Compare and Contrast

Vaclav Havel was a leader of the 1989 Velvet Revolution. In 2012, Brett Kimberlin leads an organization that uses the name “Velvet Revolution.”

Shall we compare their approach to issues, to see if Kimberlin’s attempt to assume Havel’s mantle is apt?

Havel: “I have always appreciated when my own country has received justified criticism. I used to say the same under communism and indeed open, intellectual criticism contributed to highlight certain things that were wrong in this country and, at the time, Radio Free Europe, based in Munich, was the principal media to me. And when now, this kind of criticism is expressed, I would be the last person to be offended.”

Brett Kimberlin’s Velvet Revolution: “Please note that we are working closely with both state and federal law enforcement officials and have given them lists of all those who make inappropriate statements or contacts.”

Vaclav Havel: “We are convinced that this trial and harsh sentence meted out to a … prominent citizen of your country merely for thinking and speaking critically about various political and social issues was chiefly meant as a stern warning to others not to follow his path.”

Brett Kimberlin: “Mr. Walker has tweeted on Twitter about me in alarming and annoying ways over hundreds of times in the past week and urged others to attack me. He has generated hundreds of blog posts directly and indirectly based on false allegations that I framed him for an assault.”

Vaclav Havel:

The manager of a fruit-and-vegetable shop places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: “Workers of the world, unite!” Why does he do it? What is he trying to communicate to the world? Is he genuinely enthusiastic about the idea of unity among the workers of the world? Is his enthusiasm so great that he feels an irrepressible impulse to acquaint the public with his ideals? Has he really given more than a moment’s thought to how such a unification might occur and what it would mean?

I think it can safely be assumed that the overwhelming majority of shopkeepers never think about the slogans they put in their windows, nor do they use them to express their real opinions. That poster was delivered to our greengrocer from the enterprise headquarters along with the onions and carrots. He put them all into the window simply because it has been done that way for years, because everyone does it, and because that is the way it has to be. If he were to refuse, there could be trouble. He could be reproached for not having the proper decoration in his window; someone might even accuse him of disloyalty. He does it because these things must be done if one is to get along in life. It is one of the thousands of details that guarantee him a relatively tranquil life “in harmony with society,” as they say.

Obviously the greengrocer . . . does not put the slogan in his window from any personal desire to acquaint the public with the ideal it expresses. This, of course, does not mean that his action has no motive or significance at all, or that the slogan communicates nothing to anyone. The slogan is really a sign, and as such it contains a subliminal but very definite message. Verbally, it might be expressed this way: “I, the greengrocer XY, live here and I know what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me. I can be depended upon and am beyond reproach. I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace.”

Brett Kimberlin, seeking and obtaining a court order to prevent a critic from writing about him:

KIMBERLIN: Yes, here’s his post, “How Brett Kimberlin Tried to Frame Me for a Crime, and How You Can Help.” And he wrote this 30-page document that he put on his blog saying I framed him for an assault.

THE COURT: People honestly read this stuff?

KIMBERLIN: Huh. I–

WALKER: –I’m going to object to this [inaudible]–

THE COURT: –Just hold on, hold on, wait. You could have this thing going for three days. I intend to be finished here in 10 minutes. Go on. Now, people read this stuff, 54 pages. Don’t they have jobs?

KIMBERLIN: So — really.

THE COURT: What the heck’s going on out there in this world?

KIMBERLIN: So not — so on — last week, he got all these bloggers all over the country to create Let’s Blog about Brett Kimberlin Day, over 350 blogs blogged that I framed him. And that led to a number of, probably scores of death threats to me. They threatened my daughter, who is a preteen, my mother, they called on the phone and threatened SWAT teams–

Draw your own conclusions.

Keeping It In The Family

Before the Velvet Revolution — before the fall of the Soviet Union — people who stood up to the state in Russia and its puppet-states did not merely risk their own lives.  They risked the lives of their families as well.  This was official doctrine. Cynics might say it lingers in post-Soviet Russia. Its justification was clear to the totalitarian mindset: The State was The People, and standing up to The State meant defying The People, suggesting a taint unto the blood.

That could never happen in modern America, thank God.

Probably.

Angela Corey is the Florida special prosecutor in charge of the charges against George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin. Today, in the midst of the prosecution of George Zimmerman, prosecutors charged his wife with perjury for lying about what assets the family had available for bail.

The factual allegations against Ms. Zimmerman reported in the media, if true, suggest financial skullduggery that may constitute perjury. But charges against one spouse are powerful leverage against the other spouse. It’s reasonable to ask: how often do prosecutors charge perjury in Florida? How often do they charge it based on false statements seeking bail, or otherwise related to preliminary issues? How quickly do they typically charge such crimes — is it typical for the charges to occur so quickly after the hearing in question? How often do prosecutors charge perjury while the underlying action is still ongoing? What role did the special prosecutor charging George Zimmerman have in directing the prosecution of his wife?

George Zimmerman may have murdered a teenager. Angela Corey may have lied under oath. But we should ask these questions — ask whether the second prosecution is brought to leverage the first — because the power of the state is more dangerous than a brigade of Zimmermans, whatever they did.