David Kennerly, who debuted last year for Heretic TOC  writing about his childhood in the American Midwest, now makes a welcome return. This time his theme journeys to far horizons – places that may soon be closed to us for actual travel if restrictions envisaged by governments worldwide have their way. Yes, it’s a very alarming thought and one that has accordingly prompted David to document in considerable detail what the securocrats and fear-peddling politicians are up to and why we need to wake up to it. In his guest blog today he outlines two essays specially written for Heretic TOC but which he intends also to use as a basis for lobbying more widely. Links are given to these articles.

 

The thin wedge to immobilize citizens

An introduction to two essays exploring the unfolding war on freedom of movement

Over the last several months, I have been researching a series of legal assertions now being advanced by governments worldwide. While being enacted piecemeal in individual countries, they can only be fully understood in aggregate and in the recognition that these governments are clearly working jointly towards achieving their aspirations for tracking people’s movements and restricting our freedom of travel.

Developments in this area are very dynamic and so my findings are a work in progress. Nevertheless, enough is now known to perceive a clear and ominous trajectory in governmental ambitions to regulate the movement of all people, both within and between countries.

It is nothing new that government has always had such ambitions. What is new, and fundamentally different from any other moment in the past, is the unprecedented ability of the state to realize its dreams by means of an immensely powerful digital infrastructure. Its far-reaching ambitions for total control now lie fully within its grasp. The limits of technology that once held its desire for omniscience in check have been effectively removed, granting it an extraordinary level of power over the lives of its citizens.

So far, my writing in this area consists of two pieces:

1) A report on “The International Megan’s Law”, both as a bill recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives (to be considered now in the Senate) and as a global concept which extends to all other nations through both international agreements and international bodies, such as Interpol (a previously backwater agency revived through the opportunities afforded by Islamic terrorism), who coordinate and implement its sweeping and dangerous policies. The openly hoped-for result of the U.S. bill is to prevent American child sex offenders from ever leaving the U.S. But it is also clear that this goal is being at least partially attained with, or without, the help of Megan. The title is: “DEAD END: The International Megan’s Law Assault on Everyone’s Freedom of Travel– The free movement of the individual is increasingly seen as a revocable privilege – not an inalienable right”.

2) A report on the current treatment of American sex offenders who return from travel abroad (from any country) by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. Those who have traveled over many years likely noticed some dramatic changes in the way they were welcomed back home by that agency soon after September 11, 2001. That treatment has only escalated in severity since then: it is ever more intrusive, more threatening and more violative. So much so that many have decided travel is simply no longer worth the degradation they will experience upon their return. And that is, after all, the point of such harassment, isn’t it? The title is: “HOMELAND SECURITY’S ASSAULT ON TRAVEL: How America’s sex laws endanger your, your children’s and everyone’s freedom of movement as travelers are routinely detained, interrogated, searched and harassed by the Department of Homeland Security”.

I identify this trend, that of limiting the movement of people through the imposition of regimes of extreme pretextual scrutiny, as one which is running counter to another trend now emerging as a reaction: the demand to restore freedom of movement as an essential principle of freedom itself.

This counter-trend is up against powerful adversaries, as governments have always been in their dealings with a citizenry grown complacent and unsuspicious of their motives.

But, of course, there are also those who believe the government message that there are real perils requiring the movement of people between countries to be as constrained as technology allows. They fail to appreciate that the historical porosity of borders has been a bulwark against the denial of the rights of the individual and has helped to propagate free societies; they also fail to appreciate the near-limitless effects that present and future technology will have upon their autonomy and upon their future array of choices. Systems now being devised will forever limit their opportunities and constrain their interactions with others but in ways which they cannot foresee.

It would be a terrible shame to see our civilization succumb to tyranny through the incuriosity and untroubled indifference that is so characteristic of so many of its members.

Men used to go to war and die for the rights that so many now eagerly volunteer to relinquish, identifying them as, somehow, quaintly anachronistic and no longer affordable or even terribly worthwhile.

Those of us who know these rights are not just worthwhile but vital have an obligation to say so, to bear witness to the unfolding destruction of our liberties and to do all in our power to stop a dangerous movement fundamentally inimical to freedom.

Tom has graciously (and patiently, I might add) invited me to share my findings and observations on his wonderful site and, for that as well as his critical and discerning eye and valuable suggestions, I am grateful.

When I first became aware of his work through a fortuitous discovery of Paedophilia: The Radical Case more than thirty years ago (can it be?) I was immediately impressed.

Neither of us knew, or could have known, the depths to which society might submerge itself in the decades to follow. While our optimism for society’s near-term future may have since undergone a dramatic reassessment, we both (it would appear) continue to assert what we believe to be true, a fact which must – by itself – betray some indication of hope.

I also hope you will read both of my current works on freedom of movement. They are, I believe, essential reading in order to understand some of the implications of the authoritarian shift that has taken hold in society and which threatens to repay us – for our complacency – by doing its very worst.

 

TOC adds:

As regular readers will recall, I travelled to Brazil in February and was allowed entry without challenge despite being on the UK register of sex offenders. However, on the eve of the World Cup Brazil announced the start of a crackdown. A reader has alerted me to a news item in the press there from earlier this month saying that an American “convicted for pedophilia” has been deported after trying to enter the country.

The same reader also spotted a news story from 17 February. This reported that 51 “paedophiles” had been denied entry to Mexico. The text says these refusals had been “since last year” (“desde el año pasado”) but I guess what is meant is over the course of the previous year rather than just the first six or seven weeks of this one. Could be wrong, though.