Van Harvey

  • Americans vs America – To Keep and Bear Arms Across Time – pt4

    America, and Americans – what do they have left in common? If that strikes you as an odd question to ask, you probably haven’t taken a public position (as I’ve been doing in these recent posts) on something like the the 1st, or 2nd Amendments to our Constitution. Do that, and I think you’ll quickly notice, as in these examples below, how divided we now are by the very ideas that once defined us:

    • On our college campus’s, opposing views are increasingly being met not with the force of persuasion, but the persuasion of force:

      “…A controversial conservative commentator was escorted by police from California State University, Los Angeles as angry demonstrators protested his presence on campus Thursday afternoon….”

    • in the state of California, a State Senator has proposed infringing upon the freedom of speech, by proposing a bill, SB1424, to have the state approve which news is fit to print:

      “…This bill would require any person who operates a social media, as defined, Internet Web site with a physical presence in California to develop a strategic plan to verify news stories shared on its Web site. The bill would require the plan to include, among other things, a plan to mitigate the spread of false information through news stories, the utilization of fact-checkers to verify news stories, providing outreach to social media users, and placing a warning on a news story containing false information….”

    • Dana Loesch is a clear example of how exercising those rights that are protected under the 1st Amendment, in support of those protected by the 2nd Amendment, can result in not only a barrage of tweets and shouts for you to be raped and murdered (non-violently, of course), but it can also leave you in need of physical protection to escape those who’d physically like to harm you:

      “…”I had to have a security detail to get out,” she said of the Sunrise, Fla. event. “I wouldn’t be able to exit that if I didn’t have a private security detail. There were people rushing the stage and screaming burn her. And I came there to talk solutions and I still am going to continue that conversation on solutions as the NRA has been doing since before I was alive.”…”

    • Even the idea of Americans being ‘United’ is dividing us, as this ‘think piece’ that was endorsed by the CEO of Twitter as a “Great Read“, which yearns for one party rule, the end of the GOP, while promoting California as the role model for a new ‘peaceful’ Civil War to banish ‘The Right‘ from power, and from ‘respectable’ society. If you doubt that, just take note that part 4 of this ‘great read’, is subtitled:

      “Why there’s no bipartisan way forward at this juncture in our history — one side must win”

    These are not simply emotional outbursts that’ve been stirred up in public gatherings, they are the results of persistent, considered intellectual positions that have been percolating up from academia, and have been spilling out into our mainstream conversations for decades. Some recent examples can be found in last year’s debates over whether it was ok to “Punch a Nazi” (with the implication being that violence as political speech is ok, if you happen to think of the other side as being a Nazi, or in sympathy with them), or the New York Times’ opinion piece calling to “Repeal the 2nd Amendment“, and of course we recently had a retired Supreme Court Justice writing an op-ed in that same ‘newspaper of record’, calling to Repeal the 2nd Amendment, on the basis of public opinion – or at least that part of the public that agrees with him – rather than on the basis of those American ideals which the Constitution was written to preserve, protect and defend.

    As I say, it’s easy to see what divides us today – but how easy is it for Americans of today to see what it was that once united us, and how?

    Back at the time of our founding, America was 13 colonies of people who then, as now, held often radically different views and interests, and were prone to dislike and distrust the people in those ‘other’ colonies. How were they able to unite? Today, more than ever, that’s a question worth re-asking.

    Ideas, not positions, united us
    When Thomas Jefferson took up the task of writing the Declaration of Independence, he intended it to express ideas that were common to the American mind,

    “…Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c….”

    , those ‘harmonizing sentiments of the day‘, which were formed from the ideas of ‘Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c.‘ were the substance with which we were able to form ourselves from – not by compulsory agreements upon popular positions not shared by all, but through familiarity with those concepts which enabled a thorough discussion of such disparate positions, and made reasonable disagreements over them, possible. If you understand that, then I don’t think that it’s too much of a stretch to say that America sprang from the 1st and 2nd Amendments – not the amendments themselves of course, but from the ideas which animated them.

    Bookending Liberty
    Those same ideas and their sources are what enabled the formation of ‘US’, and they bookended America’s opening act, first by animating the American Revolution through Lexington, Concord, and the Declaration of Independence, and then two decades later by securing America from the powerful federal government that their fellow Americans’ were creating, by insisting that their new constitution be amended with a Bill of Rights, formed from those same ‘harmonizing sentiments of the day’.

    And why did they insist upon a Bill of Rights as a condition for ratifying the new Constitution? For many of the same reasons that they insisted upon having a Constitution. Once the revolutionary war had been won, the aspirations of the newly minted states became tempered with the reality that they were on a fast track to warring with each other, over issues of currency, fishing rights, trade, slavery and more, and they soon realized that if they were to remain good neighbors, they would need the benefit of stronger walls than any one state would be able to provide for themselves alone.

    Our Constitution, as originally proposed by those who were seen as being among the very best amongst us – ‘an assembly of demigods‘ is how Thomas Jefferson described the roll-call of the Framers in the Constitutional Convention, to John Adams – was written to define a structure of three governmental branches jealously sharing checks and balances upon each other’s powers in govt, in order to limit that government’s power and preserve our liberty for as long as possible. But because We The People didn’t fully trust the good intentions and best ideas of those who desired to protect us, they, in what might be called the ‘good walls make good neighbors‘ sentiment, required that a Bill of Rights be agreed to be amended to the proposed Constitution, for it to be ratified, erecting legislative barriers to protect those ideas which were the one thing that all Americans had in common with each other. Not least of those concerns, was that they felt the need to bar their new federal government from infringing upon the individual’s right to speak, publish, and worship as they might choose (see the 1st Amendment), and to explicitly protect the right to defend you and yours from the unjust assault of others, be they person, mob, tyrant… or even the well intentioned policies of their own government (see the 2nd Amendment).

    The important part of that ‘book-ending’ to keep in mind, and to re-emphasize today, is that we used those same ideas which we formed our governments from, to secure us from the best intentions of the best amongst us, with whom we would have to govern ourselves with.

    Also worth repeating, is that we were able to become the United States of America, by the promise of:

    • ensuring that individual rights would be respected, defended, and upheld by a representative government;
    • that its powers would be defined and limited by a written constitution;
    • that governing themselves according to a Rule of Law whose purpose it was to see to it that the rights of all would be secured, was the only thing worthy of the ‘consent of the governed’;

    , that is the essence of what America is, having the individual right to live in liberty with each other, without fear of one power or another interfering with or limiting our lives – from either the well, or the ill, intentioned hands, of those in power – for as long as possible.

    Still with all of that, our Founders, as familiar with history as they were, weren’t overly optimistic about how long their legislative wall could stand in defense of our Liberty. Most of them, with the republics of Rome, Venice and others in mind, gave it 200 years, at the most, until a ‘debased posterity‘ leveled those walls to the demagogic ground. And so today, some 230 years later, I suppose we should be pleased that we (being that debased posterity they spoke of) are still doing better than they expected.

    But just how pleased should we be… and for how long can we hope to remain it?

    Natural Faultlines
    Those long expected cracks in our walls have become especially visible in recent decades, as so many natural born Americans have been raised without an understanding of what America is, that in their ignorance of the ideas that formed us, their impassioned actions naturally serve to widen, deepen, and multiply those structural cracks, and at the same time serve to self identify themselves with how little they have in common with America.

    It took well over two thousand years of development for humanity in general, and the West in particular, to reach the point of realizing the American ideal – and it has taken us just over two hundred years for us to come as close as we are today to losing it. This historical tidbit is something that would have been far less surprising to them back then, than it is to us today, and the reason why, the reason why the Founders bet we wouldn’t last 200 years, is that real progress is so hard to achieve and maintain, while a gradual regress is so easy and natural to slip into.

    The natural inclination of mankind is to force their fellows to conform to the group. It is only natural that people bereft of the very uncommon – one might even say exceptional – ideals of America, should revert to the naturally more comforting habits of tribalism, brutishness and savagery. The later should not be remarkable or surprising, because only the former is, and it takes nothing more than a people who are ignorant of those ideals, to extinguish that historically exceptional surprise. But for that to make any real sense, you also have to face up to the fact that people ignorant of what our Founder’s generation understood, are no less smart than they were, or we are, today. Worse still, that people’s fearsome ‘smartness’ is easily turned to the purpose of rationalizing and justifying, every ‘smart’ idea that pops into their heads – you need look no further than California (or 1930’s Germany for that matter (and yes, I definitely did go there)) for examples of that.

    While our Declaration of Independence expressed our founding ideals better than most anything else, as being the meaning and spirit of America, and our our motto ‘E Pluribus Unum‘ (Out of Many, One), is the ethos by which we (over the course of four score and seven years… or so…) managed to become one nation, from many peoples, but we were able to only by way of recognizing the universality of Individual Rights, and the necessity of protecting them by a constitutionally based Rule of Law, from being abused by our laws.

