This article originally appeared on Aug 22nd, 2008 in americanchronicle.com
I have a new hero. He calls himself Sam I am and he´s from Texas. He has bravely decided to take on a gang of thugs, liars and thieves armed with nothing but a camera. He put his life and fortune at risk to expose these criminals. He rattled their cages a little and got under their skin. He took a big chance, realizing the violence they could perpetrate upon him, and yet he stuck to his quest and managed to film their shady activities for all the world to see. You can see the results here: http://www.youtube.com/ObscuredTruth
If you go to the above link and watch the videos, you will see that Sam I am is taking on the Texas justice system. He felt that there was an inherent conflict of interest in the system and wanted to demonstrate this for all to see. As he explains, he was pulled over by two armed men and detained for forty five minutes while they questioned him. According to Sam, they did not show him proper ID and did not tell him why he was being detained. They demanded he appear to be judged by one of their black robed men under the threat of being kidnapped and thrown in a cold cage if he should have decided not to show up. Knowing that any black robed man behind a bench would be paid by the same people that paid the uniformed men who had detained him, Sam felt that perhaps there was a conflict of interest here and that he would not be fairly judged. He decided to confront these people who seem to believe they are better than the rest of us. He armed himself with a video camera for his own protection and thought he might ask a few questions to get a better understanding of the nature of our convoluted justice system. What he found was deeply disturbing to anyone who loves freedom and wants to live their lives free of tyranny.
The first thing Sam discovered is that these people are very afraid of video cameras. They don´t want their actions to be public knowledge. They seem to want to prevent the "common folk" from finding out some little secret. They also appear to be frightened of questions. The man in the black robe who calls himself "judge" is especially adverse to answering any questions one may have. How dare anyone question his authority? How dare anyone not understand the nature of his proceedings? Doesn´t everyone know we are all to simply bow down before him and do his bidding, no questions asked? And how dare anyone bring a recording device into a courtroom? Why, all the proceedings are recorded by the state sanctioned stenographer, as they have been for centuries. No need to bring a twenty first century device which would reveal all into the room. Certainly the stenographer, who by the way is paid by the same people who pay the judge and the police, certainly he would never make a mistake, lie, change the testimony or bare false witness should something go amiss. There´s a reason these people do the things the way that they do them, and I highly doubt it has anything to do with protecting the accused against the power of the state.
The refusal of the judge – who is supposed to be a servant of the people, not their master – to allow a video camera into the courtroom should concern everyone. After all, if he´s not doing anything illegal, if he´s not doing anything wrong, then he should have nothing to worry about. Isn´t that what they always tell us when they want to intrude on our privacy? His refusal to give straight forward answers to straight forward questions should be of even greater concern. How is one supposed to defend oneself in a system where the judge refuses to explain the rules of the game? Sam should be ashamed of himself for wishing to obtain knowledge. Why, doesn´t he know that in the courtroom the judge´s word is law? To him, it matters not what any silly state constitution might say. He can change the rules anytime he wants if they get too inconvenient. After all, it´s his courtroom, right?
Then there´s the judge´s insistence that Sam hire a lawyer to answer his questions. It seems to me that here we have another inherent flaw in the system. First off, hiring a lawyer for a traffic ticket is a bit like hiring a mechanic to fill up your gas tank. You´re just going to pay that much more for the gas. After all, defense lawyers swear an oath to the same powers that judges and prosecutors do. They´re all on the same team! They´ve all joined the same club. They´re all there for the purpose of relieving the common folk of their cash. Besides, it´s always been my understanding that the law should to be clear and concise so that everyone can understand it. Why have we allowed it to become so complicated that only a certain class of people can understand it? Why have we allowed a ruling class to develop in this country where everyone is created equal? How did we devolve to such a point where men´s egos become so important that they believe themselves to be of more value than their fellow human beings? How did we become a nation of wimps who have forsaken their God given rights and allowed such individuals to rule over us like kings without even questioning what was happening?
Then there´s Sam. He´s a man who wants to learn, wants to defend himself, and yet the man who calls himself judge does not respect this. After entering a plea for Sam – a blatant conflict of interest since no one should be able to both act as a judge in a person´s case and represent him – the railroading really begins. Rather than simply ask Sam what it was he didn´t understand, "judge" orders one of his uniformed men to remove him from the courtroom. It is out in the hallways of this public building that we find out the real shocker. The police, those who are supposed to protect the rights of individuals, those who swore and oath to uphold the constitution of the state of Texas, don´t care about their oaths. They are more concerned with the orders of their master, the man known as "judge". It is they who ultimately empower him.
And so it is for Sam, taking on the system for something that could have easily been dealt with for a few bucks. Indeed, many of us would probably have buckled and paid the extortion demanded by these men who believe themselves better than us commoners. Why bother with something that would make us feel so uncomfortable? Why challenge something that seems so small? It´s not just the money, it´s the principle. We need men like Sam to remind us of these things. We need to remember out dignity. We need to remember that we are a nation of free people, not a nation of sheep willing to follow without question whatever hollow men present themselves as authority. Indeed, our forefathers founded this nation because they questioned authority. They bravely stood up to a very powerful authority, the most powerful of its day. And that is what Sam has done.
It has been the small things that have mattered. It is the small things that have been used to slowly convince us to stop caring about the liberties we once proudly proclaimed we would die to protect. It is in small ways and with guile that our politicians and justice officials have been able to convince us that we should allow them to stop respecting our rights and start violating them. Sam has concerned himself with something small to alert us to something big. He has done so in a very brave manner, putting himself in harm´s way to sound the alarm to the rest of the freedom loving people´s of the world. He is a freedom lover and a hero much like William Wallace was, and so I name him Braveheart Sam. I wish him the best of luck and pray he gets the backing he deserves.