If you’re a Men’s Human Rights Activist, then it’s likely you know the name of Thomas James Ball. If you’re not an MHRA, then that name will likely mean nothing to you.
Ball was a New Hampshire father savaged for 15 years by the family court. This lasted as long as it did because he would not give up on his pursuit of a meaningful relationship with his children. During that time, he came to an understanding of the nature of the family court system in New Hampshire, and elsewhere.
It is a system of wealth appropriation, populated and run by bullies and tyrants and sadists. These courts use the weight and power of the law, but engage in a blanket pattern of disregarding said law as a matter of selective fiat. It is utterly and totally corrupt. Phrases like “the best interests of the children” excuse the court’s continued existence, and shame and silence those who would expose the court to the public.
The claimed mission of the court is to serve children’s best interests, so anyone criticizing the court can is portrayed as uncaring of children’s best interests, or cruelly opposed to them.
Thomas James Ball, brutalized for years by a system that ignores its own rules, came to his own realization. Following the rules of a rotten system was, and always would be self defeating. He knew he had to find an alternative path. In profound, and prolonged desperation and pain, Ball wrote a plan which included, among other things, the burning to the ground of court-houses. He published this plan, but did not follow it himself. Even Ball, convinced of the need to destroy a powerful and corrupt legal institution, could not bring himself to commit such grave acts of destruction and murder.
What Mr Ball did do was at least as serious. He went to the front steps of his own local family courthouse in New Hampshire. He soaked himself in gasoline. Then, he lit himself on fire, and while burning, walked back and forth, in front of the courthouse, fending off the bystanders attempting to put out the flames. After about a minute, Mr Ball, still burning, collapsed onto to his hands and knees, and then died. Like most men destroyed by the Family Court, he directed his violent protest inward onto himself, and not at the people and institutions who had injured him.
It was Thomas Ball’s intention that his protest, encompassing his own gruesome death would draw public attention to a venal and toxic system.
However, After his death, where news of an American self-immolating was not erased from public view, the media demonized Mr. Ball as a violent, psychotic maniac. Three years after his death, that American man who burned himself to death in front of an American courthouse is unknown outside the men’s human rights movement.
When a man has died, the mainstream controls whatever narrative will heard about who he was while alive.
There are a million more Thomas Balls out there.
Some of them have also burned themselves to death, like Mr Ball, in an effort to draw attention to their struggles. More will shoot themselves. They will be flatly ignored by a media maintaining a public narrative that cannot afford to address their existence or their actions. Some, like domestic violence activist Earl Silverman, will hang themselves. They too will be erased or ignored by the mainstream, or worse, vilified as psychotic and dangerous because men hanging themselves in political protest, or even in desperation, agony, and grief doesn’t fit into the purposefully maintained public lie in which men are the oppressor class.
Men pulled into the meat grinder of the family court system are all too often violently, brutally and sadistically abused by that system. They are men who are extorted of their incomes, denied relationships with their children, falsely accused of crimes, denied a voice in their own defence, convicted without evidence and sometimes, without notice by judicial fiat in star chambers, and brutalized, shaken down, publicly smeared, and coerced, threatened and harassed by the proxy violence of a semi-legitimate legal apparatus.
When a man victimizes a woman, the legal system does what it can to protect her and punish him. When a woman victimizes a man, the legal system is frequently the instrument she uses to do it. And a very efficient instrument it is.
These are men who have tried, repeatedly to escape the abuse and extortion of the “legitimate” system using the acceptable tools of legal petition and rational argument. They have tried and failed to escape this systematized abuse and extortion.
What emerges from this is often a belief that the utter indifference of the public to injustice, abuse, and ongoing trauma heaped onto men can be broken by shocking the public out of their apathy. This shock to be accomplished by responding to the use of force by the courts with initiated force in return. This was the impetus behind Thomas Ball’s published plan to burn New Hampshire courthouses down. If the legitimate avenues of justice are closed, if rationality or reasoned argument, or even basic compassion, are closed, broken and silenced with violent force by those who control a legal monopoly on violence then the illegitimate, illegal and fatal path of violent redress of grievance appears the only remaining option.
Indeed, we are all living in a system in which the so-called legitimate courts and the so-called legitimate government approaches all problems by the forcible and violent appropriation of funds from private citizens, and by the direct violence of uniformed agents of the state and the courts. Violence and coercion are obviously the preferred, if not the only, tools of those our social system holds in highest official esteem – judges and elected officials.
There will, of course be objections to this assertion, along with avowals that being locked in a prison cell is not an act of violence. There will also be complaints that the non-optional appropriation of private income referred to as “taxation” or “family maintenance” is not forcible theft either.
Such complaints are asinine and fraudulent.
It will also be claimed that the violence done with official sanction by uniformed employees of the courts or the state is not actually violence – because of the costumes worn by such enforcers, or perhaps because of the widespread acceptance of the authority of those enforcers by the general public. This too is moronic.
Violence is not made legitimate by the simple donning of a badge and uniform and the collection of a pay check. Coercion and theft are not rendered legitimate by the fact that the benefactors of said wrongs have the political power to write, enforce or ignore laws, or to convince others to do so in their stead.
However, in a culture of officially acceptable violence – at least, acceptable when it’s practiced by the right costume-wearing court employees, and after exhausting the allowable options for non-violent redress of grievance, it is entirely understandable that men brutalized, extorted and abused by the courts begin to consider their own capacity for initiated force as a viable path.
Alternately, they consider their death as a viable price to pay. Men brutalized to the silence of an indifferent public often believe that their own hanging death or a gunshot death, or burning themselves to the ground will jolt the wider public out of indifference to human harm inflicted on men. Sometimes that death is conceived through the technique of death by cop.
