Observing that MSM has picked up coverage on this entire comical and disgusting TSA farce, I can only suppose that as with most such MSM diversions, this is another one which will make people think “something is being done” and divert most people from the currency crisis, foreclosures, unemployment, growing socialism of just about everything, and the ongoing wars abroad as well as diverted from the horrid, growing use of enemy combatant status being applied to people born in this country where the present government claims jurisdiction (I will not call anyone a “citizen: it sounds too close to “slave” for me.)
Don’t those pandering political types, from the executive to the lowly dog catcher, need to find a good format for re-election discussion?
Don’t they need a good rally-around sort of topic; one that can be discussed by everyone, and will cause no loss of revenue or loss of power to the political types?
Here’s a good one! TSA! They can “save” the people from sexual molestation and radiation! They will find new ways to “screen” people, and conjure up a fine illusion of being for freedom, and for privacy, and even for the Constitution, without giving up any actual power.
Is it possible that politicians—especially those facing elections—will posture aplenty before the cameras, scold the TSA, recall the scanners—albeit after paying for them with our hard-earned money—and placate the dozing ones to adjust their level of discomfort to accommodate pre-scanner harassment?
Will the politicians then share with us the illusion that a “victory for liberty” has been scored, and will the grateful people doze off the the blare of football game commercials, whilst Homeland Gestapo Security pushes on, our prison populations continue to grow, and the new terrorist bill is passed with hardly a blink from MSM or the dozing people?
Is it possible that TSA is the prayed-for distraction that will allow passage of some more truly evil legislation by our tax-fattened politicians?
Is this the new, just in time litmus test for guaranteeing re-election?
Is it possible that whilst the people think that they have won a victory of some sort when the sexual molestations are stopped (thanks, according to MSM and all political types, to those politicians who are posturing as defenders of liberty and who hope save their place at the swill trough), that the rights of the people —their fundamental rights—will be further systematically stripped away, if any such rights are now left around to recognize?
Is it possible that this TSA diversion is merely a lovely diversion from some affront that few people will recognize until they are caught in the growing web of alphabet-agency terrorism, economically-motivated volunteering for the war machine, or some other equally evil fate?
Is it possible that it is not a conspiracy in the slightest, but the continuing manifestations of the power-damaged minds that can admit of no other way than increasing force, violence, abuse of human rights, and spending?
Is it possible that these power-addicted political types, so used to having force as the means to bring in the loot, are concerned about the growing discontent among the victims?
Or is it merely their best play that they can make, given their addiction to power?
Is it—O, wonderful tipping-point time!—that there is no longer anything the politicians and their paid partners in crime can do to stop the flow of information?
Is it—O, wonderful tipping-point time!—that there is no longer anything the politicians and their paid partners can do to mend the ragged veils of illusions against the stripping winds of change?
Inquiring minds ask these questions …
And, no; I don’t think there is a conspiracy. I do think we are watching power-addicted minds acting the only way they know how to act; ever since they gave up using reason and decided to get their way by using initiation of force.
21 November 2010
The following is in response to a discussion about how there is no harm in copying other’s word pattern creations while failing to give attribution. It also responds to the claim that giving attribution would somehow “deface” a work of art.
If I write something, and post it to my web site, it is with the intention that others will read the design of my words. I carefully choose the patterns of words to convey a thought, concept, or story. I create patterns of words from my own mind. The significant portion of my income is derived from the patterns of words that I create.
When another person visits one of my sites, and copies what I have written, and then places that pattern of words on other property not owned by me, and fails to provide attribution, I am deprived of any other person’s interest—and possible income from sales to that person—because, even if they like the design of words, they will have no way to find me, or to even know that the words are not the product of effort by the person who copied and placed my pattern of words elsewhere.
Monet took the trouble to sign his works, and often stated that he wanted people to know who created the beauty so they could find him and buy other works of his. To provide attribution is not only polite, but honest. To fail to provide attribution based on the slim reed of an excuse that attribution “defaces” some work of another individual is simply a failure to acknowledge the property of another as their creation brought into existence by their efforts.
Much of what I post on the internet is not copyrighted, because I do not care. But I certainly get tired of other people copying my patterns of words and taking credit for those patterns, because it deprives me of readers, as well as depriving off-site readers of any way to locate the pattern creator (me) whom they might like to contact or read more of my work, or perhaps even hire me to write something for them.
For those of us who make our livings by creating word patterns, for those of us who make our livings based on creating material patterns from raw materials, and for those of us who often share samples of our works so that others might see and admire those samples, and then perhaps be encouraged to purchase or support our creations, the failure to give us credit for what we have created deprives us of potential supporters and clients.
For instance, I wrote a piece on time currency, and have been contacted by an academic journal about authoring a piece for their publication, for which I will be paid. If the copy they found—on a site not belonging to me—had not been attributed to me, the opportunity to sell an article to this journal would have been lost, because while the reader might have admired the article, they would not know who had written it.
If someone finds one of my word patterns without my name or contact information, that person has no way to reach me if they want to read more of what I write, or wants to hire me to create a word pattern for them. I am deprived of a sale of a word pattern.
Much of what I write is copyrighted for private clients and never appears on the internet. Because of the confusion I see here in identifying what is harm, what is honesty, and what is license, I think my concerns against posting some of my more income-producing writings is justified fully.
(I am sure that you all understand that we are dealing with inapt analogies here: the Internet poses new social and cultural questions of property, protocol, permissions, prohibitions, and mores, doesn’t it?
Learning how to function in an anarchy, and how to function successfully, is one of the new challenges humans are encountering—and creating new traditions in response—right here on the Internet.
We must discuss these new cultural protocols, and all may not arrive at the same answer. But it is incumbent upon us—if we so choose voluntarily to do so—to apply our individual and not inconsiderable intellects and ethical compasses to the questions which arise in this new anarchistic society. It is something we are very fortunate to help to create and enrich, while our minds are enriched in turn. Elegant, isn’t it?)
September 18, 2010
An interesting and balanced read on intellectual property. http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2010/tle587-20100912-04.html
(I seldom copyright stuff, but do copyright some of my algorithms, because they can take weeks—if not months—to perfect, and I sell those mathematical designs. Someone who swipes them and uses them without paying for the use is certainly stealing many hours or days of my life’s work. And while I do not own numbers, just as musicians do not own notes, nor writers words, the arrangements—patterns—we create are unique. If people do not think they are, then let them try hiring a troop of monkeys to create works of the same utility.)
Cathy L.Z. Smith at The Libertarian Enterprise gives a novel account of why intellectual property is, indeed, a scarce resource. The pattern created by an artist or writer represents her time. If you take it without paying what she asks, you are stealing her time, stealing part of her life.
Of course, I can also simply stop creating and live by working at a fast food joint, thus making the entire argument moot. But if I do create, where is the incentive to do so if there is no right to the property I create?
Of course, it is not the concept of words or writing to which the author has ownership, but rather the particular application of those concepts coupled with the effort to produce a created work.
Of course, I don’t publish my mathematical works: I make them available only to my customers. Many other people might come up with mathematical designs or patterns which accomplish the same thing, and they would own those works, but they do not have permission to copy or use the works I create.
To deprive someone of the product of their time and labour is hardly the same as attempting to deprive someone of the exercise of writing, after all. And to copy someone’s work from their privately-owned site on the internet, without attribution, deprives the creator of any business or contact with the consumers who do not know who is the author of a work. If they like the purloined phrases, they might want to check out the actual producer of that pattern of words, and purchase some of her works: the consumer cannot do so if there is no attribution or link to the creator’s site. Besides, isn’t acknowledgement of authorship just plain old good manners?
When one uses clay to create a bowl, one owns the bowl, but not the concept of pottery. No one tries to own the concept of pottery, only their individual product of the use of that concept, coupled with their own time, labour and creativity.
The example Smith demonstrates is clearly a violation of ownership, and if the other people who took credit are all that smart, why did they not come up with their own arrangement words, rather than swiping someone else’s arrangement of words? Why did they not give credit where credit was due? I find the swiping very dishonest, actually. Further, it deprives the author of possible sales of his other arrangements of words.
I had a chap buy one of my ceramic pieces, then proceed to make molds, including my chop, and try to sell them as his own work. Did he own the original work? Yes. Did he own the right to reproduce the original work? No, especially not without giving proper credit. But he was a state-supported artist, and he believed that no one has any ownership of anything, so he was morally justified, according to his own moral compass.
