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It’s all fun and games until you’re faced with the difficult proposition of martyring yourself for a cause

May 9th, 2012

Note: Deanna Aenead has set up a fundraising page where you can lend a hand to help those who have been arrested as a result of Stacy’s coerced police informant work. Because we should always be looking out for, and taking care of our own, I encourage you to donate whatever you can to assist in their defense. 

 

I don’t have a dog in this fight but I think it is important to flesh out the issues. William Gillis has a perfectly succinct synopsis to get you up to speed:

A prominent left market anarchist activist but dropped off the radar last year, just publicly admitted she got nabbed on some serious charges [dealing drugs] in September and collaborated with the state to bust several people on drug charges. Her account of fear and ignorance is harrowing, as they usually are, especially when people don’t have immediately accessible community and legal support (something we should really work on). She says she did what she did to minimize net damage to radicals by redirecting the feds. But snitching alters the landscape in an inescapably categorical way. You don’t get to be an activist after you snitch. You don’t get community support. Otherwise every single instance of collaboration would get hemmed and hawed over, leaving us even more riven with tension and divisiveness. …It’s infinitely easier and more efficient just to draw the obvious hard line. [She] is on her fucking own.

It’s all fun and games until you’re faced with the difficult proposition of martyring yourself for a cause… She made a conscious and calculated decision to get involved in the war on drugs the moment she decided to play Robin Hood (or the pot-dealing equivalent of Robin Hood whatever his name is…), which was an enormous tactical blunder.

As George Donnelly notes, “You can’t be a prominent and public anarchist activist and engage in illegal activities on a sustained and significant basis at the same time. The two roles just aren’t compatible in today’s political climate”  (you really should head over there and read the rest of George’s post).

Bad decisions have a way of compounding themselves

Ultimately it is this decision which allowed law enforcement to target her, apply leverage over her and turn her in to a tool for their own purposes.

Further, did she err, by not reaching out the broad network of likeminded individuals and fellow activists who may have been able to provide support (legal, financial, moral, or otherwise)? No question. Was she lied to and manipulated by law enforcement after she was nabbed? Absolutely. Under duress? You betcha, that is their MO. Was she given lousy legal advice by a barely competent attorney who was probably just looking to cash a retainer check for just-another-nobody who would never be any wiser? Almost without a doubt. Did she the sell out others in order to save her own ass? Yep.

It is disheartening to me that she made the bad decision of jeopardizing others’ lives in order to save her own ass. It is understandable even if not forgivable.  For the implications on others’ lives this would be the worst of it. But it’s not.

What saddens me the most is how she reationalizes this decision. Although she paints this as a matter of “survival”, it was in-fact only a matter of comfort. This wasn’t life-or-death and she did not have to roll over in order to “survive”. Perhaps this verbiage is a defense mechanism to assuage her own sense of guilt, or perhaps I have taken it somehow out of context but I read it like “This can’t happen to me because my life’s work is more important or more significant than others'” and/or “I can do more good for the cause/etc. if I am not stuck behind bars”, etc.

Of course, nobody is duty-bound to become a martyr, but it’s not like she didn’t know that, if she ever got caught, they’d apply leverage like this. There has to be some moral obligation not to drag other people down with you, otherwise we’ve already lost.

Although I am disappointed in some of her decisions, I appreciate her candor now. I am initially inclined to believe it was a lapse in judgment and hopefully not indicative of her character when she elected to throw others under the bus (although this point is contested by several close acquaintances, see Mike’s comment below, as well as Deana’s thorough synopsis). I am also in 100% agreement with Donnelly’s assessment: We all have a breaking point and it would not be very difficult for the long arm of the law to exercise similar leverage, with similar results, over most of us any time they want.

I want to also mention the vitriol I have seen in some comments, up to and including threats of physical violence. I get that, or at least I hope that, these reactions are simply the manifestation of disappointment, anger that one of “our own” could have been compromised in such a manner and that cooler heads will ultimately prevail. Although many are posturing moral superiority, I don’t think this is an appropriate response. I would of course prefer the course of events had taken a different turn, but we all have a breaking point; this is not a condemnation, a character assassination, or even moral judgment.

But what’s done can’t be undone, and so that’s why I also fully understand why others may have a very hard time putting their faith & trust in her again.

I can’t blame them.

Post Script

THIS is possibly the best piece I’ve read, to date, about why she was wrong to do what she did and remains wrong for trying to rationalize it and wronger still for blaming others for her terrible decision-making.

This is not about whether I think the actions she was nabbed for should be legal (I do, see here, here and here).

Further detail on this particular incident provided at the nominally anyonymous Drug War Victim blog.

 

Comments

16 Comments

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  • George Donnelly says on: May 9, 2012 at 10:22 am

     

    Excellent analysis, as always David. Kudos.

    There has to be some moral obligation not to drag other people down with you, otherwise we’ve already lost.

    Offhand, this seems like an artificial imposition. I’d like to look at this as a fact of life. It’s going to happen. I also have faith that we can overcome it. We need to take lessons from resistance movements, especially leaderless resistance movements. Illegal activities need to be compartmentalized. The exposure must be strictly limited. I’m thinking independent cells (frequently of 1) and identity protections.

    IOW, we can’t count on some amorphous moral obligation to protect us.

    • David Z says on: May 9, 2012 at 10:30 am

       

      Thanks George! Always a pleasure.

      I’d like to look at this as a fact of life. It’s going to happen.

      Absolutely. Hopefully this can be a learning experience for everyone (involved, and those on the outside looking in). There are a lot of lessons that can be valuable to everyone, so there’s a silver lining. And you’re right again, that we can’t count on a moral obligation to protect us. Hasn’t worked out for any of us yet, not about to start any time soon :) I guess that comment is just kind of a measure of, well, why people are upset. You and I both agree that everyone has a breaking point that (in an Aristotelian sort of way) mitigates what happened, but it’s no less wrong from a moral POV and we can’t just sweep that under the rug.

