Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Most Frightening Monster Ever

As an author of horror novels, I have a fascination with evil creatures that force their ways into the lives of innocents for nefarious purposes. I think classical monsters are the best. They can all fall into certain categories. Dracula, or vampire type monsters, lull and mesmerize their victims into thinking they’re dealing with some nice, charming type of being and then become parasites, sucking the life essence from their victim. Frankenstein, or zombie type monsters are mindless, usually wondering aimlessly about killing and committing violence for no apparent reason (other than occasionally feasting on brains). Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type fiends are particularly interesting and dangerous because you never know which one you’ll encounter when meeting this bipolar psychopath. Wolfman type monstrosities are kind of a combination of zombie and Dr. Jekyll types, only with the killing and mayhem taking place because of the feral side of human nature rather than because of pure mindlessness. Lastly we have perhaps the most heinous of all, the demon type creature. This would include Satan. These intelligent and thoughtful tricksters will make you believe they are your friends and helping you when in fact they are concerned only with their own evil schemes, their power and acquiring the souls that make them powerful.

Which is the best monster? Which is the evilest? Which is the most frightening? I’ve always thought the ultimate monster would be the one that combines the evilest attributes and intentions of all of the above. I have personally tried to incorporate as many of these characteristics as possible into the evil villains I write about in my novels. The purpose is to keep readers in suspense and hopefully provide a twist when they discover the truth. I’ve been told I do a pretty good job of that, but there is something to the saying that truth is stranger than fiction. There is, in this world, a real monster that combines all the evils of those mentioned above and perhaps some that I have yet to mention.

One might wonder what real life monster would be more frightening than those infamous fictional creations mentioned above. Is it some mass murderer? Is it some sicko who has committed unspeakable crimes against his fellow humans? Is it some mutant who has cast away the last vestiges of his humanity and decided to take vengeance on all those who have ostracized and castigated him? Actually, the monster I’m talking about is not an individual, it is an institution. The most frightening monster in my opinion is the Federal Reserve Bank.

Now, the Federal Reserve is really just a type of a creature known as a “central bank” which control the currencies of many nations in this world. They have been around for some centuries now. The founders of our nation were certainly aware of the existence of these evil institutions as there was much debate between different factions within the original US colonies as to whether or not to allow one in this nation. In the end the founders who favored a central bank managed to get their way, but the debate went on and the first Bank of the United States became defunct in 1811. The Second Bank of the United States was imposed on the people of this nation in 1816 and again lasted only twenty years or so when it was in effect shut down by Andrew Jackson. After the failures of those two institutions the populous in the United States did not have to worry about a central bank and the corruption inherent in such a monopolistic monetary device until 1913 when a few powerful, moneyed, elite individuals who had been manipulating and conniving for the establishment of such a bank saw their plans come to fruition. In effect, the Federal Reserve was US central bank part 3 and would prove to be more diabolical than its predecessors.

The Federal Reserve is so much like the classical monsters I mentioned at the beginning of this article the comparisons are frightening. They are like vampires in that they had to be invited into the country in order to enter. Once inside, they mesmerized their victims with promises impossible to keep. They then proceeded to suck the lifeblood from the economy, enriching themselves while depriving their victim of their rightful earnings through inflation.

Like the wolfman and his ilk, they attacked viciously by insisting congress levy a burdensome income tax on the American people, a tax that was necessary to bring the Federal Reserve into existence. In order to achieve this they actually had to amend the constitution of the United States of America, something that should be quite difficult to do. They accomplished this feat through a great deal of guile and stealth worthy of the most cunning predator. To this day the whole episode remains controversial, but there is no doubt that after 1913 with the passing of the 16th amendment and the creation of the Federal Reserve the wholesale taxation of the American populace began.

Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, one never knows what kind of personality is going to be exhibited by the Federal Reserve. An examination of what’s been happening over the last few years is a good example. One day the economy is chugging along just fine and Fed spokesmen are telling us there’s nothing to worry about, the next day there’s a credit crisis, the housing market (bubble) is collapsing and hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars needed to be created in order to keep the wealthiest of the elite in business. The bailouts alone perhaps murdered (or at least greatly hindered) the opportunities that would have been created for hundreds of small firms to grow as they filled the vacuum that would have been created by the collapse of the larger institutions.

