A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Shut Up Slave’ tag

When the First Amendment Applies

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Since there is some confusion about what free speech actually means, I gave an example of what doesn’t constitute a violate of free speech. Today I will give an example of what does count as a violation of free speech:

Can the government ban the text of the First Amendment itself on municipal transit ads because free speech is too “political” for public display?

If this sounds like some ridiculous brain teaser, it should. But unfortunately it’s not. It’s a core claim in a lawsuit we filed today challenging the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) restrictions on controversial advertising.

The ACLU, ACLU of D.C., and ACLU of Virginia are teaming up to represent a diverse group of plaintiffs whose ads were all branded as too hot for transit: the ACLU itself; Carafem, a health care network that specializes in getting women access to birth control and medication abortion; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); and Milo Worldwide LLC — the corporate entity of provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

WMATA is a government agency, which means its decisions to allow or prohibit certain forms of speech constitute government censorship and therefore fall under the First Amendment.

This case brings up something I’ve often wondered about. Public transport in the Twin Cities is operated by Metro Transit, which is part of the Metropolitan Council government organization. Metro Transit’s buses and trains are plastered with advertisements. If Metro Transit rejects a proposed advertisement, does that qualify as a violation of the First Amendment. I believe it does but I’ve been curious what the courts would say (not because I think the decisions of courts are meaningful but because I have a morbid curiosity).

Written by Christopher Burg

August 11th, 2017 at 10:30 am

A Disturbance in the Bordertarian Force

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Bordertarians, a term I like for referring to “libertarians” who advocate for closed borders, were on the receiving end of some rather hilarious karma. Members of the band Backwordz, a band that raps about libertarian concepts, was recently ejected from Canada:

One of the people sympathetic to this idea, Eric July of the libertarian-themed band Backwordz, was on his way to a gig in Canada with the rest of his bandmates when they were stopped and held at the border going into Canada.

They were denied entry into the country. They were turned around. They have to cancel their date in Toronto.

One of the members of the band had a DUI on his record and, according to Canadian law, enough time had not passed to allow him entry into the country with that mark on his record.

The border was closed to them.

Justifiably, Eric July was not at all happy about what had happened. That seems like a ridiculous rule to have in place. But more importantly, an uninvited third party, the government of Canada, stepped in between Eric July and the venue that was supposed to host Backwordz. Without any actual authority to do so, they prevented the concert from occurring even though none of the private property owners involved had any issue over the arrangement.

For some reason this has upset some bordertarians. It turns out that they didn’t quite understand what closed borders entail.

In the fantasy utopia of bordertarians, governments pass laws that prevent people they don’t like from entering the country but allow people they do like to enter the country. But that’s not how things work here in the real world. When governments can decide who can and cannot cross their imaginary lines the people aren’t given a say. If, for example, the government decides that people with a DUI charge are prohibited from entering the country even if a majority of the people living in that country find such a rule stupid, people with DUI charges don’t get to enter the country.

As a radical individualist, I oppose any interference with voluntary association, which means I necessarily oppose closed borders. In my world, unlike the world of bordertarians, Backwordz would have been able to play its show because the venue wanted them to play there. The venue’s desire to associate with the band is all that should be needed for Backwordz to play there.

You reap what you sow. If you’re a bordertarian, you should be jumping for joy at this news since a government did exactly what you advocated.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 10th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Voluntary Association

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If a homosexual couple asks a baker who is a devout Christian to bake their wedding cake and he refuses for religious reasons, should the State force him to bake the cake? A lot of people, predominantly those on the progressive side of the political spectrum but even some self-proclaimed libertarians, would say yes. Now let’s turn this around. Let’s say the mother of a child who is a fan of Donald Trump asks a baker who hates Trump to bake her son a Trump themed cake, should the baker be required to bake it:

Nine-year-old Dylan Harbin, aka “Pickle,” is such a big fan of President Donald Trump that his mother SueAnn tried to get him a Trump cake for his birthday. However, according to the Washington Post, bakeries in the Harbins’ home state of California have refused to make the cake, forcing the mother to bake the cake herself.

Interestingly enough, some of the people who wanted the State to force a Christian baker to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage don’t hold the same opinion in regards to this scenario.

I support the principle of voluntary association, which includes voluntary disassociation. A devout Christian should be allowed to not bake a cake for a wedding they morally disagree with. Sure, I find them foolish for not taking the job but my personal morals rate coercing somebody into action they don’t want to take far worse than personal discrimination. Likewise, I think the bakers who refused to bake a Trump themed cake are rather foolish, they’re just leaving money on the table, but I also believe they have the right to decided whether or not they want to associate with customers who oppose their political beliefs.

If voluntary association doesn’t exist, no other rights can really be said to exist. Moreover, if somebody can force you to do something against your will, you’re not really free.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 10th, 2017 at 10:00 am

How Civil Asset Forfeiture Reduces Economic Mobility

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Believers in the American dream still talk about how people who had nothing managed to pull themselves up by their bootlaces and make it big. Proponents of socialism point out that such economic mobility almost never happens. Are believers in the American dream right? Can somebody from poverty elevate themselves to the middle class or higher? Are the socialist right? Is such economic mobility a pipe dream? They’re both correct.

