I knew I'd get hate mail and lots of vehement push-back when I wrote my column The Truth About Your Consent; it's a topic I've raised privately with people in the past, and the reaction has always been the same -- anger, shock and usually a nasty response.
So I think you should go read it again -- and not because I'm trying to break my record for hate email (although it's already close in that regard.)
No, you should read it again because it's true, and in addition if we are to ever make progress in this country the people of this nation need to understand the principle in that column and accept responsibility for it.
The people in Ferguson need to accept responsibility for their consent to a police department and city government that manages to issue 3 arrest warrants per household per year, and imposes fines that amount to $130 per man, woman, child and infant.
That consent put in place an environment of distrust and hatred between the police department and citizens -- and irrespective of whether Mr. Brown was lawfully shot by an officer in the line of duty or was unlawfully killed by him, the reaction that followed was in large part if not exclusively caused by that environment.
The people in Jefferson County, Alabama need to accept responsibility for their consent to a so-called "justice system" that refused to hold to account the banksters that profited from and arranged the swap deals that were entered into in part due to bribery and led to their water bills doubling. How do I know they consented and still do? Do a search for "Chase Bank" locations in and around Birmingham; why is the number (much) greater than zero?
How is it that the Hospitals in California, or those in Arizona, that have bilked people out of $10,000 for a $100 test or $60,000 for two $100 vials of scorpion anti-venom are still open? How about the hospital that charged a guy $9,000 to put a bandage on his finger?
The people didn't and don't consent? They sure do, otherwise those institutions would be closed -- one way or another.
Or how about the cops pointing guns at peaceful protesters in Ferguson? That's assault with a deadly weapon in virtually every jurisdiction if you or I do it. Why do the people there and around the nation consent? And yes, you do consent, because if you didn't then one way or another that would stop.
I am not saying, by the way, that you should burn the hospital to the ground or do harm to any particular person. To the contrary; I fully understand that the means by which this sort of crap happens is that the persons and institutions get laws passed that make their conduct legal, either explicitly or by "wink-wink-nod-nod" willful indifference to what would otherwise be a criminal act.
That doesn't change whether or not it's right, just, and should be permitted to occur.
An alcoholic cannot stop drinking until he admits that he is an alcoholic and drinks because he voluntarily raises the glass to his lips and consumes the contents therein. A drug abuser cannot stop abusing drugs until he admits he is an addict and that each and every "hit" he takes from the pipe, down his throat or up his arm occurs because he willingly consumes the drug.
Likewise we will not stop being robbed and abused by the people involved in these outrages until you admit that the reason it happens is that you give your consent each and every day to every single one of those acts.
To effect a change you must first accept and admit to what is happening on an objective basis. In this case you must accept and admit that you personally give your consent to all of those things I outlined in my article on consent and the thousands I have written over the last 7 years and more every single day of your life.
One of the arguments I've had thrown back in my face repeatedly when raising this is the old saw that goes "Well what are you saying, that I should go get my gun?"
I'm saying no such thing. You don't see me standing out in my front yard with a gun, do you?
Yet I freely admit that I gave consent this morning to every one of the outrages I outlined and more, I gave consent yesterday, the day before, and every day back to when they first happened. I can predict with a high degree of confidence that I will give consent tomorrow too. I will do so because my evaluation today is that the risks and potential rewards stack up to giving consent being the logical thing to do. That I am a law-abiding citizen weighs heavily in that evaluation, as it probably does for you as well.
But -- that doesn't change the essence of what happened this morning when I got out of bed.
I consented -- and so did you.
We will find solutions to the problems I outlined and more only when we have broad acceptance and recognition that we each, individually, give consent each and every day to every one of those outrages and more.
Open, public admission of our complicity and consent is the threshold, exactly as it is for the alcoholic.
Let me know when you're ready to stop being an alcoholic, a journey that begins only when you admit you are one and that you consent each and every day to your condition.
Until that day comes may you enjoy your drink and may the consequences of consuming that beverage be tolerable.