Monthly Archives: June 2010

Juries Then and Now

Juries Then and Now

As some of you know, I have been studying cultural ethical systems for a lot of my life.  This led me to do a considerable amount of research in the rise of juries, judges, and mechanisms for settling disputes in non-violent ways, especially those mechanisms that were outside of the priesthood and kinghood (both have been forms of government in various societies: our present government is merely an extension of the fallacies of force employed by earlier forms of government).

Early, prehistoric juries were made up of from two to several dozen people. That early prehistoric juries were anything other than a free market response to an apparent societal, tribal, or kinship system need is a ruse I find entirely unsupportable given what we know, anthropologically, of early social systems.  These early juries were certainly not a response to government of any sort, but a societal mechanism for dispute resolution; a mechanism that served as an alternative to violence to resolve disputes.  One of the problems with using violence to resolve disputes is that the violence often bred more violence.

Generally speaking, each side got to choose an equal number of people.  Everything was done before the entire tribe or village.  Naturally, each side would choose their kin and friends.  Each side wanted a ruling in their favour.  The community wanted peace and wholeness of anyone harmed restored, so everyone could get on with hunting and gathering.

But the jurors were answerable to the community as a whole, and the goal of the jurors had to be justice, fairness and peace restored to the community as a whole.  The overriding concern was peace and order in the community.  From these roots arose what we know as common law.  From these roots—and you will find much about the formation of these roots in most religious writings–grew our societal laws and more significantly, our system of cultural ethics.  Look at the Bible to find much on the evolution of the common law and systems of justice—which have continued to evolve in our western societies.  Look to the Tao, and other books, to examine the evolution of systems of justice in eastern societies.  Chase down some of the early written and oral traditions of the Earth’s peoples for more information on justice systems and cultural ethics of early peoples.  It is fascinating to track how our ethical constructs developed.

Jurors were not invented to give serfs a veto against masters, nor invented to give peers a veto of the king’s whims, since juries predate both these societal constructs based of force and fear: jurors date back to earlier times than we have recorded history, and show up in early Greek mythology, in ancient Chinese legends, and in very early oral traditions of American (north and south) tribal justice systems.

Independent jurors, drawn from a random selection of voluntary participants, would, in a free, stateless society—usually hunter-gatherer societies early on—fulfill the same function as they did in prehistoric times: justice, fairness, restoration of damaged parties, and peace restored to the community or tribe or village.

L. Neil Smith and Robert Heinlein have both written about the future use of and composition of the independent jury in their works.

I wrote a long piece about the early, tribal, prehistoric role of jurors somewhere.  When I find it, I will post it here or link to it.

In a free society, based on voluntary action by all humans, jurors might serve out of an individual sense of good will, curiosity, bias, or any other reason.  To postulate that juries would be clumsy and expensive ignores the elegant mechanisms available in a voluntary society to engage individuals in common pursuits even while their individual motivations may be, and would be, myriad.

There is absolutely no evidence at all to support the notion that juries are a response to government any more than the notion that juries are a response to religion—a theory I have also seen offered.  Humans, brilliant, creative creatures that we are,  are quite capable of devising several alternative means to arrive at the same ends.  Look around you.  We do not all choose to employ the same means for most all of human functions, whether in societal constructs or in personal choices.

Jurors derive their right to serve as judges in disputes from the voluntary consent of those who choose to submit their case to the jurors.  If individuals do not want to use a jury, they can have other choices, but let us not limit their choices to arbitration or judges just because we may not be able to discern the good in using a jury to settle a dispute.

Whether we are a stateless society, a tribal society, or a society oppressed by the force and fraud of kingships, priests, and politicians; jurors serve in varied capacities to protect individuals, restore justice and peace, and to assist in resolving disputes between those who submit to their combined judgment.

If anyone finds any corrections to my thinking, I would appreciate the information.

feralfae

Limitations Long Forgotten

Limitations Long Forgotten

I had long considered as a possibility that Shay’s Rebellion was—by its patriotic attention against the depredations of any government-sanctioned and government-enforcement of laws through the use of violence by its minions—a spur to the Federalists to hurry along the formation of the Constitutional Convention, most especially while Jefferson was out of the country.  They needed to get a more air-tight form of tyranny in place.

Yes, I think the scoundrels wanted to get their slaver schemes in place whilst the most ardent and articulate opponents of government were either out of the country, or without their most eloquent and influential member: Thomas Jefferson.

Patrick Henry, as well as many others, opposed the Constitutional Convention and its intent. (“I smell a rat!” I think Henry said.) Many of the initial Articles of Confederation and Declaration of Independence representatives refused to attend.  Many refused to ratify.  Many signers of the Declaration of Independence refused to attend or to ratify.

