Dear Intelligent Advice: Civil Disobedience

Dear Adviser,

So last month I got this speeding ticket. I was barely even speeding the cop was just being a jerk. At first I was going to just pay it and then I thought about how I didn’t want to contribute to this unfair system of policing and justice we have in the United States. I Googled it and traffic tickets are basically all going to the local judicial system and to the police department, both things I think are fundamentally evil and should be protested against. Is not paying the ticket and publicizing it a good way to protest, or is the risk too great? Here in California I could go to jail for an unpaid traffic ticket and accumulate even larger fees and fines.

Sincerely,

Peaceful Protestor

Response: [Adviser logged on LivefromWaldenPond]

Dear Peaceful Protestor,

What an excellent question. The important decision of whether or not to pay taxes and fees you are morally opposed to, most citizens don’t even begin to question this or consider that they have an option in not paying. I commend you for coming to this quandary on your own. I once felt the same way about paying a poll tax. So I didn’t, for six whole years. Eventually a representative of the law came and placed me into a jail cell for failing to conform to their system. I only spent a night there before an elderly relative paid the the fee for me, against my wishes.

Back then I was so convinced that what I did was right I wrote a book on it.

So it may surprise you that my advice is now the exact opposite. Let me explain myself; today the United States has a vast and powerful prison industrial complex designed to keep people in prison at all costs in order to create profit for private companies. Under this system it is possible to spend years in jail without having a trial. It is possible to spend a lifetime in prison for a drug charge and it is likely that you could be trapped in an endless Kafkaesque cycle of court dates, jail stays, and ever increasing fines and punishments. The situation is now so rigged against the average citizen that even a simple form of nonviolent protest could ruin their life.

Ironically, the same crooked system you are considering protesting could begin making your life an unbearable hell if you put up even the slightest resistance to it.

I suggest paying your speeding ticket now, and beginning to formulate a new plan to dismantle this evil system of modern day slavery from its core. There’s no way you can do it from behind bars.

Sincerely,

A Tired Transcendentalist

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