Difference between revisions of "Essay:The Ultimate Pandora Box: The Phillip Greaves Case And The First Amendment"
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The State must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as government is perceived as working for the benefit of children, the people happily will endure almost any curtailment of liberty.
- Rabbi Daniel Lapin
My thanks and appreciation to several members of the GirlChat forum who edited my early drafts of this essay, and who contributed material to it: Scotty, qtns2di4, Lateralus, Summerdays, Tester, and LOD.
The December 20th, 2010 arrest of Phillip R. Greaves, author of the uber-controversial self-published e-book The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct, on obscenity charges filed against him from a Florida court (despite the fact that the author resides in Colorado) makes a very important point very clear in our society: the current anti-pedo hysteria may not be compatible with the Bill of Rights, particularly the First Amendment. The whole story can be read about here.
The words of the Polk County Sheriff who had Greaves arrested, Grady Judd, goes a long way towards revealing the real reason why the powers-that-be in our society argue for the power to single out certain ideas that it considers particularly offensive to warrant an arrest for those expressing such "forbidden" thoughts through the written word despite our pretenses towards a constitutional democracy that is supposed to protect unpopular speech as readily as our most popular and cherished opinions. That is basically what the crime of "obscenity" is designed to do. Its parameters are usually vague enough that you can arrest people for almost any type of speech or imagery that offends the sensibilities of a large number of people in either any given community--or the entire nation--if you can't build up charges for anything more substantive, such as evidence for some type of demonstrable harm suffered by a human being (as opposed to a cherished idea or paradigm). And it's also quite telling how powerful the "obscenity" laws of a single small county within a state can be when the author of the offending words lives in another state located far from the prosecuting court or the jurisdiction of the LEOs [law enforcement officers] who ordered the arrest.
Let's note a few of Sheriff Judd's ever-so-enlightened words for bringing Greaves to what he considers to be "justice" [as excerpted from the above linked article on CBS News]:
"I was outraged by the content," Judd told The Associated Press. "It was clearly a manifesto on how to sexually batter children ... You just can't believe how absolutely disgusting it was."
Sexually battered children? Since Greaves said he in no way promoted any illegal activity in his book, it's quite clear that the powers-that-be--like the vigilantes who run notorious hate groups like Absolute Zero United [AZU]--enjoy twisting words and meanings so that advocating an open-minded or neutral attitude towards intergenerational love and sexuality is automatically encouraging "rape" and "molestation"--or in this case, "sexual battery." This is a classic "trap" situation that these pundits of purity and ideological orthodoxy place before authors who dare to tackle this subject in any way other than total condemnation, because this attitude allows the vigilantes and LEOs to label fully consensual sexual contact as "rape," "molestation," "sexual battery," etc., simply because the law says that is the case solely due to the age of one of the two participants regardless of whether or not the matter of consent was present and how the younger participant may have felt about the experience. This enables the pundits of the law and arbiters of anti-youth sexuality to bring an extremely loaded context to the entire discussion or purpose of the author in question, and to define actions according to what the law refers to them as, rather than what the actual definition of the word entails. If merely arguing that intergenerational sexual contact should be legal if consent from both parties is duly respected constitutes the advocating of "rape" or "molestation" in the eyes of the law, then what does this mean in regards to the First Amendment right of people to peacefully challenge laws which they do not agree with via the written word? Isn't this a massive case of political and intellectual dirty pool being leveled against those who may wish to oppose a certain topic that the current national mindset considers unpopular to challenge? Attorneys who are truly loyal to constitutional rights need to directly confront this issue in the near future, and I can only hope that Greaves' legal team does so.
Another matter brought up by Judd is a classic reason for leveling charges of "obscenity" against someone: that the topic they are discussing, and the stance they take in regards to that topic--and possibly some of the scenarios they use to illustrate their points--come off as "disgusting" (i.e., a visceral, knee-jerk negative emotional reaction) to those who read it. Sheriff Judd actually used that adjective, so I can hardly be accused of putting words in his mouth or distorting the meaning of what he tried to say. So, in other words, if certain types of speech and certain means of conveying points, such as through hypothetical scenarios, happen to offend the personal sensibilities of people badly enough, then the vice police should have the legal power to arrest and indict that person. Is this what you are saying, Sheriff Judd? If so, then you need to take a crash course on constitutional law, and learn what the meaning of the First Amendment is, so that you can understand that a true constitutional democracy doesn't limit its protection of ideas to only those which are popular and do not offend anyone. If such was the case, then we shouldn’t pretend we have a democracy—even a nominal one—in the first place.
