As my last post eluded to (but didn't go into detail as I was using my iPhone), an individual was arrested last night at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. For dancing.
Background: A brainchild of the liberty-minded folks at Bureaucrash, a flash mob-style dance party was months ago planned to go down at the TJ Memorial at 11:55PM on April 12th. Attendees were to have created their own playlist on their iPod or similar device, and were to rock out for about ten minutes to pay our respect to the ideas Jefferson proffered, wrapping up on the anniversary of his birthday.
Setting the Stage: A handful of us met at a local watering hole prior to the event. We strolled two miles southwest to the TJ Memorial enjoying each others company and the great night. We arrived at the TJ Memorial and spied other soon-to-be-dancers. More continued to arrive. Then the dancing began.
The Incident: Almost immediately the contracted security at the Memorial started to shoo us away from the Jefferson statue toward the stairs by the Tidal Basin. Dancers complied, albeit not as quickly as security seemed to hope. Backup was called. By this time, most of the dancers were on the steps, facing the Jefferson statue, singing happy birthday. Then we heard a yelp and saw one of our own pressed against a column, being handcuffed.
The agents of the State had singled out the dancer because, in my personal opinion, he/she had the unfortunate attribute of being the closest to them. Dancers immediately dug their video cameras and digital cameras from their pockets to document the incident. Our colleague, a captive of the State, complied with their commands and was ushered into the National Park Police room nearby. The rest of us, shocked by what we had witnessed, began to question the remaining State actors.
Many of the others present had their own conversations, but in the interest of being factually accurate, I'm only going to address those I was a part of or witnessed.
One State actor, when asked if he would include in the report that our friend had not been making a sound, told us "Fuck the report" in an aggressive tone. His body language reinforced this. I questioned him on this and he noted that if I swore again I would join my friend in handcuffs. I then asked, "So, you have the authority to swear because you wear a badge?" to which he repeated his threat again. This was the same State agent that earlier had physically pushed me when he felt I wasn't moving fast enough. I also witnessed this same State actor telling another dancer that if he didn't "get out of my face" he too would be arrested.
It is very likely that, if this State actor felt that he could be held accountable for his unprofessionalism he would have behaved in a much different way. But, as the State extends immunity to its actors for virtually every offense, this was not the case. This is a clear example of why market incentives need to be injected into law enforcement.
The other officers on the scene responded to our questions by noting that they were just "doing our job". Fortunately a quick-witted member of our party pointed out that so too was Eichmann. Perhaps this will get their wheels turning? Get them to think for themselves? We'll see...
A half hour later, when most of the dancers had dispersed -- talking in groups near the Tidal Basin or following our friend as she was placed into a nearby paddy wagon -- I asked the remaining State actors, who by that time had begun to share their personal perspective of the incident with each other, to think about their actions. To contemplate how we had gotten to the point where, in their eyes, it was just to handcuff someone for engaging in activity that violated no one's rights. To try to see where we -- folks who recognized and supported the power of the natural rights-based ideas embodies by Jefferson -- were coming from and how their actions and utter lack of morality showed their true allegiance not to respect each individuals' rights, but to defend the State, flaws and all.
On top of that, these agents of the State are paid by money stolen from you and me. Disgusting. I guess the State actors never bothered to look up and read the words chiseled into the stone above them: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every from of tyranny over the mind of man."
Update: Our friend, who we were initially told would be released at 3AM, was freed at 5AM. The charges, which started as disorderly conduct, were reduced to "interfering with an agency function." What type of vague legalese is that? What if an agent of the State asked my friend to unbutton the pants they wore and refused? Might they be charged under this same statute?
I point this out to highlight the difference between common law, which is clear and understandable, whereas man made legislation is not. While the former includes things we all agree with, such as not violating the rights of another by assaulting, raping, or killing them, the latter consists of incomprehensible, arbitrary rules as was seen.
In a system where the State has a coercive monopoly on the use of violence, they are accountable to none. The have virtual immunity for their actions. They don't need to cater to their customers as we cannot "fire" them. The don't need to compete by offering better service and lower prices because their salaries are paid for by money stolen from you and me.
Private defense agencies, on the other hand, would ensure accountability. Over-zealous employees would immediately be fired for fear of damaging the companies reputation, and thus, its bottom line. Company execs would strive to ensure that their employees were well-trained, especially in verbal judo, rather than resorting to costly physical alterations. Also, since the private defense agencies must make money from those willing to part with it, they would be efficient, and would only target those actions that truly violated someone's rights, rather than victimless crimes. Such as dancing.
A heartfelt thanks to all those that turned out last night, and especially to those who are now utilizing their own comparative advantages and networks to ensure the Jefferson One, as he/she has been dubbed, is assisted in this struggle against State aggressions.
For more on the Jefferson One, check out: