The most lucid examination of the gun control issue to date

C0nc0rdance is a scientist who often appears on The Magic Sandwich Show, which I sometimes watch.  And while I do not agree with all the views expressed on that show, I do like the level and manner at which the discussion occurs.

So, when C0nc0rdance put out a video on the topic of the 2nd Amendment and the whole gun control issue, I expected a well thought out, well supported position.

Having heard C0nc0rdance’s views on individual vs. collective rights, I also expected that his conclusion will not be the same as mine.

I was not disappointed – on either count.

I was, however, surprised how long into the video I agreed with each and every word he said.  His conclusion and mine hinge on one very important distinction in how we perceive ‘rights’….

It is my core belief that the only way for a society to function is to recognize the inalienable rights of each and every individual within that society.  The very concept of ‘collective rights’ is anathema to our civilization, where all rights derive from the individual.  It is therefore not possible for any group to have different rights than those the individuals within that group have….because if it did, then those individuals within these privileged groups would have greater rights than other individuals in society and we would no longer have equality before the law.

In other words, in order to ensure that each citizen is treated equally by the courts and the law, we are limited to only legally recognizing individual rights.  This makes any argument based on ‘group rights’ invalid.

Despite this insurmountable difference of opinion in individual vs. collective rights which makes C0nc0rdance arrive at a different conclusion than I, I think his argument is very good and well worth listening to.

Reality Check: VP Biden, “No law abiding citizens fears 2nd amendment infringement”

 

More thoughts about the issues of ‘privcy’ and ‘presumption of privacy’

Over the weekend, this video, purported to be from ‘Anonymous’, was released.  It demands that the Canadian Minister, Vic Toews, remove bill C-30 (which would permit civil servants unlimited snooping powers on the citizens via the internet without judicial oversight) and that he step down immediately.

The following video also purports to be from ‘Anonymous’.  As I have no connection to that group, I have no idea if it is authentic.  However, I do think it is worth posting because it raises several issues worth further discussion:

This video raises the connection between the desire by various governments to regulate arms and to regulate the internet.

This is a deeper connection that one may think, at first glance.  But, deep down, both are attempts to take away the citizen’s ability to protect themselves – including, if necessary, to resist their government.  Both are ways in which governments make their citizens less secure, more isolated, and more afraid of their government.

Even if you are not as libertarian in your views as I am (I think that monopoly control over infrastructure – even, or perhaps especially, information infrastructure – is perilous to civil liberties), it is easy to see how governments are threatened by citizenry that is difficult to control and willing and able to oppose them.

Firearms are a means of physical self-defense and an equalizer between the strong and the weak.  Even a small woman can protect herself from a rapist with the use of a gun:  her physical safety is no longer dependant solely on the timely response of the state to come to her aid.  This threatens the government monopoly on the enforcement of laws:  as every monopoly’s natural reaction would be, the government’s reaction is to restrict this competition.

Let’s be clear about this:  government ‘regulation’ of firearms is not about increasing public safety by having many well trained, well armed citizens available in public spaces who would be able to stop law-breakers and thus increase public safety.  To the contrary:  it is always specifically designed to restrict gun ownership, use, and the very presence of privately owned guns in public spaces.  This intolerance on the part of government of guns in private hands – even though this increases public safety – is indicative of the government’s disrespect for its citizenry, with the goal to increase government coercive powers at the root of all ‘arms regulations’.

Information is a weapon and a powerful one.

So is anonymous speech.

The internet enables both.

As a matter of principle, anonymous speech is necessary for the preservation of the very freedom of speech.  For example, The Federalist Papers could never have been published had their authors not had absolute anonymity at the time of publication!  The bigger the government is, the more dangerous it is to speak up against it openly.  Without anonymous speech, governments do indeed become more totalitarian and more tyrannical in nature:  this cycle has been repeated so often, it is blatant.

Yet, the ever-growing governments in the formerly-free world now wish to have complete and unfettered access to the information which would identify each and every internet user:  to be able to attach a name to every sentence uttered on the internet, from seeking sensitive advice at an online support group to dissenting political speech!

