Colombian Beer

Just got back from Colombia. It was often 90+ degrees, with high humidity, so we ended up drinking a lot of lagers/light/yellow beers. The two most popular there are Club Colombia and Aguila. Aguila is comparable to Bud Light. Basically, undrinkable (in my humble opinion). Club Colombia is similar to a Modelo, and I rather grew to like it. Both these beers were cheap as hell. Street vendors were selling Club Colombia for around $3,000 COP (around $1.50). Aguila tended to be cheaper. It was around the equivalent of $1.50 at bars, while the Club would go for around $2.00 or $2.50 (definitely worth the extra $.50 to get the Club).

However, we did come across a couple of craft beer companies, including Apostol and Bogota Beer Company (BBC). Apostol, in my opinion, had the better brews. The Dubbel (below, left), got the Belgian flavors right. The Bock (below, right), was a black-lager type beer. It was good for the weather – dark and flavorful enough, but not too heavy. It still had a nice, light texture.

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Bogota Beer Company had the better marketing. Their beers have cute labels, featuring a vintage woodie car, and their beers have a trendy feel, if that makes any sense. We popped by the BBC restaurant/bar in Cartagena and had a couple of beers. Their style (the decor, labels, packaging, not the beer itself) is reminiscent of Karl Strauss. The beers there were a bit bland for me. I had the Monserrate Roja, a red beer, which was really on the light side of reds. The Chapinero Porter (see featured picture at the very top) was probably their best beer, but even that was really on the light or even watery side. Their menu featured some exciting-sounding seasonals, including an IPA, but they did not have them available when we visited.

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The Media’s Distortion of the English Language and its Role in Absolving Police of Heinous Crimes

The American concept of justice has fallen so far that police are no longer recognized as individuals having the volitional capacity to act with corresponding consequences; instead their crimes are treated as forces of nature or acts of god.

When ordinary people harm or kill others, it is typically viewed as what it is, regardless of whether the aggressor was acting in the course of employment. Doctors who recklessly injure patients are sued and suffer injured reputations. Taxi drivers and truckers are held to account if they drive carelessly and cause unjustified injuries. Employment aside, people who attack others without just cause are duly considered to be criminals. Most people in society are deemed negligent individuals and face appropriate recourse when they engage in heedless behavior that results in injuries to others.

Not so with the police. When police are careless, negligent, reckless, or even malicious – they are viewed as blameless, because in the United States, it has become impossible to blame the police. This makes perfect sense when you perceive that a great proportion of Americans essentially view the police as gods who can do no wrong. Just as it is not possible to cannot cast moral blame or “personal” responsibility upon nature or god, so has it become with American police.

Last week, Miami police stormed a house in a SWAT raid and injured two children, who were left bloodied and bruised. The family claims the police raided the wrong house. Police and the media claim that in the chaos of the raid, a child “ran into an officers weapons” [sic]. More here and here. Take note: the police did not create chaos by dangerously barging into the wrong house and injuring children. It was during “the chaos of the raid,” which magically appeared on its own, that a child injured himself, by running into weapons.

Last year, Miami Beach police tasered a teenager, Israel Hernandez-Llach, who died as a result. The news carefully avoided the indisputable fact that a cop killed the teenager for fleeing the scene of vandalism, and artfully suggested that the teenager died of “heart failure” from what authorities called the “energy device discharge.” Again – the cop did not shoot a taser at a teenager and kill him – it was the “energy device discharge” combined with “heart failure” that caused his untimely death.

Jose Paulino Jr. was another victim of taser-happy police recently. Upon his death, police again deflected blame from themselves, and the media dutifully parroted the excuses. David Beohm, a Pennsylvania State Police Spokesman mused, “I don’t know if he went into cardiac arrest or what happened…was he under the influence of something?  What was going on with him that could create this condition?”

Allen Kephart was tasered to death over a petty traffic dispute. No criminal charges were filed against police, as Kephart’s death was attributed to high blood pressure, heart disease, and other pre-existing health conditions. (More here and here).

