Tag Archive | panic

The Drumhead

Anyone who has seen the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode called “The Drumhead” will probably have a pretty good idea of where I’m going with this. In the episode, a klingon happens to be a spy, and is caught–however, an accident that occurred at around the same time went unexplained, and, worried about saboteurs and collaborators, Starfleet began an investigation into the crew of the Enterprise.

What began as a seemingly justifiable investigation devolved almost immediately into a witch hunt, or, as Picard put it, a “Drumhead Trial”–a mock trial put on by a military tribunal where punishment was swift and decisive. It’s a well-known episode, and generally considered among that series best’s. It’s a pity that we learned nothing from its rather anvilicious lessons.

Consider this excerpt from someone at Fox News who was writing in defense of Trump:

That doesn’t mean that, say, Michael Flynn, who just invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying on the Hill, doesn’t have problems related to past payments from the Russians.

Er… No, Howard Kurtz, that’s not right. The way this is phrased creates the default idea that Flynn has those problems, and that his invocation of the fifth is evidence of that–otherwise, why even link these two things?

In the episode I mentioned, a young man is revealed to have lied about his heritage, having claimed to be half-Vulcan when he was actually half-Romulan, and the Romulans were essentially Star Trek’s Russians. During his publicly open interrogation, with dozens and dozens of people watching eagerly, he was asked about his true lineage, and he invoked the fifth (or, actually, Starfleet’s version of the fifth).

Immediately, the whispering and gasps rang out. Rumor swirled, and he was instantly assumed to be guilty.

Kangaroo done hung the juror with the innocent.

We would all do well to watch this tense episode once more, but allowing it to hit closer to home. You’ll see in the inquisitor none other than Democratic leadership, relentlessly pursuing every possible lead in their quixotic quest to find a collaborator or saboteur. In those nightmarish circumstances, where even Picard is ultimately brought in for questioning, even pleading the fifth becomes evidence of a person’s guilt.

The moral of the story is that we’re never more than one accident away from a witch hunt. We saw it last year when the clown sightings began–fully hysterical reactions from people over clowns who had done nothing to anyone and may very well not have existed in the first place. It’s entirely possible that there was never even a single clown, much less several, but that didn’t stop panic and hysteria from sweeping the nation: schools were locked down, clown masks were pulled from store shelves, and police investigations were launched.

Of course, we can look to an actual witch hunt if we’d like to depress ourselves, since 40,000 people were killed in puritan America for being witches–and, the reasoned mind of today understands that none of them were witches. The accusation alone branded one guilty, and often the trials involved horrific things like “Drown her. If she’s innocent, God will save her.”

Eyeballs deep in muddy water, fucking hypocrite.

I’m honestly not scared of much. I’ve had someone put a gun in my face and tell me to drop to my knees and beg for my life, whereupon I defiantly replied, “You’re gonna have to kill me, because I’m not doing that.” I’ve been left beaten and bloody in at least three parking lots. I’ve had picking up hitch hikers backfire on me in spectacular ways. But none of that scares me.

Hysteria, however… Hysteria terrifies me.

How long did McCarthy and Hoover’s reigns of terror last? There has even been talk of recognition the House of Un-American Activities. My death–who cares? It would likely be painful, but after that, over, so it’s really not something to be scared of. However, a witch hunt can go so very far beyond that–into tortured confessions, corrupt interrogators, presumed guilt rather than presumed innocence…

We played with the fire after the Orlando Shooting, as well, when people asked how this person who had been investigated three times by the FBI had been able to acquire guns. It is simply assumed, in their worldview, that a person is guilty if the FBI investigates them. Never mind that this could easily be part of the anti-Muslim witch hunt. “He was investigated three times? Then he’s guilty. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire! Besides, look what he did!”

Yes, but the fact that “what he did” was something he “hadn’t yet done” at the time he was being investigated is of critical importance. You can’t apply current knowledge about him to decisions people made about him in the past. And we damn sure can’t assume people are guilty just because we have an out-of-control investigatory agency that is perfectly poised to begin and instigate witch hunts.

I don’t know or care whether Flynn did whatever it is that he’s being presumed guilty of doing, and I don’t care if Trump played a role in it. Even if they do manage to demonstrate guilt (as opposed to assuming it), they still have to demonstrate why the whole thing is of any consequence at all.

Now people are talking impeachment. There’s no doubt: impeachment was on people’s minds on Election Day, as soon as the results came in. If the idea of having a hardcore religious nutjob as President sounds appealing, then, by all means, proceed with impeachment. People seem to think that we can make a Democrat president if we impeach Trump, or that we can spark an emergency election. Neither of these things will or can happen.

Kangaroo be stoned, he’s guilty as the government.

