Using Illegal Means for Righteous Activism
You're welcome JD.
Personally, I was expecting and hoping for more of a conversational response. We read what you write and respond; you read what we write and respond. There is affirmation, disagreement, consideration, acknowledgement and debate.
Knee-jerk "Thank yous" are not really what most of us here want or need.
We want intellectual engagement. Something conspicuously missing in any and all KHs around the earth.
OK jp1692. I think the notion of fighting fire with fire is the wrong idea. That is basically how gang wars start, you do something illegal to me so I am going to turn around and do something illegal to you. I listened to Rick Fearon and his experience recording his Judicial Committee Hearing and he was asked isn't lying to them wrong since he professes to be an honourable Christian, his response was something similar that sometimes you have to lie to learn the truth. And I am not trying to pick on him, but I think if you are complaining about if someone is lying to you and is being legalistic to you, and you turn around and do exactly the same thing to them, are you really any better. BTW someone said that they don't respect your rights to have a lawyer a witness in a JC, civil rights are extended by governments not by private organizations. It is the right and moral thing to do but it is not a legal right to anyone.
JD, you raise a lot of issues that are significant moral dilemmas. These are not questions that are easily answered. Indeed, I believe every individual must consider them for themselves.
Again, I appreciate the distinction between what is legal or lawful and what is morally right or wrong.
I wouldn't be surprised to find that many of us here on this forum have changed our minds over time about how we would deal with things and how we do now.
Once, many years ago when I was in a "judicial hearing," I secretly recorded it. When the elders asked me if I was recording the meeting I lied and said "No." I had not even the slightest twinge of guilt. You should know, as I did at the time, that it is illegal in the state in which I live to record a conversation without the mutual consent of ALL parties present. I knew that and did it anyways. Why did I do this?
The particular elders I was dealing with had done several things which were very wrong and I wanted to get a recording of them admitting it in case I needed it for future reference. (Because they had a false sense of security, I got my admissions from them. So far I have not needed to use it, but the drama is not over yet ... I still have that recording just in case.)
You should also know that I was also willing to accept whatever consequences I might have had to face in the extremely unlikely event that my "crime" ever became known to the authorities. It was a calculated risk.
I had researched the statutes before the meeting and found that the absolute worst consequences I could possibly face was a fine of a few thousand dollars and maybe a few months in jail. After consulting with my legal adviser I was advised that none of this was likely to happen, but I was willing to take that risk, however small, to get the evidence I needed against the elders. Realistically, do you think the local police anywhere in the USA would care that someone illegally recorded a "judicial meeting" at a Kingdom Hall? Not likely. What judge would give a flying fuck? Probably none.
From a pragmatic point of view, the only ones that would/could be able to bring any legal pressure against me would be the elders. And then they'd have to deal with their own very incriminating statements now being publicly available. So I felt an acceptable level of comfortable with my decision.
Was what I did illegal? Technically yes. Was it wrong? No, at least I don't think so. In fact, I felt compelled to do it no matter what. I felt then and still feel now that I actually had no other choice. All these years later I still feel completely justified.
Again, it's a long standing tradition in this country: if you don't like a law, feel free to break it. Just be willing to accept the possible consequences whatever they may be. Civil disobedience is a great American tradition that is underutilized in my opinion.
PS: You may be aware of the many YouTube videos that people have posted of "elders' meetings" and "judicial hearings." So far as I know, no one has ever been prosecuted for secretly recording these. The fact that they post them publicly with impunity shows the WTBTS and the local bodies of elders have no stomach to try to prosecute these people.
Don't misunderstand me. What most of those people did was probably illegal in their local jurisdiction. But was it wrong? I don't think so. You'll have to decide for yourself.