If there is no ownership of productivity or creativity, then why should anyone produce or create? Why invest the time and labour, if one cannot hold ownership of those creations? Isn’t that the argument the state uses, to take ownership of what we create? That it is all commonly-held property, anyway? No government is required to enforce any type of ownership, by the way: that is a delusion supported by statists.
Ownership can be enforced in as many private, free market ways as there are individuals. Membership web sites with a membership fee are one way to begin. Have a contract—which is what I do with my algorithms. Actually, the only challenge to my right to the product of my time and thinking has come from a government agency, using much the same arguments against intellectual ownership as I see expressed by those who do not want to be bothered with providing attribution and links.
Of course, neither my art nor my math are available to the general public. And the people with whom I deal respect my ownership, so I am not terribly concerned about theft.
But the berry-picking example of Jeffrey Tucker is pure hogwash, and entirely off the mark. Concepts are not intellectual property, but the product of the application of concepts most certainly are individual property. Tucker confuses the two in an unexamined attempt to support his argument, and fails miserably.
Again, no one owns the concepts of human liberty or of arranging words. However, if there is a significant reproduction, which Cathy’s article mentioned, a word for word reproduction of the application of those concepts to a pattern or design of words as created by Smith, later altered slightly to mask the theft, then it remains theft of effort.
The chap who made a mold of my art changed the glazes, because he did not have my glazes, but he did not change the shape or carved designs: substantially, the work remained mine.
Again, concepts are not property, but their application to a product of individual effort is property. Many people, mostly those too lazy to think (often the same batch too lazy to create and produce original works) have difficulty with this distinction.
If the state-supported artist had offered mediation, my response to his theft would have been that he should break all the stolen bits of my work that he was selling as his own work. As it was, I merely spoke the truth to everyone I knew, ruined his reputation, and left him bereft of all support but the stolen money from government to which he was already addicted (thus compounding and continuing his life of theft, I might add.)
Compromise with theft is seldom productive, and I commend Cathy on being willing to settle for an apology and an attribution. Why enter into mediation? Why waste the time? That is merely a feint designed to disguise the theft with a cloak of sincerity. Bah.
…and back to the original issue:
While one cannot own a concept, is ownership of the individual application of a concept the property of the individual, or not?
I imagine that others thought through this question and responded from individual rationalizations to a question which raises certain issues from an individual storehouse of references, after all. Someone mentioned copyrights, and how they should expire at the death of the author. Death might be an excellent termination of ownership. Of course, the children might think otherwise, if their mother left them several copyrighted items of music, words, art, or other creations of that individual. The children might see this as their legacy, and the mother might so intend. Property, it seems to me, is subject to the disposal of the owner, or it is not property in the essential sense of that term.
I already said that humans cannot own concepts: in fact, I included that within my question. It is the product that results from the application of the concepts that I say is individual property. Re-read my question: While one cannot own a concept, is ownership of the individual application of a concept the property of the individual, or not?
Nor has L. Neil been paid anything for the use of his property by the other person. The pattern and arrangement of those words are his design. To use it without permission or rent or purchase is theft. All that was asked for was an apology and attribution.
Further, I consider the term “intellectual property” to be a canard and a smokescreen, used to separate the efforts involving creativity and thinking from efforts involving only human physical labour: nothing is manifested into existence without an effort on the part of some human, even if it is only typing on a keyboard: it is still effort.
Property rights arise from human effort, whether keyboarding or log sawing. To try to compartmentalize thought-driven efforts, such as writing, as somehow not intrinsically the same human effort as cotton picking is a diversionary tactic to demean products and creations that originate in the mind, but are still manifested through physical effort to achieve expression in reality. The entire exercise is an anti-intellectual one, designed to elevate muscle work and undermine mind work. There is nothing better or worse about property resulting from labour of any nature. If this concept escapes you, please consider the entire concept of property as something you need to sort out in your own mind.
If I cut down a tree in my forest, saw it up, split the wood, and carry it to near my home, everyone will recognize my ownership of my wood. I have the right to burn the wood for heat. No one else has the right to come to my wood pile and take even a piece of my wood for any reason whatsoever. If I choose to pile the wood on my property right next to the road, still, no one has the right to steal my wood: it is my property on my property.
