Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Paging George Orwell

Michigan has a new attorney general, Dana Nessel, elected in last November's elections. Ms. Nessel is the rare liberal woman that is not homely, in fact she is almost attractive. But don't let that fool ya, Ms. Nessel is "married" to another broad. So you can guess what sort of Attorney General she is going to be and it appears she intends to use her office to punish those she thinks have wronged her by holding opinions she doesn't like.

Ms. Nessel is partnering up with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) to fight "hate", using the discredited "hate map" provided by the ironically named Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC is widely recognized by sane people as a partisan group run by extremely well paid leftist hacks that slanders anyone they don't like as "hate" groups. The SPLC "hate map" is like a cash printing machine and the organization has over half a billion dollars in assets, including over $100,000,000 in offshore assets. For a glimpse at how a "non-profit" organization dedicated to fighting "hate" manages to have that kind of money sitting around see: Southern Poverty Surpasses Half Billion in Assets; $121 Million Now Offshore. It is a pretty sweet gig. The $PLC doesn't actually do anything other than create a few reports, maintain a bogus "hate map" and provide recommendations on who to unperson.

Are "hate groups" a major problem in Michigan? According to a recent press release from the MDCR, "hate" and "extremist" groups are up 6.5% in Michigan and there are 31 "hate groups" in the Wolverine state. That sure sounds like a lot, how terribly scary!

This is complete nonsense that doesn't mean anything at all. For example, if you go to the $PLC's "hate map" and look at the 31 "hate groups" listed in Michigan, it includes the Daily Stormer. The Daily Stormer is a website. It is not based in Michigan so I guess someone in Michigan accessed the site or something, thus creating a "hate group". I checked a handful of other states and they all have the Daily Stormer listed as a "hate group" in their state so apparently just accessing a website constitutes the presence of a "hate group" in your state. Identity Evropa is also listed and while it is an actual group it is not based in Michigan. So what makes it a "hate group" in Michigan? No idea. It just is. Also included: The Pacific Coast Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. I didn't major in geography in college but I am pretty certain no part of Michigan is on the Pacific Coast. The Michigan group is supposed to be in Alpena, Michigan which is a very small town on the coast...of Lake Huron.


Also included are the Proud Boys, which are not a hate group of any sort, and again who mostly operate in places other than Michigan. There is the Southeast Michigan Tea Party which is listed as "anti-Muslim" presumably because they have an objection to Islamic terrorism. Buncha radicals! Their website says they want some pretty dangerous and crazy stuff:  "We are a group of Michigan Patroits that want fiscal responsibility and smaller government. " Holy crap! What kind of murderous hate-mongers want fiscal responsibility?! Moving on, there is The Right Stuff, which is another website that I don't believe is hosted in Michigan. There is the Traditionalist Workers Party which is now defunct but still shows up on the website as an active "hate group" in Michigan. Then there is the Church Militant/St. Michael's Media, listed as being "anti-LGBT". They look to me to be a relatively conservative, hardcore Catholic group that believes in the same things the Catholic church pretty much always has believed until recently on issues like the family, human sexuality and abortion. But they get the "hate group" label. There are a smattering of other groups, some I have heard of and most I have not (keeping in mind that I lived for a number of years in Michigan). Many of them appear to be nothing more than zealous conservatives advocating for pretty generic conservative ideas and free speech, which has somehow itself become "hate". Others don't seem to have any linkage to Michigan or are so obscure that I have no idea why they are even noticed. There are also a smattering of black nationalist/supremacist groups including the Nation of Islam. From what I can tell, a significant number of the "hate groups" listed are not "hate groups" at all or are web-pages or are defunct as a group. But the $PLC assumes, probably correctly, that most people won't bother to look into this at all and just screech in horror "There are 31 hate groups in Michigan! I need to write the SPLC a check!".

That is a lot of lead-up to my main point. Ms. Nessel, as the Attorney General of the state of Michigan, is working with the MDCR to compile a list of "hate and bias incidents" that are not actually violating a law. In other words, they are tracking people that have opinions and positions they don't like but who aren't committing any crimes and are indeed simply exercising their First Amendment guaranteed right to free speech and expression. From the press release (my emphasis in red):

In addition to Attorney General Nessel's hate crime unit initiative, MDCR is developing a process by which it can document hate and bias incidents in the state. 

