I thoroughly agree with Bob Murphy’s point that he makes about the Amazon boycott, and would like to add a few things. The first is that over time, boycotts and other threats tend to turn corporations into even more weaselly and spineless and state-obeying entities than they are now. (I give Dayton Hudson as an example, as no matter how small the donation it has given to controversial organizations, invariably the whole thing turns up as boycott material. In the end, the company just gives to the Usual Suspects, which tend to be even more statist than the ones now denied donations.)
Second, people have no idea now of what the federal government can do to individuals, and you can bet that there would have been a chorus of people demanding that Jeff Bezos be charged with “crimes,” and given the fact that federal statutes are broad and amorphous, any U.S. attorney who wanted to score points could have secured multiple indictments against Bezos and others with Amazon. Don’t kid yourselves; every reader of this page could be charged with a serious federal crime if a federal prosecutor so desired.
Third, I always find it interesting that people demand that others engage in activities that many of us would not do ourselves. How many readers might cave into the authorities if police and prosecutors demanded you do something — or stop doing whatever you are doing that offends them? How many of you are prepared to lose everything, your family, your loved ones, your home, your job, literally everything associated with you?
People, don’t kid yourselves about the power of the federal authorities, not to mention state authorities. Who knows what Joe Lieberman said to the people at Amazon, and who knows what kind of threats came from the Department of Justice (sic)? Furthermore, unless everyone who is calling for a boycott of Amazon is willing to go to prison, have the IRS conduct an abusive “audit” of their income, and spend literally everything they have on attorneys who in the end will offer them up as a sacrifice to the gods of U.S. “justice,” then I think some hard thinking is in order.
If someone wishes to boycott Amazon or anyone else, that is a personal choice and I have no personal criticism of it. However, I do think there is a much larger picture that many of us don’t see.
This country now is governed by a regime that can fashion a “crime” against any of you. Have you ever failed to do EXACTLY what a TSA agent said to do, and to do it immediately? Have you ever asked a question that one of them did not like. Congratulations. You have “interfered with the duties of a federal officer,” which is a felony punishable up to 20 years in federal prison. If you were not prosecuted, it is because the authorities at the time did not see any benefit to making an example of you.
It is that easy, my friends. Today, federal prosecutors target whom they will, and then they decide later how to find a “crime” that fits the political situation. On the sidelines, there are plenty of cheerleaders, whether at Fox News of MSNBC or on the Daily Kos or Michelle Malkin or wherever, depending on who is targeted, indicted, and ultimately convicted.
Oh, and if prosecutors happen to commit felonies along the way as did Rudy Giuliani and his staff (including Michael “Skeleton” Chertoff) during the Michael Milken and Wall Street investigations, or the various crimes committed by the DOJ’s “Public Integrity” division, they get a free pass and, in the case of Rudy G. and Mr. Skeleton, become wealthy people. As one who has devoted much of the last 10 years to researching and writing about “criminal justice” (and especially federal crimes) in this country, I can tell you that had the DOJ wanted to find something on Jeff Bezos, it could have done it, and then we would have the Usual Suspects cheering the destruction of another human being in U.S. courts.
I still appreciate the fact that Amazon at least was willing to host WikiLeaks, even if it only was temporarily. For that matter, Amazon is willing to sell materials related to Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute, as well as other things that are utterly critical of the state. I have no idea if I will be purchasing anything through Amazon or not in the near future, but I still reserve the right to do so, and if others want to demonize me for that choice, then so be it.7:20 am on December 4, 2010 Email Bill Anderson