Several years ago, Eurie Stamps, a beloved grandfather of 12, was tragically shot by the Framingham, MA SWAT Team in a botched drug raid. Again, the statement from police at that time obfuscated any mention of individual action and personal responsibility, claiming Mr. Stamps was “fatally struck by a bullet, which was discharged from a SWAT officer’s rifle.” Who knew bullets could discharge on their own?

Similarly, when 7-year-old Aiyana Jones was shot and killed in another botched SWAT raid, it was certainly not the  case that the officer shot the child. Predictably, what happened was, “the officer’s weapon discharged one round, which….struck…Aiyana Stanley Jones in the neck/head area.” (More here). Of course. How obvious it should have been – people don’t kill people; guns send bullets flying on their own.

When it comes to reporting on most criminal activity, English grammar is pretty straightforward for the media:

Example A: The murderer[noun – a perpetrator] killed[verb – criminal activity] the child[noun – victim].
Example B: The criminal[noun – a perpetrator] tasered[verb – criminal activity] the victim[noun– victim].
Alternatively, another common usage is to use the passive voice, to emphasize that something horrific was done to the victim:
Example C: The grandfather[noun – victim] was shot[verb in passive voice – criminal activity] by the villain[noun – a perpetrator].

When it comes to police, the media exhibits a convenient and total disregard for traditional use of English. There are no direct actors, no humans to hold accountable, only inanimate objects. There are tales of bullets that discharge on their own, guns that fire for no reason, tasers that shoot themselves, and of course, multitudes of vague health conditions victims may have had which contributed to their own deaths.

This distortion of language should be transparent and abhorrent to anyone who is paying attention. Unfortunately, it seems that no one is.

If you repeat a lie enough times, people will begin to believe it. So it is with the American public. The media has repeated time and time again that police are never responsible, and never can be responsible, because they are not to be judged as individuals like the rest of us. They are of a higher order, and their actions are equivalent to forces of nature and acts of god. It’s been said enough times, and Americans now believe it.

Culture Brewing IPA

I do love writing about individual freedoms and social issues, but if there’s anything I love even more, it’s beer. On Friday, I found out that a judge reversed her tentative ruling against my clients in a case after hearing my oral argument, and granted my Motion for Summary Judgment as to all issues, effectively dismissing my clients out of a lawsuit that has dragged on for years. If you’re not a lawyer this is gibberish to you and you don’t care. But anyway, to celebrate, my boss shut down the office early, and we went to go have some beers. I started with a Mother Earth Cali Creamin’, which is a wonderful, smooth, nutty ale that is great for any occasion, but I didn’t take a picture of it. My next beer was a Culture Brewing IPA. I’ve actually been to Culture several times before, and they have a few IPAs, but I forget if the menu specified which one this was (If I had to guess I’d say it was probably the El Dorado). It was 5.5% and unfortunately, not hoppy enough for me. The 5.5% should have been a clue for me, but I thought I’d start the evening with lighter IPAs. It was a pretty beer, but it was a little boring. I like it when the IPAs punch you in the face with hops. Like Greenflash Westcoast IPA, or Sculpin by Ballast Point. Next time I’ll have to remember to stick to their double IPA. Culture also makes a good black IPA as well.

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Dumbest Reasons Not To Use Birth Control

Birth Control, whether in pill form or otherwise, isn’t for everyone. That being said, there are logical reasons to avoid using any kind of birth control, such as actually wanting to get pregnant, or a religious affirmation of celibacy. There are also logical reasons for wanting to avoid certain types of birth control, such as health concerns, interactions with other medications, side effects, etc. And then there are reasons that make no sense. BuzzFeed recently featured a post called “We Asked 24 Women Why They Don’t Use Birth Control And These Are Their Answers.” Many of the answers, unfortunately, are shockingly stupid. As an example, I give you Exhibit 1 from the BuzzFeed post:

BC1
Well, you learn something new every day. It definitely had not occurred to me that condoms, diaphragms, the rhythm method, and the pull-out method (all recognized forms of “birth control”) could be categorized as “poisons,” but OK. We’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on that one. Maybe BuzzFeed phrased its question in an ambiguous manner. This would be a perfect time to point out that “birth control” has had a longstanding and broad definition that refers to a method to limit or control one’s reproductive capacity. Hormonal birth control is merely a subset of this category.

