For quite some time now, the pro-freedom movement has seemed nearly somnambulent, as the Busheviks repeatedly roll over the Constitution in their zeal to make cattle of us all. I'm not sure what's changed, but something seems to be different these days. Perhaps TIPS is enough of a threat to get pro-freedom activists charged up again. Whatever the reason, we've a lot of business to attend to, putting these petty tyrants in their place, which is under our thumbs (not to mention under a few other things). Herein I offer some suggestions, and a larger context for those suggestions.
It's no accident that the Thought Police are acting more brazenly these days. After the easy passage of the USA PATRIOT act, and the mostly cowed attitude of the flying public, they probably thought they were safe to do whatever they wanted. However, even the mindless among us are beginning to notice similarities between Nazi Germany and the United States of today. Our freedoms are becoming increasingly fenced off, only "permitted" to be exercised in areas and ways the Thought Police deem appropriate. I've started calling areas where our rights are limited "no rights zones."
What are no rights zones? Here are a few clues to help you puzzle it out:
Get it now? A no rights zone is created anywhere an individual's rights as affirmed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights are trampled. Unfortunately, the Busheviks -- Ashcroft, Mineta, and company -- are trying to turn the entire nation into one huge no rights zone. Following the link on any item above will take you to one story (of several I know of) documenting a loss of rights in that location.
One busybody's comments sum up the rights-grabbers' attitudes quite well: "The bottom line is, we can do it. It's well within the law." What the Thought Police and bureaucratic busybodies seem to forget is that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and in sum it affirms the right to be left alone. It trumps any lower-level law that contradicts it -- whether or not the Thought Police (including the "Supreme" Court) agree.
Now, I haven't gone all soft and "constitutionalist" on you. That flawed piece of paper has contributed to our current mess in the United States, but it's a damn far better start than any other republic has had. More important, it's the coin of this realm -- one that the Thought Police still value to some degree -- and we can use that to educate and attract the more wakeful cattle to help us secure our freedoms in a more permanent way.
"Now, that's all very well and good," you may be thinking, "But what can we do about all this?" Glad you asked ...
We can refuse to go gently into this black night of tyranny. For many of us, that will require getting closer to the Thought Police than we're comfortable with. But it's worthwhile to do so. It's easy to talk about what a police state the United States has become; it's easy to write about the indignities we suffer in the name of an "eternal war" on terror; it's difficult to challenge those who think they rule us by taking action against them. But that's what we need to do if we're going to turn this ugly red tide that's rising.
What form does that action take? It can take any of several, actually, and I know I'll miss some. Each individual must consider the form the rights infringement takes along with possible consequences for bringing it to public attention. Sometimes simply getting in the Thought Police's face is enough; other times it takes hitting 'em in the pocketbook.
For example, if you're driving and get flagged at a checkpoint, your conversation can take one of many possible tracks. You could ask why you were stopped, and what the probable cause for a search of your person and vehicle is. If none is given, you can refuse, pointing out that the Bill of Rights prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. You may be "allowed" to leave, or you may be arrested on some silly charge. Even if you consent to the unconstitutional search, you can let the Thought Police operative know that you're aware what he's doing is unconstitutional and that you aren't happy about it. Writing a letter to the editor of the local paper about the no rights zone you encountered will help raise awareness, too.
A fairly innocuous -- and anonymous, if you're careful about it -- action is to mark the no rights zone in some way. For example, the New York surveillance camera situation is so well known one man has been giving guided tours. He also places large stickers on the poles that read, "You are being watched -- Surveillance camera notice." Surveillance cameras aren't only a problem in New York City, folks; wouldn't it be great if such notices got plastered on or near every surveillance camera across the country?
Individuals can post large signs that indicate a police roadblock or checkpoint ahead (make them up in advance and keep them in your trunk). Flyers are relatively easy to make up and can be used to identify no rights zones in different ways. One flyer might say, "No Rights Zone! Second Amendment Rights Stripped"; that one can get posted widely, at courthouses and other government offices, airports, national parks, and so forth. Airports could also be plastered with flyers for violating the Fourth Amendment (unreasonable searches and seizures), as can public transportation facilities. Mark a known TIPSter's vehicle with a big, hard-to-remove sticker. And so it goes ...
Speaking of airports ... they deserve special attention. How about tossing the Bill of Rights into the little plastic tray when the security goons tell you to empty your pockets? (These are good for courthouses too, by the way; it's even possible that someone there might recognize the Bill of Rights.)