While I don’t know that I’d say that the Federal Reserve is like a zombie, I would say that it behaves in an even more destructive manner by helping to create a population of economic zombies. With the rise of the Federal Reserve in the United States of America came the rise of overly complicated economic theories that dealt not with real economics, but with justifications to allow indebtedness and credit to be the driving factors behind the engines of economics. These theories tried to replace the organic realities of trading real goods and services for money that had already been earned and was defined by tangible substances such as precious metals with the manmade construct of trading goods and services for future earnings using paper debt notes backed only by a promise to pay and the force of government created legal tender laws.

The complications and twists of logic necessary to impose such an institution upon a population cause the minds of many ordinary folks to shut down when it comes to economics. Most people don’t want to think so hard about functions that are otherwise intuitive even to the youngest minds. The basic principle of “I have something you want and you have something I want so let’s trade” is very simple and intuitive. The concept of using precious metals for coins as a basis for trading amongst a large set of people to simplify otherwise complicated bartering deals is also relatively straight forward. The concept of creating money from nothing, on demand by virtue that someone wants to borrow it, is so foreign and incomprehensible to most people that they simply stop trying to grasp the concept. They accept that the Fed is a necessary institution because other people who understand “economics” better than they do say it is, hence they have become mindless in money matters preferring to keep a system that makes no sense because of the perception that it makes their life easier when in fact it is the engine that is making their financial life more difficult.

Another concept that the Federal Reserve has harpooned in its effort to create a population of monetary zombies is the concept of supply and demand. This relatively simple concept that prices rise and fall as supply rises or falls against demand is also simple and straight forward. The same concept should be applied to interest rates. It is applied to the money supply in that as more money is created it becomes less valuable. Inflation is the increase in the money supply. The money supply has become inflated. People don’t seem to want to think about that. This zombie effect has led us all down a path into perpetual debt.

Satan himself would have a hard time competing with the schemers that came up with the Federal Reserve. They used financial disasters likely caused by manipulations and mechanisms employed by the very moneyed elite that wanted to set up the Fed in the first place to instill fear and doubt in the developing American middle class. They sweet talked their way into the hearts of the general populace with promises of economic growth and monetary stability. They then proceeded to infect the body politic with their enticing propaganda to make such an institution seem indispensable to the American people. They did this to trick the people into believing the system of free enterprise was responsible for the nation’s economic woes and into supporting their cause. They did this to capture the economic soul of the United States. It worked. They now hold most of the money, gold, power and control.

The Federal Reserve might be the most perfect monster ever created by mankind, but it can be defeated. Certain promises were made at its conception and those promises have not been kept. The Fed was supposed to provide an engine to prosperity and stability. Instead we got inflation and debt notes that have lost 95% of their value since they were first printed. Instead we got boom and bust cycles that leave the middle and lower classes reeling while the wealthy elite acquire more and more with each downturn. Instead we got a warfare/welfare state that could not have been financed with honest money. Instead of becoming and maintaining the prosperous, freedom loving society that America was destined to be, we have built a world empire that we can no longer afford and a debt burden we may never be able to pay back, all thanks to the financial and accounting voodoo of the Federal Reserve.

We don’t have to allow this creation of the monetary elite to continue. We can arrest its incessant advances into our economic freedoms and take back our future. We can call on the owners and those in charge of this institution to account for their failures. We can insist on a long overdue audit of the Federal Reserve and support all those in congress who are making the effort to do just that. Once the American people see just how corrupt this organization is, once they come to a full understanding of just how monstrous this creation of the European central banks and the moneyed elite is, then we can abolish it and make sure no institution is ever again able to gain so much control of our economy by allowing monetary competition and only honest money to circulate instead of debt notes. Maybe then we can all sleep better and not have to worry about a monster under the bed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Iran, Less Tyrannical Than New Hampshire?

I have this problem. I like to express my opinions in commentaries such as the one you’re reading now. I’ve been doing so for a little over three years now and have yet to make a penny from it. I’ve noticed that some people seem to appreciate my opinion more than others. I do my best to remain polite and respectful to all, even those who may not completely agree with the points I am trying to make. Up to this point I’ve had no agenda, no pressure to give other than my honest opinion of the state of our current reality and my honest view of current events as opposed to the propaganda that mainstream media outlets inundate us with. I have no reason to fear loss of income should I say something one of my sponsors might find objectionable and no reason to fear loss of access should I say something some politician or bureaucrat finds displeasing. I wish these things would change a bit as I am looking for employment at the moment, but until they do I remain uncompromised.

