Officer Justin Barrett. Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Police Commissioner recently suspended and moved to fire Boston patrol cop Officer Justin Barrett, after being forwarded a racist-ass e-mail that Barret wrote in response to Yvonne Abraham’s Boston Globe column criticizing Sergeant James Crowley for his stupid arrest of Henry Louis Gates. All the news stories have mentioned how Barrett stated
I am not a racist, but I am [prejudiced] towards people who are stupidand repeatedly described Gates as a
banana-eating jungle monkey.Some also mentioned active patrol cop Barret’s statement that, had he been in Crowley’s place, he not only would have arrested Gates but would have pepper-sprayed him
in the face.None of the mainstream media articles I’ve read so far have mentioned that active patrol cop Officer Justin Barrett also complains that
Your defense [4th paragraph] of Gates while he is on the phone while being confronted [INDEED] with a police officer is assuming he has rights when considered a suspect. He is a suspect and will always be a suspect.(Brackets in original; emphasis mine.) Or that, alongside the violent racism and explicit totalitarianism, he adds some crude misogyny, writing to the immediate target of his letter, Yvonne Abraham, that
You are a hot little bird with minimal experiences in a harsh field. … You have no business writing for a US newspaper nevermind detailing and analyzing half truths. You should serve me coffee and donuts on Sunday morning.He later repeats the joke about coffee and says that
you just need to get slapped.Officer Justin Barrett, when not a racist, sexist, police-statist patrol cop, is also a veteran of the United States government’s Army; he felt comfortable forwarding his racist, sexist, police-statist e-mail to a few of his buddies in the Boston police force and several of his buddies in the Army National Guard. Since the story hit, Barrett has complained to the media that in the uproar over his repeated use of the phrase
banana-eating jungle monkey,
People are making it about race. It is not about race,and that, although he made a
poor choice of words,
I didn’t mean it in a racist way. I treat everyone with dignity and respect.His lawyer says that he plans to fight to hold onto his cop job at the upcoming hearing.
Disorderly conduct. Patrolman Robert Lang, Patrolman Jared Bock, and Patrolman Shawn Panchick. Brackenridge, Pennsylvania. Three white patrol cops in Pennsylvania are being investigated by another local government’s cops in response to allegations that they beat and robbed a three black teenagers who they arbitrarily commanded (why?) to clear off of a friend’s front porch where they were hanging out late at night. I don’t know whether or not the allegations of robbery are true — one of the victims, Kyle Dudley, claims that he was beat down and robbed of his watch and money by a group of cops possibly different from the three who originally responded to the call, which makes it hard to compare stories — but I do know that, whether or not those allegations are true, the story that the cops all agreed on for their report is more than enough reason to call their conduct belligerent, violent and stupid. Cops have exactly no business singling out black teenagers to be hassled, or for forcing them down and arresting them on a
disorderly conductbeef simply for refusing to obey arbitrary bellowed commands that they leave a private residence where they have been invited to hang out with their friends, or a neighborhood where they are hanging out on public property. And once again, it is clear that
disorderly conductcharges are the
sheepdogs’favorite threat for making that the
sheepstay just where they’ve been herded, regardless of whether or not anyone is actually doing anything that would threaten anyone’s rights even in the slightest.
Cops are here to keep us safe. (Cont’d.) By sideswiping our cars while they tear down the road at 20 mph over the posted speed limit with no lights and no sirens on. Then by concealing information or flat-out lying in the accident report and to the media about how fast they were going, until they finally reveal, a couple days later, that the accident was, after all, clearly the fault of the cop’s speeding. Where have I seen that before…? I guess his victim is lucky that he wasn’t doing 100; if he had gotten himself hurt or killed in the crash he caused, she probably would have been arrested for
reckless drivingand smeared as a cop-killer all over the local papers.
Fun for ages 7 to 70. Unnamed patrol officer, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Deputy Chris Beize. Austin, Texas. In Knoxville, a government cop, who had important business to do Investigating reports of some neighbor kids getting into a fight, has been accused of trying to coerce a 7 year old boy into talking more candidly by handcuffing the child and cussing him out, while the boy was crying and asking for his mother. The 7-year-old was not involved in the fighting and was never suspected of, or charged with, any crime.
Officialsrefuse to so much as disclose this dedicated public servant’s name, but they promise that the matter is being Internally Investigated.
