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A Broken Fence

I haven’t posted much lately, I know. To be frank, I’ve considered just taking down my blogs. I’ve struggled with the decision as to what to do — and tried to understand why I feel the way that I feel. It’s not that I don’t have things to say: I’ve written numerous posts. I just never complete them because, well…it hardly seems worth it.

Our system is irrevocably broken. Nothing short of a new Revolution would fix it. And I’m not at all sure the Americans of today can fix it even then. We can only, at best, tear down the present Tyranny.

And why is that?

Brian Tracy, in his book No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline, writes:

In the United States, we have a Constitution and Bill of Rights. These documents lay out the rules by which Americans agree to live. They create the structure of our government and guarantee our rights. But they assume that our elected representatives will be men and women of honor, committed to protecting and defending those rights. They attempt to ensure that only men and women of character can thrive and prosper over the long term in our economic, political, and social system. They aim to assure that, in most cases, only men and women of character can rise to high positions in society.

Frankly, I don’t know that I agree with Brian Tracy concerning the aim of the rules laid out by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, at least in terms of the aim being to assure that only certain kinds of people thrive, prosper, and rise to high positions in our society. It makes some sense that this might be the end result of a system based on our Constitution and Bill of Rights, but I think the aim is much simpler than that: the aim is simply to guarantee life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is available to each human being. In particular, it gives the government certain limited powers necessary to structure a society where that is possible, while simultaneously trying to ensure that government doesn’t exceed those powers in a way that negatively impacts individual choices regarding life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

He’s dead right, however, about the rest of it. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are completely useless unless our elected representatives are men and women of honor, committed to protecting and defending those rights.

And, increasingly, they are not.

Day after day, I go out to “do battle” in an adversarial system the goal of which is sometimes described as “to seek justice,” or, at the least, “to preserve the social order.” But “preserve the social order” can mean a lot of things. If it means something like “preserve the world in such a way that the haves continue to have and the have-nots continue to have not,” then there is no relationship to justice. If it means “to provide a means whereby those who have been wronged can have some chance of being made whole again” and “to provide a means whereby those who have proven they are not able to live in a civilized society can be handled in such a way as to assist them in becoming less harmful to others, or in a way that protects us when they will not ‘reform,'” then there is the potential that it connects to the concept of Justice.

Increasingly, our “Justice” system has become disconnected from the concept of Justice — whether you like to spell justice with a capital “J” or not.

This, I’ve found, is a difficult world for me to live in. It’s the kind of world in which I find myself increasingly on the side of troublemakers — I do not mean “criminals,” although certainly if I were to take the obvious path of armed resistance, that would make me into a criminal in the eyes of most people.

And I have no desire to be a criminal. I simply desire to interfere with the criminals who, increasingly, are running our system; nominally, our “justice” system. And make no mistake, criminals are what they are: those who would destroy the values on which this once-great nation — this Great Experiment, as it was called — was founded, while making a pretense of upholding those values are worse even than the criminals who kill, rape, or rob from people. They — the judges, the prosecutors, the law enforcement officers who consider the Constitution an impediment to the achievement of their goals — destroy an entire society. They bring to an end our Great Experiment.

Constantly having to fight them all frequently feels, at least for me, like an overwhelming task. How do you handle working in a system where, for example, ex parte communications between judges and victims, judges and probation officers, or judges and prosecutors are so routine that judges don’t even try to hide it because they don’t actually recognize it as wrong? How do you handle working in a system where the antagonism to accused people, or (and these are connected) the support of “victims” has become so strong that unfairness is built into the system? How do you justify being part of a system in which the authorities aggressively pursue DNA testing to prove a dead man killed his wife, (Edit 12/2015: link gone.) but vigorously resist efforts to allow DNA testing to prove a living man’s innocence? What do you do when judges consistently side with the prosecutors on such issues?

Our system has become skewed because we have forgotten what we once knew. The Founders established a system that should have lasted for the ages. As Brian Tannebaum has pointed out,

Four of the first ten amendments, otherwise known as the Bill of Rights, were written for the criminal justice system.

And he went on to say,

To sum it up, the criminal defense lawyer mirrored the philosophy behind the creation of America – a mistrust of government, a method of redress, and liberty. The criminal defense lawyer was given important powers to question government and assure that any attempt to take away liberty was done with strict scrutiny.

“Strict scrutiny.”

Any scrutiny these days generally has one result: arrest.

Despite all the above, as Scott Greenfield notes, Americans, although distrustful of the “justice” system, continue to believe in, to support the police. How we became transformed from a nation that distrusted authority into one that blindly supports it is beyond me. But it is increasingly clear that most Americans bear an uncanny resemblance to sheep, while too many others resemble Norm Pattis’ sheep-fixated dog, Odysseus.

Norm has learned the futility of trying to fight “Ody’s” inbred over-herding of sheep. The best Norm can do is keep Ody away from them.

Our Constitution and its attendant Bill of Rights were intended to do that — to keep the Odysseuses in our nation away from the sheep (and all the rest of us), to allow us the security of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness unencumbered by those in whom the tendency to herd everyone else was overbred.

But the fence is broken. Where the courts haven’t actually torn it down, it is simply ignored.

The Fourth Amendment? The Odys merely testi-lie that they had permission. The courts believe them because everyone illegally possessing marijuana is okay with showing it to the po-po. The Fifth Amendment? The stupid sheep didn’t realize they had to bleat exactly the right words to invoke their right, so their bleating of the wrong words is completely admissible in court. The Sixth Amendment? Who can afford that? (Edit 12/2015: Link broken, and replaced with another. And see this, too.)

And let’s not even discuss the long-absent Eighth Amendment, the loss of which means criminal penalties can increase without limitation in such a way that jails and prisons now load up on innocents who plead out, rather than risk the long-term consequences devolving from our current “justice” system. This is done, again, with the full support of our courts.

When the other branches of government don’t give the Odys enough power,the Odys will simply appropriate it anyway. That’s what Odys the world overdo.

And me? I’m getting tired of trying to chase the Odys away from the sheep. Especially when the sheep don’t really appreciate it anyway. It’s bad enough to have to fight the Odys, without having the fight the sheep, too.

I sure do miss that fence.

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