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Chelsea Manning is tweeting from prison (twitter.com)
213 points by SwellJoe on Apr 5, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 133 comments

When I was doing my time in the Fed (1995-2000), my friends & mom had set up a web page for me.[1] Sometime around '96 or '97, the prison Captain (responsible for security) found out and had me fired from my "good" job. (Good job meant I was working at the Unicor factory, where I could have eventually made $200/month). I was transferred to be an "orderly" (which means janitor), earning $5/month at the Captain's office, so he could keep an eye on me.

Eventually I found out the reason he had me fired was because the prison officials didn't like the attention that my web page brought, and they also though I was somehow accessing the Internet from the Unicor factory (they had terminals there, which I wasn't allowed to be near). My case started getting attention, media interviews, etc. At one point, I was told directly by the prison staff attorney to stop all the attention. I scaled it back enough to where they stopped harassing me. It's definitely a tradeoff - the more attention you get, the more they will fuck with you in there.

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/19990222022940/http://www.parano...

It's amazing the way prisoners work for $5 a month; and the best possible outcome is $200/mo. Even though slavery was supposedly abolished, it seems like prisons never got that memo.

And since most people won't ever step foot inside one, we just pretend it's a non-issue because a) they must be bad people for being in there; and b) it's not our problem.

You know, until it is. But don't worry, if and when that happens, I'm sure we'll get the same sympathy for our plight as we have spared to those before us.

Slavery is explicitly permitted in prisons by the constitution.

> Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.


>*Slavery is explicitly permitted in prisons by the constitution.

Slavery, the death penalty, the largest incanceration rates in the world.

And some natives consider the country some kind of champion for "freedom"...

Depending on what you mean by "native".

Mostly "locals".

It could be argued that prison labor is "cruel and unusual" by modern standards.

AFAIK it's voluntary, no? Also, given the choice between working 8(?) hours a day, or sitting staring at a cell wall for the same hours, which would you pick? (I'd pick the work)

I'd absolutely choose staring at walls to cleaning toilets for $5 a month.

But if it's completely voluntary, and you won't face any direct nor indirect retaliation for refusing, then I have less of a problem with it (it still distorts the labor market when they take jobs from people not incarcerated, and the taxpayers are the ones subsidizing those jobs.)

You still need stuff from the commissary though, so unless someone is putting money in your prison account you'll need to get money somehow. I'd rather clean toilets for $5/month than some of the other alternatives (I don't know what they would be but I imagine they're not pleasant).

It's voluntary in that you can choose to work or you can choose to be thrown in solitary, beaten, and starved, until you stop refusing to work.

Voluntary in the same way every mugging is voluntary.

Being in a work crew is optional. You can sit in your cell all day.

Anything could be argued. Doesn't mean there's any actual basis for the argument.


Compared to...? Because, compared to, you know, actual 5 star hotels, they kinda suck.

So I assume you're going to be checking in ASAP?

But being guilty isn't a criterion apparently.


Good general overview of prison labor: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2013/04/04/prison-labor...

More detailed account of prison labor in Nevada regarding casinos and construction. http://vltp.net/casinos-prison-labor-strange-bedfellows/

The slave market: http://www.unicor.gov/

You can even get slave labor to operate your call center: http://www.unicor.gov/services/contact_helpdesk/

Per the admendment:

>Neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime; whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

It clearly does not abolish slavery nor involuntary servitude but instead limits it to being the punishment for a crime.

I see people everywhere saying slavery was abolished as if the entire latter 80% of Section 1 did not exist. I see government resources saying the same.

Let me make it clear.

Slavery was not abolished. The 13th amendment made slavery constitutional (within a defined scope).

> Slavery was not abolished.

Well, not by the 13th Amendment, at any rate. Arguably, it was abolished in theory by subsequent treaties to which the US is a party, though it clearly has not been abolished in fact in the United States.

> The 13th amendment made slavery constitutional (within a defined scope).

False. Slavery was expressly Constitutional (and, in fact, for a time protected against amendment) from day one, before any amendments were passed (See, Art. I, Sec. 9, Clause 1; Art. V.)

