Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Right to Resist Illegal Searches, Seizures and Arrests

Sometimes discretion is the better valor. Sometimes we cooperate with an authority figure or an armed robber or a bully in order to avoid the immediate bodily injury that would ensue if we didn't. That's a choice that every person has the right to make based on the circumstances, and it is not a good idea to judge other people on their failure to put up a fight when they had every right to. Not everybody is equally as brave. Not everybody is equally as good at martial arts. Not everybody can resist. And besides, it is wrong to blame the victim. But what about the other side of the coin? What if someone does stand up to the bully, the robber or the authority figure acting outside the law? Shouldn't we have that right? And shouldn't the law reviewing the case after the fact come down on the side of the resister using force to protect his or her constitutional rights? If we are not allowed to use force and arms to protect our rights, what good are they, anyway?

In the wake of the Sandra Bland incident, Lew Rockwell had the following "legal" advice to give:

The advice boils down to this: you should not consent to an illegal search, you should voice your lack of consent clearly, but you should also not resist the search. This is about the same as telling a rape victim that she should loudly proclaim her lack of consent while passively submitting to a rape.

One of the reasons this advice is given is in order to later help exclude evidence found during the search.

If police search your car and find illegal items despite your refusal, your lawyer can file a motion to suppress — or throw out — the evidence in court. If the judge agrees that the officer’s search violated the 4th Amendment’s probable cause requirements, she’ll grant the motion. Unless the prosecution has other evidence, your charges would be dismissed.

But what if your objection to the illegal search has nothing to do with any contraband in your possession or evidence of a crime? What if you really have nothing to hide, except that you want your right to be free from illegal searches and seizures upheld? What if you're shy, and you don't want other people to see your stuff? What if being searched makes you feel violated?

The rules set down in the constitution and in the bill of rights were not meant to be some kind of technicality to get criminals off the hook in a trial. They were not meant as a legal trick to nullify bad drug laws. They were supposed to help citizens feel secure in their persons and their property . They were meant to guarantee that Americans would not be bullied and harassed in their own homes or their own turf by their government, in the way that they had been before by the redcoats. That was the purpose. Unless these rights can be protected by force of arms, they don't really exist.

I dealt with this issue in the wake of the Le Brave case in Theodosia and the Pirates: The War Against Spain. 

The result of many an encounter between government forces and ordinary citizens is that the moment the government decides to violate rights, any resistance is deemed a cause for arrest and prosecution. In this way, even if there were no original reasons for arrest, justification can always be trumped up.

The same sort of reasoning was used in the Burr case, when even though Burr and his men never levied war on the United States, and never intended so to do, resisting arrest was seen as levying war against the government. Justice Marshall did not ever rule on this aspect of the case, because he merely found that since Burr was not there when his men were resisting arrest, he was not responsible for their actions. This left the way open for every atrocity since which was based on resistance to tyranny as an act of war against the state.

When the ATF agents climbed in through the window at Mt. Carmel, they had a sealed warrant that they did not bother to share with the Branch Davidians. The Davidians had every right to fire at strangers breaking into their home. But they were deemed to be in the wrong, because you are not allowed to resist the government, even if you don't know it's the government.

That is what is wrong with our constitutional rights at the moment -- that they exist only on paper and not in reality. With mottos like those of Lew Rockwell -- anti-state, anti-war, pro-market -- we can never win our rights back, Passive capitulation is not the answer.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Zora Nadrimal's Half Brothers

The acorn does not fall far from the oak, they say. But Jean Laffite's father was a tanner. It is true that his brother Alexandre preceded him in the privateering profession. But was Alexandre a self-taught sailor -- a pioneer in this new trade? Hardly. Though their father was not a sailor, Alexandre, Pierre and Jean had family members who were ready to teach them the ropes. They were none other than their grandmother's three half-brothers, Reyne, Felix and Clemente,

Excerpt from t he Journal of Jean Laffite
"...under the orders of Uncle Reyne, Felix and Clemente who were the half-brothers of Grandmother"
Was Jean Laffite a self-made man? Yes and No. He was undoubtedly an individual who made much of the opportunities presented to him and who achieved a great deal on his own. But he was also part of a family, and he benefited from the supportive upbringing of his grandmother and the broad horizons offered by her kinsmen.

                                           Excerpt from Theodosia and the Pirates: The Battle Against Britain

It takes many generations in a family before a spark of talent can flicker into a flame. Aaron Burr wanted to be a sailor, too. He ran away from home at age ten and signed on as a cabin boy. But his Uncle Timothy, unfortunately, was not a sailor himself, and he would not allow the orphaned boy under his charge to pursue a path that was not part of the family tradition. So Aaron was sent off to Princeton to study the classics, like his father and grandfather before him, And Aaron Burr, despite his adventurous streak, excelled in his studies, because he did indeed have the ability to parse classical languages programmed into his genes. At first Burr applied himself to his studies until he looked around and noticed that nobody else was doing half as well as he was, and then he relaxed and proceeded to enjoy the rest of his college years.