I would like to say here that I have spoken with a fellow MAAs [Minor Attracted Adults] who reviewed Greaves' e-book, and he said the tome is certainly deserving of a certain degree of criticism. For instance, his hypothetical scenarios of sexual contact spoken from a faux child's point of view may arguably be considered unwise in the present climate, and the inclusion of these scenarios were bound to make the case for an "obscenity" charge somewhere in the nation. This is not to say, however, that I think the charge was justified, because those scenarios he described in his book were not actual events, and it shouldn't matter whether or not the ideas expressed by those scenarios offended a large number of people or not. Change and social evolution cannot occur without a large amount of outrage as the old ideas are challenged and new ones suggested in their place, and the normative ideas of one century are very often the highly controversial or radical ideas of a previous century. Greaves' e-tome and other publications like it are putting our purported commitment to democracy and freedom of speech to a major test, and it's a shame that individuals like Sheriff Judd are determined to make our nation fail that test. What will it mean to future generations if the nation ends up miserably failing that all-important test on a wide scale? This question is especially important when you consider how the U.S. often seems determined to drag the rest of the world down whatever abyss it chooses to plunge into itself by way of its presently unrivaled economic and military power (though China and Russia are both rising powers in the global arena, as if we really needed more "super power" nations in the world; but that is a whole other topic).
Let's take a look at another excerpt from the above linked article, which includes more of Judd's spurious comments:
" ‘What's wrong with a society that has gotten to the point that we can't arrest child pornographers and child molesters who write a book about how to rape a child?’ said Judd, who keeps a Bible on his desk and is known throughout Florida as a crusader against child predators.
“Florida'[s] obscenity law - a third-degree felony - prohibits the ‘distribution of obscene material depicting minors engaged in conduct harmful to minors.’"
It's rather interesting how Judd considers Greaves to be a "child pornographer" and a "child molester" despite the fact that he took no illegal pictures of nude minors or of minors engaged in sexual situations, nor has he ever been accused of illegal sexual contact with a minor. Yet, because of his mere ideas, and the first person narrative style he used to explicate fictitious scenarios to illustrate a specific idea to his readers, he has actually been referred to by these shameful monikers from an officer of the law, an obvious attempt to garner a specific emotional reaction of outrage towards Greaves despite the fact that his actions in no way fit the true definition of such terms. Does this not make it clear that these terms are becoming more and more broad, and pretty much slowly evolving in the popular and even legal lexicon to mean nearly anything the person using those terms wants them to mean? Does this mean that pro-choice MAAs who are fully law-abiding are now considered "child molesters" simply because of their views, regardless of having had no actual sexual contact with a minor? Does the exercise of free speech in defense of fully consensual intergenerational romantic/sexual relationships now constitute an act of "child pornography?" I am not currently sure how graphic Greaves' first person fictional narratives were, but I will say that the mere written word is not currently against the law in America, though authors have been arrested on "obscenity" charges for such written material in the past. That is the joy of the "obscenity" charge for prosecutors--the charge can be applied to nearly anything that happens to offend them or others badly enough.
Also, is it any wonder that Sheriff Judd keeps a Bible on his desk? Not to disparage the Bible for whatever truths or insights it can provide to those who read it, but that tome has been infamous for the number of fundamentalists who have used various scriptures within it to justify any number of totalitarian policies or bigoted attitudes. Never mind the fact that there is clearly nothing in the Bible that speaks out against mutually consensual intergenerational relationships, as the "pedophile problem" was a non-issue in the long ago era when the Bible was written since younger people were not conceptualized in the same way then that they are today, i.e., as helpless, naive innocents who are always harmed by participation in even mutually consensual sexual activity. Then again, Bible-thumpers of any given era have always felt free to interpret and twist any given scripture to mean pretty much anything they want it to mean, and to help them rationalize any given moralizing crusade they may have up their sleeves in any given decade or century.
