Article 49.3: Technocratic End-run Around Democracy

The French executive invoked Article 49.3 of the Constitution to push through the National Assembly a bill raising the retirement age without a vote. Article 49.3 was passed in 1958 to give the government the ability to pass legislation in the face of opposition by using the power of. something the French call “engagement of responsibility,” which means that the government declares the bill a matter of confidence and that, without its passing, the government will fall.

By giving the government more power to push through bills, the provision was intended to make the legislative process more efficient and effective. Defenders argue that it is a necessary tool for the government to push through important reforms in a timely manner. In other words, it’s a technocratic end-run around the democratic process. It is an undemocratic tool that undermines the role of the National Assembly and limits public debate and scrutiny of proposed legislation.

Article 49.3 has been used several times in French political history, often when the government faces significant opposition in the National Assembly. You may remember that Article 49.3 was used in the passage of controversial labor reforms in 2016, which led to widespread protests and strikes. Or maybe you don’t remember this because the corporate state media in the United States hardly reported it.

This matters to you, my fellow Americans. Elites will (again) be coming after pensions in the United States. They’ve spent our retirement on globalization and war-making. We are entitled to that money. They are as I write this scheming a way to not have to give it to us.

What is Woke?

You have no doubt by now seen the video of Bethany Mandel, promoting her book Stolen Youth, cowritten with Karol Markowicz, apparently freezing when asked to define woke during a Tuesday interview on The Hill’s online program Rising. Co-host Briahna Joy Gray asked her to clarify the term so everybody could be on the same page. The defenders of woke ideology thrilled when Mandel hesitated before coming up with one. The resulting narrative obscures what turns out to have been a succinct definition of woke.

“So, I mean, woke is sort of the idea that, um,” Mandel seemed to choke before noting: “This is going to be one of those moments that goes viral.” She then gathered her wits about her and gave one of the best definitions of woke I have yet heard: “the understanding that we need to totally reimagine and redo society in order to create hierarchies of oppression.” After Robby Soave jumped in to say, “It’s definitely something you know what it is when you see it,” Mandel added: “Forced conformity.”

Here’s the interview:

Now, Mandel may well have meant something like “the understanding that we need to totally reimagine society in order to reduce hierarchies of oppression,” which would have been a charitable definition given from the standpoint of a woke person. Dictionaries define woke as an aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues, especially issues of racial and social justice (paraphrasing Merriam-Webster). But the way Mandel put it is what those who think in woke terms actually want out of their movement. They do not wish to reduce hierarchies of oppression but to create them. And they have.

If you need somebody to say more, I am certainly that person. Here’s how I would have answered the question: Woke describes a system of political and social beliefs based on identity politics, political correctness, and academic theories of systemic oppression and privilege that promotes a victimhood culture and conditions people to be overly sensitive and easily offended, while stifling free speech and suppressing charitable dialogue. As such woke ideology is divisive and counterproductive, emphasizing differences between groups rather than their commonalities and promoting a culture of blame and resentment rather than one of agency and responsibility.

That definition takes about thirty seconds to say, if you speak at a reasonable pace. Mandel did better with “the understanding that we need to totally reimagine and redo society in order to create hierarchies of oppression.” Even better with “forced conformity.”

The Mayor of Green Bay, WI, Bugs City Hall

A bit more than a month has passed since Green Bay city council members discovered that microphones had moths earlier been added to the building’s surveillance system. Alderman Chris Wery dramatically confronted Mayor Eric Genrich at the full council meeting on Tuesday, February 7: “City council nor the public was advised of this spying and not even a simple signage warning of the intrusion was put in place.”

Alderman Chris Wery questioning Mayor Eric Genrich about surveillance practices.

Today, Green Bay City Hall is not only facing a civil lawsuit over its use of audio recording devices, but an investigation is underway to determine if criminal charges should be filed against anyone from the city. Brown County District Attorney David Lasee worked with the Green Bay Police Department to refer the investigation to the West Allis Police Department. The charge here is serious. Violating Wisconsin’s Electronic Surveillance Control Law is a Class H felony. A conviction on this charge can lead to up to six years in state prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both. 

The plaintiffs behind the civil lawsuit claim that the city and Mayor Eric Genrich violated the law by installing audio recording devices in the hallways of City Hall. The complaint alleges that Genrich installed “highly sensitive audio listening devices” that have been intercepting and recording private communications for years, including conversations between council members and the public, privileged attorney-client communications, and personal conversations. Genrich and members of his administration maintain that the devices are legal; they believe there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a hallway of a public building.

The city formally admitted on February 10, 2023 to installing the devices outside the mayor’s office and city council chambers in December 2021 and outside the city clerk’s office in July 2022. These actions were taken without city council approval or knowledge. Signs were posted to alert visitors of the recording after the presence of the devices were revealed. Then, in early March, Brown County Judge Marc Hammer ordered the microphones turned off while the lawsuit plays out. On Tuesday, March 7, in a 9-3 vote, the city council passed a policy to remove the devices from City Hall and the recordings destroyed at the conclusion of the lawsuit.

In this blog, I will discuss the problem of surveillance of citizens generally and then provide some concerning details on the Green Bay situation. There are questions of legality involved here, but of far greater importance is the character of a politician who would bug the heart of city government and spy on his constituents. Claiming that no laws were broken is not an excuse to listen to the privacy conversations of Green Bay residents. That the mayor did this at all is what is at issue.

While government officials argue that surveillance is necessary for safety and security, and this is Genrich’s explicit justification (claiming that there were three incidents where city employees and members of the public were “verbally assaulted”) surveillance infringes on the civil liberties and privacy rights of people. Privacy is a fundamental human right, enshrined in constitutions and international declarations around the world, with the United States standing as the recognized paradigm—at least in principle. Citizens have the right to keep their personal information and activities private and governments are obliged to respect this right. That they don’t does not obviate principle.

Surveillance has a chilling effect on free speech and association; people may be less likely to express controversial opinions or engage in political activism if they fear being monitored. Moreover, government surveillance affects citizens emotionally and psychologically. Knowing they’re being monitored can make people feel like they are constantly being watched. They become unsure of the spaces where they may privately communicate with others with confidence. This can produce a sense of paranoia and a loss of trust in others. All this negatively affects political engagement and freedom of expression.

Government surveillance is easily abused. I hardly need to recount here the many cases of governments using surveillance to target political opponents, journalists, and activists. Abuse of power undermines the rule of law and erodes trust in government institutions. This is why governments are required to obtain warrants before conducting surveillance—and why these warrants must be subject to judicial review. Citizens should enjoy the right to access and control their personal data, and to know how it is being collected and used by government agencies.

Even if we took those who surveil the public on their word that they deploy such technology to enhance safety and security, the alleged benefits of surveillance are vastly overstated. Moreover, there are alternative ways to achieve the goals of public safety without infringing on civil liberties and privacy rights. At the very least, when listening technology is used for this purpose, there must be transparency and accountability around surveillance activities. Wery was right to raise his objection and educate the mayor on the basic principle that governments should disclose the extent of their surveillance activities, the legal basis for these activities, and any oversight mechanisms that are in place.

When Wery called for the equipment to be removed, Genrich refused to do so, stating that the security system is lawful and commonplace. Afterwards, Genrich’s office provided a fact sheet noting that, of the fourteen cameras in public areas of City Hall, three have audio capability and are located only in the hallways of the first and second floors. The city argued that similar technology has been used in the Green Bay Police Department lobby for nearly a decade and that the transit system has had video and audio capabilities for 20 years.

Genrich means to dissimulate the reality that City Hall is where politics happen. That the June 17, 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Washington, D.C. Watergate Office Building was illegal was not the only objectionable thing about the Watergate scandal. Indeed, the burglary was the least of it. It was the fact that members of one political party were there installing bugs in order to listen to the private conversations of their political opponents. President Nixon didn’t resign his office because he was a burglar. He resigned because he betrayed a foundational principle of a free society. At least he had that much integrity.

