What have we come to?
March 30, 2010
The recent arrests of the members of the Hutaree Militia pose a perplexing dilemma for all of us. Many have reacted; if they were going to do that, then they should go to prison. Well, perhaps so. After all, that comes under the heading of “law and order”, and though it does not come under the heading of “crime”, we have been conditioned to accept the conclusion that laws lead to order. In addition, this, of course, leads to a well-ordered society. In fact, it is the epitome of a well-ordered society. Anybody who even thinks against the order established by the government, the Constitution notwithstanding, is guilty of a crime.
Now, many will contest that thinking is not applicable here. They argue that they played out their scenario, in a practice run. I don’t know if all of the facts are in, yet, though we will, most surely, hear the government side (only) of what has occurred, and we will see (have already seen) the rush to judgment.
Perhaps this points out the need to understand what real “law” and real “crime” really is.
From Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:
1. An act which violates a law, divine or human; an act which violates a rule of moral duty; an offense against the laws of right, prescribed by God or man, or against any rule of duty plainly implied in those laws. A crime may consist in omission or neglect, as well as commission and transgression. The commander of a fortress who suffers the enemy to take possession by neglect, is as really criminal, as one who voluntarily opens the gates without resistance.
But in a more common and restricted sense, a crime denotes an offense, or violation of public law, of a deeper and more atrocious nature; a public wrong; or a violation of the commands of God, and the offense against any law made to preserve the public rights; as treason, murder, robbery, theft, arson, &c. The minor wrongs committed against individuals or private rights, are denominated trespasses, and the minor wrongs against public rights are called misdemeanors. Crimes and Misdemeanors are punishable by indictment, information or public prosecution; trespasses or private injuries, at the suit of the individuals injured. But, in many cases an act is considered both as a public offense and a trespass, and is punishable both by the public and the individual injured.
2. Any great wickedness, inequity; wrong
And, if we extend our search to include Tort, we find:
Tort, n. In Law, any wrong or injury. Torts are injuries done to the person pr property of another, as trespass, assault, battery, defamation and the like.
Now, within the Constitution, we find the following, in reference to crime in Article III, Section 2, clause 3:
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
As you read the above descriptions and portion of the Constitution, you might note that “committed”, “act”, “wrong”, “injury”, and, “offense”, are used to denote that which is construed as a crime.
Yes, that’s it! An action must be taken, it must be committed. Conjecture is not used, even once, the describing what a crime is.
Let’s suppose that your neighbor sneaks over at night and chops down your rosebush. You know he did it, but you cannot prove it. You talk this over with a friend and discuss what you could do to stop it. You agree that force is the most productive form of reason and that strong steps should be taken. Based upon this discussion, you expound, even further on what to do. Based upon that meeting, you go to the gun store, get a rifle, and intend to use it on your neighbor, if he chops down another rose bush. Of course, this thought goes through your mind, and, you have even taken actions, thought they are, to this point, legal actions, to prepare for an illegal one. The, one evening, you catch him chopping done your rosebush. You grab your rifle, with the intent of blowing his brains out. You point the rifle at him, and then your conscience takes over and you order him to remain and your wife to call the police. Well, you had the intent, you may have been voiced your intentions, you acted, you went to the scene, but, at the last minute, you did not “do the deed”. Have you committed a crime?
Now, in the present state of our country, people yell “foul” and “treason” in their condemnation of the government’s actions regarding taxes, healthcare, war, executive orders, and all manner of evils, most of which are, without a doubt, violations of the Constitution as we perceive them. Well, Treason, and, perhaps, violation of their oaths, when the consequences are as severe as the will be on our posterity, are, without a doubt, crimes that we, as jurors, might perceive as attaining the necessity of capital punishment. Yet, we simply yell and shout.
However, when a group of people plans for an eventuality that we all see as well within the range of possibility, we are quick to side with that government, regardless of whether a real crime has been committed, or, for that matter, even planned — as the government suggests. Was it to be carried out, or was it a plan that required some outside circumstance to initiate action? In addition, even if it was planned, without outside influence, is it a crime unless committed?
If you wish to propose that playing the plan out, in practice, is an act that should be considered a crime, just why Hollywood would be exempt from such allegations. They play out crimes against government, crimes against people, and even crime against non-existent entities. In so doing, they play, the refine, they play out, each of which is a training tool for us in the real world. Well, that is for entertainment, but, once we see it, does the idea, the concept presented, every really leave out heads?
Ironically, there used to be both laws and standards that prohibited much of what you see on television and in movies, today. At the same time, we have seen federal authority flex its usurped power and make a crime of something that was beyond the conception of criminal, when our Constitution was written.
So, just how does this serve the government?
Let’s revisit the past. In 1972, eight Vietnam Veterans were charged with conspiracy to disrupt the Republican Convention. Another veteran, Bill Lemmer, was an undercover agent for the government. He encouraged the group to expand their thought process and think of more violent means to achieve their objective. In trial, the fact that the defendants were Vietnam Veterans and were accustomed to violence, was an element of the prosecution’s case, though the fact that Lemmer played such a significant role lead the jury to acquit. The trial broke most of the defendants, and they had spent months in jail awaiting trial. The government, which encouraged, acted out, conspired (both within the group and in the FBI offices), and even provided some illegal materials to the group, was not indicted, nor did the stand trial.
Years later, in the nineties, the Viper Militia in Phoenix, Arizona, and the West Virginia Militia were infiltrated by government agents. The laws had been refined, and the fact that in both cases, informants were provocateurs and provided both material and planning, was inconsequential. Convictions were obtained by the government, except, of course, the conviction of the informants, and, those who conspired with them.
For an understanding of how some informants are “recruited by the government, you might wish to read “Informants Amongst Us?”
The government, then, by changing the nature of what is considered a crime, and, by influencing those who might pose a greater threat to their usurpations than others to step over that fine line, even though encouraged by those who will not be charged, serves quite well in reducing those who might act, someday, against the government, and, at the same time, garner sympathy for those who have the same goals, though by different means, of restoring the Constitution, from going anywhere beyond the ballot box.
And, the most damning aspect of this whole practice (law?) is that it presumes that which cannot be proven — that a crime will be committed. Unfortunately, though adhered to by the Founders, only when the damage has been done can a crime have been committed.
If we allow anything beyond that simple fact, we have submitted to domination by government, albeit through very divisive means, the subordination of our rights, principles and our Constitution, to the whim of those in power.