Public Education Works After All: A Nation of Double-Thinking Sheep

Column by Lawrence M. Ludlow.

Exclusive to STR

So finally, even the White House admits that the NSA’s wide-ranging program of pervy-voyeurism and spying and prying and snooping and sniffing has had no significant impact on the so-called War on the Word, otherwise known as the War on Terror. According to Geoffrey Stone, a University of Chicago law professor who was one-fifth of the five-member White House review panel:

       “The results were very thin.”

The NSA: Not So Amazing

A key question the panel was supposed to answer was whether the NSA’s program had actually stopped “any [terror attacks] that might have been really big.” The answer, supplied by Professor Stone?

       "We found none."

Yes, folks: zip, nada, bupkis.

The FBI Meets Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Of course, suppose we loosen the standards a bit? After all, we are talking about government standards (sic) here, right? What about terror attacks that were just kind of so-so or even dufus-like? In other words, what about the half-dozen or more “plots” (the list grows longer every few months) that were planned, managed, and executed by the FBI by concentrating its vast resources and derring-do skills of entrapment? You know, the kind of plot that occurs when the FBI’s grey-or-blue suits lure and stage-manage some confused, hapless, suggestible guy with an incessant program of encouragement and cajoling and training and supplying with all kinds of goobered-up bomb-making goodies until the FBI’s oh-so-“special” agents magically “foil” their own dastardly plots and arrest these budding Dr. Evils? Do they really get a raise in salary for solving crimes of this type? As the Dodo said in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.” Small wonder that novelist James Lee Burke’s protagonist, Dave Robicheaux, tends to refer to the FBI as Fart Barf and Itch. No argument here.

Said one congressional intelligence official, who asked not to be publicly identified (according to NBC):

       "That was stunning. That was the ballgame. It flies in the face of everything that they have tossed at us."

Umm, who is “they” to this spokes-creature? Is he/she not part of “them”?

The Great and Powerful Oz

And remember: we are referring to the selfsame NSA program of which Edward Snowden had the audacity and courage to pull back the curtain on our behalf—revealing that the wizard behind it (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!) was indeed peering into your life, not to mention about a few hundred million other people in the bargain. Let's recall something else: Mr. Snowden is still targeted as a criminal by the US government and the maximum leader of the Dems, propped up by a congressional infestation—both Democratic and Republican—that seems resistant to all attempts at removal and even now is poised to levy new sanctions on the people of Iran, fighting off a chance at peace yet again.

I remind the reader of Mr. Snowden’s current status as a hunted criminal because Professor Geoffrey Stone offered this explanation for continuing the unholy Inquisition levied against the truth-teller (quoting the NBC article once again):

       "Despite the panel’s conclusions, Stone strongly rejected the idea they justified Snowden’s actions in leaking the NSA documents about the phone collection. 'Suppose someone decides we need gun control and they go out and kill 15 kids and then a state enacts gun control?' Stone said, using an analogy he acknowledged was 'somewhat inflammatory.' What Snowden did, Stone said, was put the country 'at risk.'"

Professor Stone’s Bagful of Fallacies

Shall we take a closer look at this “argument”? And let’s try to remember that it was offered by a law professor at one of the country’s leading institutions of higher education, not a drunken Marine swilling low-grade shooters at a corner bar from the belly of a desperate girl who has just been dumped by her unfaithful boyfriend. The professor himself calls his analogy “inflammatory.” There’s a shorter word for that. How about stupid? His argument is nothing less than a cheesy example of the fallacious “argument from analogy.” And I mean cheesy as in Eric Cartman cheesy-poof cheesy. The example he pulls out of his bag of tricks bears absolutely no relationship to the actions of Mr. Snowden. It is true, however, that Mr. Snowden’s actions do indeed constitute a crime, as Stone suggests:

       “My emphatic view," he said, "is that a person who has access to classified information -- the revelation of which could damage national security -- should never take it upon himself to reveal that information.”

Nonetheless, nobody has been harmed by Mr. Snowden’s disclosures—just as nobody was harmed by Bradley (Chelsea) Manning’s disclosures. Yet Manning now is rotting in jail—even though it was proven during his kangaroo-court show trial that he caused no harm. Isn’t his jail sentence the real crime?

Professor Stone seems unfamiliar with the concepts of malum prohibitum and malum in se—and one would expect better of a law professor at the University of Chicago. Or am I just an idealist?

A malum prohibitum is something that is “wrong due to being prohibited.” In other words, it is a crime only because some puffed up gas-bag government employee said it was a crime and wrote it down on a piece of paper. It has no intrinsic evil or wrong embedded in it other than that it pisses off some parasite that receives a government paycheck.

A malum in se is something that is “wrong in itself.” In other words, it is something that a non-psychotic human being would acknowledge as evil or wrong. You know: a real crime such as murder, rape, theft, fraud, or assault—the kind of things that ought to be illegal, not something you cooked up just so you can have costume-wearing donut eaters fill jail cells with people who disagree with you and pay them tax money to do it.

So while there may indeed be some statute concocted by a dweebish bean-counter that Professor Stone can point to and suggest be used to railroad Mr. Snowden into a pitiless jail cell, what Mr. Snowden did by informing the public is not an example of malum prohibitum and should not be punished and, moreover, should be encouraged on a massive scale. I’m not holding my breath. What about you?