    Given all of that, it’s downright tragi-comic that today our Founding Documents now seem to serve mostly to define which side of our Founders legislative wall of liberty, that an American today is standing upon: clamoring either to tear it down, or to prop it up. It’s by that choice, whether it is made in ignorance of, or opposition to, those ideas which America was formed from, that those living in America today, identify themselves as being either Americans in fact (or at least in spirit), or Americans in name only. This probably should come as no surprise, divide and conquer being the effective strategy it always has been, and what people passionately believe, in, and against, are wonderfully effective instruments of division and destruction, but even so, it is jarring to realize that it is our understanding of our Individual Rights which once served to unite us, that are now at the center of what divides so many Americans, from America.

    What concerns me today, is that our divisions have just about reached the rhetorical limits of being confined to rhetoric only. The ‘think piece’ that I noted at the top, which was endorsed by the CEO of Twitter as being a “Great Read“, helps make this point for reasons that are very different from what its authors intended. For instance, not only do they openly yearn for the end of the GOP, for one party rule, and propose California as a political role model for the nation to follow (!), they also propose waging a new ‘peaceful’ Civil War to banish ‘The Right’ from power and from respectable society. At the same time, they are urging that such a revolution should be brought about, ‘peacefully’, but without ‘their people’ being stupid enough to get involved in discussions with, or cooperation with, ‘the other side’,

    “…The next time you call for bipartisan cooperation in America and long for Republicans and Democrats to work side by side, stop it. Remember the great lesson of California, the harbinger of America’s political future, and realize that today such bipartisan cooperation simply can’t get done….”

    They justify this position on account of their superior intelligence and reasonability, which seems to be neatly expressed in their tone-deaf evaluation of the ‘other side’,

    “…The Republican Party was trapped in the brain-dead orthodoxies of an ideology stuck in the past. The party was controlled by zealous activists and corrupt special interests who refused to face up to the reality of the new century….”

    In case you missed it there, that previous passage says exactly nothing of meaning; its conceptual content is zero. But it states a position that you can easily be for or against, on the basis of ideologically stoked passions alone. Not for convincing arguments, of course, but only because you feel it is ‘necessary’. Continuing in that vein,

    “…Let’s just say what needs to be said: The Republican Party over the past 40 years has maneuvered itself into a position where they are the bad guys on the wrong side of history. For a long time, they have been able to hide this fact through a sophisticated series of veils, invoking cultural voodoo that fools a large enough number of Americans to stay in the game. …”

    , and given that fair minded evaluation, they contend that,

    “…At some point, one side or the other must win — and win big. The side resisting change, usually the one most rooted in the past systems and incumbent interests, must be thoroughly defeated — not just for a political cycle or two, but for a generation or two. That gives the winning party or movement the time and space needed to really build up the next system without always fighting rear-guard actions and getting drawn backwards. The losing party or movement will need that same time to go through a fundamental rethink, a long-term renewal that eventually will enable them to play a new game….”

    They foresee this victory of their side, over that of ‘the other’s‘, is to come about not because of some ideas that all may listen to and understand, but because it is a position that they want, and want badly (Note: Aristotle defined a ‘child’ as being those who are governed not by reasoning, but by their passions and desires). But don’t despair, dear reader, there’s no need for concern, you see, because they believe that this new ‘Civil War’ which they are calling for, can be won peacefully:

    “…One side or the other must win. This is a civil war that can be won without firing a shot. But it is a fundamental conflict between two worldviews that must be resolved in short order….”

    Ok, swell. One question: How?! They expect that these forward thinking revolutionary new ideal positions of theirs, which brook no room for, or possibility of, reasonable political discussions or cooperation with ‘the other side’, is somehow going to enable them to defeat that ‘other side’, in a revolution that can be fought and won without firing a shot.

    Again: How?!

    Clearly not by winning an argument which they’ve stated their refusal to engage in, so it won’t be won by convincing that other side of the basis of their superior ideas and policies… so how?

    Can they really be entirely ignorant of the fact that refusing to discuss what you disagree with others about, while characterizing them as brain dead, hateful, racist idiots, means eliminating even the possibility of a chance for a ‘peaceful’process’?! Not only that, but they are explicitly rejecting an argument on conceptual grounds, in favor of pragmatic, utilitarian grounds of ‘More’ over ‘Moral’ reasons. They even characterize our very bloody Civil War, as being less an issue of slavery versus liberty, than one of competing ‘economic models’ of industry vs agrarianism, and that,

    “… They tried to somehow coexist from the time of the founding era, but by the middle of the 19th century, something had to give. One side or the other had to win.”

    , and so, having evaded the Democrat party’s historic association with racism, slavery and a denial of individual rights, and having positioned themselves as the party of economic prosperity via California’s Silicon Valley, guess what: the ‘other side’ is all about bad economic models, you see, because:

    “The Republican Party is the party of climate change denial.”

    Worse, this ‘economic motivation’ passage isn’t simply a Pro-Regressive Democrat talking point, it is also a favorite of a great many so-called ‘libertarians’, who routinely and enthusiastically endorse the Confederacy as ‘liberty minded’ states, and Lincoln as a totalitarian despot. While such views are incompatible with the American ideal of Individual Rights, there are many political philosophies (they are in fact legion) which support this view, and require only that you adopt the Utilitarian and Pragmatic view that reality is ultimately unknowable, and that Individual Rights are ‘nonsense upon stilts‘. If you accept that, and most colleges and universities today will cheerfully grant you a diploma if you do, then you will be able to, and be required even, to evade of questions of Reality and of Right and Wrong, in favor of an economic cost/benefit calculus, which considers only matters of quantifying more and less material benefits. Not coincidentally, issues of Rights and Principles and Reason, cannot even be discussed, absent a serious regard for Reality and an ethics of Right and Wrong – without that, such ideas can only be nonsense.

    IOW, in the view of the ‘Great Read’, having successfully eliminated questions of Right and Wrong from consideration, they can assert the greater utility of their ‘California Future’, and seek to impose it upon us all, and because they say that they want to do so ‘peacefully’, they easily presume that it can be done… if only by means of their superior word magic – perhaps by invoking the positions of both Hitler and Chamberlain to achieve ‘Peaceful revolution in our time!‘?!

    How can they imagine this ‘peaceful revolution‘ of theirs, is in any way a possible one? The answer to that is, that absent understanding, the impossible seems easy… until it’s too late. And given that, truly, how could anyone expect to achieve anything but the darkest past, as their inevitable future?

    These Leftist’s ideals have maxed out the room to speak without acting today, and those amongst us who’ve left no more verbal wiggle room, are not only calling for eliminating the desire for cooperation, but are actively moving to eliminate even the language of individual rights and principles that would make such a thing as a ‘peaceful revolution‘ possible.

    The painful fact is that those ‘harmonizing sentiments‘ which Jefferson so confidently presumed his American audience to be familiar with, through their familiarity with the elementary works of ‘Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c‘, those were the very works and ideas which have been deliberately ‘educated’ out of most Americans, over the course of more than a century of pro-regressive efforts at ‘educational reform’. American ‘educational reform’ has served to reform America, by ‘dissappearing’ those harmonizing sentiments, and the means to them, along with the unique exceptional leap of progress that the ideal of America truly represents.

    What issues cannot be decided by Reason, will be determined by force
    We’ve just about reached the point where ‘talking smack’ can go no further, without actually physically smacking, and then being smacked back, in turn. The Pro-Regressives, Left and Right, have word-danced themselves as far down the anti-American path as it is possible to go, without actually acting to put their anti-American ideals into action – I can see no further room for them to move verbally, while being anti-American in spirit only, and not in actual fact. Should the Pro-Regressives succeed in removing either the 2nd or 1st Amendment though, they will cease to be mere political parties expressing a difference of opinion on how to achieve the same ideals, but will have become an occupying power in fact, at war with those it has naturally separated themselves from, and moved to the opposite side of.

    Sorry, but for one side or the other to ‘win’, by eliminating not only the competition, but the 1st & 2nd Amendments, there will be shots fired and that war will not be civil.

    I can hear it: ‘Shots fired?! At ‘war’?! Really?!‘ It deeply pains me to say it, but ‘Yes, really‘. Although I entirely disagree with the reasoning of the Twitter CEO’s ‘Great Read, the conclusions they’ve come to, leave no room for avoiding the war they seek. It requires only a general familiarity with history, to arrive at the appalling understanding that those who scoff most at the possibility of war, are the very ones who blindly usher it onto the world’s stage. Time and time again, it is the refusal to see what should divide us, especially when being misrepresented as the means to achieve ‘peace’ (hello Neville Chamberlain), it’s then when the real issues are ignored or brushed away through appeals to tolerance, that some of history’s darkest, and most ironic jokes are delivered, and their punchlines are often war itself.