Lately, I have been writing quite a bit about a couple of journalists who have been in the custody of different statist regimes. One, Roxana Saberi, was being held in Iran and the other, Sam Dodson, is currently being held in the United States of America in the state of New Hampshire. In one article I compared the two jailed journalists and their plights. The points I wished to make were how hypocritical governments can be when they castigate another government for something that they themselves engage in and how media coverage of similar incidents can be quite selective.

After not having Internet access for about ten days due to a move and AT&T’s inability to quickly and efficiently fix a problem with my connection and provide excellent costumer service, I went online to catch up with my email and to see how much attention my latest article had gotten. I found one blogger who had made an interesting observation about my article. His contention was that Sam could be set free anytime he wanted simply by cooperating with the authorities. He stated that it was too bad Roxana Saberi did not have this convenience.

It is interesting to note that at the time of this writing Roxana Saberi has been set free while Sam Dodson still languishes in jail. While Mr. Dodson has yet to state his name for the record as requested by the court (not required by statute), Ms. Saberi cooperated fully with her captors (likely under a great deal of duress and in fear of the fate that awaited her) and is now on her way home. This prompted me to ask the question which is the title of this piece as well as a few others.

Is Iran less tyrannical than New Hampshire? I highly doubt it. I am fairly certain that the laws and regulations in Iran are far more restrictive and the punishments likely more severe than those in New Hampshire. When comparing the Saberi and the Dodson cases, however, I could be wrong in this assumption. While I would admit that if Ms. Saberi hadn’t received all the media attention and support she did her case might have turned out differently, I have to say that when push came to shove the Iranian government showed that it could be flexible in its judgments and even somewhat admit that it was wrong. Upon review the appeals court decided that Ms. Saberi’s original sentence was too harsh and suspended a two year sentence hence allowing for her immediate release. While they did not absolve her of all wrong doing, they at least showed compassion, leniency and an ability to see reason beyond their own dogma. Public international pressure likely had much to do with this decision.

My opinion is not that Iran is less tyrannical than New Hampshire, but that it is a less powerful nation than the United States of America. They are, in my humble opinion, more likely to succumb to international pressure because they are by necessity more concerned with their image and standing in the world than is any state belonging to the most powerful nation on earth. This coupled by the fact that Mr. Dodson’s case has yet to garner much if any mainstream media attention makes his continued imprisonment likely.

The continued attitude expressed by the above mentioned blogger, that Mr. Dodson could get out if he simply cooperated, is a prevalent attitude, however, and it therefore seems that perhaps many will continue to say “so what?” to Mr. Dodson’s plight. I would like to address this concern.

It is true that Mr. Dodson could get out if he would simply tell his captors what they want to know. It is true that his fate lies in his own hands and all he has to do is verbally admit that his name is Sam Dodson to the “authorities” and he will be set free. All he has to do is be a good slave and submit to the masters and his nightmare will end. All he has to do is lick the boots of his oppressors and he can get back to his normal life. All he has to do is relinquish his rights and give up his battle to make government officials abide by their own dictates and respect individual rights as they are supposed to and we can all get on with business as usual, with government officials in their proper place oppressing the masses and demanding obedience without question, or else.

Mr. Dodson isn’t in jail because he wants to be there, he’s in jail because he’s fighting for us all. He’s fighting for government recognition of our rights just as the founders of this nation were, albeit in a much more subtle and peaceful manner. The local New Hampshire courts have shown their total disregard not only to the rights enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America, but its own state’s constitution as well. Local officials have shown nothing but total disregard for the rule of law as set down in their own statutes. They have shown nothing but a desire for blind obedience much like third world dictators would expect from their populations. It is up to brave souls like Sam Dodson and other civilly disobedient activists to show them that their coercive and potentially violent actions will no longer be tolerated by a free people.

