Ten Questions for D. Brian Burghart, Founder of Fatal Encounters

Publisher’s Note: I was intrigued when I ran across D. Brian Burghart on the web. He is the editor/publisher of the Reno News & Review, a dual-master’s student and journalism instructor at the University of Nevada, Reno. He started Fatal Encounters, www.fatalencounters.org, which went live on Feb. 27, 2014, to create a crowd-sourced, objective and comprehensive database of people killed during interactions with police and the circumstances surrounding the killing. Please understand that while Brian may not be a subscriber to the philosophy of this website and the abolitionist community, he is working toward a common goal. My questions are in italics. -BB

What brought to this Fatal Encounters project? Give us a little background on your interest in this.

 This project was metaphorically conceived on May 18, 2012, as I was driving home from my job at the newspaper. A bunch of police cars had a street cordoned off, and I could just see that something serious had happened. My guess, and I was right, was that police had shot and killed somebody. When I got home, I was just curious how often that happened. I couldn’t find the information for the city, county, state or country. In my research, I discovered there was no national database focusing on circumstances in which police killed people. In the 21st century, I just could not accept that absence of data. I was offended that our government wanted us ignorant with regard to this. I thought about the ramifications of this lack of information for quite some time. That’s when a naked, drug-addled, unarmed, 18-year-old college student, Gil Collar, was killed by a police officer at the University of Southern Alabama. No less lethal methods of restraint were tried. On that day, I realized that somebody was going to have to create a system by which regular people could build this database, otherwise it was never going to exist. To sustain the metaphor, that was the day Fatal Encounters was born.

With over 19,000 departments and nearly a million statist badged police in the US, the culture of violence has ramped up significantly. Is police violence against civilians reaching epidemic proportions?

 My numbers suggest closer to 1.2 million full- and part-time sworn and full- and part-time “civilian” state and local police, and that doesn’t include federal officers, but my information is a few years old, maybe its gone down. I don’t know the answer to this question. It certainly seems like incidents have increased, but since the database is not yet complete, we have no way of knowing whether numbers of incidents have increased, or whether it’s just our awareness has been raised by things like social media, but the numbers of incidents have actually decreased.

Why is it worse now?

 Again, I’m not willing to say it is worse without the solid numbers. From my own experience as a journalist, I can say that government agencies are more antagonistic to giving out public documents or being transparent with their actions. I know that ex-military personnel get preferential treatment in hiring for government jobs. I know that there are a lot of military surplus weapons and vehicles being made available to state and local law enforcement. I know that government surveillance of citizens has increased post-911, which creates a society that flip-flops the citizen/government relationship, which would tend to make those who represent government authority more willing to take forceful action against citizens.

What is the impact or negative contribution of the DoD/Pentagon 1033 program and other lend/lease deals for the police departments?

 Increased militarization of gear, personnel and training creates situations in which police response is already heightened and more intimidating, which tends to escalate crisis situations. While the apparent intention is to tamp down crisis situations with ostensibly overwhelming force, my feeling is that the result is often the opposite.

There is an evil trifecta, I believe, in police unions, qualified immunity and officer safety training that provides some uniquely perverse incentives to encourage and justify bad behavior toward taxpayers. What are your thoughts?

 To me, it all comes down to training and culture. People in government bureaucracies are very good at following orders and protocol. If the training and culture are such that police are trained and enabled to get the best outcomes in whatever situation with which they are presented, we’ll have better outcomes. But look at what we appear to hold as the standard in our culture. You don’t have to go any further than the silver screen to see that we present vigilantes (comic book superheroes) as something to be emulated. How many times in the movies or on television are police presented as protecting people’s rights versus being extra-judicial judges?

 What are some of the causes of the thuggish behavior seen by people on the streets when cops encounter civilians?

That’s another difficult question to answer. The only time I ever experienced “thuggish” behavior from a cop was when a Harris County deputy bounced my head off my car in Texas in 1982 because he didn’t like yankees. Other than that, I think that police are trained to demand immediate obedience in the most incidental of matters, but as tension and numbers of officers/people increase, police are more likely to use force to coerce obedience. Constitutional rights of others take a secondary role to their own rights to life in unpredictable situations. And the courts have enabled this philosophy time and time again. Even though I constantly see Facebook videos “How to act when an officer asks for identification” that suggest an individual has a right to refuse to show ID unless the officer can state an infraction, I know this is not true because the U.S. Supreme Court in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada found that the very act of asking for ID created an investigation. The result is we have police and people believing opposite things are the law, and that can create a situation where two right-minded individuals can become hostile. We believe we have a Second Amendment that gives us the right to carry guns, but the courts find again and again, the possession and sometimes the imagined possession of a firearm is enough to justify an officer killing someone without repercussion.

 The Feds maintain the most banal databases and statistics yet they do not have a monolithic database that tracks police brutality.

The Justice Department was told by Congress to collect statistics on police use of deadly force. It was in the 1994 Crime Control Act, (second section). Here’s the Justice Department’s statistical page, which I believe is how the Justice Department interpreted Congress’ mandate. As you can see from the documents at the bottom, they don’t track incidents–they sort of track complaints–and they don’t track anything in a meaningful way that allows people to make comparisons for the purpose of reforming or modifying protocols or training. In fact, the last document on the page is mainly concerned with how hard and inaccurate such a document would be, but how they could do it in some undefined future. Why is that? Because government doesn’t want us to know the true numbers. There is no other reasonable explanation.

There is an apocryphal number bandied about that 5000 Americans have been murdered by cops since 2001 but some, including myself, believe this to be a low number. Have you arrived at an estimate for total injured and dead at the hands of police? Do you also think there is a severe under-reporting and non-reporting problem in determining the total numbers? The real gorilla in the room is the number of police-induced deaths in the penal system at all levels.