    This passage from John Locke’s ‘The Second Treatise of Government‘ is one of those foundational ‘harmonizing sentiments‘ which Jefferson spoke of as being an obvious ‘expression of the American mind‘, and it is about what being in a state of war was commonly understood to be, and whether or not you care to admit it, or try to tolerantly avoid it, he is describing not the causes of war, but those signs by which you can know that a state of war already exists, and they bear a frightening resemblance to what the ‘Great Read’ is advocating:

    CHAP. III. Of the State of War.
    §. 16.
    THE state of war is a state of enmity and destruction: and therefore declaring by word or action, not [207] a passionate and hasty, but a sedate settled design upon another man’s life, puts him in a state of war with him against whom he has declared such an intention, and so has exposed his life to the other’s power to be taken away by him, or any one that joins with him in his defence, and espouses his quarrel; it being reasonable and just, I should have a right to destroy that which threatens me with destruction: for, by the fundamental law of nature, man being to be preserved as much as possible, when all cannot be preserved, the safety of the innocent is to be preferred: and one may destroy a man who makes war upon him, or has discovered an enmity to his being, for the same reason that he may kill a wolf or a lion; because such men are not under the ties of the common-law of reason, have no other rule, but that of force and violence, and so may be treated as beasts of prey, those dangerous and noxious creatures, that will be sure to destroy him whenever he falls into their power.
    §. 17.


    And hence it is, that he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power, does thereby put himself into a state of war with him; it being to be understood as a declaration of a design upon his life: for I have reason to conclude, that he who would get me into his power without my consent, would use me as he pleased when he had got me there, and destroy me too [208] when he had a fancy to it; for no body can desire to have me in his absolute power, unless it be to compel me by force to that which is against the right of my freedom, i. e. make me a slave. To be free from such force is the only security of my preservation; and reason bids me look on him, as an enemy to my preservation, who would take away that freedom which is the fence to it; so that he who makes an attempt to enslave me, thereby puts himself into a state of war with me. He that, in the state of nature, would take away the freedom that belongs to any one in that state, must necessarily be supposed to have a design to take away every thing else, that freedom being the foundation of all the rest; as he that, in the state of society, would take away the freedom belonging to those of that society or common-wealth, must be supposed to design to take away from them every thing else, and so be looked on as in a state of war.
    §. 18.
    This makes it lawful for a man to kill a thief, who has not in the least hurt him, nor declared any design upon his life, any farther than, by the use of force, so to get him in his power, as to take away his money, or what he pleases, from him; because using force, where he has no right, to get me into his power, let his pretence be what it will, I have no reason to suppose, that he, who would take away my liberty, would [209] not, when he had me in his power, take away every thing else. And therefore it is lawful for me to treat him as one who has put himself into a state of war with me, i. e. kill him if I can; for to that hazard does he justly expose himself, whoever introduces a state of war, and is aggressor in it.”

    I am both heartened, and concerned, that a member of the much maligned Millennial Generation, included a significant quotation from this, and other writings from our founding era, in this Daily Wire article, illustrating that even though the assumptions made about groups of Americans might be foolish, the divisions between us are very real.

    The act of turning a blind eye to what enabled our 13 Colonies to become united as states, is the means of transforming a people once united as one, into a fractious many. The passive aggressive screed espoused in the Twitter CEO’s ‘Great Read’, is intent upon pitting Americans against the idea of America, dividing one ‘Right!’, from another, and if we do not rediscover those ‘harmonizing sentiments’ which enabled our original colonies to unite, then it stands to reason that our differences will force us apart, and that won’t be done peacefully – at least not while denying the need for Americans to reason with the ‘Other Side’ of America. Which, by the way, is the reason we have the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and why we will fight to retain it, for all time.

  • Gorsuch vs Thomas: An object lesson in Constitutionally rooted disagreement
    Wow. USA Today ran the headline of this SCOTUS decision on immigration law as “Neil Gorsuch sides with liberals to tip decision to immigrant in Supreme Court deportation case“, which seems like a selective bit of spin, to say the least. But it did get my attention, and so I began, and am still reading, the opposing opinions  in “Sessions v. Dimaya” of Justice Gorsuch (for, beginning on pdf pg 31) and Justice Thomas (against, beginning on pdf pg 65), and I tell you what:This is good reading!

    As I began reading Gorsuch’s opinion, I was nodding at nearly every point, with a sense of “How can you argue against that?“.

    And then as I read Thomas’s opinion, he resoundingly struck back at each of those points – not so much by arguing against those points, but by going for a wider and deeper context which leaves them seeming to be less than decisive as relevant points, and I find myself thinking “ooOoohhh. Ah. I guess that’s how… hmmm…“.

    At this point I’m not so sure of my take on it yet, and though I do have the sense that Thomas is going for the deeper substance, but I will have to beg off of agreeing or disagreeing with either one until I can take some real time with comparing one’s point to the other’s counterpoint, but I tell you what – if you want to see what it means to argue a point of law where both sides are respectful of the Constitution, you could do a lot worse than starting with these two.

    What’s more, I’m betting that a large number of coming Supreme Court decisions are going to hinge upon the balancing points of these two Justices’ arguments.

    From Gorsuch’s opening: 

    “Vague laws invite arbitrary power. Before the Revolution, the crime of treason in English law was so capaciously construed that the mere expression of disfavored opinions could invite transportation or death. The founders cited the crown’s abuse of “pretended” crimes like this as one of their reasons for revolution. See Declaration of Independence ¶21. Today’s vague laws may not be as invidious, but they can invite the exercise of arbitrary power all the same—by leaving the people in the dark about what the law demands and allowing prosecutors and courts to make it up.
    The law before us today is such a law….”

    , and from Thomas’s conclusion:

    “…Surely the Court cannot credibly invoke stare decisis to defend the categorical approach—the same approach it says only a “lunatic” would continue to apply. Ante, at 24. If the Court views the categorical approach that way—the same way Johnson viewed it—then it must also agree that “[s]tanding by [the categorical approach] would undermine, rather than promote, the goals that stare decisis is meant to serve.” 576 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 15). That is especially true if the Court’s decision leads to the invalidation of scores of similarly worded state and federal statutes, which seems even more likely after today than it did after Johnson. Instead of adhering to an interpretation that it thinks unconstitutional and then using that interpretation to strike down another statute, the Court should have taken this opportunity to abandon the categorical approach for §16(b) once and for all.
    * * *
    The Court’s decision today is triply flawed. It unnecessarily extends our incorrect decision in Johnson. It uses a constitutional doctrine with dubious origins to invalidate yet another statute (while calling into question countless more). And it does all this in the name of a statutory interpretation that we should have discarded long ago. Because I cannot follow the Court down any of these rabbit holes, I respectfully dissent. “

    I wish all of our SCOTUS opinions were of this quality. Dare to dream!

  • Yes, Liberty IS more important than safety.

    If you are someone who’d march in public carrying this sign while protesting our 2nd Amendment, then you are probably someone who’s spent more time marching than studying their history, and far more time yammering about ‘Rights!’ than thinking about what they mean, and mean to our lives.

    Why yes, yes it is.

    To give the bullet point answer to their question ‘is freedom more valuable than safety?‘, the answer is:

    • Yes.

    Yes, and what’s more, Liberty is more important than safety. Not only should that not be a surprising answer, it shouldn’t be a new answer, to you, since America would not exist at all, if we hadn’t agreed on that answer at the very beginning of our nation. If that surprises you, as History typically surprises those who fail to attend to it, here’s a snippet from the end of what was once a well known speech from the time of our nation’s founding, by Patrick Henry:

    “… What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

    , if you’re unsure of why he ended his speech with that, the beginning (and the rest) might clue you in:

    “…I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings….”

    I know that there are some of you who are rolling your eyes at this, and at the picture of Patrick Henry’s speech. You should take note of that. If such ideas are alien to you, then however born and raised in America you may be, however legal your residency might be, the idea of America is alien to you. Please consider becoming a ‘dreamer’ on some other country’s hospitality. Canada perhaps. Or maybe New Zealand.

    For as Samuel Adams put it:

    If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. 

  • Maturity, Immaturity, and Pro-Regressing

    A society, knowing that there is no clear line that covers all, sets a legal age where you are expected to be, and are capable of, having the maturity of judgment to behave as an adult. That age has been set at 13 (where the body begins taking on adult…

  • The 2nd Amendment’s role in our abusive and violent society of social & legislative reformers. To Keep and Bear Arms Across Time – pt2

    Clearly, as we’re repeatedly beset with violent actions ranging from robbery, to assault, to murder, to the mind numbing mass slaughters we’ve experienced at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, a small town church in Texas, and now the sprawling high school in Parkland Florida, our society does have a problem with those who take up arms against the lives, rights and property of the rest of us. But just as clearly, confronting what the nature of that problem actually is, and why, as well as what actually can be done about it, is something that we’ve been fiercely unwilling to face up to – and that’s worth taking a closer look at.