Despite the city’s assertion that the security system is lawful, concerns persist about the potential violation of citizens’ privacy. Critics argued that the devices could capture private conversations between attorneys and clients, political discussions by voters casting in-person absentee ballots, off-the-record conversations between journalists and sources, and quiet conversations between City Council members and constituents outside of council chambers. Such scenarios could violate citizens’ reasonable expectation of privacy and constitute a breach of their rights.

Attorney Ryan Walsh, representing the Wisconsin Senate and three individuals suing the City of Green Bay and Mayor Genrich over the use of audio surveillance, wrote the letter to Brown County District Attorney David Lasee requesting a criminal investigation be opened. Walsh easily destroyed Genrich’s bogus safety argument. “I don’t know how you deter anyone by secretly recording them and not letting them know that you are recording them,” he said. It is implausible that these were installed for safety reasons if we presume that Walsh’s point would have occurred to Genrich and his administration at some point in their deliberations about whether to install audio listening devices. Surely they aren’t that stupid (I’ve met Genrich, and he struck me as a reasonably intelligent person).

Attorneys for the city and mayor argued the plaintiffs knew about the audio recording devices since mid-September, which is beyond the timeframe allowed for notice under law. They reference a letter sent to some eight hundred of the mayor’s constituents alerting them to the presence of audio surveillance devices.

That a letter of that nature was sent raises two questions. First, was the limited distribution of the letter designed to let a select number of the mayor’s constituents know where they might be recorded and that recordings of others existed? Second, was the letter a tactic to delegitimize as “politics” the concerns of citizens who raised the issue by saying that the letter proves it was not a secret?

The second function of the letter was affirmed by Judge Hammer. Granting the restraining order ordering the microphones be turned off immediately and any recordings sealed until the court says otherwise, he commented, “I’m concerned there was some type of underhandedness or strategy in waiting until after the city primary and before the city election to dirty up the mayor.” He then blatantly accused Republicans of using “a fundamental right that our people have as a political tool.”

Whatever their motive, Republicans are standing up for the fundamental right of people. That the populists in the Republican Party have taken a keen interest in the civil liberties of Americans is a welcome development in light of the history of establishment Republicans on the question of surveillance. That said, speculating about their political motive is an exercise in political speech that undermines the fair and impartial character of the court Judge Hammer is supposed to uphold.

Indeed, Hammer’s political speech appears coordinated with Genrich’s re-election campaign, which quickly issued a statement from the mayor reading in part, “I agree with Judge Hammer that the actions of Wisconsin Republicans are political and suspiciously timed. These MAGA Republicans who are aligned with my opponent are making our residents and city staff less safe by prioritizing politics over safety.”

These MAGA Republicans are putting the civil liberties and privacy rights of Green Bay residents ahead go the mayor’s desire to glean information from them by secretly recording their conversations. Genrich’s use of epithet “MAGA” is typical of Democratic Party rhetoric. It’s rhetoric designed to delegitimize those standing up for working people and separate populist Republicans from their establishment colleagues. It’s part of the Uniparty strategy of differentiating between acceptable Republicans and the deplorables.

It’s a distraction. Consider not only Walsh’s point that there can be no deterrent effect of audio surveillance no one knows exists, but the admission by the mayor’s office that they don’t comprehensively review the recordings—in other words, the mayor is only interested in some conversations. Which ones? That’s not a hard question to answer. It’s a simple matter to keep track of who is in the building with fourteen video cameras, their recordings time stamped, and match those to the audio recordings and listen to the conversations. One is naïve in the extreme to believe with any degree of certainty that this is not what those devices were for.

Jon Stewart: Corporate State Stooge

“Oklahoma State Sen. Nathan Dahm went on The Problem With Jon Stewart to advocate against even modest gun control laws and got blasted by Stewart’s debate bazooka,” gushes the Hollywood Reporter, echoing the sentiments of the several dozen stories Goggle’s algorithm has pushed to the top of its search results.

Oklahoma state senator Nathan Dahm (left) and comedian Jon Stewart (right)

My take? The debate between Stewart and Dahm is a mess. Contrary to fanboy perception that Stewart completely owned the debate, Dahm had his moments. Stewart? On logical and empirical grounds? Not so much. Dahm’s inexperience with debating a rhetorician of Stewart’s caliber doesn’t make Stewart’s arguments golden. The video is sharply edited, and I presume the edits favor Stewart. But clever editing is no substitute for substance. Ever since he had his awokening, Stewart has become a much less compelling figure (his programming on the transgender issue, for example, is fraught with problems).

Because he accepted Stewart’s premise, Dahm blew the question about the correlation between gun deaths and number of guns. Stewart claimed that, the more guns there are, the more gun deaths there are, as if it is the mere presence of guns increases the frequency of gun deaths. Since there has been considerable variability in gun ownership in US history, as well as in gun deaths and violent crime, it is helpful to look at these data.

According the General Social Survey, in the mid-1970s, around half of US households reported having at least one gun. By 2018, that number fell to around a third. At least during some of the time that this percentage was declining, the number of firearms owned by individuals increased. In 1994, there were approximately 200 million firearms owned by individuals. By 2020, that number had more than doubled.

Much attention has been paid to the latter figure. Crucially, however, the increase in firearms ownership during this period doesn’t tell us anything about the percentage of individuals who own guns. Data from the General Social Survey indicates that the percentage of American adults who report personally owning a gun has remained relatively stable over the past several decades, hovering around 30 percent, roughly the same as the percentage of households with at least one gun.

While a few studies have found that households with more guns are more likely to experience firearm injuries and deaths, it is important to keep in mind that this does not mean that owning a gun increases an individual’s risk of dying from a firearm-related injury. Risk depends on numerous factors including how firearms are stored and used, as well as the cultural context and social situation in which they appear. More on this in a moment. But first, we need to consider the other side of the correlation, namely aggregate trends in gun violence and deaths.

Source: FBI’s Crime Data Explorer

Crime increased between 1960 and the early 1990s. The increase was drastic, driven by factors such as the rise of drug-related violence, gang activity, and social unrest. By the early 1990s, violent crime was as bad as it had ever been in America.

Source: FBI’s Crime Data Explorer

Readers may object that violent crime is not reducible to guns deaths so these statistics are a poor proxy for the phenomenon in question. However, most homicides involve firearms, and during this period gun homicides in America remained high despite the sharp decline in the number of households with guns. Moreover, a great deal of violent crime involves guns generally, so the broader trends is relevant.

Trends in gun deaths and injuries in the United States over the last six decades have been complex and varied, but there is an obvious trend. In the mid-20th century, gun deaths averaged around 4 deaths per 100,000 people per year in the 1950s-60s. Beginning in the late 1960s, there was a gradual increase in gun deaths, particularly homicides, which peaked in the early 1990s. In recent years, rates of violent crime, especially homicide, have started rising again, especially in inner city areas.

Returning to cultural context and social situation, gun ownership is not evenly distributed among race and ethnic groups. Overall, gun ownership is more common among whites than among blacks and Hispanics. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, around 36 percent of white Americans reported owning a gun, compared to 24 percent of blacks and 15 percent of Hispanics. However, as I have repeatedly shown on the Freedom and Reason, blacks are far more likely to be perpetrate gun violence and to be the victims of gun violence.

Moreover, among white Americans, gun ownership rates are higher among men, rural residents, and those who identify as Republican or conservative. While studies have suggested that political conservatism is associated with higher rates of gun ownership and support for gun rights, there is no evidence to suggest that conservatives are more likely to be implicated in gun violence than other ideological groupings.