Of course, it's quite possible that the Thought Police operative might not take too kindly to having his or her nose rubbed in the fact that he or she is dismantling freedom ... so you could get singled out for "special attention." If you want to challenge airport security, you must do so with the knowledge that you might be detained, jailed, or otherwise seriously messed with for pointing out the fact that you know they're violating your "unalienable" rights. Talking to others in the rapeline with you about the no rights zone might similarly garner you special attention. If you're willing to go this route, be prepared, and if they do snare you, don't back off! Continue to insist upon your Constitutional rights; notify your lawyer in advance of taking your action; and get press coverage of your protest and arrest, if at all possible. Video or audiotaping the encounter would be invaluable. (Editor: But your camera operator should also be aware that taping airport security has been deemed probable cause for harassment and arrest, too.)
Speaking of lawyers ... bringing suit against the Thought Police is another potent tactic in our arsenal against no rights zones. Ernie Hancock did this in Arizona because the state Thought Police decided they're above the laws regarding RKBA. Rick Stanley has done so also for 2nd amendment issues. The Kubbys are facing persecution for their use of medical marijuana, which has been deemed legal in California, where they live. Bob Schulz is taking on the constitutionality of the income tax. In South Dakota, Larry Dodge of the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) is working to pass a constitutional amendment guaranteeing "the right to argue the merits, validity, and applicability of the law, including the sentencing laws." Complaints by women against "overzealous" security personnel ought to be transformed into lawsuits -- I'm sure they will in time. Discrimination lawsuits against airlines are already being filed; incidents like these need to result in lawsuits.
Normally I wouldn't encourage going to the state and sanctioning their "just-us" system, because it's pretty thoroughly corrupt. However, this is the best strategy I see for waking up those who create and perpetuate no rights zones. Also, as word gets out of increasing numbers of lawsuits against the government for its failed policies, more people ought to wake up to the encroaching tyranny. The negative publicity such lawsuits bring is tremendous. This tactic speaks the language that the Thought Police understand. It also will encourage others to take similar action.
If bringing suit isn't something you're ready for yet, how about supporting another pro-freedom individual's action? Do whatever you can -- help publicize it; go to court in support of the person and send out updates; offer pro bono time if you're a lawyer; donate cash (or goods or services if you can) to the case. Nathan Barton, one of the most honest and upstanding individuals I know, was recently arrested because a Thought Police thug didn't like that Nathan insisted upon exercising his First Amendment right to speak on public grounds. It's a pretty clearcut case, but he needs legal and financial help. That's a great place to start. (Editor: See also Samizdat's Jackbooted Thug Award for August 2002, for more information on this incident, and contact data to make your thoughts known to the thugs in power.)
Group protests are another means of letting the Thought Police know the cattle are close to stampeding. How about organizing a "wear your gun day" peaceful protest in your hoplophobic town or state? Picket the city council that seems to think eminent domain means they can grab private land to give to their favored private business. Protests of public schools that are no rights zones are important too, as much to identify them as to teach our children valuable lessons about freedom and tyranny. You know those "discount" or "loyalty" cards your supermarket uses? They also track your every purchase. That information has been used in divorce cases to show a parent is "unfit", and one large chain turned over its records to the FBI. I call that an unreasonable search of private individuals' data!
College campuses are often hotbeds of PC activity. If your local college has allowed today's leftist students to shout down a conservative guest speaker, for example, or not permitted peaceful political protest, crank out the flyers and stickers and plaster the campus with "no rights zone" marks. Is a certain professor a particularly egregious offender? Mark the route she or he takes to classrooms with targeted information; place a "no rights zone -- first amendment not respected" overhead on the machine so that the class will see it when the prof turns it on. Write it on the blackboard, too.
Online protests are harder to conduct. If you own a web site or run an ISP, make sure that all your customers and visitors know that you do respect the Bill of Rights. Mark your guest books, message boards, and other public forums "First Amendment Respected Here." Add a link to this article, along with your own suggestions, on your site to help spread the word among other liberty-loving individuals.
The idea behind all of these actions is to challenge the state's increasing nosiness as often and as loudly as possible. In addition, we want to spread our memes far and wide, so that they catch on in the mainstream. The primary meme to get in people's minds, on their lips, and into the media is "no rights zone." Once we have people understanding that, we can begin to educate them about liberty and responsibility. I will post all ideas I get for other ways to combat no rights zones here on this web site, in order to share the information and get more people involved. Graphics are welcome too!
The United States was not founded by cattle who were easily led about; years of unceasing effort by the collectivists have rendered many among us cattle now. If we are to reclaim the freedom that is each individual's by birth and by right, we must invest in unceasing, diligent effort of our own to educate those cattle. We must be examples of principled, responsible individuals willing to fight for a cause that is righteous -- willing to become a lightning rod if necessary in order to gain liberty back.
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