A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Wall of Fame Assholes’ Category

The Human Capacity for Self-Deception

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It’s common upon hearing news of an individual committing some kind of atrocity to wonder how they ever brought themselves to do it. It’s also common to act rather indignant when that individual argues that their heinous act was actually for the great good because it’s automatically assumed that they’re lying to protect their own skin. However, humans have a marvelous capacity for self-deception as demonstrated by classified documents revealed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):

One of the most important lessons of the CIA’s torture program is the way it corrupted virtually every individual and institution associated with it. Over the years, we have learned how lawyers twisted the law and psychologists betrayed their ethical obligations in order to enable the brutal and unlawful torture of prisoners.

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Perhaps the most striking element of the document is the CIA doctors’ willful blindness to the truth of what they were doing. CIA doctors decided that waterboarding actually “provided periodic relief” to a prisoner because it was a break from days of standing sleep deprivation. Similarly, CIA doctors decided that when a different prisoner was stuffed into a coffin-sized box, this provided a “relatively benign sanctuary” from other torture methods. CIA doctors described yet another prisoner — who cried, begged, pleaded, vomited, and required medical resuscitation after being waterboarded — as “amazingly resistant to the waterboard.” Incredibly, CIA doctors concluded that the torture program was “reassuringly free of enduring physical or psychological effects.”

This reminds me of a quote from Rudolf Diels, Himmler’s predecessor:

The infliction of physical punishment is not every man’s job, and naturally we were only too glad to recruit men who were prepared to show no squeamishness at their task. Unfortunately, we knew nothing about the Freudian side of the business, and it was only after a number of instances of unnecessary flogging and meaningless cruelty that I tumbled to the fact that my organization had been attracting all the sadists in Germany and Austria without my knowledge for some time past. It had also been attracting unconscious sadists, i.e. men who did not know themselves that they had sadist leanings until they took part in a flogging. And finally it had actually been creating sadists. For it seems that corporal chastisement ultimately arouses sadistic leanings in apparently normal men and women. Freud might explain it.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was likely looking for particular sorts of individuals to staff its prison camps. Namely individuals who weren’t squeamish in the presence of torture. Moreover, the CIA likely attracted many unconscious sadists who didn’t really know why they found the job description appealing. And the agency was almost certainly creating sadists by putting individuals in increasingly more sadistic positions that eventually desensitized them to the jobs that they were doing.

People who like to inflict physical pain generally don’t need to justify their actions to themselves. But what about the unconscious sadists and those who were perfectly normal before taking a job at a CIA prison camp? They likely had some difficulty sleeping at night… at first. Oftentimes when an individual’s actions bother their conscious they try to justify their actions to themselves. “I wasn’t torturing him, I as providing periodic relief by giving him a break from forced sleep deprivation!” “The methods used to interrogate these individuals don’t leave enduring physical or psychological effects so is it really that harmful?” “If we don’t use these methods, we won’t be able to find out the information we need in time to save lives!” Eventually most people are able to convince themselves that what they did was good and they are able to sleep soundly at night. Through this method a seemingly well adjusted individual can perform heinous acts and truly believe that what they’re doing is actually a good thing.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 15th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Risking Lives to Enforce Petty Offenses

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There’s no offense so petty that law enforcers won’t risk lives to enforce it:

In Bloomington, police topped 90 miles per hour in a chase to nab a driver whose car had a missing license plate.

In nearby Eagan, an officer reached speeds up to 107 miles per hour in hopes of catching a driver wanted for shoplifting.

State troopers chased a car at 115 miles per hour after spotting an air-freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror.

Over the last three years, law enforcement officers throughout Minnesota have overwhelmingly engaged in high-speed, high-risk chases for low-level offenses, a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation has found.

An examination of more than 700 court cases since 2016 shows police officers, deputies and Minnesota State Patrol troopers chased drivers for non-violent offenses 95 percent of the time.

Not only is risking lives to enforce petty offenses far riskier than the payoff justifies but high speed chases are also unnecessary in a surveillance state.

Law enforcement departments throughout the country have invested heavily in surveillance technologies. Many cities are now covered with license plate scanners and those scanners are often sophisticated enough to identify the make and model of a vehicle as well as to uniquely identify a vehicle by bumper stickers and other external features. It’s quickly becoming impossible to evade law enforcement using a vehicle. This means that instead of engaging in a high speed chase, law enforcers could instead tell dispatch to track the vehicle using the expensive surveillance technology already in place. The suspect can still be arrested and innocent bystanders don’t have to be put at risk to do it.