Of course, the governments are also increasing citizen surveillance on so many fronts…  There will soon be no arena where we do have ‘presumption to privacy’, not even in our homes and certainly not anywhere else.  So, the whole ‘getting a warrant’ might be a mute issue…

Technology is beautiful – but it is a tool, to be used for good or evil.  It is necessary that we understand these tools because our society will need to evolve along with them.  What am I talking about?

For example, drone-based aerial surveillance…

Or this totally awesome ‘bug thech’!  (Do watch the video, it is art and technology combined!)

What is my point?

As new technologies arise, we will need to develop laws to govern their use.  However, these laws (all laws, really) ought to be focused on protecting the civil libeties of individual citizens – not legitimizing the ways that governments and big business can circumvent them!

G20, police behaviour and the ‘split’ on the ‘right’: part 1

All right – this is a difficult issue to tackle.  Still, it is an important one.  So, if I go off on a tangent – please, comment and re-focus me!

The G8/G20 event cost over 1 Billion dollars in ‘security’ costs.  Many people complained – yet, though I thought the figure high, I did not complain because I thought that if the people in positions to know thought the security costs were that hight, I was unwilling to double-guess them.  In no way ought this event have been turned into a showcase for ‘unlawful people’ – if that was going to be the cost of upholding the rule of law, I was willing to pay the bill and not grumble (too much).

I am, if such a thing can be said to exist, a ‘pro-law libertarian’:  it is my deeply held conviction that it is only through the rule of law that our rights can be respected and our liberties can be exercised.

I take a poor view of each and every individual who breaks the laws – even ‘bad laws’ (two ‘wrongs’ do not make a ‘right’), provided citizens have a recourse through their ability to lobby to change or otherwise get rid of ‘bad laws’.  Even living in a totalitarian state, (though young) I thought that leaving everything behind and running away (not so bravely) was preferable to taking the law into my own hands:  it would take a lot, including absence of any other course of action, to get me to break the laws or to condone others to do so.

Having explained my philosophical bend, I also ought to explain my attitude towards the police (and, yes, I am volunteering with the Ottawa police because I think cops ought to be ‘the good guys’).

Police officers occupy a very unique position in our society:  they are the ‘Agents of the State’ whom we entrust with upholding the rule of law in our society.  As such, they occupy a position of trust unlike those of most other people in society:  trust which has to be continuously earned by their behaviour, because the alternative is too terrible to contemplate.  (Yes – I still have the nightmares…)

Unfortunately, ‘the police’ have recently been entrusted with two completely different goals:  one is to ‘uphold the law’, the other is to ‘maintain order’.  These two tasks are not necessarily in ‘extreme’ opposition to each other – but neither are they completely congruous with each other, either!

Example (from the past – to keep the current tempers even):

A large number of militant anti-Israeli protesters sees an Israeli flag in the window of an apartment and threaten to break into the building to get rid of it (presumably looting, or at least ‘damaging’ the building in the process).  The police, ‘in order to maintain public order’, illegally enter the apartment and remove the ‘offensive’ flag in order to appease the mob which is threatening lawless violence.

These individual police officers chose to break the law, in order to ‘maintain public order’, instead of waiting for law-defying individuals to break the laws, then arresting them in order to uphold the laws of the land!

That is only one such example where the police chose to ‘maintain public peace’ rather than to ‘enforce the laws of the land’:  had they enforced the laws, they would have waited for individuals to damage the property, then and only then arrested these individual lawbreakers and brought them to justice.

We have also seen a parallel to this in Canada, when a lone pro-Israeli protester (not breaking any laws) faced a large number of anti-Israel protesters in Alberta:  the police threatened the lone, law-abiding, not-violence-threatening individual with arrest in order to ‘not provoke’ the violence-threatening (and thus law-breaking) mob because the law-abiding man’s ‘presence’ was a ‘provocation’ and thus a threat to ‘public order’.  (Sorry, I can’t find the link – if you can, please, do so in the comments:  yet, this is so common, most of us are aware of many parallel incidents!)

