Hungry for Peace?

One of the reasons I’m a staunch opponent of reformist techniques is because they inevitably increase your opportunity costs. To paraphrase Larken Rose, most “activism” does less than no good because it usually tends to actually feed the beast that is the government. Despite this, there have been freelance propagandists who have benefited greatly from what could be described as “franchise activism,” if for no other reason that to reinforce the society of the spectacle.

 

 

Food Not Bombs (FNB) began in 1980 when eight friends decided to stage a Great Depression-era soup kitchen line outside the Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire. Not long after, FNB began supplying protesters at various marches and rallies with vegan and vegetarian meals collected from surplus food. Feeding the mind as well as the body has been a staple of FNB from the beginning, as can be observed from their flyers that they usually place on the same table they serve their food from.

Throughout this manual, Keith McHenry (one of the eight co-founders) very repetitively claims that half of the federal income tax is allocated towards the warfare state; ergo, what we need is food and not bombs. He bases his assertion on the War Resister League’s annual Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes pie chart, which itself relies upon the Budget of the United States Government as written by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Unfortunately, WRL measures the allocation of total federal outlays differently than OMB does, and since one of the core goals of Food Not Bombs is to delegitimize military spending, I think detailing the truth of the matter is necessary, especially in light of the constitutional limit on the United States Congress to always be transparent about the federal budget (pursuant to Art. I § 9 cl. 7).

WRL distinguishes between the federal funds from the “trust funds” of welfare handouts such as Social Security; their reasoning is that the funding for these handouts are collected from taxes different from the federal income tax, and so therefore skew the percentages of total federal outlays. According to the WRL, total federal outlays for FY 2013 were $2.8 trillion, 47% of which went to the military. While this is the figure McHenry uses to justify his Food Not Bombs literature, I doubt how this is even mathematically possible.

Chiefly, the problem appears to be that among the various government budget data sets, none of the amounts are the same, regardless of whether they are receipts or outlays. For instance, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)’s budgetary projections, OMB’s Budget of the United States Government, and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS)’s Financial Report of the United States Government clearly stated that individual income tax receipts for FY 2013 are $1,316,405,000,000, $1,359,000,000,000, and $2,196,000,000,000, respectively. Total military outlays were $626,000,000,000, $851,000,000,000, and $930,300,000,000, respectively.

When measuring either the receipts or outlays of the federal budget, it all comes down to how you are measuring it; yet, if the very same line items turn out dissimilar figures, it becomes noticeably harder to draw conclusions from them. For instance, the CBO, OMB, and BFS data sets showed that total federal outlays for FY 2013 were $3,455,000,000,000, $3,803,000,000,000, and $3,656,600,000,000, respectively. Converting total military spending relative to total federal outlays into a percentage was nowhere near half, not even if I factored out Social Security, as WRL did. The percentage range I calculated was that total military spending was anywhere between 18 – 25 % of total federal outlays, and 23 – 33% if you factored out Social Security alone. How WRL got 47% I literally have no idea, unless they also factored out Medicare and Medicaid, which is arguably possible, but unlikely. Had McHenry said in his manual that a quarter of the federal budget is spent on the military, I think he would have held the government dead to rights all the while holding any misinformation at bay.

If FNB were to be described as anything, it would be a friendly society, perhaps even mutualist in nature. McHenry says:

 

“Food recovery is a core feature of the Food Not Bombs project. One of the byproducts of our program is the reduction of waste in our society…[s]tudies show that over $100 billion dollars worth of edible goods was discarded in the United States every year during the first decade of the 21st century. As much as 40 percent of all food is wasted in the United States. The United Nations reports that there is enough discarded food to feed all one billion people that go to sleep hungry each night.”

 

Although I think that 40% figure is an exaggeration, I will abstain from broaching that right now for the sake of brevity; suffice it to say, if FNB’s reliance on WRL’s interpretation of OMB’s budgetary tables are as badly skewed as I have expressed concern over, then why should I suspend disbelief when McHenry pulls out yet another very questionable statistic? McHenry continues:

 

“It is almost never necessary to dive into dumpsters, and doing so deprives your group of developing a relationship with people that work in the food industry. There is rarely any reason to rummage through dumpsters because there is so much better food available by talking with those responsible for discarding the surplus food.”

 

Wow, what a slap in the face towards your fellow comrades there, McHenry. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say McHenry was more worried about the public image of FNB rather than successfully delegitimizing the very government that is dropping bombs on people in the first place. As he says:

 

“Because we have always approached our work as theater, it has always been easy to adapt to various situations. Our theater is designed to help the public recognize and value the interconnectedness of all progressive issues. We try to expose how the policies of consumerism, militarism and imperialism affect our everyday lives from our diet and the items we choose to buy, to the policies supported by our taxes like the use of nuclear weapons for ‘defense,’ promotion of genetically modified foods, and a police system that imprisons millions while denying millions more access to education. Our theater also encourages the public to withhold its cooperation and support of the dominant political and economic system while participating in nonviolent direct action and other protests. When we participate in an event highlighting a particular issue, we try to show how it connects with the other issues Food Not Bombs is organizing around. Food is often an excellent way to show the connections between our daily choices and their relationship to the government and corporate policies that are threatening our future.”

 

Wait, did McHenry really just say that FNB’s food sharing is nothing more than a theatrical street performance? If so, that would seem to imply that “sharing meals” is simply a recurring propaganda of the deed. Even so, this would also mean that FNB’s food sharing is also a vehicle for their leafleting, as a sort of freebie come-on. McHenry goes on to say that:

 

“The impact can be profound. Even the impression made on a pedestrian seeing a line of 200 hungry people before a banner stating ‘Food Not Bombs’ can be so powerfully felt that the witness will have a deep and lasting understanding of our message. So strong is the impression that they are more likely to take action. So strong, that the state is worried that the experience could lead to public outrage or worse, rebellion and an end to their control.”

 

Apparently, McHenry is all about “getting the message out,” but how important is that “message” if its laced with misinformation? But I digress.

The legality of food sharing is just like the legality of dumpster diving; it is a legal grey area because it greatly depends on a combination of municipal ordinances, county ordinances, & ultimately state code. Redundantly telling the tale of the 1988 San Francisco arrests, McHenry points out that the three most common legal grey areas FNB has encountered in her history were vending food without a permit, distributing literature while sharing food, and being unjustly profiled as so-called “domestic terrorists” by the American secret police. Typically at some point, the local American gendarmerie would claim that FNB was violating food safety standards, which were usually inapplicable anyway because FNB was not selling the food, at all!

One of the three core principles of Food Not Bombs is their absolute commitment to pacifism, or as they prefer to call it, “nonviolence.” As McHenry explains:

 

“It has been a common strategy of the powerful to project themselves as unreasonable and so disrespectful that their opponents believe them to be so evil that any action is justified in resisting their policies. If they succeed, your group will lose its sense of dignity, take extreme actions that can be used to justify repression, and cause your campaign to lose its self-respect. If the community sees that your group is maintaining respect and taking persistent dignified action, even though it is facing violence, dishonesty, and even prison and death, you will undermine the power of your opponent and draw popular support for your cause. It is often at the point when an opponent is most brutal and is unable to undermine the self respect and dignity of your group that the opponent believes it must capitulate to the demands of the campaign.”