Can we blame the rise in violent crime and persistently high homicide rates on the declining number of households with guns? The rise in violent crime is indeed correlated with the emergence of comprehensive gun control, a trend driven by fear of crime stemming from the disorder of the 1960s. It would stand to reason that, all things being equal, the occurrence of defensive use of guns, i.e., situations where guns are used to deter, stop or repel an attacker or intruder with the intention of preventing harm or loss, is less likely the fewer people possess firearms. Certainly Stewart and his ilk would be reluctant to accept this reasoning.

Is gun control what brought crime down after the mid-1990? We might ask whether folks can have it both ways. As noted, there is a correlation between the percentage of households and persons with guns and rates of violent crime over the long term. What is obvious is the effect of massively expanding the criminal justice response after the early 1990s: more cops, stricter criminal penalties, aggressive prosecution, tough judges, and mandatory minimums drove crime rates down to the lowest levels on record. Prison abolitionist decry the trend in mass incarceration, and the desire for depolicing in the wake of highly-publicized cases of police brutality is widespread among those of a particular political-ideological persuasion, but the fact is that the war on crime did make America a safer place—and back off of it is having disastrous consequences for the most vulnerable communities in America. The increase in crime is also driven by the rise in anti-cop rhetoric and sentiments of racial resentment and anti-white propaganda generated by academia, corporate state media, and the culture industry.

* * *

Dahm is right about this fundamental reality: Guns don’t shoot themselves. Like any piece of technology that is not self-operating, guns require people to operate them. To his credit, Steward concedes the point, and he wants Dahm (and his audience) to know (i.e., think) that he supports the Second Amendment. He grants that it’s not guns but people who are the problem. Stewart says this because he wants the state to know which people are a problem. To do this, the state needs to keep extensive record on those who buy a firearm. 

This makes Stewart and his progressive brethren believers in precrime. “PreCrime” is a concept originating in Philip K. Dick’s The Minority Report. In the story, a futuristic police department uses a system of precognitive beings (“Precogs”) to predict and prevent crimes before they occur. That law enforcement officials rely on psychics to predict crimes before they happen is the perfect metaphor for critiquing the practice of precrime in the real world. To deprive an individual of his constitutional rights on the basis of a belief that the police can predict based on aggregate statistics who is likely to offend or reoffend is an affront to not only to the ethic of individualism but to science.

I will use an analogy to illustrate, one that I have used before, concerning preventative incapacitation. In capital cases in the state of Texas, juries can either impose the death penalty or impose a penalty of life in prison with the possibility of parole. There is no sentence of life in prison without parole in the state of Texas. One strategy prosecutors seeking the death penalty can pursue is convincing a jury that the defendant is at high risk to repeat his crime and capital punishment removes that risk. Prosecutors would bring out Walter Quijano, a psychologist working for the Texas prison system as an expert witness, to testify that, because of the higher rate of recidivism among blacks compared to whites, black defendants should be subject to the death penalty. Death sentences were reversed in several cases where Quijano’s testimony played a role.

For those of us concerned about the Orwellian world emerging all around us, the term “precrime” is shorthand to refer to the approaches and systems of law enforcement that seek to prevent crimes before they happen, often through the use of predictive analytics and surveillance, as well are preventative incapacitation. The idea here is something called “predictive policing.” Agents gather and correlate information about people ostensibly to anticipate criminal incidents before they happen—false positives be damned.

The development of precrime cannot be separated from the government’s growing focus on domestic terrorism, a term that refers to acts of violence committed by individuals or groups within the United States against other individuals, groups, or the government, with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence government policy through fear. Domestic terrorism, which has no formal designation in federal statute, takes many forms, including hate crimes, political violence, and religious extremism. It can be carried out by individuals or groups who hold extremist views on a variety of issues—with the state selective focusing on some views.

According to the government, the threat of domestic terrorism has grown in recent years, with the rise of white supremacist groups and other extremist right wing organizations. In response, the United States government has taken a number of steps to combat that threat, including increasing resources for law enforcement agencies and expanding programs to counter violent extremism. The Department of Homeland Security has designated domestic terrorism as a top national security threat, and federal agencies work closely with state and local authorities to prevent and respond to domestic terrorist attacks.

For decades now, the security state apparatus has sought to establish what is called total situational awareness (TSA). Generally, TSA describes the ability to perceive and understand all aspects of situations—contexts, risks, and opportunities. Technologies such as cameras, microphones, sensors, and other surveillance tools are used to enhance TSA activities. TSA also involves analyzing information from a variety of sources, including government databases, public records, and private sector data.

The Total Information Awareness (TIA) program was an initiative by the United States Information Awareness Office (IAO) under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which was part of the US Department of Defense. The program’s goal was to develop technology to detect and prevent potential terrorist attacks by gathering and analyzing massive amounts of data on individuals’ personal and financial activities. The program collected and analyzed these data without the targets’ knowledge or consent, raising concerns about civil liberties, especially the privacy right.

In response to these concerns, Congress passed the 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Act with a provision defunding TIA. The Defense Department and DARPA announced the termination of the TIA program in 2003. However, eager to continue the project, TIA was renamed the Terrorist Information Awareness, thus keeping the acronym. TIA continued to be criticized for potential privacy violations and it was ultimately cancelled in 2006. But the tactics and technology did not end there; the surveillance function of the program was incorporated in the national security apparatus more broadly.

For those who do not fully comprehend the vastness of the national security apparatus today, I will digress for a moment and sketch the system. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) coordinates the country’s efforts to prevent and respond to domestic and foreign threats to national security. Among the agencies under the DHS are Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A). DHS sits alongside the more traditional security agencies, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The DOJ oversees the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Ostensibly responsible for gathering, analyzing, and providing intelligence information on foreign countries and issues related to national security, the CIA operations are divided into several major directorates, among them the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), the National Clandestine Service (NCS), and the Directorate of Digital Innovation (DDI), the latter which develops and deploys technologies to support the agency’s intelligence-gathering and analysis capabilities.

I hope readers can grasp the scope of information sharing across platforms and tie the significance of this to the desire to track gun owners. Remember what I said about the demographics of gun ownership. White men, disproportionately rural, and identifying as conservative and Republican, have the highest rates of gun ownership in America. Even though they were underrepresented among those who murder people, the attention payed to their attention to the Second Amendment gets an inordinate amount of attention. We know which gun owners are of concern to the national security state. (See “A New Kind of American Radicalism”: The Campaign to Portray Ordinary America as Deviant and Dangerous; The Establishment Project to Demonize Conservative White Males. What’s This All About? Suppressing the Rabble: Portraying Conservatism and Republicanism as Fringe and Dangerous; A Clueless President, Gun Hysteria, and Ulterior Motives; MDM is the New WMD: DHS Issues a New NTAS Bulletin; A Late Afternoon Blog: The Weaponization of the Government; Church 2.0). Stewart’s objection to the loosening of regulations on guns is tied to the corporate state’s project to surveil and suppress the populist-nationalist movement and derail the democratic-republic revival.

Of course, it’s not just scope of the surveillance system and the politics that’s the problem here. One doesn’t need to acknowledge the project or the scale of the problem. Even in limited use, the idea of precrime raises significant ethical concerns, particularly around issues of civil liberties and due process. This approach to law enforcement and social control risks and has resulted in abuses of power, discrimination, false accusations, and the undermining of the presumption of innocence that is so central to western jurisprudence.

Stewart is advocating the expansion of the surveillance state specifically where police authorities are charged with regulating a constitutional right, the second article in the United States Bill of Rights, that is the citizens prerogative to self-regulate. Stewart is very open about the authoritarian desire expressed here. The state needs to know, in his words, who are “the people you are giving a gun to.” But the state isn’t giving people guns. Stewart’s means to make gun ownership appear as a privilege, like driving an automobile. But people have a right to buy, own, and carry guns for legitimate purposes, e.g., self-defense.