It is my understanding that a writ of habeas corpus has been submitted to the New Hampshire Supreme Court on Mr. Dodson’s behalf and could be ruled on as early as today. We shall soon see if our rights are still respected by government or whether we truly have devolved into a complete police state where human rights are suspended and we are all expected to submit to the demands of civil authorities and bureaucrats without question or face prison terms of indefinite duration. I wish Sam, and by extension the rest of us, the best of luck.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Of Rights and Privileges

Sometimes it becomes necessary to better define words and terms in order to get a clearer understanding of concepts that are often times nebulous at best and misrepresented at worst. This is especially true of words in the English language which have more than one meaning. Often times these same words are converted into a language known as “Legalese” where they are further distorted and perhaps even purposely obfuscated to fool the common folk into believing a paradigm that isn’t necessarily true. The word right is one such word that comes to mind, particularly when talking about natural, individual or human rights or a specific right. An examination of history and a discussion about the nature of the human animal might be in order to clarify exactly what a right is and how it differs from a privilege.

The examination can begin at the dawn of time when humans hadn’t yet risen far above the wild animals that cohabitate our world. At this time, I suppose we were truly free. Although I don’t know what it was like living back then, I can imagine. Even though back then the individual may have been able to do whatever he wanted, or whatever he could get away with in a might makes right type of situation, I would hesitate to say that the individual had the “right” to do some things. This is because it has always been wrong to engage in certain activities. I would conjecture that mankind was aware of this even when he was in a very primitive state of being. In any case, humans can and will defend themselves as best they can when attacked and this can always lead to harm for any party involved in a fray.

Nature provides our beings with certain attributes that are simply natural for us to use. Among these are the abilities to observe and think for ourselves. Humans are inquisitive creatures for the most part and we naturally wish to gather knowledge and gain a better understanding of the world we live in. We are also endowed with the abilities to move about, gather together and communicate with others for our mutual benefit and to help form our own opinions. In addition, human beings have a natural aptitude to create which we have used throughout the millennia to better our circumstances. These facets of human nature are the foundations on which the concepts of natural rights are built.

As time passed man evolved. Agriculture provided the impetus for forming societies based on cultivation and land ownership. Different types of societal systems were tried as mankind discovered that the Earth itself could be tamed and provide for human needs in a more predictable and secure manner. People came together and built cities and great civilizations and gave birth to collectivist ideas. Civilizations mutated into empires as mankind formed factions who fought each other for control of resources to be used for their own collectives. Those who were elevated to high status in these collectives due to some service provided that the populace felt they could not do without were privileged to live in such a manner. It was not their right to live so opulently regardless of what they thought or which family they were born into.

Empires crumbled and emperors died, but the common folk plodded along. The dark ages, as they were called, saw the rise of the feudal system. These were understandably frightening times. It was during these times that kings and other sovereigns laid claim to the lands. They claimed and controlled nearly all the lands of Europe and passed ownership on to their progeny. The people that lived on the lands became known as peasants or serfs and pledged their allegiance to the sovereigns that owned the lands. They surrendered their freedoms in favor of communal security. This was partially because back then there were bands of marauders wandering the countryside making life miserable for everyone. The serfs, who hardly had time to do anything except work the land, would be able to hide behind the king’s thick castle walls when such murderous bands would come round to kill, rape, pillage and burn. They depended on men who trained in the use of swords and other weapons to protect them. In exchange for all this, they provided the soldiers and royalty with food and other products of their labor. This was an arrangement that worked for hundreds of years at a time when life was short and cheap.

It was during these dark times when the common man came to know intimately not only the enemy outside the walls, but the enemy within. Perhaps even way back in those medieval times the controlling elite had learned the value of fear and propaganda when it came to keeping the ordinary working folk in line. Fear of bands of warriors roaming far and wide kept the commoners near the castle walls, fear of the dungeon kept them paying their tribute to the sovereigns that were their masters. It is likely that many who decided to strike out on their own to claim their own land were quickly killed, as likely by soldiers just following a sovereign’s orders to prevent other serfs from getting any ideas as from foreign invaders or local bandits looking to rape, pillage and burn. While ordinary working folk had the right to strike out on their own and seek self sufficiency, the elite had the privilege of being able to violate those rights without fear of retribution.

Despite all this, despite the wars, the diseases, the forced servitude and the entrenchment of a powerful elite, mankind survived the darkest of times and still managed to keep the desire for freedom flickering in its spirit. Humans, after the fall of civilizations, somehow managed to muddle through and maintain a semblance of the technologies of earlier times, thus keeping a better lifestyle than our wild ancestors at the dawn of time. Slowly our numbers began to grow, cities were repopulated, and mankind once again flourished on the earth. Even as the population grew, accepted a harsh reality for what it was and tried to rebuild what had been lost, the spirit of man sought a better way than the oppression suffered under authoritarian systems.

