Yes, yes. I realize it’s a ritually impure source

Yes, yes. I realize it’s a ritually impure source May 23, 2012

…full of leftist cooties and other terrible defiling things. Still, I think the actual facts discussed in this article should be troubling. The actual function of the police is supposed to be to defend the common good from criminals, not to entice marginal people to be criminals and provide them with the means to do it so that they can then be arrested and held up to public view in order to make the cops look good.

Note to Lefties: This is Obama’s FBI doing this. He is not your friend.

Note to Righties: if they frame Occupiers today, what makes you imagine for a second they won’t frame prolifers tomorrow? Do recall that the DHS has listed prolifers as potential domestic terrorists. A compliant media would hail an indiscriminate “crackdown” on prolifers with the same unquestioning docility to the State narrative that it hailed this story of the Righteous State vs. Terrorist Bad Guys.

Note to all: It’s not Left vs. Right anymore. It’s our Ruling Class vs. the rest of us.

HT: Caelum et Terra

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  • Dale Price

    I’m ambivalent about entrapment. On the one hand, it’s effectively creating crime to snuff it.

    On the other hand, the defense deployed at the Counterpunch article elides the whole notion of moral agency, blaming it entirely on the Svengali with the weed and PBR. I suppose the argument is conditioning, but most people don’t sign on to blow up bridges no matter how much free chronic they’re getting.

    That said, I’d be happier if the authorities dealt with the actual crimes committed at Occupy encampments rather than trying to gin up more.

    • ivan_the_mad

      I doubt you’d be so ambivalent if you were the one entrapped 😉

      • Dale Price

        Well, no doubt.

        But I haven’t had the urge to knock down a bridge. Not even the atrocious Zilwaukee. 🙂

        • Ted Seeber

          There was a time in my life, a really dark time, when I had the notion that the DC sniper was an idiot for hanging around such a small number of jurisdictions; and that an interesting protest against capitalism would be to become a mountain and tree climbing sniper with a penchant for skyscrapers as target- but using no more than six bullets per state.

          I could have easily been the target of a sting at that time if the FBI would have offered me a way to protect my family.

          So I understand the hatred and fear that would lead a person into this kind of entrapment.

          In the words of the character Buddy from the NBC 1980s sitcom Night Court, I’m much better now. I know that violence isn’t the solution. But I can see why it would be tempting to somebody who has nothing to live for to go down fighting and take a few of his enemies with him.

          • Ultimately, you believe that peaceful change is possible and therefore will reject violence in reality or you don’t and you won’t. I’ve laid out plans for violence and mayhem, talked them out in a group as an exercise but I’ve *never* been of the opinion that Jefferson’s right of rebellion applies in the USA as it stands right now and therefore I would have stopped when it became more than a theoretical exercise. This is an important test, one that it is vital to pass. These OWS people failed that test.

    • Mark Shea

      Yeah, but all that really amounts to is “Marginal people act like marginal people”. Urging marginal people further out into the ozone is about the worst thing the cops can be doing. Little ones are moral agents too. Those who lead them into sin still get the millstone necktie.

      • Dale Price

        Except that there can be a genuine, legitimate use for such tactics, even against the marginal. Despite the media’s efforts to baptize them as the new Saint Francis Without The Godbotheriness Meets Woodstock movement, Occupy had recurrent problems with criminality, including violence and violent rhetoric. The sparingly-used entrapment op is a shot across the bow reminding people that certain lines shall not be crossed.

        And let’s also not forget that at least three of these five babes-in-the-woods had leadership roles in Occupy Cleveland. Not as marginal as they want to portray themselves.

        In any event, I’ll revert to my main point, which is that I agree entrapment needs to be a much, much lower priority in law enforcement. And used sparingly, with stringent controls and oversight.

        • SecretAgentMan

          I’m not disagreeing with anything above, but I do want to point out that a conspiracy conviction (which is where sting operations usually snag people) requires an agreement to commit a crime and an overt act in furtherance of the agreement. 99% of the time the civilians in the agreement perform the overt act, or one of the overt acts, because having the police do that generally guarantees that an entrapment defense will work. An FBI agent sitting around talking with some hop-heads about blowing up a building hasn’t uncovered a crime; they all have to agree to blow up the building and then do something such as pay for explosives.

          One reason operations like this are useful is the other side of the “why don’t they spend their time discovering crime instead of manufacturing it” coin. They make it difficult for people bent on violence to know who they can trust. The response is either to lay low or scale down the planned activity, both of which are victories of a sort for the good guys.