The 13th Amendment restricted the domain in which slavery and involuntary servitude were permitted under the Constitution, it is not accurate to claim that it made slavery constitutional (either in general, or even in any circumstances, as there were no circumstances in which slavery was Constitutional with the 13th Amendment but not without the 13th Amendment.)

If slavery on the inside is not controversial, even less so is "judicial rape", the expectations that prisoners get sexually assaulted in prison, along with their legal punishment.

I don't know why the government can't be sued when this happens. They have some responsibilities over this kind of things.

> I don't know why the government can't be sued when this happens.

Among other reasons, sovereign immunity.

The part that confuses me is what is the point of a minimum wage when some actors don't have to pay it? If you can get less than $1/hour work out of a prison in the united states doesn't that devalue the work of someone who is earning the minimum wage?

Apparently you don't understand what a prison is for or how those people got there. Your point a) implies you think prisoners are not bad people which stands out to me.

You are in prison to be punished for what you did AND pay back your debt to society.

If we only locked up truly guilty people up for truly bad things, that would be fine.

But even ignoring the large number of innocent people in prison; we have a lot of laws that are blatantly unjust. The biggest would be that about half of the prison population is there for minor drug offenses. A guy smoking a plant that makes him giddy and hungry is not worth locking up at substantial cost to taxpayers. Or you have the guy that spent six months in prison because he ordered a hentai comic book from Japan, and the postal inspector thought that the girl that looked 16 drawn in pencil was a real child being harmed. Or you have the elderly black woman who got put into what is essentially debtors prison because she couldn't pay her traffic tickets. Or the guy that got locked up for refusing to pay child support on a kid that turned out to not be his, but the judge didn't care about little things like facts. And on and on and on.

In fact, we have so many ridiculous laws that it's been said that the average American commits three felonies a day:



So, we should let everybody go? You're complaining as if jails should be abolished and, seemingly, all laws, too.

While innocent people do go to jail, most people in jail are not innocent. You only hear about the innocent ones cause it makes the news but, by far, most people are in jail cause they deserve to be there.

I'm saying we shouldn't have unjust laws. But since we do, we shouldn't treat them all as slaves. I'm saying we shouldn't have innocent people in prison, but that's impossible to prevent. And since we do, again, we shouldn't treat them all as slaves.

I'm more interested in prison for rehabilitation than I am as punishment. I'd rather we reduce the recidivism rate than bask in schadenfreude. I'm more interested in addressing why we have the highest per capita incarceration rate of any first world nation.

You're being off topic. Straw man comes to mind.

Whether you agree or not with how they got to prison has nothing to do with how a prison should operate. The point is prison's do what they do with people incarcerated and no one should consider it as a nice place to spend some time.

What straw man? I've been arguing against forced prison labor this entire time, even before you joined the conversation. I haven't deflected any points you were making to some new topic.

And yes, I'm all for taking the TVs out of prisons and not having it be a good time. I'm also against mandatory labor. They're prisoners, but they're still human beings.

Others here have said it's voluntary, so if that's true, that's at least better. I still think they should be paid fairly so as to not displace jobs from people not in prison, though.

It's clear though that I'm against this, and you're not, so there's really no point in continuing on. I'll just say that I hope you never have to experience working for pennies a day.

There are a 10's of thousands of innocent people in prison making the punishment argument morally questionable .

Can you imagine a "no internet access" sentence today? It's virtually a human right w/r to basic free speech.

I've heard prices at the commissary are pretty ridiculous, so $200 vs. $5/mo seems like a pretty big deal.

edit for people who aren't up on the whole rights thing








This almost trivially makes sense since so many of our other rights are expressed these days through the internet.

Prison, by definition strips you of certain rights. Many prisons do provide internet access, heavily monitored and restricted but they do offer it. That said would hardly consider having access to Twitter a basic right. I have to say that this whole "rights" thing has really gotten out of hand, especially considering that half of the world population doesn't have access to drinking water yet alone Facebook.

The funny part is that more of the world population has access to Facebook than to safe drinking water. EVERYONE's got a mobile phone with internet these days. Even the people who don't even get water or access to banks for that matter.

For instance, in a lot of Africa mobile operators have filled in for the role of credit cards and things like that. People pay for everything via sms.

