Probably you have already seen the following video, and if you did not please watch it in order to understand easier the rest of the blog entry:
As you can watch in the video, Penélope Soto goes from an initial fine of 5.000$ for drug possession (leaving aside my opinion on such stupid charge) to 10.000$ and 30 days in jail, just because of her misbehavior during the trial.
When I watched the video, I thought the same as probably any of you: “how can she be so stupid?”. And for some millisecond we also might think that she also deserved the final penalty.
However, after some more minutes thinking about the issue, a horrible feeling shook my body and I started asking questions to myself: what changed in her original crime (drug possession) from the beginning of the trial to its end, for the sentence to change so dramatically? Considering that the initial cause did not change, the increased 5.000$ and the 30 days jail could only be due to her misbehavior laughing and flipping the judge off. Is this misbehavior then much worse than the drug possession crime itself, in order to deserve a much more severe condemn? And if it is, how do you measure when are you misbehaving during a trial not to upset the judge? And why only 30 days and not 60? Or 20.000$?
In other words: what can you do against the arbitrariness of an authority?
The answer is clear: in the current world, and in most of the cases, either you live in a comfortable western democracy, in a theocratic regime or smashed by a totalitarian government, you can not do anything (*).
How many times do you pay a fine/bail/etc., even if you know very well that you are innocent, because you also know very well that appealing would take you much longer and it would be probably also costlier? How many times you accept the violation of your privacy or rights by the airport security personnel just to avoid missing your flight and/or sleeping in the jail? How many times you have been faced with the police and had to accept charges for reacting bad to their initial violence just because they are “the authority” and “it is your word against theirs”? I could go on ad infinitum.
There must be few feelings worse than the feeling of injustice and impotence altogether, when facing the arbitrariness of the so-called “authorities”. And in most of the cases, the only thing you can do is to bite your tongue, eat your proud, look down, shut up your mouth and accept the punishment. Well, maybe it is not the only thing that you can do, but at least on average it is the most intelligent one. In other words, the authority forces you to be a coward. They know it. And they (almost) always win.
Either it is the “contempt” for the “authority”, the presumption of veracity of the “authority” over you, or any other arbitrary legal form that can be used to make you feel the fist of the power, the only exit that you will have, if you don’t want to make things worse, is to accept that you have lost. I have seen this many times in my life and I will still see them many more I am afraid. The reason (and evil excuse) for this, that the so called authorities and also many people will argue is obvious: you security! In order to reinforce the law, all these legal figures and the superiority of the authority is needed. As if “your security” could relieve your mind when an innocent is condemned or an injustice done.
Therefore let’s establish the following baseline: I do not recognize any authority. I behave politely and with respect to all individuals I meet, I expect the same from them, and I do not concede any degree of authority to any individual, either he/she is a judge, belongs to the Government, to the Monarchy, to the police or to any other organization granted with a special superior status above the rest of the humanity. Anything that I do to them shall be punished in the same way as if it were done to anybody else. And if for anybody else what I did was not an offence, it shall not be either for them.
Therefore, I do not tolerate any misbehavior arbitrariness or injustice of such authorities. The only and one reason why I might behave like if I were accepting their rules is in order to avoid greater pain for me. I am libertarian, but I am not idiot. However, I will fight with all my efforts everyday of my life for them one day to lose the degree of “authority”.
P.S. 1: I know that all what I described about has to do with the State, the monopoly in the use of force, and all the things that libertarians fight against everyday. But I wanted to talk about it from a different perspective.
P.S. 2: If you want to know how the story of Penélope Soto ended click here. Of course, she behaved in the expected “coward but intelligent” way.
(*) Please, get the point of the comparison. Of course the consequences are different in any of the compared types of systems, and in the democratic ones you may appeal whilst in the other you will probably be killed. But I am talking about the essence of the consequences of facing the authority: unfairness.
Disclaimer: I am not a legal expert or a lawyer but I suffer everyday the “authorities” so I feel myself empowered to talk about them.