The Supreme Con
In a new ruling allowing the use of strip searches at almost any time, the Supreme Court joins in the federal campaign to strip Americans of their freedom and dignity.
I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented, at least in the field of government, in a thousand years. I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air — that progress made under the shadow of the policeman's club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave. ~H. L. Mencken
On April 2, 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States did something so horrific and dangerous, so potentially damaging to the people of this country, that I hadn't anticipated it as a possibility even in my more cynical imaginings. In Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington they have decreed after a 5-4 vote that law enforcement officials may conduct invasive strip searches on suspects taken into custody for any offense, no matter how minor, even if there's no suspicion whatsoever that a suspect is attempting to conceal weapons or contraband. The ramifications of this decision are to my mind terrifying proof that America has well and truly morphed into a Bizarro World that makes the original fictitious one seem tame and prosaic in comparison.
Before exploring the hazards of this particular case, the most significant fact it demonstrates is that the majority of our Supreme Court has now markedly worsened a situation that was brought about by those in power in America who have either fallen for...or worse, knowingly facilitated...one of the oldest con games in the tyrants' playbook of strategies useful in gaining the consent of those they wish to dominate since the time of the emperor Diocletian. This is the use of the Hegelian dialectic to bring about a desired change in policy, or more simply the contrived use of the 'problem-reaction-solution' paradigm to generate that change, in this case the authoritarian police state the U.S. has become since the events of September 11, 2001. The problem was the attacks allegedly carried out by terrorists on that day that killed over 3000 Americans. This led to the reaction, the fear instilled in many people over the likelihood of further attacks along with the idea that anything that might prevent those attacks was justified in the name of security, which in turn resulted in the solution...the current Security State we find ourselves in.
Whether or not you accept the official story of the 9/11 attacks is not particularly relevant. I don't for several reasons, though I make no claim of having a comprehensive knowledge of every fact pertinent to the events of that day. For starters, my experience as a professional pilot for twenty years and my familiarity with the air traffic control system in use conflict with that official story; a loss of communication with not one but several airliners for several hours should not have been possible, yet it happened nonetheless. Then there's the evidence that our military/industrial complex has been open to using false flag operations to achieve its aims, a subject I've discussed before in my writing for the Herald. That's been further reinforced by the facts of the planned Operation Northwoods and the actual USS Liberty incident, and of course there's the infamous PNAC (Project for the New American Century) document's call for a "new Pearl Harbor" event to achieve their goal of a twenty-first century American hegemony. That last is mighty damned convenient given the timing and almost seamless paralleling of the magnitude of the disaster, don't you think? All in all, while I can't make any declarative statements, let's just say these factors all dovetail nicely when you consider the results.
The Hegelian derived 'solution' of trampling the rights of Americans is a complete absurdity once you distance yourself from the hysterical emotionalism surrounding it for a very simple reason: it accepts the premise that anyone, anywhere, at any time could pose a hazard to others. Think about it. Go back to a time before all this hysteria was whipped into a frenzy of fear and suspicion. Were you constantly worried that every other person was targeting you for some criminal act upon your person? Even now, when you're out and about in public in familiar surroundings, do you worry? Me either. That's because most people simply aren't psychopaths getting satisfaction from plotting against others on a regular basis. As I've said before:
Human society would never have gotten out of the Tigris and Euphrates River Valley if everyone was a dirty rotten scoundrel who attacks or kills others on impulse or just because of a sour disposition. Everyone has bad days and occasional violent thoughts, but we rely on each other not to act on them in a civil society, and we usually don't. There are millions of human interactions every single day without the need for cameras snooping or drawn guns present to make sure everyone behaves. Of course there are criminals and sociopaths, but they're few and far between, relatively speaking, and they're the ones who need watching, not the millions of average folks who are just trying to get by and live their lives. If you accept the authoritarians' scaremongering, you can believe almost any item is likely to be used to carry out terrorist plots, and from there it takes no great leap of the imagination to envision the day when everyone's required to wear transparent clothing at all times to 'protect' us from the dreaded Phillips Screwdrivers Of Mass Destruction wielded by our neighbors.
So now SCOTUS has worsened our situation by giving the green light to any minor official dressed in polyester and wearing a piece of pot metal jewelry to disrobe, poke and prod any of us under the flimsiest of pretexts. I always thought that some degree of smarts was a prerequisite for anyone appointed to the bench, especially the highest one in our judicial system, but it looks like I was wrong, doesn't it? You've been conned by one of the oldest tricks in the book, and now millions are going to pay. The only alternative is, as I mentioned, that you're cognizant of the reality that most people are simply not inclined to commit crimes and you're knowingly abetting the police state not only in continuing to perpetrate this con game, but to advance its quest to crush the spirit, humiliate and possibly torture millions of your countrymen and women.