    I argued in a previous post that it is because the primary purpose of the 2nd Amendment is not about Guns, that it is able to secure our right to keep and bear the personal arms of your choice, including guns. But why is that important? If you see its purpose as being nothing more than your possessing ‘Arms’, then you’ll be easily diverted with irrelevancies, such as which arms (a .38 Special was the ‘bad’ weapon when I was young, as an AR-15 is today), or crime, or how much of that ‘right’ you actually ‘need’ – and if you don’t see the problem there, it’s that sort of perspective that would ask Rosa Parks why she needed to sit in the front of the bus. With a Utilitarian view like that, it may never occur to you that the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is wedded to the rest of the Bill of Rights, in that its purpose is to secure our natural right to keep and bear arms in defense of all of our rights, and if you can manage to take that perspective, you’ll quickly see that criminals are the least and last of the threats to the 2nd Amendment’s purpose.

    What most people are not thinking about when the 2nd Amendment is brought to their mind, is our willful failure to identify the nature of what our rights are, which not only prevents us from dealing effectively with those who trespass against them, but encourages the greater trespasses and the very violence which the social & legislative reformers so noisly (and usefully) decry. It is that blank spot in our thoughts, whch has brought about one of those ironies which history delights in, as the attentions that both ‘Gun Rights!‘ and ‘Gun Control‘ enthusiasts mutually focus upon particular guns, serves to push the concepts of Arms and Individual Rights ever further from our minds, so that both groups are busily weakening our understanding of what the 2nd Amendment requires us to know, in order for it to be able to preserve those rights that it was written to defend for us.

    Without an adequate understanding of the concepts behind the 2nd Amendment, its revolutionary statement:

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    , becomes empty words (“nonsense upon stilts” is the pragmatic and Utilitarian view) that fall easy prey to ‘what the meaning of IS is‘, making it that much easier to deny or avoid dealing with what the issue of armed violence actually is. The 2nd Amendment’s power can be no greater than our understanding of it, and those who stand to gain ever more power with its loss, are very much aware of the the possibilities that our ignorance holds for them, and they are using that power to socially and legislatively reform America, into something less than what our Constitution is capable of serving.

    The role which the 2nd Amendment has in our abusive and violent society today, even today, is to provide We The People with the means of defending and preserving our individual rights, from those social & legislative reformers who justify using the power of government to infringe upon our lives through our rights, for their vision of the ‘Greater good’ – no matter how much disorder and violence those reforms might be shown to visit upon us. The role and responsibility of We The People in defending our rights through the 2nd Amendment, is to understand, and apply the concepts which its words defend us with. Those whose efforts are thwarted by it, know that, and they use every trick they can to muddle, evade, and ignore its meaning, so that such thoughts will continue to remain unthought by you, when the 2nd Amendment is brought to mind.

    While the 2nd Amendment is proof that the pen is mightier than the sword (we would not still have either arms or rights without the words of our Bill of Rights), its unprotected flanks expose it to attack from those grounds it doesn’t explicitly defend. The 2nd Amendment is not about Guns, Criminals or Hunting, but in the intellectual guerrilla warfare we’re currently engaged in, those issues serve as excellent cover for snipers firing fusillades of misdirection and falsehood into our midst. If you want to defend the 2nd Amendment’s ability to defend us, you must make the effort to understand it, and to spot, and disarm those assaults upon it, or it will be rendered powerless to help us. The Pen is mightier than the sword… but only if its words – and those fired against it – are understood.

    Looking directly into the disinfecting sunlight
    Before taking a look at how our social & legislative reformers evade reality, and the dangerous abuses that are inherent in, and will result from doing so, let’s have a look at the truth that is so painful for them to look upon. The dose of reality that our fellow citizens so desperately need, doesn’t take a lot to say:

    • There are NO LAWS that would prevent these shootings.

    None. David French, at NRO, is the latest to lay that out so very clearly. And if you’re one of those who are so worried about Democracy dying in darkness, the Washington Post unexpectedly found itself staring into that same truth, when they went to ‘fact check’ Marco Rubio on the matter several years ago, and unbelievably (to them) found over and over again, that: attending to facts forced them into that same conclusion just a few short years ago, that

    Analysis: No proposed laws would have prevented…”

    , neither the gun purchases, nor the crimes committed with them.

    And yet, the Washington Post is still haranguing us to adopt ‘gun control’ measures to do… something. Personally, I suspect there to be much more darkness, than light, in the ‘News’ that they find ‘fit to print’.

    News Flash: Technology is not the problem – we do not have a technology problem, we have a Human problem. People have brains – these shooters are not the problem – they are the effects of other causes – those other causes are the problem, and if you treat the symptoms only, and treat them in a way that actually inflames the problem, then the people whose brains are ‘infected’, will find other effects for those causes to be expressed through, including but not limited to, knives, swords, acid, Home Depot Trucks, bombs, planes, etc., etc., etc.

    We have a real problem with thinking that we can deal with our human problems as if we were dealing with technological problems – tighten this screw, unwind that spring, add these regulations and remove that liberty – and viola! fine tuned humanity!

    Unfortunately it is that very sort of modernist materialistic approach to ‘the human question’, that everything is a matter of problem solving and ‘critical thinking’, which has put us into the situation we find ourselves in today. Those who’re practiced at looking for the ideologically easy answer, tend to focus upon what they can see, and ignore what they should understand, leaving them unable to see that the particular technological tools used to deal death in these incidents, are not the causes of those deaths, and they are blind to the fact that there is a deadly cost to pretending that they are.

    No cure will be found by misidentifying what the problem is, while ever more harm will be caused by treating humanity as a technology; posting endless and futile laws intended to restrict our actions to only ‘good’ ones, which in turn spreads further misunderstanding and disrespect for humanity – down that path lies disorder, corruption and violence.

    If you allow yourself to be diverted from what the role of the 2nd Amendment is, you will be unable to do what can be ‘Done!‘, to protect us from those who abuse it. Doing what can be done, requires considering what should be done – ignoring that leads to violence. And ignoring that, requires you to evade what you can and should see and understand. But at least, Legion being what it is, you’ve got lots of options available to you for denying what you see.

    Deploying a Verbal Virtual Reality, to Avoid what IS
    Rather than acknowledge what the 2nd Amendment is, and what it means, and honestly confronting the ramifications of that, questions about it are typically met with the verbal deployment of a virtual reality, which the politically correct expect us to follow them into. This video from a few years back, while old, is an excellent example of that technique, which is very much still in continual use today.

    In this exchange from June of 2016, then President Obama, was questioned by an aggravated audience member, about his positions and actions in respect to the 2nd Amendment. Obama immediately evaded and dismissed the man’s direct questions, and boldly strode into an alternate reality where political policies (crony capitalist, BTW) were shown to reduce the death toll in traffic accidents, by bring about greater automobile safety through mandatory Car Insurance laws. That virtual reality that he verbally deployed, which the audience and moderator willingly followed him into, was different in every way from the reality he was being asked about, yet he coolly replied as if they were actually speaking of the same reality. They were not.

    His verbal reskinning of reality, is an excellent illustration of how this very common approach to the issue, effectively eliminates communication from all conversations upon ‘it‘, by creating a reality where ‘it’ isn’t, but where ‘your peole’ can continue on without being disturbed by opposing views.

    But worse than the artful evasion itself, was the virtual world he created as an ideal replacement for ours, one where the fundamental questions of our individual right to bear arms, your right to defend your life rights and property against any who’re deliberately acting to harm or rob you of them, is ignored in favor of the benefits and safety that technology and good policy management, which experts can use to make your life better, which in this case requires only the artful use of social or legislative technologies to limit your life to ‘safe’ situations, thereby producing ‘happiness’ by reducing death tolls in accidental collisions.

    To treat the use of government power in the serious issue of individual rights and the very real problems of human nature, as if they were a technological challenge to be solved by the oh-so-wise amongst us, is a dehumanizing, threatening, Orwellian perspective, which does nothing but confirm the fears of those it is directed against. It also serves to reinforce the fantasy world that the social and legislative reformers intend to bring us all into. Whether those of like mind with former President Obama are unable, or unwilling, to recognize the opposing point of view, and engage honestly with it, the result has, and will continue to be the same – reasonable discussions cannot even be begun, and frustration and anger will abound around it.

    That too produces consequences, such as seeing those who disagree with you as being nothing more than unthinking, ‘bitter clingers’ – some of those consequences might even include your carefully laid plans being Trump’d.