If I write words on my web site, which I own, what gives anyone the right to come and copy those words? What makes words on a privately-held web site on the internet to be less inherent property of the owner of the site than is my wood? And if I posted those words as a part of my marketing strategy to gain sales, and others copy those words without attribution of a link, they have both stolen my design of words, and deprived me of my marketing efforts.
And, significantly, why would you not seek permission to copy those words, or to copy even part of them? Especially if you know that protocol of the web society as a whole—quite a lovely anarchistic gathering, I might add—has defined the asking as a polite recognition of the owner of the site and of the creator of that pattern of words? And why would you not provide attribution, as well as, by way of a hat tip, a link to the owner’s web site? From my studies of the internet, this is the protocol which we adopt voluntarily to abide within this community.
Each of us must determine what is ethical—or moral, if you prefer—for us. And be willing to live with the consequences of our actions. Bright lines in legal issues are easily manipulated: encroachments on human rights are fairly well defined, and have long included individual property rights as a primary ethical imperative, including ownership of self as one’s principle property.
Use your own mind, and consider yourself the one whose writing or other work is being exploited by others without attribution, permission, or payment, or all three. If there are no links back to your private property site, where you market your designs of words, how are you to reach potential customers? Is it not theft of your time and effort for others to refrain from giving attribution and a link to your site where you sell your word creations?
If none of this bothers you at all, then you may be fine with such practices, but be prepared for the actions of those who are not fine with such practices. This internet is a polite and smiling community, but not without teeth, as one could say. Is it not therefore more ethical—in the most practical sense of the word—to observe ownership in all instances possible when a permission may be granted, as most individuals would do?
Such a protocol also serves as a self-sorting mechanism of those who wish to hold property rights to such human efforts as word patterns, and those who do not wish to hold property rights. The two types can co-exist if they recognize their difference and respectfully observe the right of each individual to form an ethical code which extends to the absolute boundaries of his ownership of self and property. The free market will iron out such idiocies about property rights as corporations create with the protection and collusion of government.
Some people are thinking about this, and have begun to write about it. They are worth reading, and you can, of course, begin with WikiLeaks, where you will find a well-defined protocol of survival and civility.
(I think for some people it is difficult to depart from a focus on personalities and bickering, and to take a few steps back to examine the larger issue of protocols needed to function in what is, in reality, an anarchist community.)
Societies such as the one we have here on the internet function as well as they do largely because most people are a bit more polite, considerate, and cautious not to give offense than they would be in any unarmed, politically-controlled community. While downloading another’s property to one’s own computer would probably not be considered theft, to publish it on your property (site) without attribution can be considered theft by someone who extends their sense of property rights to all that they have created. It becomes both theft and fraud when there is any attempt to imply that it is your own creation.
Ethics are practical: they keep you functioning in community, and alive. They inform other individuals that you are a person who can be trusted. They indicate to others that you have a well-developed ethical compass, and that you will use it whenever there are questions of protocol, propriety, or good manners. They will identify the user of ethics as a person who has taken the time to regulate their own behaviour based on a well-reasoned choice of actions which are consistent with a logical format for life.
If you can ignore the snits, name-calling, and other mouth noises of personalities—which can be difficult to do in a society largely led by the drama of personalities—and focus on the core issues of cultural mores necessary for the functioning of an anarchist society, I think you will recognize that to err on the side of cautious respect for the perceived property rights of other individuals—in all matters, for all property and practices—will advance peace and accord in your life a lot more than picking at nits to attempt to justify any invasion of individual property rights.
A significant measure of any individual’s emotional and mental development is the ability to adjust and coexist in peace with people—whether Muslim, Jew, Hispanic, Chinese, or L. Neil Smith—who demand that their (individual perceptions of their) rights be observed. If their locus of rights does not impinge on your locus of rights, why would you not practice reciprocity of rights with that individual? Why would you bother to quibble about their peaceful demand and enforcement of their rights?
Why would you not therefore correct any errors that the other individual perceived as an infringement, and file that bit of datum for later reference, and go on with your life? Here, I am not speaking of the Smith situation, per se, but the broader issue of recognition of cultural and individual differences in perception of the boundaries of individual rights.
As long as their rights do not do violence to any of your rights, why not merely accept their rights as they present them? Is this not the very essence of individual human rights: that each individual has the right to exercise their property rights as they think best and proper, including and extending to life, body, home, creations, products, and beliefs; so long as those rights do not interfere with your rights?