          • Andy, Bad Person

            Side question, SAM, because it came up when I was on a Grand Jury a decade ago: when determining/convicting on Conspiracy, what kind of evidence do you need that an agreement to commit a crime had taken place? Can the nature and specifics of the crime indicate conspiracy in themselves? For example, I wanted to consider conspiracy on a home invasion case where the alleged were all wearing ski masks. Does the presence of ski masks indicate that there was a prior agreement to commit the crime?

            • SecretAgentMan

              Standing alone, no. It’s just a bunch of guys wearing ski masks. But if there’s other evidence that they planned to commit a crime together, the wearing of masks can prove both the agreement and an overt act (meeting, as well as acquiring or wearing the masks).

              As a sidelight, there’s an interesting collision point between conspiracy and another rule that “mere planning and preparation” to commit a crime is not iself a crime. Most conspiracy convictions are had on evidence of intention and overt acts that would be “mere planning and preparation” if carried out by an individual defendant. Conspiracy appears to be an exception to the “planning and preparation rule,” most likely because crimes involving multiple participants are more dangerous in scope and intention than crimes involving individual actors.

  • If Chesterton were alive today, he’d have to write a sequel to The Man Who Was Thursday.

  • Kirt Higdon

    Just about all foiled terrorist plots in the US since 9/11, whether right, left, or Moslem, have been Fed set-ups. The idea is to keep the fear level high and the dollars flowing to the national security state apparatus. Note that the recent terrorist busts in Chicago were allegedly of plots to blow up Obama’s campaign HQ and Rahm Emmanuel’s house. Get the message. Vote for the Democrats or the terrorists win. (This will probably also go down in history as the brewers’ plot since the supposed bomb-making equipment was apparently gear for home-brewing beer.)

  • Richard Johnson

    Strange…back in 2007 when folks like me were being stopped for “extra scrutiny” by TSA simply because we belonged to alleged radical groups (like PFLAG and the Green Party), there were precious few voices on the right who were sympathetic to this argument.

    The battle hasn’t changed folks. It’s just your sacred cows on the altar now.

    Martin Niemoller was indeed a prophet.

    • ivan_the_mad

      “there were precious few voices on the right”. You show your bias 😉

      Better statement: There were, and are, precious few voices speaking out against this, period. I don’t hear as many left-wing voices speaking out against Obama’s abuses, but that’s likely because I don’t read or listen to many left-wing voices to begin with.

      • Richard Johnson

        ““there were precious few voices on the right”. You show your bias ”

        With the support given by conservatives to the institution of the Patriot Act I & II and the creation of the TSA, I think my “bias” is amply supported by the facts on the ground. But, feel free to prove me wrong if you wish.

        As for not hearing voices speaking out on what is happening today, your statement of willful ignorance covers that nicely.

        • Mark Shea

          You really do need to familarize yourself with a broader swath of the right than simply the neocons. There have been plenty of voices on the right expressing grave concern about this crap for a long time. Don’t crap in the wheatie bowl of your allies. Be grateful for the support.

          • Dale Price

            I believe you mentioned something earlier about “ritual impurity”?

            It’s not just a right-wing godbothering clinger thing, apparently.

          • Richard Johnson

            Fair enough, Mr. Shea. Can you give me a link to even one newspaper/news source/blog that you consider legitimately conservative that gave any substantial coverage of the NATO protests in Chicago, or the other Occupy rallies across the nation? After all, if there are conservative voices out there speaking out against the extremes of our current government, surely they would have at least mentioned in passing these protests without mocking/denigrating/ridiculing them for being leaderless or directionless.

            Just one…

            • Mark Shea

              You’re moving the goalposts. If you want conservative criticisms of Patriot Act/Security state stuff, it’s been out there for years. Libertarians, the Chronicles crowd, Pat Buchanan (among others) have all kvetched about it. If you want conservative empathy for Occupy, that’s rarer, but still there. For instance, the Distributist Review and Caelum et Terra have been empathetic to them. (Distributists, being Chestertonian, tend be seen as conservative by liberals and liberal by conservatives). If you like, you can always keep moving the goalposts to make sure to keep conservatives as the Alien Other. I think this is a counterproductive thing to do though, not least because it is not conservatives who are pulling the police state crap, but our Dear Leader. But if you rather cling to historical bitternesses instead of make useful alliances, that’s your business.