 

Here, just like his earlier paranoia about police informants, McHenry believes that speaking truth to power alone is sufficient for resistance because he thinks it is inevitable that they will be converted. Nothing could be more laughably absurd, and reveals a dangerous ignorance of the lessons from history that humanity should have learned by now. Speaking truth to power is certainly useful in the early stages of a conflict, but it didn’t save those who were relentlessly tortured at Abu Gharib.

If McHenry’s claim that a “campaign of violence” scares people into the arms of their rulers, then therefore all of the guerrilla warfare literature (as well as those works on just war theory) are all completely wrong. McHenry’s advocacy of strictly peaceful direct actions brazenly contradict the operations of the Irish, French, and Polish underground resistances from last century when well in excess of over 144,000,000 people were murdered by their own governments, not including war. It is almost as if McHenry, much like the Free State Project Board of Trustees, is trying to propagandize the notion that anyone who merely talks about the use of force, including self-defense, is automatically an agent provocateur who is “advocating violence.” The truth of the matter here is that a paranoid habit of overly strict peaceful direct action in fact socially engineers and indoctrinates people to avoid self-defense, even in the face of imminent death. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like freedom to me.

Keith McHenry’s Hungry for Peace: How You Can Help End Poverty and War with Food Not Bombs is a nearly complete waste of time. Sure, there are organizational and advertising tips that could be beneficial to a local Committee of Safety, and the cooking recipes themselves looked quite appetizing, but other than that, this manual is designed for people who appear to tacitly support the welfare state. Interestingly enough, McHenry also said that:

 

“In general, Food Not Bombs believes that our work does not require any permits. However, the city or the police often use the permit issue as a way to attempt to harass your chapter into shutting down your meal. Therefore, it is sometimes a good idea to have a fully equipped field kitchen to take away their excuse that you may be violating a food sanitation law. There may still be attempts to shut you down, but you can point out that it is not a health but a political issue which they are raising. It is the Food Not Bombs position that we have a right to give away free food any time, in any public space, without any permission from the state.”

 

Now, while McHenry might have sounded like a philosophically grounded anarchist of some flavor, I sincerely doubt that to be the case due his overly pedantic cries for increased spending on “education” and “healthcare.” If he thinks that the government schools and the individual mandate are what he would consider as pushing forward the evolution of human liberty, then he’s going to get a rude awakening once he gets around to pulling his head out of his ass.

Little Free Library – An Upscale Freestore Photo Essay

About two weeks ago, I noticed something pleasantly unusual while I was out for a run. Tucked away in a corner of a subdivision was what initially appeared to me from a distance as an unusually large bird stand, pictured here.

 

 

As I approached it, I suddenly realized this had nothing to do with birds, and everything to do with books. Through the small window pane, I saw a collection of books just sitting outside in this enclosed stand, right at the edge of someone’s front yard, nicely positioned towards the sidewalk.

 

 

Standing right in front of the stand, I obliquely noticed something shining from the side of the box. Shifting my weight, I was able to read a seal of originality.

 

 

Centering my weight back onto both legs, I then looked down and noticed not only a web page, but what appeared to be this stand’s only rule.

 

 

Next, I looked back up and to the right, where I saw the latch that presumably opened the stand.

 

 

Having satisfied my curiosity, I left the stand and finished my run. Later, I returned to the stand with a copy of Andrew Napolitano’s Constitutional Chaos.

 

 

Before leaving Napolitano’s book in the stand, I decided to rummage around the selection to see if there was anything I wanted to take out.

 

 

Once I had made a choice, I straightened out the books as best as I could, and left Napolitano’s book behind.

 

 

I chose to take out a Nancy Drew comic book, which I thought was more than a fair exchange.

 

 

So, what is this stand all about?

Little Free Library (LFL) originally began as Todd Bol’s tribute to his mother, who was a former school teacher and a serious bibliophile. Taken from a version on the idea of a Carnegie library, LFLs are free market competitors to the government-run public library model. Based upon the concept of a gift economy, LFLs only rule is “take a book, leave a book.” As a plus, LFL users possess the ability to be much more anonymous than Freecycle or even Craigslist, because they are bypassing the need to leave behind any sort of digital footprint (besides the fact they are also able to completely bypass the use of any library cards whose borrowing records are subject to inspection because of § 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which is also known as the “library records provision”).

How are LFLs economically viable? Instead of collecting books by way of government, LFLs are established through voluntarily donated books. If anything, LFLs could be considered as a type of free store, much like what The Diggers did back during the late 1960s in San Francisco. Although some might retort than an LFL, or free stores in general, are simply the tragedy of the commons in action, I think it would be more accurate to say that LFLs are a pragmatic application of mutualism, which is foundationally based upon the labor theory of value.

Granted, I think no one would consider it desirable for LFLs to be located in areas where the books could simply be taken by a duplicitous individual and then resold to a book buyer such as Half-Price Books. Then again, why would such a thief take such a risk to grossly violate the LFL’s only rule to maybe turn of profit of much less than $20? Also, what if one or more employees at HPB knew about their local LFLs and recognized the collection of titles, because they themselves use LFLs regularly? If anyone wants to play the “what if” game, you must also be fair and play the other side of it too, just to demonstrate its silliness for all to witness. Truth be told, there has never been either an LFL or any free store that has had their entire inventory simultaneously liquidated and resold by thieves. I say that because there are no articles, books, or videos made that have documented such incidences, to my knowledge.

Should you decide that putting together an LFL would be a good idea in your neck of the woods, I would suggest you save yourself some Federal Reserve Notes by building your own LFL. The pre-built LFL stands range anywhere from $200 – $800, and the custom made ones are ~ $1,000. Fortunately, the official LFL website has a webpage dedicated to how you can build your own LFL from scrounged materials. If you don’t have an appreciation for frugally enjoying your liberty, then you have no business putting together a local LFL, much less engaging in any serious pushback of corporate consumerism or the copyright monopoly.

Against Intellectual Property?

Exercising the liberty of the press and free speech requires the use of a communications medium, whether that be in a written, audio, or visual format. In order to present verifiably sourced information, any media’s bibliography necessarily encompasses works made by other people. Unfortunately, a legally sanctioned form of subterfuge has been used to quiet the growing discontentment emanating from the American people.

 

 

Norman Stephan Kinsella earned his juris doctor in 1991 from Louisiana. He became licensed in Texas the following year, which is possible due to Rule I(a)(3), Rule II(1)(5), & Rule III(a)(1) from the Rules of the Supreme Court Governing Admission to the Bar of Texas. This esquire has been intrigued by libertarian philosophy since 1982, and admitted to being an anarchist as early as 2002. If you’re getting the feeling that you’re about to be lectured to by an oxymoronic “anarchist lawyer” just like Lysander Spooner, you’d be about right.

