User:Leucosticte/Edward and Elaine Brown

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When someone openly breaks the law, there are two ways the government can spin the matter, when it sentences him:

  1. The government can say that the person was politically motivated, and sought to start a revolution, but was suppressed by the overwhelming power of the state. The penalty imposed on him is intended to incapacitate him and deter similar behavior by others. The implication here, though, is that if enough others were to accept that person's ideology and act on it, then the government would eventually be unable to stop them, because the agents of the state would be outnumbered.
  2. The government can say that the person's actions were caused by mental illness, and that his liberty is being taken away in order to protect the public and to give him an incentive to seek mental health treatment so that he won't be locked up again. The implication here is that there is no danger of his ideology spreading and leading to a revolution, because only a crazy person would have those beliefs; since craziness is not infectious, only a small percentage of the population will ever succumb to such severe mental illness, and they can be dealt with easily enough.

Option #2 is probably less dangerous for the government, but is more difficult to do when the person has a lot of supporters, because then the government would have to say, "All these people are crazy." It's easier to point the finger at an individual who acts alone and say that he's crazy.

That's probably why the government didn't say that Edward and Elaine Brown were crazy, for instance. They had supporters coming to their house, so what was the government going to say? That the community was full of nutcases? It's more plausible to describe them as rebels and criminals who had to be suppressed with force.