 The number 5,000 is pure cobwebs. The closest thing I’ve ever found to support 500 a year was a report for the FBI done in 1998, which was voluntary reporting and not even close to comprehensive. It claimed an average of 373 from 1976-1998. I have not arrived at a number, but on a random date I selected from the Fatal Encounters database, April 27, 2013, there were 7 people killed by police. If April 27 was an average day, then that’s 2,555, but it was a Saturday, so that number is probably high. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 3 or 4 a day average, but without the complete database, that’s pure conjecture. Killed by Police on Facebook found 543 incidents between Jan. 1 and July 2 this year, which would be 1,086 for the year. Seems like the truth is somewhere in between. I don’t think non-reporting of incidents is the problem.[Editor’s note: There is evidence of an even larger number not included the statistical black hole that is the American penal system.}

I think the bigger problem is that the numbers aren’t collected nationally, so we have no idea of how one city relates to another. Often killings are reported, but in some cities, like Philadelphia, police don’t even release the names of people killed and journalists don’t usually follow up, so there is no way to make valid comparisons or even to know if one death or another was reported. I agree that deaths in prison and jail are hugely under-reported, but that’s a somewhat different issue than the one I’m looking at. I intentionally had to limit my focus. I actually believe those deaths are probably more available and probably more centralized, although not having tried to find the information, I can’t say for sure. I’ll bet making prisons privately run businesses has made that information harder to get.

 Why are so few cops punished for wrongdoing? Does this help establish a license to kill among the police?

They’re not punished because by law, they have not committed a crime. The courts have sided with law enforcement on this consistently, even in wildly unbelievable situations. I’ll bet not one in a hundred fatal encounters is found questionable. And I’ll double down that in the few times they do go to a jury, the officer is exonerated in three-quarters of the cases. Again, this is the law. I wouldn’t say it’s a license to kill, but I would say it makes police less reticent to pull their guns. And that’s exactly the intention of the courts. Judges, it should be pointed out, are often ex-prosecutors. Also, it’s often the district attorney, generally a prosecutor, who determines whether a killing is justified. Often there is no citizen oversight of these “hearings,” and media rarely publish the results. In one example here in Reno, the DA found a killing justified and in fact, praised the officers involved. Only problem was, the person was only wounded, and anyone who read the reports would have known that.

Do American police behave like an occupying army? Is this the standing army the Founding Lawyers warned us about?

 I truly do not know the answer to these questions. I do find it interesting that we call non-law enforcement people “civilians.”

 Please address any additional comments you may wish to add to the discussion.

People want to zero in on horrendous exceptions and make them the rule. We can see different agencies with similar training get vastly different outcomes post-academy graduation. That means the individual agencies have different training, protocols and cultures. The vast, vast majority of police are not bad people. If Americans focus on seeing what protocols in what jurisdictions get the best results, we can reform law enforcement policies and procedures, and then start proactively looking for anomalous behaviors by individual officers. But until we have the numbers, the basis for comparisons, it forces people to lump all cops together and to make judgments of them based on the worst of them, which is exactly how police make judgments when they interact with the public. The current system, particularly in urban environments, can create an antagonistic relationship between police and the public, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Government Cannot Serve ‘The People’ by Gavin Flanagan

Publisher’s Note:  Gavin and I are acquaintances and he sent me this brilliant essay to publish for your delectation. Please enjoy and feel free to comment here or email Gavin directly at Gavinflanagan@hotmail.com. -BB

Before we begin: There is no ‘The People’. There is six billion individuals with very similar needs but differing interests and desires. Sure we all need food but some want a vegan diet and others love a good burger. ‘The people’ is a meaningless term, like ‘the poor’ and ‘the rich’. I recently watched a documentary on Brazil, one section covered a family who lived on a rubbish dump, the parents, of seven children, made a living collecting and selling recyclable materials. They had a small hut with a microwave, a coffee machine and a flat screen television, two mattresses that served as beds for the whole family, and an old small truck with no brakes. Both the children and parents looked happier and more grateful
than most people I know, including myself. Yet we would look upon this economic situation with patronising sympathy and consider it poverty. Perhaps it is, but if indeed it is, what is the true meaning of ‘poverty’ and what is the true meaning of ‘wealth’. The majority of us in the West are considered economically wealthy.

Economically I would agree, but ‘wealth’ ‘poor’ and ‘rich’ I think are words that encompass much more of a persons state than just financial. This is where politicians proposing to ‘help the poor’ becomes a muddy self serving ideal. Not everyone wants to be helped, and not everyone wants the actual help that is on offer, as in most cases the help is what the politician or some civil servant determines suitable, rather than what would be helpful to the receiver. Of course I would consider Bill Gates rich, but I’m not sure at what point he became rich, his first billion? First million? First hundred thousand? Who decides the figure? Can we each decide the figure? Can we each define what ‘rich’ actually means to us? Or will some elected narcissist define those words for us? Will that definition be set in stone, worldwide, forever and ever? Will all of us taxpaying slaves agree with the definition? Unlikely. I’m immediately suspicious of any person who holds instant answers for any of these questions.

To get to the point: Let us take any population in any country across the world. For this example I’ll use Slaveland. Slaveland has a population of one million people. Like most countries there is a mix of Left and Right voters and of course those people who think that politics is simply a circus to keep the slaves distracted from the reality: that they are indeed slaves. Only in a highly medicated country, using high quality indoctrination methods would all the slaves vote, and would all the slaves vote for the same slave master, a 100% turnout choosing one master. This is not reality sadly, most people are far too wayward to do what is expected of them, and sadly mind control practices are frowned upon by some of the more informed slaves.

What happens in Slaveland is identical to what happens in every other democratic country. Around half of those who vote pick the Right and the other half pick the Left. Those who do not vote will have to be whipped into submission by the wonderful visionaries who will be elected to lead the unenlightened peasants to a greater future. One of the sides running for power is lucky enough to gain high wages, expenses and a ride on the Gravy Train for about four years, in some instances they might get a pension too after their perhaps brief stint as ‘elected’ (by the few who turn up to vote) Slave Master.

The slaves have yet to realize there is too many of them with too varying interests to be properly served. Pitted against each other to elect a master can only result in around half of them being unsatisfied with the election result. If the peasants stepped back for a moment and observed the circus, they might realize they are partaking in an exercise of Divide and Conquer. Friends and neighbors, partners, families divided by misinformed political ideals. Rather than choosing to live individual lives they have been conditioned to think it normal to try to force their chosen master onto their friends and neighbors who may strongly object to this slave master of choice. Too many slaves with too many differing ideals, yet society sees it more acceptable to try to force your will onto others via politics, than to respect and leave each other free to live. Hmmm and this is considered civilized.

Now lets propose you are a slave lucky in the lottery of democracy, that your chosen master is elected. For this exercise let us assume your chosen master is indeed a genuine good person, indeed a saint. As we have seen above, this saint will find it impossible to govern in any way that can serve all slaves with differing opinions.