My experience of Africa (Mozambique) was that they have the phones but don't pay for anything because they have no money. Technically possible, sure, but most people only had credit for a limited amount of time (and would use it for sending messages to communicate). You had to be seen to have a phone (which were probably free).

Clean drinking water was available from wells.

Could you recommend me some articles on the "mobile phones vs. safe water" thing and/or "paying via SMS"? That sounds very interesting.

I don't have any specific articles. It's more of a general trend I've picked up on while reading other stuff.

But if you google for pay by sms, you'll see there are A LOT of services for that.

Also here's an article with some statistics: http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/02/13/emerging-nations-embrace...

In Kenya, for instance, 68% of phone users make/receive payments on their phone. And 76% of them use their phones for social networking. At the same time, 82% of Kenyans have a mobile phone. But only 59% have access to clean water. -> http://water.org/country/kenya/

So that's .82*.76 = 62% of Kenyans with social networking vs. only 59% with clean water.

I looked into the clean water vs phones thing a few years ago https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2011/09/access-to-clean-water-vs-ac...

At the time, 93% of South Africans had access to clean water and mobile penetration was at over 100%.

For the whole of Africa, it was ~46% water to 50% phones.

But, as ever, definitions are important. If you have to spend half a day walking to a well for a bucket of water - that counts as access. Similarly, a family who shares a phone each has "access".

It's also a lot easier to build a mobile phone network than a water network. Stick up a tower, power it with a generator / solar power, and point it to a back-haul link. Hey presto, you've got wide area coverage.

I've seen a bunch of companies in my region use this service: https://www.centili.com/

I'm surprised it didn't catch on sooner. It's a genius idea for enabling online payments in places where credit cards, PayPal etc. aren't as commonplace as they could be.

Try looking up mpesa.

Sorry to nit pick but human rights protect you from having force used against you.

You can't have a human right to something that someone else must provide. That would be a violation of their rights.

That's not a "nit pick," it's a political opinion, one contradicted by the customs of international law, the foundations of the United Nations, etc.

It's not an opinion, you just haven't learned to be objective about morality yet. Nor has the UN.

Well, this isn't really the place for debunking ridiculous Randian notions of an "objective morality" that just happens to agree with the ideology of the ruling class.

Nor is it the place to unnecessarily presume political opinions that are widely disagreed with, which is why I made my comment in the first place.

Yeah, the ideology you've bought into is objective morality, and anything else is just questionable political opinions—gotcha. Good thing you found Leonard Peikoff; now you know the firm and irrefutable truths pertaining to the human condition and society.

Reading your profile, it's clear that you claim to be able to correctly derive your stance against human rights from nothing but "sense perception of reality" combined with Objectivist logic. That being the case, you obviously aren't just trying to add some diversity to the conversation—you know you possess the final truth.

If somebody wants to bring up and talk about rights, I'll certainly add my two cents. And a lot of discussions were spawned off of my comment, with people talking about both sides, so I'd say I've used the site correctly and added value. And I've enjoyed the discussion. So what exactly is your problem?

On the other hand, you are using sarcastic language and just "talking down" to me. Basically, light bullying. I'm referring to your last two comments.

> Reading your profile, it's clear that you claim to be able to correctly derive your stance against human rights from nothing but "sense perception of reality" combined with Objectivist logic.

How else would someone come up with any stance at all on rights (regardles of whether it agrees with mine)? I mean, you have to look at reality and you have to use logic. So I'm not sure what your point here is.

(Actually, I do know your point, it's to try to just find some way to put me down and make me look small.)

Negative/positive rights, yeah. It's gotten really complicated recently, though, hasn't it? It's pretty hard to provide your own water. Domestically and globally (Nestle and China each own close to half of the world's potable water). So at some point, even where someone 'owns' something - withholding it will cause people to clamor about their right to e.g. water (case in point the Water Crisis in Detroit). The point of the parent is that access to the internet is becoming so much part of life that it's starting to seem like a cultural and practical necessity.

That is the state guaranteeing access to water. It isn't picking a guy out of the crowd, pointing a gun at his head, and telling him to work the well and give everyone else water. States usually reimburse private utility companies, or run them themselves.

