My appearance in 1996Wayne Stegall

Copyright © 2010
April 20, 2010

Conspiracy of Torts

I was reminded of my own censored plight while you were considering Alcee Hastings words and pondering its significance to the vote on the next day:

“I wish that I had been there when Thomas Edison made the remark that I think applies here: ‘There ain’t no rules around here — we’re trying to accomplish something.’ And therefore, when the deal goes down, all this talk about rules, we make ‘em up as we go along, and I’m here now 18 years, and a significant amount of that time here on this committee under the leadership of the Republicans…”1

On Saturday, March 20, our house had been entirely vacant for a good period during the day.  When I brushed my teeth at bedtime, I was left with some kind of soap in my mouth.  There I stood, feeling violated, tempted to think it related to current politics on the pretext of my having saved the above cited article earlier in the day.  I brushed my teeth again with a new toothbrush to little avail.  The vile taste occupied my mind with various thoughts of what the substance was until I concluded it was saddle soap.  A four a.m. examination of MSDS2
documentation relieved any thought that I might have to call any poison control center.  Without any certainty whether it was a crime or an accident, I decided to pass it over.  In the context of the experience of much more concrete tampering as a witness and a scapegoat, this incident is perhaps not without significance.

I believe this is a common experience for persons under harassment for some reason or another.  The perpetrators proceed by subtlety to harass their target by means by which they do not expect to get caught, or if caught to either have minor penalties or none at all.  If they are lucky the target might speak of the abuse in terms that discredit them rather than get them the understanding they desire.  If the perpetrators are bold or have an experience of success in concealment, they may even commit serious crimes against the target, expecting no consequences.

I read of a Department of Energy whistleblower who barely escaped death at the hands of his persecutors.  He had been assigned to go into a plutonium contaminated area in a full safety suit.  When his air line was cut, he had to make a lengthy escape to safety while holding his breath.  I do not think anyone was ever prosecuted.  It was his word against their denial.

My own experience has ranged from the things you would almost dismiss yourself for their subtlety, to things obvious but inconsequential, and ultimately to things threatening of or attempting to harm.  Some, like the villains in James Bond movies, would tell me what they had done, expecting that I would not succeed in communicating it to others.  I believe that Durham had a implict understanding that they could do anything to me and no one would hold them accountable.  Certainly, the thorough concealment activities of Nortel and their allies would create this understanding.

A person might reason themselves to be a target of such activities by the observation of their frequency and number (inductive reasoning),  the common-sense analysis of the high statistical likelihood of the more concrete events, or by association or deduction of the motivating event (deductive reasoning).  It is unfortunate that the inductive reasoning that underpins experimental science should be readily dismissed as paranoia by those who have criminal or political reasons for doing so.

Although this sort of harassment can proceed to serious crimes, I still label them  conspiracy of torts because of the expectation to evade legal consequences by subterfuge.

1George Bennett, Post On Politics, March 20, 2010, "Rep. Alcee Hastings invokes Thomas Edison: ‘No rules around here — we’re trying to accomplish something’",
2Material Safety Data Sheet.

Document History
April 20, 2010  created.
April 26, 2010  minor spelling correction and added an acronym definition.