Stephen Littau

Recent Posts From Stephen Littau

A Thought Experiment: Fraternity Initiation Gone Horribly Wrong

Freddie Gray

I would like to conduct a little thought experiment.

It seems that quite a few people have very strong opinions about the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore. Some of you see this as a race issue, others as a police issue (cops either almost always have halos or devil horns), and a few see this as the human tragedy it truly is. Some believe that there simply isn’t enough proof to bring charges against the six police officers. They are being railroaded and overcharged some say (I would like to point out that overcharging non-cops and railroading non-cops in the justice system is an everyday occurrence). I would like to remove these variables and see if we come up with a different conclusion if we change the actors.

Let’s say that instead of six cops putting Freddie Gray in a paddy wagon its six fraternity brothers (of any race you wish, but let’s say they are all of the same race…use your imagination) from the (fill in the blank) chapter doing an initiation. At this point in the story, our analogue for Freddie Gray is a pledge who wants to join this fraternity. Let’s call him Jim.

Are you with me so far?

Now that we know who the actors are let’s continue…

Several of the fraternity brothers find Jim and start the initiation process. They put Jim in hand cuffs and call the rest of the fraternity brothers who eventually pull up in a van. As they begin to put Jim in the van, he begins to panic.

“I can’t breathe, I need my inhaler!” Jim says.

The fraternity brothers ignore Jim’s concerns and proceed to put him in the back of the van.

Georgia Legislature to Consider Modest Reforms for ‘No-Knock’ Raids

No Knock Raid

On May 28th, 2014 around 3:00 a.m. in Habersham County, Georgia a SWAT team raided a house the police believed to be occupied by Wanis Thonetheva, an alleged drug dealer. In the chaos of the raid instead were four children and up to four adults. The youngest of the children, 19 month-old “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh was burned and permanently disfigured from a flash-bang grenade which set the play pen he was sleeping in ablaze.

No drugs or contraband of any kind was found in the home. Also absent from the residence was the man they were looking for.

Bou Bou was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta where he was put into a medically induced coma. Doctors were not sure if the toddler would ever wake up but fortunately, he did. This is not by any means, the end of the Phonesavanh family’s problems with Bou Bou’s medical expenses around $1.6 million and surgeries into adulthood. These expenses, by the way, that will not be paid by the county or the departments responsible for severely injuring this child.

This Advice Could Save Your Life and Preserve Your Liberty

Eric Garner

The fact that police can get away with killing an individual who presented no threat to anyone with the whole incident caught on camera is quite disturbing. A grand jury decided not to indict an NYPD officer who used a choke-hold banned by his own department which resulted in the death of Eric Garner. Unlike the incident in Ferguson, which contained conflicting testimony and forensics that support Darren Wilson’s version of the event, this event in New York was caught on video from at least two different camera angles (and is available on YouTube for the whole world to see).

This seems pretty cut-and-dry, at least for an indictment. So how is it that almost any accused individual brought before a grand jury is indicted unless the accused individual happens to wear a government issued costume? Are grand juries really that biased toward the police? After reading a few dozen comments on threads responding to the grand jury decision, I’m afraid the answer is yes (if you want to lose all hope for humanity, read the comment section to any article of consequence). I reach this conclusion because these are the sort of people who serve on juries and decide that it’s perfectly okay for the police to kill someone if the suspect had any criminal record of any kind, resisted in any way, or even “disrespected” the police on the scene.

‘Selfie Stalker’ Sues Nancy Grace for Defamation

Nancy Grace

Judge Dredd wannabe Nancy Grace is finding herself on the defensive as Ben Siebert, falsely dubbed the ‘Selfie Stalker,’ is filing a defamation lawsuit against Grace. Grace, never one to let the facts get in the way of a sensational story to boost her ratings, made no effort to correct her mistake.

The AP reports:

The lawsuit filed Monday in Denver says Grace, who hosts a show on Turner Broadcasting’s HLN network, incorrectly told millions of viewers that Ben Seibert invaded a woman’s home and snapped a photo of himself on her phone, which she described as a “textbook serial killer’s calling card.”

Seibert said Grace humiliated him with her commentary, which went viral on an array of social media sites where readers called him a weirdo, a sicko, a rapist and a pervert. The suit says Grace didn’t check the facts and didn’t care.

Wow, Grace didn’t check the facts and didn’t care? As far as I can tell, this is normal operating procedure for Nancy Grace. It goes something like this:

  1. Accuse an individual of wrongdoing

  2. Use emotional language and imagery

  3. Report only facts which seem to support her theory

  4. Launch into ad hominem attacks against anyone who suggest she is jumping to conclusions or that the accused is innocent until proven guilty

‘Affirmative Consent’ blurs the lines between consensual sex and sexual assault on campus

Sexual Assault on Campus

When it came to educating young people about respecting personal boundaries, the rules were very simple and generally easy to understand: no means no. This was particularly true when it came to teaching young men that when things were getting ‘hot and heavy’ with someone they were making out with that if the woman at any point said ‘no’ it was time to back off (and perhaps should take a cold shower once he got home). For as long as I can remember, society was ‘teaching men not to rape’ to coin a phrase.