The superposter means, I think, that you cannot have a right that deprives someone else of their freedom. If nobody wanted to work at the water treatment plant, the government is hard pressed to compel anyone to work there within any sane persons logic. They would have to offer higher pay until someone did the job, but they couldn't point a gun at someone and make them do it. Unless they were a prisoner, or maybe a soldier.

The Nestle water situation doesn't actually pose any problem for the negative/positive rights distinction. I'm not familiar with the exact legal situation in parts of South America where that is an issue, but basically, if it's illegal to draw water from water sources and purify it yourself and sell it to others (perhaps via a municipal water system like we do in the civilized world), property rights have been misunderstood and misapplied.

You're getting at the definition of human rights that comes from the libertarian movement.

That definition is much narrower than most people are willing to accept, because most people aren't willing to accept the libertarian terms of what society does or is for.

This definition dates back far before the libertarian movement, at least to John Locke's Second Treatise (published in 1689).

True, but Locke was very influential on the modern libeterian movement. I think the OPs point is correct.

The OP point is incorrect since it incorrectly states that Locke's definition of human rights came from Libertarianism.

The OP therefore doesn't have a point since their argument relies on a false statement.

We say many things are Christian principles even though they were taught by Jesus, who lived before Christianity was a religion.

Well, the modern libertarian movement actually got it from Ayn Rand, though the basic idea is older than Ayn Rand. I also got the idea from Ayn Rand. I'm not a libertarian.

Ayn Rand??? That idea is at least a couple of centuries older than Rand...

Yes, but the modern libertarian movement is a direct outgrowth of Ayn Rand. Even though they dropped the non-political parts of her philosophy. Amazing how I get -4 for stating a historical fact. I did state that the idea is older than Ayn Rand.

Air, water, food, heating and/or cooling as relevant. Just to name the most blatantly obvious counterexamples to your assertion.

How are any of those human rights? If you are in the woods without water, someone is obliged to bring you some? If you are walking around on a winters eve and are cold, someone must give you a blanket?

You can claim that the state will provide you things if you are without them, but that is more an offer on their part (albeit using coerced tax dollars) than violence upon others to force them to work for you without compensation, as the superposter implies.

He means you cannot be guaranteed something that means someone else is compelled to provide it. The state as a whole could be compelled to give you something by its own laws, but they can't force an individual by mandate to do work, outside the already outlined exception to slavery.

I find it interesting that you picked one example that involves stepping outside the bounds of human civilization (e.g. walking around in the woods) to shore up your argument--as if we should all nod along and say yes, how silly! access to drinking water, a human right??

What puzzles me about this whole "a human right cannot be something that compels someone to do something" argument is how it breaks down not just on edge cases, but on common cases.

What do you think about the right to a fair trial? Or the right to a speedy trial?

Is the right to a fair trial not actually a human right, since the judicial system is (theoretically) compelled to be honest?

That's my problem with these libertarian-derived ideas about rights, they really only work out cleanly when you're talking about owning, trading, etc. For the very wide swath of human behavior that doesn't involve material possessions, what then?

> Is the right to a fair trial not actually a human right, since the judicial system is (theoretically) compelled to be honest?

Arguably, you can view this as a negative right in the sense that it is conditional (it only applies if you are subjected to a trial, so no one has to provide anything to provide it, they just have to refrain from unfair trials.)

Similarly, the right to a speedy trial again only applies when you are prosecuted -- so it can be met by refraining from prosecution when it cannot (or will not) be provided, rather than actively providing anything.

That's not to say that I agree with the "all human rights are negative rights" argument, just that it is quite simple to recognize fair/speedy trial rights as negative rights.

What about the right to participate in government? I brought that one up in another comment elsewhere in this thread.

And, even with this one, it seems like such a strain to me to say "the right to a fair trial is a negative right because, even though you're compelling the government structures to act in a certain way, it only applies once you're in the justice system".

It seems tautological to say "it's a right that applies when it applies, therefore it's a negative right".

That same reasoning seems like it could apply to just about anything; access to drinking water is a human right, because once you are in a civilization that moderates your access to water, that civilization must refrain from tampering (as in with pollution, access controls, etc) with your access to it.

> What about the right to participate in government?