Kinsella begins his tome by thankfully defining his terms, the most notable of which are copyright and its foundational idea, intellectual property. He says:

 

“Intellectual property is a broad concept that covers several types of legally recognized rights arising from type of intellectual creativity, or that are otherwise related to ideas. IP rights are rights to intangible things – to ideas, as expressed (copyrights), or as embodied in a practical implementation (patents)…copyright is a right given to authors of ‘original works,’ such as books, articles, movies, and computer programs. Copyright gives the exclusive right to reproduce the work, prepare derivative works, or to perform or present the work publicly. Copyrights protect only the form or expression of ideas, not the underlying ideas themselves.”

 

Right from the get go, there’s already a bit of a problem…how can there be property in a thing that in light of its existentiality is inherently abstract? I mean, technically, justice is an abstract concept, so therefore, why can’t justice be considered intellectual property? Oh, wait, that’s right…it’s the form or expression of an idea that is “copyrighted,” as in, “the right to make a copy,” perhaps? But I digress.

The constitutionality of copyright is virtually indisputable. Article I § 8 cl. 8 of the United States Constitution, also known appropriately as the Copyright Clause, says:

 

“The Congress shall have Power…To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

 

Now, pray tell, what did the Framers mean by this? Let us first consult James Madison, for as he wrote in Federalist Paper #43:

 

“The utility of this power will scarcely be questioned. The copyright of authors has been solemnly adjudged in Great Britain, to be a right at common law. The right to useful inventions, seems with equal reason to belong to the inventors. The public good fully coincides in both cases with the claims of individuals. The states cannot separately make effectual provision for either of the cases, and most of them have anticipated the decision of this point, by laws passed at the instance of congress.”

 

Scarcely questioned in particular, yes, but the larger issue encompassing copyright was the fact that the congressionally enumerated powers were thought of by some at the time during ratification as being too powerfully broad. In Anti-Federalist Paper #41, the Federal Farmer wrote:

 

“I am persuaded, a federal head never was formed, that possessed half the powers which it could carry into full effect, altogether independently of the state or local governments, as the one, the convention has proposed, will possess. Should the state legislatures never meet, except merely for chusing federal senators and appointing electors, once in four and six years, the federal head may go on for ages to make all laws relative to the following subjects, and by its own courts, officers, and provisions, carry them into full effect, and to any extent it may deem for the general welfare; that is…for promoting the progress of science and useful arts…these enumerated powers we must examine and contemplate in all their extent and various branches, and then reflect, that the federal head will have full power to make all laws whatever respecting them; and for carrying into full effect all powers vested in the union, in any department, or officers of it, by the constitution, in order to see the full extent of the federal powers, which will be supreme, and exercised by that head at pleasure, conforming to the few limitations mentioned in the constitution.” [emphasis added]

 

Interestingly, both factions considered the several state governments as being either too weak or too lazy to carry out any sort of copyright enforcement, yet they differed as to whether this was fundamentally a good or bad thing; Madison saw it as an exercise in dual federalism whereas the Federal Farmer saw it as an opportunity for the national government to dangerously centralize power unto itself in that area of the law. Alas, it is almost impossible to legally challenge the constitutionality of copyright today because of the constitutional avoidance doctrine!

Stemming from its ostensible legality, Title 17 of the United States Code criminalizes copyright infringement. According to 17 USC § 506 & 18 USC § 2319, if you copy & spread copyrighted works that somehow adversely affects a person’s profits (like a multinational 14th Amendment corporation, for instance), you could be facing prison time ranging anywhere from 1 to 10 years, not counting any statutory damages and court costs incurred, of course. If you are starting to think that perhaps the federal government is highly overreacting, just wait, for it gets much worse.

Case law is quite appalling when it comes to federal copyright, as well. In the 2010 Sony Entertainment v. Tenenbaum (721 F. Supp. 2d 85) case, the appellate judge ruled:

 

“I will amend the judgment in this case to reduce the jury’s award to $2,250 for each of the thirty infringed works…[f]or an ordinary case of non-willful infringement, permissible statutory damages range from $750 to $30,000 per infringed work. 17 USC § 504(a), (c)(1).” [emphasis added]

 

Notice that while Tenenbaum ultimately got slapped for a total fine of $67,500, the amount could have been anywhere from $22,500 – $900,000, or even up to a maximum of $4.5 million on the grounds of “willful” infringement! How’s that for judicial discretion? Later that year, the Harper v. Maverick Recording Company petition for a writ of certiorari was denied. Samuel Alito, in a dissent from the United States Supreme Court’s decision, wrote:

 

“The District Court held that there were genuine issues of fact on whether she qualified as an innocent infringer, but the Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that another provision, §402(d) foreclosed the innocent-infringer defense as a matter of law…[t]he [Supreme] Court has decided not to grant review at this time, but if a conflict in the Circuits develops in the future, the question presented, in my judgment, is important enough to warrant review.”

 

Although it is true that 17 USC § 402 contains an innocent-infringer defense, §402(d) specifically says that such a defense is only given weight according to the exception in §504(c)(2), which unfortunately only applies to the remittance of statutory damages according to the fair use doctrine, provided that the accused infringer was engaged in an officially recognized non-profit capacity of some kind. In other words, the average United States citizen (all other variables being equal) is not likely to qualify as an innocent infringer, yet is quite likely to be found guilty of “non-willful” infringement! In 2012, the Sony Entertainment v. Thomas-Rasset (No. 11-2820) case truly demonized file-sharing in the court’s decision:

 

“For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that the recording companies are entitled to the remedies that they seek on appeal. The judgment of the district court is vacated, and the case is remanded with directions to enter a judgment for damages in the amount of $222,000, and to include an injunction that precludes Thomas-Rasset from making any of the plaintiffs’ recordings available for distribution to the public through an online media distribution system.”

 

Just to round out the cacophony of statism, there is currently a lawsuit underway regarding none other than the traditional “Happy Birthday” song! If there was ever a good reason to have a frothing disgust at the legal profession, this would have to be it.

Surely, there must be some economic basis for copyright, isn’t there? Kinsella explains that:

 

“Property rights are not applicable to things of infinite abundance, because there cannot be conflict over such things. Thus, property rights must have objective, discernable borders, and must be allocated in accordance with the first-occupier homesteading rule. Moreover, property rights can apply only to scarce resources. The problem with IP rights is that the ideal objects protected by IP rights are not scarce; and, further, that such property rights are not, and cannot be, allocated in accordance with the first-occupier homesteading rule…because ideas are not scarce resources in the sense that physical conflict over their use is possible, they are not the proper subject of property rights designed to avoid such conflicts.”

 

In other words, intellectual property cannot be homesteaded, therefore there cannot be any such thing as copyright. If that were true, though, wouldn’t that mean there would remain only the public domain? In such a situation whereby copyright was abolished, wouldn’t there be a noticeably increased risk of the public domain experiencing the tragedy of the commons? Or is that an unrealistic fear because Internet memes disprove the viability of intellectual property all by themselves?