It is crucial to bear in mind that governments don’t give people rights. The state only protects or violates rights by it actions. Persons are born with rights. Of course, as French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau observed, “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.” But that is only more of a reason to demand a reduction in the size and scope of government control.

The right to keep and bear arms is a very old right. Found in English common law, enshrined in the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the right is older than its affirmation in the Bill of Rights. English common law recognized in the inherent right to self-defense the right to use weapons: weapons are an extension of that right, necessary for maximally effecting this right. This right was incorporated into the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, ratified in 1791, the operative clause affirming that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

To grasp the seriousness of Stewart’s desire, consider an analogy—the First Amendment, the article that guarantees citizens the right to express their opinions and share information. Should the state keep records on those who express and share certain views? I know they do. But should they? Suppose a citizen who may incite a riot with their speech. Should some determination that they may do this, or perhaps evidence that they have in the past, be reason to deprive them of their Constitutional right to speak? Is the principle “prior restraint” to be regularized and registration of opinions required? Would Stewart say that the state needs to know “the people you are giving voice to”? But, as with firearms, the state does not give free speech to citizens. The state only protects or violates rights by its actions. The state is supposed to protect rights. To regulate those rights is a conflict of interests.

* * *

Stewart makes his thematic for the conversation with Dahm the rhetoric of “chaos versus order.” Stewart wants to know about immigration. But immigration isn’t a right, so his point is irrelevant. Instead of saying this, Dahm raises the problem of fentanyl. Fentanyl is worse than gun deaths. True. So what? Stewart has dragged Dahm off the trail. Never argue about equivalencies between two things that aren’t equivalent.

Dahm sort of saves the day by raising the problem of obesity. His argument suggests the question of whether we should we have background checks on people to determine whether and how much they can eat—especially when they have demonstrated an inability to control their food intake. Not a bad analogy. Steward takes the bait and compares allowing people to buy guns without regulation to giving ice cream to fat people. I don’t need to spend time pointing out how absurd Stewart’s argument becomes here. That comeback was especially beneath him.

Stewart doesn’t have an answer to Dahm’s point about the crisis of single-parent households, but Dahm turns to school shooters in relation to this. These are a minority of gun homicide deaths. Had he discussed single-parent households and violence in black-majority neighborhoods, he would have has Stewart on the defensive. But does Dahm know about this? Why school shootings?

Guns make it less safe for police, Steward says. He gives the scenario of police responding to a domestic violence event. He wonders that, if there are firearms in the home, the police will consider this a safe home. The suggestion is that it isn’t. But Stewart can’t know that. He also can’t know that it makes the home safer. Stewart turns to what the police say. But why do we care what the police say? Stewart wants Dahm to admit that he is making it hard for police to “manage the streets.” Is that the job of the police? To manage neighborhoods? Public safety is a human right. The police are organized to protect that right. Their job is not to “manage the streets,” which is a euphemism for “manage the people.” The police respond to threats to the people.  

Dahm is defending the individual’s right to keep and bear arms. Stewart says that this is different argument from the one he’d like to pursue. He says Dahm wants to say he is a Second Amendment purist, and he is making it safer, and he is not. Stewart says Dahm is making things more chaotic. Dahm is right that this is a matter of opinion. Referencing the police, Stewart wants to know why Dahm is taking away “their tools.” Because, Dahm says, this is an infringement on the rights of people. 

Stewart tries to draw a parallel with voting. Poor choice of analogy. This may come as a surprise to some of those reading this blog, but the 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, prohibiting the federal government and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, recognizing women’s right to equal suffrage, stating that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” and the 26th Amendment, ratified in 1971, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, stating that “the right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age”—these prohibit discrimination in voting based on certain factor; they do establish an affirmative right to vote for all citizens.

This makes the right to vote, a political right, fundamentally different from the right to self defense, a natural right. Requiring a voter to be registered before casting a ballot, requiring him to prove that he is who he says he is at the poll by displaying a voter ID card, is not the same as requiring gun owners to register weapons or be licensed to use them. When Dahm turns this around on Stewart, Stewart says that he’s not the one making the argument. But he is. He attempted the parallel.

Where does Stewart come down on depriving a man of the right to vote on the grounds that he is felon? That restriction is practiced in most places in the United States and, in some states, the loss of the political right to participate in the formation of laws to which one is subject is permanent or very difficult to recover. If the political right to vote should not be denied on the grounds that a person is a felon or mentally ill, which I don’t believe it should, and I would expect Stewart to agree, then how can the civil right to weapons to make more effective the natural right to self defense be abridged?

Stewart resorts to a cliché: “rights have responsibility.” It depends on what one means by responsibilities. If this is referring to the responsibility those enjoying free speech have to not engage in hate speech then, no, such rights don’t have responsibilities. If, on the other hand, it means that a gun owner has the responsibility to keep and handle firearms in a safe and responsible manner that does not put others at risk, then sure. A person who acts in a reckless way will be held responsibility for their poor judgment.

In the extreme, the cliché risks communitarianism, which places the wellbeing of the community or society as a whole above that of individual rights and freedoms. But the American Creed is liberal, even libertarian in character. The American Creed emphasizes individual rights and freedoms, the ethic of individual autonomy and limited government intervention. Given that we are all members of the same species, the latter is not in contradiction with the former. But that convergence is emergent. Starting with the former goal, individuals become subordinated to those who presume to know what the wellbeing of the community or society requires–with an eye towards those individual rights and freedoms believed to obstacles to the realization of those presumptions.

To be sure, the substance of actions protected by a right has parameters. I will return to the example of speech. One cannot disrupt a gathering where disagreeable or offensive speech is being uttered (the “heckler’s veto”). Nor can one make true threat, i.e., utterances that a reasonable person would interpret as a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of violence or harm to another person or group. However, these cases are difficult to determine and it is understood that the government may not prohibit the publication or dissemination of speech or expression before it occurs, except in rare and narrowly defined circumstances, such as in cases involving national security or the safety of individuals. The “prior restraint” doctrine is intended to prevent government censorship and ensure that individuals and the media are free to express their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation or suppression.

Before readers see in this an opening to an analogous principle in preventing dangerous people form obtaining firearms, recognize that the amount of personal and private information that would have to be obtained in order to accomplish the preventative effect Stewart seeks would violate the privacy rights that undermine the Fourth and Fifth Amendments in the Bill of Rights.

The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. This means that the government cannot search your person, your property, or seize your belongings without a warrant issued by a judge, based on probable cause. The Fourth Amendment ensures that individuals have a certain level of privacy in their homes and personal effects, free from government intrusion. The Fifth Amendment protects individuals from self-incrimination, which means that a person cannot be forced by authorities to talk to them.

The Supreme Court has interpreted these amendments as protecting an individual’s privacy interests. This interpretation has been used to strike down laws that infringe on a person’s privacy. In addition to these amendments, the Supreme Court has recognized a constitutional right to privacy based on the concept of personal autonomy. This right to privacy has been used to strike down laws that criminalize, for example, consensual sexual activity, such as same-sex relationships. To require a person seeking a firearm to provide personal health records is an invasion of their privacy.

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Stewart raised Dahm’s opposition to Drag Queen Story Hour. This was a predictable move. The goal here was not so much to amplify the theme of hypocrisy he was leveling at Dahm, but to delegitimize him before his audience. Dahm reminded Stewart that his opposition was not about drag but about protecting children.