Meanwhile, in Texas, Deputy Chris Beize tasered Kathryn Winkfein, a 72-year-old great-grandmother, twice during a routine traffic stop, after she refused to sign a ticket and he decided to escalate the situation by ordering her out of her car, instead of just mailing the damn thing to her home address. Beize claims that she swore at him (which is not a crime) and that she
pushed him into oncoming traffic(no she didn’t; the dashcam video clearly shows that he lunged over and grabbed her and shoved her back several feet, when she tried to de-escalate the situation by sidestepping him to get back to her truck). Then he blasted her with a 50,000-volt electric shock from the taser, and then tasered her again while she was lying on the ground. Then he arrested her for resisting arrest. His superior officers in the paramilitary chain of command have defended Beize’s hollering belligerence, physical assault, and torture by repeated electrical shocks, against an unarmed, 4′11″, 72-year-old great-grandmother who never threatened any physical harm and was guilty of nothing more than a moving violation and
contempt of cop,as an appropriate reaction to a
dangerous situation.By the by, when Beize is not busy shocking the hell out of elderly women, he is a taser instructor for the local police.
Officer Morris Taylor. Springfield, Missouri. Officer Morris Taylor, a cop formerly on the Springfield, Missouri city government’s police force, is facing misdemeanor assault charges for beating John Sedersten, a prisoner under his authority, after Sedersten had been restrained and booked in the Greene County Jail. The story’s in the news because Sedersten, the victim of the beating, recently decided not to testify against Taylor in the criminal case, on advice from his attorneys, because of the danger that his testimony will open him up to lines of questioning that the government can use against him in his pending criminal cases. Sedersten is pursuing a separate civil lawsuit against Officer Morris Taylor for the beating; apparently he’s just not particularly interested in working closely with the same government office that is trying to lock him up in other cases, particularly not for so minor a vindication as a misdemeanor assault conviction. Even without his testimony, apparently
portionsof the assault are recorded on video.
Besides having spent 11 years in local government police
forces,Officer Morris Taylor also has experience in dealing with prisoners from working as a government soldier in the U.S. government’s war and occupation in Iraq.
Deputy Marcus Smith. San Joaquin County, California. San Joaquin County Sheriff’s deputies stopped a car on a routine traffic stop near Manteca; Charles Inderbitzen was riding in the car. Inderbitzen was ex-con out on parole, and believed that he had a warrant out on him, so he got nervous around the cops. He tried to leave the scene without the cops’ permission; even though the police had no reason whatever, at this point, to suspect that he had committed any crime, or even (since he was not the one driving the car) of even the most minor civil infraction. But government cops in America aren’t actually interested in dealing with crimes; they are interested in targeting suspects, and are more than willing to summarily declare you a
suspectsort of guy based solely on your failure to follow their arbitrary bellowed commands, or your decision to try to leave the scene when they are present. So a gang of police chased Inderbitzen down, cornered him in a back yard, drew their guns on him, and ordered him to get on his knees and put his hands on his head. After Inderbitzen complied with their orders, with several cops pointing guns at him and while physically at their mercy, Deputy Marcus Smith hopped the fence, kicked Charles Inderbitzen in the gut, punched him in the back of the head, kicked him two more times in the stomach, and then punched him about 5 or 10 more times until Inderbitzen was beaten unconscious. I guess he’s lucky they didn’t taser him to death instead.
Oops. Our bad.Deputy Matthew Paul. Seattle, Washington. Christopher Harris was trying to get away from a group of King’s County police (or rather, a gang of beefy, heavily armed strangers, dressed all in black, who didn’t bother to identify themselves before they started hollering and chasing after him late at night). Turns out he didn’t actually do anything wrong (they were chasing him because a witness fingered him as having been involved in a bar fight; the witness was wrong). But rather than risking the possibility that someone possibly might get away from the cops (even when he had no way of knowing they were cops, who had every right to leave the scene, who posed no physical threat to anybody, and who, at the very worst, was
suspectedof some minor-league drunken fighting), Deputy Matthew Paul, who outweighed his victim by about 100 pounds, decided to put an end to things by waiting until Christopher Harris slowed down to a walk, and then body-tackling him so hard that he knocked him eight feet into a wall, slamming Harris’s head into the concrete so hard it put him into a coma. The story’s in the news because Deputy Matthew Paul’s coworkers in the King County government’s prosecutor’s office have announced that, as far as they’re concerned, Deputy Matthew Paul did not violate Christopher Harris’s rights and the only personal consequence that Deputy Matthew Paul will face, for putting his falsely accused, completely unarmed and physically harmless victim on life-support, is having been given a paid vacation from his job for a while during the investigation. According to the county government,
It’s a tragic incident.Well, oops. I guess he’s lucky they didn’t just shoot him in the back instead.