One size does not fit all. As well intentioned as this saint may be he cannot raise taxes on the rich (demanded by the poor, whoever they are), and eliminate taxes on the rich (demanded by the rich, whoever they are). He cannot respect everyone’s right to own their own home (demanded by some), and yet enforce a property tax on all to pay for enforced (whether you like it or not) state services (demanded by some). One slave master cannot fulfill the wishes of oh so many wretched peasants.

So your (this encompasses only you dear reader, one person) chosen saint is elected, but due to the many layers of bureaucracy and multitude of other (potential) saints vying for power and convinced they know what is best (his definition of what ‘best’ is, ‘best’ is subjective and may in no way benefit your life) for the entire population, your chosen saint may find it very difficult to make an impact. If he does make any impact (that benefits you, or even a majority, impossible to be a full population) he may well be outed at the next election, what you consider a positive impact many others may consider negative and vote against these changes.

Political life in one role is generally short, the deck chairs are moved around frequently. With any changes that are made there will always be opposing groups rallying to remove those politicians who make the changes you desire, if the new masters get into power as so often happens, they will then spend their terms undoing what the previous government did, or concentrating on other areas to change in ways you may dislike. So, too many slave masters seems to be an issue also.

The voting populations are generally misinformed or uninformed, steered by mainstream news playing one side against the other. The mainstream media has the predictable tactic of airing both sides, without ever mentioning that neither side is necessary. Peaceful non coercive alternatives will never been aired to the slaves. More taxation or less taxation, which usually means its time to hide some taxation, not no taxation. Lots of slave-masters or a few less slave-masters, not no slave-masters. Any model of government requires rulers.

The desire of the sleepwalking masses to pay a perhaps well-spoken stranger to manage their lives is utter madness, and has been proven so repeatedly, for centuries.

Virtue is the Cornerstone of Civilization, Not Law by Bill Buppert

“There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.”

- Charles de Montesquieu

For the sake of argument, both the American Left and Right embrace law and order as the primary building blocks and cement to create civilization. Both of these collectivist memes wish to form societies through the threat and initiation of violence. Both of these political combines see state monopoly on a full range of violence from kidnapping to caging to maiming and death as the primary means to keep people virtuous and productive. They embrace the impossible moral equation of employing immoral means to achieve moral ends. It is yet another first principle violated that turns every government into the straitjacketed corpse factories that pepper the planet and have stained human history from the beginning.

Thomas Jefferson: “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”

The basic conceit of state governance no matter the apparent flavor is the ceding of self-ownership to a small nomenklatura who put the worse people in charge of every aspect of human existence to protect the tax cattle from a few bad actors. Most government is a curious hybrid of the Milgram/Stanford experiments and the Stockholm Syndrome, the latter weaponizing the former by maximizing the victim’s advocacy for their own destruction.

Law is divined as either malum prohibitum or malum in se. The first is a government proscription on behavior simply because it wishes to do so such as the destructive War on Illegal Vegetation, the FDA pogrom on healthy living and the tens of thousands of other laws that are laws because the government says so. The second would be the crimes thoughtful individuals would find repulsive with an actual victim such as rape, murder and theft. Indeed, the government is only concerned with these insofar as prison time, police non-compliance and taxes are concerned. The curious thing about the vast panoply of malum prohibitum laws the government enforces is both the absence of a victim and the lucrative nature of fines and imprisonment for the tax cattle ensnared by the thin black and blue line.

Robert Higgs make makes one of the most powerful and succinct arguments for why the sate is a monster:

Lest anyone protest that the state’s true “function” or “duty” or “end” is, as Locke, Madison, and countless others have argued, to protect individuals’ rights to life, liberty, and property, the evidence of history clearly shows that, as a rule, real states do not behave accordingly. The idea that states actually function along such lines or that they strive to carry out such a duty or to achieve such an end resides in the realm of wishful thinking. Although some states in their own self-interest may at some times protect some residents of their territories (other than the state’s own functionaries), such protection is at best highly unreliable and all too often nothing but a solemn farce. Moreover, it is invariably mixed with crimes against the very people the state purports to protect, because the state cannot even exist without committing the crimes of extortion and robbery, which states call taxation (Nock 1939), and as a rule, this existential state crime is but the merest beginning of its assaults on the lives, liberties, and property of its resident population.

The stateless society seeks to build a social ecology in six billion variations depending on the population of Earth at the time. The contemporary abolitionist movement is attempting to philosophically terraform the planet to reverse the dominant paradigm so societies are not made on violence but on persuasion, cooperation and respect for the non-initiation of force and violence. This does not ensure paradise on Earth because the countryside will be replete with failed enterprises, inequality and poor decisions rendered in Technicolor but it will be a state of nature where freedom is ultimately the arbiter of what one does in life. Failures will not be socialized and private gains will not be pirated by self-identified statist mediums who profit handsomely from other people’s work simply because they say so.

Some may think this a quixotic notion yet the lion’s share of human beings in their private lives practice this very culture because their self-interest is vested in treating people well to increase freedom and prosperity for their futures and that of their progeny. Law does not make for a better humanity, it makes the opportunity for government and the state to maximize tyranny and oppress vast swaths of humanity convenient, easy and eventually urging large parts of the subject population to turn on each other.

Laws are not the great equalizing efforts the rulers preach in their government obedience classes in state schools, laws are a means to qualify and quantify the one-way transaction of fining, kidnapping, caging, maiming and killing that is the bread and butter of every government in existence. The law enables policing and police to serve and protect the rulers; it legitimizes the daily war on individual freedom and liberty that is the sin qua non of the state.

Law is not the answer, virtue is the answer and that can only be practiced by individuals; the law savages liberty and eventually metastasizes into the prison-states that dot the globe today.

And no, the Constitution is NOT the answer. I can fix the Constitution. Congress shall make no law. Period. No text follows.

Voila‘. There, all the problems have vanished.

Law is a predator and virtue is the answer.

“You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.”