It seems that Professor Stone immediately realized the absurdity of his statement, and he tried to recover some semblance of decency by papering it over with the following weasel-like statement:

       "Stone added, however, that he would not necessarily reject granting an amnesty to Snowden in exchange for the return of all his documents, as was recently suggested by a top NSA official. “It’s a hostage situation,” said Stone. Deciding whether to negotiate with him to get all his documents back was a “pragmatic judgment. I see no principled reason not to do that.”

I won’t bother going into his predilection for the argument by analogy again (it seems to be his favorite type of fallacy). You can unpack his statement all by yourself. But we see here the typical secrecy-mongering that makes government itself a syphilitic sore upon the body of civilization (now that’s an appropriate analogy, Professor Stone!). It simply screams out the words: “Trust me; I’m a government.”

Amurrrika and Boobus Americanus

And what will be the upshot of all this? I have no doubt that Boobus americanus will receive this new information and continue to trust the government and its fetid spokes-creatures and their silly rationalizations and cornucopia of lies. It seems that government schools work after all. They have succeeded in their primary mission of turning people into obedient dupes. While Professor Stone may teach at an ostensibly “private” institution, he knows his real audience only too well. Jesus wept.

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Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
Columns on STR: 37

Lawrence Ludlow is a freelance writer living in San Diego.  


Paul's picture

Well Lawrence, I wouldn't be so pessimistic. Seems to me the reason those in government have so worked themselves into a frenzy is that a large and growing percentage of the peons have escaped their grade-school programming. I don't see so many ordinary people frothing at the mouth saying Snowden ought to be shot. In fact I was surprised when one of my acquaintances actually criticized him - surprised because it was so unusual.

"You know: a real crime such as murder, rape, theft, fraud, or assault—the kind of things that ought to be illegal..."

Or to look at it another way, the kind of things governments routinely indulge in.

"I see no principled reason not to do that."

A law professor and apologist for the regime, talking about principle; now there's a laugh...

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Paul: Yes, we can only hope, as Butler Shaffer would say, that the "sclerotic state" is choking on its own state of entropy. I just wish it would hurry itself along and get to the "other side" so that civilized people can once again thrive without its malign influence.

Glock27's picture

There should be more Snowdens. Those peons in government have the prime opportunity to unveil the corruptness of government. I have hopes there will be more who to expose the phoney secrets they hold so dearly to their hearts. I am having a terriable time between optimism and pessimism, frustration and disgust. I subscribe to a site in my state that exposes all the bills the state house and state senate bring up. At least half or more as really stupid, ideas--something that would come out of a seventh grade class.
Snowden should receive special protection and a medal for the audacity to perform the task he did. He has done more for the American people than any legislature has performed.

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Glock: Yes, may there be many more Snowdens, and yes, these truth-tellers should be recognized as heros. Like you, I roll between disgust and hope: on one hand we have the brave Bradley (Chelsea) Manning and Edward Snowden (there are more), and on the other, we have bizarre and phantasmagoric events such as Obama receiving the Nobel Prize--another example of the Dodo "prizes" as cited above from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Does he really have no sense of shame? And why does the public not turn its back to him whenever he enters a room? And the crazy Marie Antoinette Michelle Obama! Enough said there. It really is an upside-down world, isn't it?
But the limits of this farce are rapidly approaching--on all fronts. I wonder if the Syria scenario can play out again with regard to Iran and if Americans will act like adults and stop this attempt to once again demonize that longsuffering populace. The chickenhawk neo-cons (in both parties) cannot get more insane as they yet again try to deep-six the possibility of normalized relations with Iran, whose real (but unacknowledged) "sin" is that it dared to spurn the useless Fed-created pseudo-money by daring to suggest an alternative"world currency" in payment for oil (bitcoin or one of its manumitted children?). I wonder how much longer the rabid neocons will be able to trot out that crazy fear-mongering mantra against Iran, namely that Iran is only "months away" from having a nuclear bomb. They've been using that canard for about 15 or 20 years, haven't they? I can't believe it still works on the rabid talkies and their acolytes. Is the memory hole really that big and effective in Amurrrrika? Oy vey!

Paul's picture

"on the other, we have bizarre and phantasmagoric events such as Obama receiving the Nobel Prize"

And think of what a great gift that was, such a juicy target for ridicule. On net, I bet the ruling class now wishes they hadn't rigged the game for Obombya to receive that prize...

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Yes, it does leave a great opportunity for ridiculing Obama, now that you mention it. Do you think it will ever reach the proportions of Al Gore's "invention" of the Internet or of Dubya's WMDs or his hilarious "fool me once..." gaff?

Thunderbolt's picture

I have been thinking that the Russians should step in to protect Iran. Possibly even China should step up to the plate. The Israelis clearly have a madman at the helm, who will have his war, no matter what anyone thinks. How the hell did these people gain control of the U.S. government!!!! I presume the NSA can confirm that the Israelis are bribing U.S. congressmen with the billions of dollars of aid that we send to them annually.
History suggests that anyone not having nukes will be invaded, and at least a few states have noticed.

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Thunderbolt, I have to admit your analysis has quite a bit in it to chew on. The ascendancy of the United States to a role as sole superpower has proven Lord Acton's assessment that power corrupts and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.

Jim Davies's picture

"Bupkis." In this context, of what the Not So Amazing ones have actually accomplished, perhaps that should be the Word of the Year 2013. Thank you, Lawrence; it's a new one to me. We learn something every day.