    The role which the 2nd Amendment has for you when faced with these evasive situations, is to act as an anchor for us to reality, but you must keep such discussions fastened to it. We cannot allow ourselves to be drawn into discussing the 2nd Amendment as if it was written to address our safety from accidental, or even criminal, injuries – it was not. The 2nd Amendment was written to serve as a means of preventing those in power over us, from weakening the safeguards upon our individual rights under our laws, and if we don’t hold fast to that, our social and legislative reformers will succeed in transforming our society into an ever more violent one that approves and encourages such abuses against our living our own lives – for the ‘greater good’.

    It’s Criminal – Avoiding what IS, by focusing upon what isn’t
    You know that you’re dealing with an example of evading what actually is, in favor of what so many wish it wasn’t, whenever someone reflexively derides something that is so obviously true, about something which they themselves would so obviously rather ignore. For instance:

    “Criminals don’t obey laws”

    Maybe it has to do with the irony poor intellectual diet that our educational system dishes out, but such people seem to be unable to digest such clear statements of fact. Rather than dealing honestly with them, they prefer to evade them, as this ‘Counter Argument‘ video does:

    “What this answer [“Criminals don’t obey laws”] allows the individual who uses it to do, is to avoid addressing any specifics of the gun control being proposed. you would expect someone who is critical of a particular law, to have something to say about what’s in it.”

    First of all, yes, you would expect someone who is critical of a particular law – such as the 2nd Amendment (!) – to have something to say about what that law is and what’s in it, wouldn’t you?! For them to use that logic, while failing to address what the meaning and purpose of the 2nd Amendment is, which is the existing law that their very own ‘gun control’ proposals are not only ignoring, but are ignoring in order to modify, revise, and supplant, is a priceless piece of genuine disingenuousness, and knowingly or not, an indirect assault (aka:Reform) upon us all.

    And people wonder why conversations on the subject are so difficult to have?!

    Not surprisingly, as most people have become accustomed to looking no further for reality, beyond what they’ve already assumed it to be, they would rather evade the obvious reality that criminals in fact do not obey laws, and they’ll typically do that, like this,

    “A law which nobody breaks, has no purpose – if we only passed laws which we didn’t expect people to break, that would effectively negate the very idea of having laws in the first place.”

    , which although effectively distracting, is utterly untrue (and ideologically revealing).

    To the extent that people do pause to think of consequences, legitimate Laws are effective because of those consequences which violating the law will bring them. But those who don’t start by considering what is right to do, those who don’t think ahead, those who do not care about the consequences of their actions, or about the harm and wrong they might cause to others, such people (aka: Criminals) will proceed to do what they want to do, without ever pausing to give any thoughtful consideration to what some self important legislator might have written into our laws to save them from becoming criminals.

    Proper Laws are written with the law abiding in mind, not those who will break them. They are written to provide a means for the law abiding to deal with criminality in a carefully defined manner, safely harnessing the power of government, to specific, rational purposes and rules of evidence, to fairly identify willfully criminal behavior, and to prevent those who’ve been wronged from letting appearances lure them into turning the frightful fury and power of government towards spreading vengeful violence through their community. If your education somehow missed having you consider ‘The Furies’, you should remedy that.

    Once you’ve evaded the issue – What are you left with?
    Naturally, spectacularly violent incidents of murder and mayhem shock us to our souls. There’s no mystery as to why these events spur us to demand ‘What is to be done?!‘. about them. But when the conversation is allowed to depart from reality, it should be no surprise that people like Jimmy Kimmel will demand ‘What is to be done?!‘, while making clear that the ‘What‘ they are demanding, will have little or nothing to do with what is, should and can, be lawfully and effectively done about it. It is precisely the fervently well meaning hotheads like Kimmel, who give no calm consideration to laws, that is likely to lead an inflamed public to lynch the unlucky stranger. Such pivots from horribly real wrongs, to relieving us of the protections of our individual rights, are implicitly an assault upon the entire population, in order to preserve the fantasy world of the indignant social and legislative reformers, and the role that the 2nd Amendment was intended to have in such situations, is to help us defend us against their assaults.

    But if you allow yourself to be drawn into their fantasy, it is no easy thing to step back into what you’ve willingly evaded along with them. Once the real issue has been evaded, then the question of ‘What is to be done!‘, will have little relation to the reality we still live in, and little or no effect upon the issues which our reformers will further abuse us with. One friend of mine from the 80’s rock music scene in Las Vegas, was understandably demanding after the Mandalay Bar massacre, that he wanted ‘something to be done!‘, but he was so focused upon the targeting of guns themselves, that the reality of ‘What’, ‘Is‘, or could be ‘Done‘about such incidents, that he was blinded to what even he himself was saying. He himself noted that the shooter had,

    “… 27 long guns in his hotel room AND ammonium nitrate…”[Caps are his]

    , and with his attention and fury so focused upon the 27 guns as being the sole issue for us to ‘Take Action!‘ upon, that he didn’t notice that his ‘gun control’ solution was ignoring the fact that he himself raised: that the murderer had explosives on hand for the purpose of murdering even more people. The habitual evasion of those realities that have no place in his ideology, prevented him from noticing that if his ‘gun control’ had somehow miraculously succeeded (and as that is impossible, that would require a miracle) in removing those 27 guns from his bed, the murderer would still have had those explosives to murder the concert goers with. Would what they were being murdered with, have made any of their murders less horrific? Of course not. Does depriving a murderer of one weapon, prevent him from resorting to another? Of course not, not in the real world, but reality is what his own ideology directed him to evade.

    Right? Neither the limiting, nor banning, of guns, or ammonium nitrate, is going to stop such incidents from occurring. Right? But by accepting the virtual reality of ‘gun control’, the actual reality we are living in, is evaded. What he and others also routinely evade, is the too commonly proven fact that if the murderer didn’t have guns, or explosives, he could easily have used a dump truck, or a plane, or ___: the human brain can, will, and does, supply an endless list of additional “or’s” to fill in that blank, in order to vent its murderous fury. There are consequences to evading that.

    What is to be done, depends upon what can be done
    For those who really do want to have a conversation upon the subject, you must first deal with what the subject actually is. And those who wish to defend those rights which the 2nd Amendment protects, must ensure that those making such statements don’t make it to first base in speaking about what wonders of safety and security they think their ‘gun control’ might bestow upon us, without their first acknowledging what the 2nd Amendment, and its purpose, actually is. This is not being argumentative or obstructionist, it is simply a demand for clarity and an insistence upon choosing reality, over fantasy. They must justify how their proposals are justifiable under the 2nd Amendment, before there can be any consideration of how effective their proposals might be.

    By ignoring what criminality is, what actually can and should be done about armed and criminal violence, is easily evaded in favor of increasingly more fantastic social and legislative proposals, no matter how ineffective at achieving their stated purposes they are proven to be. Equally unremarked, is the ever increasing power such measures give to those who seek that power over, not just criminals, but all of society.

    The ridiculously obvious fact remains, that Criminals do not follow laws, including those laws that forbid them to violate other laws.

    Another fact that should be obvious, but seems virtually unknown, is that Laws do not prevent crimes – if they could, they would be magical spells, not laws. Equally obvious, laws cannot prevent people from becoming criminals – but fortunately that’s not their job (that’s society’s job, yours and mine… and our schools… and churches… and believe it or not, our entertainment media). What Laws can and should do, in regards to crime, is to punish criminals for the crimes that they’ve actually committed. If Justice is what we are interested in, then our laws must be written to deal with the actual effects of a criminal’s actions – their crimes.

    Failing to do so (aka: Reforms), inevitably draws us into theoretical speculations about the ‘future crime‘ which everyone of us will be presumed to be at least potentially guilty of committing, and who will then need to be ‘saved’ from that potential ‘fact’, through the magical power of ‘Laws!‘. Instead of assuming that laws are written with those who break them in mind, it would be better (though probably just as pointless), to ask those who think that we should write laws with criminals in mind, if they’ve ever taken notice of the increases in power which that criminality affords to those who are so busily reforming our laws for the criminal’s benefit?

    But that too is fantasy, not reality.

    Proper laws are not wizarding spells, and Just laws do not attempt to program our actions as if we were bots in a legislator’s ideological game of SimCity! If Prohibition taught us anything, it should have at least taught us that our laws do not have the power to transform us, and attempting to will lead to unintended consequences – that is not the proper roll of law. If we allow our laws to be written with that purpose, they will breed failure, corruption and lawlessness, but never Justice. Proper laws seek to justly address, and provide redress, for those actions which some have actually taken, and which have unjustly intruded upon the lives of others, so that the people can enjoy liberty and order.

