Tag Archives: civil liberties

Happy 4th of July. Celebrate [the illusion of] freedom

4 Jul

“The illusion of freedom [in America] will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.” –Frank Zappa

Happy 4th of July. Everywhere you look in America today there is something or someone espousing the attitude of “AMERICA!!!FUCK YEAH!!!!” It’s freedom this or liberty that. Yet despite all this spirited celebration, not a single brain cell is occupied with contemplating what freedoms and liberties we have. If you ask someone, they’ll probably give some answer that sounds like it could be spoken from a character out of the Idiocracy movie. “What freedoms are you celebrating today?” “Well, ah….our freedom to be free!”

You have no freedom. You have only the illusion of freedom.

You might point to the bill of rights as a clear example of the freedoms you have, but then you would be incredibly naive. Rights by their nature are absolutes. If they are not absolutes then they are not rights, their enforcement is subject to the whims of the ruling power; an illusion. The ruling power will maintain that illusion as long as it is convenient for them to do so. In cases where it is no longer convenient, they will dispense with the theater and the true nature of your “rights” are relieved.

Over the past century the US government has shown that no right is absolute. Freedom of speech, press, and assembly? That will be tolerated as long as it is the correct speech, press, and assembly. Look at the brutal crackdowns on protesters, “free speech zones” miles away from the subject of the protest, the police violence .Freedom from unwarranted search and seizures? Nonexistent. Everything you do on facebook, every phone call and text message you send is recorded by the government. You are suspect by default. Every citizen is a potential enemy of the state.

The right to due process, a speedy trial and protection from cruel and unusual punishment? Ask Bradley Manning about that. Or ask Anwar al-Awlaki, an American tried, sentenced, and executed with no due process, no trial, and no appeal. Or ask his dead 16yr old son who was executed two weeks later in the same manner. Ask anyone on the US government’s “kill list.” Ask the owners of Megaupload or any one of the other websites arbitrarily, illegally, and capriciously shut down by the government.

“But at least we’re not some third world country suffering starvation, civil war, and lawlessness!”

No. Making that argument is surrender. You are setting the bar so low that it might as well be on the ground, and yet you seem elated that you’re able to step over it. No amount of sarcasm can express my disdain for this argument. The funny thing is that you can’t even step over it, it’s more like you trip over it. Corruption, lawlessness, and starvation exist here in the US. The difference is that our aliments are better hidden. People are expecting to see starving Africans, or warlords, or guards taking bribes. Yet in America our starving people look like everyone else, or a homeless veteran under a bridge. Our warlords wear suits and drive nice cars. Our corrupt officials take bribes from corporations and sit in congress. There remains only one absolute right in the US.

Your right to remain silent.

Libertarians and conservatives…

24 Feb

Earlier today I got a nasty comment from someone bashing me and my blog without attempting to put forth and real ideas or counter arguments so I deleted it. What struck me afterwards was that the person called themselves a libertarian and in the post they were bashing me for I was decrying big government’s involvement in people’s personal lives. This really puzzled me because the supposed difference between libertarians and conservatives is that libertarians don’t want big government controlling what you do with your body, who you marry, and when you have children while conservatives will gleefully enforce their version of morality on the rest of the population through big government.

Politically I consider myself a liberal with libertarian leanings. As a general rule I do not like big government dictating what its citizens can do. I’m pro gun, pro choice, pro gay marriage, pro drugs, and against the death penalty. However, I do recognize that community is important and that there is a need for government to provide things that support the public good like schools, healthcare, a fire department, libraries, highways, food/water/building/car safety, etc. I recognize that the “free market” is not a perfect system for producing a happy, healthy society. The pure libertarian idea of a free market is too idealistic and makes various assumptions about the players in the market that are unrealistic. America was very libertarian at the turn of the 20th century and the problems we had with robber barons, monopolies, tycoons, tainted food, snake oil salesmen, etc led to the development of protective regulatory agencies.

I also recognize that big government is a tool for ensuring legal equality. Oppressed and disenfranchised minorities in a small community can appeal to bigger government for protection. A small town of racist white supremacists in the south cannot oppress and deny blacks the right to vote because such rights are on a bigger scale than the small southern town. Big government at a federal level incorporates so many diverse people from different parts of the country that it dilutes out discrimination that would be practiced on a smaller homogeneous scale.

