Thursday, May 13, 2010

Civil Disobedience in Sarasota - May 20

What’s going on Thursday, May 20, 2010 at Five Points Park in Sarasota at Five O’Clock?

An act of Civil Disobedience. A 40oz beverage of malt liquor (still factory-sealed) will be exchanged to someone who can benefit from it for a market value. From what the actor understands, there are “Florida statutes” threatening those who “sell” containers over 32 ounces and under 1 gallon. However, one person couldn’t possibly know all the laws, and the actor does not believe the masses should be subservient to those who speak legalese to know our rights, and so he chooses not to live in fear of a legal system he couldn’t possibly understand.

What is the purpose of this event?

To raise awareness of how the State’s actions are harming peaceful people in the name of helping them. For all who attend or watch the video here ex post facto, I hope it will start a conversation about the nature of government/coercive solutions to social problems.

How do you want the State to respond? Do you wish to get arrested?

I have no desire to get arrested or forced through the bureaucracy of the courts. I would be delighted if the State chose to — as I wish it would always — just let peaceful people be. If they choose to arrest, fine, or otherwise infringe upon me, the State would be choosing to expend the resources necessary to systematically attack me. I will not be paying any fines for this reason. Any rational cost-benefit analysis shows that it is in everyone’s interests to not harm peaceful people.

If a storeowner wants to sell 40oz beverages, I want the State not to use violent coercion to stop him. They’re not helping the economy, they’re not “saving the children”, they’re not doing anything but threatening otherwise peaceful people with kidnapping, called “arrest”, and forcing them to make transactions they would not otherwise have made if the gun of the State had not been part of the equation. The economic waste this creates is literally immeasurable, since there is no basis of comparison for what the saved capital could have been invested into.

So I ask agents of the State everywhere, use your discretion. Don’t force people into the system who will only be bankrupted and torn away from their families because of it. The State is very much and very often the “legal” aggressor in circumstances that would otherwise be called crime if I were to commit them against you. Just as individuals are held responsible, so should collective actions of all sorts, in business and in government. When failures like alcohol prohibition, and prohibitions of all sorts, are continually perpetuated by the system with no signs of slowing, it is time to think outside of the box. The political system and playing by their rules haven’t been working at ending the harm caused by State intervention into the lives of individuals.

Why a 40? Why alcohol?

My personal comfort level is a major factor here, since I wouldn’t be willing to do this event with “illegal” drugs, for example. I’m aware of the how people may be shocked by the presence of those substances. The State would be far more likely to aggress, and additionally, I’m not personally interested in associating with many “illegal” drugs. Alcohol is a substance which existed in a historically well-known black market setting, and its prohibition was a recognized failure. For the State to continue fighting a near-century old failure over 6 ounces of beer in a bottle shows the utter incompetency, and danger, of an organization willing to bring guns to the table over a bottle of beer.

So ultimately, it’s not about whatever the substance is, because the implications are the same. No matter how good or bad the products exchanged may seem to be, it is a rule that prohibitions create black markets which require violence to operate. It’s not about the consequence of the item/substance per say, (which is an important, albeit separate issue) it’s about the consequence of introducing systematic violence into the market of any particular item/substance.

That the product is alcohol is more irrelevant than many of us would consider. We’ve been trained to react as though trading a bottle of beer with someone for, a cheeseburger, let’s say, is more inherently dangerous than the same exchange with fries. In considering the implications of the product exchange on all witnesses present, it could just as easily be water in a beer bottle. I will not, and won’t be encouraging others to consume alcohol, thus, the presence of a bottle of what could be alcohol will be a non-issue. The State will again be the agency making an issue out of nothing, if they choose to intervene.

Complaints about this sort of thing:

If you get arrested, and processed, you’re eating up valuable State resources that could be utilized elsewhere!

I acknowledge that the police may tragically choose to expend resources on peaceful people who disobey what they say the law is when they could be using those resources to help people, but this does not mean the peaceful person is to blame for their victimization. They did not choose to be aggressed against. While I am making my disobedience known, the purpose is to point out that the State (or anyone) should not be wasting valuable resources on prosecuting peaceful people. 40s go for between two and three federal reserve notes in most states, so it isn’t like I’m exactly tempting them with a big-time bust here. How they choose to respond is up to them. I will not be paying any fines, so any costs related to attacking me my attackers will have to cover.

Any questions regarding this event can be sent to

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