JP: And i think that if you were ready to deal with those consequences than you did what you thought was right. Does everyone think like you and feel that if they break a law in exposing the Watchtower and then face some negative consequences that it is unfair because Watchtower gets away, with what they feel are crimes. I was watching a video of Kim and Mikey and they said that if Watchtower wants to make them a martyr by someone filing a copyright infringement with YouTube, the way that they made it sound like is that even though they know that they could be breaking the law that because they are doing it for the right reason that they must be in the right no matter what. If you willfully break the law you're not a martyr you have broken the law. There is a saying that "History is written by the victors" and I also think that if you think if you are a hero or a criminal is based on your perspective. During the American Revolution, every founding father was a terrorist and a traitor to the crown, but they viewed themselves as heroes. But they were ready to face the consequences of their actions. So if you're ready to face those consequences and not just say oh I am a martyr then good for you and more power to you. I just don't think it is personally worth risking a criminal conviction when there are other ways.
JD: I just don't think it is personally worth risking a criminal conviction when there are other ways.
But what do you do when there are no "other ways"?
The "founding fathers" believed there was no other way. They were willing to accept the consequences. Had the Americans lost the Revolutionary War they'd all be hung or shot as traitors and they knew it. The Declaration of Independence was a declaration of war and has high treason against the British crown.
[BTW: could you please put in some paragraph breaks occasionally? It'd make your posts easier to read. Thanks!]
JD: Does everyone think like you and feel that if they break a law in exposing the Watchtower and then face some negative consequences that it is unfair because Watchtower gets away, with what they feel are crimes.
That's a bit of a world salad, but let me at least clarify this point: I was not interested in "exposing the Watchtower." I wanted a recording of the elders admitting to wrongdoing. I needed it to be their own voices which other people could recognize.
This was personal.
I think that for what most people are doing there are a number of other ways. Lets take what people call the paedophile database.
I think the way that Zalkin has gone about it by going through the courts is the proper way of doing it and Watchtower has been mostly complying with the orders, while he doesn't like the level of names and personal details being removed and there is a protective order, it is going through the correct channels. Or how the ARC was able to get the whole Australian record, and they turned it over to the appropriate law enforcement agencies that could do something about it. I think going through legal means is much better in the long run.
It's always best to obey your laws when doing activism. Having said that, there are people who may/may not break the law in their activism. Most often activists are threatened/charged with harassment when confronting or outing Jehovah's Witnesses. But hacking to get the pedophile database is a different legal matter than harrassment.
There are all kinds of activism that people do. Quite a few people are quick to scream that the methods are ineffective and don't work. Others scream persecution with gusto and vigor. And then others just scream something to have a chance to disagree with something or someone.
When you've got child rape, murder, pedophilia and more going on in a toxic cult, the answers to the solutions aren't always black and white. You've got a nasty cult that refuses to budge on their criminal activity to their own demise, detriment and destruction.
JD: Watchtower has been mostly complying with the [court] orders
That does not appear to be even remotely true. There are countless instances all around the world of WT refusing to comply with court orders. Also, they redacting important information when they do and they often simply stonewall.
Heck, in 2014 when Gerrit Lösch was subpoenaed to appear in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, to testify at a deposition in a child abuse case, he just didn’t show. Instead, his WT attorney filed a bullshit affidavit lyingly saying that Lösch does “not answer to Watchtower” and that the “Watchtower does not have, and never has had, any authority” over him.
In this case, the WTBTS received a $13.5 million judgment against it for its complicity in the abuse suffered by Jose Lopez at the hands of Gonzalo Campos. One of the reasons why the lawsuit went so badly for Watchtower was due to its failure to comply with various court orders, including requests for documents and an appearance by Lösch at a deposition.
JP you need to keep up with events. The Appeals Court ruled that Losch did not have to comply with the subpoena because he does not control Watchtower nor Watchtower controls him. And the court of Appeals in Lopez ruled that third party redaction is appropriate and so did the judge in the Lopez case when it was sent back down to the trial court level. Even in Trey Bundy interview, Mr. Zalkin confirms that he has the files he is just barred from talking about it by a court order.