The Renaissance saw a rebirth of free thinking. The powerful elite tried to keep a lid on knowledge which would eventually elevate the ordinary man’s lot in life, but truth is hard to mask, liberty is a powerful idea and tyranny can only be tolerated for so long. From these thinkers European society continued moving toward more freedom and a diversity of ideas as the old establishment found it more difficult to corral and control the common folk who wished nothing more than the ability to determine their own destiny in this world. All this eventually led to the period known as “The Enlightenment” and the creation of a new nation at least partially based on the ideas of natural rights and protection of the individual. For quite some time these ideas worked and helped to create an extremely prosperous nation. Unfortunately the powerful, privileged elite did not simply bow out gracefully and let the common folk continue to prosper, but have consistently tried to find ways to undermine the liberties they were supposed to respect and regain control over the lives and fortunes of the masses. For decades now, mostly via propaganda and indoctrination, we have been moving backward when it comes to the freedom of the individual and his ability to determine his own destiny.

As a child in government school I was taught, as I’m sure many of my peers were, that we lived in the greatest nation in the world because our constitution granted us certain rights. I was taught that the freedoms we enjoyed while other nations languished in tyranny was achieved because of the deeds of a few great men and authoritarian leaders. As I have aged I have come to the conclusion that these stories and historical interpretations are fallacies and half truths.

Governments cannot give or take rights. Constitutions cannot give or take rights. The individuals working within governmental systems can only decide whether or not to honor the rights inherent in human nature. The founders of the United States of America tried to protect the individual from the power of centralized government by codifying the concepts of natural rights in the Bill of Rights. They tried to minimize the likelihood of a tyrannical, authoritarian system taking hold by contriving a system of checks and balances that were supposed to preserve their own separate powers at odds with each other so that too much power could not be concentrated in one branch. In essence, they tried to tame a wild beast by placing a cage of words around it and those words have proven to be a woefully inadequate deterrent to government growth and intrusion. The elite in control of the mechanisms of state continue to ignore the rules codified in the document known as the Constitution of the United States of America using fear, national security and a constant state of emergency as excuses to do so.

But these rights aren’t simply words written on a piece of paper, they are based upon the natural inclinations of the human animal. The first amendment is based on the knowledge that all humans are able to think for themselves and to form their own opinion. It recognizes that human beings have the ability to try to convince other humans that their ideas and opinions have merit. It understands that humans gather together at times simply for the purpose of expressing and exchanging such ideas and opinions. The basic concept that “no law shall be passed abridging the right” is the concept that we should all be respectful of another’s opinion even if that opinion is abhorrent to us. No one should be forced to keep quiet about his ideas or opinions, nor should he be forced to accept someone else’s opinion as truth. Indeed, while vocal and written opposition can be squelched by certain laws being passed and the heavy handed tactics of the police state being enacted, the thoughts, ideas and opinions inside the heads of some people will remain unchanged. It was recognized long ago that those in power will try to silence opposition to their agenda by jailing and even executing dissenters and that is the true reason for any law or regulation against expressing any kind of idea or opinion no matter how unpopular, hateful, or abhorrent.

That a human being will defend itself when threatened is another natural condition. That is the spirit behind the second amendment. Mankind has developed firearms as a means of defense as well as a means to threaten and coerce. Those who seek power over others would love to be in control of all the guns. A populace who is disarmed is also defenseless should those in power decide they wish to abuse their power, or to round up a certain segment of the population, or to just wantonly brutalize for no particular reason. The right to keep and bare arms was recognized as a way to allow the people this check against government abuse and intrusiveness without them having to fear retribution for the simple act of self defense.

Private property rights stem from the natural creativity of the human creature. These rights are addressed in some form or another over the rest of the Bill of Rights. It begins with the acknowledgement that one owns one’s own body. In the natural state of things, a human being is not owned by anyone else, but will work for and with others and will interact with others on a voluntary basis, usually for their mutual benefit. Since one owns one’s self, then one should also own what one has labored to create. What he decides to do with his property, keep it, sell it, throw it away, etc., should be his own business and of that any of those he may choose to involve. Those who wish power over others have no right involving themselves in the business of others when they have not been invited to do so and when no harm is being done to another.

