Agents of the State Find Time to Harass Teenagers

With all the ills going on in the world it’s good to see members of the Kansas governor’s staff are finding time to tackle the really important issues:

“Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot,” she wrote to her 60 followers who tuned in to her sporadic updates about the Twilight films and Justin Bieber. In fact, Sullivan hadn’t said a word to the governor during his brief speech, and she now says the Twitter comment was just an “inside joke” among her high schol friends who were also on the Youth in Government field trip and disagreed with Brownback’s politics.

But the humor was lost on members of Brownback’s staff, who found the tweet while scouring social media sites for his name and alerted Sullivan’s high school principal. The principal reprimanded Sullivan and demanded she write an apology to the governor.

There’s so much stupid in the second paragraph that it almost physically hurts. First of all how the hell are members of Brownback’s staff finding the time to browse through social media sites looking for the governor’s name? If staff members have enough time to do that they either need more work or the size of the staff needs to be reduced. Remember that the people of Kansas are footing Brownback’s bill to pay his staff so if he has any decency (which he probably doesn’t being he’s a politician) he’d ensure his staff was as efficiently sized as possible.

Next we have the concern of staff members contacting the kid’s principle. Her tweet said she made mean comments at the governor, not that she was planning on committing any act of violence upon the man. Just for fun and in case anybody from Brownback’s staff is reading this site I’d like to say that Governor Brownback is a huge steaming pile of shit. Granted I don’t know the man but if he feels sending staff members out to browse social media sites for mentions of his name is a good use of taxpayer dollars then he is a piece of shit in my book.

The third point of stupid is the audacity of the principle to demand the kid write a letter of apology. Nobody should be made to apologize for their opinion, especially when that opinion is about a public official. There is a pesky amendment in the Constitution that says something about people have the freedom of speech. While I understand schools are actually more akin to prisons it is still disgusting to see students having their supposedly Constitutionally guaranteed rights stripped without actually doing any wrong. Don’t even both giving me that line of bullshit about the Bill of Rights only applying to adults, nowhere in the Bill of Rights does it contain any disclaimer that it is meant to apply only to adults. It appears as though the kid is pretty smart I must say:

And while Sullivan’s tweet is still rude, Brownback’s staff response makes him look thin-skinned and unable to take a joke. “I can’t believe they would prioritize that over other issues they have going on now,” Sullivan says. “I can’t believe they take time out of their day to look at social media and Twitter for his name.”

Exactly. The people of Kansas should be up in arms just for the fact that they’re paying idiots to sit around and browse Twitter all day. Let me also commend the kid for sticking to her guns and ultimately deciding not to write an apology letter:

Sullivan, who now has more than 9,000 Twitter followers and has begun quoting Gandhi, says she hopes the principal will accept her decision not write an apology letter. She says the incident has been a “reality check” to her and her friends that their comments on social media sites are not anonymous nor consequence-free.

You should only apologize when it’s sincere, which means you should never write a letter of apology for speaking the truth or your opinion. Too many people believe that apologies must be issued whenever you hurt somebody’s feelings but truth be told this simply creates a society that ends up giving a bunch of insincere apologies for everything and also ingrains people with the idea that they can get away with anything so long as they issue a phony apology afterwards.

Since the heat was turned up Governor Brownback did finally issue an apology of his own:

“My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms. I enjoyed speaking to the more than 100 students who participated in the Youth in Government Program at the Kansas Capitol. They are our future. I also want to thank the thousands of Kansas educators who remind us daily of our liberties, as well as the values of civility and decorum. Again, I apologize for our over-reaction”

How about you apologize to the people of Kansas for wasting their money by paying people to sit and browse the Internet?

A Disgusting Use of Force

I’m sure most of you have seen the video of the police officer pepper spraying a group of peaceful protesters at the University of California Davis:

As is usual when an officer is caught doing something naughty this officer has been put on leave and will likely resume his duties after this entire mess has blown over.

The divide between those who support and oppose the occupy movement is great and I’ve seen many of those in opposition saying the protesters got what was coming to them. To that I say bullshit. Whether you agree, disagree, or simply don’t care about the occupy movement it should be appalling to you that police officers would use force on non-violent protesters. These protesters were literally sitting with arms linked while the police decided it would be justified to first induce pain and then remove the offending individuals. Such gross displays of power make me sick.

