Activists, Pirates team up with Barrett Brown’s Pursuance Project

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The Pursuance Project – Impactful, agile, secure civic collaboration

The pursuance system is the world’s first comprehensive framework for process democracy. That is, it allows individuals with no prior relationship to self-organize into robust, agile entities governed via a “proceduralism of agreement.” These entities, called pursuances, in turn engage and collaborate among themselves to whatever extent they choose, leading ultimately to a vast and formidable ecosystem of opposition to institutionalized injustice. (Excerpt from Project description)

This system will be populated on an invitation basis, beginning towards the end of 2017. But Barrett has initiated a collaboration with Pirate Parties InternationalRaymond Johansen, activist and member of the board of PPI is now in the process of populating several rooms in Mattermost, soon to begin onboarding people into an alpha version of the Pursuance System. PPI’s usage of and feedback on the software will help Pursuance’s software developers optimize it for our use cases. In the coming weeks activists, designers, artists, FOIA experts, investigative journalists, coders and developers will be invited to take part. In fact, at the time of writing projects have already started inside PPI’s Team.

To get an invitation you may contact Ray directly. Twitter or Facebook is fine. If you have his email address feel free to send him a request. Now lets hear from the main people themselves.

The framework described by Brown is quite extraordinary in that the vision is to empower people to create their own ‘pursuance’ and provide a platform to use their abilities in collaboration with others to attain specific outcomes. By doing so, they have the opportunity to scale up and potentially have a greater impact using the collaborative network.

Steve Phillips explains how he got involved with the Pursuance Project

Hi everyone! I’m Steve Phillips, lead developer and project manager of the Pursuance Project, started by Barrett Brown.

In March I learned that Barrett was out of jail and wanted to build an end-to-end encrypted environment to help make activists, journalists, and other groups more impactful by enabling them to coordinate effectively online, which sounded not just awesome but has a ton in common with what I’d been building for the last year and a half, including what I presented at DEF CON 2 years ago.

So I reached out to him, flew to Texas to meet him, and 2 days later he put me in charge of building the Pursuance System (which you can read about here; somewhat more technical intro here)!

As Barrett wrote at PursuanceProject.org, our ultimate goal is to produce “a vast and formidable ecosystem of opposition to institutionalized injustice.”

I’ve been programming for 8 years, have been using Linux for almost 16 years, and I have extensive experience both building user-friendly, high-quality software and managing small teams of developers.

I am VERY excited to be working with Pirate Party folks and would love for you all to be among the first people in the world to use the Pursuance System as we build it. Let me know what tools you need to change the world and I will do whatever I can to provide them.

Right now we’ve launched an early version of the Pursuance chat feature as a standalone app — LeapChat, which anyone can use by visiting LeapChat.org and inviting people to the secure room you get redirected to, resulting in an end-to-end encrypted chat session. Any feedback you have for which features should next be added to LeapChat would be very helpful!

The core of the first version of Pursuance that we’ll be launching is essentially a task management system built for large groups that will do things like allow you to specify which skills are necessary to complete a task, then have the software automatically find people with all the skills necessary to complete that task and ask them if they’d like to do it! This enables Pursuance scale to large groups better than anything else that currently exists.

We believe that the Internet should be amazing at enabling large groups of like-minded people to join forces to combat injustice… but it isn’t. We’re here to change that.

Barrett Brown’s vision for the Pursuance Project

Extracts from: Barrett Brown’s Pursuance Project by v4vapid

When asked about his future projects, Brown outlines a vision for journalists and bloggers to better share information by creating what he calls a ‘process democracy platform’. This project has been in the works since 2009, before his incarceration, and with the help of trusted collaborators Brown continues to work towards creating a revolutionary crowd sourcing collaboration. Collaborations will occur between institutions, non-profits , academics and even citizen journalists.