Why would there be any argument about this? And who stands to gain by deliberately ignoring the other individual’s declaration of and practice of their rights? Who loses if the product of their labours is not attributed to them? If we deny the rights of another individual because their perception of their rights does not match our perception of their rights, where no coercion, violence, or fraud is involved, who stands to gain, and who to lose?
It is on such denials of rights that the Crusades were undertaken, women were denied equal protection, slavery was legitimized, and other human rights were denied to entire groups of people.
When I say that I own all the designs or patterns of words I create, although not the individual words, and someone denies that ownership, who gains? Who is denying my property rights as a means to advance their own ability to rationalize and grant permission to commit theft or worse? When I say I own my firewood, and some person reasons that trees are a creation of God, and therefore I cannot own my firewood, although my labour is invested as much in that firewood as in designing a pattern of words and writing them down, who benefits by the denial of my property rights?
And while the person who steals my firewood and provides heat for others does not extend their crime to the innocents who did not know they were benefitted from stolen firewood, even those innocents could, under the rules of conduct of an anarchist society, be responsible enough to check that they are not receiving benefits from stolen goods.
Again, government, by its very nature, commits theft in myriad ways, and distributes the booty to many innocents, who do not question the source of their benefits. To subscribe to an ethical construct that makes one more responsible for one’s actions and for what one accepts is a step toward functional anarchy, after all. It costs me nothing to be scrupulously responsible in checking the sources of any benefits I wish to receive and use, to make sure I am not receiving stolen property—in any sense of the term, even if only in the sense of how producer of that property defines individual rights—and ensures that I am advancing a culture of respectful observation of the rights of individuals, anticipating reciprocity in such regard.
The issue of individual human property must be defined as generously as possible on behalf of the individul human, or we err on the side of theft;
We must learn to separate concepts from creations. We must separate processes from products, and not confuse these distinct entities when we attempt to discuss individual ownership;
To continue to enjoy the civil society of the anarchy of internet, we must be willing to practice protocols of civility and respect for the rights of the property of others;
We must take advantage of this new community as an opportunity to identify and apply civil constructs which will effectively replace coercive actions.
We live in an age when we must be thoughtful and creative in developing new protocols for society: we must develop protocols that exclude government coercion, and we must replace that coercion with reason. To argue against another individual’s rights is to step on that slippery slope that descends into the dark pit of Koran burning. Let us not step there.
September 15, 2010
ps~If we are unable—even with all our brilliance, enthusiasm, and loathing of coercive governmental intervention—to shape a society here on the internet which is civility in action, and anarchy in spirit, we are losing a grand opportunity.
If we are unable to define cultural habits which will continue to develop and more completely observe cultural traditions of civility, promote individual ownership, and recognize common concerns of individual human rights—even across cultural and language differences, we are not fulfilling the potential of this new community.
We have an opportunity to articulate and to recognize individual rights to property, person, and life. We have nothing to lose by erring on the side of generous recognition of the most miniscule claims of ownership, have we?
If we do not take advantage of this opportunity here, where will it be done?
If we do not undertake this task, who will?
“No matter how disastrously some policy has turned out, anyone who criticizes it can expect to hear: ‘But what would you replace it with?’ When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with?” — Thomas Sowell
(An apt metaphor! When you stop destruction, you replace it with individual creativity, don’t you?) feralfae 31 August, 2010
BFE: Watch Those Cultural Labels
Does everyone have their own version of BFE? From what I’ve been reading on the internet, it seems that being from the “sticks” or from some country where sand shifts in organic patterns of great beauty, somehow disqualifies one as a person of intelligence, someone who shares the same humanity, the same human rights, and the same sensitivity, although, perhaps, a better set of manners.
When did being a “redneck” or a “hillbilly” or a “red” or a “brown” mean that one was worthy only of derision, dismissal, and dehumanizing?
Think about that. Ponder. What labels might another person’s trained vision attach to you? I am sure you can think of a few for yourself, no matter who you are. Someone would put a label on you, couldn’t they? You might think that you easily can dismiss their name-calling, because you think you are somehow “better” than they are. Or somehow “apart” from that part of humankind.