These and other individual rights that were enshrined in the United States Constitution long ago in an effort to keep the government in check are in danger of no longer being honored by that same government. These rights are inherent in all human beings at the time of their birth, not granted by a political elite claiming authority over a certain population. We see more and more often people everywhere who try to exercise these rights are denied that ability by the forces who wish to maintain their power. Even in the United States of America where freedom and liberty are supposed to be the status quo we have seen the growth of the police state and the brazen subordination of the individual to the state and its authorities. Governments do not want people exercising their rights, they want people to obey so that those in power can exercise their privileges just as the feudal kings of old did. They wish the people to remain ignorant and afraid so that they will beg for help and security. It is up to the common man to show that he will not simply sit back and let his rights be violated by those who seek power over him. Only when these natural rights are once again honored and the laws and regulations violating them repealed will we be able to move forward and once again allow everyone to prosper.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Tale of Two Journalists; Roxana Saberi and Sam Dodson

I have recently written separate commentaries on two jailed journalists. One, Roxana Saberi, has received a great deal of attention from the mainstream media and her case has been widely reported on and disseminated across the globe. The other case is that of Sam Dodson. His case has gotten virtually no attention from the mainstream media. As he languishes in a jail cell refusing to eat his plight has only been discussed on few liberty oriented blogs. I begin to wonder why this should be and thought an examination of the differences between the two cases might shed some light on this phenomenon.

It was interesting to note, as I researched these cases, that the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that last year there were 125 journalists jailed worldwide as of their census of Dec. 1st, 2008. Yet one must wonder exactly how accurate their count is in these times when the Internet provides a means for anyone to become a journalist. The CPJ itself makes an interesting statement on its website that the United States will hold journalists in jail for a few days without charge and then release them. These journalists apparently are not counted in the census, so the true scope of the problem is clearly unknown and severely under reported. I suppose Roxana Saberi and Sam Dodson could count themselves lucky to be getting any attention considering how much attention the other 123 journalists are getting.

That said, why is it that Roxana Saberi gets so much attention while Sam Dodson’s case seems to be followed by only a few – shall we say – lesser known news outlets? Well, perhaps it’s because Ms. Saberi’s case is taking place in Iran whereas Mr. Dodson’s case is playing out in these United States of America, in New Hampshire to be exact. It is always easier to point out the imperfections in one’s neighbor than it is to see the same faults in one’s self. In the same manner, I suppose it’s always easier to see the tyranny and injustice in another’s government than it is to see the same in one’s own.

Roxana Saberi’s case is unusual on many facets. For one thing, she is a dual citizen, so even though she was born in America, the Iranians may feel that perhaps they have more jurisdiction over her since she’s been living there for six years now. Why someone would want to subject themselves to the dictates of two such different arcane and arbitrary sets of law is anyone’s guess, but I imagine Ms. Sebari felt it would help her better perform her work. In any case, her citizenship status has helped to spark international attention. Still, one might wonder, would such attention have been given to her had the United States of America arrested her? Before you claim that such a thing could not possibly happen in this nation keep in mind that many huge laws have been passed since Sept. 11th, 2001, such as The Patriot Act and The Military Commissions Act, which empower the executive branch of our government to ignore human rights and do exactly what is being done to Ms. Saberi. In fact, the last I heard, as of January 2009, a journalist named Ibrahim Jassam is still being held without charges by the US military.

Even the Iranians seem able to do better than that. Ms. Saberi was charged with espionage and tried in an Iranian court of law. This is exciting stuff, the kind of story novels are written about. Granted, the trial was held behind closed doors and in secret, for national security reasons we are told. Of course, the US is not to be outdone by Iran and has created provisions so that the same thing may be done here simply by the executive branch of our illustrious government accusing someone of being an enemy combatant in the war on terror. But at least Ms. Saberi was charged, tried and sentenced which is more than the US has done in several cases when imprisoning journalists, recently holding one without trial for six years.

Please don’t get me wrong, I think what is happening with Ms. Saberi is a terrible, criminal act and that the Iranian authorities should be held accountable for their actions. I’m just trying to put a little perspective on it. It seems to me there is far too much hypocrisy in this world. Ms. Saberi was arrested on unrelated charges constituting a victimless crime and is now sentenced to have eight years of her life stolen from her. Indeed, her life could be forfeit for she has gone on a hunger strike in support of her claim that she is innocent. There is much outrage and support expressed for her.

