Posts tagged Dr. Anarchy

Dr. Anarchy Answers Your Questions: on the Presidential assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki

Dear Dr. Anarchy,

Was the al-Awlaki Killing Legal?

Sincerely,
Progressively Perplexed in Peoria

Dear PPP:

I don’t care whether the al-Awlaki killing was legal or illegal. And neither should you. If you fell in love with a man years ago, and he turned out to be a frightening, violent psychopath, and he kept trying to excuse his behavior by saying, Well, technically nothing I did was really against the law; and besides, baby, I’m just trying to keep you safe… then what you have is still a frightening, violent psychopath. It’s just that he’s a frightening, violent psychopath with a law degree instead of a conscience. I suggest that you dump him and get away as quick as safely possible.

Sincerely,
Dr. Anarchy.

PS. Legality has nothing to do with morality, and if everything our Progressive Peace President did were perfectly legal, that would only put him in the august legally-licensed company of executioners, slave-hunters, and the Einsatzgruppen SS. The problem with these Presidential assassinations — whether directed against American citizens, or against disarmed foreign captives, or (what is overwhelmingly most common) against dozens of completely innocent women and children who just happened to be trying to exist in the general vicinity of a couple people our Progressive Peace President considered supsicious enough for a missile or two — is that they are evil, tyrannical and terrifying, because they entail the President’s claim to have a right to kill literally anyone, anywhere, on his whim alone and without any possible appeal; and the reasons that that is a problem have nothing to do with what the law or any other scrap of paper says. They are murders, out-and-out murders without any pretense of restraint or accountability for the people who commit them or the presidents who order them. If they are illegal, no court of law in the vicinity will ever consider holding anyone accountable for it, and the attempt to appeal to the law is rhetorically and politically useless. If they are legal, then the law itself is a crime and an infamy, and deserves no attention at all, except to trample it underfoot.

As Charlie Davis puts it:

What’s legally permissible, remember, is not the same as what’s morally permissible: Owning human beings was once the unchallenged law of the land, while those who helped fugitive slaves — not those who brutalized them — found themselves locked away in prison cells. A Southern plantation owner could win any legal challenge to his ownership of slaves by citing a dozen federal and state statutes. That didn’t make it right. And while some abolitionists did adopt legal arguments against slavery, they never forgot their most potent case against the infamous institution: the moral one.

Forget the law. Does any person, whether a saint or a statesman, have the moral right to unilaterally take the life of another? Is it just or wise to invest in one fallible human being, or even a group of them, the power to kill and the ability to do so without so much as a rubber-stamp conviction in a military tribunal — and without fear of so much as a harsh word from establishment liberal humanitarians? The answer, I’d argue, is unambiguous: no. Allowing one man or woman the right to be judge, jury, and executioner is a recipe for totalitarianism, one that eviscerates all other human rights and the moral fiber of those who would be a party to it.

Back when slavery was as legal and respectable as blowing up Pakistani tribesmen with Predator drones is now, author and dissident Henry David Thoreau published an essay on the duty of civil disobedience in which he noted that, in fact, “Law never made a man a whit more just.” Indeed, “by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.”

Right now, too many Americans — pundits especially — have an undue respect for statutes and precedents, leading even those on the left to speak of things such as the “laws of war,” as odd a turn of phrase as the “rules of rape.” And it’s making them agents of injustice.

— Charlie Davis @ Antiwar.com (2011-10-03): When It Comes to State-Sanctioned Murder, Morality Matters Most

See also.

Dr. Anarchy Answers Your Rhetorical Questions

Today’s question comes from The Agitator (2011-01-20), about a recent police raid on a medical marijuana dispensary in the suburbs of Metro Detroit:

Dear Dr. Anarchy:

Earlier this month, police in Oakland County, Michigan raided a medical marijuana dispensary in the town of Oak Park. The deputies came in with guns drawn and bulletproof vests, with at least one wearing a mask.

They made no arrests, but they did clean the place out. The confiscated all of the dispensary’s cash on hand and—in a particularly thuggish touch—also took all of the cash from the wallets and purses of employees and patients.