- Thomas Sowell

Happy Dependence Day: Big Government Forges Ahead by Bill Buppert

Publisher’s Note:  I took a stab at modifying the 1776 American Declaration of Independence to present standards of governance, moral malpractice and cowardice and discovered that much would be left out on the cutting floor and severe alterations to verbiage would be necessary to keep the Homo Sovieticus Booboisie in America from filling their pants and gibbering in abject fear at the prospect of freedom with risks and costs not underwritten by their neighbors. I had to erase over half of it and wipe out any reference to any behavior absent government permission. So I had to move on to the more fitting document for human bondage and perpetual government, the Constitution.

The Declaration of IndependenceI continues to be a masterwork of brevity and directness in its promise to sever ties and formalize a divorce.  There is no sizable sector of America today that would even have the temerity to sign it much less live up to it.Well, maybe at an abolitionist meeting but I digress.

So I scrapped that project and found a document more in keeping with the modern 21st century American mood.

Now the Soviet Constitution is something that most Americans can cotton to with the slightest modification in verbiage.  I chose the latest of three variants from 1977.  I have included a link to the original text at the bottom.  All I changed were the descriptors and none of the prospective language.

On another note, in a nation that has institutionalized theft and torture and turned it into rule and color of law, I figured the Supremes would get around to the codification of taxing inactivity which is the secret sauce in the recent ruling.  On page 193 of the infamous recent decision, Thomas says the most important observation in all the pages of painful and obtuse totalitarian apologia for ObamugabeCare:

“As I have explained, the Court’s continued use of that test “has encouraged the Federal Government to persist in its view that the Commerce Clause has virtually no limits.” Morrison, supra, at 627. The Government’s unprecedented claim in this suit that it may regulate not only economic activity but also inactivity that substantially affects interstate commerce is a case in point.”

Most of the ahistorical tax cattle automatically associate the 4th of July with the wretched Constitution anyway. Constitution Day is in September but why wait when the DI has been so famously and ingloriously betrayed in every aspect of its essence and message.The majority in that decision would applaud the Soviet Constitution not that the earlier American version was any shakes when it came to liberty.

The Fourth of July is the same day in 1863 that the defeats at Vicksburg and Gettysburg snuffed out any hope of the South prevailing in its divorce proceedings during the Second American Revolution and the Lincolnian juggernaut would take the Constitution to its final stages of expanding and securing a place for the leviathan state in North America.

Happy Dependence Day, comrades. -BB

 

PREAMBLE to the 1977 Soviet Constitution slightly modified to American standards:

The Great November Democratic Revolution, made by the workers and peasants of United States under the leadership of the US Government headed by its Presidents, overthrew capitalist and landowner rule, broke the fetters of oppression, established the dictatorship of the voter, and created the American state, a new type of state, the basic instrument for defending the gains of the revolution and for building government intervention and democracy. Humanity thereby began the epoch-making turn from capitalist to government intervention.

After achieving victory in the elections and repulsing free market intervention, the American government carried through far-reaching social and economic transformations, and put an end once and for all to exploitation of man by man, antagonisms between classes, and strive between nationalities. The unification of the American Republics in the Union of American Democratic Republics multiplied the forces and opportunities of the peoples of the country in the building of government intervention. Social ownership of the means of production and genuine democracy for the working masses were established. For the first time in the history of mankind a democratic society was created.

The strength of government intervention was vividly demonstrated by the immortal feat of the American people and their Armed Forces in achieving their historic victory in the Great Cold War. This victory consolidated the influence and international standing of the American Union and created new opportunities for growth of the forces of government intervention, national liberation, democracy, and peace throughout the world.

Continuing their creative endeavors, the working people of the American Union have ensured rapid, all-round development of the country and steady improvement of the democratic system. They have consolidated the alliance of the working class, collective-farm peasantry, and people’s intelligentsia, and friendship of the nations and nationalities of the US. Socio-political and ideological unity of American society, in which the middle class is the leading force, has been achieved. The aims of the dictatorship of the voter having been fulfilled, the American state has become a state of the whole people. The leading role of the US Government, the vanguard of all the people, has grown.

In the US a developed democratic society has been built. At this stage, when government intervention is developing on its own foundations, the creative forces of the new system and the advantages of the democratic way of life are becoming increasingly evident, and the working people are more and more widely enjoying the fruits of their great revolutionary gains.

It is a society in which powerful productive forces and progressive science and culture have been created, in which the well-being of the people is constantly rising, and more and more favorable conditions are being provided for the all-round development of the individual.

It is a society of mature democratic social relations, in which, on the basis of the drawing together of all classes and social strata and of the juridical and factual equality of all its nations and nationalities and their fraternal co-operation, a new historical community of people has been formed–the American people.

It is a society of high organizational capacity, ideological commitment, and consciousness of the working people, who are patriots and internationalists.

It is a society in which the law of life is concern of all for the good of each and concern of each for the good of all.

It is a society of true democracy, the political system of which ensures effective management of all public affairs, ever more active participation of the working people in running the state, and the combining of citizen’s real rights and freedoms with their obligations and responsibility to society.

Developed democratic society is a natural, logical stage on the road to democracy.

The supreme goal of the American state is the building of a classless democratic society in which there will be public, democratic self-government. The main aims of the people’s democratic state are: to lay the material and technical foundation of democracy, to perfect democratic social relations and transform them into democratic relations, to mold the citizen of democratic society, to raise the people’s living and cultural standards, to safeguard the country’s security, and to further the consolidation of peace and development of international co-operation.

The American people,

  • guided by the ideas of scientific democracy and true to their revolutionary traditions,
  • relying on the great social, economic, and political gains of government intervention,
  • striving for the further development of democratic democracy,
  • taking into account the international position of the US as part of the world system of government intervention, and conscious of their internationalist responsibility,
  • preserving continuity of the ideas and principles of the first American Constitution of 1791,

hereby affirm the principle so the social structure and policy of the US, and define the rights, freedoms and obligations of citizens, and the principles of the organization of the democratic state of the whole people, and its aims, and proclaim these in this Constitution.

See the original Soviet Constitution from 1977 for the remainder.

Preamble and Constitution:  http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/77cons01.html#I

PorcFest 2014: The Intellectual Woodstock of Liberty by Bill Buppert

I returned from PorcFest on Sunday and had a terrific time visiting with past friends and finding new ones. We had originally winged from Arizona on the previous Monday with minimal interference from Thugs Standing Around and even traveled through TSA pre-screen with out even signing up for it. I always travel with a Glock so I was surprised that it was so easy. On my departure from Manchester, I even saw the overweight TSA agents who hassled Davi and I back in February in an incident the TSA still denies occurred.