In a free market and where property rights are recognized it is certainly possible for a person to elevate themselves from poverty to a comfortable or even luxurious life. However, such mobility seldom happens this day an age. Where both parties get things wrong is believing that the United States has a free market and property rights.

There is no free market in the United States and there sure as the fuck isn’t a concept of property rights:

Asset forfeiture primarily targets the poor. Most forfeitures are for small amounts: in 2012, the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm that has focused heavily on asset forfeiture, analyzed forfeiture in 10 states and found that the median value of assets seized ranged from $451 (Minnesota) to $2,048 (Utah). Given that law enforcement routinely take everything they find in a forfeiture case, these small values suggest the relative poverty of the victims.

The procedural hurdles for challenging asset forfeiture also mean that poor people are less able to get their money back. The average forfeiture challenge requires four weekdays in court; missing four days of work can be a prohibitive expense for Americans living paycheck to paycheck. Additionally, claims are challenged in civil court, where the right to counsel doesn’t apply, meaning that claimants need to hire their own lawyer.

Asset forfeiture is especially dangerous for the unbanked, because police and federal agents consider high amounts of cash to be suspect. In 2013, half of all households with incomes of less than $15,000 were either unbanked or underbanked. In a report on non-criminal asset forfeiture, the Center for American Progress argues that “low-income individuals and communities of color are hit hardest” by forfeiture.

Civil asset forfeiture allows the State to seize your property if one of its law enforcers accuses you of a drug crime or affiliation with terrorism. The only time proof comes into play with civil asset forfeiture is when the accused party has to prove that the officer’s accusation was incorrect, which is nearly impossible to do under ideal circumstances. However, as the article notes, poor individuals aren’t operating under ideal circumstances. Many of them cannot afford to take several days off of work to plead their case in court. This makes them prime targets for civil asset forfeiture because law enforcers know that they chances of the property being returned to its rightful owner is practically zero.

As I noted, economic mobility requires property rights because you have to be able to keep what wealth you acquire. If you’re able to scrape together some capital to start a side business but then have that capital stolen, your ability to elevating yourself economically through entrepreneurship is also stolen.

A Shocking Development in Venezuela

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I think Venezuela just shocked the entire world. In a totally unprecedented move for a socialist country, the newly established constitutional assembly has granted itself practically unlimited power:

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The new constitutional assembly assumed even more power in Venezuela by declaring itself as the superior body to all other governmental institutions, including the opposition-controlled congress.

That decree came Tuesday just hours after the assembly delegates took control of a legislative chamber and put up pictures of the late President Hugo Chavez, who installed Venezuela’s socialist system.

Delcy Rodriguez, the head of the ruling socialist party and leader of the body, said the unanimously approved decree prohibits lawmakers in congress from taking any action that would interfere with laws passed by the newly installed constitutional assembly.

“We are not threatening anyone,” said Aristobulo Isturiz, the constitutional assembly’s first vice president. “We are looking for ways to coexist.”

Leaders of congress, which previously voted not to recognize any of the new super-body’s decrees, said lawmakers would try to meet in the gold-domed legislative palace Wednesday, but there were questions whether security officers guarding the building would let them in.

History may not repeat itself but it certainly rhymes.

The coup is complete. While the leaders of congress may have voted against recognizing the assembly’s decrees, the only thing that matters at this point is which side has the most armed thugs at its disposal. If the members of congress who oppose the assembly can muster a fighting force great enough to take on the assembly then it has a chance to enforce its oppositional vote. Otherwise those members of congress who refuse to “get with the program” will likely find themselves against the wall in short order. Meanwhile, while the elites have their pissing match the people of Venezuela will continue to starve.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 9th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Alabama Legislators Moves to Hasten Executions

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The State of Alabama found itself in an embarrassing position. A man who has been on death row for 30 years managed to prove his innocence. While the legislature won’t pass a bill to compensate the man for the three decades of his life the State stole from him, it did ensure that a mistake like this never happens again:

Meanwhile, since Hinton’s release the Alabama legislature has passed a different bill related to capital punishment — the Orwellian-named “Fair Justice Act,” which aims to limit the appeals of death row inmates and speed up executions. As Hinton himself wrote in an op-ed, had the Fair Justice Act been in place at the time of his conviction, he’d almost certainly be dead.

If the State can execute inmates quicker, it doesn’t have to worry about them possibly proving their innocence and thus embarrassing it. See? Problem solved!

Get Them Indebted Early

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I have some wonderful news! People no longer have to wait until they go to college to rack of debt:

In a Thursday article for The Telegraph, a man named Andre Spicer wrote about the experience of his five-year-old daughter who tried to open a small lemonade stand in the family’s East London neighborhood.

After about 30 minutes, four local council enforcement officers stormed up to her little table,” he wrote. “‘Excuse me,’ one officer said as he switched on a portable camera attached to his vest. He then read a lengthy legal statement – the gist of which was that because my daughter didn’t have a trading permit, she would be fined [$195]. ‘But don’t worry, it is only [$117] if it’s paid quickly,’ the officer added.”