Dahm wondered why we can restrict children from voting. Stewart doesn’t let that crappy attempt as a response sink in and moves to where he wanted to go—the question of free speech, But the performer’s free speech is not the question at hand. The question at hand is the protection of children from sexualization by adults. Drag queens are not being stopped from exercising their free speech rights. They are only being told that they cannot sexualize children. What is being restricted is not drag but grooming and inappropriate sexual encounters between adults and children.

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Stewart says that the leading cause of death among children in firearms. This is misleading. Guns, including accidental deaths, suicides, and homicides, were the leading cause of death in children and teens ages 1-19 years old in the United States in 2020. But it’s a bit of a trick to include 18 and 19 year olds in this statistic. Those who do so know that they will push gun deaths to the top of the list by including young adults, as firearm deaths are most common among young adults. Excluding young adults, the numbers look different. According to the CDC, the leading causes of death among children ages 1-4 are accidents (defined as unintentional injuries), followed by congenital malformations, and then homicide. For children ages 5-14, the leading cause of death is also accidents, followed by cancer and suicide. Stewart wants to you have an image in your head.

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The Stewart-Dahm debate was witnessed by millions. Dahm had his moments. Folks are ill-advised to take on Stewart. He has honed his skills in the art of rhetoric. Steward is very good at manipulating emotions. One must not confuse manipulation with persuasion. Judged by the standards of reason, Stewart had a bad showing on this day.

Richard Grossman on Corporate Law and Lore

Richard Grossman (1943–2011) was an American historian and activist who focused on the history and impact of corporate power in the United States. He co-founded the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD), an organization that challenged the legal and political frameworks that have allowed corporations to amass vast wealth and influence.

Grossman’s 2005 talk “Corporate Law and Lore” had a profound effect on the way I understand the problem of corporate power and politics. It’s from Grossman that I gained greater confidence in describing our current situation as living under corporate state rule. His description of the corporate state emerging from the slavocracy and analysis of the eclipse of populism by progressivism helps us grasp how the new fascism came about and how it operates. I am sharing Grossman’s talk in the hope that you will watch it and push it out. Below the video, I say a bit more about Grossman and his ideas.

Grossman’s work is deeply critical of the role of corporations in American society and global politics. He argues that the current economic and legal systems are structured to favor the interests of corporations over those of people and communities. He contends that populism, the democratic politics of flesh and blood people, was trumped by progressivism, the elitist political program of corporate persons and their lawyers, developed in the late nineteenth century and institutionalized during the New Deal. As such, administrative and regulatory law are designed not to protect workers and the environment but to manage workers and environmentalists. Indeed, the imperative of the law under these conditions means that piecemeal attempts to combat the harm corporations strengthens corporate power over the people. We have to go for the underpinnings, Grossman insists. We have to reject “settled law.”

One of Grossman’s contributions to the field of corporate law is his research into the historical development of corporate power. From this work, I learned about the principle of quo warranto and the way corporate power interacted with sovereign power, whether monarchal or republican, in the past—and how sovereignty was overthrown by corporate personhood. Grossman argues that the legal framework for corporations in the United States was established in the nineteenth century to give corporations many of the same rights as individuals but without the same level of accountability or responsibility. This, he argues, has allowed corporations to exert a level of political and economic influence that undermines democracy and the safety and well being of people and other animals. See his speech on the history of corporations here:

Grossman was deeply involved in activism aimed at challenging corporate power and encouraged activists to go for the underpinnings. He was a vocal opponent of regionalization and globalization, for example in the free trade agreements like NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, which he saw as tools for further consolidating corporate power. Grossman’s work challenges the conventional wisdom that corporations are apolitical entities that simply respond to market forces. Instead, he argues that corporations are political actors in their own right, and that they have actively worked to shape public policy and regulatory frameworks to benefit their own interests. He advocates for greater democratic control over economic decision-making, including the development of alternative economic models that prioritize social and environmental justice.

Scientific studies provide empirical support for Grossman’s arguments. For example, in “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” published in Perspectives on Politics in 2014, Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page analyzed data on more than 1700 policy issues and found that the preferences of average citizens had a near-zero impact upon public policy compared to the impact of economic elites and organized interest groups.

My Monday Morning Thought: Faith Belief and Flag Flying

A few years ago, students at an East Texas high school responded to the demand by the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) that the school remove the Christian flag it was flying over the school by bringing their own Christian flags to fly on school grounds.

In 2017, FFRF sent a letter to the superintendent James Young of LaPoynor Independent School District demanding that LaPoynor High School stop flying a Christian flag alongside the United States and Texas flags in front of the school.

FFRF attorney Sam Grover wrote in the letter that FFRF was contacted by a former student following the school’s participation in the annual “See You at the Pole”  event. Grover argued that the flying of a Christian flag could be considered a school endorsement of Christianity and a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

I don’t know the resolution to this case. If any readers do, let me known in the comment section below. However, whether the school has removed the flag from school grounds or not, it should. Grover is correct. However, if the flags of gender ideology are going to appear over public schools and hang in their classrooms in the Christian flag’s absence, then the double standard will make clear that the state has endorsed an particular faith belief—and this is a violation of cognitive liberty and freedom of conscience.

Apart from just the obvious violation of the principles underpinning the First Amendment, Grover tells us one of the many reasons why such principles exist, citing the Supreme Court: “because it sends the ancillary message to members of the audience who are non adherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.”

In a liberal society, people are entitled to their faith beliefs. This entitlement lies at the intersection of cognitive liberty and freedom of conscience and it is a fundamental human right, a right recognized by the United States Bill of Rights and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The protection of belief and expression in gender ideology is as important as protecting the beliefs and expressions of Christians. Whether you believe that girls are born in male bodies or that souls put in those bodies are broken by original sin, and thus in either case are in need of fixing, you enjoy an equal right to possess both beliefs.

However, you are not at liberty to impose those beliefs on captive audiences or enjoy government endorsement of those beliefs. To do these things or have these things done to others violates the fundamental rights of people. Cognitive liberty and freedom of consciousness are as much about what people don’t have to believe or say as they are about way they believe and say.

Why these flags and not the Christian flag? Both are expressions of faith.

Public schools are not the place for faith beliefs to be taught to children. It is not that faith cannot be expressed. If children wish to express faith beliefs on their own volition, this is protected expression. If an administrator, staff member, or teacher wants to express their faith belief in their own personal way, such as wearing a cross or a rainbow bracelet, the government can take no action against her. But if she proselytizes in her class, she should be disciplined. If she persists, she should be removed from the classroom.

Suppose a student asks his teacher why the wears a cross or the purpose of the rainbow wristband? The teacher is free to say that she is a Christian and even that the cross is an expression of deeply-held beliefs. She is free to say what the rainbow means to her and why she wears it. These explanations should be brief and superficial. If the student asks the teacher for more, then her response should be, if the student’s liberty is to be protected, that this is not a subject for the classroom and direct the student to follow up with his parents.

There should be no flags or signs in public school classroom expressing faith belief or ideological systems. No pictures of Jesus. No Black Lives Matter slogans. No gender ideology flags. School administrators should remove all these signs of faith belief from the classroom.

Christian flags fly on the back of students’ pickup trucks at LaPoynor High School in Larue, Texas, in this photo posted to Facebook on October 18, 2017. 

We have to put a stop to the indoctrination rampant in our public institutions. I know the true believers are supremely smug in their self-righteousness. I know they don’t believe they have to follow the rules because their truth is the truth—that double standards are fine when you have truth on your side. That’s what every authoritarian believes. But that’s not the way it works in a free society.

Want to proselytize? Take to the streets and share the good news with people who are free and willing to listen to you. Don’t do in the classroom. Children are a captive audience. We have a First Amendment. Find another profession if you can’t follow the rules. Teach the children. Don’t indoctrinate them.