    As John Locke said many moons ago,

    “So that, however it may be mistaken, the end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom:”

    Those attempting to ‘reform’ society with laws whose effects must restrict liberty, are not seeking your well being or liberty, but are only enlarging their power over you – for what they see as ‘your own good’. These proposals which our social and legislative reformers so fervently favor, Gun Control, and other laws which restrict our individual rights, will not reduce criminal behavior, but will inflame it – haven’t even the last five decades proven exactly that? Hasn’t our society suffered these social and legislative abuses long enough?!

    The role that the 2nd Amendment is supposed to play in our violent society, is to provide the means to point out another ridiculously obvious fact: that legislators writing laws which violate the most fundamental rights of its citizens, are themselves launching an assault upon their lives and rights, and are most often constitutionally unlawful acts. Such reforms that ignore reality in favor of promoting politically correct platitudes, undermine our rights and our laws, they instigate disorder and breed criminal behavior, and they most certainly will not produce citizens who are eager to respect either rights, or laws. Laws which are concerned with justice, expand and secure a people’s liberty, laws which restrict and seek to reform them, are not concerned with justice, but are by nature tyrannical.

    The best societies do of course require a set of laws, as Locke went on to note, that “…for in all the states of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law, there is no freedom…“, or liberty. Yet barring misfortunate circumstances, most people needn’t ever be directly aware of their laws presence, or experience its direct affect upon their thoughts & actions. Proper laws simply define boundaries for honest people’s benefit and provide a means to the resolution of honest (or dishonest) conflicts, making its firm hand felt only by those who – intentionally or unintentionally – violate the boundaries of other people’s rights.

    Just Laws do not seek to alter the shape or behavior of their society, or of its individual’s lives, so long as they themselves don’t forcefully alter the lives of others. An Italian philosopher and criminologist, Cesare Beccaria, wrote in an essay, what describes our present social and legislative reformers very well, from way back in 1764,

    “…A principal source of errors and injustice are false ideas of utility. For example: that legislator has false ideas of utility who considers particular more than general conveniencies, who had rather command the sentiments of mankind than excite them, who dares say to reason, “Be thou a slave;” who would sacrifice a thousand real advantages to the fear of an imaginary or trifling inconvenience; who would deprive men of the use of fire for fear of their being burnt, and of water for fear of their being drowned…”

    The rest of that passage, is one you might seem familiar to many, because Jefferson copied it into his ‘Legal Commonplace Book’, and is often mistakenly attributed to Jefferson himself,

    “…The laws of this nature are those which forbid to wear arms, disarming those only who are not disposed to commit the crime which the laws mean to prevent. Can it be supposed, that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, and the most important of the code, will respect the less considerable and arbitrary injunctions, the violation of which is so easy, and of so little comparative importance? Does not the execution of this law deprive the subject of that personal liberty, so dear to mankind and to the wise legislator? and does it not subject the innocent to all the disagreeable circumstances that should only fall on the guilty? It certainly makes the situation of the assaulted worse, and of the assailants better, and rather encourages than prevents murder, as it requires less courage to attack unarmed than armed persons…”

    Restraining our laws to addressing those actions that have actually been committed, isn’t simply a legalistic nicety, but one which if overstepped, soon turns good Intentions, into evil results, encouraging violence and despair upon a population. Such ‘laws’ which social and legislative reformers seek to foist upon us, are exactly those actions which our 2nd Amendment was written to provide us the means of protecting ourselves against – that is its role. Your role, is to recognize that, and to deploy your own words and actions in defense of it.

    Because our social and legislative reformers don’t begin with a respect for reality, but only with the barest Utilitarian enthusiasms for ‘taking action!‘ in order to ‘fix society‘, they place themselves in opposition to the rights which the 2nd Amendment protects (and in implicit opposition to all of our other rights as well). Such a stance requires that they promote a disconnect between what is, and what is to be done, and what is not, and what should not be done. That disconnection so thoroughly infects their ‘common sense‘ proposals, that what they amount to is a legislative fantasy world of counter-productive laws, and vital to those measures, is a social viewpoint that values the ideology of political correctness, above reality and justice – only that can provide such an amazing ability to live in denial of what actually does happen, daily, all around them.

    You must refuse to accept what isn’t, and insist that your conversations deal with what is – that is what the real meaning of is, is dependent upon, and the 2nd Amendment cannot long stand, if you do not stand for that yourself.

    What can be done? And what shouldn’t be done
    Still, there’s nothing wrong with the question itself, so let’s ask it: What is to be done? Good question. But first, what do we mean by ‘Done‘? Does it mean any one or more of the dictionary entries for the definition of ‘Done’?:

    1. Having been carried out or accomplished; finished: a done deed.
    2. Cooked adequately.
    3. Socially acceptable

    Conveniently, when we’ve disregarded what the issue actually is, and we aren’t too picky about what qualifies as ‘Done!‘, we tend to incline towards that third instance of ‘Done’, where our intentions are more limited to what is ‘socially acceptable‘, than with taking those actions that are consistent with what we wish to accomplish.

    If we intend it to mean that something has been effectively accomplished, in such a way as what actually results from our actions, is expected to be consistent with what we intended to carry out, then happily our goals will align with what the 2nd Amendment is about (see the previous post). And having done that, we can face up to the reality that what our government is to do, is constrained by what our Govt is able to do. Given that, it becomes clear that the question of how we should respond to these massacres isn’t simply a question about the guns involved, or any other arms – which We The People have rendered our govt powerless to act upon – it is instead about responding to the criminal use of those arms – guns or otherwise.

    If you ignore that, then you are not asking an honest, serious, question – you are only indulging your passions, at best, but more likely are ideologically manipulating others in their weakest moments. The question open to us isn’t about somehow asking our government to do what our govt is powerless to do, but about finding something that it is lawfully able to do, about the criminal use of arms in the commission of crimes.

    But I can still hear those asking from their virtual reality – headquartered with the GOP financiers perhaps – asking oh so reasonably,

    What does it matter if the law abiding should have to suffer some inconveniences, before getting their precious guns?

    Would you, as Beccaria said above, “subject the innocent to all the disagreeable circumstances that should only fall on the guilty?” Or will you refuse the invitation to enter into that virtual reality with them? If you instead pay reasonable attention to the real world, such ‘inconveniences‘ do matter a great deal. All such ‘well intentioned‘ rules which our social and legislative reformers masquerade as being ‘Laws’, are not harmless at all, not even if they somehow ‘save just one life!‘, because such exhibitions of power are imposed upon all, and they indirectly ensure further abuse, in seemingly small ways, which have ever greater and greater effects over time.

    This is not a new concept. Beccaria pointed it out in 1764, and Thomas Jefferson noted it in his Commonplace book, with the simple comment “False utility ideas“. James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, member of the Constitutional Convention, a Supreme Court Justice, and whose works on the Law helped to law the foundations of American Jurisprudence, pointed out this very issue, in his formative Lectures on Law, that:

    —the following great and important political maxim:—Every wanton, or causeless, or unnecessary act of authority, exerted, or authorized, or encouraged by the legislature over the citizens, is wrong, and unjustifiable, and tyrannical: for every citizen is, of right, entitled to liberty, personal as well as mental, in the highest possible degree, which can consist with the safety and welfare of the state.

    Such tyrannical behavior, even when dressed up and identifying as a kindly Nanny State, produces disorder and hostility and powerlessness, which unavoidably leads us directly down a path to violence. The very thing that lifts Man above the animal, is his ability to rely upon reasoned actions, rather than resorting only to instinct and power. If you prevent men from taking those actions that their own reasoning urges them to take, then you are hamstringing their ability to reason, and they can not help but sense that the actions you are forcibly making them take, are in conflict with what they understand they should take – you turn men against themselves. That has consequences. Such intrusive and unjustified rules, especially as piled one regulation atop the other, deprive men of their confidence in reason and ethics, reducing them back down towards the status of animals who are able to rely upon nothing more than feelings and their own exhibitions of power, which for human beings, means violence.

    That understanding and identification of the unintended roots of Tyranny, was picked up on 150 years latter, by Hannah Arendt, author of “The Origins of Totalitarianism“, who differentiated between Power and Violence,

    “…“…politically speaking, it is insufficient to say that power and violence are not the same. Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance.”…”

    and that, in her ‘Reflections on Violence‘ (H/T “Why Are There So Many Mass Shootings Today?“),

    “…“The greater the bureaucratization of public life, the greater will be the attraction of violence. In a fully developed bureaucracy there is nobody left with whom one could argue, to whom one could present grievances, on whom the pressures of power could be exerted. Bureaucracy is the form of government in which everybody is deprived of political freedom, of the power to act; for the rule by Nobody is not no-rule, and where all are equally powerless we have a tyranny without a tyrant.”…”

    If you’re dealing with a population that is deeply informed with the tools of understanding and morality, such as was common in our Founding Father’s era, then that people who after having taken the repeated abuses against them by their own laws, might turn around and organize themselves for a revolution, and in such a society, they might then devise the likes of our 2nd Amendment, as a means of preventing such a violent state ‘for their own good‘ from ever abusing them again.

