Friday, January 9, 2015

paris and brazau

Media outlets and heads of state across the world are awash with outrage at the recent shooting in Paris which claimed twelve lives. As Noam Chomsky said of 9/11, events like this are unique not in size or scope but only in location. There is little hand wringing over the 31 Pakistanis killed by air strikes in the Tirrah valley of the Khyber region on Saturday and precious soul searching concerning the 76,000 who have died in the Syrian civil war in 2014, the fires of which have been fanned by Western support and active military engagement in an effort to destabilize the Assad regime. These innocents disappear down the Orwellian memory hole because they are inconvenient.

Meanwhile in Toronto the curious and kooky case of Eric Brazau has drawn to a close. In July of 2013 the anti-Islam activist boarded the subway wielding an Israeli flag and loudly condemned Islam and the Koran. He also refused to leave the carriage for around half an hour. He was then refused bail and sentenced to twenty months in jail in total. By way to contrast in the case of R v. Weins 2013 a career criminal with 9 different theft or break and enter charges in the last five years, caught doing yet another B&E, received a sentence of only sixteen months. Brazau had earlier been sentenced to 9 months in jail for handing out a flyer which the presiding judge said "vilified Muslims and disparages their religion" as well as harassing a Muslim man and his family. This is an interesting case because while the right to free speech should be absolute you don't have a right to free speech everywhere. Rights can only be understood in the context of property. Thus the right to free speech is really a right to own your body and use it in any manner which you wish, including to speak out on topics that concern you. But you don't have the right to, for example, enter a McDonalds and lecture the customers about the horrors of that particular company because the owner of the store or their agent has the right to expel you from their property. What is interesting about this example is that the subway is publicly owned. Should a libertarian view the bureaucrats who control and manage the subway as the owners and attribute to them property rights including the right to determine which conduct is acceptable among riders? What about the fellow passengers, do they have a right to their transit free of the harassment of polemicists and ideologues? The simple solution is to privatize mass transit (and everything else) but given that we do live in an un-free world how do we handle the contradictions inherent in public ownership? His sentence was unnecessarily draconian given the minor inconveniences caused by his actions.

While it's difficult to find sympathy for Brazau and the hate filled bile which he spews we must also defend his right to spew it. The earlier case of the pamphlets is far more clear-cut. It is precisely this sort of unpopular speech which must be protected against censorship. But there is another lesson to draw from this case, which is this sort of hatred and race baiting is precisely what the elites want from us. They want us divided and hating each other over minor cultural differences so that we do not recognize that we are being exploited and oppressed by the state which they control.  They want us to fear Muslisms, or Russians, they want us to be pitted against each other so terrified of imaginary demons that we do not recognize the very real ones which walk among us. We are just one tribe, manipulated, exploited and dominated by a few ruthless sociopaths and if we ever realize this then we will unite and throw off our oppressors. Their power depends upon our fear. We should not succumb to racism or tribalism but instead seek to reform our society along voluntary lines.  We must denounce the mechanisms of coercion, compulsion and control which have long been hallowed as sacred and embrace the peaceful social cooperation of the market.

We should recognize that Muslims do not hate us because we "value freedom, openness and tolerance" as Harper recently alleged. So long as this facile worldview is maintained there will not be peace. They hate us because we kill them. They are over here because we are over there. When we invade and occupy their countries this creates hostility. When Western spies stir up trouble and people die they get angry. How would you feel if you woke up to discover your brother or son was dead? And so we must advocate for peace. For Canada to withdraw from Washington's imperial conquests in the middle east and for Harper to end his bombing campaign in Iraq. We must demand that Canadian troops leave the middle east, never to return and that non-intervention not military adventurism rules the day.

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