That’ll teach that little punk not to be entrepreneurial! But, hey, at least the government is benevolent enough to knock that almost $200 fine down to $117 if it’s paid quickly!

Law enforcers shutting down children’s lemonade stands is nothing new, which isn’t surprising since going after small children is apparently fairly profitable and they’re not likely to put up any meaningful resistance so the profit comes with almost zero risk. As if armed thugs preying on children wasn’t bad enough, there is been almost no backlash. Why aren’t members of these communities up in arms over the fact that law enforcers are wasting time preying on children? Why is the fact that something that has been a staple of childhood for generations now being seen as heinous enough to warrant law enforcer involvement? And how is anybody saying that the United States isn’t a police state with a straight face?

Written by Christopher Burg

August 3rd, 2017 at 10:30 am

The People Who Count the Votes Decide Everything

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Venezuela’s election has come and gone. Joseph Stalin, another great socialist leader, is often attributed to say, “It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” That attitude appears to have been adopted by Venezuela’s great socialist leader, Nicolas Maduro:

The company that has provided voting machines and software for Venezuela’s elections for more than a decade said that turnout figures for Sunday’s vote to elect an assembly to rewrite the nation’s constitution were overstated.

“Based on the robustness of our system, we know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a national constituent assembly was manipulated,” Antonio Mugica, Smartmatic’s chief executive officer, told reporters in London. “This would not have occurred if the auditors of all political parties had been present at the different stages of the election.”

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council held the widely criticized vote over the weekend and claimed about 8.1 million people participated. The opposition alliance and private polling companies said turnout was less than half that.

Proponents of socialism can now claim that they enjoy the support of the people. While their opponents may point out that they don’t actually enjoy the support of the people, but merely the support of imaginary voters, it won’t matter because they’ll be liquidated soon enough. Meanwhile, Venezuela will have a new constitution that will almost certainly cement the power of the country’s socialist party, which will only make conditions deteriorate faster.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 3rd, 2017 at 10:00 am

Selling Stolen Goods

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I’ve pointed out the tendency for law enforcers to focus their efforts on pursuing perpetrators of profitable crimes. Law enforcers dump a ton of resources into fighting people who drive faster than the arbitrarily posted speed limit, violate the often ridiculously convoluted parking restrictions, and enjoy consuming verboten chemical substances. However, those same law enforcers will let rape kits stack up in warehouse, barely lift a finger to find a murderer, or respond in any way to a property crime. Fortunately, law enforcers have found a way to make fighting property crime profitable. Unfortunately, it involves them auctioning off the property once it has been recovered instead of returning it to its rightful owner:

A Pueblo couple’s car was stolen in June and later recovered by Colorado Springs police officers.

According to records obtained by the I-TEAM, Mary and Clyde Antrim’s Ford Crown Victoria sat in a police impound lot for more than a month—eventually racking up fees.

The couple says cops never called them to pick up their car. Instead, News 5 Investigates discovered police planned to sell it at an auction.

Colorado Springs police have nothing to say on camera about this case, but Mary Antrim is talking after she says police would not give her car back or answer her phone calls.

When she found out her car was going to be sold at auction, she called News 5 Investigates for help.

The most obvious thing that I feel I need to point out is that the Antrims shouldn’t be required to pay fees to have the law enforcers they are required to pay taxes to fund recover their property. Any costs incurred by the recovery effort should be paid by the thief. But that’s now how justice works in this country. Even though you’re forced to pay taxes to fund law enforcers, you’re also often forced to pay additional fees on top of that. This form of double dipping is fairly profitable for police departments but not as profitable as auctioning off a car, which is why the Colorado Springs Police Department probably “forgot” to inform the Antrims that their car was recovered and currently being held in an impound lot.

This situation isn’t even unique. Law enforcers have profited off of hocking recovered property before and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Colorado Springs Police Department gets away with hocking the Antrim’s car. There is precedence for doing so and the courts are usually pretty good about backing the badge.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 2nd, 2017 at 10:30 am

Let the Purges Begin

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There comes a time in every great socialist country’s history where Dear Leader has to purge undesirable elements from the benevolent government. That day was yesterday for Venezuela:

Caracas, Venezuela (CNN) — Venezuelan authorities seized opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma from their homes early Tuesday, the country’s Supreme Court said, after both publicly opposed a controversial election that critics say will let President Nicolás Maduro illegitimately consolidate power.

Both men had been under house arrest for prior convictions. The house arrests were revoked, the court said, because intelligence officials claimed they were planning to flee.

Families of the two distributed separate videos purportedly showing armed men carrying the politicians away from their homes in the night. In one, a man apparently pulls Ledezma, a former Caracas mayor, out a door.

As we all know from our own government school education, the economic policies of socialism are right and true. However, the evil capitalists and their bourgeois allies are working constantly to undermine the people. When that happens Dear Leader must step in to defend the people. It’s unfortunate but Nicolás Maduro has had to consolidate is power for the good of the country and consolidation always requires a few sacrifices purges.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 2nd, 2017 at 10:00 am