Non-Lethal Force (Cont’d.) Unnamed officer, Officer Debra Lynn Indovina-Akerly and Officer Charles Watson. Swissvale, Pennsylvania. Last summer, a 37 year old unarmed black man named Andre DeMon Thomas was extrajudicially electrocuted by a gang of three Swissvale cops, who tortured him with three 50,000-volt electric shocks, handcuffed him, and, after he was handcuffed, kicked him, punched him, and crushed him until he vomited, passed out, and died. They were electrocuting him, incidentally, For His Own Good, after he begged neighbors to call the cops to help him out. He was unarmed; he wasn’t acting aggressively; none of the neighbors felt threatened by him; he was never at any point charged with any crime at all by anyone; he seemed disoriented and terrified, and he wanted the cops there to keep him safe. But in cop-think, being terrified and disoriented means acting
erraticin the judgment of a cop, even if you pose no threat to anyone and even if you have not been so much as accused of committing a crime and even if you are yourself seeking help, is reason enough for you to get Served and Protected good and hard until you are physically
subdued.Or dead, whichever comes first. [And]((http://radgeek.com/gt/2009/06/22/the-police-beat-3/) yet again, it became necessary to kill Dre Thomas in order to save him. The case is in the news again because the family has filed a lawsuit and the coroner’s autopsy report, which revealed deep and widespread bruising all over Thomas’s body, contradicts the Medical Examiner’s initial report absolving the cops and claiming that Thomas died from a mythical made-up condition called
Gang cops (Cont’d.).
Gang Strike Force,Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Seven victims of racist shakedowns by a multi-agency paramilitary
Gang Strike Forcein the Twin Cities have filed suit against the members of the
Strike Force,the city governments that put it together, and the boss cops who commanded it. The
Strike Forcewas permanently shut down earlier this month after repeated complaints about the cops on it making
improper seizures,which is to say armed robberies under color of law, of money and property from innocent people with no connection to gang activity, but who happened to be immigrants (hence easy targets). If only we had some warning, had some way of knowing, that an
elitegang police unit with an unlimited mandate, overwhelming force, and extremely broad legal powers to roust people and take their property with minimal legal accountability, might end up just acting like the baddest gangsters on the block. But who could possibly have foreseen that? It’s not like anything like this has ever happened before.
Detective Keith Alfaro. San Antonio, Texas. A couple years ago Detective Keith Alfaro of the San Antonio police department got himself involved in what the media at the time dignified as a
poolside scuffle with a teenager. By which they meant that he punched an 18 year old girl in the face, then, after he knocked her down, got on top of her, put her in a chokehold, and, according to an unrelated witness,
pummeledher black and blue while she was on the ground. After Alfaro ran away from the Sheriff’s Deputies who responded to a call, Vaughn had to be taken to the hospital; she still couldn’t open her jaw for weeks after the attack. The reason he did this was that she told him to put out a cigar he was smoking; the community pool had a no-smoking rule. Tamara Vaughn claims she asked him politely; Alfaro claims she copped an
attitude, got up in his face, dared to say some vulgar words in his hearing, and tried to swipe the cigar out of his mouth. Apparently, even if we grant his story to be true, Detective Keith Alfaro believes that that’s good enough reason for a grown-ass man to throw the first punch, then beat the living hell out of an 18 year old girl while she’s lying on the ground, and that doing so
was totally defensive … It was her own actions that forced me to take those measures.Perhaps that’s also what forced him to answer her request that he not smoke a cigar at a non-smoking pool by telling her to
take that East Side attitude back over there;maybe that’s also what forced him to call her a
half-breedwhile he was beating the hell out of her, or to tell Vaughn, who is a lesbian, that
You wanna look like a man, I’m gonna treat you like a man.. Detective Keith Alfaro testified that his problem was not with her race but with her
attitude(you know, the East Side kind), and that
She though she was talking to a child, … She thought she was talking to someone she could bully — not an adult family man.Apparently Detective Keith Alfaro believes that
an adult family mandeals with tense social situations by punching 18 year old girls in the face and dislocating their jaws. In any case, this
adult family manbragged in an online profile for an Ultimate Fighting website about his
countless street KO’s.
The story is in the news again because Keith Alfaro finally ended up going to trial this year on a misdemeanor assault rap, along with some resisting and evading arrest for having run away from the Bexar County Sheriff’s deputies. And just today, after the judge refused to allow Bexar County prosecutors to tell the jury about the online bragging about street fights, or about the numerous existing complaints against Alfaro in his internal affairs file (complaints which, of course, never endangered his position with the San Antonio Police Department, until he got into a fight on another police agency’s turf), the jury voted to acquit Alfaro on the assault beef. They convicted him on the misdemeanor evading and resisting arrest charges, because apparently busting up an 18 year old girl’s jaw is OK, but they’ll be damned if they’ll let anyone get away from the po-po.
