Hollow Justice And Courts Of Order In An Age Of Government-Sanctioned Tyranny

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“The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people.”—Justice William O. Douglas

Justice in America makes less sense with each passing day.

A Michigan couple that has been raising chickens in their backyard as a source of healthy food for their family could get up to 90 days in jail for violating a local ban on backyard hens. A Kentucky prison guard who was charged with 25 counts of sexual abuse against female inmates, trafficking controlled substances, and 50 counts of official misconduct walks away with no jail time and seven years’ probation. A 53-year-old Virginia man is facing 20 years in jail for kidnapping, despite the fact that key evidence shows him to be innocent and his accuser a liar; yet the courts claim they’re unable to do anything about it. Meanwhile, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent refusal to hear the case of Jones v. U.S., judges can now punish individuals for crimes of which they may never have been convicted or even charged.

With every ruling handed down, it becomes more apparent that we live in an age of hollow justice, with government courts, largely lacking in vision and scope, rendering narrow rulings focused on the letter of the law. This is true at all levels of the judiciary, but especially so in the highest court of the land, the U.S. Supreme Court, which is seemingly more concerned with establishing order and protecting government agents than with upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Given the turbulence of our age, with its police overreach, military training drills on American soil, domestic surveillance, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, wrongful convictions, and corporate corruption, the need for a guardian of the people’s rights has never been greater.

Yet when presented with an opportunity to weigh in on these issues, what does our current Supreme Court usually do? It ducks. Prevaricates. Remains silent. Speaks to the narrowest possible concern. More often than not, it gives the government and its corporate sponsors the benefit of the doubt. Rarely do the concerns of the populace prevail.

In this way, preoccupied with their personal politics; cocooned in a priggish world of privilege; partial to those with power, money, and influence; and narrowly focused on a shrinking docket (the court accepts on average 80 cases out of 8,000 each year), the justices of the current Supreme Court rarely venture beyond their rarefied comfort zones.

Every so often, the justices toss a bone to those who fear they have abdicated their allegiance to the Constitution. In Riley v. California, for instance, a unanimous Court ruled that police need warrants in order to physically search the cellphones of people they arrest. Even in that instance, the victory rang hollow to those who understand that government agents, equipped with military-grade surveillance equipment, don’t need physical access to our phones in order to know who we’ve been talking to or texting and what we’ve been saying.

Too often, however, as I document in A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, the Supreme Court tends to march in lockstep with the police state.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Should We Just Follow Orders? Rules Of Engagement For Resisting The Police State

Photo Credit: WEBN-TV (Creative Commons)

“Let your motto be resistance! resistance! Resistance! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance.”—Abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet

The perils of resisting the police state grow more costly with each passing day, especially if you hope to escape with your life and property intact. The thing you must remember is that we’ve entered an age of militarized police in which we’re no longer viewed as civilians but as enemy combatants.

Take, for example, Mary Elizabeth VandenBerg who was charged with disturbing the peace, a crime punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine, for daring to vocalize her frustrations over a traffic ticket by reading a prepared statement to the court clerk and paying her $145 traffic ticket with 145 one-dollar bills. VandenBerg was also handcuffed, tasered, and pepper sprayed for “passively” resisting police by repeatedly stopping and talking to them and stiffening her arms. The incident, filmed by VandenBerg’s brother, is now the subject of a lawsuit.

Zachary Noel was tasered by police and charged with resisting arrest after he questioned why he was being ordered out of his truck during a traffic stop. “Because I’m telling you to,” the officer replied before repeating his order for Noel to get out of the vehicle and then, without warning, shooting him with a taser through the open window. The encounter, recorded with a cell phone by Noel’s friend in the passenger seat, offers a particularly chilling affirmation of how little recourse Americans really have when it comes to obeying an order from a government official or police officer, even if it’s just to ask a question or assert one’s rights.