I dislike having to say that I'm leaning toward the latter explanation. The SCOTUS justices may lack smarts but are far from unintelligent. The court has consistently favored the State over individuals' rights over the last century, and I was frankly appalled when I read some of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's comments on this week's case, from detecting lice and contagious infections, looking for tattoos and other evidence of gang membership and preventing smuggling of drugs and weapons to one of the dumbest, creepiest ideas I've heard:
Kennedy also said people arrested for minor offenses can turn out to be "the most devious and dangerous criminals." Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh initially was stopped by a state trooper who noticed McVeigh was driving without a license plate, Kennedy said.
This is the essence of totalitarian thinking: we are only as free insofar as we don't inconvenience the police in ferreting out crimes...all else is subordinate. With this mindset if logic is followed to its bitter conclusion, we should all be compelled to wear that transparent plastic clothing I mentioned to demonstrate that we're not concealing any threatening object, and go about with our hands laced behind our backs to prove we're not about to commit some violent act. Such is the nature of the tyrannical “suspect everyone, everywhere, at all times” mindset I've discussed. I reject that philosophy, especially as an American; we do not exist for the convenience of police everywhere, and those that believe we do would feel more at home somewhere this is practiced, such as North Korea. Turning the founding American principles of individual rights and the rule of law to accommodate people like these is utterly unacceptable to me.
Think I'm exaggerating or engaging in hyperbole? Possibly the most effective tool of repression is tyranny's ability to strip its subjects naked, to put them at their most vulnerable in order to humiliate and mortify and often kill them. From the killing of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste in 320AD, through the Nazi atrocities of the second world war that invariably stripped victims naked as a de rigueur part of their ritual humiliation, to the modern photographs of naked detainees at Abu Graib being tortured and brutalized for their captors' amusement, again and again we see this technique used.
Within the last couple of days, author and freedom activist Naomi Wolf published an article in the Guardian also examining this question. I've referenced her work before in my essays and still consider her The End of America a solid piece of research on repressive regimes and their parallels with modern America. In her latest piece, she echoes the cautions I've mentioned, stressing one point that hadn't specifically occurred to me, but is exactly the sort of hazard I warned of in my Mission Creepiness piece in early December:
The most terrifying phrase of all in the decision is justice Kennedy's striking use of the term "detainees" for "United States citizens under arrest". Some members of Occupy who were arrested in Los Angeles also reported having been referred to by police as such. Justice Kennedy's new use of what looks like a deliberate activation of that phrase is illuminating.
Ten years of association have given "detainee" the synonymous meaning in America as those to whom no rights apply – especially in prison. It has been long in use in America, habituating us to link it with a condition in which random Muslims far away may be stripped by the American state of any rights. Now the term – with its associations of "those to whom anything may be done" – is being deployed systematically in the direction of … any old American citizen.
This does not bode well for us as Americans. In my previous essays I've warned over and again that as Professor R.J. Rummel has seen many times in his research on the phenomenon of democide, governments do one thing better than almost anything else: they kill people. Over 262 million of them over the twentieth century alone, not counting combatants in war, he's found. Studying this dismal phenomenon led him to formulate a simple postulate...that too much unaccountable power concentrated in too few hands almost invariably leads to massive civilian casualties. In addition, a recent study by researcher James A. Lucas indicates that American wars of aggression have been responsible for between 20 and 30 million deaths overseas just since World War II. 'Wars of aggression,' we should remember, were considered war crimes by this country...at least until recently...and we not only prosecuted but imprisoned and executed German and Japanese officials for them after the Allied victory in 1945.
This country has taken no lessons from its murderous ventures in foreign countries, and now seems poised to continue them right here at home. Remember the rhetoric surrounding the NDAA that it "designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland?” As I've cautioned before, Americans have also come to accept the very worst in human behavior as routine for far too many situations, and now thanks to our own Supreme Court, millions more Americans can expect to be exposed to them as a matter of course, even those not guilty of even the slightest infraction.
Don't forget that Albert Florence, the gentleman at the center of this case, was arrested, strip searched twice, and detained for six days in jail over his supposed failure to pay a traffic fine, which he'd not only paid, but was an administrative offense to begin with.
Think about that the next time you're out for a drive and see the lights of a patrol car behind you begin to flash.