The right to participate in government can be viewed as the right to be free from government action without you being given the opportunity to participate. It can be met by government not acting, as well as by you having the opportunity to participate (directly or indirectly) in any decision it makes.

I think that those who hold to the pure negative view of human rights absolutely tend to view the right to participate this way (and frequently to prefer government non-action to action-with-participation.)

> And, even with this one, it seems like such a strain to me to say "the right to a fair trial is a negative right because, even though you're compelling the government structures to act in a certain way, it only applies once you're in the justice system".

What I think you miss is that being "in the justice system" isn't something that happens external to actions of the government. So it can be a purely a negative right, in that it requires government not to subject you to the justice system unless in so doing it also acts in a certain way.

If it was conditioned on something outside of the governments control, then it would not be a pure negative right. Particularly, if you view the right to a fair trial as applying not only to conditions when you are subject to the justice system, but to include a right to bring grievances against the government and other members of society and to have them fairly heard by an appropriate tribunal, then it becomes a positive right, because the situations in which it applies are no longer ones that result from government action. But, again, I think that many people, particularly those that view negative rights as the exclusive human rights, view the right to a fair trial in terms that are consistent with the purely negative view (and the right to a speedy trial is, as generally understood in the US, a right of that type, since it applies only to criminal trials, which occur only as the result of positive government action, so it is a right that is a pure restraint on government action.)

But you do see the kinds of contortions you have to go through now, to frame the good non-property-owning rights as "negative rights", right?

The right participate in one's governance is now "the right to participate in government that you can participate in, because without that right the government would be meddling in your stuff".

If people are happy jumping through those kinds of mental hoops to maintain the purity of a "negative rights are the only rights" worldview then ok, but let's be honest about how we're building these flimsy artifices on an idea that can't really support them.

> The right participate in one's governance is now "the right to participate in government that you can participate in, because without that right the government would be meddling in your stuff".

No, its not. Its the right to be free of any imposition of government other than that which you are allowed to participate in.

Its not a contortion. Its exactly the whole thing that we get the idea of the right to participate from.

Yes, its possible to have different views of what the right to participate should mean, but they are newer and novel interpretations. That doesn't make them wrong, but they aren't the original understanding, and that original understanding isn't a "contortion".

It still sounds like hand-waving about how compelling people to act a certain isn't a negative right when it's one of the good rights that even libertarians would be uncomfortable excluding from the list of human rights.

There's absolutely compulsory behavior going on, even if it's the good kind of compulsory behavior (e.g. setting up structures of power that people have access to).

Unless you want to redefine "negative rights" down until it's "the ones we like, even though people are compelled to do stuff, like create machinery of democracy and not walk onto property claimed by others".

Which, again, ok, if it floats your boat, but it seems more like word games than meaningful discussion about human rights.

>What do you think about the right to a fair trial? Or the right to a speedy trial?

Those are limitations put on the use of power by government when dealing with justice, which not even close to being the same as thing as saying you a "human right" for that government to provide you with a service like internet access.

The right to a fair or speedy trial is not a human right?

I just want to be clear that that's what you're saying.

I didn't say that it is not.

I'm saying that you can't compare limits on government power as proof that there is a human right to get services from a government.

And what I'm saying is, it doesn't work to say that only "negative rights" (stuff that doesn't compel anyone to do anything) are human rights.

People have a human right to participate in their government, too. That certainly compels something to exist: a structure in which they can voice their desires in their governance.

It'd take a lot of contortions to work that right into being an ok-to-exist "negative right," and for my part just shows how "negative rights" breaks down really quickly once you get past the really easy stuff like speech.

The only reason contortions are involved is because you are inserting them to make the issue seem more complicated than it is.

>People have a human right to participate in their government, too.

Which is a limit on government's power. That is the essence of the entire Enlightenment philosophy that all this is based.

But the structures necessary to participate: someone's compelled to do something!

Start from nothing, and try to build up a system that at all resembles a democracy, and you're compelling people left and right. Throw in property rights, such as land ownership, and you're compelling people just about 24/7.

Just because you like being able to use the violence of the state to throw people off your lawn doesn't mean that it isn't compelling people to be in a certain place.

Food, water, shelter. Don't think you can deny prisoners those and claim it's not a human right's issue.