The ‘no means no’ standard was by no means a perfect standard. Sometimes the ‘no’ would have to come after the man successfully kissed the woman or tried to progress to the next level. Some women ‘froze’ and were unable to verbalize or otherwise communicate to her date she didn’t want to progress to the next level and would regret the encounter. And despite all the best efforts to teach men no to rape women, a small percentage of men raped women anyway.

An Open Letter to Jeffco Student Protesters Concerning History Standards

Colorado HS Student Protesters

Dear Student Protesters of Jefferson County:

I must begin with a confession. When I first learned of your student walkouts concerning some proposed changes to the AP History curriculum, I was more than a little bit cynical. These walkouts, I thought, were little more than an excuse to skip class and be ‘part of something.’ I don’t doubt that some students joined the walkouts for that reason; there are always individuals who join a cause because it seems to be the popular thing to do (I should point out that there are many people my age and older who do the very same thing so this is not a criticism of young people per se). This open letter is not intended for these students but for those of you who honestly care about the proposed changes to the history curriculum.

As I started reading about these protests it didn’t take me long to realize that you have very good reason to protest: the aims of the Jeffco School Board for the history curriculum are at best contradictory and misguided. The following paragraph in the Board Committee for Curriculum Review must be the primary reason for your protests:

Police should wear body cameras to protect themselves when they’re accused of wrongdoing

body-mounted camera

It seems that there is at least one area of agreement (with caveats) between some in law enforcement and some civil libertarians: cops should wear body cameras. The how, when, and where is still a question for all concerned but at least there seems to be some agreement on the broad outlines.

PoliceOne.com’s editor-in-chief Doug Wyllie argues that police departments should embrace the idea of body mounted cameras on almost every police officer. Wyllie writes:

In the week following the officer-involved shooting in Ferguson (Mo.), many have asked me for a comment and/or my commentary on the matter. My reply has generally been, “What, precisely, might that comment be? We know very little detail regarding the incident itself, so any ‘analysis’ on my part would be tantamount to irresponsible speculation. Further, analysis of the rioting and looting (and police response to same) would be redundant — we’ve got reams of columns on crowd control tactics and strategies.”

One thing, however, merits mention in this space. It’s directly related to the first thought that came to my mind when news of this tragedy broke: “Man, I hope that officer was wearing a body camera.”

Rand Paul and Aid to Israel – He Was Right the First Time

Just a week ago, PolitiFact.com’s Truth-O-Meter gave Sen. Rand Paul a “pants on fire” rating for the following statement:

I haven’t really proposed that in the past. We’ve never had a legislative proposal to do that. You can mistake my position, but then I’ll answer the question. That has not been a position — a legislative position — we have introduced to phase out or get rid of Israel’s aid. That’s the answer to that question. Israel has always been a strong ally of ours and I appreciate that. I voted just this week to give money — more money — to the Iron Dome, so don’t mischaracterize my position on Israel.

Is this “pants on fire” rating fair? PolitiFact goes into quite a bit of detail and it does seem that Sen. Paul’s statements are demonstrably false and the only person mischaracterizing his statements is Rand Paul himself.

When Sen. Paul was promoting his 2011 budget, he repeated on several occasions that his budget would eliminate foreign aid to all countries, including Israel. There was even a section of the budget which addressed Israel directly:

Jason Lewis Goes Galt; Quits Halfway Through Show on Air

Jason Lewis

Over the past week, talk show host Jason Lewis has been letting on that something big was going to happen on his show. July 31, 2014 he dubbed “Judgement Day.”

Being an avid listener of his, I thought it probably had something to do with his political activism site Galt.io* and probably something to do with his cause called “Starve the Beast.” Was he going to announce that he was going to move his show from the high tax progressive state of Minnesota to a more tax friendly/liberty friendly state?

As it turns out, I wasn’t too far off but he took his “starve the beast” thing a step further. You could say he had “gone Galt” on the air halfway through his radio show.

The following was his epic final monologue:

All over the continent of Europe there are castles. Castles that children are taught to admire. But these monuments are not shrines to liberty but are a stark reminder of an oppressive past that we are quickly forgetting. These elaborate fortresses were built to honor the riches of royalty. Such wealth was not derived from the cooperation of capitalism but from the conquest of collectivism. It was stolen through taxes and fees collected from the serfs. It was not earned.

#IAmUnitedLiberty: How Reality TV Influenced Stephen Littau’s Libertarian Views

van

Note: This is one in a series of profiles of UL contributors and friends and how they became involved in the “liberty movement.” Share your story on Twitter using the hashtag #IAmUnitedLiberty.

In 1999, I was living in a small studio apartment in Phoenix by myself and three years into my career. As the 2000 campaign was underway, I wanted to learn about the candidates. The news wasn’t terribly informative as it mostly covered how well the candidates were polling rather than where they stood on the issues.

Due to this frustration, I did the one thing I had often made fun of my dad for doing: I started listening to talk radio. One day there was a substitute host on The Rush Limbaugh Show. The host’s name was none other than Walter E. Williams.

As I listened to him, I realized he made so much more sense than anyone else on the radio. It was a shame that he didn’t have a show of his own, I thought. And though I had heard the term “libertarian” before, I didn’t have much of an idea about what they really stood for. Walter Williams was my first introduction to libertarianism and I was always thrilled when he filled in for Rush.

Still, Walter Williams ideas, as good as they were seemed a little abstract. The abstract, however; became more concrete as I started watching the reality show COPS (though, I don’t think they called it “reality” TV back then).

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