The Constitution of the United States specifically declares the right of the people to peaceably assemble. Much of the time I spent writing has been directed at the Second Amendment but I believe all rights ascribed in the Bill of Rights must be equally defended. The University of California Davis is public property and the students were exercising their right to peaceably assemble. There is no excuse for the use of pepper spray in this instance yet here it is, and what makes me even more sick is that people are laughing about it. Somebody made an picture that perfectly described this scene:

That picture perfectly demonstrates the fact that pepper spraying non-violent individuals violates everything this country was founded on. It shouldn’t matter if you disagree with the occupiers, I disagree with a huge number of them myself, the actions taken by the officer should be appalling to any decent human being. Had the police simply arrested the protesters that would have been one thing but to actively enact pain upon them while the protesters themselves were enacting no pain on others is an escalation of force. Were I to do something similar to protesters on my property I’d likely be prosecuted.

When members of the occupy movement say something you disagree with then by all means speak out and explain why their statement is wrong. Many members of the occupy movement have advocating violence with such statements as expressing a desire to bring back the guillotine and those people should certainly be shouted down. Yet we must also realize that the First Amendment was put into place to protect unpopular speech as popular speech is in no need of protection.

Those who express a desire to protect the rights supposedly guaranteed by the Constitution should put aside their philosophical difference in this regard and contest the actions of police officers using force against those exercising their rights. Large number of occupiers are misguided but they still deserve equal rights under the law.

One Voluntaryist’s Take on the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act

Earlier this week I got into a very interesting conversation with another libertarian regarding the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011. I’ll not reprint the entire conversation here but in summary I stated that, although holding some reservations, in general support the bill. My opponent holds a completely different opinion believing that it’s not for Congress to pass laws based on their interpretation of the Constitution and determining interpretations of the Constitution lies solely with the Supreme Court. Basically he believes Congress is overstepping its Constitutionally authorized powers by presenting this bill.

How can two libertarians come to completely different stances regarding this one bill? Simple, there are different categories of libertarians. My opponent is a strict constitutionalist while I am a voluntaryist. While both categories follow the non-aggression principle which constructs the foundation of libertarian philosophy and both categories believe in the rule of law there is a difference in belief of what constitutes aggression and what qualifies as law.

A strict constitutionalist does not believe a state operating under a country’s constitution is committing aggression as the constitution is considered a socially agreed upon document that those living within a country either must agree to or leave. Voluntaryists on the other hand believe that a state is necessarily violence as the definition of state is an entity that claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a geographic area. Likewise a state can only be maintained through taxation which constitutes an act of agression against those being taxed.

Rest assured that I haven not wasted your time explaining the difference between the two as it is important knowledge to have in hand in order to understand the view I’m about to present regarding this bill.

As I stated in the beginning of this post I support the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act even though I hold some reservations about granting more power to the federal government. My support for this bill stems from my belief in absolute property rights which extents from my belief in the absolute right of self-ownership. There are only two legitimate means of obtaining property; homesteading and mutually agree to terms of trade between a prospective buyer and a person who either homesteaded the property or obtained it through a mutually agree upon trade. The act of homesteading necessarily requires that you mix your labor with the property (in other words make some kind of improvement to the property) in order to claim it as your own.

Unfortunately absolute property rights can not exist under a state. This fact can be demonstrated through two points; all land is claimed by the state as its own and the state maintains the power of eminent domain over all property within its geographic area. Being a state does not obtain its property through either of the two legitimate means of property attainment the state can not be said to legitimately own any property. What the state does have, however, is an incredible capacity for violence which its willing use in order to maintain its claim of property ownership.

Thus we have a conundrum, while the state should not be able to make rules regarding the actions of people on unowned property they do so through the threat and use of violence. Violence is an incredible tool for maintaining illegitimate claims and thus it’s often much easier to work within the state’s rules than to violate them. Thus it is in the best interests of those living under the state to acquire any liberties they can get away with. If acquiring these liberties can be done by obtaining permission from the state through a state approved legislative process then it might as well be used. A tool is a tool after all.

So we stand at a crossroad. In one direction the state claims the right to create arbitrary rules dictating the actions of those living within its borders. In the other direction we have the fact that the state has no legitimate claim to the property within its borders and thus has no legitimate grounds for dictating the actions of those living within. Meanwhile many of us wish to maintain our right to self-defense wherever we travel within the borders of the state (a right derived from self-ownership). I believe those of us wishing to maintain our right to self-defense should travel the road supporting the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act.