BC 7
True, no one can really bitch about someone who wants to take responsibility for their actions. Except, logically speaking, a person who uses birth control to avoid a child they are not ready for and cannot afford is also doing just that, so this is not really a distinguishing reason for which to avoid using birth control.

BC 3
Actually, it is if you want to have sex, but don’t want to have children, like a great, great proportion of women on the face of this planet. Individual minds may differ on what can be done to “fix” fertility, but unless a woman wants many children, she will want to control her fertility in some manner or another.

BC4
So now “womanhood” is defined by the physical/biological capacity to breed? By her logic, the multitudes of women out there who are childless, whether by choice or by infertility are not real “women” then – and that makes her a “feminist.” I have a sneaking suspicion that many feminists would not be on board with defining a woman only as someone who procreates.

BC5
Right, because sex without making babies is of course, merely men “using “women. So infertile women presumably are always being “used” if they ever have sex. It also absurdly follows that a woman who does not use birth control and has sex with her husband is also being used – except that there are consequences – so I guess that’s OK? Definitely in the running for dumbest response of all time.

BC6
One of the crazy “everything needs to be natural” weirdos. I understand not wanting to eat too many processed foods or artificial flavors, but you may want to re-evaluate your very broad claim in this context. OK, Ms. All-Natural, tell this to a guy who needs a pacemaker (an artificial device) to avoid dying (a natural condition/disease process of the body). Or someone who needs antibiotics (something artificial) for a sinus infection (a natural disease process). Also, why not ingest some arsenic or uranium while you’re pursuing the “natural” lifestyle? That shit’s natural for sure.

BC7
True to an extent, I’ll give her that. But certainly not true for a lot of people, for example, a couple who has 5 children, can’t afford any more, and (god forbid!) still wants to have sex.

Everyone obviously should make choices for themselves; but they should be encouraged to make informed choices that are not based on nonsensical, illogical reasons. It’s not nice to make fun of people; I know. But then maybe these women should have thought twice before posing with their self-righteous, supercilious, and highly-misinformed slogans.

Helicopter Parenting, Entitlement Culture, and the Police State

A few weeks ago, these signs started showing up everywhere in my neighborhood:

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This is in addition to the cones, flags, and other portable signs that appear frequently cautioning drivers of children about, whether there are actually children about or not. For the record, many a time, I have driven by signs and flags demanding “SLOW!” speeds when there was no child in sight. Roads are no longer recognized as primarily serving the purpose of automobile passage; they are now considered by modern, entitled suburbanites to be playgrounds catering to the whims of their children and their particular leisure needs, to supplement the many existing parks, playgrounds, and natural reserves nearby.

One can imagine the idiocy (and eyesore) if everyone took this approach with signs, but for different classes of people who needed special protection – “Drive Like Your Grandparents Live Here” – “Drive Like Your Blind Brother Lives Here” – “Drive Like Your Cats Live Here” – “Drive Like Your Father Who Suffers From Dementia Lives Here” – or ultimately, better yet, don’t drive at all, because that of course would be the surest way to prevent pedestrians from being injured.

The unsightly red plastic signs lining the blocks of the neighborhood were not enough. Within a couple of weeks, these started showing up:

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Undoubtedly, next, police officers will be stationed at every block to harass motorists who dare go over 10 miles an hour, in the event that some parent might fail to monitor their child, who might then run unexpectedly in the road, might get hit, and might get hurt. When suburbanites reach the level of insanity such that they believe motorists should bend over backwards for errant, unsupervised children, and essentially be forced to drive around speed counters, ugly signs, and cones, as if navigating obstacle courses were a natural matter of daily driving, there is something seriously wrong.

There is in fact no speeding problem in this neighborhood. To my knowledge, there has not been a single instance of a child being injured, much less killed, by a speeding vehicle. Yet, neighbors glare as drivers “speed” by at a mere 15 or 20 miles an hour, even when children are nowhere close to crossing the road, and are playing safely in their yards.