“The way [the pursuance] system works, it doesn’t matter if on the margins quality declines, because on the margins, these people are free to bring on people, but they still have to handle them. So if it’s data gathering, for instance, if you’re a journalist or you’re running a crowd-sourced project, and you bring on a few people, each person who’s bringing on people obviously has an impetus to bring on actual quality people to the best of their ability because they have to deal with them, and bad information, useless information, that comes out of these distant [peripheries] on the system are not going to make it up the submission, and there’s a whole mechanism for all of that.” – Barrett Brown

“So that was the original impetus. There are a lot of other features that make this work for different things. There’s a great mass of people out there who are tweeting and commenting, and they’re upset, and there’s some portion who are very honest people who are capable, who are knowledgeable, but who are not being provided with (a) the ability to help and (b) the ability to rise. If you present people the ability to do things correctly, and by doing things correctly, rise to a position where they have the ability to do things on a larger scale, and if you make it apparent that that ability is there, and if we provide examples of it working and provide a degree of leadership, and frankly, propaganda as to why the time has come for this kind of thing, then it will work.” – Barrett Brown

To get updates on the progress of the overall project you can sign up on this page The Pursuance Project

by Kitty Hundal

 

Twitter Support: Discrimination and Censorship, an unwritten policy?

This is an edited and modified (expanded) version of the comments I submitted to Twitter in response to their survey where I gave them a failing grade of 1 out 5. ~Kitty Hundal, Co-Founder of Hacktivist Culture 

UPDATE 2019/08/02: Added comments on Twitters censorship algorithm which automatically suspends accounts.

UPDATE 2019/08/03: @kittyhundal, my Twitter account was suspended early in the evening yesterday. Today, my professional account, @kittyhundaldc was suspended. Neither account received any warning or options like temporary lockdowns, removal of posts, etc. Twitter Support claims that I am creating multiple accounts for harassment despite the fact that both are long term accounts. My professional account never engages trolls and I was simply defending my reputation and exposing the troll’s hypocrisy with evidence on my main account which is 99% used for social activism and personal interactions. Was it because of this article? Or the same trolls @trancegemini was defending me from? I have no idea at this point. It could be either. Details will be provided in a second article next week. 

UPDATE 2019/08/04: Updating Kaidinn’s current troll activity with a more in depth explanation including what appears to be a possible alliance with someone in Twitter Support who is engaging in deceptive practices to protect Kaidinn’s account and to collude in targeting the accounts that Kaidinn is targeting by keeping them suspended on false fabricated grounds.

IMO Twitter Support engages in discriminatory practices which result in censorship of activist voices, amplification of trolls abusing those activists, and it does so consistently.

I’ve seen the same pattern repeated over and over again. Obvious harassment accounts, newly created, and in some cases older accounts, which engage in mostly harassment behavior and little else, target long term stable activist and independent journalist accounts with abuse which clearly violates the Twitter ToS. Yet Twitter Support seems to come up with numerous excuses for why they shouldn’t be suspended. Instead they appear to be protected.

Twitter Support either takes no action or limited “slap on the wrist” type actions against those harassment accounts which are rarely suspended and even if they are locked their defamations and abuse remains publicly out there for all to see.

Meanwhile, long term stable accounts, especially activist accounts that are anti-establishment – including numerous credible independent journalists – that defend themselves against these vile troll lies and defamations, are routinely suspended at the drop of a hat. Illegal 3d party bots are frequently used by these harassment accounts to accomplish that task.

I can provide numerous examples of this. However, the three most prominent and recent accounts are those of Unity4J (an activist support account for Julian Assange), Barrett Brown and Caitlin Johnstone, both well known independent journalists.

This is outrageous behavior on the part of Twitter Support which I have already brought to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s attention and will continue to do so. In fact, this response to your survey will be published and directed to his attention on Twitter. If you suspend me I’ll simply have friends do it. You will not shut me up when it comes to demanding publicly that Twitter address this issue which according to Dorsey is a problem he recognizes:

YouTube: Jack Dorsey: Not proud of how Twitter has been weaponized

Capture43

The current situation that I’m objecting to is a perfect example of this.

The OBVIOUS harassment account, @u4jTERRORISTorg created just a few months ago, with an incomplete profile  in which it attacks an activist organization with the most vile libel and where it ADMITS to being a TROLL, is being given all kinds of opportunities and “advice” to keep their account alive effectively enabling them to continue their abuse.

Capture46

I received the below in response to a report against the harassment account. Note that the harassment account is not locked, continues to tweet and has just set itself to private to avoid further reporting. So, it would seem that this email from Twitter Support either isn’t true or someone else in Twitter Support removed the lock quickly. Why is that? NOTE: It was actually locked down shortly after I released this article initially. It was tweeting when I started writing the article.

Capture42

On the other hand, @trancegemini’s ELEVEN year old Twitter account which was created a year after Twitter was founded was suspended without any notification whatsoever and on specious grounds since the account was simply defending me and others by responding to the lies of the above harassment account and exposing them. This account wasn’t given any suggestions or opportunities to “correct” the “problems”, like the above harassment account was.

