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What?

The title of this article reads like a Zen Kōan, the best-known being “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

I don’t mean my title as a mystery or a riddle. I mean it exactly.

You don’t need to focus on police killings of black men such as Michael Brown, Eric Garner, or Freddie Gray to conclude that there’s an underclass vulnerable to homicide under color of law. If we look no wider it’s facile to adopt a narrative that the Civil Rights movement failed to move the United States past institutionalized white supremacy, paradoxically at a time when Freddie Gray’s Baltimore has a black mayor and police chief and both the two-term current President of the United States and both the current and previous Attorney General of the United States are black.

The evidence alone demands we look further.

Spending a few minutes looking at the CopBlock project website tells us it’s not just black men who are on the business end of thuggish police. There is no race, gender, or age that is not regularly the subject of harassment and brutal tactics at the hands of law-enforcement officers — local, state, and federal. I’m not talking about bad apples generally unrepresentative of their departments, sadists failed to be weeded out. I’m talking about officers trained in official use-of-force policies that exonerate sworn officers when they use weaponry and tactics justified with the argument that any fear of harm to an officer exonerates lethal or barely sublethal violence for even the most minor offense or generalized suspicion.

This is the sort of official lawlessness under color of law that brings out news trucks, protesters, political hucksters, wannabe nihilist revolutionaries armed with bricks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails, fire fetishists to whom a burning building is orgasmic, and opportunistic looters.

There’s a federal law supposedly addressing this: Title 18 USC Section 242 — which can be found on the Department of Justice website:

DEPRIVATION OF RIGHTS UNDER COLOR OF LAW

Summary:

Section 242 of Title 18 makes it a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

For the purpose of Section 242, acts under “color of law” include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the their lawful authority, but also acts done beyond the bounds of that official’s lawful authority, if the acts are done while the official is purporting to or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties. Persons acting under color of law within the meaning of this statute include police officers, prisons guards and other law enforcement officials, as well as judges, care providers in public health facilities, and others who are acting as public officials. It is not necessary that the crime be motivated by animus toward the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin of the victim.

The offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.

TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 242

Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnaping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

If this law alone was enforced, we’d be halfway to the restoration of law and order because the assumption of Sovereign Immunity that protects the police — a concept antithetical to the concept of an America freed from monarchy — would no longer shield the shielded from more obvious cases of officious criminality.

Nonetheless that kind of obvious lawlessness is the least of our current abandonment of law.

Justice in Blind

When in the Course of human events …

  • The Fifth Amendment is nullified and any non-cooperation or technically false statement to an official investigator can get one imprisoned — and Martha Stewart was neither black nor poor — there is no law and order anymore;
  • And when

  • Not complying with tax laws or mandated accounting;
  • Failure to return library books or failure to pay parking tickets;
  • Allowing your child to walk home from a park unaccompanied by an adult;
  • Non-compliance with any of hundreds of thousands of obscure and contradictory local, state, and federal regulations and paperwork;
  • Possession of substances or objects arbitrarily prohibited
  • Civil forfeiture of private property without a conviction of a crime, approved by the Supreme Court;
  • Death by drone, detention without charges, official spying without limit;

makes what is claimed as law a chute into court, seizure of one’s property, arrest, extortion into a plea, and imprisonment for even the top one-percent — much less the other 99% who barely scrape by and can’t afford expensive accountants and lawyers, or worse, the grave …

Then the claim we live under reasonable or fair law demanding obedience is a God damned lie.

We live in an age of patchwork customs and legality, some based on legislation, some from bureaucratic rule-making bought and paid for by lobbyists, some from court ruling and precedent forged by a class of professional philosophunculists.

Nobody is “equal under the law.”

Some people have established privilege and protection.

Some people have extra risk and liability.

Sometimes the difference is a yard or two crossing an imaginary territorial line.

Sometimes it’s race/class/gender/shifting popularity.

Sometimes it’s looking at someone powerful the wrong way.

Sometimes it’s just confusing, like whether a Native American has more brownie points than a Transgender or a Veteran.

It’s heaven-made for lawyers, a priestcraft who navigate our way through this established insanity for hundreds of bucks per billable hour.

It’s also confounded by statistics everybody knows which aren’t true and partisan divisions that are moving targets.

There is no law. There is only power and market and what Ayn Rand delightfully called the Aristocracy of Pull.

Equal under the law? There’s law?

You conservatives are just kidding, right — and you liberals are just in denial?

I never thought I’d see the day when Michael Moore, the filmmaker of Bowling for Columbine would agree with me that the reason for the Second Amendment is to arm the public so it can defend themselves. But Moore tweeted on April 30th, four days ago, “Next demand: Disarm the police. We have a 1/4 billion 2nd amendment guns in our homes 4 protection. We’ll survive til the right cops r hired”

Michael Moore tweet

When police commit crime under color of law, the law dies and the lawless rule.

Usually councils of business leaders are the most vocal supporters of police and government in general. How long will it take for business leaders to remember that the American Revolution of the 1770′s was supported by business leaders for the obvious reason that sending capricious and bureaucratic “swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance” is bad for business?

And if the costs of complying with evermore government regulation doesn’t wake them up to the cost of official lawlessness, could arson and looting trashing their businesses — following just about every instance of police lawlessness — possibly make the small business a revolutionary vanguard again?

When business relies not on government to provide law, but the rules of business itself to provide a stable market, we might get going a coalition to get our country back from those liars who claim that anarchists like me are the foes of law, when the opposite is true: the most dangerous enemies of law today are those who claim to enforce it.

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