Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them. – Frederick Douglass
For years I’ve warned that the United States was moving toward a state I call “universal criminality”; as I explained in my column of one year ago today, governments of the late 19th and early 20th centuries realized that the easiest and most subtle means of social control is simply to establish so many complex, broad, vague, mutually contradictory and intrusive laws that every single person is in violation of at least some of them at any given time. Then when any “authority” from the chief executive down to the lowliest cop wants to teach one of the peons a lesson, all he has to do is find a law to charge him with and the machine then proceeds to grind him up psychologically, financially, politically and often physically.
The process began with the “social purity” laws which criminalized behaviors (such as drinking, prostitution or even masturbation) which were previously considered private. It then grew during the Great Depression, proliferated in the post-World War II era (mostly under the excuse of “security”), and increased exponentially after the mid-1980s, at which point I began to see the writing on the wall. There are now so many criminal laws that they are literally uncountable; the last serious attempt to enumerate them was made in 1982, and that failed miserably. The Department of Justice estimates that there are over 4500 federal “crimes” and over 300,000 regulations with felony-level criminal penalties, and that grows by over 50 new “crimes” and innumerable regulations every year. And that’s only federal crimes; multiply that number by some other x factor (10-40 perhaps?) to estimate the number of state laws, and roughly 40,000 new state laws went into effect on January 1st. Then there are county and municipal laws…
Obviously it’s impossible for anyone to know all of these, but “ignorance of the law is no excuse”; the requirement for the prosecution to prove mens rea (criminal intent) was discarded sometime in the ‘90s, and juries are routinely instructed that if the prosecution can prove the facts they must vote to convict even if they believe the defendant did not intend to do anything wrong. Of course, that only applies to citizens; government actors, including cops, lawyers and even judges, are excused as “acting in good faith” even when a defense attorney can prove that a victim has been charged with something that isn’t a crime, or when the cop or lawyer actively breaks laws himself in order to persecute a victim. Given all these facts, no one can declare with certainty when the goal of universal criminality in the United States was reached, but it’s probable that it happened sometime in the last decade when politicians again used the excuse of “security” to gut the Bill of Rights, shred the last intact portions of the constitution and establish procedures which enshrined police and other government actors as de facto nobles, a ruling class who are subject to neither laws nor common human decency.
Cops are now allowed to arrest anyone for any reason (including “suspicion”); invade the homes of citizens without cause or warrant; maim or murder them (and their children and pets) without consequence; steal their property (and keep it even if the victim is never charged with a crime); and brutalize, rob and arrest anyone who tries to document the behavior. Citizen complaints are either ignored or handled with token “investigations” by the same department which is accused of the crimes; these “investigations” invariably result in exoneration of the criminal “officers” or infliction of penalties so minor they constitute a further insult to the victims. Prosecutors can charge one action or group of actions with any of dozens of charges, and will generally reserve several so if the first trial goes against them, they can use the others to get a new trial for the same offense without violating prohibitions against double jeopardy; even with no reasonable grounds for prosecution they can often continue the process indefinitely until they either “win” or bankrupt and ruin the defendant. They routinely lie, threaten and withhold exculpatory evidence, because the SCOTUS has granted them absolute immunity from either criminal or civil charges for their actions. And most judges are either tyrants who ignore the law to enforce their own whims, or bored bureaucrats who let cops and prosecutors get away with whatever they like. However, if any of these employees of the “justice system” commits a crime, it will be swept under the rug, excused completely or “punished” with a sentence several orders of magnitude less than that with which a private citizen would be inflicted.
Want to know what it’s like to live in a police state? Look around you. Like the legendary frog, Americans have remained content to sit in the pot while the temperature has gradually increased, and we’re all well and truly cooking now. The last of our civil liberties are being stripped away at a frightening rate, Congress is moving to take control of the internet, and the president recently signed legislation giving himself the power to use the military to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without charge or trial if they own guns, are missing fingers or have more than 7 days’ worth of food in their houses. The government no longer even pretends to answer to the people: half of all Americans now recognize it as “an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens”, only 5% of Americans believe that Congress is doing a decent job, and a White House spokesman recently declared the majority of Americans who support marijuana legalization to be “extremists”. If you haven’t yet read Václav Havel’s “The Power of the Powerless” (as featured in my January 7th column), now might be a good time to do so.