Capture44

Unity4J, Barrett Brown and Caitlin Johnstone, all experienced the same obtuse approach from Twitter Support. BB and CJs accounts were only restored after press inquiries were made. In the case of Unity4J it took a full independent media campaign including a public statement by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd calling Twitter on their censorship before Twitter Support bothered to unsuspend the account.

Roger Waters of Pink Floyd Tweet with video statement

Capture47

The harassment account @u4jTERRORISTorg has engaged in far more abusive behavior than @trancegemini did and that is obvious when one compares tweets between the two accounts. The @trancegemini account can still see their tweets so screenshots of the evidence of that fact can be provided.

It’s shocking to me that this is how Twitter treats their committed long term users. That action, by Twitter Support, of suspending an 11 year old Twitter account with no notification, no explanation as to why and no opportunity to correct whatever might have been done wrong, in itself was abusive AND discriminatory.

Especially given that Twitter Support refuses to suspend the harassment account which is openly and with complete impunity violating the Twitter ToS. That account is being given all sorts of opportunities and advice to correct it’s behavior which it is mostly ignoring while lying to Twitter Support to justify it’s abusive behavior.

It’s pretending to be left wing, anti-racist, anti-pedo and pretending the people like me it’s attacking are the opposite. Yet all of the people it’s attacking with accusations of “white supremacist, antisemitic, neonazi” are People of Color and Jewish who are anti-racist, anti-Pedo, anti-fascist activists.

Meanwhile the harassment account @u4jTERRORISTorg is run by a woman, claiming to be white, who was a David Duke follower and claims that a bunch of People of Color were capable of getting David Duke to block a white person. Does that even make sense? Seriously? If she wasn’t a white supremacist why would she even care that David Duke blocked her and why was she following him?

This pattern of response isn’t the odd exception from Twitter Support.

It’s consistent and standard practice which appears to be unwritten and unacknowledged policy. In other words, these harassment accounts actually appear to be protected by Twitter Support.

It’s not clear whether it is just the act of individuals who have worked for Twitter for years at a supervisory level and have control over how policy is implemented (or ignored) or whether that is actual Twitter Support unwritten policy. Either way, the outcome is the same for the Twitter user.

Dorsey’s public statements would indicate that it is NOT Twitter policy, in which case Twitter Support is not only routinely violating Twitters policies as stated by Dorsey but is also openly and routinely violating it’s own Twitter ToS to protect these obvious harassment accounts.

When I state they are obvious I mean the following Use Case is standard on their part:

  1. They are newly created AND/OR
  2. Their main activity is to fight with people by lying and defaming them
  3. Most don’t have profiles OR their profiles are obviously abusive troll profiles
  4. When required to authenticate themselves they either abandon the account leaving their defamation openly available to link to or they use web sites which offer SMS services to authenticate.
  5. This part of the Use Case speaks for itself.

screenshot-twitter.com-2019.08.01-10_24_57

This person appears to be unaware of the inconvenient truth that defamation laws exist because Free Speech doesn’t include any right to libel/slander people.

The @u4jTERRORISTorg (now private) has already abandoned two previous accounts: @CocksDavida (now private) @vcruytldczsdfa (remains public). Neither of these accounts have been suspended despite the abuse they’ve heaped on people. She has now (August 2) created another one @MackenzieCaswa (now private) and as you can see by the above screenshot is planning to continue to create more. On August 3, she created @ormeserre43 (public).

On August 5, she created @quesiocvi62 to evade a request for phone number authentication on @ormeserre43. The following is her screenshot attached to her tweet on the new @quesiocvi62 account.

Note that if she was serious about not continuing her harassment campaign, she would have deleted all of the fake harassment accounts and created a legitimate account which doesn’t target and harass me and others with lies. Instead she looks for excuses to rationalize continuing the abuse.

kaidinnauthenticationevasion

Not only is this harassment account continuing to escalate her targeting of the accounts she’s currently harassing but she’s also adding people to her target list and doing so openly. Note that Christy has simply blocked her and has never engaged with her in any way. She doesn’t even know who she is. Yet the harassment account is threatening her in an attempt to intimidate her into not supporting me. She’s tagged numerous accounts (40 to 50) and tried to incite them into pressuring Christy into not supporting me based on her smear campaign of outright lies.

screenshot-twitter.com-2019.08.06-07-05-11

She’s made some of the accounts private to protect them from reporting while leaving others public. If the public accounts (which are 50% filled with libel) are suspended, she’ll simply make one of her other currently private accounts public and so on.