Further, Sheriff Judd is known throughout Florida as a crusader against "child predators," yet another term that appears to be used more and more broadly as time goes on. So Greaves is now a "child predator" because of his ideas and opinions? What does that make anyone who dares to speak in an open-minded fashion about mutually consensual intergenerational sexual contact? Is it any wonder that the mainstream progressives and liberals--a political tendency whose adherents have not been known for their courage over the past three decades since the conservative mindset took over the nation with Reagan's election back in 1980—usually tend to speak out as mindlessly ignorant about this subject as any conservative whenever they care to discuss it publicly? By broadening these terms to apply to individuals with no criminal records who simply have unpopular ideas, this is a clear attempt at intimidating people into not speaking out against the hysteria, to not look at the general subject of youth sexuality in a remotely progressive fashion (at least not publicly), and to not in any way challenge the feeding of people who benefit and acquire power via the ongoing "child predator" and sex abuse hysteria like Judd out of fear of being called all the usual names. It takes real courage to challenge the extreme damage that people like Judd are doing to the foundation of our democracy, and this courage is in short supply today as anyone who merely challenges the popular reigning conception of youth sexuality, or our present day paradigm of the "child" in general, can be labeled a "child predator" or a "child molester."
Of course, Judd made sure to justify his "obscenity" charge against Greaves by saying that it's unlawful in his Florida county to distribute "obscene material depicting minors engaged in conduct harmful to minors." Never mind the fact that all of the available objective and peer-reviewed science has found no evidence that intergenerational sexual activity is harmful to minors if the matter of consent was honored and respected by the older participant. How long are we going to ignore science and continue to allow the law to create policies that are based on a social myth? Isn't this problem especially grave now that freedom of speech and the free expression of unpopular ideas that a lot of people consider to be "disgusting" are at risk of being stifled by the power of the state? If this precedent is allowed to continue, how far will it go? Where will it end? What type of society will be the ultimate result of this tendency taken to its logical conclusion?
Thankfully, this major threat to democracy in general and the First Amendment in particular has not gone entirely unnoticed by those who have worked within the legal system. Note this other excerpt from the above linked article:
“Legal experts questioned whether Greaves' right to free speech would come into play if there's a trial. If prosecutors can charge Greaves for shipping his book, they ask, what would prevent booksellers from facing prosecution for selling Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, a novel about a pedophile [sic]?
" ‘As bad as this book may be, the charge opens a very big Pandora's box,’ said Dennis J. Kenney, a former police officer in Polk County and a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. ‘The charge sounds to me like a significant overreach.’"
It's nice to see that some people like Prof. Kenney can put aside the emotional effect that this book has on him long enough to realize what is actually at stake when it comes to the type of legal actions taken by Sheriff Judd and his many ideological partners-in-crime. Hence, there is hope on the horizon, but will we end up in a Second Dark Age before this hysteria and those who benefit from it are exposed for what they really are, and for what the implications they represent on our core freedoms really entail? That is the major question we should all be concerned with.
Finally, Sheriff Judd made a comment in the above linked article that is all too common from any pundit looking for an irreproachable excuse to circumvent democracy and arrest people for promulgating "offensive" or "dangerous" ideas:
" ‘If we can get jurisdiction ... we're coming after you,’ Judd said. ‘There's nothing in the world more important than our children.’"
As long as that intellectually dishonest excuse is made, virtually any curtailment of our essential freedoms and liberties can be rationalized, and those who do cherish democracy are often afraid to challenge anyone making such statements for fear of being accused of being a "child predator," "child molester," "soft on child abuse," etc., regardless of the fact that it's quite obvious that what Judd is actually concerned about is not the safety of children, but rather an attempt to make it a case of political suicide to challenge the sacrosanct idea of what the conceptual image of the "child" is supposed to represent in our society.
As one of my fellow MAAs who reviewed this e-book said to me about this situation via e-mail:
"He was arrested for 'distributing obscene material depicting minors engaged in conduct harmful to minors.' Obviously, Amazon is at least as guilty. They, not Greaves, sent it to me. Should I report them to the police?
"Seriously, if Greaves is going to be arrested over this, we should all push for Amazon, Jeff Bezos, and all his minions under him to be arrested. What better way to make people realize the absurdity of all this?"