Friday Afternoon News Blasts

File under “Sensitivity Editing”: The New York Post is reporting that Roald Dahl books editor’s “woke” consultants were all under 30 and had “non-binary, anarchist” project manager. I guess if you’re down with the woke culture of accountability, censorship, and mind control, then identifying the subalterns who do the dirty work authoritarian desire sounds bigoted. It’s supposed to sound that way because then you will fear telling the truth about it. Not me. It’s going to get a lot uglier over here. So strap in. Want to know why I’m so passionate about all this? George Orwell.

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File under “Technocracy”: The National Review provides a useful example of the anti-democratic and technocratic heart of progressivism. In debating the question of whether the Biden administration can forgive students of their college debt, Sonia Sotomayor, the senior justice on the so-called left of the Supreme Court, warned that judges would seize greater power if agency authority to carry out acts of Congress were diminished.

“What you’re saying is now we’re going to give judges the right to decide how much aid to give them. Instead of the person with the expertise and the experience, the secretary of education, who’s been dealing with educational issues and the problems surrounding student loans, we’re going to take it upon ourselves, instead of leaving that decision in the hands of the person who has experience with these questions.” Sotomayor said this to Nebraska state Solicitor General James Campbell, who was arguing against the Biden administration.

Charles Cooke of the National Review points out that the issue before the Court is this: “Does he [the President] have the power to do it?” There is no provision in the US Constitution that gives bureaucrats unlimited power on the grounds that some people consider them to be experts, he correctly observes.

Cooke finds the same problem in a case from last year concerning the EPA, with Justice Kagan authoring the dissenting opinion. “In statutory cases such as these,” Cooke writes, “the risk is not that the Supreme Court will claim a role for which it is not suited, but that, absent the court’s deliberation, the executive branch will claim powers that rightfully belong to Congress.” 

“If, as Kagan seems (selectively) to want, the Supreme Court were to habitually abandon the playing field whenever it was presented with statutory questions,” Cooke continues, “then the role of deciding which powers the executive branch has been delegated would henceforth be performed by the executive branch—which, having been given carte blanche to interpret the laws however it likes, would start doing whatever it wished to do without reference to the law as written.” Bingo!

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File under “Fake News”: From The Guardian: “The US justice department has said Donald Trump is not entitled to absolute immunity in civil lawsuits related to the US Capitol attack on 6 January 2021, which he incited in an attempt to stop certification of his election loss to Joe Biden and which is now linked to nine deaths, including law enforcement suicides.”

First, Trump didn’t incite an attack on the Capitol on January 6. There is nothing in his speech that day or anything he ever said as president that could even remotely be interpreted as incitement.

This is the phrase Democrats harp on: “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” That’s standard in political discourse. Democrats talk about fighting like hell all the time, an easily documented occurrence. However, Trump specifically told the crowd that he expected them to be peaceful: “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” Marching to do what? To “demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated.”

The First Amendment to the US Constitution protects the right of citizens to do what the President told them to do. The Amendment guarantees that individuals have the right to express themselves freely without censorship or fear of punishment by the government. It protects the right of individuals to assemble for peaceful protests, marches, and other public demonstrations. It guarantees that citizens have the right to bring their grievances to the attention of their elected officials without fear of retribution.

The group that was assembled on January 6, as well as President Trump and all the speakers who addressed them, had an entirely legitimate purpose in gathering and speaking that day (it was a permitted event). The attempt to portray activities protected by the First Amendment as untoward by the corporate state is contemptuous of democracy and the rule of law. The January 6 rally was an instantiation of democratic action.

Second, the attempt to associate deaths the occurred on that day to the January 6 rally is as absurd as accusing Trump of inciting a riot (let alone the insurrection the Capitol riot wasn’t). Kevin Greeson and Benjamin Phillips died of cardiovascular disease. The manner of death in bother cases was determined to be “natural.” They had heart attacks in the excitement of the moment. Rosanne Boyland died accidentally of “acute amphetamine intoxication.” However, a police officer can be seen beating her dead or unconscious body, so it is hoped that a full investigation into the circumstances of her death is forthcoming. Ashli Babbitt was shot to death by a Capitol police officer.

Officer Brian Sicknick suffered a stroke several hours after the event. Four officers committed suicide after the event. Why they committed suicide is unclear. Based on the January 6 footage I have seen (and there is a lot of it), given that many officers were caught up in what has the hallmarks of a police riot, we might consider the psychological toll that losing control and attacking the citizens one swore an oath to protect takes on people.

However, none of these deaths has anything to do with the peaceful rally that occurred on January 6, 2001.

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File under “Fact-checking”: Yesterday, I wrote the following comment on Facebook concerning reports vaccine injury: “People didn’t say anything because they were afraid of what would happen if they did. I was unafraid and told people what I knew. Many chose to disregard what I said because they were determined to harm themselves and others or because they believe I’m full of shit or disagree with me politically. I cannot be responsible for the fact that people ignore me or disregard my warnings. I do what I can.”

Facebook censored the post to which these remarks were attached. The important piece of that post were my remarks, so I shared them again and expressed my hope they would stay. I also noted that the day before yesterday that my wife had a post censored by Facebook for citing a Lancet study. Let that sink in. We’re supposed to only listen to the experts. Follow the science, they tell us. If Lancet is censored by Facebook, what are the fact-checkers actually up to? Isn’t it curious, I suggested, that the idea of disinformation only became a widespread concern when social media became a disinformation machine?

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File under “Persistent Life-Course Offender”: Have you seen this video:

This is cluster B personality disorder, in case you wanted an example of what it looks like in the wild. Affected kids display this personality disorder early in their development. I’m not sure whether it is unavoidable, but you need to be able to see it and understand it so that you do not become a victim of emotional blackmail. On the question of whether this is an intrinsic developmental outcome, we are seeing it a lot more of it, so I suspect it’s probably something going on in our culture.

I need to note that many, if not most of the people who make up Antifa apparently suffer from this disorder (or cluster of disorders). Antifa members don’t stand for anything remotely regarding social justice. What they are is an instantiation of the birds of a feather phenomenon, a bunch of disordered individuals coming together and, in their case, engaging in a type of emergent group therapy that involves terrorizing other people.

This young person will in time find others like him and will enjoy allyship with people who will use him in the project to disorder the world. This reality gives us an insight about how we might intervene, namely by confronting the project that will use him as a subaltern.

A Mass Experiment in Gaslighting

“The tendency to conformity in our society is so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call white black. This is a matter of concern. It raises questions about our ways of education and about the values that guide our conduct.” —Solomon Asch

Social psychologist Solomon Asch is famous for his studies exploring the extent to which social pressure can influence an individual’s perception and judgment. His most memorable experiment was designed to determine whether an individual would align his behavior or opinion to those of a group, all of whom, with the exception of the research subject, were confederates.

In that experiment, conducted in 1951, participants were asked to judge the length of lines on a series of cards. On each card, there was one line that was clearly longer than the others, and participants were asked to identify which line was longer. The confederates were instructed to give the wrong answer. Three-quarters of research subjects, seated in a position where they would answer last, agreed with the confederates. Some subjects continued to conform after several trials.

Asch was able to demonstrate under experimental conditions the form of psychological abuse that would become known as “gaslighting.” The term comes from the 1944 film Gaslight, in which a husband manipulates his wife into doubting her own sanity by making small changes to their environment and then denying that anything had changed. Gaslighting is thus a form of psychological manipulation in which an entity or individual works to engender existential doubt in a targeted individual or members of a targeted group by making them unsure of their perception or sanity.

Those who gaslight deploy tactics aimed at undermining a person’s sense of reality. One tactic is denying the reality of something the target knows to be true. Another is invalidating or minimizing the target’s concerns. The strategic use of double standards to make it harder for the target to trust his own judgment is another tactic. The abuser may blame the target for things he didn’t mean to make him feel as if he’s losing touch with his own sensibilities. Over time, finding it increasingly difficult to trust his own perception and judgment, the victim is left feeling anxious, confused, and isolated. As such, gaslighting is a useful strategy in brainwashing or mind control projects—it prepares the individual for reincorporation into a different order.