We traveled the two-plus hour trip to Lancaster from Manchester with our driver, Riaz, who was a recent émigré from Florida and happy to be in a less policed state. We stayed at the hotel at Rogers Campground the entire week. Lilo and I got to see and mingle with all the modern rock stars of the libertarian universe such as Carla Gericke, the President of the Free State Project and Nick Gillespie of Reason magazine. I got to meet Tony Stiles and appeared on Jeff Berwick’s Anarchast, Ernie Hancock’s show and Free Talk Live. Got to hang with my new best friend, Ben Stone and the crew at Michael Dean’s Freedom Feens. Michael even caught my demo of a modified clutch flag on the stripper pole at Buzz’s Big Gay Dance Party on Friday night at PorcFest. Buzz does an amazing job on this party, where everyone is free to be whatever or whoever they are. A truly free experience. Lilo and I enjoyed talking and dancing with Angela Keaton from Antiwar.com, as well as a lot of other fun individuals romping about.

Got to see Larken Rose again and meet Josie the Outlaw in the flesh.

Jeff Tucker was there in all his sartorial splendor and did a magnificent job in the rendition of Ayn Rand’s play that was featured at PorcFest. Robert Anthony Peters was there, my close friend from Tucson who has toured the liberty festivals with me for years. He is one of the only libertarians on Earth who truly groks the relationship between art and liberty.

I met an amazing assortment of interesting folks and reunited with others I had met on the liberty trail over the years. I could hardly traipse around the grounds without running into someone I knew or striking up a conversation with someone new.

Being an Apple user, I had been using PowerPoint (Office for Mac) to put together my talks for the event and discovered that two of the files were corrupted with no redemption. I managed to simply do the talks extemporaneously but it simply angered me that Bill Gates, a formidable enemy of human liberty and fellator of the state, had attempted sabotage. He failed.

On Wednesday I gave my first speech, Zerogov: Limited Government, Unicorns and Other Mythological Creatures. A tour of my evolution to abolitionism, the Constitution as an engine for big government, why abolitionism and an invitation to join the Brotherhood Without Banners. The speech was heavily attended and I had great questions and responses after the conclusion of the speech.

Abolition and the Stoics A history of the most practical philosophy in the world and its relationship to liberty. During this presentation on Thursday, I had to give it absent the PPT slides but still managed to have a fairly stimulating discussion and great questions. This speech is the germ of a book idea I will be working on in 2015 to connect the ancient Stoics to modern abolitionism. I have to work on it next year because I am finishing my novel this year and completing my Lysander Spooner project this year.

Later, I teamed with my pro-life colleagues to debate the most divisive issue in libertarian circles for the Michael Dean sponsored PorcFest Abortion Clinic. After the debate, Antigone Darling crowned me as the most ardent pro-life expositor she had ever come across, I wear the admonition with pride. After the debate, Michael Dean sponsored a beef fest to get all the Freedom Feens together at Ben Stone’s camp site for a splendid dinner of steak cooked by Lou. The best steak ever.

On Friday, I spoke on Police State USSA A tour of the American Stasi state, the growing murder culture of cops, incentives to police violence and remedies for the existential problem of the police state. The speech went swimmingly and I got some more great comments and audience participation.

I conducted a four-hour seminar on Irregular Warfare: History and Practice on the history and modern implications of asymmetrical warfare, insurgency, counterinsurgency and guerrilla conflict. We filled the tent and about two dozen people actually stayed with me to listen for nearly four hours on a perfectly nice summer day in sunny New Hampshire. All the speeches will be on the net soon, so if you missed them, please look them up and catch up on the newest thoughts on liberty.

I am consistently amazed at just how bright and rocket-scientist smart libertarians, anarchists and abolitionists are. They may, for the most part, be rather modestly financially successful but the brain trust is quite incredible. Whether the solution to roads in a private society, why Rothbard is right or how the abolition of criminal law per David Freidman will make the world a better place.

Lilo and I had a great time getting tippled in the Courtesy Tent where the booze flowed freely for the speakers and sponsors, with great bonfires at night. The new species of anarcho-hippies that danced and played around the tent camps at Agora Row were a hoot to watch and experience. Even older as we are, we are welcomed there with open arms, as is everyone.

If you haven’t been, I highly recommend considering a trip to NH next summer.

This is not a revolution; this is the purposeful evolution of man at the atomistic level. PorcFest, the Free State Project and the abolitionist movement are the seedbeds of the philosophical terraforming of planet Earth.

I want to go again.

Evolve.

Porcupine Festival 11: Rockin’ in the Free State by Bill Buppert

I will be attending and speaking at Porcupine Festival 11 next week in New Hampshire. I will be giving three speeches, participating in an abortion debate (I am pro-life) and conducting a half-day seminar on Irregular Warfare: History and Practice on Saturday. I will also have two additional speeches to fill in for no-shows.

I will also be interviewed by Jeff Berwick of Anarchast and hope to get a some additional media events while there.

My speeches:

Zerogov: Limited Government, Unicorns and Other Mythological Creatures A tour of my evolution to abolitionism, the Constitution as an engine for big government, why abolitionism and an invitation to join the brotherhood Without Banners.

Police State USSA A tour of the American Stasi state, the growing murder culture of cops, incentives to police violence and remedies for the existential problem of the police state.

Abolition and the Stoics A history of the most practical philosophy in the world and its relationship to liberty.

Additional Speeches:

I Am Simon Jester: Grokking the Underground An examination of the history and practice of non-violent undergrounds and movements.

19th Century Abolitionists and the Modern Movement: Lessons in Resistance to the Maximum State An overview and examination of the efforts of William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass and how it may have been another bulwark for the fight against the state.

Debate:

PorcFest Abortion Clinic I will be on the panel to defend the pro-life position.

Seminar:

Irregular Warfare: History and Practice A half-day seminar on the history and modern implications of asymmetrical warfare, insurgency, counterinsurgency and guerrilla conflict.

The Free State Project sponsors the events and I look forward to meeting any of my readers there.

It will be great to see old friends and make new acquaintances.

