"Mistrust those in whom the urge to punish is strong." Friedrich Nietzche

"Any and all non-violent, non-coercive, non-larcenous, consensual adult behavior that does not physically harm other people or their property or directly and immediately endangers same, that does not disturb the peace or create a public nuisance, and that is done in private, especially on private property, is the inalienable right of all adults. In a truly free and liberty-loving society, ruled by a secular government, no laws should be passed to prohibit such behavior. Any laws now existing that are contrary to the above definition of inalienable rights are violations of the rights of adults and should be made null and void." D. M. Mitchell (from The Myth of Inalienable Rights, at: http://dowehaverights.blogspot.com/)

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Tunisia is a small North African nation. Ninety-nine percent of the population is Muslim. It was once a protectorate of France, but won it’s independence in 1956. Now, there have been massive and violent riots in Tunisia and the president, Ben Ali, has fled to Saudi Arabia.

Tunisia calls itself a Republic, but in reality, since it’s independence from France, it has been a dictatorship, run by only two “elected” presidents. From 1956 to 1987 it was Bourguiba. Then, Ben Ali overthrew him and has ruled from 1987 to present.

To its credit, the Tunisian government has a strong women’s rights position. It banned polygamy, a first among Arab nations. Women not only can go to school but it is encouraged. Women can have their own bank accounts and get their own passports. There are many women lawyers and judges.

That’s all well and good, but in reality there is little political freedom, Freedom of association and speech is restricted, and there is no freedom of the press. In fact the Reporters without Borders list of World Press Freedom places Tunisia at 154 out of the 173 nations on the list. The U.S. State Department’s yearly human rights report states that torture and abuse of prisoners, especially political prisoners is ongoing. (If you click on the link, above, scroll down to the heading “Government and Political Conditions,” fifth paragraph.)

The U.S. government has supported the Tunisian government for decades despite the repression of their citizens. Tunisia has strong laws against terrorism but it has used those laws more to suppress opposition to strongman, Ben Ali than to fight global terrorism.

The U.S. Embassy, in one of the cables released by WikiLeaks, stated in no uncertain terms that “Tunisia is a police state, with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems.” (If you click on the link, above, scroll down to the highlighted portions.)

Basically, the U.S. has been supporting—politically and, to some extent economically—a right wing dictatorship with “serious human rights problems.” To put it another way, the U.S. government talks out of both sides of its mouth; condemning human rights violation in nations that it is unfriendly with, but ignoring such violation in nations it supports.

In the world of logic there is a spectrum of political governance ranging from anarchy (no, not the wild-eyed, bomb-throwing types, rather the Libertarian, voluntary society types) to a completely government regulated society. I call it 0% governance by others to 100% governance by others. There is no true anarchic nation on this Earth, just as there is no 100% government regulated nation. However, most nation are over the 50% mark and the Ben Ali government of Tunisia was much higher up the scale. And a rights-violating government, whether you called it right-wing or socialist or communist, is still a rights-violating government.

And now, in other Arab nations there are demonstrations in support of the Tunisian people and against Arab dictator-type rulers. It’s not pro-American in nature, either, since the U.S. Government was obviously a supporter of the oppressive regime of Ben Ali. This should give American politicians and those in the State Department pause to consider what their foreign policies are really doing. It should give them pause, but it probably won’t.