"You didn't build that." is a phrase that is bandied about by people who think it is unfair that we each have an inheritance and a family legacy and talents that are nurtured in us by relatives who appreciate what we can do, because they can do that themselves, too. But just because you have a foundation built by your parents, grandparents and countless generations before you, that does not mean you have built nothing yourself. Nor does it mean that you should be deprived of whatever advantages you were given at birth in an attempt to level the playing field for everybody else.

Everybody else also has parents, grandparents and nameless ancestors, too. We each come with something built in, and something to pass on to the generations to come.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Why You Can't Just Set Men Free

When I first read the Journal of Jean Laffite, I came across a passage that had me baffled. In it, Jean described how he and Pierre arrived in Mobile with a cargo of slaves that they had plundered from the Spanish, but the American customs tax was too high, so they could not unload and sell the slaves.  They turned back with their cargo in the direction of New Orleans, but could not sell them there, either,  and on the way they met a fishermen and gave him the slaves free of charge. What they could not sell, they gave away. That was when the Laffites realized they would need to find a base of operation in the New Orleans area where they would not have to go through American customs. Luckily, they found Grande Terre and Grande Isle.

The Passage about Giving Slaves to a Fisherman

"In November of 1804 we embarked for Cuba to capture our seventeenth vessel with a cargo of slaves. We set off for Mobile to sell the slaves, a very poor market, and lots of fees for right of entry of the Customs authority. We embarked for New Orleans and also had very little luck with the slaves. We took the boats back out to ocean in order to find a base to discharge the cargo. We found Grande Terre and Grande Isle, and we gave our slaves to a fisherman."

Why couldn't they simply have set the slaves free? Why did they have to give those people away, like a litter of kittens that had no resale value? Jean Laffite did not explain this, because to him it went without saying. The slaves had to go to a good home. They needed someone who would provide for them. They could not just be abandoned hungry and penniless to wander around like strays.

I later dramatized this predicament in a scene from Theodosia and the Pirates; The Battle Against Britain.

Excerpt from Theodosia and the Pirates: The Battle Against Britain

It is easy to become enslaved. Sometimes it happens suddenly. Sometimes it happens gradually. But you cannot expect to become free all at once. Biblical examples tell us that it requires at least forty years in the desert. Forty years is the time it used to take for most of the previous generation that had been born in slavery to die, and for those who were born free to take over the positions of leadership. In fact, chimpanzees, just like indigenous humans, tend to live about forty years in the wild, though much longer in captivity.

Photo Credit: The Daily Mail, UK
Chimpanzeessin Liberia, abandoned by their captors, beg for a handout

I recently read a news story about how the New York Blood Bank set up a virus testing laboratory in Liberia in 1974. They captured wild chimpanzees in order to run medical experiments on them. The captured chimpanzees lived on six little islands and were fed by their captors. They became totally dependent, even though they had once lived free. In 2005 the New York Blood Bank shut down their operation in Liberia, but they promised to care for the chimpanzees they had captured. The funds ran out last year. Now the chimpanzees are living on charity. Even though they are ostensibly free, they have become totally dependent on humans.

You can read the original news story here:

When the Zionists settled in Palestine at the turn of the previous century, under the Ottoman Rule and later the British Mandate, they were the desert generation. When Israel acquired its independence in 1948, they were ready to be self-governing, and they had the ability to fight for their own freedom. Unfortunately, the country was then flooded with holocaust survivors who had not gone through the desert culling. They arrived with the values of dependency built in. That is why today, just like the chimpanzees in Liberia, Israel asks for handouts from the US.

The essence of slavery is not whips or chains or cages. You can tear off the manacles and open the cage door wide, but if the spirit is enslaved, the man is not free. Slavery is abject dependency.  The example of the liberated Liberian chimpanzees shows this very clearly.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Declaration of Independence Through Theodosia's Eyes

The Declaration of Independence is one of the founding documents of the American republic. But it is also Thomas Jefferson's lasting legacy as an individual. Despite the many signatures at the bottom of the document, everyone knows that this is Jefferson's literary masterpiece.

Jean Laffite was a very big fan of Thomas Jefferson. Theodosia Burr despised him. Their contrasting views of the man and of his words and deeds are a big part of the conflict in Theodosia and the Pirates. 

When Theodosia and Jean first meet, the following exchange sets the stage for all other encounters that concern the virtue of Thomas Jefferson.

This fourth of July, if you are looking for a fresh new perspective on Jefferson's legacy and his literary oeuvre, the Declaration of Independence, you might want to consider Theodosia and the Pirates. It deals with issues of high interest to American patriots.