There is no legitimacy to be had for any government that rules by torture and indefinite detention. However, in a post-9/11 world, that's the price we have to pay for freedom, right? We're constantly reminded that, after all, there are people out there who want to kill us.
People like Baptist preachers crossing the Arizona desert. Who knows what kind of havoc that kind of person could wreak upon an unsuspecting Phoenix if the Arizona Department of Public Safety wasn't prepared to torture and maim.
People like journalists in New Hampshire courtrooms. Imagine the ensuing chaos of allowing legal access of the press to courtroom proceedings. Thankfully, the state of New Hampshire is willing to impose indefinite detention on terroristic journalists who dare film in the lobby of a government building.
You can know the law. You must know the law. But, you can only access the protection of the law if you obey. Laws are fluid and change on a whim – ephemeral, even. They are the rewards you might receive for obedience and subservience.
Steven Anderson knows the law. He followed the law to the letter as he rolled upon an internal checkpoint east of Yuma, Arizona last week. But, Anderson tried to invoke the law without first demonstrating subservience.
Anderson tragically overestimated the power of law in the Arizona desert. If he had been stopped by armed men wearing clown suits, he would have had no expectation of legal protection (and, the clowns would not expect his subservience). However, since the armed men wore Border Patrol uniforms, Anderson felt free to assert his right to be secure in his person and property and free from unlawful search and seizure.
Two broken windows, several taser shots, eleven stiches, and a night in jail later, he probably doesn't feel so free, does he?
Technically, Anderson enjoys the legal protection he asserted. But, on a lonely stretch of highway in the Arizona desert, laws are mere suggestions. After grinding his face in broken glass and asphalt, he was told all he had to do was obey and the whole scene could have been prevented. Hopefully, gazing on his slashed forehead in the mirror, Anderson can come to the realization that any torture he suffered was his own fault.
It's not as if Anderson was in a populated area where a justice of the peace could be summoned immediately to adjudicate and supervise his torture. Luckily, for Anderson, that could also have resulted in indefinite detention.
By now it should come as no surprise, especially to journalists, that cameras are the E ticket to jail. Again, though, if the cameramen would just obey their superiors, no harm will befall them.
As Freedom's Phoenix's Shelton learned, a camera gets you cuffs, silence gets you jail, and refusal to process gets you a broken toe. But, even in the middle of Phoenix, there was no judge handy on the side of the highway.
Sam Dodson, from Obscured Truth Network, had a judge handy, and that has made all the difference.
Dodson entered the lobby of a New Hampshire courtroom last week with his camera and knowledge of a pesky New Hampshire law stating that filming should be allowed in court unless the judge has issued a contravening order. He was pointed to a sign on the wall proclaiming cameras outlawed and asserted his belief that a sign on a wall is not a valid judicial order.
Dodson was immediately taken into custody and moved to another room. The handcuffs were not locked though, and, as he was jockeyed around, began to cut into his wrists. Dodson began screaming in pain, leading the dozen or so friends he had in the lobby to wonder what was happening behind the closed door.
Court security ordered the assembled crowd to leave the building or face arrest. Those that did not leave immediately were prevented from exiting the building until city, county, and state police arrived. In total, seven people (including Dodson) were arrested.
Ironically, the occasion to be in the court lobby that day was to witness the hearing of another New Hampshire journalist who was making an appearance on a disorderly conduct charge for filming in the lobby outside that courtroom.
Dodson refused to give his name to the arresting officers, and was taken to the county jail. Over the weekend he was processed as “John Sam Doe”. In a hearing Monday, the judge in that very courtroom ordered Dodson held indefinitely until he processes under some other name and refused to hear any motions or grant access to the jail's law library.
One does not have to be a legal scholar to recognize all the opportunities Dodson and his cohorts had to obey. In fact, this situation is more easily understood if one ignores law.
Obey the sign. Obey security. Obey the jailers. Until Dodson decides to obey, he is to be denied the reward of possible access to the law. His captors know his name, age, DOB, address, etc. but refuse to use that information until he submits to their authority and are withholding legal protection until he does.
Neither Anderson's nor Dodson's experiences are unique. These scenarios were played out over and over last week, in banana republics around the globe. Even as I proofread this piece, I've received notification of a new Complete Liberty podcast, by Wes Bertrand, with another astounding story.
Reading the show notes, I saw both Anderson and Dodson's names, so I decided to hear Bertrand's take before publishing. But, surprise, Bertrand also rolled upon an internal checkpoint last week in California. Like Anderson, Bertrand followed the law to the letter. Unlike Anderson, Bertrand obeyed the demands of the armed men.
For his trouble, Bertrand was detained along the highway for six hours and was then treated to a trip to the ICE detention facility in El Centro. When authorities determined the problem was a paperwork SNAFU on their part, Bertrand and his friend were told to go away without rectifying the paperwork problem.
It is clear from Bertrand's account that his obedience saved him some physical torture. It is equally clear from all three instances that, in the United States and elsewhere ca. 2009, law has no meaning – there is now only subservience.
While nothing new, I expect that we will hear many, many more accounts like these in the weeks and months to come.