Let me put this through a really quick acid test.

Does a child have the right to be cared for? Someone must provide this care.

Does a child have the right to be protected from prostitution? Someone must provide this protection and someone must provide for the needs that were driving the child into prostitution to begin with.

To me it seems you can easily have rights that force someone else to do something.

Humans are social creatures. They require things that others must provide for basic functioning.

That's not correct.

A human could live on an island.

In society, we trade for what we need from others, which is different from saying we require that others provide us with things.


In society, we require that restaurants that serve food also to also provide free water to anyone who asks because not everything should be commidified.

In the US, all restaurants provide free water, voluntarily---it is not a law. It is a custom because we are not raging assholes. And if people are treated badly at a restaurant, they don't come back.

I have never not been able to get free water in a restaurant in the US. Usually they pour you some without even asking, if there is table service.

Only in Europe is there a perception that (a) businesspeople are raging assholes who (b) want to screw their customers even though doing so drives them away. So only in Europe are there actual laws forcing restaurants to give out water.

I'm not even kidding, here is a source: https://www.restaurants.com/blog/are-restaurants-required-to...

You can easily find more sources if you just Google "Are US restaurants required to provide water."

So yeah, your point is completley incorrect.

Also, I am actually trying to intellectually engage with the issue, and it seems like you're just making a pithy comment, but maybe I'm just misreading your intention.

Only in Europe is there a perception that (a) businesspeople are raging assholes who (b) want to screw their customers even though doing so drives them away. So only in Europe are there actual laws forcing restaurants to give out water.

Well... looking at your own source one would have to be really naive not to think that businesspeople are raging assholes.

Water charges from five cents to a dollar for a glass of water with some restaurants charging even if you did not order water!

That's almost the definition of businesspeople being assholes and wanting to screw their customers!

The article you linked is saying the opposite of what you are writing here, look at the second paragraph, some restaurants are indeed doing it. You need this consumers laws because otherwise some people are going to take advantage of it, that's how it works.

I think if a restaurant in the US tried to charge for water there would be a mutiny on their hands (or well I'd probably just leave.)

Something similar happened when restaurants started charging for (previously free) bread. There's a good podcast & article at http://freakonomics.com/2014/06/19/theres-no-such-thing-as-a...

Some restaurants do charge for water (when you order it). AFAIK, in most (all?) states, they are not obligated to provide it for free beyond any applicable municipal codes that may or may not mandate publicly accessible water fountains.

My intention was only to point out that some things are free for moral reasons. Not every rule of society is a law per se, if some one asks you for a cup of water and you don't give it to them you're probably kind of a dick, right?

Its a social standard not only because of the very low cost but also due to the horrible things that happen to dehydrated people and the frequency that it recurs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dehydration#Signs_and_symptoms

I suppose should have added the qualifier decent to society.

I agree with you - people want to label everything as a "human right". I think Internet access should be a right, but I don't think it's a human right. I guess it all depends how one defines "human right".

I think the best term is "individual right," and the term "human right" should be abandoned.

The original proponents of rights treated them as "individual rights." Later, people who wanted to violate "individual rights" made up the "human rights" idea as a contrast to "individual rights."

But for the sake of this conversation, I just went with "human right," accepting it as valid and not getting into all the mess I just talked about.

By the way, a Constitutional right, ideally, is just an individual right that has been written specifically into the Constitution.

Later, people who wanted to violate "individual rights" made up the "human rights" idea as a contrast to "individual rights."

That's a tendentious misrepresentation, bordering on incendiary, not at all suitable for this discussion forum. The human rights movement has roots in the Red Cross, the Geneva convention, and the post-war efforts to create international peace.

International conventions on human rights are not primarily used to "violate individual rights." Yes, they are used to make claims for the positive duties of states and societies to care for the suffering. When water is available, none should be excluded; when water is needed, that is a human rights issue, and measures should be taken.

(To make a counterpoint, the "individual" rights—of which you speak from a libertarian or Randian perspective—are not really all that individual. That's why the rhetoric of individual rights is so often used by those in favor of the rights of corporations. Randians equivocate the notions of the individual and the corporation for ideological reasons.)

I don't know about "Randians" but libertarians in general are against corporations as they are a product of the State.