The Bill of Rights was added as a compromise to appease those who saw in the Constitution too much centralization of power. Such centralization amounted to little more than just another slaver ploy, allowing for the slow erosion of limitations on government power, until the limitations were long forgotten.  The limitations were replaced with illusions of government charity and protection.  The illusions were created  by those venal and vicious occupiers of the seats of power, whether serving as bureaucrats or posturing politicians.

But many of the People believed in the sanctity and preservation Bill of Rights, just as many believe in Social Security, protection of the People, and government charity today.  The culture slowly shifted—from self-governance and self-sufficiency—to one of dependency and obedience to government.  The slaves found a new master, named politics.

Those skeptical of the Constitution, and supporting the addition of the Bill of Rights, hoped the Bill of Rights would greatly enhance the people’s ability to “bind government down with the chains of the Constitution.”  Limitations on government interference and usurpations as articulated in the Bill of Rights—more aptly a Bill of Prohibitions against government interference with free people—was considered a necessary reminder of the restraints necessarily placed on the government that was then being formed.

Some delegates, who had fought off one tyrant, were not so eager to carry on their backs another tyrant, of any form.  They were fearful that government—that evil institution necessarily populated with knaves and scoundrels—might one day interpret, for its own interests (the interests of those selfsame knaves and scoundrels) that the Bill of Rights was a complete articulation of the rights of free people, and that no other rights existed.

Many of those at the convention were fearful that those articulated prohibitions against government action, so scrupulously set forth in the Bill of Rights, might be eroded by vile manipulations of those who found comfort, succor, and wealth in the power of government office. These few far-seeing people were concerned that the limitations on government would be forgotten, replaced with rationalizations on why such limitations on government were not sound policy.  Thus is has happened, as we now can see. Limitations have been compromised in return for license to plunder the rights pockets of others, and to hide behind the agency of government while doing so.

I am not making any of this up.  Read.  Research.

feralfae

Unreasoning Respectfulness for Authority, Any Authority

The contradiction—that humans need government for any reason—is recognized incrementally.  It takes a while for the full depravity of government, and the full sacredness of individual responsibility and ownership—to sink in to our culturally-infected minds, diseased with unreasoning respectfulness toward authority, any authority.

But to learn the truth, we have only to be willing to face the facts, and be willing to let the old illusions die.  We have only to look at who kills, justifying it in the name of peace.  We have only to look at who steals, justifying it in the name of charity.

I have just finished writing something related to this, which I think BSC or TPOL may have up in the next couple of days, and I will try to get it up on one of my sites as well.

The Declaration was an excellent beginning, and I think we must hearken back to its clearly-reasoned statement of the rights of humans, and not be dissuaded by the constitution, or other institutional illusions foisted upon us to handicap our unique, individual creativity and ability.   There is no part of the constitution we need to know or teach, and that part, I hope we are doing all we are able to enforce, protect, articulate, draw attention to, and teach others about that part we call the Bill of Rights.

Okay, okay, yes, I admit it: I do love that there is so much about jury authority in the BOR.  Sure makes my work fun.

feralfae

Power-damaged minds?

I am not much into conspiracy theories, but I am a true believer in stupidity, the corruption of power, and the hubris of those who hold public—and even private—office.  Titles tend to mess with one’s thinking, making one think the one with the title might be more than they are.  Titles mess with the thinking of those with titles, and those who believe that titles automatically inculcate certain characteristics to the title holder.  Those with titles tend to think they know better than those without titles, or that titles confer on them special privileges. Some with titles think that the title confers the right and power to initiate violence, or to delegate its initiation, against harmless people.   Power damaged, it is called.  It is a condition of the brain’s synaptic structure that automatically chooses force and duress, fraud and deceit, as the means to get one’s way.  Titles do that to many people.  Best to have no titles at all, and to function as just another human.  That is what each person reading this is, actually: just another human.

Bullies and thugs are drawn to positions of power just as sadists are drawn to positions where they can inflict pain.  But I repeat myself.

I don’t think it requires a conspiracy for things to go terribly, terribly wrong: I do think it requires the vigilance of honest people to protect and maintain their human rights and to keep things from going terribly, terribly wrong.

The word “Felon” no longer means a criminal, and has assumed an entirely different definition.  I know a chap who is a felon in prison because he had more than legally allowed amounts of  pain medication in his home to cope, from his wheelchair, with the excruciating levels of pain he suffered.  He is now a convicted felon.  Because he tried to ease his pain so that he could function as a husband and father. He has never hurt another human.