So I guess you can call me libertarian lite.

What really puzzles me about the other libertarians I see is just how easily they associate with conservatives. Many of the libertarians I know you would not know they were libertarians and not conservative unless you asked them. They post very conservative posts up on facebook or their blogs, they like very conservative speakers and authors, and they watch Fox “news.”

Why do I never see them railing against anti-gay marriage laws, or abortion laws, the jailing of journalists, or bills like the Patriot Act that strip us of our personal liberties guaranteed in the Constitution? The only explaination I can think of is pretty sickening:

Money is more important than social equality.

If they were concerned with the social equality of all people they’d stay well away from conservatives. I’d see them hanging out with liberals but grumbling when economics came up. Instead they’re hanging out with conservatives and staying silent when social issues come up.

Discrimination and the goal for tomorrow

4 Sep

I’m at a loss for words as to why some people don’t understand that discrimination = bad. It’s so basic, like  a = a, that I’m paralyzed by the sheer stupidity of it all. Discrimination = injustice, injustice is wrong by definition. If you do discriminate it really speaks a lot about your character and your cause. That type of hate and injustice automatically makes you the bad guy. If you discriminate because your god tells you to, then that makes you delusional and your god evil. (Isn’t it funny how a person’s god always hates the same people they do? *Hint* It’s because they made up their god and are projecting their hate onto him) These concepts are so basic, I feel like a kindergartener typing them out, but apparently lots of people didn’t learn this concept in kindergarten.

I see history as a slow but steady march towards the goal of pure equality under the law. What is pure equality? Simple: pure equality under the law means that characteristics of a person, such as race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, etc should not affect how the law treats a person. All that matters is that the person is a person, and Justice is blind to everything else. It shouldn’t matter if you’re a christian, muslim, jew, hindu, or atheist. It shouldn’t matter if you’re black, white, mixed, hispanic, etc. It shouldn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, or bi. It shouldn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. It shouldn’t matter if you’re blind, deaf, or can’t walk. None of those things should matter when treating people equally under the law. This is the goal, to make everyone truly equal under the law. As I said, history is a slow march forward.

Originally in our society only white christian males were protected under the law. (Being rich helped too) Then came the fight to grant the same protection to women at the turn of the 20th century. Half a century later the blacks stepped forward to fight for their rights, just as the women did. Then the homosexual community stepped up and they’re still fighting today. Just 20 years ago the disabled community won a victory in the fight for equality with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The dream of pure equality is there in the constitution, it’s just a matter of fighting for it against those who would put themselves up by putting others down.

I would like to point out that there is a difference between equality under the law (the government) and private equality. For example: legally the law must be blind (pure equality concept), but private individuals and organizations that don’t serve the public at large (like a theater, stadium, or hospital) can discriminate. I view these people as immoral bastards and try to avoid them, but they have the right to be bastards on their private property. Here’s the catch: you can be a discriminating asshole on your own turf all you want, but if you’re going to reach into the public (government) piggy bank and take tax payer dollars, then you lose that right to be a discriminatory asshole. It’s one or the other. You can’t take everybody’s money, then turn around and discriminate against some of those people you just took money from.

Unfortunately private organizations do this every day. Some of them get sued (rightly so) and some don’t. The Boy Scouts are a perfect example. They discriminate against gays and atheists, yet they take tax payer money from those gays and atheists. The worst groups for doing things like this are religious groups. Religious charities often take tax payer money and then discriminate when it comes to who they hire and who gets the “charity”. Earlier this year the University of California was sued by the Christian Legal Society (a club there at the publicly funded school) because the school would not let the club discriminate against other students. (The club gets tax payer money from the school which is also tax payer funded) If discrimination and hate is part of your religion, fine, I think it’s sick and wrong, but you can practice that as long as you don’t take tax payer money. Why is that so hard to understand?