Self Defense: The Primal Right by Bill Buppert

Self-defense and pacifism are two distinctly different concepts in human liberty. The former is the notion, in the private sphere, of defending one’s life against initiated aggression. The latter is the material conditions for a self-extinction event. Don’t get me wrong, I agree and admire the base reasons for pacifism but object to the implementation in the real world versus its ideation.

Whether the conscientious objectors in WWI and WWII, draft dodgers in all the wars or the principled religionists in every sect who live by the creed, they go with the Gods.

I think the Amish and the Mennonites are superior examples of peaceful living and I applaud the steadfast refusal for their creed in the US to pay Socialist Security or abide by regulations the rest of Americans are saddled with. But the state is a death cult and eventually, it will manage to threaten the most peaceful among its flock with gulags or murder if compliance is not quick to come in the larger sense.

But self-defense is truly an inalienable right if not the primal right of every human when all others are either stripped away or the origin for their existence is sought. Rights can only be rights if they can be employed to serve an individual without putting a non-consensual burden on the other individuals who may be around him. So the silly construct of a right to work, health care or even a jury trial is nonsense.

The last because the voter pool, for those unfortunate enough to imagine individual voting makes a difference, are conscripted in a lottery by the local or Federal legal apparatus on pain of fining or caging for non-compliance. Once corralled in the courtroom, they suffer more threats from the robed government employee to follow his precise instructions on maintaining government supremacy against the defendant chained in the courtroom.

Rights in a non-aggression principle environment are very narrow indeed. All of a sudden, all the sophistry and magical thinking that the state enchants people with disappears in a flash and everyone is an adult or else. Unlike the pre-adolescent toddler nostrums that inform so much of the American government enterprise, and its economically illiterate mouthpieces among the presstitutes, rights do not descend from or emanate from the state. They are a priori genetic investments every human is coded with in their ancestral inheritance.

The state must work from the start to actually deprogram and reprogram these states of nature that most humans are vested with, excepting the small percentage of the population whose psycho- and sociopathic tendencies make them ideal candidates for the ruling classes in the Lewis Carroll world of Western modernity.

This is why the mandarin class relies so intensely on dismissing any notions of individual self-defense. Once that meme is released, viral and accepted, a large part of the rationale for the state evaporates. Remember that voting is putting the worst people in charge to protect you from a few bad people why have neither the will nor capacity to injure the way the state does on a daily basis. Even the robed government employees concede that the state has no duty to protect individual residents yet they target individual citizens’ time, resources and freedom to build an edifice that allegedly does just that. Only in the mind of a statist would that pass muster as moral or logical. It begs the question that if you concede there is no duty to protect, how can the idiot savant state on the other hand use every means at their disposal to disarm and criminalize self-defense? A foundational notion that all the big “gun rights” organizations have ignored.

“Gun control” is not about protecting citizens, but preserving the safety of the rulers and their roosts. One could go as far as to contend that the connection between self-defense and opting out, the supreme marker of free choice, is intimately wed and that the state is always a clear and present danger to individual choice. This is not only because the brutal police state evident to every American is in full force, but because an armed citizenry, determined to defend against aggression, is every statist’s worst nightmare.

Chris Cantwell and Larken Rose have tackled these questions eloquently and I recommend listening to their arguments.

The philosophical argument from an abolitionist perspective is rather simple: once the state puts your self-defense in jeopardy in a meaningful way, as has been the inexorable march in the USSA, private property is then in constant peril in light of the government desire to monopolize violence.

Individual liberty then simply evaporates.

Butler Shaffer sums it up brilliantly:

It is the nature of fascist political systems to bifurcate the purported ownership of property from its control. Such division generates the conflict that has been destroying America. It has been our politically-driven separation from one another into allegedly irreconcilable interests that has plagued mankind.

Stark choices remain for those who wish to give their children a better world than the Orwellian nightmare they are currently bequeathed by the indolent and cowardly parentage they suffer under today.

If self-defense is trumped, neutralized and destroyed, all is lost.

Resist.

Happy Russia Day by Bill Buppert

June 12 is the national holiday known as Russia Day where the Eurasian tax cattle in that particular jurisdiction celebrate nationalism and big government much like the celebration of Dependence Day in America on July 4. It was adopted in 1992 by the new Russian Federation also known formally as the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic under the then Chairman of the Supreme Soviet, Boris Yeltsin. But like all these holidays is simply an excuse to give yet another work day off to government employees and make citizens happy about their chains and manacles.

I thought it appropriate to call your attention to a speech I did in 2010 at the Freedom Summit hosted by Ernie Hancock. I talked about the coming deSovietization of the USSA and how that may play out. I look back on the speech and am rather nonplussed at how much worse it is right now and how the cleansing and purging may take longer than I surmised. Much like the Russian experience, when one trades one government for another, they take on eerie similarities that simply do not get better with time.

The speech almost did not happen because I lost my voice the night before, a happenstance many would applaud.

Orwell and Huxley were merely astute observers who saw how all states evolve over time and until economic collapse, war or death by bureaucratic sclerosis, the USSA and its analogs world-wide will continue to chug along.

 

 

D-Day 1944: The Expiration Date for Western Individual Liberty and Freedom by Bill Buppert

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day. My father soldiered in WWII toward the end of the conflict and with the advent of VE Day in April 1945, was getting ready to ship to the Pacific to invade mainland Japan. Fortunately, that got turned off and he instead exercised Patton’s horses in Germany and returned to the states in one piece.

On reflection, despite the nonsense about the Greatest Generation and other such self-congratulatory back slapping, the end of the war quickly devolved into a bipolar world which would eventually find hundreds of millions living in slave states in the East and slave state aspirants in the West vying to see who could outdo the USSR in economic illiteracy and the adoption of socialism as the formative building block of government and society. WWII supported the grand illusion that immoral means could yield moral ends, an impossible moral equation.

The American political world after WWII or the War to Save Josef Stalin to more accurately identify why the conflict took place, used the “Communist menace” to buttress the incredible growth of the American and West European state. At least the French, British and Italians were honest enough to have significant voting blocs of self-avowed communists in their countries while the same were hounded in America despite the child-like reverence for the power of the state demonstrated by both major parties in America. Ironic that the Soviets had penetrated the Roosevelt White House so thoroughly in WWII. As the Democrat party started to evolve into the Socialist International after 1968 and the Grand Old Politburo stumbled behind with its incoherent statist/progressive agenda, the US became the Olympic Gold winner in the new era after the USSR simply just fell apart, getting the Silver Medal to build the bigger state.