He is not a criminal, yet he is a felon.  Many felons simply had a natural plant in their possession.  They never hurt or threatened anyone, either.  Some felons refused to turn over their earnings to kings or politicians.  Should any of these people be denied the right to defend themselves and their families?  What happens when the law changes, do they get their rights back?  Prohibitions, and government’s assumed ownership of individuals’ bodies, are both flawed, as are all the laws derived from this assumption, including the right to the fruits of a worker’s labor.

I think the founders of this nation’s present government wanted to create a civilization based on individual human rights.  SCOTUS has, in the past,  upheld slavery, prohibition of alcohol, and a myriad of other stupid decisions–most if not all of those stupid decisions being against the intent of the founders of this nation’s government to create a civilization based on individual human rights.  All those stupid SCOTUS decisions were against human rights, by any examination of the concept of human rights.

It is entertaining and instructive to read the papers of the founders, to determine the intent of their words.  Even SCOTUS makes mistakes, as we all do, because they are just nine more humans, you know, even if they wear those academic robes.  The robes don’t mean their brains are working any better than yours, actually.  I think their brains are functioning at about a tenth of their potential, and are messed up with a lot of bad synaptic habits as well.  That is pretty much the normal condition of the human brain. But, when an individual human finds that in a culture, the most effective means of obtaining what one wishes is to employ the initiation of force, then that individual human becomes power-addicted, and their synaptic routing in their brain becomes power-damaged.

Inferior laws repugnant to the superior law of the Constitution can be reasonably determined by any sane individual human: remember that law is not the province of the courts, but the codification of protection and advice of the people to protect individuals and a civilization of voluntary cooperation. Law is the codified written rules of social conduct in a civilization.  We can no more rely on all the written superior or inferior laws as the final arbiters of our human behavior than we can rely on reading the entrails of chickens.  There have been more unreasonable, silly laws passed by humans than good laws passed.  And it is often impossible to abide by all the laws without violating conflicting laws.  That is why you have a brain—so you can think about this stuff and figure it out for yourself.

That is why we humans have our own brains, so we can reason through concepts and derive those axiomatic concepts by which to guide our lives and actions.  The Constitution is a good reference point, but if the Constitution is amended to make all red-haired people slaves, with appropriate statues to back that up, or was amended to lock up all Muslims, will you honor those laws?   Would you honor a government law that suspended the right of habeus corpus and trial by jury, both individual human rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution of our nation?  Hark back to the laws of Germany not that long ago: would you have followed those laws?

Nothing in any codified law relieves us, as thinking individuals, from forming our own code of ethics and behavior and acting with integrity, with honesty, with no initiation of violence, and with respect toward all other human life, insofar as to do so does not leave our own lives in danger, no matter what the law allows or does not allow, no matter what the law instructs or fails to instruct.  No matter what oath we may take.  And the oath does not mention anything about statutes (which are often in error and the result of over-reaching bureaucrats, anyway.)  As a thinking individual, when one takes such an oath, one should have read the documents and know the meaning of those documents one is taking an oath to uphold.  Else one should not take such an oath.  Of course,  some people take oaths very seriously, and thus do not take many.

So, in the final analysis, we cannot look back to our own founding documents as more than a beacon to help light the path of each individual life, and not as a map for the steps and direction of that life.  We cannot, and should not, follow inferior laws which violate the contract, between this nation’s people and the government created by that contract, which we call the Constitution.  Yet, I do not intend to obey any law which is repugnant to my own integrity and moral compass.  I would not have turned Jews over to the Nazis.  I will not snitch on any peaceful neighbor with an unlawful firearm.  I will not cooperate to deprive any individual of their human rights.

The only conspiracy I enter into as an individual is my own, with me as the only conspirator, to honor human rights and refuse to initiate violence against anyone, anyone at all.  If it means anything at all, civilization must mean that no one is allowed to initiate violence, or delegate its initiation, against any other person for any reason whatsoever.

feralfae

Gestapo

Gestapo

Well, not being one looking for an honorable epithet, nor yet one who has fear of harming any “cause,” yet still understanding, perhaps, the problem some people have with some words, I could have written instead of “Homeland Security,” one friend suggested, “the Gestapo.”  I started to argue, then realized I could not.”

Perhaps I could have written, instead:

“While I recognized that many of our present day Homeland Security and other paid government personages operate with a total disregard for personal freedom and the sanctity of the individual and human rights, and see people only as property of the state, I hesitate to say much bad about them.

