vigilantes

Whoa, Cowboy!


“Cowboy” – Frederic Remington, 1908

Texas SB8 seeks to enlist vigilantes to sue the Constitutional right to abortion out of existence.  This is a novel and sneaky scheme to escape jurisdictional limits imposed by the Constitution. They do this by deputizing vigilantes to stand in for and do the dirty work of the state. And it’s more than passing irony that this law was created in Texas.

It is the “Don’t mess with Texas” state. It is where a Lone Star is required to be blended into infant formula and where The Eyes of Texas is sung everywhere because it’s more important to them than the National Anthem. It is ground zero for demands for freedom from the federal government.

And it is where the governor both preemptively and reflexively prohibits even local ruling bodies from requiring protection from the pandemic. He does this on grounds that make it clear that individual freedom trumps the general welfare, even in the face of nearly 70,000 Texas COVID deaths, many of them preventable. Let’s unpack all that.

The wailing about individual freedom may be understandable, but SB8 specifically and aggressively attacks the freedom of anyone even remotely associated with an abortion. For example, under that law, if a friend counsels a woman regarding her obtaining an abortion, that friend can be sued by any random individual, even someone completely unconnected to that friend or the patient. That will dump expensive legal defense costs on the friend. If the friend loses the case, s/he can be hit with penalties of $10,000 or more, plus be required to pay the legal expenses of the unconnected plaintiff – let’s call him/her a bounty hunter. And that friend can be sued by yet more random bounty hunters and be penalized $10,000 or more by each one of them, plus have to pay the legal expenses of all the pile-on bounty hunters.

The standard in civil cases seeking damages is to show some kind of harm done to the plaintiff, such that monetary compensation is appropriate. It’s instructive that in the oral arguments to the Supreme Court on Monday the attorney for the state of Texas claimed that the harm done to that previously mentioned, unconnected individual – the bounty hunter – is

“emotional upset”
.

That’s it. Anybody claiming that they were distressed by someone they had never met, nor even previously heard of, can file a civil suit and collect damages for angst caused by that unknown person – the friend. That’s the state’s logic, as explained to nine Supreme Court justices.

So, with the weaponization of Texas vigilantes – bounty hunters – the friend counseling the woman seeking an abortion will effectively have his/her First Amendment right to freedom of speech terminated.

Wait, what?

A random freedom wailer in Texas – the bounty hunter – is now allowed to end another person’s freedom of speech? Yes. So much for the primacy of individual freedom in Texas. Apparently, freedom only exists for those citizens favored by the state government, like vigilantes. And the irony expands from there.

Under questioning from the Supreme Court justices, the attorney for Texas proudly stated that if Texas were to enact a law that made ownership of AR-15 assault rifles illegal, any random vigilante/bounty hunter could file suit against such a gun owner. They could claim emotional upset over a fellow Texan owning that weapon and win cash and prizes, like the termination of the gun owner’s Second Amendment right to bear arms. In Texas! Like I said: irony.

Texas prides itself as one of the leaders in flicking off the federal government. It’s an ongoing blustering of, “You can’t tell me what to do,” a demand for individual independence and freedom, consequences be damned.

Apparently the geniuses in Austin believe they can slice off any piece of the Constitution that’s a burr under their saddle. Happy Trails to whatever is left.

Now Texas Governor Greg Abbott has attacked local school boards, cities, counties, private businesses and more in his fight for yet more COVID death in Texas and against defeating the pandemic.

Wait, what?

The governor has unilaterally stripped power – freedom – from all other governmental agencies in Texas, as well as from private businesses and all the people in any of those places. He’s stripped rights from parents to decide what’s best for their kids, too.

When parents, through their duly elected school board, say that kids have to wear masks in school so that they don’t infect one another and cause sickness and death, parents now have a big problem. The rights and freedom of those parents have been usurped by the Governor of Texas through his mandating that there be no mask mandates. So much for individual freedom.

Red state freedom irony is all around, including in those states where the legislature and governor seek to nullify citizens’ voting rights, this being done – hypocritically – in the name of free and fair elections. We better do more than just hope for federal legislation and Supreme Court decisions to stop the raping of the Constitution, or soon we won’t have any rights or any freedom or a Constitution at all.

Note that there are no Democrats or Independents curtailing freedoms or wailing air-headed Marxist/socialist or Critical Race Theory lies. All of the anti-democracy il-logic is coming from Republicans, so I have lovingly and accurately labeled their sky-is-falling idiocy “Republicrap.”

Read Professor Heather Cox Richardson’s piece and note especially the inside-out, upside-down contortions and mentally ill projections of Republicrappers. Example: With his essay in The American Conservative, Republicrapper Sen. Marco Rubio shows that he has completely jumped the track and submerged himself in the un-drained swamp Trump left behind.

Yes, the metaphors are mixed. Deal with it.

In case you need something to give you nightmares, read this from The Washington Post. It’s about sheriffs who think they’re kings, able to pick and choose which laws they’ll enforce and which to ignore. They think they’re uncontrollable by local, state or federal government. It’s putting “Don’t tread on me” into a police cruiser. It’s making law enforcement a tool of right wing extremists. It’s institutionalizing individual freedom mania and, in the process, chopping away still more at freedom for the rest of us.

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The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Do You Smell What I Smell?


In another effort to quash the will of the majority of its citizens, the state of Texas passed a draconian anti-abortion law that effectively outsources law enforcement to vigilantes. The Supreme Court refused to issue an injunction to stop the law from taking effect before a full review of its breathtakingly unconstitutional provisions could be examined.* Effectively, abortion has been criminalized in Texas and enforcement of the law has been handed to bounty hunters, who have been offered cash prizes for spying on neighbors.