Rapists on patrol. Officer Feliciano Sanchez, Los Angeles, California. (Possible trigger warning.)
Officer Feliciano Sanchez, formerly hired muscle for Los Angeles County’s Bell Police Department, recently plead guilty to using his police powers to abduct a woman he had detained on a traffic stop, drive her to an isolated location, and then flashed his gun and coerced sex from her before he would let her free. Bell Police Department Captain Anthony Miranda says he is
shockedto hear that a male cop might use his government-granted legal powers and his arsenal of deadly weapons to intimidate and violently coerce sex from women who come under his power. He says that he’s in
disbeliefbecause he’s never heard of such a thing before. Well, I’m not. I have.
18 shots for running a stop-sign. Officer James Arnold. Fort Wayne, Indiana. The city government in Fort Wayne, Indiana just spent $335,000 of other people’s money in order to cover Office James Arnold’s ass after he shot an unarmed immigrant named José Baudilio Lemus-Rodriguez 18 times, after Lemus-Rodriguez refused to pull over for a routine traffic stop for running a stop sign.
Fort Wayne Police Officer James Arnold, by the way, was just four months on the
forcewhen he lit up Lemus-Rodriguez’s car; before that, he had years of combat experience as a United States government Marine fighting for the U.S. government’s occupation and counter-insurgency operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards refused to file any criminal charges; the city hired on a PR flack to declare Arnold’s actions
objectively reasonable.The city’s main concern in settling the family’s lawsuit, besides using taxpayer money to cover Officer James Arnold from any personal legal liability for his lethal actions, is apparently as a bribe to ensure that the objective video record of the
objectively reasonableshooting remains permanently concealed from the public.
Sergeant James Crowley (Cambridge, MA)
Stupid, belligerent, violent
One of the advantages of not being even remotely connected with electoral politics is the fact that, unlike, say, Barack Obama, I have no votes that I need to collect from timid white
moderates, and also no sniffy self-important special interests or political respectability rackets that I need to appease. I don’t need to care what professional blowhards or doughfaces think of me, or whether or not a white police sergeant in Massachusetts, and all his buddies in the Brotherhood, are
disappointed in me. So while Obama may feel compelled to re-calibrate, I have no reason to back off out of concern for sensitivities of conventional-delusional political thinking. So if he won’t stand by his own perfectly reasonable comments, I at least am free to say, without qualification or calibration, that when Sergeant James Crowley cuffed, arrested, and imprisoned Henry Louis Gates on his front porch, for daring to holler at a cop inside his own house, Sergeant James Crowley was damn well acting
stupidly. As a matter of fact, he was being stupid, belligerent, and violent towards an innocent man who he had absolutely no right to arrest.
Of course he was. He putatively showed up to investigate a possible burglary (in the middle of the day?) when a neighbor called in a report that two black men were forcing open the door to the house. (Gates had just gotten back from a long trip to China and found that the door was jammed, so he asked the man who drove him home — who was also black — to help him shoulder it open.) The cop showed up, demanded that Gates step outside, entered the house without a warrant and without permission when Gates refused to step outside, demanded identification while refusing to give his badge number, and when it was conclusively demonstrated to him that Gates lived there and was, in fact,
breaking in to his own damn house, he and his gang brothers ambushed Gates on his front porch and arrested him for being
loud and tumultuous in his own house where he had a right to be. Quite in spite of the fact that, even if you grant for the sake of argument every single detail of the cop’s own version of events, once it was clear that Gates lived in the house he had supposedly been burglarizing, Sergeant James Crowley had absolutely no moral or legal basis whatsoever for remaining one second longer, or for arresting and imprisoning Henry Louis Gates, since raising your voice to a police officer is not a crime, and neither is calling him names (whether those names are fair or unfair), and neither is hollering loudly and tumultuously inside your own home. Shoving your way into a man’s house to hassle him, and then arresting him for these non-crimes when he gets upset, is a stupid way to handle a situation when you’re not sure what’s going on; the cuffing, arrest, and jailing were also an act of physical force carried out against an innocent man by an entitled bully who had no right to be there but who has no problem with using intimidation and violence to get his way.
And, as it happens, in this case, his stupidity, intimidation and violence took the specific form of stupid, belligerent, violent racism. As they so often do when government police (especially, but not only, white government police) interact with black men and women, even black scholars in their late 50s who rent their houses from Harvard University and walk with a cane.