After all, that they slavishly follow the dictates of their perceived power-driven political figureheads, and that they routinely ignore the rights of others, and that they abuse their positions of authority and privilege to spread fear, throw harmless people into the hell of enslavement of government penal work camps, confiscate personal property, and destroy families, that they routinely deprive private, harmless people of the right to trial by jury, counsel, communication with family or others, that they routinely imprison people for extended periods of time without benefit of trial, they really aren’t bad enough to be equated to any of the Gestapo or its actions or tenets.

They are, after all, only following the orders of their superiors.”

I would not agree with such a statement, because I don’t want anyone to think I am speaking ill of anyone, or standing for the truth as I see it, so I will just say they are not very nice people and leave it at that.

(Heaven forbid that I enunciate any concept that anyone might find disagreeable when speaking of those I perceive as an enemy of humanity, civilization, and human rights, or use any words that evoke a disagreeable sense on behalf of their controlling concepts—although I consider those concepts the anathema of the concept of individual liberty and human rights.

Heaven forbid I offend the sensibilities of anyone at all.  Heaven forbid that I should so write or say anything to harm any cause, no matter whose cause it may be.”

Is that better?

Are we all agreed , then, that there are no such things as crimes against humanity?

feralfae

Shunning: A Nonviolent Form of Censure

Shunning: what it is and isn’t

If you think shunning means the right to initiate violence, then you have entirely missed the whole point of shunning.  And I even gave a definition.

And have gone to considerable pains to point why shunning, according to most commonly accepted definitions, not including the PC wiki definition (who would not allow us to post any quotes by any founders to the FIJA entry, by the way) does not involve any of the actions you have brought up, including NOT EVER initiating anything but the passive self action which I have gone to some trouble to define.

The initiation of violence is what shunning, according not only to my personal definition, which I have posted on this thread and also according to a number of non-violent individuals over the years, obviously intends to avoid.  There is no physical action.  And the diatribe of sarcasm in which I engaged was not against YOU, it was against the WIKI entry, which I thought I had made clear.  Shunning is NOT politically correct: why would any PC entity approve of or allow any non-PC person this passive, non-violent means to express their disapproval of or horror at the initiation of violence by others.

I am trying to be very careful in my choice of words: initiation of violence is a specific term, which connotes a very specific concept.

I went to some lengths in my sarcastic post to direct it toward wiki’s entry, and not anyone on this forum.

I did, however, wish to sharply contrast the passive practice of shunning with the initiation of violence on which government and government employees seem to wish a monopoly, while allowing a few thugs to act as small independents.  And not just the government here in the US, by the way, although I did focus on US government examples, but also most other governments around the world who use the initiation of violence as a means to accumulate power and wealth, which enables those same governments to initiate even more violence to accumulate even more power and wealth.

No one in this nation has the ability to shun in the way you presented in the Dune scenario, and I had already addressed this issue in an earlier post.  Shunning is designed to avoid vindictive, violent retribution.  It is entirely passive.

And I continue to find the wiki entry hilariously biased, silly and up to the usual wiki PC standards.  Yuk.

And that has absolutely nothing to do with you, except that I would suggest you look at some standard, non-PC dictionaries for definitions of, rather than discourses on, the practice of shunning around the globe, and most especially with respect to the practice as an alternative to the initiation of violence.  Much has been written about this concept, by such people at Gandhi and MLK.

I was venting my hostility and the obvious stark contrast between the wiki PC definition of shunning and the “violent greed, political ambition, abuse of office under colour of law, violation of human rights, violation of the Constitution, the practice of government brutality, theft, imprisonment and tyranny.”   I wanted to paint a contrast between the “psychological injury” wiki assigns to shunning and the actual initiation of violence practiced by government.

I had hoped to point out the non-injurious nature of shunning, with respect to human life and liberty, in contrast to the highly injurious nature of the initiation of violence, with respect to human life and liberty.

I did not intend, and thought I was careful to point out, that the entire entry was directed against the silliness of the wiki description, which no one could describe as a neutral definition, but rather as a biased, slanted discourse against shunning.  Which is why I wondered what wiki had to say about those other concepts.

And let me say again, I am contrasting the initiation of violence with the passive practice of shunning.