For the record, there is no problem with children playing in the streets. The problem is the idea that children have no obligation to watch for cars as cars do for children, and the attitude that children should be free to roam in whatever dangerous situations they wish, while motorists who should rightly have access to streets are viewed as unilaterally responsible for their safety. This kind of approach may be a grave annoyance to drivers, but it can be deadly for children.

There was a time when parents believed the safety of their children was almost exclusively their responsibility, and that of their children (depending on their age). Now, for whatever reason, people feel they have the right to foist the responsibility for the safety of their children on complete strangers, whom they expect to be inconvenienced, or shamed, for doing nothing more than making use of roads to drive to their homes.

These attitudes are not only irritating for those inconvenienced; it seems self-evident that such coddling would not be conducive to raising independent, self-sufficient, or responsible children. Even worse, people of this philosophy refuse to limit their ill-conceived child-rearing coddling to their own lives, and insist that everyone participate, or meet strong-armed enforcement.

Thus, it is not surprising that the United States is increasingly a police state, in which peoples’ lives are ever the more regulated and controlled, all in the name of “safety.” Parents are not infrequently subject to violent punishment for deviation from stringent laws prescribing “security” and “order.” If you want to be a nanny-state sanctioned helicopter parent whose children will be forever be dependent and incompetent, you are free to do so and will find that society encourages your methods. However, if you would like your children to exercise some independence or self-reliance, or alternatively, you for other reasons fall short of the stringent dictates of the state’s child-rearing policies, you should surely fear for your fate.

Recently, Debra Harrell of North Augusta, South Carolina was jailed after she left her nine-year-old daughter at a park for several hours. Ms. Harrell is an employee of McDonald’s. For most of the summer, her daughter played on a laptop at McDonald’s while her mother worked (making use of free wi-fi offered by the fast food chain). When the laptop was unfortunately stolen from their home, her daughter asked to play at the park while her mother worked instead. Ms. Harrell provided her daughter with a cell phone, and allowed her to play at a park. On the third day of this short-lived arrangement, adults who had seen her daughter alone at the park called the police. Ms. Harrell was arrested (more here).

Not so long ago, another father from Pennsylvania, Govindaraj Narayanasamy, similarly faced legal consequences when he was charged with child endangerment for leaving his 6 and 9-year-old children at a local park while he went to Walmart and LA Fitness. He returned between 90-120 minutes later, but a woman had noticed the children by themselves and called the police (more here).

Of course, not all parents who are punished by the state are glowing examples of responsible parenthood. In June of this year, Eileen DiNino, a Pennsylvania mother of seven, died in jail while serving a two-day sentence for her children’s truancy from school. She had incurred substantial fines for her children’s absences from school, and served the sentence as a result. Her children may have had a wayward mother before, but now they have no mother at all (more here). Such stories are not uncommon. Another mother in California, Lorraine Cuevas, was sentenced to 180 days in jail for similar violations in 2012.

In another instance in 2012, a mother from Arkansas was charged with a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a minor, after she made her child walk 4.5 miles to school as punishment.

In another egregious incident in 2012, William Reddie of northern Michigan found himself in trouble with the police and Child Protective Services over an allegation that the scent of marijuana was detected at his home. Police alerted CPS, and Mr. Reddie became agitated when CPS attempted to take his son (more here). This escalated into police shooting and killing Mr. Reddie. It should be apparent to sensible people that a father who smokes marijuana is better than a dead father, and a mother who tolerates truancies is better than a dead mother; but sensible people can be few and far between these days.

No matter how minor of the offense of the parent, the general public seems comfortable with police intervention, jail, and violence as the “solution.” Ironically, when police abusebeat, taser, throw flashbang grenades at babies, and/or kill children, they are viewed as heroes, and in those circumstances, the blame still falls on parents who were not in compliance with state regulations and various nonsensical draconian measures.