Someone in Twitter Support appears to be colluding with this activity by suspending the accounts she attacks on the grounds that they are engaging in the activity that she is actually engaging in. Her preventive measures are likely there just in case someone were to over-rule her Twitter Support allies obviously deceptive decisions.

If Twitter Support were serious about eliminating this type of abuse it’s an easy matter to identify those accounts as per the above Use Case and permanently ban them. Yet that isn’t done.

In addition, the premises behind Twitters censorship algorithm which automatically suspends accounts is deeply flawed and very likely the cause of many of the problems users are facing. The censorship algorithm is based on two flawed concepts:

  1. Scanning for individual words that are considered “bad” like “whore” “retard” to name a couple.
  2. The number of reports against an account by different accounts.

Point 1 above is flawed because words are meaningless without context and it takes a human being to evaluate context. While I suppose it’s possible to write an algorithm that can do that these days, the reality is that Twitters algorithm doesn’t do it or it doesn’t do it properly. The @yonsolitary account was automatically suspended with no recourse for a simple typo, “hoe” which could have been identified as a typo by a human being reviewing it in context. It took weeks for @yonsolitary to get their account unsuspended with pressure from friends.

Point 2 above is flawed because it opens the door for shady elements to create and implement Report Bots which can trigger Twitters censorship algorithm to automatically suspend accounts without cause.

It’s likely that was what resulted in @trancegemini’s 11 year old account to be brought down so quickly and it has been suspended for weeks now. @trancegemini has opened TWO cases and made numerous attempts to interact with Twitter Support to get an explanation for the suspension and to try to get the decision reversed. All attempts have been ignored. When the first case was closed one email was sent by Twitter Support simply declaring that the ToS had been violated. All previous emails had been ignored. The second case is still open and all efforts to communicate with Twitter Support continue to be ignored.

To make matters worse, this behavior by Twitter Support, in my experience and in the experience of many others is the standard not the exception. They refuse to engage with the user who has been unfairly suspended. It usually takes external pressure of some kind to get the accounts restored and even that doesn’t work sometimes.

A similar thing happened a few years ago on Facebook and masses of people left FB. More continue to leave. Those that remain like me barely use it anymore. There’s just way too much interference with good stable accounts like mine which was a Facebook BETA user and the Troll accounts which disrupt us constantly with false reports and which FB protects, much like Twitter is doing.

Twitter appears to be going down the same path and doesn’t have the user base (in my opinion) to survive it if accounts like mine either leave en masse or reduce our use of Twitter.

It was accounts like mine and @trancegemini, the early users of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google, that made these companies into the billion dollar businesses that they are.

It’s a real shame that those companies, including Twitter, are spitting in the faces of the very hands that fed them.

I, and many other activist and independent media accounts are looking at other options.

This is Twitter’s warning call. Unless you want to lose the support base that built you, you’re going to need to make a major change in approach here, and Twitter would be well-advised to listen.

All of that said, it should be noted that I think Twitter should legally be considered a Public Space where the 1st Amendment applies and censorship doesn’t occur.

So, I disagree with Twitter having a ToS at all. However, since they do have one, it shouldn’t be abused to censor activist voices and amplify trolls which is precisely what is happening and happening on a consistent basis.

Please unsuspend @kittyhundal‘s 10 year old personal and activist Twitter account of which 99% of the tweets and RTs are related to promoting social activist causes and interacting with friends. 1% of tweets are related to protecting her personal and professional reputation from defamations spread by harassment trolls.

Please unsuspend @kittyhundaldc’s 8 year old account which is @kittyhundal‘s author account (previously her business account), clearly states that in the profile and has a different purpose and following than her personal and activist account. It has never engaged with the trolls attacking @kittyhundal‘s reputation or commented on the trolls or any troll libel. 

Please unsuspend @trancegemini’s 11 year old Twitter account which was created one year after Twitter was founded, is a long term stable account likely suspended by short term harassment troll accounts using bots.

Please also unsuspend @an0nkn0wledge, an independent journalist with an 8 year old, long term stable Twitter account with 30K followers, suspended by short term harassment troll accounts using bots.