The US was a hairs-breadth away from staying out of what was essentially the next phase of WWI if Lindbergh had defeated the odious and bloody-minded FDR in 1940. The America First Committee boasted almost a million members and wielded considerable influence. After eight years of clownish performance and a slobbering devotion to socialist and fascist ideas, FDR still secured the majority of the vote from the American booboisee and quickly set the ground work to get the US involved in the European war and the Pacific war in the larger sense.

One can see that if WWI had not been entered by the US, the whole sordid chain of events that led to the advent of WWII may have been avoided. The sealed train to Russia to inaugurate the conflicts of the Red and White armies that would fight until 1923 would not have transpired and the ambitions of Hitler world have been crushed before they even started by the limited victories of the Central Powers and the absence of a Versailles Treaty that cruelly set the conditions for future slaughter and mayhem.

The subsequent seizure of the White House by avowed socialist revolutionaries in 1933 would march hand in hand with the rise of Hitler and Mussolini learning at the knee of Josef Stalin and his more murderous but frankly more honest campaign to enslave his nation and others.

The entry of America in WWII in concert with the Communist menace in the USSR, married at the hip, to make the world safe for the savage collectivism that was the joint vision of the Allies to include Churchill and De Gaulle was a vision fulfilled. At the time of the landings at Normandy celebrated on this day, it was a mere sideshow compared to the gargantuan land borne fights that had savaged the Germans and Soviets alike since the launch of Operation Barbarossa in 1941. While the Allies diddled in the Kasserine Pass being schooled in failure and loss and mounted glacially-paced campaigns in the Italian peninsula, the Germans and Russians schooled each other in the crushing of armies of men, hundreds of thousands of soldiers locked in mortal combat that would see plenty killed and millions injured and wounded away from the small sideshow at Normandy.

Not one American should have ever stepped foot on the European continent unless on a tourist passport. The rippling effects of the foothold and the eventual “liberation” of Europe from the National Socialists would merely usher in Hitler’s vision absent the liquidation of certain undesirable groups such as Jews, gays and Slavs. One would be hard pressed to look at the NSDAP platform of the Third Reich and not find most of its ambitions accomplished in the European states after the war and the rocketing to prominence in the modern socialist entity of the European Union.

From the civilian bombing campaigns to repatriation of Soviet émigrés to Operation Keelhaul and its analogs (like the Blaiburg Repatriations) to the savage Allied occupation of Germany in the aftermath, WWII put the final stamp of approval on the maximum state and its evolution in post-WWII Earth. Niall Ferguson calls it a “war on the world” but more accurately it was a war to snuff out individual autonomy and liberty.

WWII gave America the withholding tax, rationing, perceived legitimacy of Keystone Keynesian economics, price controls, imprisonment for biology and genetics and the nationalization of the economy. It provided the gargantuan life support to the brutal and homicidal regime in the USSR and the means to use that regime’s post-WWII ambitions to start building a welfare/warfare state in the West that would outlive the foe that gave it life.

The aftermath of the war would on the one hand insist orders weren’t enough to absolve crimes against humanity for the losers but pardon the murderous bombing crews and give a lank check to Allied barbarity against the Europeans after April 1945.

This not to say Hitler was an admirable man; he was a sullen and existentially cruel psychopath who provides the clarion example of just how bad democracy can be. Had the US not stepped in, the collectivist forces of the National Socialists and the Communists would have battered each other senseless without giving one advantage over the other but Stalin’s assisted victory made the world safe for Communism in the Eurasian sphere and collectivism planet-wide. The Nazi’s killed millions of innocents and the Soviets did the same; the serial killers club had simply gone to war with itself.

One need only look at the numbers to see that the entry of the Allies in the Western theater in Europe was merely a slight feint compared to the gargantuan enterprises in the east. The Soviet-Japanese war in August 1945 would reveal just how lop-sided a contest it was for Russian victory. But the USSR could not have had any of that if not subsidized substantially by the West.

In essence, on this day in 1944 70 years ago, a sizable Allied force was securing a beachhead to race the Russians to victory in Berlin to see who could get the most spoils. Roosevelt’s intimate relationship with Stalin should leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth but Churchill was no better in his manipulation and flirtation with the Soviet premier.

I would suggest that we can take a moment to reflect on the losses (some say sacrifice) of the tens of thousands of young Americans who died during the conflict and especially during the near-fatal Allied general officer malpractice that would be Arnhem and Ardennes in the next six months of the war. In the end, the war simply accelerated the socialist evolutionary turn in the American state and allowed the USSR to have a new lease on life after nearly expiring in 1940.

June 6th is not a day of memorial or celebration but the anniversary of a wake to pinpoint yet another fork in the road to create the maximum state in the West and give a new lease on life for dictators yet unborn.

Smashing the State: Three Book Reviews by Bill Buppert

Books are the staff of intellectual life and the thousands published every year always deliver a few gems usually from indie or small presses. For the longest time, the big city publishing houses acted as gatekeepers to ensure the public didn’t get the deep critiques of the sate that the last twenty years have delivered in spades whether through original works or the Ludwig von Mises Institute gargantuan efforts to populate known space with the forgotten or neglected great works or the efforts of the Liberty Fund project.

These are three of hundreds I have read in the past few years and I will be sure to host some more reviews in the future.

The Permit by William Scott is a father’s fictionalized catharsis after the murder of his son, Erik Scott, in Las Vegas by local cops on 10 July 2010. One can read the account and see that the Corners Inquest justification for the murder of Erik was simply another fabrication by police across the country making them literally above the law with a license to kill. I have discussed many of the horrific aspects of the police state in America elsewhere and will not belabor this review. I have to say that my anti-police state bias certainly set up high expectations when I jumped into this novel. I am halfway through the first draft of my first novel and find myself both a reader and a student of the craft as I read now.

The fictionalized circumstances of Erik’s death at the hand of the local gang in blue in the book is difficult to appreciate absent a background in the actual murder by the thugs in black and blue so I recommend you take the time to apprise yourself of the actual events before reading The Permit. Scott tells a compelling story with some fantastical coincidences that demand much suspension of disbelief and a last chapter or epilogue that I found simply inaccessible. Altogether, a satisfying experience with some well-fleshed characters and plenty of one dimensional characters who serve as mere set pieces in story arcs. The deepest and most tragic figure in the story is the fictionalized father whom Scott indulges with what appears to be plenty of autobiographical ventriloquism.

