Posted by Brad @ 3:47 pm on January 14th 2013

The Real Bullying Scandal in America

Is the vehemence and vigorousness with which federal authorities have hounded information leakers in the last four years. It’s one of the most under-reported and disturbing undercurrents of American governance these last few years, as more and more federal authorities have taken to throwing elbows and otherwise terrorizing, harassing, and attempting to use the threat of extreme civic force to frighten the citizenry into accepting the government’s view of the proper boundaries of information sharing. There is more to the law than just making, adjudicating, and enforcing. There is also a wide amount of discretion (by nature of the finite resources of law enforcement) in its application – there aren’t SWAT teams out there enforcing jaywalking restrictions, for instances. The disproportionateness with which a government chooses to be lax or to be hard ass about any given set of laws tells you a lot about their priorities – compare the enforcement of marijuana possession laws against poor minorities to enforcement of white collar financial crimes, for instance. And in the case of leaking and like crimes, the government is expending far, far, far more energy and enthusiasm than the actual criminal penalties or societal harm would seem to indicate as reasonable.

The United States government is engaged in a massive campaign of bullying in an attempt to make loud and clear that they are the arbiters of information.


  1. The thought occurs: if there were such a thing as a real-life superhero, he or she might do well to dedicate his or her career to opposition to government abuses of this type. To liberating the likes of Bradley Manning and Aaron Swartz (and any number of licensed medicinal marijuana cultivators) from government custody. To the destruction of corporate infrastructure created on land seized through eminent domain.

    I’m not looking for Ragnar Danneskjold here; I want actual superpowers. Like Anonymous, only with a cape.

    He’d be portrayed in the media as a supervillain, of course.

    Comment by Rojas — 1/15/2013 @ 12:13 pm

  2. You’re thinking of V, and he’d be labeled a terrorist and murder-droned in pretty short order.

    Comment by Brad — 1/15/2013 @ 1:37 pm

  3. See, V’s operating with the explicit intent of provoking a revolution, and I’m not nearly at that point. I have in mind somebody who’s unwilling to allow individual citizens like Swartz to be ground to bits in the machinery of government, but who recognizes that overthrow of the system by a single individual is functionally impossible and probably inadvisable in any case. So, instead: protect individual victims, and disincentivize particular abuses.

    Anybody know where I can find a radioactive spider?

    Comment by Rojas — 1/15/2013 @ 4:45 pm

  4. There are quite a lot that at least approach this. The entire mutant line for marvel has a distinct anti-government control element, particularly the various registration act storylines. The Civil War storyline is anothe rgood example, as is the Keene Act opposition from Kingdom Come from Watchmen. And lest we fall into the trap of only seeing it as a problem on the Federal level, Astro City covered a very similar registration act ordance attempted by the major. The problem with all these examples is that they are a bit selfish in that they only focus on government overreach and authoritarianism as it effects the specials (mutants and superpowered types) and the reader is simply suppose to relate and subconsciously extrapolate.

    Comment by Jack — 1/16/2013 @ 4:44 pm

  5. Now you have pretty much made me unproductive for the rest of the day, good going. Another candidate, from the often times more authoritarian than libertarian Vigilante genre, is The Question. The character was originaly concieved and for a while written as an Objectivist, a lot of the story lines had a distinctive Corrupt Government in Collusion with Corrupt Corporations aspect, usually on the municipal level (Hub City was modeled after St Louis.)

    Comment by Jack — 1/16/2013 @ 5:02 pm

  6. oo oo oo! Rising Stars had two very strong anti-government main plot lines, and it was just an awesome short series. Too bad they had to farm out spin offs to some hacks, but the core series: fantastic.

    Comment by Jack — 1/16/2013 @ 8:18 pm

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