Individual rights are not losing their credibility because some illegitimate market rigging is allowed by the State.

The proper term is "Objectivists," not "Randians."

"Randians" is insulting (that is why mbrock is using it).

What kind of "right" is it if not a human right? It can't be an animal right, as animals other than humans don't use the Internet, in general.

It could be a Constitutional right, or a statutory right. For example, you have a right to a keep and bear arms (in the US), but that is a Constitutional right, not a human right.

The Constitution defines what the founding fathers of the US considered human rights. I suppose statutory rights could fall under the category of "not human rights". And, I guess some folks consider some statutory rights to be directly contradictory to human rights (water shutoffs in Detroit or foreclosures of homes during the banking crisis, for example).

What kind of right do you believe internet use would fall under?

In Reno vs. ACLU (1997), the US Supreme Court ruled that the Internet deserved free speech protection under the First Amendment.


Some have argued that prohibiting Internet access to an otherwise free person (not a prisoner) is cruel and unusual punishment. In 1992 that was laughable. In 2015, it's much less laughable.

A 'human right' is a right that every human on the globe should possess. The right to vote in a democracy is not a human right - only citizens of that democracy can vote in it. It's reasonable to say that French citizens have the right to vote in France, but not that the entire globes should, for example.

I'm not sure if you're trying to play language games to be obtuse for some reason, but the right to be involved in one's government absolutely is a human right.

To say "the right to vote in a democracy is not a human right" is arguably not false, just going on narrow definitions of "vote" and "democracy," but the right to be involved in one's government? Oh yes.

Just because it is denied so many does not mean it is not still a human right.

... you're saying that people who aren't citizens of France should be able to vote in French governmental elections? You're opposing "only citizens of that democracy can vote in it"? Why is it a human right for a Russian or a Fijian or an Argentinian to vote in the French elections?

I can't make out what your problem with my comment is.

Wait, so you're saying... you don't disagree that all people have a human right to participate in their own government?

That you only don't think all people should have the right to participate in all governments?

Eh? I didn't say not in their own government. I said that people who are not French citizens can't vote in the French elections, and it's not a violation of human rights that they can't. I didn't say that Russians shouldn't be able to vote in Russia.

Stop strawmanning my words.

Edit: to be clearer - being able to get involved in your own government is a human right. Being able to vote in the French elections is a civil right, reserved to French citizens.

All cats are animals, but not all animals are cats.

The thing is, I can't even understand where the claim that "being able to participate in other people's government is a human right" is coming from.

I think we're saying the same thing, but somehow we got our signals mixed up.

The problem is that you are being needlessly pedantic. Please stop...

Why is it pedantic to be confused by a naysayer who is twisting your words to say something you did not say or mean, and try to reclarify it? If someone accuses you of possibly playing language games to be obtuse, why is trying to clarify the issue considered pedantic?

Edit: it's also a bit weird to accuse someone of pedantry when the topic at hand is the subtlety of difference between terms ("what defines a human right as opposed to other rights").

The universal declaration of human rights has a number of things that could be classified as "things that must be provided".

It's also the most accepted definition.

Have a read of the section on economic and social rights: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic,_social_and_cultural...

And what is being discussed is a person in prison having force used against them (that's what prison is, after all) to prevent them from accessing the Internet.

>Sorry to nit pick but human rights protect you from having force used against you.

Right - people should be protected from the government using force to lock them in a cage without communication to the outside world.

A core human right indeed can't force someone to provide something but the wave of inflationary 'social justice' rights- like clean water or- do. Whether or not anyone will recognize or honor that right is an entirely different conversation.

I didn't know you lingered around here. Nice to "meet" you Chris.

Hope to some day have some whiskey with you. We share a lot of the same footsteps, though I never did any hard time.

Thank you for making a useful and relevant point.

I would, however, like to point out that the same reasoning probably does not apply to Chelsea Manning. She has already attracted more media attention than any website or twitter feed could possibly achieve. The media will intensely follow any "newsworthy" occurrence with her for the remainder of her life, and her jailers know that. Furthermore, the fact that there have been credible accusations of intentional violations of her human rights during the first several months of her captivity (and that the news media are aware of this) must be something that her current jailers are aware of.

iow, you were treated like a prisoner. Imagine that.