Eighteen-year-old Keivon Young was shot seven times by police from behind while urinating outdoors. Young was just zipping up his pants when he heard a commotion behind him and then found himself struck by a hail of bullets from two undercover cops. Despite the fact that the officers mistook Young—5’4,” 135 lbs., and guilty of nothing more than taking a leak outdoors—for a 6’ tall, 200 lb. murder suspect whom they later apprehended, the young man was charged with felony resisting arrest and two counts of assaulting a peace officer.

What these incidents make clear is that anything short of compliance will now get you charged with any of the growing number of contempt charges (ranging from resisting arrest and interference to disorderly conduct, obstruction, and failure to obey a police order) that get trotted out anytime a citizen voices discontent with the government or challenges or even questions the authority of the powers that be—and that’s the best case scenario. The worst case scenario involves getting probed, poked, pinched, tasered, tackled, searched, seized, stripped, manhandled, arrested, shot, or killed.

So what can you really do when you find yourself at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect”? In other words, what are the rules of engagement when it comes to interacting with the police?

Pages: 1 2 3 4

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Should We Just Follow Orders? Rules Of Engagement For Resisting The Police State

Photo Credit: WEBN-TV (Creative Commons)

“Let your motto be resistance! resistance! Resistance! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance.”—Abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet

The perils of resisting the police state grow more costly with each passing day, especially if you hope to escape with your life and property intact. The thing you must remember is that we’ve entered an age of militarized police in which we’re no longer viewed as civilians but as enemy combatants.

Take, for example, Mary Elizabeth VandenBerg who was charged with disturbing the peace, a crime punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine, for daring to vocalize her frustrations over a traffic ticket by reading a prepared statement to the court clerk and paying her $145 traffic ticket with 145 one-dollar bills. VandenBerg was also handcuffed, tasered, and pepper sprayed for “passively” resisting police by repeatedly stopping and talking to them and stiffening her arms. The incident, filmed by VandenBerg’s brother, is now the subject of a lawsuit.

Zachary Noel was tasered by police and charged with resisting arrest after he questioned why he was being ordered out of his truck during a traffic stop. “Because I’m telling you to,” the officer replied before repeating his order for Noel to get out of the vehicle and then, without warning, shooting him with a taser through the open window. The encounter, recorded with a cell phone by Noel’s friend in the passenger seat, offers a particularly chilling affirmation of how little recourse Americans really have when it comes to obeying an order from a government official or police officer, even if it’s just to ask a question or assert one’s rights.

Eighteen-year-old Keivon Young was shot seven times by police from behind while urinating outdoors. Young was just zipping up his pants when he heard a commotion behind him and then found himself struck by a hail of bullets from two undercover cops. Despite the fact that the officers mistook Young—5’4,” 135 lbs., and guilty of nothing more than taking a leak outdoors—for a 6’ tall, 200 lb. murder suspect whom they later apprehended, the young man was charged with felony resisting arrest and two counts of assaulting a peace officer.

What these incidents make clear is that anything short of compliance will now get you charged with any of the growing number of contempt charges (ranging from resisting arrest and interference to disorderly conduct, obstruction, and failure to obey a police order) that get trotted out anytime a citizen voices discontent with the government or challenges or even questions the authority of the powers that be—and that’s the best case scenario. The worst case scenario involves getting probed, poked, pinched, tasered, tackled, searched, seized, stripped, manhandled, arrested, shot, or killed.

So what can you really do when you find yourself at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect”? In other words, what are the rules of engagement when it comes to interacting with the police?

Pages: 1 2 3 4

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

America’s Dirty Little Secret: Sex Trafficking Is Big Business

hannah

“For every 10 women rescued, there are 50 to 100 more women are brought in by the traffickers. Unfortunately, they’re not 18- or 20-year-olds anymore. They’re minors as young as 13 who are being trafficked. They’re little girls.”—25-year-old victim of trafficking

“Children are being targeted and sold for sex in America every day.”—John Ryan, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

The mysterious disappearance of 18-year-old Hannah Graham (pictured above) on September 13, 2014 has become easy fodder for the media at a time when the news cycle is lagging. After all, how does a young woman just vanish without a trace, in the middle of the night, in a town that is routinely lauded for being the happiest place in America, not to mention one of the most beautiful?