What if intellectual property is nothing more than a long-running scam? Benjamin Tucker postulated there are four great monopolies that are only made possible by way of government. Regarding the last of these monopolies, Tucker said:

 

“Fourth, the patent monopoly, which consists in protecting inventors and authors against competition for a period long enough to enable them to extort from the people a reward enormously in excess of the labor measure of their services, – in other words, in giving certain people a right of property for a term of years in laws and facts of Nature, and the power to exact tribute from others for the use of this natural wealth, which should be open to all. The abolition of this monopoly would fill its beneficiaries with a wholesome fear of competition which would cause them to be satisfied with pay for their services equal to that which other laborers get for theirs, and to secure it by placing their products and works on the market at the outset of prices so low that their lines of business would be no more tempting to competitors than any other lines.”

 

Needless to say, Tucker cared less about the legality (or even constitutionality) of intellectual property, yet greatly cared about whether such a thing was inherently just or not. Eleven years later, Tucker said:

 

“For the fourth of these monopolies, however, – the patent and copyright monopoly, – a more plausible case can be presented, for the question of property in ideas is a very subtle one. The defenders of such property set up an analogy between the production of material things and the production of abstractions, and on the strength of it declare that the manufacturer of mental products, no less than the manufacturer of material products, is a laborer worthy of his hire. So far, so good. But, to make out their case, they are obliged to go further, and to claim, in violation of their own analogy, that the laborer who creates mental products, unlike the laborer who creates material products, is entitled to exemption from competition. Because the Lord, in his wisdom, or the Devil, in his malice, has so arranged matters that the inventor and the author produce naturally at a disadvantage, man, in his might, proposes to supply the divine or diabolic deficiency by an artificial arrangement that shall not only destroy this disadvantage, but actually give the inventor and author an advantage that no other laborer enjoys, – an advantage, moreover, which, in practice goes, not to the inventor and the author, but to the promoter and the publisher and the trust.”

 

Remember, Tucker considered state socialism to be any kind of central planning, or as he succinctly described its Orwellian presupposition, “the remedy for monopolies is monopoly.” He also appeared to view patents and copyright as a form of government privilege (titles of nobility, much?). Given the stakes involved here, what are the expected consequences of such a racket? Samuel Konkin (an Austrian economist) wrote in The Voluntaryist #20 that:

 

“If copyrights are such a drag, why and how did they evolve? Not by the market process. Like all privileges, they were grants of the king. The idea did not – could not – arise until Gutenberg’s printing press and it coincided with the rise of royal divinity, and soon after the onslaught of mercantilism. So who benefits from this privilege? There is an economic impact I failed to mention earlier. It is, in Bastiat’s phrasing, the unseen. Copyright is a Big publisher’s method, under cover of protecting artists, of restraint of trade. Yes, we’re talking monopoly…[b]ecause copyrights permeate all mass media. Copyright is the Rip-off That Dare Not Mention Its Name. The rot corrupting our entire communications market is so entrenched it will survive nothing short of abolition of the State and its enforcement of Copyright…[f]or if we use the ideas or repeat or reprint them, even as part of our own larger creation – bang! There goes the monopoly. And so each and every innocent viewer must be suppressed. By the Market? Hardly. The entire contractual agreement falls like a house of cards when the innocent gets his or her forbidden view. No, copyright has nothing to do with creativity, incentive, just desserts, fruits of labour, or any other element of the moral, free market. It is a creature of the State, the Vampire’s little bat. And, as far as I am concerned, the word should be copywrong.”

 

Konkin believed that copyright is intrinsic to statism, and presumably little different from tariffs or other any form of government protectionism. Suffice it to say, attempting to reconcile the neo-mercantilism of today with what the Framers constitutionally intended uncomfortably raises more questions than answers.

Probably more important than whether intellectual property established a government racket as a fait accompli, is the fact that it has become a systematic behavior for both private and public criminals to openly abuse copyright law by using it as a form of soft censorship against their victims. Malicious or fraudulent DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) claims have been filed on the most popular social networking websites. Most notoriously is the abuse of YouTube’s automated dispute resolution mechanism that requires the respondent to give out their personal information (such as their full legal name, phone number, street address, etc.) if they want to even bother challenging the copyright claim; this is most commonly done with the goal of doxing vloggers, even those who are not politically outspoken. Karen Straughan, a men’s rights activist, has explained how her copyright infringement notices were simply deceitful attempts at getting her personal information in order to stalk and harass her. Montagraph, in the aftermath of having his entire channel temporarily shut down, suggested that the coding algorithm needs to be fixed so that Google doesn’t engage in any more libel of his good name. Hell, I was slapped with two copyright infringement notices on my former YouTube channel a few years ago, so I have no love for trolls who cause such ruckus.

This abuse of copyright has led to an emerging backlash that the alternative media is just beginning to seriously pushback against. The Chilling Effects website operates as a clearing house for DMCA abuse; this is done despite YouTube’s propaganda videos, which attempt to scare people into never mirroring other channels’ videos. Thankfully, there is an effort to get out the idea that copying is not theft, but I have a hunch that’s not going to single-handedly stop the Recording Industry Association of America.

Speaking of the RIAA, they have literally embarked on a multi-year litigation campaign against so-called “Internet piracy.” The RIAA has filed lawsuits against well in excess of 18,000 people, frequently using the legal threat of copyright infringement to extort thousands of dollars in settlements. What allegedly began as an effort to enforce the federal Constitution’s Copyright Clause has now degenerated into the federal statutory code being used as a tool of soft censorship against the alternative media, as well as the American people in common.

Ultimately, what does this all mean though? Kinsella said:

 

“We see, then, that a system of property rights in ‘ideal objects’ necessarily requires violation of other individual property rights, e.g., to use one’s own tangible property as one sees fit. Such a system requires a new homesteading rule which subverts the first-occupier rule. IP, at least in the form of patent and copyright, cannot be justified. It is not surprising that IP attorneys, artists, and inventors often seem to take for granted the legitimacy of IP. However, those more concerned with liberty, truth, and rights should not take for granted the institutionalized use of force to enforce IP rights. Instead, we should assert the primacy of individual rights over our bodies and homesteaded scarce resources.” [emphasis added]

 

Put another way, Kinsella believes that the entire concept of intellectual property is foundationally antithetical to property rights in tangible things, which is then used by the government to subvert authentically homesteaded property. The fact of the matter is that the federal government has failed to delineate where the point of entry is regarding the dissemination of information from the private to the public realm, in accordance with the Copyright Clause. This is demonstrated by the fact that federal copyright law (Title 17 of the United States Code) arbitrarily violates the right of contract when they penalize citizens for even non-willful “copyright infringement.” Considering the profit motives of the RIAA, it would seem that the protectionism that both Tucker and Konkin warned us about have fully blossomed into the cacophony of statism many suffer under today. Not only that, but the corporate whore mainstream media is using the (now) victimless crime of “copyright infringement” as a form of soft censorship against the alternative media, so they can try to shut out competition by regaining some control of the social narrative.

Can anything be done to challenge this monopoly on the expressive dissemination of ideas? Well, there are two overall strategies I can perceive – a legalistic strategy, and a civil disobedience strategy. The former would involve such tactics as pushing forward an emergent society from within the shell of the old by not only consuming public domain and Creative Commons licensed media, but also by producing original content that is released as such (like I have done with my blog). Parallel legalistic tactics would be what I would like to call the “manumission of copyright,” that is, purchasing the copyright directly from the copyright holder, and then releasing that newly purchased copyright into the public domain. Coupling these tactics with a firm adherence to the Fair Use doctrine are options that can be utilized in order to completely sidestep the copyright monopoly.