To further underscore the seriousness of this situation, how much of a threat this hysteria poses to our democracy, and exactly what happens when mob rule takes over and people allow their emotions to cloud their reasoning faculties, my fellow MAA activist Scotty made this observation about the Greaves arrest:
"He did not send the material to a minor; he sent it to an adult police officer. He violated Polk County law, not state law.
"Then the sheriff asks Colorado to arrest the man and extradite him to Florida, and they do it? He WAS NOT arrested by Polk County deputies in Colorado where they have no jurisdiction; Colorado authorities did it.
"Now, a red-neck county in Florida seeks to impose its will upon the rest of the United States.
"I went to AC360 to comment, and I could not believe the things that were posted there. The vast majority agreed with the sheriff AND said that if the author cannot be prosecuted under the Constitution of the United States as it is presently written, then we should change it to allow that!
"Do you see where this is heading? If such a constitutional referendum came before the people now it would probably pass.
"The powers-that-be are using pedophilia to take away our freedoms! The posters also wanted the people who purchased the book to be jailed, and Amazon to be prosecuted for selling it!
"Playboy magazine interviewed noted international security consultant Philippe Bacard and asked him if it were possible to turn America into a police state. His reply:
"'Easy. First, keep a dossier of every schoolchild from the beginning, so that every future American will grow up knowing that the government is keeping a record of his activities.
"'Second, scare the people into surrendering their freedoms by filling the news with stories of drug dealers, pedophiles, and terrorists.
"'In fact, it is happening now!'"
As of December 22nd, 2010, Greaves has declared that he will continue his habit of courage by fighting the charges against him, as reported here.
An excerpt from the above linked article notes:
“Greaves said he plans to fight the obscenity charge, and he expects to win.
“One lawyer says Greaves will walk out of jail a free man.
“ ‘I don’t think that this case has a chance of being successful for Grady Judd and Polk County authorities,’ said defense attorney and First Amendment expert Lawrence Walters.”
Though many people will balk at the fact that a "pedophile" will be likely be granted the freedom of speech to express his opinions openly, this predicted resolution will actually be a victory for everyone in America, because ultimately the Constitution and the principles we defend under American law will prevail over knee-jerk emotional reactionary attitudes, and one less book will be censored as a result.
My thanks to fellow MAA activist LOD for providing me and the rest of the community with the information from the above linked article.
The early drafts of this essay generated a good degree of further discourse amongst my fellow MAA activists on the GirlChat forum, and their words deserve to be included in the last section of this essay.
My fellow activist qtns2di4 had this to say while quickly evaluating my first draft:
"Obscenity statutes have so far been upheld as valid 1A exceptions.
"I wouldn't fight it, because of this, as a 1A issue.
"I am much, much, much more convinced that it is a violation of the Federation arrangement through the Commerce Clause. This is very clearly Interstate Commerce. Federal jurisdiction. The states have no authority over that. The police officers have to be arrested for possession, but there is no fault either from the Colorado guy [Greaves] or from Amazon because they are in other states, so they are regulated by the Federal in this interaction."
Lateralus responded to the above with the following anecdote:
"It doesn't matter on what grounds you fight this; it will stand at the local level, though it might be overturned at the state/federal level. The reason is simple: if you have a jury trying this case, the jury will uphold anything having to do with pedophilia, because most people are ignorant and high-strung when it comes to this issue. I believe juries should be outlawed in the U.S. at this point. They used to be fairly reliable. You could count on the average person to exercise fairness with regard to their peers and be pretty well up on the laws. That time is no more. Juries were invented to counter the biases inherent to the class system, but they are no longer very useful because average people are idiots who make decisions based on emotional gut reactions, not on facts or higher principles."
Though Lateralus' words towards his fellow 'common' citizens were rather harsh and arguably ad hominem territory, it cannot be denied that the essence of his statement was true: too many people think with their emotions when it comes to this issue, and anti-democratic, agenda-pushing pundits like Sheriff Judd count on this. If Judd didn't think that he could count on this type of emotionalistic attitude from his fellow citizens, he never would have wasted the time to push such an unconstitutional case in the first place. He knew Greaves' opinions were unpopular enough that many people in a possible jury--along with many in the press on any side of the political spectrum--wouldn't care about the important foundations of American jurisprudence as long as a "disgusting" pedophile was arrested and his book censored.