The state has no right to demand that we travel through unowned property disarmed. If the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act is passed it will remove an arbitrary restriction placed upon the people in the United States. That is to say we will gain an additional liberty and remove one more rule that is enforced through violence. Likewise this bill will maintain the rights of legitimate property owners as nowhere within the bill’s text is there a decree that private property owners must allow armed individuals onto their property.

Albeit I usually do not support the federal government granting itself additional powers over the individual states I still support this law overall as it grants an additional liberty to those living in the United States. I still find the claims of my opponent dubious as the Bill of Rights clearly states that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Most libertarians in the strict constitutionalist camp seem to agree that this bill is an overall good thing but I understand the view of those who oppose it on the grounds that any additional powers claimed by the federal government are generally dangerous.

Freedom of Speech is Dead

Although most of my readers already know this I feel it necessary to state this for the record, the freedom of speech is dead. The freedom of speech has been under attack in this country for a very long time, going back at least as early as the Alien and Sedition Acts. Still the fact that somebody can be punished simply for having an unpopular belief is a bit disconcerting:

An honors student in Fort Worth, Texas, was sent to the principal’s office and punished for telling a classmate that he believes homosexuality is wrong.


Dakota was in a German class at the high school when the conversation shifted to religion and homosexuality in Germany. At some point during the conversation, he turned to a friend and said that he was a Christian and “being a homosexual is wrong.”

“It wasn’t directed to anyone except my friend who was sitting behind me,” Dakota told Fox. “I guess [the teacher] heard me. He started yelling. He told me he was going to write me an infraction and send me to the office.”

Dakota was sentenced to one day in-school suspension – and two days of full suspension. His mother was flabbergasted, noting that her son had a spotless record, was an honor student, volunteered at his church and played on the school football team.

I’m sure somebody will say I’m anti-gay for writing this article but if you do a little browsing on this blog you’ll know that’s not true. It is my personal belief that all people should enjoy equal rights regardless of your race, religion, or sexual orientation. I also believe everybody has the right to their opinion and should be allowed to express it without fear of punishment. Vengeance shouldn’t be brought against somebody simply because they’re racist, bigoted, etc. While I reserve the right to call such people idiots they reserve the right to call me one and so long as nobody initiates violence it’s all good.

The fact that this kid was given three days of suspension is disgusting. What kind of message do you think that sends the kid? If the teacher was disgusted by the child’s belief maybe he should have had a discussion about it with the kid or the entire class. Punishing somebody for disagreeing with you only generates resentment and will likely strengthen their belief. Reason is the most effective tool for promoting logical ideas. Had the teacher used reasoning to express why he believed the child’s belief to be wrong perhaps he could have helped the kid understand that homosexuality isn’t wrong as it harms nobody.

Instead the teacher went all authoritarian on the child and likely generated resentment which will strengthen the child’s belief that homosexuality is wrong.

A Slight Victory Against the PATRIOT Act

United States District Judge Ann Aiken has proven herself to have some competence and has ruled that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is an amendment to the PATRIOT Act, is unconstitutional:

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as amended by the Patriot Act, “now permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment.”

This is only a minor victor since, I believe, there are still several levels of appeals courts the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) can take to overrule this decision if they so choose. I would be utterly shocked if the FBI didn’t attempt to fight this decision as they seem to find constitutional restrictions an inconvenience to their mission of arresting anybody and everybody to get their numbers up and make themselves sound impressive.

This court case also exemplifies the need for protections against illegal search and seizures. The target of the FBI’s wrath this time was an innocent man who should have never been accused in the first place as the FBI’s evidence was flimsy at best:

Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield sought the ruling in a lawsuit against the federal government after he was mistakenly linked by the FBI to the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in 2004.

The federal government apologized and settled part of the lawsuit for $2 million after admitting a fingerprint was misread. But as part of the settlement, Mayfield retained the right to challenge parts of the Patriot Act, which greatly expanded the authority of law enforcers to investigate suspected acts of terrorism.

How magnanimous of the government to allow Mr. Mayfield the right to challenge the PATRIOT Act. It’s a good thing this ability to challenge was allowed because, as pointed out by judge Aiken, dismissal of this case would have been akin to a constitutional convention:

“For over 200 years, this Nation has adhered to the rule of law — with unparalleled success. A shift to a Nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised,” she wrote.

By asking her to dismiss Mayfield’s lawsuit, the judge said, the U.S. attorney general’s office was “asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. This court declines to do so.”