AK

#OPINION – Rampant Intellectual Dishonesty and its consequences

From every corner of my world I hear people saying, and getting away with it, that Wikileaks helped Manning steal documents. Saying that it’s a crime and that Assange must face justice. Everybody knows thats not at all why.

Wikileaks have released over 10 million documents, parts of which has embarrassed the powerful by clearly showing criminal behaviour by those that are supposed to represent the people. It’s a warning dressed as revenge, pure and simple. It’s chilling effect cannot be overlooked.

Anyone claiming to actually believe Assange is arrested for attempting to hack a password is a liar. A few lie to themselves or suffer from complete and utter ignorance – while others blatantly & willfully bend the truth beyond recognition.

If your’e a journalist, you should understand that these glaringly provable lies not only hurts your credibility but all of the 4th estate’s ability to hold the powerful accountable. Your’e aiding and abetting the creation of totalitarian rule. Not born of law, but of greed.

About *The Willfully Blatantly Intellectually Dishonest* I say:

Forgive them Not for They Know full well what They are Doing.

Many are running around saying Mr. Assange is not a journalist. Its not only laughable, its downright ridiculous – coming from someone that breaks the only unwritten law about journalism we all tended to agreed on:

– To confront and undress the corrupt and criminal – by reporting on it

Dressing up this “rendition” as a charge of hacking, (CFAA), that will only give Assange 5 years in jail and not hurt journalism – is pure and utter bullshit and you have to a moron to think we swallow that you actually believe what you are serving up. It’s a narrative, is all.

Americans are specialists in constructing narratives making even the worst crimes against humanity look like humanitarian expeditions. The country has basically taken the dressing up of pigs to a whole new level whereby it seems, from the outside, it has become the national sport.

At some point history will treat you badly, of that I’m sure, but your victims are paying the price now. We, the concerned citizens of the world. are guilty of letting you get away with it. I feel shame, in myself and my fellow man. We are the “the submissive void” of our time.

 

Raymond Johansen – April 2019

Hacktivist Culture: Witness Against Torture

Raymond Johansen, a torture victim and co-founder of Hacktivist Culture, speaks out against global torture campaigns by various governments, in particular the US and the UK.

Potkaars podcasts: 2019-01-14 Witness against Torture – Raymond Johansen

Kitty Hundal, a target of state persecution and co-founder of Hacktivist Culture: Personal Statement on Torture.

Countries that are signatories to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment are required, as per Article 2 of the Convention, to make torture a criminal offense in their countries and most, including the US, Canada and UK, have done so.

Article 2

1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

18 U.S. Code § 2340A – Torture

(a) Offense.—

Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

UK Criminal Justice Act 1988 c. 33 Part XI Torture Section 134

134 Torture.

(1)A public official or person acting in an official capacity, whatever his nationality, commits the offence of torture if in theUnited Kingdom or elsewhere he intentionally inflicts severe pain or suffering on another in the performance or purported performance of his official duties.

***

(3)It is immaterial whether the pain or suffering is physical or mental and whether it is caused by an act or an omission.

Canada Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46)

Torture

269.1 (1) Every official, or every person acting at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of an official, who inflicts torture on any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

Yet renditions and Black sites like Guantanamo as well as secret Black sites continue to proliferate both within the countries that are signatories, in violation of their domestic laws/due process, and on foreign soil, in direct contravention of the Convention.

Chicago’s “Black Site” Police Scandal Is Primed to Explode AgainChicago’s “Black Site” Police Scandal Is Primed to Explode Again

Homan Square detention facility is reportedly like something out of “Homeland.”

On the basis of internal Chicago police records, the Guardian‘s Spencer Ackerman reported in February that officers had brought thousands of detainees (mostly black, often low-level drug offenders) to Homan Square, where they were essentially “disappeared”—held and questioned without access to attorneys or phone calls. Of 7,185 people detained there since 2004, Ackerman wrote, just 68 had access to a lawyer or were able to make their whereabouts known to family or friends—about 65 percent of the detentions took place after May 16, 2011, when Emanuel took office.

“US must stop policy of impunity for the crime of torture”- UN rights expert“US must stop policy of impunity for the crime of torture”- UN rights expert

“By failing to prosecute the crime of torture in CIA custody, the US is in clear violation of the Convention against Torture and is sending a dangerous message of complacency and impunity to officials in the US and around the world.”

Many of these torture sites have professional medical and psychiatric/psychological personnel on staff who participate actively, not only in developing and advancing the torture programs but in participating directly as well.