The above video is from a hearing held in the Australian Parliament during a summer 2022 inquiry into the Religious Discrimination Bill by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. The Religious Discrimination Bill is a proposed Australian law that seeks to protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of their religion or religious beliefs. The bill has been controversial due to concerns that it may infringe upon other rights and freedoms.

One major point of concern is that the broad protections it affords to religious freedom could be used to justify discriminatory behavior against trans-identifying persons. Proponents of the bill have argued that it is necessary to protect the right to freedom of conscience, and that it does not intend to undermine other human rights.

Among the fundamental rights Australia recognizes are freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. These are strengthened by the bill. Thus the inquiry concerns to what extent can speech and conscience be limited by other rights identified in the fundamental law of that country. The question at hand: Can Australia force a person to deny his sincerely-held beliefs for the sake of another person’s feelings?

The video picks up with a question from the witness, MP Moria Deeming, about whether and in what context it is appropriate to say that “trans women are men.” Senator Janet Rice of the Green Party responds that if this were said to a trans woman in the workplace it would be discriminatory regardless of intent. Therefore, it is in her view appropriate to punish the employee who says it.

MP Moria Deeming responds that there is nothing intrinsically discriminatory with stating that a person cannot change his sex as it is a statement of biological fact. After Rice rehearses the standard list of emotionally blackmailing slogans, Deeming counters that it is psychologically abusive to coerce others into saying things they do not believe.

That is a devastating counter. Compelled speech is a violation of human rights. Compelled speech involves requiring an individual by law or other authority to express or promote particular beliefs, ideas, or messages, even if he disagrees with them or finds them objectionable. This can take the form of requiring individuals to speak certain words, express certain opinions, or display certain symbols.

By restricting individuals’ ability to express themselves freely and limiting their ability to engage in critical thinking or dissent, compelled speech functions as a form of censorship. Coercing people into denouncing their beliefs and compelling speech can be and often is psychologically abusive—but it doesn’t need to be to violate human rights.

This may not be her intention, but Deeming is pointing out that Rice is engaged in what George Orwell, in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, called “doublethink,” a problem I will take up in my next blog. In the midst of her doublethink, Rice finds it psychologically abusive to permit a person to tell a biological fact without recognizing that it is psychologically abusive to make a person deny one.

The Deeming-Rice exchange illustrates a desire to gaslight on a mass scale. Beyond creating a climate of fear to suppress unwanted views, Rice intends to use the authority of the state to disrupt the normal understanding of Australians concerning the immutability of sex by manufacturing the appearance in law and culture that there is consensus to the contrary, and reframing biological fact as bigotry.

Rice’s double standard negates the concern the person who disagrees with the slogan has with the consequence of affirming what he knows to be true. He is not to trust his own judgment in affirming his reality. His belief in biological fact becomes an act of bigotry. Surrounded by colleagues telling him that his thinking is wrong, he finds it increasingly difficult to trust his own perception and judgment, and thus is left feeling anxious, confused, and isolated.

But he is not wrong. A non-tautological definition of woman is “adult human female.” Since a man is an adult human male, he cannot be a woman. He may live as a woman, but that does not make him one. These are categories belonging to tens of millions of years of natural history. Using emotional blackmail and presumably state machinery to punish those who accept natural history, Rice is demanding that individuals deny reality. As she would have it, either a man denies what he knows because he pities others (and if he doesn’t, then he is cruel) or he does so to avoid punishment (in which case he is made a coward).

In an advanced technocratic society, gaslighting takes a sophisticated form—the academic and cultural manager push to bring into doubt the fact of biological sex. Experts gaslight the public about what it knows about natural history. Once enough people habitually deny reality, the majority gaslight those coming up, as children expressing their evolved capacity to see gender must be told that they do not correctly perceive reality. This is not some future circumstance. The false narrative that we are not our bodies has already confused millions.

If a man wishes to live as a woman, and to believe that he is a woman, then it is wrong to tell him he can neither live nor believe this way. People are free to express themselves how they will. It is just as wrong to force people to discard false beliefs as it is to force them to discard true ones.

Billions of people believe in angels and demons. On the other hand, billions of people believe that men cannot be women. If some people want to believe they are, then they are free to do so. But they cannot be allowed to force others to agree with them. And while they are free to try to deceive others into denying reality, others are free to call the deception what it is—gaslighting.

For more on gaslighting and related concepts worked into ruthless social criticism, see Intelligent, well-meaning, young people are willing to call white black; RDS and the Demand for Affirmation; The Psychiatrization of Gangstalking; Living at the Borderline—You are Free to Repeat After Me; The Future of a Delusion: Mass Formation Psychosis and the Fetish of Corporate Statism; Truth, Reality, and the Authentic Self.

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Update: Kayla Lemieux, Canadian teacher with size-Z prosthetic breasts, placed on paid leave. This is the consequence of the New York Post having exposed Lemieux’s deception. The Post shared photos of Lemieux wearing men’s sweatpants, sneakers and a puffer vest—with no sign of his fake breasts, makeup, glasses or wig, a getup that his neighbor said he wears “extremely infrequently.” The Post spoke with Lemieux. I am not a clinical psychologist nor a psychiatrist so this is not a professional opinion, but I suspect that Lemieux is not well. Either that, or he’s fucking with everybody. (See The Continuing Saga of Busty Lemieux and the New Cultural Revolution; Foucauldian Seductions: Busty Lemieux and the Hijab.

Democrats: Woke and War Mongering

In a recent Rasmussen Reports survey, 72 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “It’s OK to be white.” However, only a bare majority of of Democrats—51 percent—thought so. What if only 51 percent of Democrats thought it was OK to be black? Almost as shocking, 53 percent of blacks surveyed agreed that it’s okay to be white.

Rasmussen put a positive spin on the findings: “Despite years of progressive activism, a majority of Americans still don’t buy into the ‘woke’ narrative that white people have a monopoly on racism.” Rasmussen found that 79 percent of American Adults agree with the statement, “Black people can be racist, too,” including 53 percent who “strongly agree.” Of black people surveyed, 66 percent agrees that black people can be racist, too. But racist against who? And this: only 39 percent of Democrats strongly agreed with the statement, “Black people can be racist, too.”

The poll comes in the context of a national conversation about the consequences of the pervasive anti-white bigotry being pushed by the corporate media, culture industry, and educational institutions. What do I mean by anti-white racism? This:

Remove the word “white” and replace it with the name of another racial or ethnic group and ask yourself how it sounds. Say it out loud (but not in public). Sound racist? Imagine, as Coleman Hughes suggested we do (see Reparations and Blood Guilt), such things being said about Jews. (We don’t have to, of course, Islamists and Nazis do in fact say these things about Jews). What would be the predictable consequences of such statements? Would Jews have reason to be concerned about those groups who said such things about them? The historical record clearly indicates the answer to this question.

Zack Goldberg “How the Media Led the Great Racial Awakening,” Tablet (8/4/2020)

Zack Goldberg “How the Media Led the Great Racial Awakening,” Tablet (8/4/2020)

Zack Goldberg “How the Media Led the Great Racial Awakening,” Tablet (8/4/2020)

What is the predictable result of the last several years of preaching the gospel of white privilege, white fragility, and systemic racism, i.e., institutionalized white supremacy? (My posts documenting the religion of antiracism, its academic instantiation in critical race theory, are too numerous to list them here.) It can only result in popular bigotry against white people, as the video shared above illustrates. That bigotry may be motivating a wave of intimidation and violent attacks against white people on the streets of America, in high schools and middle schools—even in elementary school.