Everywhere in the U.S., people are embracing the idea that children have no obligation to learn how to navigate dangers, and that the responsibility for their safety falls not solely on their parents, but on total strangers, and that anyone not in compliance with nanny-state parenting styles should have to answer to the police, through violent mechanisms of arrest and/or criminal charges.

This seems particularly absurd in the United States, where violent crime has been on the decline for five years; total crime has been on the decline since 1990, and violence experienced by children has also declined.

You Can Put a Fence Around Your House, But Not Mine: Property Rights as the Basis for Open Borders

The recent wave of immigrant children coming across U.S. borders from Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico has created a great deal of concern for the White House and the American public. While the influx of children presents some unique immigration issues, the immigration debate is not new.

Some are inexplicably unmoved by the plight of desperate children crossing artificial borders in search of a better life, and perhaps, American relatives. But putting emotion aside, the immigration problem is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding by Americans, and indeed, most parts of the world, of private property. As the United States becomes increasingly less free, Americans find themselves barred from, or even jailed for exercising dominion over their own bodies and their private property. It is in this context that the issue of immigration must be analyzed.

Police have the right to stop and frisk anyone they deem to have triggered a “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity. Resisting will most certainly result in arrest, if not a violent beating. The news is littered with examples of police sexually assaulting people – sometimes boldly, on camera – such is the extent to which the government believes it owns and is entitled to trespass upon the body of individuals. The TSA constantly subjects hordes of American travelers to either being groped by TSA agents, or alternatively, being viewed naked on a full body scanner. It is no secret that TSA agents have targeted attractive women for the privilege of going through these full body scanners (also see here).

The United States continues to have some of the most stringent alcohol laws in the world, and maintains the highest incarceration rate in the world, due largely in part to the insane and overreaching war on drugs (i.e. war on adults making decisions to ingest substances into their bodies). Police regularly steal property from victims who have been convicted of no crime, through the mechanism of civil asset forfeiture, and use the property and/or cash stolen to pad their own paychecks.

These results are not surprising in a society that encourages the forfeiture of the dominion over one’s own body and property to the whim of the government. At the most basic level, almost all Americans support taxation of some form, which is a forcible extraction of wealth from someone who has labored for it. All of these heinous violations occurred because people believe the rights to exercise control over one’s labor, body, and property, can be delegated to a collective of faceless politicians and the unwashed masses, regardless of what the individual desires. This belief is what drives people to support a system that forces them, through taxation, to fund the violations set forth above.

The problem with a collective analysis, and the belief that one has a right to force others to toil and pay for the things to which they feel entitled, is that others can certainly do the same. For instance, if one can acquire a simple majority and obtain the right to force their neighbors to pay for their health insurance, daycare, or food, then predictably, others can acquire a simple majority and obtain the right to force their neighbors to pay for prisons, wars, and police tanks to menace formerly idyllic streets.

Immigration law is yet another way the U.S. government has decreed that Americans do not have the right to do with their property and bodies as they please. The border between Mexico and the United States is a massive and expensive project that has drained unwilling taxpayers of countless dollars and resources earned through the labor from their bodies. It is by definition the case that a substantial portion of taxpayers are unwilling, because if taxes were voluntary, there would be no legal penalties or consequences for evasion thereof, and because people would voluntarily fund the building of such a border if they were truly agreeable and believed it to be in their best interests.

Behind every undocumented, or “illegal” immigrant in the United States, is an exercise in freedom and private property that anti-immigration Americans largely refuse to acknowledge. Undocumented immigrants do not come to the United States because they feel like needlessly imperiling their lives; they come because there are American citizens who want them here. Even as Americans decry floods of immigrants, there are countless corresponding Americans who rent homes to them, sell products to them, do business with them, and sustain their livelihood through mutually beneficial exchanges – whether they want to admit it or not.

If stores and business so desired, they could report all customers whom they suspected  to be undocumented immigrants to the INS; they almost never do. If businesses so desire, they have the ability to verify employee immigration statuses with systems like E-Verify; some businesses incur the expenses to do so, but many do not. If a landlord sees fit, he or she can require immigration status verification before renting to an undocumented immigrant; most landlords choose not to do this. Other Americans employ or hire undocumented immigrants for a variety of other tasks because they benefit from the more affordable services, with no regard as to immigration status. For almost every undocumented immigrant in the United States, there are multitudes of corresponding Americans who engaged in mutually beneficial transactions with this individual.