What many people fail to realize is the fact that our courts can act as de facto constitutional conventions by interpreting the bylaws expressed in the Constitution. For example if the Supreme Court had ruled that the second amendment only applied to the federal government they would have basically stripped the right to keep and bear arms from the people as the states would be allowed to make any laws they pleased in regards to firearms. Had judge Aikens ruled that FISA was within the scope of the fourth amendment then the FBI would be allowed to continue secret searches of homes with flimsy evidence (which they may still be able to do if they appeal this decision).

The power to write law is obviously open for abuse but the true power lies in the ability to interpret law.

Shitty Situations

File this story under sad but amusing. The Metro Narcotics Agency in Las Cruces, New Mexico forced a woman with no criminal history to submit to a cavity search. After having a hand shoved up her ass and nothing being found the woman was then billed for the pleasure:

A Las Cruces woman has been charged $1,122 by a local hospital for a forcible body cavity search ordered by the Metro Narcotics Agency that did not turn up any illegal substances.

She is now asking the county to pay her hospital bill.

Ultimately the Narcotics Agency footed the bill but not until the woman took the case to court. Why the Agency didn’t pay the bill as soon as nothing was found is beyond me but then again how the government can force you to submit to a cavity search is also beyond me.

Data Encryption and The Fifth Amendment

Yesterday I mentioned that I keep all of my personal data encrypted meaning outside of being compelled to reveal my keys nobody would be able to obtain that data. Then I mentioned in the case of government entities stealing my equipment I would avoid revealing my encryption keys by simply stating my fifth amendment right, well apparently the Department of Justice (DoJ) believes that right is null and void (like all of our other so-called rights):

The Colorado prosecution of a woman accused of a mortgage scam will test whether the government can punish you for refusing to disclose your encryption passphrase.

The Obama administration has asked a federal judge to order the defendant, Ramona Fricosu, to decrypt an encrypted laptop that police found in her bedroom during a raid of her home.

Because Fricosu has opposed the proposal, this could turn into a precedent-setting case. No U.S. appeals court appears to have ruled on whether such an order would be legal or not under the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, which broadly protects Americans’ right to remain silent.

Although this turn of events isn’t at all surprising it is depressing. The justification being used by the DoJ is completely idiotic as well:

Prosecutors stressed that they don’t actually require the passphrase itself, meaning Fricosu would be permitted to type it in and unlock the files without anyone looking over her shoulder. They say they want only the decrypted data and are not demanding “the password to the drive, either orally or in written form.”

Let’s stop and take a look at what the fifth amendment states:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

I’ve emphasized the important part for this post. Our supposed fifth amendment right is against being forced to bear witness against yourself. Note how the amendment doesn’t state in what way you’re protected from being a witness against yourself. What the DoJ is arguing is the fifth amendment states you can’t be compelled to speak against yourself or write information that could be used against you. What the fifth amendment actually says is that you can’t be compelled to be a witness against yourself, period. By having to enter encryption keys you would in fact be a witness against yourself as it would reveal potentially self-incriminating information.

Obviously the actors of the state are going to go with an analogy that best benefits them in incriminating anybody they wish so they are going to claim that encryption keys are the same as safe combinations which you can be forced to provide. Here’s the thing, as written the fifth amendment would protect you against even providing a safe combination because that would make you a witness against yourself.

Thankfully the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed an amicus brief arguing that being forced to provide encryption keys is a direct violation of fifth amendment protections. Their argument is sound albeit against the desires of the state so will likely be ignored:

Decrypting data on a computer is a testimonial act that receives the full protection of the Fifth Amendment. This act would incriminate Fricosu because it might reveal she had control over the laptop and the data there. The government has failed to show that the existence and location of the information it seeks is a foregone conclusion. Furthermore, the limited immunity offered by the government is not coextensive with the scope of Fricosu’s privilege. The Court should therefore find that the government has failed to take the steps necessary to secure Fricosu’s Fifth Amendment rights and deny the application.

You should read the entire amicus brief as it makes for interesting reading and presents several previous court cases that favor the EFF’s argument.

Following the wording of the fifth amendment and the spirit in which it was written logical conclusion would be that you are not required to do anything for the state that would allow it to prosecute you. Of course being the government gets to rule on the scope of protections against the government the amendments in the Bill of Rights has little meaning. This is why jury nullification is such an important right, even if the government rules that the fifth amendment doesn’t apply a jury could rule in favor of the defendant on grounds that being forced to reveal encrypted information is a violation of fifth amendment protections.

