Monday, August 1, 2011

Thinking New Political Prisoners

Stolen from our friends at Franc-tireurs:

"Firstly, a man, Tim DeChristopher, who disrupted the auction of public assets in Utah by making bogus bids has been sentenced to two years in prison. This sentence is clearly out of proportion with the offense. Moreover, we support his action, regardless of their legality. Somewhat similarly, a man, Bilal Zaheer Ahmad, has received 12 years in Britain for apparently threatening Western politicians, or rather encouraging others to harm them on the internet.  We have to be clear that in both cases, these men are political prisoners. Both of them have engaged in actions which are fundamentally threatening to the basic norms of our society, though different norms in each case. DeChristopher's action is a crime against commerce; Ahmad's is a crime against politics. DeChristopher's action threatens our ability to buy and sell at auction, and as such he received an exemplary sentence. Ahmad's action threatens the ability of politicians to pose as the representatives of the people, and as such he incited the vengeance of the state. In both cases, the rationale is that commerce and politics as they are conducted in our society are perfectly proper activities that need the protection of the state. This is not our position. Rather, we think that commerce and politics as they go on are anything other than proper activities. That is not to say that we advocate the deliberate disruption of either as a strategy: in neither case will this be likely to be productive. Despite the feeling that the pseudo-elected leaders who unleashed slaughter on the world deserve to be executed, this cheap moralism must be eschewed in favor of the sober judgment that killing politicians who support war will play precisely into the hands of the warmongers. I do not make a pacifist argument: it's not that all killing is counterproductive, just this killing, because it plays to the prevailing rhetoric of fear.  Still, these men are political prisoners, because their crimes are political. They are at odds, as we are, with the way our society operates, are a threat to it, and it is for this that they are in jail."

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