From a private property perspective, many Americans are in practice welcoming these “illegal” immigrants – by selling things to them, doing business with them, renting them homes, and even befriending them. These Americans have every right to rent their properties, operate their businesses, engage in hiring practices, and associate with people as they see fit.

As for the naysayers (arguably, racists) – those Americans similarly should be able to control their bodies and property as they see fit. They should be free to decline jobs, homes, or business opportunities to undocumented individuals. They may experience a drop in profit or popularity, but such is the concept of freedom; it embodies both the right to control one’s own property, but also entails bearing the consequences thereof. If they want to build walls, barriers, or electric fences of any kind, they are free to do so – only on their property, and at their own expense.

The often-raised complaint of undocumented immigrants abusing social services only bolsters this argument. Social services only exist because American citizens have voted (undocumented immigrants cannot vote) to institute a systemic theft and resulting accumulation of loot, which voters are then eager to fight over. In such a system, it is not hard to understand why voters would not want additional competitors flooding over the borders to divvy up the spoils, but this is hardly a justification for continuing to trample on property rights and freedom of both immigrants and American citizens who should be free to engage in mutual exchange.

If you’re afraid of undocumented immigrants, you can be the first to hang a “whites citizens only” sign in the windows of your home or business. Feel free to build an electric fence around your yard, or pay exorbitant fees for background check systems so you can discriminate against undocumented people to your heart’s content; you have every right. You do not, however, have the right to forcibly keep undocumented immigrants out of other peoples’ business or homes, or force others to pay for your paranoid nationalism.

Recent Trend: Sexist Family Photos

These types of pictures always make me cringe. The first time I saw a particular photo of this theme, I mistakenly believed it was an aberration. In fact; it appears to be a recent and unfortunate trend in family photography. To call this “unfortunate” might not be most peoples’ reactions to these pictures. A more common response might be, “awww…” but it is unfortunate, because these pictures are sexist. If you looked at these pictures and thought they were cute, you are sexist. Whether you are a man, woman, goat, or cat, if you think this is “adorbs,” you are sexist.

Maybe you don’t care; and that’s ok. However, when women are taught from the day they are born that they need big strong men to take care of them, protect them, and employ violence to further their purported interests, it is not to their advantage, but to their detriment. These pictures were presumably taken to celebrate or commemorate the arrival of a daughter. Yet, the salient theme for celebrating the inception of this human life is not what goals she may achieve or obstacles she may conquer, but the many things from which she apparently must be shielded. The inane little chalkboards do not say, “One day, she’ll discover the cure for cancer,” or “One day, she’ll out-lawyer you,” or if we want to keep with the theme of violence, “Don’t mess with her- because she defends herself and will fight back.” They say, “We will protect her.”

From day one, the expectations from a female are not that of decision and action; they are of helplessness and passivity. Sit still, be good, and let papa and brothers take care of you. This kind of attitude does not bode well for a sense of independence, freedom, or personal responsibility for anyone. From what, exactly, is it that she must be shielded? Historically and culturally, men beat their chests, grunt, and “protect” their female family members from sexual advances of other men – even when the advances are welcomed by the women themselves. These attitudes are rooted in the idea that women are property and the sense that it is pretty much the greatest humiliation and debasement ever if your daughter/sister exercises sexual independence.

The words “Don’t Mess With Her” and “We’ll Protect Her” immediately bring to mind the age-old stereotype of men threatening other men who dare approach their sisters and daughters. Fathers advising harmless potential suitors that he owns many guns. Brothers threatening to throw punches at an innocent prospect deemed to be unsuitable for their sister. I say “age-old,” but that’s entirely inaccurate. I was at a dinner party not 2 years ago where a man proudly declared that he menacingly advised his 16-year-old daughter’s boyfriend of the loaded shotgun he keeps in the house. He shouldn’t have been proud; he should have been embarrassed that he literally mentioned deadly force merely because a teenager dared take his daughter out on a date. This is not valiance; this is psychopathy.

