Bearing False Witness: A New Tool for Authoritarians


Florida Bill Would Make It Legal To Falsify Court Records (Winter Patriot)

Our friend and colleague Winter Patriot unearths a disturbing new innovation in law enforcement now being pushed down in JebWorld: giving public officials the authority to create phony documents and plant them in public record. This includes court documents and other official papers, all created out of whole cloth in "covert ops" kept secret from other agencies and from — surely it goes without saying — that worthless gaggle of teeming rabble known as "the people."

This astounding proposal — in a bill now being dangled like so much dripping red meat before the rightwing Florida legislature, ever ready to embrace any authoritarian notion that comes along, including "shoot to kill if you’re feeling paranoid" laws — would "convey authority to falsify any public record to prosecutors, judges, mayors, sheriffs, coroners and other public officers," the Miami Herald reports.

Now, if you read a story like this about, say, Iran or China or Venezuela or Zimbabwe, you would probably exclaim, "My god! They’re trying to construct a police state! Give government the power to falsify documents, and they will be able to rig up a case against anyone they please — false confessions, false witness statements, false previous convictions, the works! No matter what excuse is offered for such draconian authority, the risk of its wanton abuse is far too great for any government that pretends to popular legitimacy. Only a tyrant, or a would-be tyrant — or a bunch of authoritarian bootlickers — would ever call for such a law!"

And you would be right. But of course, it’s OK to give this authority to politicos and prosecutors in America, because we are descended directly from the angels in heaven — unlike all those other mud people around the world with their greed, ambition, spite, jealousy, lust, fear, extremism and other pathetic human failings that could tempt them to abuse such powers. Right?

Really, this kind of thing not only boggles the mind — it beggars the imagination of even the most cynical observer of the virulent authoritarianism that is now coursing through the natural gates and alleys of our body politic, covering the Republic, most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust. Is there no encroachment of liberty that these people won’t countenance?

They now want to use the ordinary court and police services of our communities to run clandestine operations against our own population. ("But only against criminals and terrorists!" they say. Yes, and Stalin’s security organs only targeted "criminals and terrorists," too, just like the Gestapo. It’s the age-old argument of the apologists for power: "If you are innocent, you have nothing to fear.") This move would also, in true Bushist fashion, call into the question the validity of any public record. As the ACLU’s Randall Marshall puts it: "How would we ever be able to trust anything in the judicial record knowing that something could be intentionally falsified with a judicial seal of approval?"

How indeed? But then, such confusion is precisely the point. Those who seek to further their agendas through crime and covert operations are well-served by covering reality with squiddish murk. If there is no way of discerning the real truth, if all official records (and scientific findings and first-hand reporting and expert analysis, etc., etc.) are "tainted" somehow by an ineradicable ambiguity, then the depredations of the criminals and covertniks can never be nailed down.

The prisons of the America are already filled with people jailed on manufactured and manipulated evidence, false testimony, strong-armed confessions and other hugger-mugger by officials. Are we now to give legal sanction to these rogue practices? Well, why not? After all, in JebWorld, in GeorgeWorld — just as in AdolfWorld and JosefWorld — "If you are innocent, you have nothing to fear." Right? Right?

The illustration above is from The Good Citizen’s Alphabet, by Bertrand Russell, with illustrations by Franciszka Themerson. You can see a slideshow of this fine piece of work at DesignObserver. I found it via a post from Nitpicker, who used an equally apposite page from the book.