George Jonas (a fellow escapee from a totalitarian police state) phrases his observation of the role the  police in our society are increasingly choosing to play:

‘The only group exhibiting Canadian-style restraint was the police. They cast a calm eye on the pandemonium, took a balanced view and chose no sides between people trying to exercise their rights and bullies trying to prevent them.’

These occurrences are not isolated:  over and over, in much of the ‘free world’, we have seen police preferring to aid law-breakers (who are ‘difficult-to-handle’) in oppressing the population… instead of upholding the laws of the land.

Just consider the going-ons and race-based policing  in Caledonia!!!

So, how does this relate to the G8/G20 situation – and the ‘split’ on the ‘right’?

In how the people usually considered ‘little-c-conservatives’ perceive what happened and how we evaluate the role the police played…

Let me first get a few things off my mind:  it was idiotic to hold the G20 meeting in the middle of downtown of Canada’s largest city.  Ensuring the security of the participants was going to be a nightmare.  It was a situation where just about every possible outcome was going to draw serious – and ‘warranted’ – criticism.  In other words, it was likely to be a ‘no win’ situation…

The police who were entrusted with the task of providing security for this event were in an unenviable position:  ‘ensuring security’ necessarily put them into conflict with their primary role – that of ‘upholding the laws’!

Why?

Because ‘ensuring security’ meant the police were responsible for preventing any law-breaking which would result in ‘breeches of security’ at the summit.

However, the actual and proper role of the police is to uphold the laws:  this means that they are only permitted to intervene AFTER a law has been broken!

How can a person (or collection of persons) possibly prevent a crime – when they are, by law, permitted to intervene only after a crime has been committed?!?!?

(Continued in ‘Part 2’ and ‘Part 3’)

Steal this post!

With the upcoming conference ‘The Media’s Right to Offend: Exploring Legal and Ethical Limits on Free Speech’ in Halifax (Yes, Ezra will be speaking), I cannot but make the connections between the limitations on the freedom of speech the government on one hand and corporate interests on the other.

This is not meant to distract from the one – rather, it is to call attention to the connections between the two, and to make sure we don’t get side-swiped by corporate censorship just as we will have won the legal battle against the government.  And, it seems clear to me that corporate censorship is as much of a threat to our freedoms as government censorship is.

xkcd’s ‘Steal this comic’

If you dont like this, demand DRM-free files
xkcd says:  … I have lost every other piece of DRM-locked music I had paid for. 

While I have too much respect for the rule of law to advocate piracy, I do think that we need change bad laws.  And laws which turn the majority of the population into criminals (even without their knowledge) are bad laws – in my never-humble-opinion.

If you want more info on this – and missed my earlier rant on this, please, watch ‘Steal This Film’!  It is important that we understand how these laws can affect us….and what USED to be perceived as ‘piracy’:

  • in the 1970’s, network TV fought against Cable, saying putting their content onto a cable that ran to people’s home was ‘piracy’
  • when the VCR was invented, Hollywood movie studios predicted that this would be the end of them, as this ‘piracy’ would rob them of revenue.
  • the ‘sheet music’ people – as well as many musician unions – resisted ‘recorded music’, because they perceived it as ‘piracy’
  • the 1st mp3-player out there (long before ipod) was met with lawsuits for ‘facilitatin piracy’

Traditionally, copyright violation was a matter for civil courts.  In order for a criminal prosecution to occurr, there had to be more than just simple copyright violation.  But that is no longer the case, as corporations are forcing criminal charges to be laid agains simple, non-commercial copyright violation….that is something we need to pay attention to!

So, please,

Steal This Film

Canadian Voting Day!!!

Today, 14th of October, 2008, is Canadian election day!

 

EVERY VOTE COUNTS!!!

 

So, please, pick the candidate YOU like the best, or the party YOU like the best, and

 

GO OUT AND VOTE!!!

 

After all, if you don’t vote, you will have given up your right to complain about the election’s results!

 

And that would be a shame…

‘The Truth about big government’

As the political debates rage on both sides of the 45th parallel, it might be timely as well as interesting viewing:

The Truth About Big Government (part 1 of 2)

The Truth About Big Government (part 2 of 2)