This is a direct violation of the Nuremberg Code established to prevent further horrors like those which occurred during the Holocaust against the Jews in Nazi Germany.

Nuremberg Betrayed: Human Experimentation and the CIA Torture Program

Based on an analysis of thousands of pages of documents and years of research, Physicians for Human Rights shows that the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program constituted an illegal, unethical regime of experimental research on unwilling human subjects, testing the flawed hypothesis that torture could aid interrogators in breaking the resistance of detainees. In “Nuremberg Betrayed: Human Experimentation and the CIA Torture Program,” PHR researchers show that CIA contract psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen created a research program in which health professionals designed and applied torture techniques and collected data on torture’s effects. This constitutes one of the gravest breaches of medical ethics by U.S. health personnel since the Nuremberg Code was developed in the wake of Nazi medical atrocities committed during World War Two.

In addition, the Intelligence Agencies of many countries are being given legal carte blanche to engage in “Disrupt and Destroy” campaigns. Campaigns which are often engaged in, without judicial oversight, or oversight which is exercised at the discretion of the Agency and without transparency, abuses would inevitably occur. This is a historical fact.

Canada Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 (S.C. 2015, c. 20)Canada Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 (S.C. 2015, c. 20)

12.1 (1) If there are reasonable grounds to believe that a particular activity constitutes a threat to the security of Canada, the Service may take measures, within or outside Canada, to reduce the threat.

Limits

(2) The measures shall be reasonable and proportional in the circumstances, having regard to the nature of the threat, the nature of the measures and the reasonable availability of other means to reduce the threat.

Warrant

(3) The Service shall not take measures to reduce a threat to the security of Canada if those measures will contravene a right or freedom guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or will be contrary to other Canadian law, unless the Service is authorized to take them by a warrant issued under section 21.1.

So, what does this tell us about the current state of our society and it’s approach towards Torture?

It tells us that our governments have gone rogue. They are openly violating domestic and international law, at the behest of the global elite and their military industrial complex, which is expanding by the day.

It tells us we are being ruled by criminals who hold the reins of power and will never hold themselves accountable for their own crimes.

It tells us that We, the People, need to act to hold the bastions of power accountable for their crimes. We need to do this through the enforcement of transparency as well as by becoming the media so that we can enlighten and educate the unaware. Then, we need to use that knowledge and education to rebuild our democracies and social infrastructures into healthy ones. Ones which represent the best interests of the people as a whole, rein in and limit the powers of the elite, while also enshrining individual and social rights as natural, inviolable rights.

by Kitty Hundal

The ‘Define Dignity Initiative’ by Matt DeHart

By Matt DeHart, originally published in The Gad About Town.

This is the fourth article in a series of prison essays by Matt DeHart published on Mark Aldrich’s site. The first: “You don’t act like an American,” the second: “Hospitality in Mexico,” and Matt’s third: “Shattered.”

Matt DeHart’s voice is one worth listening to. In “Defining Dignity,” he challenges us all to put meaning—and action—behind that commandment that is so often expressed and so little heeded: “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” which of course is found in the Book of Matthew.

The essay published below is one of the few public statements he has made. It was sent to me by his mother, Leann DeHart, with the request that it is published as written.
Continue reading

Remembrance Day

by Bailey Lamon, original post on Medium
Anarchist Pirate. Geek. Social worker. Activist. Writes sometimes.

November 11th is Remembrance Day, also known as the anniversary of the ending of World War One, and in many countries a day devoted to honouring those who were killed in various wars over the last century. Additionally, part of the original purpose of Remembrance Day is to acknowledge the horrific reality of war…indeed, the words “Never Again” are commonly spoken in this regard. War is a nightmare, and so many of our ancestors fought and were killed in war, and it is imperative that we remember who they were, what they sacrificed, and for what.

If you’ve ever spoken to war veterans, particularly those from World War One and Two, they likely told you that they were fighting for freedom. They were fighting for the freedom to live in peace, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of choice and association. Essentially, the freedom to live our lives however we want, without fear of violence and repression from the powers that be. Many of our grandparents and great grandparents fought against the Nazis in World War Two, and if you ask them why they did it, most (if not all) would say that they did it so that future generations would not have to live in a society like the Third Reich. Thanks to them, the Nazis lost.