Civil disobedience, like all other counter-economic activities, necessarily entails abiding by the principle of trading risk for profit. According to the Stanford Report back in 2004:

 

“An estimated 70 million people engage in online file sharing, much of it illegal…[Stanford law professor Deborah] Rhode cited a survey of 16- to 28-year-olds who engage in illegal downloading that showed that although most were aware that they were engaging in illegal behavior, only 16 percent considered their actions morally wrong.”

 

More likely than not, the reason why 84% of those surveyed teenagers and twenty-somethings did not consider their illegal actions to be also immoral is because they intuitively understood that mala prohibita is not the same as mala in se. Precautionary measures such as using sneakernets and/or darknets, as well as obscuring your IP address, are all techniques that could lower the risk of prosecution. Assuming those measures have been taken, counter-economic activities such as digitizing and distributing published books, burning and distributing mixtape CDs, and editing and distributing DVD film collages are all ways to take direct action against the copyright monopoly, if you were so inclined. Of course, as with all forms of civil disobedience, it is absolutely necessary to have a firm security culture in place before any direct actions occur.

Stephan Kinsella’s Against Intellectual Property is an introductory work on the foundational premises of the copyright monopoly as it is today. Although I may find Kinsella’s credibility suspect because he is an intellectual property attorney himself, perhaps there is some degree of truth in specific details of the arguments he makes. All I know is that following the aftermath of the Ron Paul.com copyright scandal, I’m a bit hesitant to become an obnoxious advocate for the free marketplace of ideas, especially in mainline libertarian circles, but I figured this was the ideal opportunity to address the problem of the copyright monopoly, and more importantly, the options currently available to deal with them. I will leave you with the following bullet-point list of Wikipedia articles and other webpages that present options for you to engage in pushback against the copyright monopoly, if for no other reason than as a demonstration of just how widespread this attempted censorship of the alternative media has been over the pass several years:

How to Question an Aspiring Politician

[Download a PDF of this article]

If you haven’t yet read the transcript and debrief report of my “confrontation” with Judge Matthew Monforton, please do so before continuing. This article is, more or less, the concluding installment to my trilogy about aspiring minarchist politicians.

 

 

Both the Tea Partier and Occupying “movements” alike have inculcated the notion into the majority of American political dissidents that it is somehow possible or even desirable to financially support and vote for grassroots candidates. Setting aside the efficacy of running for public office, the mainline electoral process can still be used as a pivotal educational moment if the opportunity to seize it is taken. It also serves the function of outing the closeted statists, thereby rendering a very public ostracism of these Volksdeutschers as a truly viable option.

In much the same way the Under One Banner petition does, questioning aspiring politicians is a highly effective way to demonstrate to yourself that reformism consistently fails to secure your liberty; however, in order for this to be effective, you must do it correctly. To begin doing so, you must first decide on a perspective to approach from; consider what Christopher Cantwell has said about elections:

 

“When you hear candidates running for office and promising to get the government off your back and punish whoever it is you think is responsible for your problems, remember that this person is just trying to convince you to let them be your new master; and when people try to convince you to run for office, and you get to thinking that you can get the government off of my back, remember that I don’t accept you as my master, and when you call yourself ‘master,’ I don’t care how many people voted for you, I call you ‘enemy.’ ”

 

In other words, the aspiring politician is also a wannabe ruler, so your entire demeanor towards him should be chosen by you ahead of time, in order to ensure the best chance of success; namely, getting him to admit something revealing (what some people would refer to as “giving him enough rope to hang himself with”).

I would suggest that your behavior emulate that of Anna Rau, Frank Miele, and Mike Dennison, who were the three panelists during the 2014 Montanan U.S. Senate debates. Their questions were written ahead of time and calmly asked without talking over or otherwise interrupting the candidates. Although their questions were rather mainstream in content, they were pithy and to the point, even when they gave a brief explanatory sentence or two before asking the actual question.

What I’m advising y’all to do is that you ask questions of an aspiring politician like a journalist at a debate, not like the other callers on last week’s broadcast of The Montana Republic that Judge Monforton had to suffer through. Preferably, you should ask questions that are phrased and (if you can ask more than one) ordered in such a manner that transcends the left-right paradigm. Never get tempted or tricked into talking about yourself at any real length; keep the focus on the wannabe ruler, because that way, he’s the one stuck pushing a wheelbarrow loaded with rocks up a hill, as it were.

Questioning a politician is also similar to a police interrogation, except that the roles are reversed. The goal here is to elicit a confession from the aspiring politician that he is inimical to the cause of Liberty in some way; if he is even slightly intelligent, he will avoid making any definitive statements one way or another, unless he assumes a particular one is “safe” enough to do so, but only if the audience lets him get away with it. For instance, it is now public knowledge that Judge Monforton:

 

  • Supports most of the GOP platform,
  • Believes that some vices are crimes (including narcotics prohibition),
  • Supports the infringement upon the natural right to travel by way of government licensure,
  • Abhors the competitive privatization of the Montana judiciary (which forces litigants to pay its monopoly prices in the form of “court costs”), and
  • Is hesitant about either delegitimizing the federal government or abolishing the Montanan government.

 

If you decide to listen to the entirety of that podcast episode, how many of the other callers do you think were even half as successful in getting Monforton to admit as much whenever they weren’t pontificating or being unnecessarily rude?

To be clear, there is a noticeable difference between a career politician and his grassroots challenger. Incumbents usually have no interest in talking with individual citizens, whereas aspirants to a political throne are more than happy to chat up the public, much like Rand Paul did. Of course, you should never forget that successful aspirants eventually become career politicians, thus perpetuating the warfarewelfare state.

The sharper knives in the drawer will probably realize at this point that I am endorsing the method of questioning aspiring politicians, despite the fact that I have previously decried the technique of “confrontations” as simply a variant of filming government employees. Let me put that concern to rest by reminding everyone that such “confrontations” were defined as questioning career politicians about things they had already done. I only titled my debrief report on Monforton as such in jest not only of WeAreChumps, but also in jest of Monforton’s previous government job as one of those flowing black-robed men.

Remember, it also helps to ask questions of an aspiring politician regarding topics that are never permitted to be asked in the mainstream media that he would likely have influence over, should he be elected. Just remember to keep the questions appropriate to the public office he is seeking, lest you be disregarded as some nut. If you keep in mind that all these elections are, at most, simply a changing of the guard by the bar attorneys in terms of what oppressive roles they will now play, then you can focus exclusively on how a particular one of them intends to oppress you. Who knows? Perhaps with that kind of publicly acknowledged heads up, maybe enough time can be bought to implement a workaround of some kind that would render their specific despotism irrelevant.

After-Action (Debrief) Report on the Judge Monforton “Confrontation”

Opportunities to directly challenge the Establishment exist, if you know where to look. Of course, it should not be ignored that doing so cedes at least some of your individual privacy, but if you are willing to accept the necessary tradeoffs, then you just need to prepare for the specific task at hand. Determine your goal ahead of time, and keep your methods in accordance with that goal; in other words, don’t allow yourself to get sidetracked.