Don’t Fly If You’ve Recently Had Surgery

Bad news for those of you who’ve recently had surgery and are planning on flying soon, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has gained a renewed interest in implanted explosive devices:

Terrorists intent on striking commercial aircraft have shown renewed interest in surgically implanting explosives or explosive components in humans to conduct attacks, a U.S. security official tells CNN.

The idea of implanting bombs has been discussed in the past, but the United States has obtained fresh intelligence about the desire of terrorists, and there is new intelligence about a possible technique that could be used, according to the official, who declined to elaborate.

The officials declined to elaborate because there full of shit by the way. What’s really ironic here is the fact that those fancy expensive naked body scanners can’t pick up implanted devices. To me that indicates once again that any security device you implement can be bypassed because humans are ingenuity creatures and will find ways around any system designed by other humans. So what will the new method of screening for implanted devices be? Who knows, the TSA certainly isn’t giving any details:

“As a precaution, passengers flying from international locations to U.S. destinations may notice additional security measures in place. These measures are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same activity at every international airport,” Kimball said.

Measures may include interaction with passengers, in addition to the use of other screening methods such as pat-downs and the use of enhanced tools and technologies, he said.

At least they’re making up excuses for their inconsistencies now. Either way they apparently are going to start doing exactly the same thing they’ve been doing, violating your civil rights to put on their security theater.

The TSA isn’t happy until you’ve been humiliated and beaten down into complete and docile obedience. Agents working for the TSA are generally people with a desire to have power over others but lack the motivation, education, or skills required to become a police officer. Instead of putting work into becoming an actual police officer TSA agents take the easy road to fulfill their authoritarian desires. They offer not security as evident by the numerous incidents of people getting onto planes with firearms, explosives, and other verboten goods.

Establishing the TSA was yet another classic example of the government doing something easy instead of fixing the problem. It’s easier to dump a shit ton of money into hiring actors and obtaining stage props for security theater than it is to secure airplanes against attack. I’m just waiting for the day when the TSA decides they’re going to randomly perform cavity searches on airline customers, or maybe some on the spot invasive surgery to check for implanted explosives.

United States Claims Jurisdiction Over All .com and .net Domains

What good is authority if you can’t just wantonly expand it? The United States Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has claimed that they have jurisdiction over all .com and .net domains:

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency believes it has the authority to shut down any and all .com and .net websites that run afoul of copyright law, even if the site’s servers are hosted overseas.


Perhaps it has. The reason ICE feels its authority extends to any .com and .net domain overseas is because they’re all routed through Verisign, a registry service based in Virginia. As far as Barnett is concerned, that alone gives ICE the right extradite foreign site owners to the U.S. on piracy charges.

I hereby call bullshit on this. Although all traffic from those top level domains does route through Verisign the actual domain name is owned by the purchaser. For example I am the owner of (although I use privacy protection to ensure my personal information doesn’t come up with a whois command). As a resident of the United States the federal government could attempt to lay claim that they have jurisdiction over my domain (if they claim that I’ll just laugh and give them the finger). On the other hand if the owner of a domain lives in Canada the United States government has no legitimate claim to the domain because it’s the property of a Canadian citizen.

Of course the United States government, like all governments, doesn’t give two shits about what is and isn’t “legal” for them. They make the rules and thus get to decide what is and isn’t legal. If they wish to perform a warrantless raid on a home you can damned well assure yourself that they will find some “legal” means of doing it (probably under anti-terrorism laws).

In this case ICE’s justification for claiming their actions are legal eliminates the concept of property rights.

I May Take Back Everything I Said About Texas

I ripped on Texas a short while back because they were trying to play tough and stand up to the federal government but folded the second the guys in Washington D.C. pushed back. Texas has a chance to redeem itself though as they have reintroduced the anti-molestation bill during a special session:

On Monday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry presented legislation for consideration in the ongoing Eighty-Second Texas Legislature, First Called Session that would ban intrusive TSA pat-downs.

OK Texas this is your chance to prove to the rest of the union that you don’t take shit from anybody. Get this legislation through and tell the federal government where to shove their legalization of federal agents committing sexual assault. On yet another bright side it appears as through Texas may not be the only state telling the boys at the federal capitol where to shove it:

Sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center tell us to expect at least 10 other states considering similar legislation in the 2012 legislative session. Utah and Michigan have already joined in. CLICK HERE to track the progress of all “travel freedom” legislation around the country.

I would love to see all fifty states take a stand against the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). There is no valid reason for allowing government agents to commit sexual assault on people simply trying to fly from one place to another.