… Under Michigan’s asset forfeiture law, 80 percent of the cash the deputies seized will go directly to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department. The other 20 percent goes to the local prosecutor. Medical marijuana is legal under Michigan law but is of course still illegal under federal law. And apparently there’s some debate about the legality of dispensaries. All of which means this particular dispensary will have a hard time proving it earned the seized cash legitimately. I doubt the patients and employees will get their cash back, either. The cost of challenging the seizure is likely several times more than the amount of money most people carry on their person.

In light of all this, Balko asks, So how is this different from armed robbery?

The short answer to the rhetorical question is that it isn’t. The longer answer is that, aside from the gang colors, there are two differences between an official armed robbery like this one, and the stereotypical armed robbery carried out by freelancers.[1] The first difference is that when gangsters without badges rob you, you could in principle go to the police about it and try to get the robbers arrested. But when the gangsters who robbed you are the police, and are happy to arrest you if you complain about the robbery, then who do you go to?

The second difference is that after gangsters without badges rob you, at least they usually let you go on your way; they spend the money on private indulgences, and leave you alone. But when gangsters with badges rob you, they take the money and use it to finance the more raids, more arrests, more brutality, and more efforts to control the behavior of people like you and force you to submit to their insane and arbitrary laws. As Spooner writes in No Treason 6.3.5:

The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a “protector,” and that he takes men’s money against their will, merely to enable him to “protect” those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful “sovereign,” on account of the “protection” he affords you. He does not keep “protecting” you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villainies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.

So, the only difference between police forfeiture raids and the more stereotypical forms of armed robbery is that police forfeiture raids are worse.

  1. [1] Stereotypical, not typical. Armed robbery by government officials is just as typical as armed robbery carried out by freelancers. It’s just not discussed to the same extent.

Dr. Anarchy answers your mail #6: keeping away unwanted attention from statists

… the occasional advice column that’s taking the world by storm, one sovereign individual at a time.

This week’s question comes from a correspondent at the Libertarian subreddit. Our correspondent has been reading some discussion of the increasingly belligerent statism of conservatives within the Tea Party movement and the efforts of conservative politicos like Sarah Palin to harness the movement to their own ends — typically purging libertarians in the process. And he or she agrees, but doesn’t really know what to do about the co-optation and takeover attempts that conservatives always mount when a libertarian organization or a libertarian activist effort starts getting some buzz. What can you do when any time you try to go out in public, you face this kind of unwanted attention?

Dear Dr. Anarchy:

How do we keep neocons or someone else from co-opting a libertarian organization, without some kind of top-down approach? It seems like real libertarians just get drowned out in the din of statists, and the libertarian agenda gets changed in any desirable organization libertarians contribute towards.

Sincerely,
Co-opted in Connecticut

Dear Co-opted,

What you should do is stop wasting your political time on limited-government organizations, and become an Anarchist. instead.

Why is it that neoconservatives and other statist politicos keep trying to co-opt and take over organizations that libertarians started? The answer is the same for any politico — because they see the organization and the people in it as a means to political power. They’re able to treat limited-government reform groups like that because limited-government reform groups, while protesting big government, still want a little bit of government — to hold onto some part of the State and executive power (e.g. government cops, courts, borders, and soldiers). A Sarah Palin sees this as the platform she can stand on: as long as you’re willing to accept a little bit of government, she can ride your movement to victory, or if not victory at least a speaking gig and a comfortable sinecure, with a very selective set of promises about the kinds of government she’ll roll back.

But an Anarchist organization, or an Anarchist direct-action campaign against state power (like CopWatch or No Borders Camp, say), aims to change political conditions by frustrating or bypassing electoral and parliamentary politics, and the goal that you are trying to reach is to abolish the political means itself. When your means and your ends are to destroy the very thing that conservative politicos want to control, you no longer have anything to take that they could want to have.

