Jason’s Ranting & Raving

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Archive for the ‘Civil Liberties’ Category

CHOOSE FREEDOM! Happy 4th of July!

Posted by jaystile on July 4, 2009

I am a citizen of the United States of America. If you ask my fellow citizens if we are free, they might respond with, “AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!“. We do have many freedoms in this country, and for those I am thankful, but those freedoms are slowly being eroded, given away, or taken away from us. I think most Americans need a refresher course on what freedom means and I am hear to provide that refresher. Happy 4th of July. My general definition of freedom is that everyone should be able to do what they want as long as they are not hurting anyone else. Or you can read dictionary.com’s definition.

What should I be able to do?
Let’s start with an example. I would like to have a cigarette. Should I be allowed to smoke? I know it is bad for me. It is addictive, hurts your lungs, and contains carcinogens. A free society says, yes, I should be allowed to smoke because it is only hurting me. Should I be allowed to drink alcohol? It is bad for me. It impairs my motor skills and damages my liver. Yes, I should be allowed to drink alcohol. Should I be able to use other currently illegal drugs? Real freedom means, yes, I should be allowed to abuse drugs because they would only hurt me. (FYI, this is all hypothetical, I don’t smoke or use illegal drugs.)

Choosing Freedom also means Choosing Responsibility
Should I be allowed to smoke by my children? As a parent, I would not smoke around my children. But should you be able to smoke around your children? Again, I say choose freedom, but by choosing freedom you are also choosing responsibility and that means you still don’t get to hurt others. There is damage caused by second hand smoke. Then, should I be allowed to drink alcohol by my children? Ingesting alcohol only hurts the person who is doing it. So yes, I should be able to drink by my children. However, having freedom also means using responsibility. If I’m prone to violence while drinking should I do it? The answer is an obvious no, and we have laws on the books criminalizing assault and battery. Should I drive after drinking? Again, impaired driving causes accidents hurting others. That’s why laws criminalizing driving under the influence make sense.

Personal Safety
We have laws in this country that make it illegal to NOT wear a helmet, to NOT wear a seatbelt, to NOT use a child safety seat, and to NOT have automatic rifles and hand guns. These laws are meant to save lives. Let’s look at it through the freedom lens again. Does it hurt anyone beside myself to not wear a helmet? If I crash it’s my brains being splattered on the asphalt not yours. This law should be stricken down. Should I have to wear a seatbelt? Again, it would be me thrown out of my vehicle or thrown through the windshield not anyone else. This type of law should be stricken down. I do see some gray area here though if by wearing a seatbelt you are able to keep your vehicle in control to limit further property/personal damage. But what are the statistics on people who are not wearing a seatbelt causing further damage than just damage to themselves? If it is huge then I think a law is important to protect others. If it is small, then it just doesn’t make sense. Should I have my child in a booster seat until they are 12 years old in the back seat even though most of the protection comes from just being in the back seat with a seatbelt on? (see Freakonomics for most statistics on child safety (Here is my Review) ) Again, choosing freedom means choosing responsibility: it is important to put your infant and toddler in child safety seats, apply sunblock, and read to them every day. But be pragmatic, what are the real chances of your child being stolen away by a stranger if they are playing in the front yard by themselves. Oh! Oh! I have an answer 1:1.5 million. Don’t let CNN scare you into keeping your kids inside. In fact you shouldn’t even be watching T.V. unless you want to waste time (but that is a rant for another time). So let kids have age appropriate freedoms too. As for weapons, I am of the opinion that any arms that could be brought to bear against me I should have the right to own myself. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But it is my responsibility to make sure that I know how to operate those weapons safely and that I secure them from theft and misuse.

What You Can Do
There is something you can do to help this country maintain its freedom. Use your authority of as a member of the jury. This is the one time you are above the law. When someone is prosecuted for breaking the law, you get to not only judge whether the defendant is guilty/innocent of the law but whether the law is correct. Vote for like minded individuals in every level of government. Know your candidates and support those who cherish freedom (not control). Use your right to protest peacefully, when is the last time your protested for freedom? I’m still appalled by the most of the provisions in the ‘Patriot Act’. A real patriot does not give up freedoms for anyone!


