1994-08-02 - Truth, Justice, and the Waco Way

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From: mpd@netcom.com (Mike Duvos)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 841588daa1c695585f3a7809b922c9434a3c9644a5b4d5c144e9d3083cffad1d
Message ID: <199408021942.MAA21100@netcom5.netcom.com>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1994-08-02 19:42:47 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 2 Aug 94 12:42:47 PDT

Raw message

From: mpd@netcom.com (Mike Duvos)
Date: Tue, 2 Aug 94 12:42:47 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Truth, Justice, and the Waco Way
Message-ID: <199408021942.MAA21100@netcom5.netcom.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Events like Waco and the Persian Gulf War, in which an
authoritarian superpower obliterates a mostly harmless and
largely defenseless group of people, translate with relative ease
to the cyberspacial realm.

Seems like a valid Cypherpunks topic to me, so I will take a
crack at responding to the following message

L. Todd Masco <cactus@bb.com> writes:

 > Am I the only one that's struck by the similarity between
 > the propaganda about the Waco massacre and the propaganda
 > preceding the Persion Gulf massacre?

Not at all.  We should remember Herbert's Two Laws here.

       1.  All governments lie.
       2.  If you think you have found a counterexample,
           please reread law number one.

Also worth remembering is the old saying that "a liar who lies
one hundred percent of the time is unlikely to be a successful

The trick, therefore, is learning to separate the lies from the
truth in a mixture of both.

The quintessential lie from the Persian Gulf War was of course
the memorable "baby incubator" story, recited tearfully on the
floor of the Congress by a supposedly uninvolved eyewitness who
later was revealed to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador.
The alleged events, which never happened, turned the tide in
Congress with regard to support for the war.

Of course lies abounded in the Waco case as well, with Koresh
being portrayed as a heavily armed lunatic yearning to fulfill
Biblical prophecy by perishing in battle with all his followers.
In reality, they simply wished to live their lives and be left

The pitfall here, which is to be avoided, is to start
characterizing every negative thing said about the folks in Waco
or Iraq as false, or to start suggesting that negative comments
are a ploy to absolve government of all responsibility for what
took place.  Some of the negative things said in both these cases
were certainly truthful.

For instance, political opponents of Saddam Hussein in Iraq
certainly had a markedly shortened life expectancy, and the
Branch Davidians certainly took a Biblical fire and brimstone
approach towards signs of independent thought or action in their
offspring.  Not a reason for lots of people to be killed, but not
a reason to recommend their canonization either.

The lesson to be learned here is that societies based on a
diffuse "Web of Trust" organization are far less dangerous than
those based on a powerful centralized authority.  A powerful
centralized authority inevitably devolves into interacting with
its subjects using the protocol...

           Do What We Say Or We'll Kill You!

Or in its more tasteful two-part form...

           1.  Do What We Say.
           2.  You're Under Arrest, And If You Resist,
               We'll Kill You.

At that point, Wars, Wacos, Encryption Bans, and BBS Porno Show
trials lurk just around the corner.

     Mike Duvos         $    PGP 2.6 Public Key available     $
     mpd@netcom.com     $    via Finger.                      $