I know it’s tempting to believe that you can go on doing just what you’ve been doing, and that this time — with the right sort of vigilance, maybe; with the right sort of understanding from the get-go — you’ll be able to do it right, or if things threaten threaten to go wrong, you’ll be able to see the warning signs before it’s too late, and do something about it. But when you keep seeing the same pattern over and over again in your political relationships and your casual interactions, it’s time for you to wake up and start facing facts. Political organizing is always going to attract politicos, and people with more political pull are always going to have the advantage in political organization. It’s not just time to dump this control freak; it’s time to think about whether you should be doing things differently, so that control freaks like this won’t find anything to attract them in the future. Stop putting your hopes into support for limited-government political parties and governmental reform; it’s time to stand up for yourself, without the crutch of legal politics, and put your time, energy and hopes into efforts that bypass governmental politics entirely, and treat the state as an enemy to be smashed, rather than a tool to be seized and wielded.

Sincerely,
Dr. Anarchy.

That’s all for today. Just remember, folks: people are more important than power. And everything is easier when you reject the State as such.

Next week: Dr. Anarchy answers your tax questions!

See also:

Dr. Anarchy answers your mail #5: Wherever I go, he goes….

… the occasional advice column that’s taking the world by storm, one sovereign individual at a time.

This week’s question comes from a troubled teen, who wrote to us on the recommendation of long-time reader Chris Acheson. She wrote because she needs help with a question is about relationships and boundaries. How do you know when a concerned friend really has your best interests at heart—and how do you know when that concern crosses a line and endangers the friendship?

Dear Dr. Anarchy,

I have a friend who says he’s really worried about some of the bad decisions I’ve made in the last few years. He thinks that I’m acting out. I know I haven’t always made the smartest decisions, but now he’s following me around all the time to try and make sure I’m not getting into trouble! He even says he wants me wear a shackle around my ankle with a G.P.S. unit, so that he’ll always know where I am! I told him that sounded too much like Big Brother for me! But he says: You can paint this thing as either Big Brother, or this is a device that connects you to a buddy who wants to keep you safe and help you graduate.. I know he’s just trying to look out for me, but this makes me really nervous! Is he right? What should I say?

Sincerely,
Truant in Texas

Dear Truant,

If this guy were really your buddy, then he would respect your boundaries, and he would try to support you instead of trying to make you do what he thinks you should do. I know that he tries to cover up his controlling behavior by using euphemisms and acting superficially friendly. And I know that you want to believe that after all these years, he really does want what’s best for you. But you need to take an honest look at this relationship. The truth is that your buddy is acting like a control freak, even a stalker, and you deserve much better than buddies like that. You need to break off this relationship as soon as you possibly can.

Yours,
Dr. Anarchy.

That’s all for today. Just remember, folks: people are more important than power. And everything is easier when you reject the State as such.

Next week: Dr. Anarchy answers your romance and marriage questions!

See also:

Dr. Anarchy answers your mail #4: How can we safeguard our data?

… the occasional advice column that’s taking the world by storm, one sovereign individual at a time.

This week’s letter comes to us from a reader in the United Kingdom. The question has to do with a fundamental issue of trust. How can you rebuild your belief in someone when he’s let you down, over and over again?

Dear Dr. Anarchy,

The theft of a laptop from a Royal Navy officer which held the personal details of 600,000 people is being investigated by the police.

The laptop was taken from a vehicle which had been parked in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham.

It contains data including passport numbers, National Insurance numbers and bank details connected to people who had expressed an interest in, or joined, the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the RAF.

Meanwhile, hundreds of documents containing sensitive personal data including benefit claims and mortgage payments have been found dumped on a roundabout in Devon.

How can we safeguard our data?

— Baffled at the BBC

Dear Baffled,

Stop collecting it. You don’t have secure data that you don’t collect.

I know that you want to believe that if you just had the right people, if you just had the right policies, maybe you could go on turning over all this data to the government and distributing it to all these different agencies and have it somehow remain secure from malice, malfunction, or human error. But you need to look at this relationship honestly and realistically. You may be fooling yourself. The government will go on doing what they have been doing, with all their usual vices and limitations. If the only way to get what you need out of this relationship is to change your partner into something that he’s not, then you need to seriously consider whether it’s time to just dump him and move on.

Yours,
Dr. Anarchy

That’s all for today. Just remember, folks: people are more important than power. And everything is easier when you reject the State as such.

Next week: Dr. Anarchy answers your health and safety questions!

(Story via Phil Wilson 2008-01-20.)