> Also for those of you asking: @fitzgibbonmedia is handling my account for the time being

So it sounds like Manning doesn't have Twitter access but instead is probably giving whatever tweets she wants to send out to the Fitz Gibbon Media. Not much different from the old statements and letters from prison other than where it ends up.

PS: For anyone else who was confused like me since it's been a while: Chelsea Manning == Bradley Manning.

When I was in, there was at least one "celebrity" inmate living with me maintaining his twitter feed in the same way -- dictating to a friend over the phone. A twitter feed on its own is not indicative of the experience and brutality of his incarceration. Hopefully he'll speak to that himself and raise awareness. But do not doubt, he faces a threat to his safety by doing so.

I think, with an eye toward's the arc of history, that some day I'll see Chelsea Manning's term commuted and Edward Snowden pardoned.

I hope, at least. It's a disturbing alternative to countenance. In this country the prisoner is always regarded as subhuman. And his suffering is effectively irrelevant.

Many prisoners get daily e-mail access. For outsiders there's either a web portal or an app. With the app you get a push notification when there's a new message. It's almost like texting, except it takes a few hours for any message to go through. Roundtrip can be a few more hours since e-mail access from the inside isn't continuous.


This is unbelievable if true. Why has nobody thought of tweeting from prison before? It's genius. Is there anything the government can legally do to prevent this from happening? Do you have the right to freely distribute your thoughts while incarcerated?

If there were more prison twitter accounts it would do wonders towards expsosing how absurd our judicial / prison system is. More people should be live tweeting court cases / prison sentences. Could Adnan Syed have done companion tweets to the Serial podcast? This idea is so interesting.

Maybe because they get sent to solitary confinment for using social media? (At least in SC, I'm sure it's frowned on by prisons elsewhere) https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/02/hundreds-south-carolin...

>Do you have the right to freely distribute your thoughts while incarcerated?

Only in a very restricted form because of the possibility that convicts could instigate or control criminal activity via such communication with the outside world.

visitors, letters, and phone calls from prison are strictly rationed because of the resources required to monitor them. Even though mobile phones are strictly forbidden because they cannot be controlled, they are quite common in prisons.

http://www.betweenthebars.org hosts blogs for hundreds of inmates.

Wait, don't prisons penalize social media use by inmates very harshly? Does Chelsea manning have a lifetime sentence?


Has this been confirmed?

Edit: Looks like CNN, RollingStone, and The Guardian are all reporting this.

It has been covered by USAToday, NBC News, etc. If it's not legit, it's a reasonably elaborate hoax. Though the source always seems to be the media company in question, I guess it's still actually up in the air. But, tweets have mentioned Glen Greenwald and others who would be among the most capable of debunking it, and most likely to do so, if it's fake.



Agreed on all points. Compelling.

Kind of a scandal: "US's largest leaker broadcasting from military prison".

I wonder how long the Twitter access will last.

Manning isn't using Twitter directly. An outside group is transcribing phone calls.

Marc Emery did the same thing and BOP threw him in solitary for criticism on his blog that his wife transcribed for him. I imagine Manning's privs will disappear quickly now that this story is out.

Which, really, is easy to fix: no more phone calls.


Does HN still have those frustrating title renaming rules? If so this would be a good time to insist on using them.

What's wrong with the title? (Genuinely would like to do better next time.)

Your title is fine, SwellJoe. I was being petty and pointing out a case where a descriptive title that didn't match the HTML <TITLE> dramatically improved the submission. I have long felt HN's title renaming policies were a bit too aggressive and I'd like to see 'em go away.

This wasn't the right venue for me to bring that up though - things have improved a good bit under dang's tenure already.

As a reference for my outdated and inappropriate axe grinding see this 2013 thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5142851

Mea culpa.

Second that - what's wrong with the title? It's descriptive, neutral, factual.

It's missing an indication that she is tweeting via an intermediary.

I think the important part is that she has a Twitter account, and is using it.

If you propose a better title and an admin sees your comment, they'll change it if they agree it is called for.

> Does HN still have

You could always check the guidelines... https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

> Otherwise please use the original title, unless it is misleading or linkbait.

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