity allows police officers to walk away without paying a dime for their wrongdoing. Conveniently, those deciding whether a cop should be immune from having to personally pay for misbehavior on the job all belong to the same system, all cronies with a vested interest in protecting the police and their infamous code of silence: city and county attorneys, police commissioners, city councils and judges.
R is for ROADSIDE STRIP SEARCHES and BLOOD DRAWS. The courts have increasingly erred on the side of giving government officials—especially the police—vast discretion in carrying out strip searches, blood draws and even anal and vaginal probes for a broad range of violations, no matter how minor the offense. In the past, strip searches were resorted to only in exceptional circumstances where police were confident that a serious crime was in progress. In recent years, however, strip searches have become routine operating procedures in which everyone is rendered a suspect and, as such, is subjected to treatment once reserved for only the most serious of criminals.
S is for the SURVEILLANCE STATE. On any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, subjected to surveillance, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears. A byproduct of the electronic concentration camp in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.
T is for TASERS. Nonlethal weapons such as tasers, stun guns, rubber pellets and the like have been used by police as weapons of compliance more often and with less restraint—even against women and children—and in some instances, even causing death. These “nonlethal” weapons also enable police to aggress with the push of a button, making the potential for overblown confrontations over minor incidents that much more likely. A Taser Shockwave, for instance, can electrocute a crowd of people at the touch of a button.
U is for UNARMED CITIZENS SHOT BY POLICE. No longer is it unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later, often attributed to a fear for their safety. Yet the fatality rate of on-duty patrol officers is reportedly far lower than many other professions, including construction, logging, fishing, truck driving, and even trash collection.
V is for VIRUSES and VACCINE PASSPORTS. What started out as an apparent effort to prevent a novel corona virus from sickening the nation (and the world) has become yet another means by which world governments (including the U.S.) can expand their powers, abuse their authority, and further oppress their constituents. The road we are traveling is paved with lockdowns, SWAT team raids, mass surveillance, forced vaccinations, contact tracing, vaccine passports, and heavy fines and jail times for those who dare to venture out without a mask, congregate in worship without the government’s blessing, or re-open their businesses without the government’s say-so.
W is for WHOLE-BODY SCANNERS. Using either x-ray radiation or radio waves, scanning devices and government mobile units are being used not only to “see” through your clothes but to spy on you within the privacy of your home. While these mobile scanners are being sold to the American public as necessary security and safety measures, we can ill afford to forget that such systems are rife with the potential for abuse, not only by government bureaucrats but by the technicians employed to operate them.
X is for X-KEYSCORE, one of the many spying programs carried out by the National Security Agency that targets every person in the United States who uses a computer or phone. This top-secret program “allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals.”
Y is for YOU-NESS. Using your face, mannerisms, social media and “you-ness” against you, you are now being tracked based on what you buy, where you go, what you do in public, and how you do what you do. Facial recognition software promises to create a society in which every individual who steps out into public is tracked and recorded as they go about their daily business. The goal is for government agents to be able to scan a crowd of people and instantaneously identify all of the individuals present. Facial recognition programs are being rolled out in states all across the country.
Z is for ZERO TOLERANCE. We have moved into a new paradigm in which young people are increasingly viewed as suspects and treated as criminals by school officials and law enforcement alike, often for engaging in little more than childish behavior or for saying the “wrong” word. In some jurisdictions, students have also been penalized under school zero tolerance policies for such inane “crimes” as carrying cough drops, wearing black lipstick, bringing nail clippers to school, using Listerine or Scope, and carrying fold-out combs that resemble switchblades. The lesson being taught to our youngest—and most impressionable—citizens is this: in the American police state, you’re either a prisoner (shackled, controlled, monitored, ordered about, limited in what you can do and say, your life not your own) or a prison bureaucrat (politician, police officer, judge, jailer, spy, profiteer, etc.).