The idea of men acting as the violent gatekeepers to the sexuality of their sisters and daughters is not funny or cute; it’s base, animalistic, and does women no favors. It’s time for men and women who perpetuate this nonsense to stop behaving like cave people. It may come as a surprise to some, but when inculcated appropriately, women are entirely capable of making their own decisions, with or without the approval from the men in their family.

There is clearly a gender divide here. There are no corresponding sibling photos featuring older sisters and a baby boy. The ridiculous “protection” motif is exclusive to females, perhaps because there is no dishonor when boys deviate from puritanical expectations, and because boys are not property.

Women are people too. Your teenage daughter is going to kiss, and/or have sex with whomever she pleases. So is your sister, your mother, and every other woman walking down the street, because if raised correctly, women recognize and embrace their volition. They not only make their own decisions, but accept the consequences thereof. Get used to it, and stop romanticizing a culture that grooms women from day one to fear sexuality and to accept a demoralizing and pathetic position as an object for male protection.

On Violence, Social Media, and Freedom of Speech

Earlier this month, Jerad and Amanda Miller killed two police officers while the officers were eating lunch in Las Vegas, NV. Subsequently, there was no shortage of outcry against police accountability groups, who were accused of fomenting hatred and violence against law enforcement, and in some sense, encouraging the heinous actions of people like the Millers.

The concern is not entirely misguided; Christopher Cantwell published a nonsensical and egregious article on Copblock.org about how the killing was justified merely because the victims were police officers, and therefore members of an oppressive class. Shortly thereafter, Cop Block removed Mr. Cantwell’s article, as well as his access and privileges as an editor/regular poster. Several administrators at Cop Block issued this statement in explanation of the decision.

These events have raised a familiar debate with respect to freedom of speech and instigation of violence, and once again, there have been calls for restriction, bans, and/or regulations on freedom of speech. In the past, the target of such restrictions have been the written word, or soap box speeches; in the age of technology, the new target (scapegoat) is social medial.

While use of social media certainly poses concerns for instigation of violence, freedom of speech is a fundamental right. Even the Supreme Court (which is not infrequently the foe of liberty)  has upheld these rights subject to the test of whether the lawless action is imminent, intentional, and likely to be carried out. This concept is well-accepted because ideas are powerful but ultimately intangible; individuals are responsible for their own actions.

The use of social media for discussion and news is invaluable to freedom. This is particularly the case when major news outlets consistently publish the perspective of the hegemony on matters of politics, war, corruption, police crimes, social justice, etc. Rarely does one encounter a news product of the mainstream media that actually has interviewed the victim, the victim’s family, or even eyewitnesses to heinous police brutalityThe vast majority of articles reporting on police crimes paraphrase police statements and police reports with no apparent investigation. For this reason, social media such as blogs, Twitter, and Facebook can provide an additional perspective on these matters, though occasionally, messages like Cantwell’s unfortunately make it into the mix.

Christopher Cantwell, the Millers, and their vile lunacy are a distraction from the issue. In looking to Supreme Court rulings on First Amendment rights, the cases are littered with similarly deranged individuals of all types – KKK leaders, communists, angry religious loonies ranting on street corners, etc. At the heart of all these cases was not whether their message was valid or just (in many cases it was not), but whether they had a right to express themselves under those circumstances, without restraint.

Society does not ban hammers, kitchen knives, or automobiles, all of which are essential tools for daily life, merely because in some instances, they cause great danger, injury, and even death. Similarly, there should be no call for restriction or regulation on social media merely because sometimes, some mentally unsound people, misuse otherwise legitimate and essential tools for a free existence.

Thus, the issue is not whether there might be some negative consequences of individual action that may or may not stem from influence by social media and the spread of information – because crazy people will always do crazy things, with or without social media. The issue is whether there will be any truth left in this world without social media as a platform for the expression of ideas by disenfranchised people, silenced victims, and by non-government-approved, non-corporate, non-crony, sources.