And the opinions of the usual bellowing blowhard brigade to one side, it actually doesn’t matter one bit whether or not Henry Louis Gates could or should have been more calm or cool or collected under the circumstances; whether or not he actually should have been
grateful for being hassled in his own house by a sworn officer of the law in the name of Service and Protection; whether or not the names that he called this stupid, belligerent, violent cop were in fact fair or unfair given the situation; or whether he ought to have changed his behavior or his attitude in the least. Henry Louis Gates’s behavior and attitude aren’t in question; whether or not he was acting as he ought, Sergeant James Crowley had no reason to be there and no justification and no excuse for arresting him or hauling him off to jail. Nothing that Gates could possibly have said, under the circumstances, would have made the arrest and imprisonment justifiable or even excusable; and when legally-privileged agents of the state go around attacking innocent men, I’m a hell of a lot more worried about that than I am about policing the conduct of the victims of their aggression and coercion.
All this should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever dealt with government police, or knows much of anything about the world around them. Of course, that rules out politicians, media commentators, and other professional blowhards, who rarely talk to anyone but each other and have very little experience of being on the business end of government policing, or much of anything other than their own self-important power games. But the rest of us know perfectly well that cops often act with tremendous arrogance and entitlement, especially when they feel uncertain or threatened by the situation that they are in (that they have, in fact, been trained very explicitly to stay
in control of the situation by any means necessary); that they also tend to view men and women of color, regardless of class, and poor white men and women, too, as more disruptive or more threatening than affluent white men and women; and that either conscious or subconscious racial profiling is the order of the day in virtually all street-level urban policing. It is also both obvious and widely known that cops routinely use incredibly vague chickenshit charges like
disorderly conduct, even when it is absolutely obvious that none of even those incredibly vague criteria actually apply, in order to shove people around, intimidate them into complying with arbitrary orders, or to humiliate and punish those who do not comply. Even when the charges are sure to be dismissed,
you can beat the rap but you can’t beat the ride, and all that. Anyone whose understanding of policework is not basically mythological in nature, or is not constrained by non-rational political imperatives, knows these things, and should be outraged, but not even remotely surprised, that all this went down.
And the fact that a bunch of cops get indignant about the offense to their honor by being called out, for once in their professional lives, on their stupid, belligerent, violent behavior doesn’t change the fact one bit. What happened is typical, damned typical; the only thing atypical is the political and media connections of the victim. And Sergeant James Crowley, as a sworn police officer, was just living up to the standards of stupidity, belligerence, violence and racism that his gang brothers have set. You might be tempted call stupidity, belligerence, violence, and racism the occupational disease of government police in America. If not for the fact that it is their occupation.
- Brian Palmer, Slate (2009-07-22): Do Police Officers Have To Identify Themselves? And other Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrest questions, answered by the Explainer.
- Lawrence Bobo, The Root (2009-07-21): What Do You Call a Black Man with a Ph.D.? The Skip Gates arrest shows how little some features of the national racial landscape have changed over time.
- Leonard Pitts, Jr. Seattle Times (2009-07-24): The Henry Louis Gates Jr. incident: Sometimes, they just don’t see you
- Macon D., stuff white people do (2009-07-21): think they can put themselves in the shoes of black people
- Randall McElroy, The Distributed Republic (2009-07-21): Henry Louis Gates, Jr. vs. the Cambridge PD
- Lila Ravija, The Mind-Body Politic (2009-07-21): Police Arrest Harvard Scholar In House
- Sheldon Richman, Free Association (2009-07-24): For Gates and Against the Police
- Gary Chartier, LiberaLaw (2009-07-24): Show Some Respect
Winter Soldier: Just Another Tuesday. From Ryan Endicott, formerly a United States government Marine stationed in Iraq.
The regulatory State versus freed markets and the human future: A quote from Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, via B.K. Marcus at Mises Economics Blog:
To expect the government to prevent such fraud from ever occurring would be like wanting it to provide cushions for all the children who might fall. To assume it to be possible to prevent successfully, by regulation, all possible malpractices of this kind, is to sacrifice to a chimerical perfection the whole progress of industry; it is to restrict the imagination of artificers to the narrow limits of the familiar; it is to forbid them all new experiments; it is to renounce even the hope of competing with the foreigners in the making of the new products which they invent daily, since, as they do not conform to our regulations, our workmen cannot imitate these articles without first having obtained permission from the government, that is to say, often after the foreign factories, having profited by the first eagerness of the consumer for this novelty, have already replaced it with something else. … Thus, with obvious injustice, commerce, and consequently the nation, are charged with a heavy burden to save a few idle people the trouble of instructing themselves or of making enquiries to avoid being cheated. To suppose all consumers to be dupes, and all merchants and manufacturers to be cheats, has the effect of authorizing them to be so, and of degrading all the working members of the community.