    But if you’re dealing with a population who has not yet learned, or even who has been made to forget, and having discarded their means of grasping reality through such insidious notions as it ‘depending upon what the meaning of IS, is’, a people who’ve dis-empowered themselves through their abandonment of a morality to guide their actions, and what you’re very likely going to be dealing with then, are random explosions of violence from those who’ve lost the capacity to govern even themselves, directed outwards at whatever target is most easily at hand.

    So I ask again, having defined the situation as a human one, rather than a technological one, one rooted in reality over any verbal virtual reality, and cognizant of the scope of actions open to us under our laws, what do you mean by ‘Done!’?

    Do we want laws of objective and identifiable substance, or showy displays that some can feel good about, no matter their expense to everyone else? I’m all for efforts to curb the unlawful use of any arms – if we are in fact talking about establishing consequences for the use of arms in the commission of crimes. And I’m also all for having laws that remove such criminals from our midst in our common society. Given that, we should be for pruning, updating, or more effectively applying existing laws, which will do what actually can be effectively done, such as tripling the penalties for those crimes committed with arms, as well as for creating stiff penalties for those ‘brandishing arms‘ in order to upset or intimidate people. But most of all, I’m for laws which punish those crimes which some among us actually commit, rather than punishing everyone of us, for our potential to commit those crimes that some of us, believe that all of us, are always on the verge of committing.

    IOW, we should be for Justice – for the guilty and for the innocent – and not for the violent social engineering that our social and legislative reformers would visit upon us. Not surprisingly, ‘gun control‘ advocates tend to take a dim view of responses such as mine, preferring the Artificial Intelligence of the ideological technologist, to the discomforting prospect of taking responsibility for your thoughts and actions – for being Human, as opposed to being merely human.

    Why? Not because we have differences over the use of arms in the commission of crimes, but because of our differences over what the meaning of ‘ISis, and of what ‘Done’, can and should be taken to mean. Because the ‘IS‘ of what is the problem, is that they wish to substitute a witch’s brew of news headlines and empty laws, to sway popular passions upon what the meaning of IS is, for what they want to fantasize about doing, rather than to think, and so ‘make it all go away!‘, and to gather and exercise the power which the peddling of such fantasies invests them with.

    However appealing such fantasies might sound, there are no recipes to tell us how to concoct incantations by mixing 1 part news headlines, with one part empty laws, that will affect the behavior of criminals who do not first think of what is right to do! Relying upon such measures succeeds only in weakening and unjustly violating the rights of those the criminals didn’t manage to abuse themselves.

    Laws need to be clear, defined and actionable, if they’re not, then making proposals that fly in the face of their power, to use their power, is either an unsightly fantasy, or a cry for subversion, if not a form of treason against society.

    Informed supporters of the 2nd Amendment aren’t willing to ‘make a deal’, partly because they understand that will not accomplish what the deal makers profess to seek, and they understand that the wrongful violence which such measures impose upon us all, will have disturbingly unforeseeable consequences to us all – eventually. The problem with the ‘Gun Control‘ people’s positions, is that they implicitly dismiss, and deny the reality that they supposedly want to do something about, and they do so with a smugness that says doing so is both modern and smart, whereas the views of those who support what the 2nd Amendment protects, are neither. The truth is, it is that who are pro-regressively seeking to return society to a time when a favored few ruled the mass of men simply because they had the power to do ‘what they thought best‘ for them.

    The truth is, that those who are in opposition to the 2nd Amendment, can’t handle the truth, and especially not when that truth reveals that:

    • Proposing to do, what is unlawful to be done – such as violating those rights which our 2nd Amendment renders our government powerless to do – is not making ‘common sense‘ proposals, it is a deliberate evasion of reality.
    • Proposing laws that limit access to things, when the problem is people, not things, is not only not dealing with reality, it is but a pretext for usurping powers that have historically been proven dangerous for governments to have over their people.
    • Seeking to deal with human problems, as if any such solutions can be found for them through political policies and technological ‘solutions’, is delusionary at best, and reveals a soul that is tone deaf to the human heart.

    All of which can be summed up as deliberately seeking to evade what IS, through proposing the doing of what not only cannot be done, but which would be pointless to even attempt, except as a means to power and evasion.

    Will these measures stop school shootings, or any other horrific massacres? No, of course not – that’s not the Law’s job! The job of The Law is to punish those wrongs that have actually been committed. If you want to end these horrific shootings, running over of pedestrians, bombings, etc., then you have to teach respect for what is real and true, you have to teach a respect for life, and for living a virtuous life that’s worth living. Fortunately, that is your job – whoever you are, or whatever your ‘line of work’ is – that is always in your job description – did you really not know that?

    You want to fix society? Have you fixed yourself yet? No? How about you get back to me on that then, and I’ll keep working on that myself.

    To be continued….

  • Democracy Dies in Darkness… and they like it that way

    Ok, so I’ve finally read the dreaded “FISA Memo” which the GOP members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, wrote in regards to classified materials, which they had vetted on sources and methods, approved by President Trump, and rel…

  • Our Society’s Mysterious Surprise

    Can you spot the surprising mystery surrounding these names? Hint: It’s not sexual abuse.Harvey WeinsteinLouis C.K.Kevin SpaceyCharlie RoseBill ClintonAl FrankenMatt LauerThe big mystery which these names have in common, is the surprising sense of surp…

  • Our Society’s Mysterious Surprise

    Can you spot the surprising mystery surrounding these names? Hint: It’s not sexual abuse.Harvey WeinsteinLouis C.K.Kevin SpaceyCharlie RoseBill ClintonAl FrankenMatt LauerThe big mystery which these names have in common, is the surprising sense of surp…

  • What is your responsibility in the accusations of others? Roy E. Moore and you

    The climate of sexual assault accusations is heating up, spreading out from Hollywood to sweep the nation. Almost as worrisome as the accusations themselves, are the ways that people accept, or reject them. While many of the accusations seem to be true, and some even admitted to, almost certainly some are false – how are we to respond when, absent a confession of guilt, we cannot know whether they are true or not? How are we who know none of the parties involved, to respond to them, without any substantial evidence to support either the charges, or the denials? How about when the accusations involve leaders in the community, whose decisions may have far reaching affects upon our lives, and as in the case of the former Alabama Supreme Court Justice, and current candidate for senator, Roy E. Moore, upon the entire nation?

    At this point, the only thing we can know, is that we do not know enough; and yet, whether as voters or interested political spectators, we know that we do need to make some sort of judgment upon them. That’s a very unsettling position to be in.

    It seems to me, that about all we can do is choose to respond to the charges responsibly, or irresponsibly. That begins with the understanding that even if we carefully examine the little we do know, and come to a very reasonable, responsible, conclusion about the accusations, we could easily see the next ‘Breaking News!‘ report prove us to be entirely wrong.

    That’s a given, and it should be front and center in our minds.

    We are not, and cannot be, omniscient. But we can be responsible in our thinking, and to be Response-Able in matters such as this, is to accept that what we must tentatively conclude, without all the facts being known, is less important than how we come to that conclusion. We can’t be sure that our conclusions will be correct, but we can be sure that we’ve done our best in forming them, and if I properly go about coming to the wrong conclusion, I’ll be much more able to accept my error, than if I irresponsibly happen upon the ‘right’ conclusion, with zero basis for doing so. First and foremost, we should not pretend to know, what we do not and cannot know, about the accused, or the accuser, no matter what our personal feelings towards any of the parties might be. Judge what we can, and no further.

    Given all of that, it’s probably best to begin with the charges themselves – from both sides. For instance:

    • If the charges are true, they are disgusting abuses of trust and power, and violations of the law. Obviously such a person who would engage in such things, is not someone I’d want as a Judge, or in political office.
    • If the charges are not true, they too are disgusting abuses of trust and power, and are themselves violations of the law. Obviously such persons should not be able to influence who will hold judicial or political office.

    As heinous as the charges are against Moore, if they are untrue, and made to falsely change the minds of millions of voters, that too is a heinous act, an intimate assault upon the body politic. But with nothing to go on but the charges being made, who made them, who they were made against, and who is presenting them to us, for anyone to make definitive statements upon what they cannot know to be true – pro or con – strikes me as the height of irresponsibility. And for the smugger than thou, who seek cover for their thinly formed personal conclusions, in the fact that we as individuals, are not bound by the rules of the law:

    “…Now, I’ve had far too many people shouting, ‘Guilty until proven innocent!’ at me over my comments on this issue, as if they’re too dumb to know that the second half of that phrase is ‘in a court of law.’ Not to blow your mind here, but I’m actually not a court of law, and I’m allowed to believe whatever I want ‘ and personally, I believe that Roy Moore was a predator with a penchant for teenage girls….”

