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View Diary: The Fantasy of "Government Tyranny" (211 comments)

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  •  Bear in mind that (7+ / 0-)

    I agree marijuana should be legal. But the fact that it isn't (yet) does not indicate to me that we are living in a state of "tyranny." It simply indicates that the law needs to change, which it can, and ultimately will, and not because citizens have guns.

    •  A look at the size of our prison population (0+ / 0-)

      says otherwise to me.

      The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

      by AoT on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 09:11:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So the size of our prison population proves (0+ / 0-)

        that the United States of America is, at its core and in its entirety, an oppressive and brutal totalitarian state, and its 311+ million people are all living in a state of tyranny? The U.S. is the functional equivalent of the Third Reich, the Soviet Union, the Khmer Rouge, or any other historical dystopia? If not, then what exactly is it that you "believe otherwise"?

        Bear in mind that there is no federal penal code; there are some federal crimes and federal prisons, but general criminal statutes, prosecution and incarceration are almost exclusively a state matter. There are about 200,000 federal prisoners in the United States. That's about 0.6% of the population. By comparison, there are ten times as many people (over 2 million) in state prisons and local jails. In other words, it's the individual states and local municipalities, not the United States government, that have put over 90% of these people in prison.

        How does that affect the assessment? Are all 50 states brutal totalitarian regimes too? Or is the United States a brutal totalitarian regime because it allows the states to do this and refuses to set these people free?

        The fact that we have such a large prison population could mean any number of things. It could mean that we have a very high crime rate. It could mean that Americans are more prone to commit crimes than people in other countries, for any number of subsidiary reasons. It could mean that our criminal statutes are more restrictive than those in other countries, meaning more things are illegal here than elsewhere, or more crimes are classified as felonies here than elsewhere. It could mean that we mete out longer sentences for similar offenses. It could mean that our criminal justice system makes it too easy to prosecute and convict the accused. It could mean, alternatively, that our criminal justice system is so lenient, and makes it so difficult to prosecute and convict the accused, because it is so heavily weighted toward protecting their rights and puts the entire burden of proof on the state, that our people are less risk-averse when it comes to criminal behavior and more likely to think they can get away with it, avoid arrest, avoid prosecution, or "get off on a technicality."

        I'm not saying any of these are true or that any of these are the sole reason. All I'm saying is that the fact of a large prison population, by itself and without more, is not proof of the existence of a state of "tyranny" analogous to that of the Nazis, the Soviets, or anyone else. It's too easy to just chalk it up to "tyranny" and thereby avoid asking the more important questions, viz., why is it so, and what do we do about it?

        We have a criminal justice system which is, like all others, less than perfect. But we do have a criminal justice system. We also have a representative democracy that provides us with the opportunity, through the law and the political process, to change that system for the better, and with lawful recourse against it should it fail to live up to our nation's ideals of liberty and justice. And all that without any need for an armed citizenry.

        •  There are no states where (0+ / 0-)

          everyone lives under tyranny, and to hold to that standard means that even Nazi Germany wasn't tyranny.  It isn't an either/or situation, it's degrees.  Certainly, there are instances of pretty horrible systems, but even in those systems there are plenty of people who have it pretty damn good.

          And the fact that states are doing it doesn't make a whit of difference.  That's part of how a federal system works.  But we have a system that systematically oppresses a huge chunk of our population:  That's what tyranny is.

          The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

          by AoT on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 11:29:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What is your definition of (0+ / 0-)

            "systematic oppression"?

            What is the objective organizing principle that distinguishes "oppression" from law?

            What is the objective organizing principle that distinguishes "oppression" that is "systematic" from that which is not systematic, or is merely anecdotal?

            What is the objective organizing principle that distinguishes "systematic oppression" from the mere existence of a criminal justice system?

            [I mean these questions to be neither ironic nor rhetorical. I am actually very interested in your answers. Thanks.]

          •  One more thing: (0+ / 0-)

            Which specific segment of the population is being "systematically oppressed"? What objective characteristics distinguish those who are being "systematically oppressed" from those who are not? Roughly what percentage of the U.S. population is in the former category?

            Thanks again.

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