If Trump is impeached and remove from office, then Mike Pence becomes President. And any impeachment proceeding would look far more like a Drumhead Trial than anything that resembles a fair court. And, really, I think such an act could very easily spark a civil war, given that Trump has been in office barely four months and hasn’t done anything out of line with what previous presidents did. Removing the president that people chose before that president has even had the chance, in his supporters’ eyes, to do what they wanted him to do… I hope Democrats are ready for the fallout from that, because it won’t be the sunshine and daisies they seem to expect.

We have a problem, though, and the problem is fear. We are terrifyingly prone to panic, and that should be what scares us, not whatever bogeyman we’re panicking about at the given moment. Panic and hysteria shredded much of the Bill of Rights already. What is next in our witch hunt?

How Would Americans Handle President Fuhrer?

I recently talked about how libertarians and anarchists need to draw a line in the sand with our government, and make it clear that, if that line is crossed, it will be tantamount to a declaration of war by the government against the people, and will be treated as such. Don’t get me wrong–I think that needs to happen, and I think it’s ultimately necessary for the government to be firmly reminded that we are armed and will not tolerate much more bullshit, but I also know that it won’t happen.

Calling upon the Libertarian Party to draw this line is a waste of bandwidth and the time it takes to type the sentence. This is not Sarwark’s fault, of course, or Austin Petersen’s or Gary Johnson’s; it is the party’s fault generally because, as I alluded to in the previous discussion, concerns about electability and what is a “good” political move will forever prevent the Libertarian Party from probably ever being anything like its older, principled self.

But it isn’t just the Libertarian Party that wouldn’t dare make such a statement publicly. In fact, very few people would be willing to. The reason has to do with psychology, the innate desire for acceptance, the horror that we may be seen as overreacting, and peer pressure to conform and behave as others behave. Can I back up this claim? Goodness, yes.

We recoil when we see in the news that a bunch of neighbors watched as a woman was gang raped and murdered in broad daylight, with none of them intervening and none of them even calling the police, and we tell ourselves, “Goodness, no! I would have intervened! I would have at least called the police!” And this is true–if there is no one else around. Strangely, as the number of people around the scene increases, the chances of someone intervening or even calling the police drop. It’s very peculiar, but it’s a known fact.

This experiment consisted of people being placed in a room to wait for an interview while they filled out paperwork. Smoke began to roll from the bottom of the interviewer’s office door. The results showed that, when people were alone, they were far more likely to treat the situation like it was a potential emergency. On the other hand, when the person was not alone, they were far more likely to ignore the smoke and pretend like they didn’t notice it–even as they began coughing from it. It’s called the Bystander Effect, and it’s a serious problem.

It will be the reason that almost no one does anything about President Fuhrer, whoever that president happens to be.

Even in my article, I stated at least twice that I was not making the allegation that this was about to happen or that there was any reason to panic; the same psychological tendencies exist in me, too, of course. I don’t want to sound like I’m in foaming-at-the-mouth hysterics over President Trump when there really isn’t that much to be worried about. It’s a shame that modern liberals lack this restraint, but with all their friends pushed into overreaction by the media, we all became outcasts for not overreacting to President Trump.

Just as I was insulted–heavily insulted–simply because I did not overreact to the clown sightings of 2016. It became acceptable to be hysterical, to make Facebook posts about how one would “totally shoot a clown on sight” and how a clown “better hope I don’t see one, I’ll break a bat on a motherfucker’s face!” Hysteria became the norm, and thus it wasn’t considered hysterical. Closing down schools, posts from people about how they would gladly shoot someone just for dressing up like a clown… These became acceptable, while trying to convince people they were exhibiting the same behavior that led to the Salem Witch Trials went against the grain and became unacceptable. Instead of everyone fearing to be seen in hysterics, people feared to be seen reacting calmly and proportionally.

Overreaction became the acceptable level of reaction.

In effect, measured, proportional reaction became under-reaction.

This happened again when Trump won the November election. Holy hell, people went crazy, and I can think of at least a dozen people who should be too damned embarrassed to even show their faces in public, yet instead of having any shame they’re still carrying the hysterical insanity torch proudly. That’s a hell of a thing to say, considering that my previous article said that we needed to be ready to fight an American dictator with guns and not words, but the difference is context; the difference is reaction, overreaction, or anticipation.

Shortly after the election, I had an extensive discussion with a woman who claimed to be Hispanic–though she had the whitest goddamned name I’ve ever heard, short of Wendy McFinnigan–and who claimed to be huddling in her house in fear with her children, crying and terrified. One of my clients, a doctor, closed her practice and returned to India, though she claimed it had nothing to do with the election, she sold off her equipment days after Trump’s victory, and was in such a hurry that she refused to wait and let me wipe the drives. Yes, that’s correct. She sold computers with tons of patients’ medical data on them; clearly, she has no intention of ever returning to the United States, because that’s illegal in more ways than I can count, and I can count to at least seven.