—Turgot, Éloge de Gournay (1759), translated by P.D. Groenewegen
All Bizarro News that am unfit to print. In which a argument against an imaginary, Bizarro World version individualism is set to fight with a completely imaginary Bizarro GOP which somehow became
the party of untrammeled freedom and maximum individual choice(?!). For more on an earlier installment in David Brooks’s concerted efforts to liberate the Republican Party from moral principles that it never held, cf. GT 2009-01-28: How to be social while staying civilized
On intersections, boundaries, and fortifications. bfp, flip flopping joy (2009-05-01): northern territory, sexual activity, teens and police state. In which Ozzie territorial governments set out to create a territorial sex-Stasi to coerce reports of any and all sexual contact by Aboriginal teenagers. Including consensual sex or fooling-around between one teenager and another. Quote:
This sort of nation/state targeted monitoring of the sexuality of teens/young people is something most people of color are vividly aware of. When you through in queerness, disability, and nationality (among others), and community expectations, things for especially teen girls of color get even worse. How do we learn, engage in, and trust ourselves to build a healthy fabulous sexuality when from the time we reach reproductive age, the nation/state literally owns the first and final say as to what happens to our bodies? How do we learn to say
yeswhen the nation/state insists on doing it for us?
We need democratic governments instead of private protection agencies to ensure that political decision-making remain transparent and decision-makers are held accountable to the people: Molly Ball, Las Vegas Review-Journal (2009-05-10): SECRET GOVERNMENT: Lawmakers keep public out as session winds down with most important decisions looming
On planes as prisons and terrorizing as
security: Jessica Bautista & Kitty Caparella, Philadelphia Daily News (2009-05-12): Blind interpreter detained at Philly airport says he has nightmares from arrest (On which, cf. also GT 2008-05-07: Airport security.)
On legal lynching, part 2. For part 1, see last week, where I said this:
When Anarchists propose that all the functions currently controlled by the authoritarian State, including the judgment of cases involving disputes or violent crimes, we are inevitably told that without a State-controlled, hierarchical system of courts, you’d have nothing more than the justice of the lynch mob. This is actually a classic example of statist inversion: by focusing on the dangers that informal and irregular efforts at seeking justice will lead to a disregard for objectivity or evidence, the statist completely blanks out the ways in which formalization and enforced hierarchy oblige government courts to disregard evidence themselves in the name of formal procedures, and to elevate authority above objectivity, by standing on ceremony or respect for turf at the expense of substantive justice. If the state’s plans to murder Troy Anthony Davis are not an example of a slow-motion lynching, what is?To which we will add, this week: Radley Balko, The Agitator (2009-05-18): Prosecutors Blocking Access to DNA Testing In which government prosecutors make active efforts to block access to DNA tests that could potentially exonerate the innocent, all in the name of
you-had-your-chancejurisdictional turf wars and statist legal
The police are here to keep us safe. By driving their cruisers at 109 MPH in a 45 zone, on a major commercial thoroughfare, late at night, with no sirens and no flashing lights. Then, when this predictably leads to a fatal crash that kills one of the cops, by lying about it to the media in order to make your dead buddy look like more of a hero, and by arresting the poor innocent man that the cop slammed into at 90 MPH for his allegedly reckless driving.
The police are here to keep us safe, part 2. Radley Balko, Hit & Run (2009-05-18): Cops Gone Wild, in which cops from around the country celebrate National Police Week in D.C. with wine, weapons, and reckless driving.
The police are here to keep us safe, part 3. Commentary from Center for a Stateless Society news analyst Tom Knapp (2009-05-18): To Serve and Protect (Themselves)
Name your own salary. Las Vegas Sun (2009-05-16): City, county may lose say in police pay negotiations. Las Vegas Metro is currently working to get a new state law passed which would allow Vegas cops to get a salary set unilaterally by their own boss cop, and then send the bill, whatever it may be, to folks who had absolutely no say whatsoever in the negotiations.
The Gangsters in Blue come to Philly. Radley Balko, The Agitator (2009-05-01): Update on Bodega Raids by Rogue Philly Narcotics Unit Balko asks, apparently non-rhetorically,
Why did no one in the department ask why anCome on, really? The reason is that the State as such is essentially irresponsible, and this kind of thing is Standard Operating Procedure for
elitenarcotics unit was wasting its time busting immigrant shop owners with no criminal record for selling bags instead of pursuing actual drug distributors?
elitenarc squads. There’s a lot here to justify outrage, but very little to justify surprise.