Think again: how does your own name calling, sweeping generalizations, and being brainwashed by those who profit from stirring up this division and hatred, make you any better than anyone on the “other side”—no matter what “other side” of the thousands of “other sides” you choose—how does labeling any other human individual make any of us better than the person we lazily label because getting to know the actual person is just too, too much trouble? Is it easier to obey the orders of the hate-teachers and kill that other actual person.? It is easier than thinking? No, not really
As long as you refrain from questioning your conditioning of hatred, as long as you refuse to accept that non-aggression is a principle which must be applied to all humans, and that your labels of another as “inferior” in no way gives you any sanction to violate their human rights, just as their labels of you in no way gives them sanction to violate your human rights, you lose your rights.
“BFE?” “sandn****r?” “hillbilly?” “sheeple?” “civilian?” “JBT?” “Patriot?” “Liberal?” “Neocon?” “southsider?” “dyke?” “mike?” “taco?” “right wingnut?” “gun nut?” “Libertarian?” “bureaurat?”
Now, think up at least five that could be said by a hater of you. See what I mean?
I’ve been a hillbilly, for sure, for a bit of my young life—jumping on big rocks and throwing small rocks at copperheads and rattlers in the Ozark Hills—where children only got shoes if the school insisted they have them. Where the school house was heated with a wood stove. Where I remember when REA came through, and we got an electric cream separator for the milk, and we grandchildren no longer took turns cranking the centrifuge system that was run on arm power.
Where bobcats screamed in the night, there were no lights except the stars, where running water was in the creek and from the spring, and we picked wild greens and berries whenever we found them.
We also read Shakespeare aloud, taking turns, while the rest shelled corn, or split wood, or hoed in the garden. Everyone was expected to read music and play at least one instrument. There was no television or radio. We had a whole room filled with books, and reading Emerson and Adam Smith—and being able to hold up your end of any discussion—were considered absolute necessities at the dinner table.
I have cousins who still live in the country, run ranches, hunt for game, and roll their own. Some may go away to Harvard, Princeton, or one of the Seven Sister schools, but all know how to milk a cow, brand a calf, butcher a steer or a deer, gather eggs, carry water, split firewood, and hitch a team to a double tree. All have helped build barns and cabins, fix fences, and every one can ride bareback better than most can ride with any sort of saddle. Some know how to tan hides and make moccasins, too, because there is a bit of native blood as well. Some also do art, read voraciously, speak more than one language, and enjoy the symphony.
So, when you say hillbilly, think of those who come from eight generations of hill folk, who can parse a bit of Greek and Latin, who hate any non-voluntary form of government, and who remain civil, educated, genteel, kindly folks, albeit often dressed in patched jeans.
Be careful of your stereotypes out there folks: it is when we stop seeing each other as individual humans, and start sticking on lazy labels that we grow blind to each other’s humanity and uniqueness. Be careful of being conditioned by those perverse cultural cues foisted upon you by mainstream media, movies, and emotionally reactive non-thinkers both in and out of government. Take the time to actually learn not only facts, but also other humans. Good character begins with the Zero Aggression Principle. (ZAP)
I have spent a bit of time in Egypt, and must say I found the desert people there to be among the most polite, civilised, kind, generous, and friendly of any of humankind I have ever met. I felt very at home there, and very safe. Living in “BFE”—even in some of the remote villages where water is carried from a central well, there is no electricity, and all the children can read and write, as well as speak intelligently, and everyone is quite civil—puts many of the US urban “cultures” to shame. I have slept on dirt floors cleaner than many I have seen in slovenly-kept homes of arrogant and ill-informed, television-addicted urban beings in major US cities.
So, again, equating remoteness to “BFE” is such a misnomer in my way of thinking, that I would encourage you to not make such a statement, merely so as not to disclose your lack of knowledge. Get to know individuals, and individual circumstances. This is, after, the age of the cooperative individual. And there is such richness of thought, creativity, and love in individual, ZAP-practicing free-marketeers.
Those who would tell you that they need to keep stealing from your to protect you: tell them, No, thanks anyway. I don’t need you” Tell them to grow up and find a better way to live than through theft. Tell them you will not learn hate from them anymore.