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Free Speech censored by the United Nations?

Posted by jaystile on February 27, 2009

I was watching a news article on youtube by CNN. This (shallow) report is followed by the commentary of Lou Dobbs and Christopher Hitchens. They talk about the actions taken by the United Nations to move toward a binding resolution of member states to make it a crime for defamation of religion. As a side note, I dislike listening to Lou Dobbs and other talking heads on the news. Also, if you’re going to read a book on atheism, read ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins which discusses why religion is unnecessary. Christopher Hitchens attacks religion in his book ‘god is not Great’ and is very hostile with his words.

People really do need to stand up for their rights and the rights of others. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. I’ll protect your freedom to practice religion, if you protect my right to reject religion. I’ll protect your right to speak/write freely, if you protect my right to listen and read the media that I want to. I’ll protect your right to bear arms if you protect my rights against warrantless wiretapping.

The commentators do focus heavily on Islam since the resolution is promoted by Pakistan and backed by other Islamic nations. But ambiguous language leads to a litany of lawsuits. I’m sure every religion would be crawling out of the woodwork with claims of defamation of religion. My question is, when did it become a right not to get offended? I understand wanting rules regarding hate speech and race/religion based threats because that makes sense. You do NOT get to threaten people just because they are different than you. But a law regarding blasphemy? I believe that to be a terrible idea. I think it is appropriate to criticize bronze age ideologies that have long outlived their usefulness and do great amounts of harm in society.

The initial concept of the United Nations was great. Trying to stop the destruction of the world by another world war by using diplomacy and the aggregate power of the world against rogue nations is a noble prospect. But the U.N. is impotent because of special rules made just for the super powers like the United States and the former Soviet Union allowing one to undercut the other. And like all democracies, if the ‘crazies’ have the majority or people just stop caring the ruling body breaks down. (i.e., how the 43rd President of the United States got elected and the aftermath)

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Police – Helping or Hurting?

Posted by jaystile on January 9, 2009

I would first like to say that I understand that police have to deal with the worst scum sucking, beer drinking, drug abusing, unintellectual, violent, sociopaths that this country can dish out. It takes a certain kind of person to deal with those lowlifes day in and day out. Secondly, I would like to apologize to all the excellent police officers that do their part to keep the peace and to help their communities. Police officers that have to deal with the ‘bad guys’ also have to deal with normal people and it seems that they have a very hard time adjusting to people who are educated and exercise their civil rights. Does America have a systemic problem with their police officers? Are people rightfully afraid of the police who are supposed to protect and serve?

Excessive Force
Police are armed with deadly weapons and are put into high stress situations. Have you heard about the rioting in Oakland, CA? A crowd gathers around the police and in a panic they shoot a man who is unarmed and immobilized. Do you know what it is called if I shoot someone? Murder. What is is called when a BART police officer shoots someone? …officials are looking into the possibility that the officer thought he was firing a Taser and pulled out his gun by mistake. So, I guess that would be an accident.
BART Police Officer Shoots Immobilized Unarmed Man
Why do people protest? Because they are underrepresented. This is how police detain protesters… by placing a knee on their neck.

The hospitals say the police excessively use force when detaining people. Remember Rodney King? Anyway, doctors don’t want to rock the boat and most cases of excessive force are undocumented. The most common injuries resulting from the excessive use of force by police officers against suspects involved blunt trauma of the sort you get from a punch or a beating. “Fists and feet were cited as the instrument used by 95.2% (95% CI 92.0% to 97.3%) of respondents, handcuffs that were too tight by 73.1% (95% CI 67.6% to 78.1%), night sticks by 48.6% (95% CI 42.7% to 54.5%) and flashlights by 26.9%…” And try and not forget our new meme, “Don’t taze me bro!”
Physicians say Police Use Too Much Force

What happens when a cop is given a gun? He uses it. They roll onto to private property and when they find a dog that they think is threatening, they draw their gun and they shoot it. Tough luck, poochie. Oh yeah, they weren’t wearing uniforms. Why does wearing a uniform make their job so much harder? How does America classify armed men out of uniform in foreign countries? They call them enemy combatants. Follow this link to more puppy murder and mayhem.

