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Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

5 Minutes for Connecticut

Friday, December 14th, 2012

I had the chance some years back to visit the Atascadero State Hospital for the criminally insane.  The inmates there are too mentally ill to stand trial, or in many cases, too programmed for acts of horrific violence to be committed to a normal prison, as hard as that is to imagine.

The prison was general population, meaning inmates were mostly free to amble about in the halls and common areas, as were I and my handler.  There weren’t any guards nearby; just the occasional nurse.  So, just us and the “residents.”

Staff got attacked all the time; sometimes killed.  And so it was terrifying—imposing threats in all directions constantly.  My adrenaline was pumping like mad and I could barely breathe, being surrounded by killers walking freely just feet away.  (And in there, “killer” was, in many cases, a gracious understatement).

My terror wasn’t because of how they were looking at me.  I mean, yes, some were drugged to the point of shuffling and drooling, but too many others were locked on me with terrible, clenched-teeth gazes because I was alien, an interloper, prey—and they made absolutely sure I felt it.

No, as much as I tried to fathom the human wreckage these men had left behind, it was next to impossible in comparison to the sickening, overwhelming vibration of so much evil so concentrated in one place, as hokey as that sounds.  (Maybe I’d been preconditioned by the staff who’d told me beforehand that most of the men in there would never—or at least, *should* never—be released; that without supervision and druggery, it was highly likely they would rape, maim, and kill as easily as a yawn).

And that’s what stuck with me: that despite whatever legal or other protections may come to pass to hopefully lessen future potential bloodshed around us, ultimately there is still conniving evil in the world; there are men like these, and no amount of discussion, interdiction, politics, monitoring, or intervention will change that.

In other words, we are gut-wrenchingly fragile, yet this fact too often doesn’t manifest in behavior, between people, or in the media, except during a horrific crisis when all denial is ripped away.

As I sped away from Atascadero, I was overcome by sadness—maybe even mourning — over the human beings in there who, at birth with so much potential, and now by nature or nurture, will spend every breath locked up for our safety.  They’re in there being shot up with drugs, shackled to beds, hunting and being hunted in fear and in the halls, now, even as you read this, forever.  That, along with all the lives they’ve destroyed including their own, is almost the saddest thing in the world—but so is the perfectly sane hypocrite who has everything going for him, yet treats people like shit day in, day out, until a horror breaks and he’s reminded for five minutes that any of us could be crushed at any moment…then promptly forgets.

If humans needed less reminding, there might be a lot less evil bred in the world.

Even more liberal than liberals

Monday, August 25th, 2008
what is this thing?

What do Lao Tzu, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Adam Smith, Milton Friedman, Robert Heinlein, Denis Leary, Trey Parker, Clint Eastwood, Danny Elfmann, Bruce Willis, Penn & Teller, Drew Carey, Kurt Russell, Tom Selleck, Howard Stern, Dennis Miller, Chris Rock, Jimmie ‘JJ’ Walker, Neil Peart, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jimmie Vaughan all have in common?

They’re all Libertarians.

Try this quiz. Do you . . .

  • Oppose all forms of censorship?
  • Think the Federal gov’t is ridiculously bloated?
  • Oppose special treatment for any gender or race?
  • Believe military service should be voluntary?
  • Oppose all laws regarding sex & marriage between consenting adults?
  • Support drug legalization?
  • Oppose overseas invasions?
  • Think America’s militia kicked Britain’s arse in the 1770s?
  • Disapprove of corporate subsidies?
  • Think gov’t “no-fly” passenger lists don’t counter terrorism?
  • Agree that abortion must remain a personal decision?
  • Favor free markets and trade?
  • Believe teachers should be paid more?
  • Support incentives for non-profits instead of welfare?
  • Believe in the Bill of Rights?

If so, maybe you’re a Libertarian too.

Lisa Madigan is mad again

Monday, August 4th, 2008
Lisa Madigan
Lisa Madigan. Photo © 2007 by blahedo

In her latest attack on freedom, last week Attorney General Lisa Madigan banned the sale of super caffeinated Meth Coffee from the good state of Illinois, saying the product is “glorifying drugs.”

Her claim is ridiculous. Look at Meth’s web site. The product’s whole spin is blatant satire—bad taste to some, maybe, but obviously a joke—and therefore protected speech. Right from the very first word on Meth’s home page, the paranoid first-person narrator talks about his new “volatitherapeutic beverage” that “straightens drunks” and “wakes zombies”—and if that’s not enough, click on the ‘About’ page for a look at the madcap disclaimer: “CONTAINS NO ACTUAL METHAMPHETAMINES, I.E., CRANK, GLASS, SPEED, CRYSTAL, BATU, SHABU, MABU, CRACKHOO, ETC. PRODUCT NOT WARRANTED TO CURE ECZEMA, EDEMA, ACNE, CONSTIPATION, TOURETTE’S, OR GUM DISEASE.” It’s hyperbole at every turn, and carries no believable danger. What’s next, banning exploding gum because it might encourage terrorism?

Meth issued a response outlining Madigan’s poorly researched claims against the beverage, that Meth is clearly a joke for an adult audience, that its founding members include recovering drug addicts, and that the company is a good faith co-sponsor of the hilarious 2008 Comedy Addiction Tour for addicts in recovery. Meth also makes the great point that “Richard Pryor, Mad Magazine, and other comedy geniuses have unleashed dark, satiric comedy about drugs for years, and to positive effect.”

The point here is that Madigan is using taxpayer money to trample her own constituents’ freedom to see, hear, and consume what they choose. Other totalitarians have made this mistake. The people of Illinois are no doubt pissed off; read the Chicago Sun-Times comments sections and you’ll see more than one reference to “Nanny Madigan” and her compulsive need to diaper everyone in sight. Slapping an “explicit lyrics” sticker onto a Richard Pryor CD isn’t enough; apparently any product that references drugs, even with funny over-the-top satire that appeals to thousands, must be censored even if raises awareness, promotes discussion, and makes its target adult audience laugh. Madigan is waging a disingenuous fake war against fake drugs in the worst kind of political grandstanding, with Meth Coffee as her straw man. And just watch: if she really does run for IL governor in 2010, or, god forbid, President, her handlers will be sure to misrepresent her soundbites to their fullest: “Remember how tough Madigan was on drugs in 2008? She fought meth!”

We’ve all heard the criticism of the Right over wiretapping without warrants and torture at Guantanamo; this time it’s a reactionary Democrat intent on trampling the Constitution for political gain. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, given how hard Madigan has fought against gun ownership and death row prisoner rights. Maybe she earned her law degree in China?

I recently heard of a coffee brand called ‘Bad Ass’. I’m surprised Madigan hasn’t sued it for giving donkeys a bad name.

Watch your ass, Illinois, if you value your freedom.