 

Monforton_outside

 

Exactly a week ago today, I called into The Montana Republic hosted by William Wolf on BlogTalkRadio.com during his interview of Judge Matthew Monforton, who is an aspiring politician campaigning for the District 69 seat within the Montana legislature’s House of Representatives. The judge’s awfully candid remarks to the questions I posed deserve to be analyzed, and in preparation for doing just that, I have transcribed both my questions and his answers as a preparatory aid to this report. I would also recommend you first listen to the two segments within the podcast according to the transcript’s time stamps (preferably as you read along to the transcript) before you continue reading any further. The rest of this article will be based on the presumption that you have familiarized yourself with what occurred.

Judge Monforton’s honesty was not only refreshing, but also deeply disturbing to me on a number of levels. Firstly, not only does he fail to reject the party politics that the Founders warned us against, but he goes further to endorse the platform of the Republican Party (hereafter referred to as the GOP, mainly because they are the anti-thesis of both classical and American republicanism). Here are some of the more hypocritical platform positions the GOP takes:

 

  • They claim to be fiscally conservative, yet they want more military spending in order to murder even more foreigners who have caused us no harm whatsoever.
  • They claim to want to defend marriage, yet they assume it’s the prerogative of government to license marriage in the first place.
  • They claim to defend the southern border, yet they persist in outlawing certain narcotics, which creates an environment for the Mexican cartels to distribute their products at highly inflated prices to the citizenry, a growing segment of whom are eventually incarcerated in increasingly overcrowded government dungeons.

 

As you can no doubt tell, I am certainly no fan of the GOP, or how they (or their police goons) treated grassroots activists during the 2004 Republican National Convention (specifically, at Pier 57) and the Ron Paul delegates during the 2012 RNC, so please excuse me if I am just a tad perturbed at Judge Monforton’s sober adherence to a platform drafted by a blatantly Big Government political party.

Secondly, Monforton appears to believe in the monopolization of government law. The judge admitted that most of the cases he handled within the City of Bozeman (Montana) were a combination of, as he said, “DUIs, traffic related incidents, or misdemeanor domestic violence cases.” He also said that the militarization of police throughout the country, regardless of its constitutionality, is certainly problematic, although he claims he has not seen any evidence of arrest or conviction quotas. Further, Monforton believes that some vices are crimes, and as such, the “criminal hammer” must be brought down against addicts in drug courts as some sort of rehabilitation technique. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the judge is not favorable or even interested in repealing any of Montana’s traffic statutes. To top off this soufflé of statism, Monforton is against the privatization on the production of arbitration services as a replacement for the judiciary.

Thirdly, he seems conflicted about whether to legally delegitimize or abolish either the federal or Montana governments. When I asked him about whether he’d be interested in introducing a bill in the Montana legislature (as some New Hampshire legislators did last year) that would recognize the ratification of the Titles of Nobility Amendment, Monforton plead ignorance, despite admitting earlier he was a prosecutor for several years. Upon finally asking him whether he’d be inclined to support any effort to constitutionally abolish the Montana government (as per Article II § 2 of their constitution), he prefers reform, unless that government “is completely out of control and acting in a completely lawless fashion,” but that is not the current situation, as he sees it.

Please understand, I am not insinuating that Judge Monforton is somehow duplicitous; quite the contrary, if anything. If he were accused of being overly friendly with the enemy rebel government, it would be due largely to the fact that he is very open about doing so. Whether he is, or not, is not my place to say within the context of this report. Truth be told, many of the patriots become reformists because they see it as the best strategy to take with regards to securing our Liberties. Useful idiots, perhaps, but not definitive proof of being controlled opposition. Anyone who over-generalizes by claiming that all reformists are (undercover?) government agents fails to retain any sort of credibility, and certainly deserves neither your time nor your money. The last thing any of us need is more divisive internal balkanization.

What I will say here is that, without a doubt, Judge Monforton is a reformist, and this is consistent with his bid for that District 69 seat within the Montana House of Representatives. My only goal for calling-in was not to recklessly smear the judge, but to gauge the degree to which he is willing to oppress Montanans as a legislator, for anyone who seeks such a political office in this day and age is there to either grow or shrink government. No outlandish conspiracy is needed, just an unmitigated lust for power is all that is required to turn the institutionalized coercion of police, law, and even the military against the hapless citizenry. What many patriots fail to realize is that the most pernicious abuses of power lay not in the most obtuse backdoor deals, but in the daily tyrannies routinely committed against Americans right out in the open; consider Lysander Spooner’s analogy of the highwayman (traffic stop, much?).

I literally do not care about elections, so why did I bother questioning a candidate for the Montana legislature? It seemed to me to be an opportunity to demonstrate to Wolf and his listenership that if Monforton is the best that reformism can offer them, then (I argue) they should be less than impressed; disgusted would be ideal. Hell, for all they know, Monforton’s opponent could easily rig the election and no one would be the wiser. Even if the voter fraud was never made any easier than what used to be done with paper ballots, the latest social science research indicates that voters are literally incompetent when it comes to making coercively binding political decisions. The farce that is modern electoral representative democracy should be tossed into the refuse bin, at least until such time that these American governments have been constitutionally restored or abolished.

In summation, I think that Judge Monforton is sincere in his desire to restore constitutional government in Montana, but I know his method of running for a legislative seat is completely misguided. On the off chance he is successfully elected, what chance does he realistically have in toppling the entrenched bureaucracy that persecutes innocent men like Ernie Tertelgte? I sincerely wish Judge Monforton all the best, but I hope he begins to see through the fog of illusion to the nature of the situation we are all suffering under, for I am not asking him to instantly transform into a libertarian, but to immediately stop working within the system. Some conservatives have withdrawn from reformism, usually by becoming survivalists, and I think that if the judge were to pursue a similar course, I think he could become quite an good ally to the cause of liberty, if only by starving Leviathan of his own energy and support. One more government employee who has decided he is “going Galt” is one less government employee perpetuating the most dangerous superstition of authority itself.

Partial Transcript of the Judge Monforton “Confrontation”

The following is a partial transcript of a series of questions I was able to ask Judge Matthew Monforton on August 5th of 2014. This “confrontation” is available as a free downloadable podcast, courtesy of The Montana Republic (the clarifying statements of the host, William Wolf, have been omitted from this transcript for the sake of brevity).

 

Judge Matthew Monforton

 

“The answer to that is yes, I do believe that some vices are crimes…[d]rug courts have a pretty good track record of being able to rehabilitate folks and get them off dangerous drugs, but the way those drug courts function, really the only way they can function, is if there is a criminal hammer that can drop down on people if they don’t do what they need to do to get their lives straightened out.”

[Download PDF]

How to Roleplay a Police Interrogation

[Download a PDF of this article]

As the cancer of Big Government exponentially increases, so too does the frequency of direct contact with its employees. Whether that contact occurs in the form of a traffic stop, an airport security checkpoint, or as an armed raid on your home, deliberately avoiding the police as a way of life is not sufficient anymore in preserving whatever scraps of freedom you have left. Therefore, the most useful political skill any American can learn is how to successfully navigate the labyrinth of a police interrogation, with the singular goal of emerging from it as minimally harmed as possible.