On terror-famines for the international narco-crats. Jacob Sullum, Hit & Run (2009-04-30): U.S. Intensifies Campaign to Wipe Out Afghan Economy. Cf. GT 2004-11-20: The tall poppies and GT 2007-01-13: The tall poppies, part 2.
Austro-Athenian Virtue Ethics versus Moral Fictionalism. Neverfox, Instead of a Blog (2009-05-17): Pulp Non-Fiction
How political control of schools produces terrible textbooks. Tamim Ansary, Edutopia (November 2004): A Textbook Example of What’s Wrong with Education. (Via B.K. Marcus, lowercase liberty (2009-05-18): What’s wrong with textbooks?)
On dialectical jujitsu: Roderick Long, Austro-Athenian Empire (2009-05-19): How to annoy a conservative
Ownership failures, not market failures Chris Dillow, Stumbling and Mumbling (2009-05-01): Markets, the poor & the left. Dillow makes two really important distinctions: one of them the familiar left-libertarian distinction between freed markets, on the one hand, and actually-existing corporate capitalism, on the other; the other a less familiar, but very important, distinction between market processes and patterns of ownership. Quote:
In many ways, what look like ways in which markets fail the poor are in fact merely ways in which a lack of assets fail the poor.Exactly; and the many cases where there are not really
market failures,but rather
ownership failures,have everything to do with feudal, mercantile, neoliberal, and other politically-driven seizures and reallocations of poor people’s land, livelihoods, and possessions — and nothing to do with genuine market exchange.
tax-and-regulatereformism, and in praise of a thriving black market economy: Crispin Sartwell, eye of the storm 2009-05-18
Law among the pirates. Jesse Walker, Hit & Run (2009-05-19): To Live Outside the Law You Must Be Honest
Package-dealing portable double-key encryption for web browsing and web mail: Chris Acheson (2009-05-05): Firefox Portable + GnuPG + FireGPG = CryptoFox. (Via @H+ [2009-05-20], via Human Iterations 2009-05-21.)
On freeing the MHD3 and all political prisoners. By way of follow-up to the recent report on the bullshit arrest and jailing of the Motorhome Diaries crew, see Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-15): Jones County Sheriff’s Department Falsely Arrests MHD Crew, which recounts the full timeline of their arrest, jailing, and release. See also Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-17): Thanks for springing the MHD3 from Jones County (with Allison Gibbs), Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-20): The “Grumbling Old Fart” Addresses Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge’s Statements, Motorhome Diaries (2009-05-20): MHD on Freedom Watch
Don’t vote. Secede and repudiate. Stewart Browne, Strike the Root (2009-05-18): A New Strategy For Liberty - Part 2: Secession in Three Easy Steps
pissed-off, man-hating, dykes with an excess of body hairlike it’s supposed to be a bad thing… Kevin Carson @ Mutualist Blog (2009-05-21): An Open Letter to Keith Preston, Mike Gogulski @ nostate.com (2009-05-21): Taking sides on the right to be a complete jackass, Darian Worden (2009-05-21): Perverts Versus Preston, and Brad Spangler (2009-05-22): Bigotry and Revolution
Boston Anarchist Reading Group. Jake, Anarkismo.net (2009-05-17): Anarchist Reading Group at the Boston Anarchist Picnic! June 6th, 2009
Iconoclasta for Colombian anarquistas: Revista Iconoclasta - Anarcol, Anarkismo.net (2009-05-15): New anarchist periodical in Bogota - Iconoclasta. More information online at http://prensaiconoclasta.entodaspartes.net/.
New subscriptions. Anarchy in the Garden
To-day — 19 January 2008 — is the 200th birthday of the militant abolitionist, philosopher, and individualist anarchist Lysander Spooner (b. 19 January 1808, Althol, Massachusetts; d. May 14, 1887, Boston, Massachusetts). In honor of his life and work, the Ministry of Culture of this secessionist republic of one has declared that 19 January shall be celebrated as Lysander Spooner Day.
This is from the end of Spooner’s famous pamphlet No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority:
Inasmuch as the Constitution was never signed, nor agreed to, by anybody, as a contract, and therefore never bound anybody, and is now binding upon nobody; and is, moreover, such an one as no people can ever hereafter be expected to consent to, except as they may be forced to do so at the point of the bayonet, it is perhaps of no importance what its true legal meaning, as a contract, is. Nevertheless, the writer thinks it proper to say that, in his opinion, the Constitution is no such instrument as it has generally been assumed to be; but that by false interpretations, and naked usurpations, the government has been made in practice a very widely, and almost wholly, different thing from what the Constitution itself purports to authorize. He has heretofore written much, and could write much more, to prove that such is the truth. But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.