But using tracking technology doesn’t offer the adrenaline rush that engaging in a high speed chase does so I can see why that option isn’t utilized very often.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 15th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Go Be Homeless Somewhere Else

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Minneapolis made national news because of its Hooverville. What didn’t get as much headline attention is St. Paul’s Hooverville. Fortunately for the government of St. Paul (but unfortunately for the homeless individuals) the lack of national attention has meant that it has more freedom to deal with its homeless encampment. The St. Paul Police Department distributed flyers that informed the individuals in the encampment that have to go be homeless somewhere else:

Late last week, St. Paul city officials said they were increasingly worried about how the onset of wintry weather was affecting a camp of homeless people at the base of Cathedral Hill, and hoped to come up with a plan for them over the next couple weeks.

Early Tuesday morning, they took action: police officers and workers from the Department of Safety and Inspections visited the encampment alongside Interstate 35E and handed out fliers.

“To protect your health and safety,” the flier told campers, “this site will be permanently cleared at 10 a.m. on Thursday, November 15th. You are required to vacate the site and not return.”

To protect their health and safety their community will dismantled and their meager possession will be taken if not cleared out by the deadline. Makes sense.

The flyers do promise the homeless individuals transportation to the handful homeless shelters in the area, which will appease the residents of St. Paul who want the homeless people gone but in a manner that won’t upset their conscious. However, if the homeless shelters were able to provide these individuals what they need, they probably would be using them instead of camping in tents in the winter. The homeless shelters in the Twin Cities are overcrowded and usually kick guests out in the morning so they have to find somewhere to hunker down until the shelter opens up again. But none of this matters because the existence of the shelters is only being mentioned on the flyers to make the act of destroying the encampment appear magnanimous.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 15th, 2018 at 10:00 am

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

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A fight breaks out in a bar and results in four individuals being shot. One of the suspects flees but the armed security guard at the bar manages to catch him and pin him down. He calls the police and when the police arrive they see that there is an armed black man. Can you guess what happens next? Exactly what you would expect… from the old slave patrols:

An armed security guard at a bar in suburban Chicago was killed by police as he detained a suspected gunman, according to officials and witnesses.

After gunfire erupted around 04:00 local time on Sunday, Jemel Roberson, 26, chased down an attacker and knelt on his back until police arrived.

Moments after police came on the scene, an officer opened fire on Roberson, who was black, killing him.

Law enforcers in this United States have a tendency to dislike unarmed black men so it should be no surprise that they also have no tolerance for armed black men, even when they do a law enforcer’s job for them by detaining a suspect.

Government Helping the Homeless Again

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The Kansas City Health Department discovered that a group of individuals were feeding the homeless and decided to step in and help those poor homeless individuals in the only way it knows how:

A coordinated wave of Kansas City Health Department inspectors simultaneously shut down large picnics across the city Sunday that were serving food to homeless and hungry people.

On Monday, a city health official said they trashed the food out of concern for public safety.

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It looked ugly Sunday. Home-cooked chili, stacks of foil-wrapped sandwiches, vats of soup and other food prepared by volunteers with Free Hot Soup Kansas City were dumped in bags and soaked in bleach to make sure no one went back to try to recover it.

Homeless individuals can’t get food poisoning if they starve to death!

Despite what health officials claim, this has nothing to do with concern for the homeless. This has everything to do with making the lives of homeless individuals so miserable that they have no choice but to go somewhere else. If they’re forced out of the city, city officials can claim that they solved the homeless problem and the morons who are gullible enough to believe bureaucrats will assume that all of the homeless individuals were given homes or otherwise provided for.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 9th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Obedience School

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To open with one of St. George Carlin’s best monologues:

There’s a reason for this, there’s a reason education sucks, and it’s the same reason it will never ever ever be fixed.

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They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fuckin’ years ago. They don’t want that. You know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it.

The public schooling system here in the United States has nothing to do with education. Whatever education a child may receive is merely accidental. What the public schooling system is meant to do is create obedient subjects:

Late Friday afternoon, I received a notice from the Plano Independent School District, which runs the middle school our youngest daughter attends in Dallas, describing a new policy authorizing “random, suspicion-less metal detector searches” of students in grades 6 through 12. The district plans to use “both walk-through and hand-held metal detectors” on “random groups of students,” who will be required to “remove all metallic items from their pockets and person.” In addition, “backpacks, bags and personal items capable of concealing a weapon will be opened and inspected for the presence of weapons.” Any student “who refuses to comply with the search process will be removed from campus and subject to disciplinary consequences.”

Most students are subjected to a civics class where the Bill of Rights is explained. One may worry that learning about something like the Fourth Amendment may convince a student that they have protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, which is why the students are also taught that the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply to them. When I was in school the line was that since we weren’t yet adults, the Bill of Rights didn’t apply to us. The school mentioned in the article has opted to go with a more demonstrative strategy by subjecting students to completely random searches.

