Land of the Free? A Nonviolent Manifesto

Can I truly be free if another human is afforded a freedom not granted to me?

This is a thought I pondered this week while watching the Dorner v LAPD manhunt unfold. I watched it on all the mainstream news sources, along with Twitter. What I witnessed was the LAPD, one of the most recognized law enforcement agencies in the US, effectively blacking out the media on every front as they cornered and killed their whistleblowing colleague.

This got me thinking…

I realize people may be of the opinion that Operational Security was necessary in Dorner’s situation. We don’t disagree at all. In fact I completely agree, and that’s why I feel Operational Security is a freedom that should be granted to each and every American citizen so we can all be as free as the LAPD.

We should be allowed privacy when conducting our personal business online…

The boundaries and rules presented to us online should match our idea of personal privacy. I, as a free human being, should be granted the level of privacy I deem appropriate for myself. I understand the LAPD needs privacy for tactical reasons. Peoples’ lives are at stake. That’s the job. If those men are granted the freedom to perform their business in privacy, why can’t I be granted the freedom to perform mine in privacy? Should the environment created by a person’s chosen profession be allowed to dictate the freedoms that person is granted? I don’t see how we can allow that while claiming to believe in equal rights.

Allowing that privacy to the LAPD impeded on the media’s freedom of speech. Manipulating the media affected my community and impeded directly on my freedom of knowledge. I wanted to be free to watch this story unfold at my pace. I never would have known about any manhunt if the LAPD didn’t say something. I don’t track California crime statistics nor have eyes and ears on the streets of LA. That story was presented to me as a member of the general public because the powers that be wanted our assistance. Now suddenly we can’t know certain aspects? Look, homies, I didn’t ask to know about Dorner. You involved me. You gave up the right to privacy when you made the story public. You can’t pick and choose your privacy settings if I can’t.

Unfortunately that’s exactly what happened. I can’t change that law enforcement was granted that freedom. But now that I witnessed other men enjoying that freedom of privacy, I want it. I want CISPA and all other government and corporate monitoring programs gone. I want my digital presence on and offline to be free. Why wouldn’t you want that freedom too? Why would you allow our government to access the thoughts we share in private online while they keep everything from us? Why aren’t we all granted a “need-to-know basis” zone for us to decide the boundaries of? Why don’t I have the level of control over my privacy that was granted to the LAPD? What makes them better than me?

Freedom is the foundation of this country we live in. If every person currently in existence isn’t granted the same level of freedom, how can any of us ever truly be free?

Another Form of Positive and Peaceful Change…

While I pondered these ideas of freedom, I came across the same theme at my yoga studio. White Orchid is taking part in a worldwide event called Yoga Stops Traffick on March 9, 2013 to raise awareness for human trafficking. While I’m helping Anonymous defend our digital freedoms, I can also contribute to the physical freedoms of other people.

As Coni Papas (the owner of WO) puts it, “We live in a world full of horrible atrocities. It’s our responsibility to shine a bright light on them. Awareness is the first step towards change. YST is a worldwide event to shine a light on the reality of Human Trafficking around the world and even here in our own back yard.” The situation is win-win. If you enjoy the perception of having freedom of thought and action, how can you stand idly by knowing another human being just like you doesn’t enjoy that same freedom?

What I love about yoga is the passion in its simplicity. All of this bullshit created by the powers that be melts away. I focus entirely on myself. I’m living in the present with my body and my breath. Nothing else matters. My yoga mat is my comfort zone, and within it I’m free. That’s why on March 9, I’ll be at White Orchid with Coni, Calley Mason, and others contributing the important step of raising awareness to human trafficking in India and raise funds for Odanadi. Along with other yoga students, we’ll be dedicating 108 sun salutations to the collective consciousness. We’ll focus on others by focusing on ourselves. If you’d like to contribute to the energy or maybe just want to bring a donation to watch bendy broads in tight yoga pants, you’re free to join us wherever you are in the world to help contribute to another person’s equal freedom…

Calley, who just returned from a month-long trip to India, is as passionate about the physical freedom helped by the event as I am about digital freedom. We all contribute to freedom in our own ways. Calley shared some words of wisdom with me about the event:

“I’m really happy that yoga students and teachers, yoga shalas and studios from all over the world, have been participating in this event; and will continue to do so this year. All of us yogis have a deep connection no matter what type of yoga we do, no matter how some have changed the practice, the roots of our yoga are in India. Our practice has become our lifestyle, our passion, our discipline; it helps us lead richer lives.

So if we can help raise awareness for something so horrible; something that’s so prevalent in India, our yoga Motherland, all of us yogis are on board and want to help! Hopefully this event will spur yogis and studios around the world to also take a closer look at what is happening at home.

Big surprise!

We certainly were shocked when we learned that human trafficking is taking place right here. Pinellas County actually has a task force with real cases and assignments. What – here? In the U.S.? In Florida? In Pinellas County? In 2013????


So in our efforts to do some good…we’re shining a light on a very unseen and virtually unheard of problem in our own neighborhoods. This year White Orchid Yoga will be splitting the money raised at our Yoga Stops Traffick event with the Odanadi Seva Trust in India and our Pinellas County Human Trafficking Task Force! Eyes have been opened…”

The point of it all is freedom. We should all have it equally no matter who, what, when, where, why, and how we were born. Find every way you can to fight for freedom, whether it’s yours or that of others…

Because we all deserve an equal quality of life…


Brian Penny versability whistleblower silver tie aviatorsBrian Penny is a former Business Analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower, freelance consultant, and troll. He’s a frequent contributor to The Street, Cannabis Now, and Fast Company, Huffington PostMainstreetLifehack, and HardcoreDroid.


Dr. Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. You can find his work in Cracked, High Times, HuffPost, Lifewire, Forbes, Fast Company, and dozens of other places, although much of it is no longer under his name. Dr. Penny loves annoying fake media.

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