Mistaken Identity
The next problem is that Police immediately stereotype people, which is where I think most of the problems are stemming from. Do you know what happens if you are black in a white neighborhood? You get mistaken as a criminal. Specifically, you get targeted as a car thief because you are driving an SUV. Then your family comes out to confront the police who are on their property for no good reason. Your mom gets shoved into the garage. You put your head up from the concrete to ask what is happening. Guess what happens? You get shot in the back, while you are unarmed and laying in a prone position. Police Shoot Man in case of Racial Profiling

There seems to be quite a few cases of mistaken identity coming out of Texas. It seems that if you are black and wearing short shorts, then you are prostitute. Three plain clothes officers tried to arrest a girl in her front yard. Her screaming brought her dad outside where he fought the police and she escaped. Did I mention they were not wearing uniforms? They were responding to a prostitution call that was blocks away. Oh yeah, to put the icing on the cake, the girl and the father are being prosecuted for assaulting polices officers. And she was arrested at her school where she is an honor student. What did the city have to say about this? The city has investigated the matter and found that the conduct of the police officers was appropriate under the circumstances Did I mention they weren’t wearing uniforms and were trying to force a 12 year old girl into a van? She is having nightmares about police. Plain clothes police do not make sense to me. It’s not like they were undercover at the time. Police arrest 12 year old girl

Shameful Behavior
I would like to share with you something I think I read before (but I don’t have a link and cannot verify it): Criminals and Police Officers tend to share the same psychological profile. They enjoy the feeling of power and using force to intimidate or force people to do something against their will. Anyone, read this before? Either way here are some more stories.

In New York there is a group of people that advocate the riding of bikes to help reduce traffic and stop pollution. They would get together at night and have a huge group of people go for a ride through the city. They had a number of conflicts with police. Well, they decided to find if their actions were illegal. A judge allowed them to keep doing their bike rides since they were not causing trouble and were not obstructing traffic. Well, I guess if you’re a cop and you don’t agree with them you do this:

On the bright side, this officer is getting prosecuted. Let’s hear it for video cameras.

A group called Kop Busters is starting to set stings on corrupt policing organizations. Read more about them here: Never Get Busted Again Here is a video of police raiding a home that was growing…. Christmas trees. You see, police use thermal imaging from planes to find people growing marijuana with grow lamps in their homes. This process is illegal and has been deemed ‘unreasonable search’, but it happened anyway. Kop Busters caught them red handed. Also, a judge signed an affidavit to search the home based on an anonymous tip, which is also illegal.

Here is another protector of the people dumping a quadriplegic from their wheel chair.

And another story of Cops Stealing from Toys for Tots. I hope the Marines find them and kick their ass.

This cop stole a laptop. (What laptop?)

Everyone in this country gets hassled by the Police. Senator Leahy was stopped by a Border Agent many miles from the border mind you: It’s interesting – I went through one of those symbolic checkpoints in the state of New York driving back here. It was about 125 miles from the border. In a car with license plate one on it from Vermont. With little letters underneath it that said US Senate. We were stopped and ordered to get out of the car and prove my citizenship. And I said “what authority are you acting under?” and one of your agents pointed to his gun and said “that’s all the authority I need.” Encouraging way to enter our country. Do you live in the Constitution Free Zone?

The Constitution Free Zone

The Constitution Free Zone

Don’t Talk to Cops
If there is anything to take away from this post is, “Don’t talk to Cops”. Watch this video to be astounded and disturbed and be educated on why you should never, ever, EVER talk to cops.