In response to the above response by Lateralus, qtns2di4 stated:
"In most states (and for most felonies) the defendant can freely choose whether to go jury or bench trial.
"In this particular case, the Commerce Clause argument would be about admissibility in the court, so it would have to be argued pre-trial, and would always be bench, not jury, because it is a Technicality.
"The First argument is about the merits of the case. Here is where it might be jury (don't know the specifics, there might be choice or there might be a statute determining it is one or the other). Evidently, for the same reasons you point out, I would choose bench. But still, if the presiding judge is only county level, not state level, then it might still stick - at least until it made it to the state level. Any state level judge should know better than that (should is, of course, no guarantee that they do).
"Notice that the book need not be declared legal in Polk County for Greaves to be acquitted; all the defense needs to prove is that it was a legal material to sell or possess in his own jurisdiction and that there was no way he could prevent its sale to pockets within the USA where it is not legal. Much like, e.g., small wineries, breweries, and distilleries that only sell online cannot realistically know when they are selling to a dry county - yet I am sure if any such case was tested the cops are the only ones that would be jailed - and at least they would be very publicly embarrassed. (Now of course, if the verdict makes the book legal, that is welcome! I just wanted to remind [here] that it doesn't have to go that far to acquit Greaves)."
My fellow MAA activist Summerdays then had these important words and observations to add to this discussion:
"Our 1st Amendment 'rights' have been watered down to the point that 'freedom of speech' hardly means anything anymore. That is the insidious way to do it. Most people will say, 'well, we still have freedom of speech, there are just certain kinds of speech that don't deserve protection, that's all.' This is how people are tricked into believing they have freedom of speech when they don't. Into believing that censorship in some way serves our rights - by providing us protection at the expense of liberty. Unfortunately, most people these days seem far more concerned with protection than liberty, they'd gladly sacrifice the latter for the former, and it's apparently beyond them to consider why that's a bad thing. I'd rather take the risk of being free, than the protection of living in a cage.
"And people will still argue, 'the ones in power are sensible, they'll only censor things that really ought to be censored to begin with.' Slippery slope arguments don't seem to faze these people. Most of them are lucky enough to have thoughts and opinions that go along with the status quo, or are otherwise too susceptible to suggestion. If it's censored, then it ought to have been censored. People argue that the topic of pedophilia is rightly censored because what kind of civilized society would allow the spreading of speech that depicts the 'rape' of children? But the reality of it is, I could have an extremely positive romantic fantasy about having an intimate moment with another human being, but if that human being is a minor, and I choose to share that fantasy with the wrong person, I could be subjecting myself to a world of hurt (if not at the hands of the law, then at the hands of my peers at least). There's nothing sensible about censoring the topic of pedophilia. There's nothing civilized about it either."
Summerdays continued with a few responses to various points I made in the above essay (which will be repeated in bold face to make it clear which points Summerdays is referring to, while Summerdays' responses will be in standard text in quotation marks):
"I was outraged by the content," Judd told The Associated Press. "It was clearly a manifesto on how to sexually batter children ... You just can't believe how absolutely disgusting it was."
"This cop is going up against a phantom. A 'sexual predator' who wrote a book about committing heinous crimes. Except the predator, and the book, exist only within his mind, and the minds of those who believe his lies. Unfortunately, though, that phantom has been projected onto a real person who wrote a real book, and he's being punished for this cop's tortured fantasies. I can't believe the system encourages this gross abuse of 'justice.'
"Obscenity law is unconstitutional."
Here I must say that I totally agree with Summerdays on that assessment, because the notion of "obscenity" doesn't stand well as a legal concept in a constitutional democracy, since the term is very subjective, what it covers changes not only from decade to decade but also according to the personal opinions and sensibilities of any given judge depending upon what type of community he/she happened to have been brought up in or happened to be adjudicating within. It's not a concept that can have a specific definition that holds up to the test of time or all sensibilities, and as such it results in judges and LEOs using their own discretion upon which material to judge "obscene" or not. Also, and most importantly, what the "obscenity" laws basically legalize is the power of the courts and LEAs [law enforcement agencies] to criminalize any type of text or image that they find personally offensive, or which a majority of people in the nation (or certain areas within the country) may find offensive, and that is not conducive with democratic principles. This is also why hate speech and anti-war speech must be allowed in a true constitutional democracy despite the highly offensive nature of such words or images.