    We are not ourselves courts of law, and are not bound to the rules a court is, that’s true enough, as far as it goes, but the fact is that it doesn’t go very far at all. Do we really bear no responsibility to evaluate the charges being bandied about? What the seriousness of the charges do require me to do, is to make what judgments that I reasonably can – and to acknowledge what I reasonably cannot – without blathering on about either the charges, or my personal beliefs about them, or how you ‘just knew!’ them to be true or false.

    I’m a father of a teenage daughter, I’ve some pretty strong feelings about the nature of the charges that’ve been made, but what kind of opinion can be formed upon no better basis, than your own feelings about the charges themselves? The judicial rules of evidence and judgment of our laws, are founded upon the realization that we don’t know what really happened in a case, and that our judgments can be wrong, which is why courts have rules to follow in presenting and evaluating evidence and testimony – does the fact that we are not courts, mean that we shouldn’t hold our opinions to similar standards?

    There are several options open to us here, and hopefully you will hold yourself to some standard, as you decided whether you will:

    1. Accept that ‘the seriousness of the charges’ are such that we should assume that he is guilty until we have reasons to believe that he is innocent.
    2. Assume that multiple accusers of a similar age who’re making vaguely similar charges, qualifies as sufficient reason to presume his guilt.
    3. Consider whether the charges are supported by the accused’s personal record, habits and behavior?
    4. Consider whether the accusers personal record, habits and behavior, supports the credibility of the charges being made?
    5. We can presume his guilt, or innocence, based upon the politics of:
      a- his political party and your feelings towards that.
      b- of those making the charges.
      c- of those promoting the charges.

    So let’s take a stab at weighing those options.

    Regarding #1, simply because of the fact that I am not myself a court of law or bound to its rules, does not excuse me to presume that the charges are true, without having anything more to go on than the seriousness of the charges themselves. That is the height of intellectual irresponsibility. You’re not thinking, you’re gossiping.

    #2, the sheer number of charges made do not lend credibility to the charges themselves. What with my being in my 50’s, I very clearly recall the Day-care sex-abuse hysteria charges of the 1980’s, when charges of sexual child abuse at day care centers, spread like wildfire across the nation, charges which were ultimately proven by and large to be false, but charges which nevertheless destroyed the lives and livelihood of numerous people. There is a striking similarity between the national mood now, and the Day Care hysteria back then, and we should not ignore that such moods and their attendant hype, are ripe for abuse. Especially so, as the charges that have been made by the accusers in this case, are not the same charges – the other two accusers, while their age was inappropriate for his alleged attentions, they did not charge him with ‘taking liberties‘ with them.

    As for #3, do the charges fit with the accused’s character and history? If the charges were made against someone with the personal history of a Harvey Weinstein, or a Bill Clinton, they’d gain credibility on account of their own history, as such behavior of abuse and disregard for the person of another, are habits that stick with lech’s, pedophiles, or serial abusers, who tend to be repeat offenders, and increasingly bold ones at that. Does Moore have a record of taking advantage of, and abusing, younger women? At this point in time, I’m unaware of it. His own life lived, to the best of our current knowledge, has to be given some weight against the credibility of the charges.

    Similarly with #4, does the accusers personal record, habits and behavior, support the credibility of the charges being made? Supposedly, the primary accuser has a less than impressive personal history, divorced three times, filed bankruptcy three times, allegedly has history of making similar accusations against clergymen. That does not mean that the accusations are not true, but her personal history doesn’t lend credibility to them – and that is all that we have to go on at this point.

    As for the political aspects of the charges, with #5a above, presuming the guilt or innocence of charges, based upon the politics of the person charged, is relevant only if the charges are relevant to their politics. For instance, if a Social Justice Warrior were charged with beating someone on the basis of their political beliefs ( i.e. “Punch a nazi!“), their own political beliefs would argue towards their guilt, rather than their innocence. But when the charges have no particular relevance to their politics one way or another – and sexual misconduct is very much a bi-partisan matter – then their, Moore’s politics, should not be swaying our conclusions, one way or another.

    As for #5b, presuming the guilt or innocence of the charges, based upon the politics of the person making the charges, as with #3, is relevant only if the charges are relevant to their politics. And while matters of sexual misconduct are a bi-partisan matter, making charges of sexual misconduct in order to further a political agenda, is hardly unheard of. Anita Hill’s foul accusations against Clarence Thomas, come to mind. However, in this case, the primary accuser doesn’t seem to have an ideological ax to grind, and while one of the other accusers does have a history in Democrat politics, it doesn’t amount to much. For myself, I’d say that, in and of itself, on this point, the accusers politics it’s a wash with me, neither bolstering or undermining, the charges.

    However, the matter doesn’t come through the wash free of stains. For instance, if the charges are true, why did the accusers, especially the main accuser, not come forward earlier? If not as a young teenager, then at least when Moore began to gain prominence, 10 years later, when she, as an adult, supposedly told her mother? If the charges were true, she should have come forward with them then, and every day, month, and year she delayed, IMHO, eats away at their credibility, especially given the fact that she has waited until, not just Moore’s Senatorial campaign, but for the very end of it, to come forward. The other accusers did not come forward on their own, they were found, and encouraged to make their charges public, by a reporter. For myself, that leads me to at least somewhat discount the credibility of the charges, on the basis of the charges alone.

    As for #5c, presuming the guilt or innocence of the charges, based upon the politics of those promoting the charges, as with #4b, is relevant only if the presumed effect of making such charges are relevant to their politics. Interestingly enough, one of the authors of the Washington Post article, Ms. McCrummen, has a rather checkered history of running afoul of the law, as well as journalistically engaging in political witch hunts, as this article from 2011 indicates,

    “…Although a careful read of the story shows that there is no substantiation for the allegations of racism, Ms. McCrummen, the Post, and MSNBC have held a non-stop witch hunt, accusing Mr. Perry of everything under the sun. So, let’s examine the author using the same journalistic standards practiced by the Washington Post.

    Ms. McCrummen has a rather interesting criminal history herself, as public criminal records in multiple states stretching across 4 time zones have shown….”

    Such histories do not lend to the creditability of either the charges, or of those promoting them.

    And of course, Roy E. Moore’s candidacy can hardly be said to be of no consequence to the politics of our day, for the Washington Post (who opposes Moore), or for the Left, or even for the Right. Charges such as this, at this point in time in an election, is very much in line with what has often been excused as ‘justified resistance‘ by such people as those at The Washington Post…. not to mention the McCain/McConnel wing of the establishment GOP.

    So to sum it up:

    1. I cannot responsibly credit these charges, at this point in time, on the basis of charges alone.
    2. I cannot credit, or discredit, the charges based upon the politics of the accused.
    3. There is little reason to question the charges being made, based upon the politics of the accusers – but there is reason to question the decades that have passed in their silence, and the timing involved in making them public now.
    4. The reputation of the accused, his extremely high target value in opposition research over the last decade or so, and the absence of similar charges over the forty years since the incident was alleged to have happened, weigh in Moores’ favor, and against the accusations.
    5. The nature and history of those who sought out these charges, and promoted them (Ms. McCrummen and the Washington Post at the top), do not lend credibility to the charges.

    When I add all of this up, in the context of what we know at this point in time, it argues towards a presumption of innocence for Roy E. Moore, rather than presuming his guilt because of the ‘gravity of the charges‘ alone.

    And of course, I could be wrong, and given reason to judge differently, I will.

    I know very little about Roy E. Moore, and what I do know, I’ve had mixed opinions upon. I know even less about his accusers, but I’ve some knowledge of the politically utility of salacious charges, being promoted at the last minute (‘October Surprise!‘) by political foes, in the crucial final days of a political campaign, and until I know more, I’m not going to let the emotional nature and severity of the charges, be what most influences my judgment at this time.

    I also know that those who eagerly accept charges against others, to show how ‘even minded’ they are, turn my stomach. As does those who morally preen themselves in a pretentious presumption of the guilt of others, while having no solid reasons for presuming it; and of course those of the GOP, such as the likes of John McCain and Mitt Romney, who routinely, eagerly, and willfully, throw in with any charges of moral condemnation, upon the likes of Moore, in order to ingratiate themselves with the media and the wider ‘moral community’, disgust me to no end.

    The eagerness to attack those who are just too different from your own ideologically cock sure ‘truth‘, has been gaining in popularity on ‘the Right’ (especially as seen in the reflexively cultish statements of both the Uber-Trump’rs, and the NeverTrump’rs), to the point that the accusations, and the eagerness to accept them, and promote them, turns such accusations, into self incriminating accusations against themselves.

    As such evidence of irresponsibility piles up, it does not bode well for this nation.

Posts navigation