Yet Graham is not the first girl to vanish in America without a trace—my hometown of Charlottesville, Va. has had five women go missing over the span of five years—and it is doubtful she will be the last. I say doubtful because America is in the grip of a highly profitable, highly organized, and highly sophisticated sex trafficking business that operates in towns large and small, raking in upwards of $9.5 billion a year in the U.S. alone by abducting and selling young girls for sex.

It is estimated that there are 100,000 to 150,000 under-aged sex workers in the U.S. The average age of girls who enter into street prostitution is between 12 and 14 years old, with some as young as 9 years old. This doesn’t include those who entered the “trade” as minors and have since come of age. Rarely do these girls enter into prostitution voluntarily. As one rescue organization estimated, an underaged prostitute might be raped by 6,000 men during a five-year period of servitude.

This is America’s dirty little secret.

You don’t hear much about domestic sex trafficking from the media or government officials; and yet it infects suburbs, cities, and towns across the nation. According to the FBI, sex trafficking is the fastest growing business in organized crime, the second most-lucrative commodity traded illegally after drugs and guns. It’s an industry that revolves around cheap sex on the fly, with young girls and women who are sold to 50 men each day for $25 apiece, while their handlers make $150,000 to $200,000 per child each year.

In order to avoid detection by police and cater to male buyers’ demand for sex with different women, pimps and the gangs and crime syndicates they work for have turned sex trafficking into a highly mobile enterprise, with trafficked girls, boys, and women constantly being moved from city to city, state to state, and country to country. The Baltimore-Washington area, referred to as The Circuit, with its I-95 corridor dotted with rest stops, bus stations, and truck stops, is a hub for the sex trade.

With a growing demand for sexual slavery and an endless supply of girls and women who can be targeted for abduction, this is not a problem that’s going away anytime soon. Young girls are particularly vulnerable, with 13 being the average age of those being trafficked. Yet as the head of a group that combats trafficking pointed out, “Let’s think about what average means. That means there are children younger than 13. That means 8-, 9-, 10-year-olds.”

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

An Unbearable And Choking Hell: The Loss Of Our Freedoms In The Wake Of 9/11

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“I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life.”—Osama bin Laden (October 2001), as reported by CNN

What a strange and harrowing road we’ve walked since September 11, 2001, littered with the debris of our once-vaunted liberties. We have gone from a nation that took great pride in being a model of a representative democracy to being a model of how to persuade a freedom-loving people to march in lockstep with a police state.

What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption, and abuse. Since then, we have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance. The bogeyman’s names and faces change over time—Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and now ISIS—but the end result remains the same: our unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security.

Ironically, just a short week after the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we find ourselves commemorating the 227th anniversary of the ratification of our Constitution. Yet while there is much to mourn about the loss of our freedoms in the years since 9/11, there has been little to celebrate.

The Constitution has been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded to such an extent that what we are left with today is but a shadow of the robust document adopted more than two centuries ago. Most of the damage has been inflicted upon the Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments to the Constitution—which historically served as the bulwark from government abuse.

Set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, roving VIPR raids, and the like—all sanctioned by Congress, the White House, and the courts—a recitation of the Bill of Rights would understandably sound more like a eulogy to freedoms lost than an affirmation of rights we truly possess.

As I make clear in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, the Constitution has been on life support for some time now. We can pretend that the Constitution, which was written to hold the government accountable, is still our governing document. However, the reality we must come to terms with is that in the America we live in today, the government does whatever it wants, freedom be damned.

Consider the state of our freedoms, and judge for yourself whether this Constitution Day should be a day of mourning, celebration or a robust call to action:

The First Amendment is supposed to protect the freedom to speak your mind and protest in peace without being bridled by the government. It also protects the freedom of the media, as well as the right to worship and pray without interference. In other words, Americans should not be silenced by the government. Yet despite the clear protections found in the First Amendment, the freedoms described therein are under constant assault.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom