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There are now 23 comments... what are your thoughts?
  1. Aren’t there lots of societies, both past and present, that tolerate such a thing?

    • Oh, most definitely.

      Our founding fathers were perhaps some of the most well-read and well-educated rebels in history, having studied rather a lot of philosophy and discussions by great thinkers about what ideals a society should strive to uphold. They had seen a lot of the abuses that a state could perpetrate against its citizens, and as a result they tried to fashion a system based on principles that prize individual liberties very highly.

      That’s not to say they did a perfect job, mind you. But they were definitely thinking about these issues in a way that many other creators of governments didn’t (and often still don’t – voluntarily giving up power is a difficult thing, especially if you think you could use that power to do good things.)

  2. rotator says

    Incidentally, what’s your policy on linking of images? This one is too classy not to share.

  3. Librarian says

    Wouldn’t personal self-identification be the first step to lighting the fire under your feet yourself? If you don’t identify your person, how can the state proceed to incriminate your person?

      • Not if you’re not carrying identification they can’t, short of pulling random people off the street and asking if they know you, or waiting till someone comes wondering where you are – one of the reasons why the state is so “insistent” on people carrying and presenting I.D., no?

        Also, if you refuse to identify under John/Jane Doe, that is refusing consent to such identification, how can the state continue without your consent? They also can’t put anything on the “official record” of your person without an I.D. of it.

        • Not sure where you’re going with this. Just because they don’t know your name doesn’t mean that the police can’t do anything with you. There’s a whole ton of ways to identify someone aside from their name (fingerprints, for example).

          • What I’m saying is that the State needs paperwork, without which, they cannot proceed against you. Sure they can hold your body under arrest, or behind bars, or simply toss you in a concentration camp, but, without legitimate paperwork stating the person and the charges being levied against that person, doing so would be unconstitutional and thereby unlawful.

            At least as far as I understand it. Am I wrong?

            • You’re wrong. If you refuse to identify yourself, and they can’t do it any other way, you’re simply “John/Jane Doe”. You’re still a person without a name (heck, you can legally call yourself anything you want), and a lack of one won’t stop a prosecution.

              You don’t even need your real name to -file- a lawsuit sometimes. One of the most famous court cases in the US, Roe vs Wade, involved an anonymous plaintiff, at the time anyways (“Roe” is another name used for unnamed people in court cases).

              • I don’t know for fact, but suspect most or all cases involving juveniles use pseudonyms.

                ID is not mandatory; witness all of the fighting about governemnt ID for voting.

                • Yeah – can’t open a bank account without ID, but you can vote (early and often!) without one… To ask is illegal…

                  That tells you how the game is rigged, by itself.

  4. Bill says

    If it’s bad for the state to hammer away at the essence of your self — your ability to control what you do and say — then why is it okay to compel you to testify against someone else?

    • Are they able to do that? Constitutionally, the defense can compel someone to serve as a witness. Plea deals can involve testimony.

    • I think the reason that it’s considered especially repugnant here is that the state’s control of your self is used to get you in trouble. I mean, the state does control what we do and say in certain, limited ways. To use an extreme example, when someone is convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison, the state severely restricts what they can do, where they live, all sorts of things like that… so it’s not like the state can NEVER control you (which to a certain extent is good – a state with no ability to control citizens whatsoever might as well not exist.)

      In the example you mentioned, testifying against someone else is not necessarily hurting yourself. In the cases where it would – for instance, where testifying about how Bob was running a moonshine still in the woods would cause you to reveal that you had been helping him do it – you could invoke your 5th Amendment rights (which we’ll actually get to soon, I think!)

    • From a pragmatic stance, I suspect you could plead the fifth and let the state try to prove you were innocent of anything and thus the fifth amendment didn’t apply.

      • If you plead the Fifth, the prosecution still has the option of giving you immunity and compelling you to testify anyway. If the state is convinced enough that you’re innocent and are taking the Fifth under false pretenses or for trivial reasons, they don’t have to prove anything.

    • I think it is a matter of consequences – if you are compelled to testify against yourself, you can be punished by your own words. If you are compelled to testify against another person, only they can be hurt, not you (unless their mob associates pay you a visit with a bucket of cement)

      • Of course, that’s based on a cultural assumption that one always treats violations against oneself as far worse than an analogous violation against someone else. The idea that, “An injury to one is an injury to all” doesn’t really enter into legal reasoning.

        Of course, countless cases involving protestors, patriot militias, self-proclaimed revolutionary cells, and other organizations of similar character demonstrate that there are people who will gladly take a civil contempt incarceration to protect their co-conspirators from prosecution. To them, even if the keys to their freedom are in their hands, they aren’t their keys to give away.

        Some places mention the 3rd appellate court case /In re Grumbles/ as creating a motion claiming that one will clearly never testify meaning the civil contempt incarceration is an exercise in futility, and that the petitioner should be freed because the incarceration becomes punitive if there’s no chance it can be used to compel testimony. I don’t actually see any such suggestion in the original court case. Please enlighten me if I am mistaken.

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