Zero Tolerence: The Road to Totalitarianism
END OF DISCUSSION-END OF DEMOCRACY
Commentary by Dennis L. Blewitt, J.D., Aug, 2014
A dangerous change occurred in power relationships and governance during the Reagan administration, embraced by totalitarians who hate democratic processes and longed for absolute rule or dictatorship of the majority for the sake of efficiency. I speak of the zero tolerance measures forced upon us. Any idiot with power can make and edict, proclaiming his edict supreme. People in agreement with the idiot can reign everyone else who doesn’t agree in a fashion that would make any ruler envious. The end result is to preclude debate. And, without debate or discussion, there is no democracy. There is just absolute rule. The tactic was spun as a measure to protect us from radicals, troublemakers, dissidents, and other minorities who grumble about things and make people uncomfortable, particularly the oligarchy. The Public was so tired and fearful, they readily accepted this form of control without question or thought of how it ignores the basic principles of democracy—that of public debate. The ones in power can announce a policy, demand obedience in the name of the people and preclude any debate. Hence, the government can be unbridled and completely favor the rich and powerful over the rest of the population. Some idiot can proclaim a zero tolerance policy of knives in school. When the boy-scout troop shows up for a weekend camp with their camping gear, which may contain knives. The scouts have their knives confiscated and expelled from school. Unlike violations of common law, there is no need for intent nor a need for considering the offense in context. It doesn’t matter. The rationale is to “send a message” concerning the zero tolerance matter, not to engage in fairness. Even if some innocent person has to suffer irreparable damage from the policy, it is still a lot cheaper than buying advertising and discussing all the ramifications of the policy. It is efficient. It is certain. No courts. No debate. Comply or else.
It policy was devised as an answer to pesky social problems by a ruler of of immeasurable genius, insight and thought as a solution to the drug problem, announced by Nancy Reagan. (I assume without consulting her astrologer) In a moment of clarity, she stated the answer is simple. “Just say no.” Meanwhile, her husband, our glorious president, not wanting to become confused with either facts or alternative arguments lest his Alzheimer’s tendency become obvious, coined the zero tolerance policy toward drugs and other social problems. This was added to his policy of pissing on the poor and middle-class known as “trickle down” theory which most people wrongfully associated with economic policy set forth by the Neocons. In any event, now that we are finally realizing what has been happening to us, there is no debate. The policy worked so well for the President, other executives adopted it. Pretty soon, school kids were being expelled for minor infractions such as bringing scout camping equipment to school, having water guns, pointing fingers in mock gunplay and other behaviors typical of youngsters. Confessions tortured out of persons. Civil rights suspended. Executive power expanded unchecked. Police had a license to kill. Harsh policies were implemented and draconian results occurred.
Traffic laws were re-written to preclude any defenses or arguments. Court cases such as divorces and child support were reduced to mathematical formulae, one size fits all. The Government put crime punishment in a matrix based upon seemingly random assumptions defined by the people in power without debate. Since the whites were in power, cocaine possession carried substantially less penalties than did possession for crack cocaine a substance used mostly by blacks. It got to the point where judges did not have to think, but were often penalized for doing so. The judge’s job was not to decide and rule, but to make the assembly line of justice run smoothly without the shortcomings becoming obvious. Ideology, common sense and justice were sacrificed to efficiency. Logic and debate were replaced by rules, procedures, and raw power. The terms arbitrary and capricious were eliminated from the legal vocabulary. Sentencing no longer took a Solomon’s wisdom. Any clerk with a calculator could do it based on the formulas.
For instance, I was asked to do the appeal on a case involving nuns protesting our imperial foreign policy by pouring blood on and hammering railroad tracks at a missile silo. For years, a gentleman’s agreement was in effect where protestors would be tried in local state courts as trespass cases. But, an administration that did not want to debate a war in Iraq chose to stifle debate by arresting the nuns and charging them with sabotage. The case was assigned to a trial judge who ranks up there with Judge Julius Hoffman from Chicago and Judge Woods from El Paso. The only people this judge treated as humans were $200 per hour prostitutes and Republicans. I went to the Federal courthouse on the day of sentencing and was 42 seconds late because of demonstrations in front of the Courthouse and being treated like Ben Laden at the security screening. When I explained to the marshal at the door, he told me that the judge ordered the door to this public courtroom closed. When I tried to insist, I was handcuffed and escorted downstairs for eviction. I was planning my press conference in the elevator when we were stopped by an older marshal who explained to the young one how stupid it would be to deliver a defense attorney for the nuns to the protesters in handcuffs, denying him entry to the Courthouse with hundreds of protesters and the press right outside. The press reported the occurrence and the harsh sentence any way. The nuns were convicted because of the frenzy whipped up by the press and administration concerning Iraq. Protesting was as unpatriotic as following the Constitution. Zero tolerance made protest dangerous. Zero tolerance got Nuns a three year sentence for trying to bring policy into debate.
The administration used the nun’s persecution as a message to the public that it would not tolerate debate or protest. The President’s mind was made up and any discussion or dissent became unpatriotic and was subject to punishment. It also held the questions at bay about an administration manufacturing an excuse to invade another country. I was ashamed to be a lawyer. I felt powerless. I was as angry toward the citizenry as the officials for not objecting to such injustice. I suddenly understood how Hitler came to power in a nation populated by kind and reasonable people.
So, where are we today? We have a President, an alleged Constitutional Scholar who taught constitutional law at a law school, ignoring the Constitution. He campaigned on a platform of closing Guantanamo, which is still open. He stated he would stop the war in Afghanistan, which continues. Additionally, he campaigned against the “Patriot Act” which has been enlarged. He criticized the Bush lawyers who wrote legal opinions to justify war crimes by various semantic devises, or just plain disregarding common sense, let alone the Nuremberg precedent and Geneva Convention. These criminal acts have not stopped.
He lawyer shopped for an opinion letter to justify involvement in Libya. What need is there for a legislature or judiciary if an opinion letter by a lawyer will suffice. Additionally, he found a lawyer to opine that drowns dropping bombs were not hostile acts. I shudder at what the President might consider a ‘hostile act.’ Also, murder by drone of a citizen was rationalized by calling the person an enemy.
Other countries are indicting some of our officials for war crimes, but this is of no concern. How are they going to enforce their judgments? This is identical to the reasoning in the south in responding to the Supreme Court in integration cases. It took Federal Troops to enforce the Court’s judgment. Today we see police acting as occupational armies. Police are allowed to beat and murder people who don’t obey them. The head of the New York Police department recently declared that anyone who resisted a policeman could expect to be killed. That was in response to a televised event on Staten Island where police strangled a person when he wouldn’t obey. Obey is zero tolerance.
Consider the response when a policeman murders a citizen. An official makes an announcement that the case was reviewed and the murdering officer was following protocols or procedure. I have yet to hear the dumbasses of the press question this. What is the procedure that allows murder? How was it formulated? What consequences were considered? Was the policy rational or insane? Under zero tolerance, the public is conditioned to not think of such things. Like the war criminals of a half century ago who claimed that their conduct was forgivable or justified because they were “just following orders,” the modern day war against whatever can claim the they were just “following procedures.” Where is the outrage?
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