There are three large, politically active groups in the United States: conservatives, liberals, and libertarians. All of these are subdivided into various groups that range in loudness, pettiness, stupidity, petulance, childishness, horror of policy, and activism. Conservatives consist of the Tea Party, the alt-right, liberty-leaning conservatives. Liberals consist of Greens, communists, socialists, mainstream democrats. Libertarians consist of libertarians, classical liberals, minarchists, anarchists. There are other groups, of course, and more divisions within the three large groups, but none of that is really that important.

The important part is that the left overreacts to everything, which makes them pretty much The Party That Cries Wolf. They scream about racism, sexism, homophobia, misogyny, and every manner of -phobia so often that when one of these descriptive labels actually applies to an action, it’s met with the eye rolling and groaning that accompany the mundane and familiar. “Oh, Democrats are screaming about some sexist thing… again…”

Plus, their manner of doing things is to simply make a lot of noise. They’re good at getting the media’s attention, but they’ve routinely shown that they don’t have a clue what to do once they have that attention. Black Lives Matter is my “go to” example, but it’s hardly unique to that movement; virtually everything that liberals protest and demonstrate for or against gets a lot of attention but does nothing, changes nothing, and accomplishes nothing. It’s ultimately just noise. This doesn’t mean that I agree or disagree with the sentiments they’re expressing; I do not approve, however, of how they [don’t] achieve their goals. Like the Republicans now that they totally control the government, liberals in general are like the dog that finally caught the car–now that they have it, they don’t know what to do with it. “Alright! We shut down a major interstate that stretches from California to North Carolina! The country’s eyes are on us! … … … So what do we do?”

Meanwhile, Trump and the alt-right have made huge strides in getting conservatives to accept and go along with some truly horrible policies. People cheered when Trump said he would bring back torture, when he said that he’d go after terrorists’ families, and when he said that he wanted to ban Muslims from entering the country. Four years ago, a Republican saying that would have quickly found his political career in shambles.

This means that the two biggest chunks of the politically active American population won’t do anything to fight against President Fuhrer. The liberals won’t, either because President Fuhrer is a liberal–President Obama showed us just how much liberals will turn a blind eye to, and their zeal to inflict violence upon people who disagree with them knows almost no bounds–or because they simply don’t know how. They’ll be the group out protesting while the U.S. military rounds up Muslims. And, surprisingly, they’ll be ignored, I think, because clamping down on protest would only exacerbate the problem and possibly motivate people to further action. As long as they’re simply protesting, they’re only making noise and accomplishing nothing, so I believe President Fuhrer would largely ignore them. People who aren’t already liberals will certainly ignore them, because liberals are always protesting and demonstrating–generating noise–and we’ve already started to filter it out.

There are two paths I see us going down in the future, and it really depends on the timing. There is a strong chance that President Fuhrer will be a conservative, in which case conservatives won’t resist. However, there is also a strong chance that liberals will vote in a terrible choice in 2020, who proceeds to gut the Tenth Amendment and force liberal legislation onto conservative states, particularly regarding abortion and LGBTQ issues, which is more likely than anything to send the conservative states into secession again. People who advocate #CalExit today would, of course, be opposed to this, because “If Mississippi leaves, then we can’t force Mississippi to put LGBTQ people on a pedestal! No, they can’t leave, because they only reason they want to leave is to oppress people!”

I’m sure we all know how the rest will play out.

This really only leaves the Libertarians, but they’re generally so concerned about how the public perceives the Libertarian Party that the absolute last thing they would ever, ever do is appear to be overreacting. The Libertarian Party is lately motivated by only one single concern: mainstream acceptance. The psychological tendencies that create the Bystander Effect virtually control the Libertarian Party, such that it would probably be the last group to actually take up arms against a tyrannical government. Only once most people were doing it and it was socially acceptable would the Libertarian Party do it, because they’re terrified of doing anything that will make them appear kooky or extreme.

It’s simply sad, but true, that the Democratic Party is more likely to tell Trump, “If you begin construction of this wall or impose a national registry of Muslims–or any other group–then we will take it as a declaration of war against the American People!” than the Libertarian Party is. If the Democratic Party did do that, then I’m sure the Libertarian Party would immediately leap to its feet and cry, “Us, too! Us, too! Yeah! A declaration of war!”

But regardless of political affiliations, it won’t much matter how President Fuhrer and his/her actions sit with people. They won’t do anything, because they don’t want bystanders to think they’re overreacting. And by the time it reached the point where it obviously wouldn’t be overreacting, because President Fuhrer had already declared martial law and started rounding people up, it would be too damned late to do anything about it.

So I guess we need to hope that President Fuhrer never rises, because the American People won’t do anything about it until it’s way too late.