I won’t spoil the story by describing any of the plot turns and surprises but the main premise of a Federal government agency taking matters into its own hands by taking on the corrupt Las Vegas Metro legal tangle with both cops and politicians on the take simply beggars belief. The imprimatur of a White House authorization to maim and kill members of the law enforcement community to “fight corruption” is a rich premise but would not stand up to scrutiny. The barbaric nature of the police community in the US is a direct result of the increasing Federalization of cops and crime, rapid militarization and the evil War on Drugs that makes America home to twenty five percent of the incarcerated population with five percent of the world’s total population.

But a novel is necessarily granted flights of fancy because fiction riffs off reality and tightens and compartmentalizes the narrative of intertwined lives. I am in the middle of my first work of fiction and novels are complex creatures that demand a tremendous amount of work and attention to detail. They are living beings that start to write themselves in different ways than your initial outline decided. The character arcs are alive and take on a compass point of their own.

For those who enjoy techno-thrillers with a dollop of anti-authority musings, The Permit is for you. For those who realize that government is never the answer, you will be disappointed that while the Federal government appears to do the right thing in the book, the cavalcade of calamities that is Metro Las Vegas and American policing across the land is a direct result of the central government creating the very monster they attempt to contain in in this novel. I salute Mr. Scott and his loss and hope this book inspires people to not only consider the murder of his son but the larger implications of tolerating the monstrous state of American policing.

A personal friend of mine penned Modules for Manhood: What Every Man Should Know (Volume 1 of 3) by Kenneth W. Royce so I wanted to extend full disclosure for this brief review. Kenneth, also known as Boston T. Party, is a prolific author and his revised Boston’s Gun Bible has been on my nightstand for nearly thirteen years as a fixture and influenced thousands of dollars directed per his recommendations for my armory and training. I own everything he ever wrote (I even have a rare hardcover edition of Molon Labe). Over the years, whenever Ken and I find ourselves at conference, we tend to hang out together as the resident graybeards in a increasingly younger crowd at libertarian events.

Those who hang out at Art of Manliness, enjoy the “blood and virtue” ideas of G.A. Henty and other Victorian authors and are generally dismissive of the state of American, if not global manhood today, will thoroughly enjoy this book. As the father of three sons, I see the exquisite and critical need for books like this. Ken, through the use of his own text and drawing from a vast array of appropriate quotes. The scope of the book is ambitious and it is the first of three volumes.

He riffs off of Colonel Jeff Cooper and his admonitions for young men. From the works of the Stoic authors to Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton in the nineteenth century to modern authors like Ken and Brad Miner’s terrific The Compleat Gentlemen, Ken has a deep well to draw from. Some may be put off by his extensive use of quotes but I have always found it encouraging because it forces me to look at the root documents if I am interested of the folks he is quoting.

I was especially encouraged by his introduction of enneagrams to a larger audience and the use of the tremendous treasure trove of wisdom throughout the ages. Some folks are bothered by Ken’s unique numbering system but I think more authors should adopt his scheme. It make the book far more accessible for the casual reader who elects to read those things pertinent to his inquiry instead of simply cover to cover.

I have purchased a copy for each of my sons and may do the same for my daughters so they better understand what they are missing out on with the last three generations and their essential maleness but complete absence of manhood. The metrosexual trend is disturbing in the least and a civilizational extinction event at its worst. For those who pay attention, this may the start of a new curative. There simply is not enough space to list all the paths one can be led down to improve yourself through reading this book.

Ken makes the keen observation that the modern male is the perfect subservient cattle that the government needs to maintain and expand its power. Manhood may be the best way to stop big government from winning.

On a minor note, the number of grammar and spelling mistakes is a bit discouraging but having published myself, easily remedied in the electronic book milieu that I suspect will dominate publishing in this century. I would encourage Ken to publish this on Kindle.

Marc Stevens’ Government Indicted by Marc Stevens is also penned by a personal friend who I hold in the highest esteem, not only a fellow jazz spectator but a keen observer of the collectivist chaos that is Vichy Amerika. The book is a philosophically thick almost psychedelic trip through the power lens common to libertarian analysis.

What makes the libertarian commentariat so incisive and intellectually devastating in its examination of small and large problems alike is the notion that power hates a vacuum and no matter what the minarchist or collectivist nostrum to solve it, psychopaths rush in to fill the void.

Marc hosts a nationwide radio show where he takes on the court and legal system and takes the robed government employees to task. Marc has no law degree otherwise he would probably be a collectivist drone after that communard obedience vocational training called law school.

He asks the essential question: is the system arbitrary or based on facts? His answer is a categorical assertion that the entire system is a house of card built by psychopaths to allow one group of people to exist at the expense of others employing the intellectual fairy dust of American jurisprudence which he shows to be based on a foundation of shifting sand and fallacious premises.

Like James Bovard, he uses actual cases and painful anecdotes by the bushel to make the point that the American system is rigged against freedom and liberty. Marc’s primary task appears to be the destruction of the credibility of the state, particularly in America. One could contend he views the state as a psychopathic entity, which can’t help but cause destruction, it is built into the system’s DNA. This may account for the cyclical destruction of all nation states over time.

Marc’s solutions are too many to detail and most are relevant but I maintain a healthy skepticism that jury activism and using the legal system against itself will work its magic over time. I don’t accuse Marc of being a Sovereign but it skirt that lunatic territory closely and I remain unconvinced at its efficacy. The other solutions for delegitimizing a psychopathic society to a free and voluntary society is compelling.

I recommend his book with the few reservations except for the editing difficulties.

A few minor annoyances are typos and grammar mistakes, which can be easily remedied once this book comes out on Kindle much like I commented on Boston’s book. The electronic publishing and self-publishing industry is a revolutionary event for liberty oriented authors because the collectivist gatekeepers at the traditional publishing houses can no longer block the dissemination of ideas injurious to the prison sates dotting the globe, including America.

These three books should be in any respectable liberty library.

Support liberty and the future, support these authors.

The Permit (Checkmate Justice) by William Scott

Modules for Manhood: What Every Man Should Know by Kenneth W. Royce

Marc Stevens Government Indicted by Marc Stevens