I want to be sure that the distinction between these two concepts is entirely understood.

feralfae

And G., this part is for you: I have never met you, and I do not know of any instance where you have initiated violence or directly benefitted from the initiation of violence against another human.  I have no reason to shun you.  On the other hand, I have also never met Lon Horiuchi, but I do know he has initiated violence against another human.  If I ever did meet him, I would refuse to shake his hand, and I would tell him why.  Do you understand the distinction?  This is NOT about simple disagreements: it is about refusing to hold social discourse with those who have initiated violence against any other human.  I disagree with most every other human on some point or other, occasionally on the best colour to paint a wall.  Such disagreements are NOT what I am discussing on this thread:

This discussion is about a fundamental difference in human thinking on whether or not any individual human ever has the right to initiate violence against another human.  I believe they do not, and I live by that.   Lon Horiuchi obviously, by his actions, believes that he has that right.  So I would shun him. That is my sole, singular, defining issue on shunning.

I hope this (a) assuages your feelings of being personally attacked, which you were not, and (b) more clearly points up the distinctions between shunning and the initiation of violence as actions allowed and not allowed, respectively, toward humans under my lexicon of values and my understanding of ZAP.

feralfae

Juries: A Peaceful Means of Conflict Resolution?

Juries: I just want to make one point perfectly clear—well, as clear as I can make it anyway.

In a voluntary society, there would be absolutely no compulsion to even use a jury: disputants would be free to choose whatever means of resolution they mutually agreed to use.  Dueling, as well as casting of chicken bones, might be mutually acceptable to some;

To presume any degree of force or compulsion because people choose to engage the services of a group of people to resolve a dispute displays a lack of understanding of a voluntary society;

Early juries were not a response to the state, government, or religion, but, as far as I have been able to determine from much research, a response to a need for a mutually-agreeable way to settle disputes.

Social groups who first used third parties to settle disputes were agreeing to give up “going to war” as a way to settle a dispute.  By agreeing to third parties’ decisions, violence was often avoided, and vendettas and ambushes, with their resultant continuation of the hostilities, avoided.

I trust that this clarification will be perceived as simple common sense by those who might question the role of the jury—or any other conflict resolution mechanism—used in a free society.

feralfae

Did You Know: Juries are a Bastion of Common Law?

Juries are a bastion of Common Law.  Governments, whether kings or politicians, are always trying to figure out ways to take away the right to make decisions based on conscience, and to make people give up conscience and obey the government.  Jurors are a tough sell when anyone tries to get them to give up justice and to be obedient servants of government.  And jurors shouldn’t give up their conscience, because then they also give up their integrity and their independent thinking.

Yes, it is true that jurors are terribly underpaid compared to all the other players in the courtroom.  Look who is not giving up their salary for that day: no one expects judges, bailiffs, clerks, or lawyers to come to the courtroom and work for $6 to $20 per day, so why does the government threaten jurors unless they do this?

Further, compare the salaries of these private working jurors with those of the government employees: most of those called for jury duty make about half as much as those government employees in the courtroom.

Most politicians are lawyers, and therefore have no interest in raising the pay of jurors, strengthening the concept of juries or jury service. Politicians have no interest in mere housekeeping that protects the human rights of the individual, you see.

Yet, if a juror does not show up when summoned, giving up their day’s wages, they can be fined, jailed, and maybe even worse, if they resist.

Government employees have a vested interest in removing as much authority and power from juries as possible; in making jury service demeaning, difficult, financially devastating, and misdirected. Most lawyers and government employees are building a power base, not serving justice.  Jurors can serve justice.

When I say jurors are misdirected, I mean that judges routinely tell jurors that they must follow the law as the judge gives it to them, although jurors have the absolute authority and right to set aside bad laws, as they did during slavery, prohibition, and war protests.

If someone does not show up for jury duty, and refuses to pay the fine, they can be jailed.  If they resist being held in captivity, they may be tasered, or perhaps killed, all in the name of protecting the authority of government.

While every person on trial needs to have a jury trial to protect their rights from government judges and prosecutors, it is difficult on the jurors when they are under duress, financial hardship, and deceitful instructions and demeaning treatment by government employees.  Why is this so?  What is the incentive for government to treat jurors this way?

Jurors should be paid the same daily rate as the highest-paid judge in the land.  They are that integral to human rights and justice. 12 jurors are paid less per day, as a group, than one judge makes in one day.  Think about it. The thin reed of “budget considerations” is hardly valid given the the fallacy of such a defense in light of the daily payment rates of the government-employed players in the courtroom.

What is the official reason of record that governments don’t start a fund to pay jurors a proper fee? Funds could come from some of the salaries of politicians, judges, prosecutors, and other government employees. Make jury service pay what it is worth, as the last refuge of justice.  Couldn’t government take part of the salaries of some of Michelle Obama’s many highly-paid assistants, and part of the salaries of IRS, DEA, and BATF attorneys, to build a nice juror payment fund?