A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Superdickery’ tag

The Importance of Proving Guilt

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People are trying to identify of the national socialists who attended the Charlottesville fiasco. The people leading this operation want to identify those individuals so they can be publicly shamed and fired from their jobs. I nominally have nothing against such a tactic. After all, it was a public rally so anybody there should have been aware that they had no expectation of privacy. However, if you’re going to ruin somebody’s life you damn well better be sure that you have the right target. Unfortunately, as is common with these Internet lynch mobs, people have been less concerned about evidence than about nailing somebody to the wall:

After a day of work at the Engineering Research Center at the University of Arkansas, Kyle Quinn had a pleasant Friday night in Bentonville with his wife and a colleague. They explored an art exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and dined at an upscale restaurant.

Then on Saturday, he discovered that social media sleuths had incorrectly identified him as a participant in a white nationalist rally some 1,100 miles away in Charlottesville, Va. Overnight, thousands of strangers across the country had been working together to share photographs of the men bearing Tiki torches on the University of Virginia campus. They wanted to name and shame them to their employers, friends and neighbors. In a few cases, they succeeded.

But Mr. Quinn’s experience showed the risks.

A man at the rally had been photographed wearing an “Arkansas Engineering” shirt, and the amateur investigators found a photo of Mr. Quinn that looked somewhat similar. They were both bearded and had similar builds.

By internet frenzy standards, that was proof enough.

Following Blackstone’s formulation, which states that, “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer,” doesn’t make me the most popular person in the world but I’d rather have clean hands than be popular.

Justice cannot exist when there is no concern for evidence and proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before inflicting punishment. The only result of a lack of a substantial burden of proof is a system of chance. Maybe some guilty people will be punished, maybe some innocent people will be punished. If you’re accused of a crime, you will be facing a flip of a coin.

If you want to name and shame national socialists, that’s fine. However, you should actually have enough evidence at hand to prove that they’re national socialists. Likewise, people on the Internet shouldn’t take any accusations at face value. If somebody claims that an individual is a national socialist, you should demand to see the evidence and decide if the evidence proves that the individual is a national socialist beyond a reasonable doubt. If both of those conditions are missing, everybody will effectively be holding a gun to each other’s head and the only rule will be to shoot somebody before they have a chance to shoot you.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 16th, 2017 at 11:00 am

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

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.

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

Yet Another Isolated Incident

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Cop apologists love to refer to bad cops as isolated incidents. But for being isolated there are an awful lot of them:

Maryland prosecutors have tossed 34 criminal cases and are re-examining dozens more in the aftermath of recent revelations that a Baltimore police officer accidentally recorded himself planting drugs in a trash-strewn alley.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said that, in all, 123 cases are under review in the wake of a scandal in which one officer has been suspended and two others put on administrative duty. Body cam footage revealed nearly two weeks ago showed one of the officers planting drugs when he didn’t realize his body cam was recording. The Baltimore Police Department’s body cams, like many across the nation, capture footage 30 seconds before an officer presses the record button. The footage was turned over to defense attorneys as part of a drug prosecution—and that’s when the misdeed was uncovered.

I can see why the two officers involved in the murder of Justine Ruszczyk left their body cameras off. Being absent minded about those devices can lead to a paid vacation and, I’m sure, a stern talking to about camera etiquette (i.e. being smart enough to turn it off if you’re going to do something that makes the department look bad).

While it’s nice that one dirty cop was caught this incident will ensure that the rest of the thin blue line is aware of the fact that their cameras record everything that happened 30 seconds before pressing the record button. Being aware of the feature will ensure that they work around it when breaking the law in the future. Furthermore, even when caught on camera planting evidence the officer is enjoying a paid vacation instead of being in jail like you or I would be. That alone should seriously piss people off but few people seem to care.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 1st, 2017 at 11:00 am

Idiots Harassing Idiots

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It appears that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has been harassing one of the local militia groups:

To the FBI, they were part of a Minnesota militia group possibly gearing up for a violent showdown with the government.

Members of the group, called United Patriots of Minnesota 3%, say they’re nothing more than patriots defending hard-won liberties secured by a handful of forefathers who stood against tyranny.

No one has been charged in the investigation, which spilled into public view recently when a federal judge unsealed search warrants in the case. But the probe underscores the complexity of balancing protected speech with trying to root out domestic terror.

I wonder how many members of the United Patriots of Minnesota 3% are undercover feds. It seems like most of these groups have at least three or four. Sometimes I wonder if many of these groups are made up entirely of undercover feds. But I digress.

The FBI and the III%er movement are a match made in Heaven. One is a government agency that spends most of its time manufacturing terrorists to “catch” so it can declare itself a hero. The other is a group of individuals who claim that they will rise up if the government takes any of their rights but never does even though the government is constantly taking their rights. Both of these groups could write volumes about doing nothing.

I’m sure this case is going to be a laugh riot. The FBI is harassing the III%er’s for their speech (yet, ironically, they still refuse to rise up even though their First Amendment right is being infringed) so it really doesn’t have a case that anybody should give a damn about. But the case will result in choice statements made by the III%er members being made public. Those statements will show a lot of impotent rage, which is always good for laughs.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 1st, 2017 at 10:30 am