 

 

Larken Rose was absolutely correct when he predicted that the most common response he’d receive from the public towards his question of When Should You Shoot a Cop? revealed most alarmingly just to what lengths many taxpayers will go to justify the initiation of violence by police against their fellow citizens. These cop groupies have openly advocated for the theft, kidnapping, and even murder of anyone who politely suggests that American citizens still retain their natural right of self-defense, even against those men who wear blue costumes adorned with shiny jewelry. I mention this only to illustrate the depth of indoctrination and social conditioning these propagandized individuals have been subjected to since their earliest years, besides my contention that it would be reasonable to infer that these cop groupies would also be predisposed to be the same people that, when serving as jurors, will tend to lend more credence towards anything a police officer says rather than any exculpatory evidence presented in court.

Remember the second sentence from the Miranda warning?:

 

“Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”

 

Well, if that’s true, then let’s extrapolate a bit here. If you say a lot, a lot can be used against you; if you say little, then little can be used against you. Thus, if you say nothing, then nothing can be used against you; so, it would make sense to say as little as possible, if anything at all.

What you are dealing with here in your encounters with the police is essentially a legalistic flytrap. Talking to the police automatically creates an expert witness against you, and anything you tell them cannot be used as exculpatory, usually because of how the rules of evidence are written. Both Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(A) & Texas Rule of Evidence 801(e)(2)(A) say:

 

“A statement is not hearsay if the statement is offered against a party and is the party’s own statement, in either an individual or a representative capacity.”

 

This is precisely why it’s the wisest course to say nothing, deny nothing, and give them nothing to work with; it’s also the same reason why it is utterly foolish to make statements, no matter how innocent they appear. Remember the following adage:

 

“The master asks the questions, and the servant answers them.”

 

Are you the master or the servant during a police encounter? This question is answered by your own behavior, so act accordingly. If you remember nothing else, then remember to never make statements, and only ask questions. Rephrase your statements in the form of a question if you must, but never admit to anything, if you can help it (I understand this is rather difficult if the questions posed to you are seemingly innocuous ones, such as during a traffic stop when the officer is asking whether the address on your driver’s license is your current one, but if you do answer such questions, keep in mind he is also trying to get a baseline reading on you, which he could use later during the encounter to manipulate you).

Why should you learn how to handle yourself during a police interrogation at all? Law enforcement officers are neither your friend nor your enemy, necessarily, but rather your adversary, much like an opponent who wants to “win” a situation, as if it were a game (albeit, a rather serious one). Police enjoy the sanctioned ability to infringe on your freedom by tricking you into waiving your liberties, typically by relying on your ignorance of them.

Asserting your civil rights is a form of insurance. Should you genuinely be culpable for some action you committed, then perhaps the extent of your punishment could be mitigated somewhat. Even if you presume you’re totally innocent, politely yet firmly asserting those rights acts as a legal shield that could help you, whether immediately on the street or later in court (this is assuming, of course, that the judiciary bothers to follow the limitations imposed by the applicable constitution and jurisdictional venue governing your case).

Despite the legal maxim that ignorantia juris non excusat, not even the cops themselves know what the laws comprehensively say, which is why they rely on the lawyers. Officers rely solely on their police training while they go about enforcing the law. Therefore, in order to preserve your own freedom, keep yourself focused on task, namely, refusing searches, confessing nothing, and asking whether you are free to leave in peace.

Some people erroneously believe that the techniques of resisting interrogation many guerrillas train for are ineffective and a waste of time for the average civilian. Jan Karski, an operative for the Polish Underground during World War II, explained in his autobiography, Story of a Secret State, how the actual practice of surviving the National Socialist occupation favored (perhaps counter-intuitively), on average, Polish partisans rather than the average Polish citizen. Karski said:

 

“In June 1940, the Germans staged a manhunt in the streets of Warsaw and seized about twenty thousand people who were taken to three large police stations where they were searched, questioned, and had their documents verified…[a]ll those whose documents were not in perfect order, who could not give a satisfactory account of their ancestry, employment, and political sympathies, or could not clear themselves of charges made against them, were sent to concentration camps…[w]e later learned that about one hundred members of the Underground were caught in this raid. They were, without a single exception, promptly released. Every one of those had his documents in perfect order, could prove his occupation, and supply a satisfactory account of his personal history. Every one had ready answers to every question that were asked of him and impressed the police by his clear, straightforward, and unhesitating manner.”

 

Notice how those individuals who had prepared ahead of time to deal with the police were the best able to mitigate any harm that could be levied against them. The lesson to take away from this is that even if you are not an American political dissident of any kind, it would still serve your own self-interest to learn how to handle yourself during a police encounter. Just because you may be a sycophantic statist does not therefore mean you automatically enjoy immunity from prosecution, because, quite frankly, everyone is a potential target for harassment by any LEO, at any time, for any reason.

Why can role-playing police interrogations train you to better navigate the quagmire of an actual encounter? Simply giving you formulas is a necessary yet insufficient preparation, because without a working knowledge on how to apply those formulas to a variety of circumstances, such formulas might as well be strictly theoretical instead of also being practical. The idea behind role-playing is to take abstract concepts and make them as realistically concrete as possible, because that is where the true understanding actually takes place. A fabricated experience is still better than a classroom lecture any day of the week.

To get an initial idea on how role-playing these encounters are to be conducted, you may wish to watch the workshop seminar the East Atlanta Copwatch put on last year, or the more scripted scenarios presented by FlexYourRights. Pay attention to how they conduct debriefs of each scenario, and then redo each one, this time avoiding all the mistakes while performing the actions that best asserts their rights. Reliable formulas I’ve seen repeated in these and other similar role-player training videos are:

 

  • Project a calm demeanor
  • Never consent to any searches
  • Determine if you are being detained, under arrest, or are free to go.
  • Alternate between asking questions and being silent in response to questions.
  • Don’t run.
  • Never lie to the officer, even inadvertently.
  • Don’t physically touch the officer.
  • Lawyer-up

 

In accordance with these behavioral guidelines, there are what some call “magic words” you should use, depending on how the interrogation is proceeding. A sample include:

 

  • “Am I being detained?”
  • “Am I under arrest?”
  • “Am I free to go?”
  • “What is the nature of the intended detention?”
  • “What crime am I suspected of having committed?”
  • “Who accuses me of committing a crime?”
  • “Officer, what is your probable cause that I may have committed a crime?”
  • “Am I obligated to tell you that?”
  • “Is that an order?”
  • “Officer, I do not consent to any searches.”
  • “I have nothing to say.”
  • “I wish to have an attorney present during all further questioning.”

 

The last three are really the only valid exceptions to the adage I mentioned earlier, because refusing consent, remaining silent, and lawyering up are all civil rights that too many people recklessly waive that would have otherwise, more likely than not, have made the difference between having a criminal record and not having one (or at least, a less severe one).