Is it just a few bad eggs or is the system fundamentally flawed? Why do police officers protect their own when those other officers have acted in an unprofessional manner? I really do think that we need to spend our money on good training for our officers. Special attention needs to be given to how to deal with those with mental illness. Additionally, training should be reinforced to protect constitutional rights. Peaceful protesters should not be harassed. We should really be focusing our time, money, and effort on violent criminals and dangers to the public. Now, go forth and be good citizens, keep those cameras rolling, and exercise your 5th amendment rights and your civil liberties.

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Book Review: A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

Posted by jaystile on December 2, 2008

I have never read a book that has fundamentally changed the way I view the world. My friend offered the label “consciousness raiser”. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn is the most profound history I have ever read. It has challenged my core assumptions about the country that I live in. It is not that history has been misstated in the books we have read in high school and college, it is that they have been understated. A People’s History takes the perspective of the poor and underprivileged and shows how they have been repressed and exploited by the privileged few systematically through the centuries. We as people of the United States of America are and have been led by a small group that does not represent the majority but that of the wealthiest 1%.

Wikipedia has an a great chapter by chapter summary. Come with me while I take you through a few examples and quotes from this book.

Chapter 1: Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress

An excerpt from Christopher Columbus’ log regarding the Arawak people in the Bahama Islands: They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane…. They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want. Christopher Columbus, Discoverer of America! (except for the fact America was already populated)

The Spaniards did subjugate Hispaniola (now The Republic of Haiti and Dominican Republic). Another quote: They rode the back of Indians if they were in a hurry or were carried on hammocks by Indians running in relays…. The Spaniards thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades. Of the estimated 3-8 million indigenous people of Hispaniola none survived. Every last man, woman, and child was killed by disease, hunger, or the sword.

Chapter 13: The Socialist Challenge
After the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 was signed by Abraham Lincoln all the slaves were free. There was no more slavery in America! Well, don’t you worry the Establishment has lots of societal and economic pressures to keep the majority in line. The rights established by the Emancipation Proclamation were not enforced until the Civil Rights Movement was well under way. So if you are a Native American, Black, Immigrant, Homosexual, or Woman you did not get equal treatment under the law. In fact, sometimes you had special rules applied to you ( Jim Crow Laws, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell ) if you were a woman working as a teacher in Massachusetts in 1900:

  1. Do not get married.
  2. Do not leave town at any time without permission of the school board.
  3. Do not keep company with men.
  4. Be home between the hours of 8 P.M and 6 A.M.
  5. Do not loiter downtown in ice cream stores.
  6. Do not smoke.
  7. Do not get into a carriage with any man except your father or brother
  8. Do not dress in bright colors
  9. Do not dye your hair
  10. Do not wear any dress more than two inches above the ankle.

In the early 1900s people begin to form unions to protect their rights. Like the right to work a 12 hour day instead of 16 hour days, for enough money to buy food and pay rent, for children to go to school instead of work in the factories under dangerous conditions. But that was too much for your wealthy masters. Strike breakers were brought in to take the jobs of those striking. Union leaders were killed. Strikers were threatened, beaten, fired upon, and killed by police and by our own National Guard with permission from government.

Chapter 8: We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God

Every war that America has been involved in has had an economic backing. They are too numerous to note. Let us take the Mexican-American War. In the White House now was James Polk, a Democrat, an expansionist, who on the night of his inauguration, confided to his Secretary of the Navy that one of his main objectives was the acquisition of California. His order to General Taylor to move troops to the Rio Grande was a challenge to the Mexicans. And do we really think the war in Iraq is about freedom?

Historically Accurate

Historically Accurate

Closing Comments

A People’s History is a long read weighing in at 688 pages. Not only that, the content matter is challenging and disturbing. Everyone should be required to read this book to fill in the gaps in their knowledge of the United States and perhaps to reflect on their unbridled nationalism. I am aware of the fact that we would not be the world power we are today without the actions of our current and historical leaders, but that still does not make it right.

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