So Greaves is now a "child predator" because of his ideas and opinions?
"Judd laid a trap for Greaves. I think it's obvious which one of the two is the predator."
It takes real courage to challenge the extreme damage that people like Judd are doing to the foundation of our democracy[...]
"The people who stand up for democracy are labeled criminals and thrown in jail. The people who continue to erode our democracy are awarded positions like 'sheriff,' 'judge,' 'mayor.' It's disgusting."
I would opine here that all too often people in positions of power attempt to protect the sanctity of certain ideas while masquerading as an attempt to protect actual people. However noble this may sound to too many people in essence, it's not harmonious with the principles of a true constitutional democracy. And before any detractor of ours chimes in here with the following oft-used statement to attempt to defend anti-democratic actions, "the U.S. actually isn't a democracy, it's a republic," let me remind you that the only 'differences' between a democracy and a republic are purely semantic.
Of course, Judd made sure to justify his "obscenity" charge against Greaves by saying that it's unlawful in his Florida county to distribute "obscene material depicting minors engaged in conduct harmful to minors."
"Personally, I think Judd should be held responsible for requesting material that he knew was illegal in his county. I don't give a damn that he's a cop, that doesn't give him the right to break the law with impunity, especially for the purpose of luring others into legal traps. And it doesn't make a difference to me whether this constitutes legal 'entrapment'; I think the cop should be punished regardless, for his blatant disregard for the law, as well as his petty victimizing (not to mention the lies - no, cops should not be allowed to lie to anyone).
"What a world we live in."
After this, qtns2di4 then weighed in with the following responses to Summerdays' above points [the former of which are in standard text within quotation marks, the latter of which are again in bold face]:
Most people will say, "well, we still have freedom of speech, there are just certain kinds of speech that don't deserve protection, that's all."
"'Freedom of speech is there to protect the ideas which are uncomfortable to us. The ideas everyone agrees upon need no legal protection.' (Miloš Forman)"
Into believing that censorship in some way serves our rights - by providing us protection at the expense of liberty. Unfortunately, most people these days seem far more concerned with protection than liberty, they'd gladly sacrifice the latter for the former, and it's apparently beyond them to consider why that's a bad thing.
"Larry Niven's Equation: F * S = k "(The product of Freedom and Security is a constant. Any increase in either comes at the expense of the other)."
And people will still argue, "the ones in power are sensible, they'll only censor things that really ought to be censored to begin with."
"Politicians are not suddenly more sensible or ethical because you happen to agree with their current position. They are the same politicians you hate every other day of the calendar, when they are not busy screwing up pedophiles, but screwing up someone else."
Personally, I think Judd should be held responsible for requesting material that he knew was illegal in his county. I don't give a damn that he's a cop, that doesn't give him the right to break the law with impunity, especially for the purpose of luring others into legal traps. And it doesn't make a difference to me whether this constitutes legal "entrapment," I think the cop should be punished regardless, for his blatant disregard for the law, as well as his petty victimizing (not to mention the lies - no, cops should not be allowed to lie to anyone).
"If he had requested a product from a country under U.S. embargo, he'd already be in federal jail, no matter what his title is - and independently of whether anyone else would also get charged with distribution (likely yes)."
Thus, it would appear that LEOs are liable for violating some laws when seeking arrests, but not any that happen to more blatantly inconvenience the federal government as opposed to the rights of common citizens.
A single statement/request by Tester is worth mentioning here:
"Anderson Cooper, Bill O'Reilly, and other TV news anchors all said on National TV that they purchased this book. I want these TV news anchors arrested for possession of [obscene material]."
The source for the above can be seen here.
If these news anchors are not prosecuted as Tester has requested, then it would appear we are sent the message that what type of material you may have in your possession doesn't matter so much as why you have possession of it. If this is the case, then why do the LEAs continue to prohibit respected journalists from viewing the content of their child pornography files for the purpose of verifying all of the often outrageous claims made by the LEOs in regards to what type of imagery exists in those files? (And yes, you're damn right I'm going to bring this subject up again, even if only briefly!) Once again, it would appear that certain laws are honored or ignored by the courts depending upon whom they may or may not happen to inconvenience.