How does one go about role-playing a police interrogation? At the very minimum, you need one other person who is willing to role-play with you. Props and costumes are helpful in establishing roles, as are verbiage, tone of voice, and body language. Although it is preferable to conduct such role-playing in person, it is also possible to do so only audibly, such as by telephone or VoIP (which negates body language and eye contact, but focuses more on vocal tremors and linguistic content).

What are the “rules of engagement” during such role-playing? The two principle role-players are the Gendarmerie Cop and Joe (or Jane) Civilian; the goal of the Gendarmerie Cop is to get Joe Civilian to admit to doing something “illegal,” whereas the goal of Joe Civilian is to survive the interrogation without confessing. The Gendarmerie Cop may physically intimidate Joe Civilian (such as by shining a light in his face, closing bodily distance, or raising his voice), but he is never allowed to physically touch Joe Civilian (no shoving, frisking, or tackling); this is done for the common sense safety of both role-players (besides, actual cops manhandle enough innocent people as it is). Joe Civilian scores “points” for not giving out any personal information (such as his full legal name, physical or mailing address, Social Security number, or any alibi); by contrast, Joe Civilian gets “demerits” if he lies to the Gendarmerie Cop.

Role-players should brainstorm a variety of scenarios, drafting them up ahead of time (as needed), and letting the individual who’s playing the cop for that particular round decide the situational context for the encounter. Agree on a safe word ahead of time to pause the role-play, just in case of an unavoidable interruption (but not for the sake of the civilian role-player becoming uncomfortable, because acclimatizing to the emotional pressure is one of the chief reasons for role-playing police interrogations in the first place). Always hold a post-roleplay debriefing and discuss what was learned, as well as what was done right and wrong by everybody involved in the scenario.

More advanced interrogation role-playing should at least include 2 or 3 Gendarmerie Cops trying to trip up Joe Civilian, if not also more serious charges looming over the civilian’s head, more aggressively despotic cop tactics, or even the addition of another civilian to introduce a prisoner’s dilemma element to the scenario. I remember a few years back when I and a few other guys were role-playing via VoIP, and we were taking turns being cops and civilians. One scenario’s locale was at a police station, where I was getting double-teamed by two cops, ostensibly at first for what they seemed to be implying that I was aiding and abetting, which was then quickly escalated into concealment of evidence. My fellow role-players decided to up the ante by then insinuating that because they had an eyewitness who claimed I had been visibly angry at a woman I didn’t know who was currently recovering in the local hospital, as well as the call log from the beaten woman’s cellular telephone, that I was looking at a potential attempted murder charge if I didn’t start “cooperating” with their investigation! Needless to say, I stuck to my guns, and after another several minutes of relentless questioning, my buddies ended the scenario by telling me I was cleared of all suspicion; everyone else who was part of the conference call that evening congratulated me on a job well done.

I would like to take a moment here and acknowledge the indispensable contributions made by the modern state citizens when it came to their innovative approaches to handling police encounters. Believe it or not, it was these state citizens who were, to my knowledge, among the very first political dissidents to create, develop, and refine the techniques and strategies for how to deal with the cops, which (ironically) for them was really more as a stepping stone to litigating in court. It wasn’t until other people came along and focused solely on police interrogations did role-playing become as popular as it is today.

In addition to role-playing police interrogations, it couldn’t hurt for you to learn some rudimentary negotiation skills. A collection of Michael Gibson’s simulations are featured on Newgrounds that are free to play, besides the other free demos on ZAP Dramatic (if you were willing, you could also pay a nominal membership fee to play the entire archive). Should you be interested, there are also free demos of Gibson’s otherwise $300 online negotiation course you may want to try out before making a decision on whether to invest in it. Granted, although most of Gibson’s simulations are not in the context of a police encounter, I see no reason why some of the tactics you learned from the other negotiation scenarios couldn’t be transferred over or otherwise incorporated into your role-playing repertoire, as appropriate.

Two other tools deserve mentioning here. One is a digital audio recorder, for reasons I have written about before, and the other would be the infamous “Assert Your Rights” card. Although some have recommended taping role-players as an educational tool with which to review their performance, I’m a bit hesitant to suggest the same for three reasons; namely, its true educational value, its function as a prop, and the likely potential for abuse, even if only inadvertent. The whole point of role-playing police interrogations is to do so live and in the moment, and the debriefs are done the same way only for the benefit of the participants; records are only necessary if you need some evidence of proving something in the future (and as a prop, you could substitute a different object and use sound effects). Besides the technical considerations of download, printing, and laminating a Fifth Amendment card, what is the point of role-playing police interrogations if all you have to do is hand a “magical” card over to the officer? My advice is for you to treat your digital audio recorder the same as you would a firearm, and only rely on the Assert Your Rights card more as a last minute refresher before the interrogation actually begins rather than as a flimsy backup should other techniques backfire.

Police encounters are downright scary, and almost nothing can truly prepare you for the throbbing in your ears or the shortness of breath you will likely experience. You are coming face-to-face with a socialized mercenary who literally holds the coercive power of life and death in his hands, so such an interrogation is not to be taken lightly or rushed. Only by coming to terms with this tyranny by realizing it can very much reach out and touch you are you truly ready to begin dealing with it as a responsible adult. If you can’t do something as basic as surviving a police encounter relatively unscathed, then you have no business litigating pro se in court, either. The more you act as the “grey man,” the better off you’ll be; keep in mind too that police are legally permitted to lie to suspects, but the reverse situation is considered a criminal offense as a false statement. I’ll leave you with what Officer George Bruch of the Virginia Beach Police Department told a law school class several years ago:

 

“When I record a confession or an interview, because we don’t do interrogations, the police, we do not do interrogations. That’s a bad, mean, Nazi kinda word, ok? We do interviews. You’d be amazed how much difference it makes when you use that one word versus interrogation.”

Must “Legally” Defined

The following definitions for “must” are taken from Ballantine’s Law Dictionary (3rd edition) & and Webster’s Dictionary (1828):

 

 

 (Ballantine’s)

Indicating compulsion. Ordinarily a mandatory word. [50 Am J1st Stat § 28]. In a statute, calling for substantial rather than literal compliance [Herron v. Harbour, 75 Okla 127, 182 P 243, 29 ALR 905 (statute prescribing the form of an acknowledgment)].

A statutory provision may be directory, rather than mandatory, in nature, notwithstanding use of the word “must.” [(ND) 75 NW2d 313, 55 ALR2d 1049]

 

(Webster’s)

MUST, v.i.

  1. To be obliged; to be necessitated. It expresses both physical and moral necessity.
  • A man must eat for nourishment, and he must sleep for refreshment.
  • We must submit to the laws or be exposed to punishment.
  • A bill in a legislative body must have three readings before it can pass to be enacted.
  1. It expresses moral fitness or propriety, as necessary or essential to the character or end proposed.
  • “Deacons must be grave,” “a bishop must have a good report of them that are without.” 1 Tim. 3

 

MUST, n. [L. mustum; Heb. to ferment]

New wine; wine pressed from the grape but not fermented.

 

MUST, v.t.

To make moldy and sour.

 

MUST, v.i.

To grow moldy and sour; to contract a fetid smell.