And this is from an earlier number of No Treason:
But to say that the consent of either the strongest party, or the most numerous party, in a nation, is sufficient justification for the establishment or maintenance of a government that shall control the whole nation, does not obviate the difficulty. The question still remains, how comes such a thing asa nationto exist? How do millions of men, scattered over an extensive territory — each gifted by nature with individual freedom; required by the law of nature to call no man, or body of men, his masters; authorized by that law to seek his own happiness in his own way, to do what he will with himself and his property, so long as he does not trespass upon the equal liberty of others; authorized also, by that law, to defend his own rights, and redress his own wrongs; and to go to the assistance and defence of any of his fellow men who may be suffering any kind of injustice — how do millions of such men come to be a nation, in the first place? How is it that each of them comes to be stripped of his natural, God-given rights, and to be incorporated, compressed, compacted, and consolidated into a mass with other men, whom he never saw; with whom he has no contract; and towards many of whom he has no sentiments but fear, hatred, or contempt? How does he become subjected to the control of men like himself, who, by nature, had no authority over him; but who command him to do this, and forbid him to do that, as if they were his sovereigns, and he their subject; and as if their wills and their interests were the only standards of his duties and his rights; and who compel him to submission under peril of confiscation, imprisonment, and death?
Clearly all this is the work of force, or fraud, or both.
By what right, then, did we becomea nation?By what right do we continue to bea nation?And by what right do either the strongest, or the most numerous, party, now existing within the territorial limits, calledThe United States,claim that there really is sucha nationas the United States? Certainly they are bound to show the rightful existence ofa nation,before they can claim, on that ground, that they themselves have a right to control it; to seize, for their purposes, so much of every man’s property within it, as they may choose; and, at their discretion, to compel any man to risk his own life, or take the lives of other men, for the maintenance of their power.
To speak of either their numbers, or their strength, is not to the purpose. The question is by what right does the nation exist? And by what right are so many atrocities committed by its authority? or for its preservation?
The answer to this question must certainly be, that at least such a nation exists by no right whatever.
We are, therefore, driven to the acknowledgment that nations and governments, if they can rightfully exist at all, can exist only by consent.
And this is from A Letter to Grover Cleveland, on His False Inaugural Address, The Usurpations and Crimes of Lawmakers and Judges, and the Consequent Poverty, Ignorance, and Servitude of the People, perhaps the finest letter ever written to the President of the United States:
Let me then remind you that justice is an immutable, natural principle; and not anything that can be made, unmade, or altered by any human power.
It is also a subject of science, and is to be learned, like mathematics, or any other science. It does not derive its authority from the commands, will, pleasure, or discretion of any possible combination of men, whether calling themselves a government, or by any other name.
It is also, at all times, and in all places, the supreme law. And being everywhere and always the supreme law, it is necessarily everywhere and always the only law.
Lawmakers, as they call themselves, can add nothing to it, nor take anything from it. Therefore all their laws, as they call them, —- that is, all the laws of their own making, —- have no color of authority or obligation. It is a falsehood to call them laws; for there is nothing in them that either creates men’s duties or rights, or enlightens them as to their duties or rights. There is consequently nothing binding or obligatory about them. And nobody is bound to take the least notice of them, unless it be to trample them under foot, as usurpations. If they command men to do justice, they add nothing to men’s obligation to do it, or to any man’s right to enforce it. They are therefore mere idle wind, such as would be commands to consider the day as day, and the night as night. If they command or license any man to do injustice, they are criminal on their face. If they command any man to do anything which justice does not require him to do, they are simple, naked usurpations and tyrannies. If they forbid any man to do anything, which justice could permit him to do, they are criminal invasions of his natural and rightful liberty. In whatever light, therefore, they are viewed, they are utterly destitute of everything like authority or obligation. They are all necessarily either the impudent, fraudulent, and criminal usurpations of tyrants, robbers, and murderers, or the senseless work of ignorant or thoughtless men, who do not know, or certainly do not realize, what they are doing.
—Lysander Spooner (1886): A Letter to Grover Cleveland, on His False Inaugural Address, The Usurpations and Crimes of Lawmakers and Judges, and the Consequent Poverty, Ignorance, and Servitude of the People
- Francois Tremblay (2008-01-19): Happy birthday, Lysander Spooner!
- Lysander Spooner (1858): To the Non-Slaveholders of the South: A Plan for the Abolition of Slavery
- Lysander Spooner (1882): A Letter to Thomas F. Bayard, challenging his right — and that of all the other so-called Senators and Representatives in Congress — to exercise any legislative power whatever over the people of the United States