Hate and bias incidents are those instances where an action does not rise to the level of a crime or a civil infraction. For instance, in Lansing’s Old Town over the President’s Day weekend experienced a spat of flyering by the white nationalist group Patriot Front. Flyers removed by residents and visitors, but posted on social media, show the group was targeting immigrants as well as Jews with the flyers. The flyers are protected under the First Amendment and do not rise to a crime.

Hate and bias incidents serve to create a chilling effect in diverse communities, such as Old Town”, Arbulu noted. By documenting such incidents in a database, MDCR, working with community partners, will be able to create targeted awareness and education programs to address and combat such incidents in general.

“Identifying and calling out hate and bias incidents is an important tool in our toolbox to educate Michiganders about the undertone of hatred in our communities,” said Arbulu. “But they also serve as a first step in developing community dialogs to strengthen our collective resolve to reject hate, bias and division. The Department looks forward to helping all of our community partners in fostering these important, powerful and ultimately life-changing discussions as we become more diversifed.”

What they are saying is very, very important and actually has a chilling effect on free speech. They are making up a database of incidents that they admit are a) not criminal or even civil infractions and b) are First Amendment protected free speech. Can you imagine if a conservative Attorney General was creating a database of people who checked out the wrong sorts of books from the library or that wore Che Guevara t-shirts or were observed reading The Nation magazine? The Left would go nuts and so would I. Putting up flyers, even offensive flyers, gets you placed on a state database even though you have done absolutely nothing illegal? As usual this is precisely the sort of stuff the Left accuses conservatives of doing while in reality they are the ones doing it.

Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley, a very mildly conservative (or at least not flaming liberal) writer, pointed out in a column that this is the equivalent of creating a Nixonian enemies list.

Nessel and Arbulu say they intend to compile and maintain a data base on the groups it identifies as being hate-motivated. Presumably, that means documenting their activities and membership.

Again, that's troublesome in its potential to violate the right to free association, as well as to speech and religion. It could easily become an enemies list to punish political opposition and dissent.

I can imagine someone getting arrested for a completely unrelated crime and then at trial having the prosecutor pull out a piece of paper with a flourish to point out that the defendant is listed as being part of a "hate group" and then after conviction using that person's association as the excuse they need to persecute a "hate group" even if there is no connection to the crime. It is creating a two-way guilt by association and guilt-by-thought. We are rapidly approaching Minority Report as reality with the Michigan department of pre-crime.


Think I am exaggerating?

Last month a member of the Coast Guard, Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson was arrested for being a "domestic terrorist" who was targeting prominent liberals. He possessed an "arsenal" of weapons and the picture appeared with every story when this broke.


There are three scary looking rifles against the wall but the rest of it is pretty basic stuff. A couple of wood stock shotguns. Some rifles that look like .22s. Six handguns including a couple of revolvers. A decent amount of ammunition. To someone in D.C. or New York that looks terrifying but it is on par with what tens of millions of Americans already own and is much smaller than many collections. But what is interesting and disturbing about this case is that Hasson isn't being charged with much but how they are framing it is the issue. He is currently charged with pretty minor charges:

Prosecutors say Coast Guard Lt. Christopher P. Hasson was poised to become one of the worst mass murderers in U.S. history — yet all they have charged him with is possessing a synthetic opioid and owning an illegal gun-silencer.

He has some guns and ammo, possessed a synthetic opioid (whatever that is) and an illegal "silencer". Assuming he has a clean record as he is an officer in the Coast Guard, that looks like maybe at worst some minor jail time and probation but this guy is being treated like a proven terrorist. According to ABC:

In the February hearing Jennifer Sykes, speaking on behalf of the prosecution at his last court appearance in February, said that the gun and drug possession charges were "just the tip of the iceberg" in terms of the extent of Hasson’s alleged crimes. Prosecutors said he was stockpiling weapons and "espoused extremist" and racist views for years as he sought to launch a major attack.

"The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country. He must be detained pending trial. ... The defendant is a domestic terrorist," prosecutors said in a court document filed in Maryland federal court Wednesday, when they argued that Hasson should be detained.

He is currently incarcerated pending trial and Federal Judge Charles Day said that Hasson’s internet search history, as well as previous letters and emails he had allegedly written, were enough to warrant him a danger to the community.