Labels are for the lazy: get to know a few actual humankind individuals, outside your family and close friends. Seek out someone who scares you. Seek out someone whom you scare. Make peace with two people. Unless they are actually dangerous, of course, then find someone else to help you make peace. Set aside the labels, and work on learning each other’s humanity. You might even make some new friends. Enrich your world. We are all on this Earth together. Learn love. Forget labels. You have nothing to gain but friends.
Also see: Fully Informed Jury Association – FIJA.org
In Wood’s new and excellent book on Nullification, much is written about the use of nullification at the state level of government against the federal level of government, but less attention is given nullification by the individual juror. Yet, the essence of justice is that human rights and conscience exist and can be exercised only at an individual level. There is no “collective right” just as there is no “collective conscience.”
While the perceived collective political community may embark on collective political posturing for myriad reasons, it is only at the individual level that the elegance of the independent juror, capable of raising a standard of justice in anticipation of the coming tides in the affairs of men, that we observe the prescient nature of the individual human conscience in steering the ship of state through troubled waters.
Throughout human history, we have moved from slavery toward the recognition of the unique rights and self-ownership of each individual human. With this journey has come the recognition of the evils of collectivist thinking at all levels of consideration. When we finally accept––as a cultural necessity––the inherent value and rights of each individual human, and when there are free markets and voluntary associations, we will still have need of juries to consider, to weigh, and to decide, what is justice and what is not.
In fact, one can readily thumb through history and find instances of brilliant juror nullification: cases in which the jurors anticipated later-recognized human rights; cases in which jurors raised the standard of justice to new heights. A recent reviewcarefully points up shifting sentiment toward nullification. At almost every instance within this excellent article, one could substitute the concept of the individual juror for the concept of the collective state government, and in that substitution, find the essence of the concept of the jury of 12 jurors: of self-determination on an individual level, as each juror accepts the authority to judge the law as well as the fact, based on individual sense of conscience, justice, and compassion.
Investigation of instances of failure of the jury reveal that such instances can be attributed more to government employees’ political jury stacking than to jury malfunction. In many instances, racism, sexism, or other factors kept juries from being truly representative of all those connected to the case.
(The economic implications are clear: re-open justice to the vote of the free market: let the people, as should be represented by the jury in every criminal case, determine those laws considered economically viable for enforcement. We might soon see only one law: no initiation of force or fraud for any reason whatsoever.)
Let the jurors act on individual motivation, and let bad laws fall before the conscientious, informed jurors who understand that they have the authority to judge the law as well as the facts, and that it must be their personal sense of justice which compels their individual verdict. Let there be no distinction of the right to nullify bad laws, whether at the state level or at the individual level, where one juror, acting independently in good conscience, has the same right to nullify as any government body.
The jury is one of the smallest, and therefore most significant, of duly constituted bodies involved in the application of laws and the mechanisms of justice. The elegance of 12 jurors has been examined from a mathematical perspective, found as Appendix I in Vin Suprynowicz’s brilliant Send in the Waco Killers, which I imagine you have all read. Read the Appendix I again. You will be enlightened about the role of the individual juror in serving as an essential and mathematically significant check on government employees’ tyranny and attempted usurpation of human rights.
“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution,” a Virginia lawyer wrote … His name was Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson clearly understood that while self-serving government employees at every level would exceed their authority given any opportunity, they could be denied that opportunity by the people who would comprise the jury, who would refuse to enforce usurpations of individual human rights. Jefferson also understood the “anchor” metaphor, and chose it above the “cannon” metaphor, because the jury is a peaceful, necessary restraint to keep the ship of state steady and safe in serving its purpose: the protection of individual human rights. Jurors hold the authority and the ability to enforce the limits of the Constitution by refusing to enforce government employees’ attempts to violate Constitutional boundaries.
Find out more by visiting the Fully Informed Jury Association. You will want to stay for a bit and read up on one of the least-known rights in our Common Law country. It is a right, that when known, effectively can save us––through peaceful means––from the war the government has declared and is making against its own people, not so different from those wars against the people that inspired the Magna Carta.
It is the independent, secular, non-partisan juror who stands as the Fourth Branch of Government, capable of placing a veto on bad laws by refusing to enforce them at the behest of self-interested government employees, whether at the federal, state, or local level. After all, conscientious nullification resides, in the final analysis, in the independent mind of the thinking individual.
15 July 2010
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.
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.
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.