The Victim

Chapter Four: Victory

Brave new world

I step into Congress with my head held high, waving and shaking hands. Today, one week after the strike that took the president elect’s life, Congress is voting my bill to amend the constitution. I’m asking for a ban on the private ownership of guns. I announced it yesterday, and several (liberal) states have already applauded my decision as being “brave” and “worthy of a genius.”

The liberal states, where money really is, all want a quick end to this conflict. The economy has destabilized, with panic setting in and crippling the stock exchange markets. Probably millions will lose their houses over the next years. But that’s a price I’m willing to pay to achieve my goals. Right now, everyone wants stability and order, at any cost. So that’s what I must achieve.

I look around the new Congress. You see, the representatives and senators from rebellious states all left as an act of protest against me. Some moderates and turncoats from our party also left. It was the wrong decision. They thought it would make a point. “Oh, Look at us, virtue-signaling we’re not going to take part in this nonsense.” All they managed was to give me more power and to add themselves to my blacklist.

Their seats were filled with people more… loyal to the federal government and democracy. Which is why when I step into Congress, I already know my bill is going to pass. I just have to sit there and watch them go through their tedious bureaucratic hoops. They talk, they vote, they discuss, then they argue, discuss, debate and finally deliberate. It’s official, guns are banned across the country. Now it only needs to be ratified by the states.

The liberal states and the state congresses occupied by soldiers ratify within a week. Some states take longer, but it’s ok. Their time will come too. Meanwhile, I use the hundreds of thousands without job as part of a temporal taskforce that collects private guns. A whole new committee is formed to handle the “speedy handing-over of guns by unwilling citizens,” as the senators eloquently call it. They end up forming local militias that go door to door, taking guns and a small fee in cash or jewels.

Logically, there are incidents. Many private owners shoot the gun-collectors that visit them, dragging on the process. Others claim they sold or lost their guns. Their houses are searched for guns and ammunition, and those hiding something are sent to the new provisional prisons. Oh yes, the enormous rise in the number of arrests leads to a huge influx of new inmates to the penal system. People hiding guns or aiding rebels are speedily tried and sentenced to a term not inferior to sixteen years of prison.

All those who collaborated in the uprising are sentence to even higher sentences, including capital punishment for those who fired or conspired to fire on federal officers. Then there’s the special case of the turncoat general. The benches at the trial are filled with people screaming insults at him throughout the trial. He suffers a speedy trial at the hands of a ravenous prosecution that convicts him quickly. The sentence is capital punishment, but I publicly intervene and pardon his life, reducing his sentence to life in a max-security prison. Of course he never gets to prison. He’s secretly executed in a dark cellar and his remains incinerated. There are some enemies that you just can’t leave alive.

The move works wonders for my public image, specially after the many protests of “human rights violations” and other nonsense. My team pushes the propaganda that I’m against all this violence, that it’s sort of independent of me. I respond to scandals about my militias being highway robbers by condemning their ringleaders to high prison sentences. Meanwhile, regional party chiefs reward “efficient” militias (i.e. that don’t get caught stealing) with higher positions in the administration. Even though I know about this practice, I can neither encourage nor stop it. I have too many enemies already to also fight my own administration. Corruption is bad for a country in the long-term, but I need to survive in the short-term.

As weeks go by, the conflict dies down. There’s a lot less buzz in social media about the militia and gun owners. It seems like my presidency can finally begin. Except I notice an increase in the number and… passion in the liberals’ demands. My party, journalists and scholars feel dissatisfied with how the coup against my presidency ended. Yes, guns are now banned and removed from most states. But they want blood, they want what I would call “cruel and unusual punishments” for the opposition.

There’s an outburst of hate after a shooting in a postmodernist museum that leaves sixteen dead and adds bullet holes to the “art” kept there. Ravenous scorpions spit venomous articles on both printed papers and online blogs. This translates into a radical liberal senator pushing a bill to make everyone who supported my removal from office liable to fines and even prison sentences, depending on the gravity of their words.

But that’s not all. An LGBT+ and women lobby “ask” the senator to include other provisions. People who have “discouraged, criticized, mocked or otherwise demeaned women or any member of the LGBT+ community by writing or voice” will be liable to criminal sentences and fines. The same goes for those who have defended “rapists, bigots or otherwise apologized rape or discrimination.”

As much as I don’t like the people who do that, I can see this is not a good idea. For one, it’s a retroactive law, which should make lawmakers’ hairs crawl. If people are punished retroactively for this, any act that was lawful in the past can suddenly become a capital offence. Sadly, there’s barely anyone willing to criticize it. The reasonable senators all left as an act of protest against me, remember? Almost all conservative journalists were caught in the weapon-seizing act and imprisoned. I also had a lot of them from my blacklists thrown in jail. The militia planted guns in the property of the reporters that criticized the militia. Right now they are languishing in some northern potato-growing prison.

The new opposition is silent because there is no opposition. The liberals feel emboldened by this and want to test the waters with their anti-discrimination law. Of course it passes congress almost unanimously. I publicly support it, as my counselors advise, because I can’t oppose it. It poses several problems: identifying who is behind an online nickname (though the social networks help us with that) and pursuing charges through the slow bureaucracy.

A startup appears with a technological solution: “the Whitelist.” The people guilty of these crimes are added to their database, showing their offence, social security id and address. Still, there are many people, including notorious citizens, who have used racial slurs or made sexist comments in the past and gotten away with it. There’s a case in particular, of a white male student who referred to a black lesbian student as “gay landwhale” and she was so depressed by the bullying she received from other students that she committed honorable sudoku by jumping out of an eight-storey building.

The parents of the dead girl only managed to get the student expelled, but now they are pressing criminal charges. The notorious case reached the Supreme Court after the state found the student guilty. And now the Supreme has ratified the lower court’s decision. The student will serve no less than sixteen years in prison.

After reading the court’s decision, I close the computer and take off my reading glasses. This is how it starts.