              • Dale Price

                Freedom of association, Mark. He doesn’t want to associate with Those People, he doesn’t have to.

                Good catch on the goalpost moving.

        • ivan_the_mad

          “With the support given by conservatives to the institution of … the Patriot Act”. As opposed to what, the support given by liberals to the renewal and extension of the PATRIOT Act, signed into law “with reservations” by a “left-wing” president? This is ridiculous.

          “As for not hearing voices speaking out on what is happening today …”. Not what I wrote. Learn to read 😉

          • Richard Johnson

            Ivan you wrote this: “There were, and are, precious few voices speaking out against this, period.”

            What does the word “are” mean to you, Ivan? When I went to school it meant in the present, as in today. Also, you wrote: “I don’t hear as many left-wing voices speaking out against Obama’s abuses, but that’s likely because I don’t read or listen to many left-wing voices to begin with.” As I have been told with my statement, you would hear the voices if you bothered to listen. But you admit that you do not read lefty blogs or sources, so your ignorance of them is understandable, and has a remedy if you choose to pursue it.

            • ivan_the_mad

              “But you admit that you do not read lefty blogs or sources”

              How does “I don’t read or listen to many left-wing voices to begin with” become “I don’t read or listen left-wing voices to begin with”?

          • Richard Johnson

            “As opposed to what, the support given by liberals to the renewal and extension of the PATRIOT Act, signed into law “with reservations” by a “left-wing” president?”

            I’m glad you included question marks around “left wing”, as Obama is about as left wing in most of his views as Richard Nixon.

        • Noah D

          Allow me to point you to my post somewhat downstream. My particular community has been protesting this kind of thing for decades.

    • Dale Price


      This has to be some kind of metahumor. Because otherwise, you seriously arguing that Occupy is a right wing sacred cow.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Of course it is. OWS is funded by Bain Capital to make Obama look bad, don’t you know?

        • Dale Price

          It is abundantly clear he didn’t bother to read the Counterpunch article before commenting.

  • SecretAgentMan

    I like the article, but it ignores (predictably) one big contributing factor. We put our law enforcement agencies under the control of elected officials. All police activity is therefore politically-conscious activity. We don’t notice that fact much of the time because the political directives enforced by the police (i.e., “robbery should be punished”) aren’t disputed by a large enough segment of the population. But it’s still natural and inevitable for police to adopt the attitude that whatever threatens the political order is a crime.

  • Noah D

    I’m going to ‘out’ myself here. Not only am I Catholic (shocka!), but I’m a gun-owner, -carrier, and -rights activist. I had a long rant written, but I think I can sum up with this:

    Welcome to my world.

  • Ted Seeber

    “Note to Righties: if they frame Occupiers today, what makes you imagine for a second they won’t frame prolifers tomorrow? ”

    I’m pretty sure that they’ve already done so, and that this led to the in-Church death of the abortionist George Tiller.

    • Dale Price

      Oh, they’ve already deployed plenty of interesting statutory weapons against the pro-life movement, including RICO and FACE. Entrapment operations would be different in degree, not kind.

      • ivan_the_mad

        “Entrapment operations would be different in degree, not kind.” Well said!

  • Dan C

    Similar activity was documented at the RNC convention in 2004. Nothing new.

  • Richard Johnson

    Tell you folks what….when we start seeing conservatives who oppose “the regime” taking to the streets beside Occupy, Code Pink, Greens, Gold Star Families, Not in Our Name, United for Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, and the dozens of other liberal/progressive groups who have been on the streets for years, you can expect to be thanked for your support. Until then, it’s words folks, and words are cheap.

    • Dale Price

      Your ritual purity has been confirmed.

      And it’s a remarkable bit of posturing which turns Occupy and Code Pink into something *other* than a cheap gabfest.

      OK–a cheap gabfest with tents and the occasional parade.

    • Mark Shea

      I’m not looking for thanks. Just suggesting that it’s generally wise to take political allies where you can find them. Apparently you prefer spitting in their eyes instead. I guess tribal purity is pretty important to some people. I prefer the “getting the job done” route.

      • Richard Johnson

        As Mr. Price so aptly exemplifies, the spitting goes both directions. Yet, it is those of us on the left who show up, year after year, at these events. And we are quite used to being spit at and denigrated by conservatives.

        Mr. Price, you’re welcome.

        If you want allies, folks, try not to show up with a sneer and ridicule as your introduction. Who knows, you might learn something about peaceful civil disobedience from some of these protest veterans.

        • Mark Shea

          Soooo then, you weren’t really asking if there are any conservatives who object to Patriot crap and the security state. You were really just asking if there are conservatives who are sympathetic to Occupy and so forth. In short, you were asking if there are conservatives who are actually liberals. Shockingly, this is rare. Been fun moving the goalposts. Hope you enjoy clinging to tribal hostilities instead of making common cause where you can.

          • Richard Johnson

            Mr. Shea, back when many of us were protesting the push for the war in Iraq (early 2003), you were writing:

            “The fact that Archbishop whosit thinks a war is unjust does not render it unjust. Indeed, even the fact a Pope thinks a war unjust does not render it unjust. Such judgements are, in the end, still prudential ones and they could be wrong. People must form their conscience in light of the Tradition and act on it. Which leads to the *stupidest* part of the letter: the idea that a person, acting in obedience to conscience and fighting is acting on “intrinsically disordered savage instinct”. Does this maroon even know what “intrinsically disordered” means? The attempt to invoke the Tradition in this ham-fisted Baltimore Catechism authoritarian way is yet another reason why it’s so hard to take the Left seriously at all. It’s funny. There’s hardly anybody more authoritarian, more “Because I said so, that’s why!” than a liberal when he’s invoking the Church’s authority for a pet cause. You’re supposed to just shut the hell up, not ask any questions, and be excommunicated if you do–and on matters of prudential judgement. But in matters of actual dogma or constant moral teaching, you are free to do as you please. As though (when the subject matter is congenial to liberal fashion) the Faith is nothing but a double column list of “commanded/forbidden” and Catholics are supposed to navigate by avoiding Getting in Trouble with the Boss. What an imbecile! And, of course, I’ll lay odds he rejects the Church’s teaching on homosexual practice. But he’s such a dunce that he thinks he’s constructed a water-tight argument against people who take the Tradition seriously.
            I swear, it’s the proponents of the anti-war movement who do more to propel me toward war than anyone else. It’s a sort of anti-ad populum argument: two million idiots can’t be right.”

            Now I know you were struggling with the rationale for the war, and expressing many of the same doubts about it that those of us on the left were expressing. But please, simply because some idiot makes a silly point about homosexuality and just war you come back with this bit of tribalist rhetoric?

            Sorry…this is the kind of “support” that has been offered to the anti-war effort over the past ten plus years. It’s very telling that you seem to believe only a liberal would come out to an Occupy rally. Yet I wager that you expect liberals to set aside their differences with the conservative Catholic Bishops and support their efforts to turn back the HHS mandate.

            Are you and other conservatives willing to do the same in order to make allies on the common ground we both seem to have? Or will a *gasp* liberal Catholic who may utter something that you do not agree with cause you to walk away from “two million idiots”?

            • ivan_the_mad

              Yes, yes, we get it, “Conservatives bad, liberals good”.

            • Mark Shea

              As I say, if you think it’s a good idea to cling to historical bitterness and dredge up stuff like this rather than be grateful for allies, knock yourself out. It’s stupid, but it’s your perogative.

        • Dale Price

          Oh, no problem. Naturally, you missed that I didn’t engage in a blanket condemnation of all your groups, just the two most problematic. As I expected, you read it tribally.

          Your problem is that you have this monstrous chip on your shoulder, and feel the need to parade your righteous bona-fides before starting to discuss anything. Yeah, I get it–you’re with PFLAG, and other Good People. You’ve made that abundantly clear.

          You’ve also made it abundantly clear that you regard only certain forms of expression (and, sotto voce, only certain approved forms of political thought) as the only appropriate means of addressing problems. When it’s pointed out that two of them are cheap guerrilla street theatre (empty talk with tents and occasional screaming at others’ speeches) and are thus indistinguishable from what you deride, well…that’s your problem. I refuse to endorse your entire party line, including uncritical adulation for your Good People.

          You’re right–I have no interest in locking arms with *you* on any issue. Your sense of self-righteousness makes it unworkable.

          But don’t read my unwillingness to work with *you* as an unwillingness to work with those who differ with me on most issues, at least when it comes to an issue of common concern.

  • Richard Johnson

    My last comment for this, Mr. Shea. I know that will cause rejoicing.