Now as I pointed out earlier, there is a difference between equality under the law, and private equality. We can enforce equality under the law, but we can’t force private individuals and organizations not to be bigots. In order to change individuals we must first enforce that law. As the law is enforced over the years, new generations are born and grow up living under the equal protection. The older, more bigoted generations eventually die off, and the younger, more tolerant ones take their place. This is how you slowly phase out individual bigotry through the enforcement of equal protection under the law. Eventually we will achieve the goal of pure equality. We will do this despite the best efforts of conservative politicians and religious groups. They will slowly be phased out and become irrelevant; just as the conservatives who protested womens’ right to vote, or the ones that protested fair and equal treatment for blacks, or the people who fought against making the government and businesses accessible to the disable, or the people who are currently fighting to deny gays equal protection. We will grind them out as we have in the past because they’re fighting for hate and prejudice, whereas we’re fighting for tolerance and justice.

Why I will never vote Republican

16 May

I saw a bumper sticker earlier today that really pissed me off. It said “RIP USA 1776-2009″. Give me a break. Just because the democrats won an election does not mean that the United States died. This got me thinking about this post.

There are a few reasons why I’ll never vote republican. While I am a white middle class male, I seldom identify with them. I’m not afraid of other races, and I have this radical idea that women are people too. I’m also not anti-intellectual, which is the most dumbfounding movement I’ve ever heard of, but that’s another post.

But it would be horrible naive and wrong of me to say that all republicans were angry white skinheads. Many people are republican for non social reasons, be it economic philosophy or their philosophy on government, which brings me to the main point of this post.

One of the biggest reasons I’ll never vote republican is that my philosophy on government disagrees with them. While I’m definitely not a statist I do think bigger government tends to be better than smaller government. Let me explain:

People’s rights are better protected in a nation with a wide diversity of constituents than they are in a nation with less diversity. If the government’s base is sufficiently large enough to cover a wide swath of people, then it is much harder for one group to completely oppress another. In essence, a tyranny of the majority is much harder to achieve.

In smaller governments, the opposite is true. With less diversity in the voting populace, a single block can gain power and oppress the minority. This concept works on all levels.

Now, it depends on person to person, but I feel a lot of republicans would like to abolish the constitution and the bill of rights, and go back to the articles of confederacy. They’d love it if individual states had complete power over their citizens, and only banded together in time of war. I guess it’s the mentality of “I don’t want somebody in Washington telling us how to run our state, what we can and can’t do in our own back yards!”

(I think the great irony is how conservatives rail against big government meddling in people’s lives, while at the same time they try and use it to impose their narrow ideas of sexual morality on the rest of the populace)

The problem is that if we went back to “states have all the power” the diversity of the voting populace would be greatly scaled back in every state. For example, while there might be a large population of Jews in New York, there might not be in Alabama. Thus the Jews in Alabama would have less voting power than the numerically superior Jews in NY. The principle is the same  for a variety of different groups.

If left to their own devices, many states have, and will continue to discriminate against particular groups. Just look at all the federal legislation that had to be written up to protect minorities in other states. The National Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a prime example. There are majorities in certain states that have a history of oppressing minorities. Without the federal government keeping them fair, these groups would continue to infringe upon minority rights.

Without big government blacks wouldn’t be able to vote in many states, Atheists would be banned from holding public office in many states, and women wouldn’t have the right to vote in several  states. Basically, if you aren’t a WASP (white, anglo-saxon, protestant) male you’d be shit out of luck. It will be interesting to see if republican change their views in 2050 when white people will become the minority. I wonder if they’ll become hypocrites in an attempt to use big government to secure their rights.

To win we must take blows

5 May

This might be one of my more controversial posts. The last post I made was on the subject of discrimination against Atheists in the United States.  Atheists are in a sort of limbo right now. (Pun not intended) The discrimination is there, it just is at a level that is still acceptable to the majority of the population.

This is the horrible part: In order for the discrimination of Atheists to gain public attention, and to be deemed unacceptable, we need to suffer a series of hate crimes, just like blacks and homosexuals. These hate crimes need to be clear and well publicised.

Trust me, I’m disgusted by the thought of my felllow Atheists being attacked in this way, but nobody is going to take discrimination against us seriously until the religious start persecuting us more forcefully in this country.

Just some food for thought. (Even though the idea makes me sick)

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