Hasson allegedly compiled a list of prominent Democratic congressional leaders, activists, political organizations, and MSNBC and CNN media personalities, including apparent references to Joe Scarborough, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Kamala Harris, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, according to court documents.

According to court documents that said he complied that list on his work computer.

Well he is dumb for doing this on a government computer but according to this same report he is facing a possible 31 years in prison. He didn't rape someone or murder anyone. He was in possession of some drugs and a silencer yet he is being held pending trial, which would be pretty unusual based on the actual charges he is facing right now.

Detention motions have a smaller burden of proof than criminal charges, giving prosecutors more leeway to make accusations.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day, who oversaw Lt. Hasson’s initial detention hearing last month, appears skeptical.

He told prosecutors that it was unusual to detain a defendant based on the drug charges lodged, but he did order Lt. Hasson to be held without bail. That gave the government several weeks to bring additional charges before his attorney could petition for release.

The crux of prosecutors’ case, in addition to the drugs and weapons possession, is Lt. Hasson’s seeming obsession with the writings of Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in two 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway.

Even the judge admits it is very unusual to hold someone on drug charges (again, possession not intent to distribute) but they are holding him nevertheless basically because of his internet search history. I have looked up all sorts of stuff. I researched the Soviet gulag system but I don't plan on putting anyone in a gulag (I am more concerned about ending up there myself). Apparently now your internet search history is sufficient for a judge to order you held when the charges against you wouldn't warrant that. He didn't commit a crime and he didn't even seem to have a specific plan:

Yet no evidence has emerged that Lt. Hasson had a specific plan, date or concrete idea for an attack.

Analysts say the lack of a clear-cut plan is unusual in these types of cases but that Lt. Hasson did appear to take some steps.

“There is a whole litany of cases from the Supreme Court that talk about the border between free speech and genuine threat. This guy sounds like he is just on that border,” said Stephen F. Downs, a lawyer and co-founder of Project SALAM, an organization that provides legal support to Muslims and maintains a database of domestic terrorism prosecutions.

So now being "on the border" of starting to actually plan to commit a hypothetical attack is sufficient to be detained. It is a pretty safe bet that all of your internet activity is being monitored all the time but now it is clearly the case that looking at the "wrong" sort of stuff can land you in prison or keep you in prison pending charges.

Now go back to the project in Michigan to compile a database of Constitutionally protected free speech that is neither a criminal or civil infraction but which has been deemed "hateful" by an organization that amassed a half billion dollar fortune by doing almost no actual work to combat "hate". See where this is going?

A handful of people now have the power to create a "guilt before the fact" based on things like expressing unpopular political opinions or searching for the wrong sorts of information on the internet. The government considers your internet browsing and your First Amendment protected actions to be mitigating factors in whether you are detained or released on bond. The government also relies on the recommendations of a highly partisan organization that has already been successfully sued for slander to the tune of $3 million to determine who should be included on a database of thought-criminals. People have been putting up flyers and posters to express political opinon for the entire history of the United States but now doing so lands you on a database if the $PLC decides you are a bad person with bad thoughts.

If this isn't setting off every warning bell you have, you aren't paying attention. Michigan's new Attorney General is already predisposed to see "hate crimes" everywhere as a member of three "oppressed" classes (homosexual, Jewish, woman) but now she has the power of the state of Michigan law enforcement apparatus to create an enemies list. Instead of focusing on actual crimes that were actually committed, she seems more intent on using the office she holds to punish people that she doesn't like because they might think two women getting "married" isn't healthy for society. These are the same people that cry about McCarthyism decades ago but are doing far worse today. If you are a conservative in Michigan, why would you think you would get a fair shake from the state when the head of law enforcement for Michigan is compiling a database of lawful "incidents" that she deems to be "hateful"?

Pay close attention to what is going on. The government is nothing more than a means for disgruntled people to seek revenge against those they think have somehow wronged them for no reason other than holding the wrong opinion. The Left is getting close to permanent majority status in wide swaths of the government and they are completely sold out on the idea of using the power of the state to exact retribution.

Prepare accordingly.

2 comments:

  1. The only saving grace is that they're busy spiking the ball on their victory prior to having won.

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    Replies
    1. As I've said before, the only reason we haven't already collapsed is that the Left so often gets impatient.

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