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Tar and Feather award and Legal Resiliency


Let’s face it, we live in a fundamentally screwed up society. Specifically, I have in mind the US Justice system. I remember first becoming aware of this when I listened to Charlie Daniels sing about being a Simple Man. As a student of history, I can look back and see it has really always been this way and is, therefore, unlikely to get any better. What seems to fluctuate is the level of screweduppidness and how much the general populace is willing to tolerate before reacting violently. Push any animal into a small enough corner and it will bite, it just seems Americans have become a much meeker animal than heretofore.

The particularly American custom of tarring and feathering individuals as a means of extra-legal justice is a fascinating study. Used primarily on customs agents and other members of the governmental hierarchy and their collaborators, it worked as a relatively painless but thoroughly humiliating method to run undesirables out of a community. Believe it or not, there was a time when bureaucrats feared the populace, rather than the other way around!
Now, as a modern American, and an Officer and Gentleman, I cannot countenance vigilante justice, much less violent acts against governmental officials, nor am I doing so. But there is also no doubt in my mind that much of the absurdness that passes for governmental meddling in our every day affairs would be much less if they had a healthier fear of the populace. So, I am going to institute an award here on the blog intended to bring as much publicity and public shame to our current political masters as I can, following in the same theme as the former practice of tar and feathering.
You may ask why is this a resiliency matter? Trust me, everything you wish to do to further your aims of personal resiliency is opposed, either passively or actively, by the government at all levels, federal, state and local. From FDA SWAT (FDA needs a SWAT team? WTF?) raids on Amish dairy farmers to attempts to nullify the Castle Doctrine to restrictions on energy and food production anything that can help you become independent of the grid is heavily regulated. And, should you dare to homeschool your kids or express your religious views in public you WILL wind up on a list at one government agency or another.
So, what defense do we have? Not much. The best we can do is be part of an effective and organized community who can bring numbers and resources to our defense when the government oversteps its bounds. Just wanting to be left alone wont work, because they aren’t going to leave you alone. Having local accountability wont work, because until they go too far there wont be enough pressure to change things. Which might be ok, as long as that push too far isn’t when they make YOU the victim of their grasping hands.
I am currently doing some in depth research on the first award winner, but it will be the New Jersey Department of Child and Youth Services. Look for more facts to follow.
In the mean time, reflect on what can happen to you if the government decides to make sure you know your place, and how little it might take to bring you to their attention. Below are some links to others thoughts on this topic, including an excellent interview of a man who is not ALLOWED to do the right thing to get out of the penal system and some historical notes on the practice of Tar and Feathering!
*Hat tip to http://www.rightwingnut.com who seems to now be out of business for the image.

Historical study of the practice.

Benjamin H. Irvin
Brandeis University
In the spring of 1766, John Gilchrist, a Norfolk merchant and ship-owner, came to believe that Captain William Smith had reported his smuggling activities to British authorities. In retribution, Gilchrist and several accomplices captured Smith and, as he reported, “dawbed my body and face all over with tar and afterwards threw feathers on me.” Smith’s assailants, which included the mayor of Norfolk, then carted him “through every street in town,” and threw him into the sea. Fortunately, Smith was rescued by a passing boat just as he was “sinking, being able to swim no longer.”(1)
Tar and feathers was a very old form of punishment, but it does not appear to have ever been widely applied in England or in Europe.(2) Why Gilchrist and his allies chose to resurrect tar and feathers on this particular occasion historians can only surmise. Whatever their reasons, these Virginians inaugurated a new trend in colonial resistance, a trend that their New England neighbors would eagerly follow. Throughout New England, tar and feathers soon became the “popular Punishment for modern delinquents.” By March, 1770, at least thirteen individuals had been feathered in the American colonies: eight in Massachusetts, two in New York, one in Virginia, one in Pennsylvania, and one in Connecticut. In all of these instances, the tar brush was reserved exclusively for customs inspectors and informers, those persons responsible for enforcing the Townshend duties on certain imported goods. Indeed, American patriots used tar and feathers to wage a war of intimidation against British tax collectors.

Irish drug dealer tarred and feathered

Brutality or justice? The truth behind the tarred and feathered drug dealer
Certainly, the streets of Belfast are remarkably safe places to walk, with little petty crime, drug-dealing or gangs of drunken youths roaming the streets.
As a result of this curious by-product of the Northern Ireland peace process, it is no longer the law-abiding majority who are scared to go out after dark. These days, it seems, Belfast’s criminals are the ones who live in mortal fear of being caught doing anything wrong.
The question is, at what price? Vigilante justice betrays all the values that were supposedly being defended in the long fight against terrorism. We tolerate it at our peril.

Bad Quaker interview on the Justice Trap


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