And of course, none of these tools are legitimate instruments of social change, neither by our philosophical opponents nor by MHRAs. Not only is it illegitimate, it will not work.
“When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humour.”
Setting aside the practical reality that compared to an individual, or even a group of individuals, the state and the courts have almost infinite capacity to absorb and to dispense violence;
To understand why neither violence towards the state, nor towards the self in protest will work, it’s necessary to recognize what the state actually is.
The state, or if we prefer to think in terms of “the government” is a group of people to whom the normally operant moral rules prohibiting violence do not apply. Force initiated by an individual is both a criminal and a moral violation. By contrast, force initiated by employees of the state or the court is not only legal, it is seen as morally praiseworthy. That this double standard exists is not a matter of debate, however, believers in the acceptance of culturally sanctioned violence, theft and coercion will field a nearly endless suite of illogical and factually false rationalizations for the public acceptability of the proxy violence practiced by functionaries of the state and courts.
Once we recognize that this thing we call “the state” as manifested through courts, police, financial organizations is no more than an approved suspension of social prohibition on criminal and predatory behaviour for a few – it’s easier to understand that neither force used against it, nor any form of suicide in protest will have the slightest positive impact.
And Once you are dead, you are no longer able to speak or act. The public narrative about who and what you were will be entirely in the control of those you were protesting against.
And if the stories of Earl Silverman or of Thomas Ball are to teach us anything as MHRAs, it is that the only message your self-destroyed corpse will carry is the one chosen, crafted, and perpetuated by those in control of the cultural narrative. Thomas Ball, whose act of political martyrdom did little more outward harm than to make a few judges late for lunch, was branded a terrorist. Yes, a terrorist. This man whose contempt for the system that demolished him was so great he made plans to wage a genuine war on it, but who, in the end, turned his rage solely on himself, was portrayed by the media and by his opponents as a dangerous madman.
When even a man’s decision to self-harm or self-destruct can be twisted into a threat and a victimization of those who injured him in the first place, we are living in place of hard lessons and no justice.
The idea that by dying at the end of a rope, in a fire, or after being shot by police a man will jostle the public out of their passive acceptance of men’s trauma is a false notion.
The reality is that each of these potentially violent and fatal outcomes will be gleefully re-purposed to bolster and to amplify the already existing narrative that men are violent, predatory, and that further pre-emptive anti male policies are justified and needed.
In fact, the feminists who drive the ongoing changes to law, and domestic policy, eroding due process and demonizing masculine identity want you, in desperation, to either kill yourself or to lash outwards, returning some fraction of the violence routinely poured out onto men through the family courts and other domestic policies.
They want a world filled with men who have been abused to the point that they respond with the use of force. That fits perfectly into the maintained narrative in which you are to be silenced, caged or killed rather than addressed as a human with a grievance. In addition, if you become the violent man they want you to be, they will kill you, and re-tell your story to serve the ever growing feminist narrative.
There is another, more effective path.
That path begins with a recognition, by men, of their own value as human beings whose lives matter to themselves. Fatal self sacrifice – considered as an option in service of a “greater good” has got to go. That idea is the basis for a system which has always, and which continues to run on the willingly disposable corpses of so called good men.
Men do not just create value in our economy and our culture – men because of their nature as doers, builders and innovators and actors form the foundation of almost all economic value. Men are inherently valuable. At present, however, most do not realize this, and adopt a provided model of personal identity which facilitates the exploitation of their value by others, often including their own willing self sacrifice, in service of that value appropriation.
The alternative path is simple, but not necessarily easy. It begins, for men, with a profound refocusing of what their personal identity is based on.
For almost all men, the consensus public opinion that you are a good man is, right now – the basis for your identity. That consensus is one in which you are a utility to be exploited. The idea – applied to you, even in your own mind of “Good Man” or “Real Man” is actually a carrot, hanging on a pole attached to the cart you are towing. You are a draft animal.
But what if you unhitch yourself from the harness? What if you reject your own role as a utility, a resource, a provider and what your exploiters use to qualify you as a good man?
What if you flatly reject any merit in your ability to dispense or to absorb violence on the behalf of the so called gentler sex?
No longer a disposable guard and enforcer. No longer a human cash machine. No longer a reliable automaton who feels no injury – but who everybody else relies on to suck it up, get the job done and never complain – while keeping the lights and heat on for the rest of the culture.
You’re going to have to burn your “good man” card. You’re going to have to realize what good man really means is good utility, or good disposable human.
The state, and all its apparatus of theft and coercion depends for its continued viability on two things: One is the continued buy-in of men to the idea of the good man. You, continuing to be a good man is what keeps the money flowing. Your money, used to pay the people with their hands in your pocket, and their company cars parked carelessly in your broccoli patch. The second element is the continued credulity of the public (that’s you) toward the idea that thieves, thugs, robbers and violent sociopaths are not in fact thieves, thugs, robbers and so on. So long as they take home a paycheque funded by the form of theft we commonly call taxation.
The second element of a profound change is disdain, and loss of credulity.
A cultivated disdain and contempt for corrupt and illegitimate social institutions, expressed through both calm evaluation, and satire, and without the personal violence those institutions have always used to justify themselves and justify increasing their own reach.
Your corpse wont wake anybody up, and when you’re dead, you wont even control the story they use to justify having killed you.
It does take big balls to die a martyr. It takes bigger balls to defy the widely shared narrative of your worth as a function of disposable utility, and to not die. Balls big enough to live by your own definition. The big brass bowling balls to declare yourself a human, and defy the narrative that you are not. Are yours big enough to be that bad man?