Trial Attorneys Free Press Advocates Defenders of Due Process
“We may have democracy, or we may have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”1
This is an authoritarian democracy. Our rights to protest and to speak freely are sacred until they have a subversive effect on the running of an institution, at which point all is shut down so that not a tweet can be heard. When any right threatens the power structure, that is the moment when that right falls under authoritarian control. When a right becomes something dangerous to the establishment, that right becomes criminal. When the individual becomes a threat to the establishment, that individual becomes less than American. An outlander. A terrorist threat.
We are the outlanders. This country has been usurped, taken over. We do not recognize America in its current form. We see it as an occupied nation, as a sold and shattered land: a society bought and traded by rich criminals who have built and established a permanent police state. We are the ones who fight against Occupied America, who understand the protest and challenge of government to be an essential part of being, who vigorously stand against the dangerous buffoons who, in lieu of the ability to think in complex and evolved terms, construe every human question in favor of profit, war, and control.
1. TEAR DOWN THE PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX.
It is a racist, parasitic lesion on our system of injustice, a metastasizing cancer on our society and spirit. We must utterly tear it down. On the legal front, always refer to it. The term prison-industrial complex should be heard in U.S. courts every minute of every day. Impede it. When a client is being sentenced, file a motion against his incarceration on the grounds that incarceration falls under the sole purview of government activity. The prison-industrial complex is evidentiary proof of this country’s slide into totalitarianism. Our economy depends on the deprivation of freedom. We are product-inmate-employees from the third tier of the corporate prison, to the slaughterhouse, to the Wal-Mart aisles of endlessly false fluorescent light. This is the publicly traded sell-off of our liberty, the cell door closing behind our republic, the loud thud heard as the yells and cries of the savaged and forgotten pierce the caged American night. We no longer exist to be free, but only not to be jailed. For those on the outside—not yet incarcerated—the prisons and the jails must become zones of constant resistance and attack. Take that for whatever it means: they are the living embodiment that the country has been taken over by corporate power (Corrections Corporation of America is example number one). The Constitution has been ripped apart, turned into garbage, and thrown into the dumpster with the fatty corporate food that’s force-fed down the gullets of our brothers and sisters on the inside to make them lazy and open to the coercive practices, beatings, and mental isolation. There is no hope in America as long as the prison-industrial complex is the hidden fear at the core of our being.
2. THE FEDERAL GRAND JURY IS A FRAUD.
Challenge it. Utilize Fourth and Fifth Amendment arguments, attempt to quash every subpoena, and monkey-wrench the federal grand jury until it is made unworkable and forced into reform. Send the message that you and your people refuse to be bullied by your own government. They work for you. You pay their salaries. You will not allow them to treat your life like their own personal plaything: your conversations recorded, your movements watched, your life broken down into units, transacted, dealt, controlled, and traded from one institution to another. Bring us your poor, your tired, and your hungry—and we’ll bury ’em. We must restore the gatekeeping function of grand jury. Through any means necessary, find a way to exclude negative evidence, present favorable evidence, and break the government’s lock on being able to indict who it wants, when it wants. The federal grand jury is the greatest tool of totalitarian repression in this country as it not only serves to incarcerate but also to spread fear of the power of the state.
3. SHUT DOWN THE N.S.A.
Human beings are not cogs. We do not have “for sale” signs branded on our souls. We were not born to be monitored or watched, our lives made playthings for voyeuristic perversion of the bureaucrats at Homeland Security. This is the battleground: internal truth. The N.S.A. versus free will. The right to be confused about who I am for my entire life should I choose to be. You know it, you love it, and when they got you going six hours straight in the interrogation room I hope it rises up to you and gives you smiling strength: You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice, you can choose not to decide you still have made a choice, you can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill. I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose free will. If they can hide our own truth from us by making us question where we begin and end, who we really are and whether these things we thought we called our lives are really our own, then the outer shell of identity will fit and cling to us so perfectly that we will forget that it is even fabricated. We will actually start to think that it is us. I have no problem with being watched. I have nothing to hide. I’m a real American. Notice how the term “real American,” or patriotic, has simply come to mean unthinking robot willing to accept and follow all orders of authority. Nothing new there, it’s just that we didn’t expect it to happen so soon here. Just trust us.
It seems almost cliché to keep doing the whole “Wall Street sucks” thing, or to say that the state has taken over the country, that we’re being spied upon, surveilled, our rights gutted, and so on.
Yet the cliché, dear friends, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.
Our apathy is the cliché. Our lack of response is the cliché. Our acceptance of unacceptable facts is the cliché. History itself is the cliché of people not doing something when it was abundantly clear that something needed to be done.
If the government is a usurpation of the people, then we must call for a change of government. If the foundation of our democracy is corrupted, then we must rip it out. If individual freedoms are being minimized and personal fears are being maximized through monitoring and surveillance, then we must fight for the restoration of our privacy. We cannot hide behind lawyerly words and opinions when the core of our being is under threat. If the lives we lead are revealed as lies, then damn the lives we lead.
4. DISENTRENCH THE ESTABLISHMENT.
Look over the Bill of Rights: it’s as though the founders built in the need for constant upheaval and rebellion as a means to keep elites from becoming too entrenched. Take the first line of the Bill of Rights, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment—just leave it there, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment. We openly understand that the establishment clause pertains to the institution of religion—Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion—but in a jurisprudence that currently does backflips to turn corporations into people, allow us to opine that the founding concern about the influence of institutional power on our democracy is a concern that goes far beyond one, now greatly weakened, institution. The founding concern was about the establishment of power, any power, that would inhibit or suppress a government by and for the people. Connect this to the protection of the individual and his papers, as outlined inthe Fourth Amendment, and the portrait of the democratic soul comes into focus: well-read, intellectual, and severely distrustful of government. A free-thinking individual within our republic—if we can keep it—is a self-reliant philosopher with her eyes on the lookout for bullshit 24-7, a person of action ready to take on the inevitable abuse of power that is government. Governments will become abusive—this is what they do—and free-thinking individuals will respond. Ironically, the founding documents of our nation are some of the most anti-government documents ever written.
5. THE NINTH AMENDMENT—BREAK IN CASE OF TOTALITARIAN EMERGENCY.
The founders knew enough of the way of institutionalized power—they were revolutionaries after all—to give us the chance of forging new rights in the form of the Ninth Amendment. That it is seldom used should not eclipse the fact that the founders found it important enough to include in the Bill of Rights. It is the idea, or hope, that in the face of a changing history, people in a democracy will organically develop their own protections from the ever-changing and maintaining, co-opting and exploiting, institutional forces of power. It reads simply:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The words haunt me with their potential. I used to love the Constitution, to worship it as the greatest document ever created by man. But like all things, perhaps its time has passed. Perhaps it now must give way to a new blueprint of rights, rights that are demanded by a beaten people in crises, by a people who are being watched, surveilled, and persecuted. I can almost hear it speaking to us, urging us to go forward, to forge new grounds for rights based on an evolved sense of being and justice. For America to be America, it must transcend itself, rise from the ashes, and challenge the government to respond to the concerns of the living and not the dead. Your interpretation of our Constitution—the same as your interpretation of life and existence—is the experimental soil in a blooming garden of true freedom.
1. Hon. Justice Louis D. Brandeis