Historian and Professor Heather Cox Richardson puts it this way:

“The Republican Party is empowering vigilantes to enforce their beliefs against their neighbors.”

Ordinary citizens with nothing more than greed, strong opinions and with no training are now allowed to file lawsuits against anyone even remotely associated with an abortion, even those just having a conversation with a woman who may be thinking about it. They don’t even have to show harm to themselves to have standing to sue others for $10,000 or more, others who are doing Constitutionally protected things, even just having a conversation. That effectively makes these vigilantes the Thought Police** and trashes the First Amendment.

Regardless of how you feel about abortion, the worst part of this law is not that, even as harmful to women as this Texas hypocrisy is. It is about empowering vigilantes to perform the duties of the state in order for the state to avoid judicial review. Now, think about what that could mean.

Texas could enact another law that outsources collecting tax penalties to vigilantes, that encourages armed, ignorant citizens to pursue those they imagine have broken the law, that can allow extremists to sue journalists and news organizations to penalize their adverse reporting of politicians. The state can just turn everything over to crazed vigilantes and effectively do an end run around the courts.

You know, like in Germany in the 1930s and 40s. Like in the communist Soviet Union. Like in all repressive states. Neighbors turning on neighbors.

We already know what mobs of impassioned, self-important people can and will do. We saw that on January 6 at our Capitol Building. Now imagine such people up close and personal. They’re delusional about their patriotism and notions of godliness. They’re untrained and uninformed greedy bounty hunters rampaging through your neighborhood pretending they’re trained police officers and looking for you to sue you into bankruptcy.

Perhaps the worst part of this is that the extremist Republican Supreme Court justices could have stopped this plainly unconstitutional lunacy with an injunction, but they refused to do so. They allowed this law to go into effect without even having heard the case against it, which is coming before the court soon. They have abandoned the rule of law. Clearly, something needs to be done about this extremist court, because they aren’t done “legislating their ideology from the bench.”

Another Texas law makes it legal for gun toting vigilantes to roam around polling places – inside – and intimidate voters. The Texas hits just keep on coming.

These laws are sure to be copied by other minority rule, extremist Republican controlled states and we’ll have Wild West, blatantly unconstitutional actions all across our nation.

Let’s see: The Republicans have given us legally sanctioned vigilantism; minority rule; measures to encourage the infection of citizens with a deadly disease; horrific voter suppression; abandonment of the rule of law; refusal to hold cops accountable; refusal to extend healthcare to poor people; encouragement of insurrection; concealed carry and stand your ground laws that make murder legal; lies and cruel fictions replacing facts and truth; a rejection of science and a celebration of ignorance; bloated enrichment of the already wealthy and the impoverishing of our poor and middle class citizens; the destruction of trust in our electoral system; the teaching of religion in our public schools; the promotion of White supremacy and the glorification of racism; the denial of global warming in favor of enriching their wealthy donors. What else?

In the 2020 general election campaign the Republican Party had no platform. They offered a single page of rah-rah. That’s it. They offered no declaration of what they were about or of their vision for America. Sadly, now we know what they’re about. Now we know their dystopian vision for the destruction of our democracy.

I smell tyranny. I smell authoritarianism and dictatorship. I smell fascism and it stinks.

Do you smell what I smell?

Wanna Fight This Insanity? Here’s How

Sheila Markin is a friend, the publisher of The Markin Report and she smells what’s burning, just as you do. If you haven’t yet subscribed to her posts, you truly need to. She just emailed me with news about a couple of Zooms I’m certain you’ll want to attend.

As you can see from the destructive laws being enacted in Texas and elsewhere to assault our rights and our democracy, there’s much we have to learn and much we have to do. To that end, Sheila has put together two educational 1-hour Zooms for us. These are being offered at no cost and there will be no requirement to donate. This is about making a critical difference. Here is the schedule.

September 17 at 2:00PM CDT – Media Matters will help us understand how they fight disinformation. Did you ever imagine that there would be a need to fight a constant tsunami of disinformation? Well, there is and you’ve known it for a while. We need to get smart about dealing with that.

September 24 at 2:00PM CDT – The 314 Project will explain how they are working to get doctors and scientists elected to Congress, as well as to state and local positions of leadership. Take just a moment to consider what it would be like if doctors had legislative input on medical issues and if scientists had input on issues of science, instead of such things being handled by self-serving, ignorance-loving, know-nothing  politicians. Breathtaking!

Note that in order to attend you need to email Sheila at [email protected] and let her know you’ll be there. That way you’ll be on the approved good-guy list for the presenters and the Zooms.

Please invite your friends, your network of contacts who are concerned about our country, who insist that our democracy survives these assaults from the radical right wing.
.

I’ll be there and will be looking for you.

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* You must read Justice Sotomayor’s blistering dissent. Download a copy of all the justices’ opinions. Sotomayor’s comments begin on page 7.

In reading her comments I was reminded of a college football cheer, paraphrased thusly:

“Rip ’em up, tear ’em up, give ’em hell, Sotomayor!”

** From Wikipedia:

“In the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), by George Orwell, the Thought Police (Thinkpol) are the secret police of the superstate Oceania, who discover and punish thoughtcrime, personal and political thoughts unapproved by Ingsoc‘s regime. The Thinkpol use criminal psychology and omnipresent surveillance via informers, telescreens, cameras, and microphones, to monitor the citizens of Oceania and arrest all those who have committed thoughtcrime in challenge to the status quo authority of the Party and the regime of Big Brother.”

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Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!)

And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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