I am glad to see that the plight of jailed journalists is finally getting coverage, yet the same type of thing can and has happened under US auspices and I continue to wonder just how much attention this matter would have been given if the US was holding Ms. Saberi. Would we see the same level of outrage and support had she been arrested for a seatbelt violation and was then accused of being a spy, handed over to federal authorities, labeled an enemy combatant, held for a time without charges, possibly tortured, tried in a secret military proceeding and finally sentenced? Such a thing is a possibility because government personnel are not held accountable when they ignore their own rules that were supposed to protect individuals from exactly this type of tyranny.

The case of Sam Dodson is a good example. His case may not be as glamorous as Ms. Sebari’s. He may not have been accused of spying for a foreign government or tried for espionage, but the implications of his case are far more important, in my opinion. His case is one based on the power of civil disobedience in an attempt to expose the inherent violence in the system. He has purposely decided to take a principled stance to hold the authorities accountable for following their own rules and regulations.

Mr. Dodson was arrested for refusing to remove a video camera from an area in a building supposedly owned by the public. He did this because he felt the order was unlawful due to the fact that not only was it unconstitutional, but the written order posted on the wall of the building was unsigned. Mr. Dodson was quickly and harshly subdued and arrested for trying to assert his individual rights and for asking the policing authorities involved to do their correct job by enforcing the law as written in the constitution which is supposed to be the supreme law of the land.

Mr. Dodson is still being held in jail because he refuses to give up his rights. He refuses to help his jailors any more than he is required to. He refuses to give them his correct name because it is not required of him. The judge in the case admitted as much in a recent decision when he wrote Sam would not reveal information “as expected” of suspects, not “as required.” He has already graciously cooperated by allowing his person to be fingerprinted and his picture to be taken, as required by law. The authorities know who he is, where he lives, what he does, etc. and yet they continue to hold him simply because he has decided to exercise his right to remain silent, simply because they can’t coerce him into confirming their suspicions with his own voice, hence waiving his fifth amendment rights.

The judge in this case has declared that Mr. Dodson will be held indefinitely until such a time as he provides his name as “expected” of him. His sixth amendment rights have been violated because he refuses to obey a request that doesn’t have to be obeyed. He will continue to languish in jail until he succumbs to the dictates of the authoritarian judge or until a higher court rules on a writ of habeas corpus that has been filed. He was arrested for a victimless crime and continues to be held for trying to hold the individuals who support the system accountable for their actions. He has effectively been given a life sentence for refusing to do something that is not required of him. Indeed, he feels so strongly about seeing to it the authorities respect the rights of the individual that he has engaged in a hunger strike to protest his continued imprisonment. If things continue as they are and in the worst case scenario, Mr. Dodson’s life could be forfeit in an attempt to preserve the respect for individual rights as codified in the Constitution that government officials claim to regard so highly and take an oath to uphold.

Ironically, Mr. Dodson was originally arrested for an activity which if allowed in Iran may have prevented Ms. Saberi’s incarceration. There is no reason judicial proceedings should be secret. If there is evidence that a crime has been committed and that there are victims or intended victims involved then that evidence should be presented for all to see. Allowing independent press agents to video record in public courtrooms ensures that actions taken against any defendant, not just journalists, are justifiable and in accordance with the rules set forth by the system itself. In fact, the very insistence of secrecy should in and of itself make one suspicious of the activity undertaken.

In the US constitution, the idea behind the judicial branch of government was to ensure the protection of individuals against unwarranted and intrusive authoritarian government. It was supposed to serve the populace. Unfortunately, it is not succeeding in fulfilling its role. The decisions being made on a daily basis show that the courts are now more concerned with maintaining the fa├žade of government legitimacy than they are with protecting individual rights. We see this as judges refuse to explain to juries that it is their duty to judge the law as well as the defendant. We see this as judges continue to uphold victimless crimes and collect fines for the state. We see this as judges in courts everywhere consistently change the rules as they see fit and as is convenient for the state. Courts worldwide have become nothing more than tools of government to elicit obedience from the populace rather than a protection for the individual against a much more powerful state apparatus. It’s a shame that it takes such events to shine a light on the corruption of the system. It’s a pity that more judges and officials aren’t principled enough to prevent such occurrences in the first place.