The end goal is to create a population that believes it is free without actually being free. After these students graduate they will be used to rolling over for random searches so when law enforcers demand that they submit, the vast majority of them will without question.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 24th, 2018 at 10:30 am

It’s What Jesus Would Want

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One of the most interesting species on Earth is the American pseudo-Christian. Unlike Christians who have come to their beliefs through rigorous study of theology, the American pseudo-Christian generally hasn’t even read the book that they claim is the source of their beliefs. Whereas the Christian regularly attends some form of service and/or Bible study, the American pseudo-Christian tends to avoid any service unless it’s on Christmas and maybe Easter or if they’re feeling particularly guilty for something. I believe it’s the lack of thorough theological study that causes many American pseudo-Christians to treat idiots like Pat Robertson as faith leaders:

Appearing on Christian television show “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, said America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is too important to risk.

“These people are key allies,” Robertson said Monday on the show, first reported by Right Wing Watch. “I don’t think on this issue we need pull sanctions and get tough. I just think it’s a mistake.”

Robertson advocated for behind-the-scenes diplomacy instead of publicly leveling harsh sanctions. He repeatedly invoked the more-than-$100-billion arms deal between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. as reason not to go after the country widely viewed as the culprit behind Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“We’ve got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of,” he said. “It’ll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It’s not something you want to blow up willy-nilly.”

The Saudis are suspected of cutting a journalist up into small pieces? This isn’t even slightly surprising considering the other heinous acts committed by the Saudis? That’s terrible but it’s not so terrible that somebody should cancel a $100 billion weapons deal! Jesus certainly wouldn’t support ceasing weapons sales to murderers!

The real tragedy is that so many people mistake the American pseudo-Christian that composes the majority of the “Christian” right for Christians.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 19th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Obedience School

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The public schooling system isn’t about providing children with an education, it’s about turning children into obedient subjects. Any education a child may receive is nothing more than an unintended consequence. Nowhere is this more evident that in the Texas schooling system, which now requires students to pass an obedience class in order to graduate:

Starting this school year, English, history and math, are not the only classes required to graduate high school in Texas.

A new state law requires students in grades nine through 12 to receive a class, paired with a 16-minute video, that aims to teach them how to deal with law enforcement during a traffic stop.

Known as the Community Safety Education Act, Senate Bill 30 was signed into law by the 85th Texas Legislature to help ease tensions between police and students in the wake of multiple shootings by police of unarmed citizens that have taken place across the United States in recent years.

Law enforcers are gunning down unarmed citizens and the response isn’t to punish the law enforcers but to put the burden of surviving a law enforcement encounter on the citizenry? This says pretty much everything that needs to be said about statism.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 19th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Your Password, Please

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Since I live in the United States, I spend most of my time lambasting its government’s infringements on privacy. But the United States doesn’t have a monopoly on violating individuals’ privacy. Every government has an interesting in violating rights. The hot privacy violation at the moment is demanding access to cell phones. Cell phones are becoming more integrated into our daily lives every day, which makes them a treasure trove of personal information. Here in the United States the government has made several efforts to force cell phone manufacturers to include a backdoor it can access. New Zealand has taken a different approach. If you don’t hand over your password to law enforcers, you will be fined:

New Zealand privacy activists have raised concerns over a new law that imposes a fine of up to NZ$5,000 (more than $3,200) for travelers—citizens and foreigners alike—who decline to unlock their digital devices when entering the country. (Presumably your phone would be seized anyway if it came to that.)

The Southern Pacific nation is believed to be the first in the world to impose such a law.

As a general rule, especially when crossing borders, it’s best to travel with clean devices and access whatever information you need remotely when you arrive at your destination. For example, instead of storing contract information on your cell phone when traveling, you might consider have your contract information on a remotely accessible server. When you get to your destination, you can log into the server and grab the phone numbers you need when you need them. When you’re ready to leave the country, you can factory reset your phone so your call log is erased.

Such a plan isn’t bulletproof. A factory reset phone is suspicious in of itself. Unfortunately there are no silver bullets. Every defensive measure has a list of pros and cons. You have to decide which set of pros and cons best fit your situation.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 5th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Officer Noor Sounds Like a Swell Guy

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Evidence to be used in the prosecution of Officer Noor is starting to be revealed. The evidence released so far includes excepts from a psychological assessment and a rather telling past interaction he had with a member of the public:

During Noor’s 2015 psychological evaluation, he self-reported that “… he disliked people, disliked being around people, and was disinterested in interacting with people,” according to department documents cited by prosecutors.

Why would the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) continue to employee Noor if he admitted he disliked people and wasn’t interested in interacting with them? If you’re in the job of law enforcement, you’re going to be interacting with members of the public. But if that wasn’t enough to justify terminating Noor, this should have been:

Months before Damond was killed, Noor pulled over a driver who failed to use his turn signal and “the first thing he did was point his gun at the driver’s head,” prosecutors said, citing police records they reviewed.

Don’t get me wrong, I despise people who fail to use their turn signals as much as the next guy. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to put a gun to somebody’s head because they failed to indicate their turn. In fact if I were charged with hiring officers and one of them did that, I’d terminate their ass immediately.

If nothing else, the evidence presented so far raises some questions about MPD’s personnel practices.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 7th, 2018 at 10:00 am