We don’t have on hand a statistical analysis of all the violence we see in the disturbing videos shared on social media. But we do have statistics on criminal violence. For 2021, blacks perpetrated 335,507 violent crimes compared to 328,817 perpetrated by whites. It must be kept in mind that blacks are 12 percent of the US population, that the disproportionalities are very great. Looking at victims, 459,457 were white, compared to 312,822 for blacks. Given that the vast amount of violent criminal perpetuation is by those who are males (582,497 compared to 133, 283), it is an even smaller proportion of the demographic overrepresented in the most serious crime—crime that disproportionately impacts white Americans. What this means is that that white victims of crime perpetrated by blacks are much more numerous than black victims of crime perpetrated by whites. Yet those speaking in the above video are telling the audience and it is white people—collectively—who are the violent and racially oppressive ones.

Source: FBI

The effect is most marked in the robbery statistics (see above). Is it possible that the rhetoric surrounding collective white responsibility for black suffering, all the talk about reparations, plays a role in what we might, following Marx and Engels, call “primitive restitution”? (Borrowing from their concept of “primitive rebellion.” See Demoralization and the Ferguson Effect: What the Left and Right Get Right (and Wrong) About Crime and Violence.)

I blogged about this at the end of August 2020. The racial patterns of violence in the George Floyd riots made me curious. Why are there so Many More White than Black Victims of Interracial Homicide? There I wrote this:

“When a black person is criminally victimized by a white person, we wonder whether the white person was motived by race prejudice. We presume this when, for example, we claim that the deaths of black suspects at the hands of white officers is a reflection of racist attitudes, explicit or implicit. This presumption is claimed as the reason for today’s violence in our streets. If we could point to statistics showing that, while granting that most homicide is intraracial, occurring within a racial category, interracial crime, occurring between racial categories, is most often represented by a white perpetrator and a black victim, then this might reflect anti-black prejudice. The historical example is white-on-black violence is lynching, where, after Reconstruction, the direction and patterns of the interracial violence indicated anti-black prejudice.

“However, the current direction of interracial crime is in the opposite direction from lynching. The first chart below shows that, even though blacks are less than 13 percent of the US population, they are increasingly the greatest number of homicide victims. … The following chart shows that, year after year, whites are more likely to be homicide victims at the hands of black perpetrators than blacks are to be homicide victims at the hands of white perpetrators. The disparity is even more striking when one reflects on the fact that most perpetrators of homicide are male and black males constitute less than six percent of the population.”

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Don’t forget the establishment Republicans, Tulsi. But, yeah, the Democrats are warmongers par excellence. Korea. Vietnam. Ukraine. (History and Sides-Taking in the Russo-Ukrainian War; The US is Not Provoking Russia—And Other Tall Tales; Will WWIII Begin in Eurasia?)

Democrats will say, “But what about Bush’s invasion of Iraq?” That wouldn’t have been possible without Democrats in Congress. But where did those warmongering neoconservatives in the Republican Party come from? What is the intellectual basis of the Project for a New American Century? They were Cold War progressives. They were Scoop Jackson Democrats. (See War Hawks and the Ugly American: The Origins of Bush’s Middle East Policy.)

The near perfect continuity from George H.W. Bush through the Obama administration is explained by the establishment on both sides of the partisan divide. Had Hillary Clinton been elected president we would have had four years of invasions and occupations around the world.

Don’t forget which party dragged the United States in Afghanistan. (See Sowing the Seeds of Terrorism? Capitalist Intrigue and Adventurism in Afghanistan; Everybody Loves Jimmy Carter; Jimmy Carter, Trilateralist, Entering Hospice.)

Believing Women and Children and Forgetting History

Several women have accused Marilyn Manson of emotional abuse, physical violence, and sexual assault. These allegations first came to light in February 2021, when actor Evan Rachel Wood named Manson as her abuser in an Instagram post.

In the wake of Wood’s accusations, several other women came forward with similar stories of abuse and mistreatment at the hands of Manson. Manson has denied the allegations, describing them as “horrible distortions of reality.”

In 1984, news reports that hundreds of children had been abused at a California preschool fueled moral panic sweeping the nation. 

The accusations against Manson have damaged his career and reputation. Several venues and festivals canceled his scheduled performances and he was dropped by his record label and talent agency. Several actors who had previously worked with Manson condemned his behavior.

But is there any forensic of compelling circumstantial evidence in support of the accusations? One of the accusers, Ashley Morgan Smithline, has come forward to say that she was manipulated and pressured by Wood into making her allegations.

In a declaration filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court last week, Smithline said the accusations were not true and that she had succumbed to pressure to make the allegations after Wood repeatedly told her that just because she couldn’t remember “did not necessarily mean that it did not happen.”

“While at first I knew Mr. Warner did not do these things to me, eventually I began to question whether he actually did,” Smithline said. Smithline’s statement points to a widespread problem in our society: the manipulation of people into believing things happened than did not or could not have happened.

If we didn’t finally learn the inherent problem with believing things people say without any forensic or compelling circumstantial evidence during the Satanic panic, then I truly fear for the future of truth and justice. One’s identity—as a child or a woman—has no bearing on whether one tells the truth or tells lies or grasped reality.

People lie. People are mistaken. People are manipulated. People misremember. People are malevolent. Etcetera. There is no rational reason to believe a person without evidence. Indeed, we err on the side of the accused because the accuser has the burden of proof.

The person making the accusation has the burden to prove the accusation beyond a reasonable doubt with reason and evidence. Being accused of something and having to prove you didn’t do it is near impossible.

This is why the argument that we should believe in God because we can’t prove God doesn’t exist is so irrational. The default position is not to believe a person who says he was abducted by aliens. Maybe he was. Where is the proof?

Slogans cannot substitute for proof. Hashtags are propaganda. They are evidence of nothing except the desire to push an agenda.

During the Satanic panic of the 1980s, children across the country were telling parents that they were being used by day care workers as ritual subjects by satanic cults. Scores of reputations were ruined because of the fanciful imagination of children made even more real by parents and authorities determined without any evidence to believe the children over the day care workers.

The McMartin Preschool case is the paradigm. It involved allegations of child abuse and satanic ritual abuse against staff members at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California.

The case began in 1983 when a parent accused a staff member at the McMartin Preschool of sexually abusing her child based on something the child told her. Soon after, other parents came forward with similar allegations of abuse. The accusations quickly snowballed. It turned into a moral panic. This was because everybody was saying, “Believe the children.”

The investigation led to the arrest and prosecution of seven staff members at the McMartin Preschool, including the school’s owner, Virginia McMartin, and her son, Raymond Buckey. It was one of the longest and most expensive trials in American history and unfolded like something from a Kafka novel. 

The prosecution’s case was blown when the children’s allegations were found to be based on false memories or contradicted by physical evidence. In 1990, after seven years of legal proceedings and two trials, all charges against the accused were dropped, with no convictions. Now adults, many of the children continue to believe they were ritually abused. 

Others regained their hold on reality. One of the children, Kyle Zirpolo, admitted in 2005 that he had fabricated the allegations. In fact, he had never met the man he accused of abusing him.

The McMartin Preschool case had a significant impact on the way that child abuse cases are investigated and prosecuted in the United States. It led to a greater emphasis on the use of forensic evidence and the use of trained interviewers in the questioning of children. It also raised questions about the reliability of children’s testimony in criminal cases and the potential for false allegations of abuse to be made.

Here is my recommended default position for rational people: Believe nothing unless there is clear forensic and compelling circumstantial evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused.

What people say about things that happen to them is the worst possible evidence there is. Eyewitness testimony and confessions are not to be trusted in light of the history of false accusation and wrongful arrest, conviction, and imprisonment.