August 18, 2011

Crime and Punishment -- and Destruction and Death

In my post the other day, I wrote:
If we broaden our perspective, and if we look beyond particular developments and attempt to grasp what is happening over a longer period of time, the nature of the horror that awaits us takes on a clearer shape: The West's ruling class is embarked on a program of killing and elimination.
You may consult the earlier article for my argument.

As a postscript to my earlier comments and as further evidence of my thesis -- to say, in effect, "I was not fucking kidding" -- consider the following:

*** "A Manchester mother of two who did not take part in the riots was sentenced to five months for wearing a pair of looted shorts her roommate had brought home."

*** "[A] London man ... received six months in jail for stealing a case of water worth about $5 from a looted supermarket."

But these minor details -- "minor" but for the fact that they are intentionally designed to devastate the lives of these fearsome barbarian "animals," who could easily be you or someone you know -- come at the end of the story.

The story primarily concerns this:
Late Tuesday, two men in northwestern England were handed stiff jail terms for inciting disorder through social networking sites. Cheshire Police said Jordan Blackshaw, 20, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, both received 4-year sentences for using Facebook to "organize and orchestrate" disorder.

Blackshaw used the social networking site to create an event — with a date, time and location — for "massive Northwich lootin."'

Sutcliffe created a page on Facebook called "Warrington Riots" which listed a time and date for anyone who wished to be involved in a riot.
Some of you brave readers may be thinking: "Well, gee, four years seems a bit harsh. But I don't support rioting! How can we have any kind of society when people deliberately organize rioting and 'lootin'? If we want any kind of civilization, such people have to be punished!" And then you'll thoughtfully add: "But proportionately, of course." You're so thoughtful.

If you reacted that way in whole or in part, shame on you. What I'd actually like to say is too rude even for me. Motherfucker.

Did these two young men actually riot or loot? Did they themselves participate in the events they wrote about? Did they mean the Facebook posts seriously -- or just as some kind of joke?

But you see, the government isn't interested in any of those questions. And they didn't charge the two young men with actual rioting or looting. They charged them for the Facebook entries. For what they wrote. That's it.

To be precise, that's it with regard to what these two men themselves did. I remind you that they're the ones who were sentenced to four years in jail. The government did have some additional concerns:
[A] representative of Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said the two young mens' Facebook posts, "caused significant panic and revulsion in local communities as rumors of anticipated violence spread."
Well, that's okay then. It's fine to send people to prison for four years because of how other people reacted to something they wrote. Panic! Revulsion! Rumors!!

Just to be on the safe side, you probably want to shut the fuck up. For the rest of your life.

Thomas Knapp:
I must confess, however to falling speechless and slack-jawed for a moment at the sheer gall of a CBS News Internet poll accompanying the story of two men sentenced Tuesday in the United Kingdom (“Brits get 4 years prison for Facebook riot posts,” August 17): “Is four years prison too harsh for a Facebook post?”

I don’t really even have to reach the issue of reader response (although, as I write, 50% of respondents sickeningly declare for “No, fair punishment”). The only thing possibly more appalling than the question itself asked with a straight face is the absence among multiple choice answers of “are you out of your freaking mind? Prison? For a Facebook post?”

Folks, this is not an edge case — “fire in a crowded theater” or “fighting words” spoken while brandishing molotov cocktails. It’s a clear matter of people sitting in front of computers, typing things intended to be read by other people sitting in front of other computers.

Nor, seemingly, did the Crown Prosecution Service pull a fast one with “conspiracy” charges or other trickery to make it look like this was about anything other than speech. The cases were plainly charged, the alleged crime being “inciting disorder.”


Over the course of mere months, we’ve gone from “western democracies” chiding Egypt’s Mubarak regime for shutting down Internet access to stall a revolution, to San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit bureaucracy shutting down cell phone access lest its authority be “challenged.”

In a matter of a few weeks the status of “social media” has been doubly transformed — first from “a free marketplace of ideas” into a potentially dangerous venue that prisoners might abuse, and now from that into a place where communicating might make one a prisoner.
Knapp has more.

Consider the opposing forces. On one side, a massively powerful surveillance State, which brutalizes, imprisons, destroys and kills by myriad methods those segments of populations, both foreign and domestic, that it designates as noncompliant, or threatening, or disfavored for whatever reason, or for no reason at all. The State imprisons, destroys and kills in vast numbers.

On the other side, you have members of those noncompliant, disfavored groups. These particular disfavored persons perform incendiary, revolutionary acts -- such as wearing a pair of stolen shorts a roommate brought home, or writing Facebook posts.

And a lot of people -- including many liberals, progressives and "dissenting" writers -- side with the State.

The formulation I keep seeing, used by self-identified liberals, progressives and "dissenting" writers, goes something like this: "No, no, of course I don't support rioting [eagerly offered to reassure anyone who might have mistakenly thought the writer was "dangerous" to even a microscopic degree]-- but I don't support State violence either!"

These things are not the same. To avoid any misunderstanding, I emphatically state that I include actual rioting as well. To treat them as equivalent in this manner, in any manner of importance, is necessarily to side with the State.

I acknowledge that the issue is not entirely self-evident, although I think it should be easily understood to a large extent, especially by people who regard themselves as "dissenters" in a serious way. I'm currently working on an article about this subject, which I hope to publish in the next few days.

But since I think the issue should be understood to a significant degree after a few minutes of careful thought, I will tell you my reaction to the typical formulation set forth a few paragraphs above. I find such statements absolutely enraging -- and deeply sickening.

To be continued.