This piece is not about the fact that governments regularly send poor people to their deaths over control of natural resources such as oil, or that wars such as that in Vietnam and Iraq were illegal, based on secrecy and blatant lies, and had nothing to do with a valiant quest for democracy and human rights.

This piece has nothing to do with the fact that so-called “peaceful” nations such as Canada sell billions of dollars worth of weapons to very non-peaceful countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, who are literally committing genocide against Yemenis and Palestinians as we speak. This piece has nothing to do with the fact that the Military Industrial Complex has more influence on “democracy”, public policy and political life and discourse than politicians and voters combined.

This piece also has nothing to do with the fact that those who lose the most in war, the highest number of casualties, are the innocent civilians who have nothing to do with geopolitics and did nothing to deserve losing their homes, their loved ones, and their lives…nor the fact that Libyan and Syrian homelands have been and continue to be destroyed and yet privileged, comfortable westerners complain about the “Islamist” refugees coming in to their countries, wanting nothing more than a life.

No, this piece has nothing to do with any of these things.

This is about Remembrance. This is about respect. This is about what we mean when we talk about respecting those who lost their lives for what so many of us take fore granted.

I see so many people focused on the formalities of Remembrance Day, but not at all focused on its original intent. I see so many people talking about the importance of wearing a red poppy around this time, but very few talking about what that poppy actually represents and the important lessons we are supposed to carry with us. I see A LOT of people talking about respecting the military, spouting off meaningless statements like “support our troops” and yet, when anybody questions what we’re actually supporting, they are quick to throw around accusations of “disrespect”, as if being able to question power and dominant narratives isn’t part of living in a free society and exactly the thing our ancestors were fighting for us to be able to do.

It’s bullshit.

And you know what? I believe that many of our ancestors would think it’s bullshit too.

Why is it that people are so quick to get angry over the white poppy, which simply represents Peace, calling it “disrespectful” and “insulting” as if violence and bloodshed are the only aspects of Remembrance worth acknowledging? As I previously mentioned, Remembrance Day is not only about remembering the soldiers who died but also making sure that their deaths are not in vain, that striving for world peace should be one of our highest priorities so that future generations can avoid the exact horror that they experienced. What exactly is disrespectful about that?

The truth is, there is NOTHING disrespectful about it, but as a society we have lost touch with the original meaning of Remembrance, and any kind of change to the tradition that is Remembrance Day (in this case the red poppy) is labeled a threat before anyone has a chance to get educated on what the white poppy actually means. It’s as if people think that the white poppy means “fuck all veterans”, but what it actually means, is Peace.

Peace.

If you feel threatened or insulted by a call for Peace, you need to seriously reconsider what it is you stand for, and how much you actually value the lessons taught to us by the men and women you believe fought for your basic freedoms.

The same goes with our views around war and the degree to which we support the military. Questioning the military as an institution and questioning its agendas set out by political leaders, and actively speaking out against those agendas is again, NOT a “fuck you” to your loved ones who are veterans or currently in the military. It is a “fuck you” to the exact thing that has a high probability of getting them killed, seriously injured, and most definitely traumatized for life.

My own father was in the Canadian military for over 30 years. Every year around Remembrance Day he puts on his uniform, goes out into the public and sells poppies. He participates in ceremonies in uniform and is a member of his local Legion. He is also in agreement with my anti-war views and has never taken my opposition to war as an insult, because being anti-war is not an insult. It is a stance that many of us take BECAUSE of the reality of war, BECAUSE of the bloodshed, BECAUSE of the fact that so many people have lost their lives in battle over the years, and BECAUSE we respect human life, including the lives of those in the military. I support the troops as human beings who deserve more than death, injury and trauma. I do not support the institution and political system that sees them as disposable and treats them as such.

And saying this openly is exactly what my ancestors wanted me to be able to do. Yours wanted the same for you. I guarantee it.

So check yourself next time you accuse an anti-war activist of shitting all over dead soldiers. Check yourself next time you whine about a differently coloured poppy. Check yourself next time you get caught up in the thinking that freedom of thought and freedom of speech aren’t human rights that your ancestors fought Nazis over, and in many cases, gave their lives for. Check yourself before you support current and future wars and imperialist invasions, and stand by the military without question. Check yourself and ask what kind of world you want for future generations…do we Remember those who died in war because we want more war? Or do we Remember them because we want to learn from the devastation that they went through, so that we can work for peace? Check yourself and ask, does “Never Again” actually mean something, or are they just empty words?

Let us never forget.