Let’s be clear about one thing: seditious conspiracy isn’t a real crime to anyone but the US government.
To be convicted of seditious conspiracy, the charge levied against Stewart Rhodes who was sentenced to 18 years in prison for being the driving force behind the January 6 Capitol riots, one doesn’t have to engage in violence against the government, vandalize government property, or even trespass on property that the government has declared off-limits to the general public.
To be convicted of seditious conspiracy, one need only foment a revolution.
This is not about whether Rhodes deserves such a hefty sentence.
This is about the long-term ramifications of empowering the government to wage war on individuals whose political ideas and expression challenge the government’s power, reveal the government’s corruption, expose the government’s lies, and encourage the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices.
This is about criminalizing political expression in thoughts, words and deeds.
This is about how the government has used the events of Jan. 6 in order to justify further power grabs and acquire more authoritarian emergency powers.
This was never about so-called threats to democracy.
In fact, the history of this nation is populated by individuals whose rhetoric was aimed at fomenting civil unrest and revolution.
Indeed, by the government’s own definition, America’s founders were seditious conspirators based on the heavily charged rhetoric they used to birth the nation.
Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Marquis De Lafayette, and John Adams would certainly have been charged for suggesting that Americans should not only take up arms but be prepared to protect their liberties and defend themselves against the government should it violate their rights.
Had America’s founders feared revolutionary words and ideas, there would have been no First Amendment, which protects the right to political expression, even if that expression is anti-government.
No matter what one’s political persuasion might be, every American has a First Amendment right to protest government programs or policies with which they might disagree.
The right to disagree with and speak out against the government is the quintessential freedom.
Every individual has a right to speak truth to power—and foment change—using every nonviolent means available.
Unfortunately, the government is increasingly losing its tolerance for anyone whose political views could be perceived as critical or “anti-government.”
All of us are in danger.
In recent years, the government has used the phrase “domestic terrorist” interchangeably with “anti-government,” “extremist” and “terrorist” to describe anyone who might fall somewhere on a very broad spectrum of viewpoints that could be considered “dangerous.”
The ramifications are so far-reaching as to render almost every American with an opinion about the government or who knows someone with an opinion about the government an extremist in word, deed, thought or by association.
Get ready for the next phase of the government’s war on thought crimes and truth-tellers.
For years now, the government has used all of the weapons in its vast arsenal—surveillance, threat assessments, fusion centers, pre-crime programs, hate crime laws, militarized police, lockdowns, martial law, etc.—to target potential enemies of the state based on their ideologies, behaviors, affiliations and other characteristics that might be deemed suspicious or dangerous.
For instance, if you believe in and exercise your rights under the Constitution (namely, your right to speak freely, worship freely, associate with like-minded individuals who share your political views, criticize the government, own a weapon, demand a warrant before being questioned or searched, or any other activity viewed as potentially anti-government, racist, bigoted, anarchic or sovereign), you could be at the top of the government’s terrorism watch list.
Moreover, as a New York Times editorial warns, you may be an anti-government extremist (a.k.a. domestic terrorist) in the eyes of the police if you are afraid that the government is plotting to confiscate your firearms, if you believe the economy is about to collapse and the government will soon declare martial law, or if you display an unusual number of political and/or ideological bumper stickers on your car.
According to one FBI report, you might also be classified as a domestic terrorism threat if you espouse conspiracy theories, especially if you “attempt to explain events or circumstances as the result of a group of actors working in secret to benefit themselves at the expense of others” and are “usually at odds with official or prevailing explanations of events.”
In other words, if you dare to subscribe to any views that are contrary to the government’s, you might already be flagged as potentially anti-government in a government database somewhere—Main Core, for example—that identifies and tracks individuals who aren’t inclined to march in lockstep to the police state’s dictates.
As The Intercept reported, the FBI, CIA, NSA and other government agencies have increasingly invested in corporate surveillance technologies that can mine constitutionally protected speech on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to identify potential extremists and predict who might engage in future acts of anti-government behavior.
And then there is the treatment being meted out to those such as Julian Assange, for example, who blow the whistle on government misconduct that is within the public’s right to know.
Since his April 2019 arrest, Assange has been locked up in a maximum-security British prison—in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day—pending extradition to the US, where if convicted, he could be sentenced to 175 years in prison.
This is how the police state deals with those who challenge its chokehold on power.
This is why the First Amendment is so critical. It gives the citizenry the right to speak freely, protest peacefully, expose government wrongdoing, and criticize the government without fear of arrest, isolation or any of the other punishments that have been meted out to whistleblowers.
The challenge is holding the government accountable to obeying the law.
Following the current trajectory, it won’t be long before anyone who believes in holding the government accountable is labeled an “extremist,” relegated to an underclass that doesn’t fit in, watched all the time, and rounded up when the government deems it necessary.
We’re almost at that point now.
Eventually, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, we will all be seditious conspirators in the eyes of the government.
We would do better to be conspirators for the Constitution starting right now.
Reprinted with permission from The Rutherford Institute.