      I’m glad that she is reaching out now, and I’m glad that she is looking for advice and guidance on how to hopefully make things right.
      It will be an uphill battle, and resistance should be expected (but I’m sure she accepts this).

  • Mike Moceri says on: May 9, 2012 at 10:50 am

     

    Hey, I mostly agree with your analysis, but would just like to add that what is maybe more appaling than Stacy’s rationalization is that she intends to profit from her actions. She wants to write a book, go on tour, and give lectures at Porcfest about how she was victimized and “forced” to sell-out her friends. Also, she could have just stayed in Belgium when the cops let her leave the country (seriously – wtf?).

    Finally, I don’t think she is sorry. This isn’t the first time she’s totally fucked people over for her own personal gain. And if you talk to people who have actually had to work with her (SLF Exec. Bd. members, SFL Exec. Bd. members, Drexel Admin.), they’ll gladly tell you about how little she actually DID for the liberty movement. It’s all posturing on her part, all in an attempt to gain notoriety, cash, and leverage.

    • David Z says on: May 9, 2012 at 11:09 am

       

      Thanks Mike. You are much closer to the situation than I am so I appreciate the comments. From where I sit and with (extremely) limited knowledge of specifics I err on the side of caution. Perhaps to a fault. Time will tell, I suppose. In any event, I have to agree with Wm Gillis: whether she’s sorry is not particularly relevant; informants and snitches are a LIABILITY. Sure, an apology might make us feel all warm and fuzzy and kumbayah let’s-all-just-get-along but that doesn’t mean you have to be comfortable associating, socializing, working with her in the future. I wouldn’t be.

      • Jeremy TheWicked says on: May 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm

         

        it may justbe my personal reservation, but imho….when someone has shown they are willing to conspire against their so called peers to keep their ass out of trouble it’s a no brainer; *cut them off* .. . aside from the mistakes which led to this situation. .. she could have clued her friends in on what was happening. .given them ample time to prepare or avoid becoming involved.

    • Stacy says on: May 10, 2012 at 1:39 am

       

      The book/lectures/whatever I do, they would not be for profit, but to educate.

      According to cops/lawyer, I can leave whenever, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my court date.

      I am not sure how much of an apology you want? Do you want one soaked in my own blood?

      Attacks on my character are not going to work here, either. I know how much work I put into SLF and the liberty movement and so do many others.

  • Able Freeman says on: May 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm

     

    Is it possible for the snitch to make her victims whole? That is her task for redemption. Unfortunately for her the damage radiating out from her selfish cowardly act may not be containable. I wish her luck! She would have been much better off nipping the damage to her self and pursuing the options available in the courtroom.

    • David Z says on: May 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm

       

      Depending on the circumstances, it might be possible. even still, that is merely the proper, adult thing to do whenever you’ve inadvertently harmed someone else.

      It doesn’t change the fact that as an informant she is a liability (if I may paraphrase Gillis) and as such, her options for working within “the movement” should be extremely limited, or none at all.

  • FSK says on: May 9, 2012 at 10:54 pm

     

    Hey! Can someone post a copy of Deana’s synopsis *ON A WEBSITE OTHER THAN FACEBOOK*.

    Why would someone share a story about an anarchist activist *ON THE GREATEST METHOD OF STATE INFORMATION GATHERING*? Seriously, I have to log into the State spying system to read that story?

    • Marc says on: May 10, 2012 at 6:40 am

       

      Google Doc contains full text of Deana’s synopsis — (Ed., David Z, 9:33am 5/10/2012)

      • Seth says on: May 11, 2012 at 12:45 am

         

        FSK: I have to log into the State spying system (Facebook) to read that story?

        Marc: No problem, it’s right here on Google docs!

        ROFL…

  • FSK says on: May 10, 2012 at 11:38 am

     

    According to that story, someone else turned informant and that’s how she got caught.

    • David Z says on: May 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm

       

      Yes that’s how I understand it. They introduced an informant in to her circle, subsequently her transactions with this informant (IMO entrapment, but that’s a moot point) brought her down. It is unfortunate to say the least.

  • graham says on: May 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm

     

    Part of this is her age. She hasn’t been tested yet. Sibel Edmonds has been through the fire. Irwin Schiff is in it right now. And countless others. I spent many months in their gulag for political non-violent activism (sit-ins). I know how horrible jail can be. I was fortunate that my first real time behind bars was with others and even though it lasted several days, it was tolerable because of them. Later I endured long stretches on my own. I never want to go back and feel sorry for the next of kin of any cop who tries to put me in a cage because my activist days are over and it will most surely be on imaginary charges since I am now “not pushing it”.

    I understand her fear but even by her own admission she rolled over and was out of jail in under six hours. So much for being tested by the fire! She could have had some creativity with it by snitching on the mayor’s son or some other prominent person who uses drugs but no…. she ratted out her own.

    I am sorry for her but six hours is way too short of a time for her to roll over. I hope she grows up in jail and sees the real teeth of Leviathan. Maybe then she will have something more than hollow words to contribute to the cause of liberty. Jail could be a good thing for her. It has been for many. There is real spiritual power when one suffers “like a man” and shoulders it. From Christian martyrs to lefty liberal types like Mandela, jail can be a profitable experience which enables you to be of greater use in the future. And yes, God is in control. She needs to learn how to bear up under the load. It will be for her good. I hope she has faith because I know the suicidal thoughts she must resist. God be with you Stacy, this could be the richest blessing in your whole life.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics