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<nettime> Keith Henson Needs Help
R. A. Hettinga on Sat, 18 Sep 2004 03:00:47 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Keith Henson Needs Help


kuro5hin.org || technology and culture, from the trenches

Keith Henson Needs Help (MLP)
By Baldrson
Wed Sep 15th, 2004 at 07:42:14 AM EST

 For those who don't know him, Keith Henson co-founded the L5 Society, was
President of Xanadu Corporation and was a featured character in The Great
Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition: Science Slightly Over the Edge.
He's about to be deported from Canada to the United States where he faces
time in the infamous California prison system.

Recently on the cryonics mailing list Keith Henson issued a plea for help:
 ... at this point I am a "failed refugee." The only thing that can keep me
from being deported to the US on short notice is an appeal to the Minister
of Citizenship and Immigration. Her office gets 15,000 letters a week so it
takes a well known case to reach the level where it gets attention.
 What is going on here and why should anyone care?

 The short story is that Keith has been fighting against Scientology and as
a result ended up fleeing the United States to Canada to avoid a
misdemeanor conviction brought against him by Scientologists. Here's the
prosecuting attorney's speech given the jury on the charges:
 Now, His Honor read to you in the beginning of the case that the defendant
has been charged with three counts. First count is -- now, these are
numeric numbers and they mean nothing to you, so I will give you names for
what they are. The first one is 422, violation of Penal Code Section 422.
And 664/422 and 422.6. Now I'll give them names. 422 is terrorist threats.
Now, that conjures up images of Beruit or the Twin Towers bombing, but
that's not what it means. It just means a threat that causes someone
terror, that frightens people. That's what Count One is. Count two is
664/422, is the attempt, the attempt to do the exact same thing, to cause
to threaten, to attempt to threaten and cause terror or frighten someone.
And the last count is 422.6. And that's essentially defined as the
interference with someone's rights guaranteed by the Constitution, their
civil rights, and in this case the right to practice their religion without
fear. Essentially 422.6 is a hate crime. Now, let's talk about the first
count, and we'll go count by count. The first count, 422, again I told you
was just threats that caused people to be afraid. Essentially the elements
are these: Number one, there has to be somewhat of a threat. There has to
be a threat. The person has to intend there to be a threat. And lastly,
that the victims have a reasonable fear. However, the person doesn't have
to have to want to carry it out. There has to be no intention to carry out
the threat.
 Keith's been in Canada for a few years and is trying to remain there as a

 Well, I'll confess my bias. Although Keith and I have known each other
since the early days of the L5 Society, we have serious disagreements on a
lot of things -- not the least of which are many opinions about Jews, genes
and memes etc. More immediately relevant is the fact that I just don't
"get" Keith's fight against Scientology. Scientologists seem like a joke to
me and IMHO people who get involved with them suffer about as much but no
more than people who get involved with New York City nightlife.

 Be that as it may, I personally don't like seeing anyone spend time in a
US, let alone California, prison system.

 I once refused to testify against a young Hispanic after he had stolen my
car because, despite the fact that he would be more protected than a man of
my ethnicity in a California prison, he would nevertheless be subjected to
a substantial likelihood of being "punked out". That's not my idea of
justice. Keith is an old guy -- unlikely to be punked out despite the fact
that he's a non-violent 'white guy' -- but he's the kind of guy who
probably wouldn't do well in a California prison. As I said, we have
serious differences but I've known him for decades, and his going into a
California prison doesn't sit right with me anymore than it does with a
young Hispanic kid who I don't know.

 The US now incarcerates a greater percentage of its population than does
any other country. That's quite an accomplishment for a system known
world-wide to also be a source of racist sexual sadism. So quite honestly I
don't care what Henson has or hasn't done. He doesn't belong in a US
prison. No one does. Even the best of US prisons still will extradite to
the worst of US prisons.

 There are precedents for refusing to extradite criminals from Canada due
to conditions in the US prison system. For example, assistant U.S. attorney
Gordon Zubrod from Harrisburg, PA made the following public statement to 3
suspects who fled to Canada (this statement was captured for the public
record during a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation interview):
 "You're going to be the boyfriend of a very bad man if you wait out your
 After that it was very hard for the Canadian authorities to justify
extraditing the suspects to the US. Now, agreed, it is rather unusual for a
federal official to lose his grip this way, but everyone knows this is
exactly the sort of power that "law" enforcement officials wield over
criminals in the US. Why does it take a federal official slipping up
royally like that to get asylum?

 To make matters worse, Keith claims he has been threatened with abuse in
prison by Scientology zealots:
 "And cult agents have made fairly clear public threats that I would not
survive jail."

 Is Keith making this up? Not likely. Scientologists aren't known for their
tact, any more than are federal attorneys.

 Anyway, back to the question: Why should you care?

 Maybe you don't like Scientology.

 Maybe you like Keith.

 Maybe you just like to mess with the California government.

 Whatever, Keith Henson is asking for help and he quite probably actually
needs it.

Full discussion: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/9/14/32340/5809

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah {AT} ibuc.com>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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