    You seem to believe that if you were to show up at an Occupy organized rally to march against “the regime” you would be supporting the entire agenda of every group that shows up, not just representing your own views with others who, at least on those few items, share them.

    That explains a lot about your hostility to “leftist” anti-regime protesters. Because we may disagree with you on homosexuality, birth control, sex education, taxation, military spending, welfare, unemployment, or any other social justice issue, you can’t risk offering tangible support to a Green Party candidate (even a pro-life one like myself), or a Code Pink rally. You probably wouldn’t even feel comfortable picking up a stack of pizzas and taking them down to an Occupy encampment…a relatively anonymous action that would not “taint” you with the sinful part of the movement.

    Fair enough, Mr. Shea. If you believe that by standing with Occupy, Veterans for Peace, United for Peace and Justice, or other lefty groups you are supporting them, then please do not bother to come down and join in. But don’t be surprised if we reject your invite to come and stand with you and your fellow Catholics as you protest the HHS mandate. Many of us are against it as well (and a whole host of other actions taken against religion, including minority religions). We will stay in the liberal ghetto where you want us, and you can stay in the conservative ghetto.

    • Mark Shea

      No. I seem to believe that you asked where the conservatives were who protested stuff like the Patriot Act and the growing police state. I took time out of my busy day to try to answer that question. Then you moved the goalposts to demand where the conservatives where who supported the Occupy movement. I tried directing you to what resources I could think of off the top of my head (because, as I mentioned earlier, I’m *mainly* trying to get a big project written). You then responded with bitter recriminations about something I wrote years ago and and have subsequently changed my mind about. Now you are engaging in some quite fanciful mind-reading about things I am not thinking at all (since I am, you know, trying to get other stuff done and was just trying to oblige what I thought was a sincere request for information and not an Overture to a Rant. Now I am giving up and going to do my other stuff that I was trying to do before trying to answer you initial question, chastened by this reminder that there are some people who will not take yes for an answer.

      • Dan C

        Mr. Johnson,

        You seem to seek a conservative-to-liberal conversion (“Mr. Johnson, you were RIGHT on everything!”) which is the wrong conversion to seek. The conversion we each need is our own conversion of the heart.

        These culture wars have everyone bitter and each other’s enemies. And the term is enemies, but we are called to love our enemies. This means we need to recognize each other as brothers-in-Christ, even if opponents.

        Who builds the bridge to the enemy first? Must each side continue to expend enormous energies demanding humiliating capitulation while the poor go hungry, young men and women suffer from treatable diseases because they lack health insurance, and unjust wars continue to be waged?

        I suggest you try different tacks to build bridges and not expect humiliating capitulation. The work that needs to be done is enormously challenging, and there are few in the vineyard. I am always eager for partners, even enemies, who help out on important matters (as opposed to my routine need to “be right.”)

        B16 speaks of “listening” this year. Let’s try to listen to one another. Some things are different than in 2004. But the government, friend of wealth and power and greed, enemy of the poor and peace, is no different.

        • Mark Shea

          You are a refreshing voice of reason. God bless you.

    • Kirt Higdon

      Speaking as one who protested the Iraq war on the streets on an almost weekly basis from before the US attack until the final withdrawal of US troops (and got in some protests of the Afghan war in as well), I have my doubts as to the effectiveness of street protests. I was usually joined by one or two other people. I’d no doubt be considered extreme right by the leftists and extreme left by the rightists as I am a supporter of Ron Paul, but I got little support from the left and most of that vanished when Obama was elected. I got no support at all from the right whether Bush or Obama was president. The pro-life movement generally turns out more people on the streets around here (Corpus Christi) and the campaign for religious liberty, so far little organized, has already shown the ability to turn out hundreds in this city. As far as other cities are concerned, I read that the first to get arrested in Chicago in the anti-NATO protests were members of the Catholic Workers. I’d certainly have no problem joining with them.

      • Dan C

        Catholic Workers are usually eager for another person with a pulse to join a protest. They talk a lot and have strong opinions. Much like Paul supporters.

        • ivan_the_mad

          Haha Dan you are so right! I’ve got a foot in the Catholic Workers’ camp and two in Ron Paul’s, and I can tell you, it’s never a dull conversation with either group!

    • Noah D

      Many of us are against it [HHS mandate] as well

      If by ‘us’, you mean generally liberal, lefty groups, could you please tell us which ones?

  • j. blum

    That noisome screech you hear is the ruling class cackling at our quarrelsome impotence.