Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’

NEWSPEAK BULLIES LIBERTY

January 16, 2011
[Authors note:  This column was originally published in the Michigan Libertarian.  Several readers have commented that I needed to share these thoughts with a larger readership.  Recent inappropriate reactions to the events in Arizona (which attempt to link a killers tragic behavior to non-violent expression) highlight the need for more people to read this.]
 

Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. – George Orwell –

 

There is a stealth attack on our liberties and most people don’t even recognize it.  Before people are conquered by coercion and force, they must be disarmed philosophically.  Once people accept a false premise, exalted opinion makers can use that premise to promote their agenda. 

A consistent philosophy is like a sophisticated piece of architecture or a machine; without structural integrity it will collapse or fail.  Sometimes there are specific elements of a structure that are needed to support the rest.  In a building it may be a cornerstone, keystone or column.  In a machine it may be a simple pin, filter, or chip.

The distinction between violence and communication is critical to liberty and civil society.  Without it there can be no principled defense of free speech, nor can there be principled objection to violence being used in response to speech.  The statist agenda has been well served by the recent MSM fixation on so-called “cyber-bullying.”  The phrase is such a clear example of Orwellian newspeak that I would expect this to be nothing more than hyperbolae or a metaphor.  “Bullying” is a phrase that has been associated with violence.  The use of “Cyber” as a prefix is consistent with the use of certain technology.  If the terminator starts making threats and beating people up, that’s cyber-bullying, but that is not how the phrase is being used.

People are being called cyber-bullies for making unwelcome remarks about peers and colleagues on the Internet.  This wouldn’t be a matter of concern, if the word-use were understood to be metaphorical.  For example, politicians will refer to “attack ads,” with full understanding that they need not draw a gun to defend themselves.  But talk show hosts, law enforcement officials, and politicians actually believe that verbal and electronic taunting is an act of violence.

The lack of publicized dissension to this doublethink is mind numbing.  Most pre-schoolers of the prior generation had superior intellectual integrity to the opinion leaders of today.  They had a simple, though accurate phrase, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”  The degree to which a person believed the phrase was the degree to which the outcome would support it; the words may be harmless, but the response one has to them may not be.

It has now become politically correct to disarm those who are most vulnerable, and convince them that they are emotionally defenseless, against criticism.  As a teacher, I have seen the so-called “anti-bullying” hype that gives the impression that the way to address criticism is to silence the critic.  Rather than learning that ideas are to be fought with better ideas, youth are learning that unwelcome criticism must be fought by silencing the critic.  Civil liberty considerations not withstanding, this is a terrible disservice to young people.  So long as someone takes ownership of his or her responses, he or she has a way to preserve his or her self-esteem amidst a surge of insults.  Without these coping tools, the object of the taunts is helplessly waiting for help from others.

This leads me to the next critical piece of the philosophy that is in danger.  The distinction between one person’s actions and those of another.  Once again, the intellectual integrity of most pre-millennial preschoolers towers above the philosophical cesspit of contemporary pundits.  The childhood wisdom would be encapsulated in a rhetorical question: “If someone dared you to jump off the bridge would you do that too?”  Back in the day this would prompt a person to reflect on the stupidity of blaming his or her actions on the fact that someone else dared him or her to do it.  These days it could be cause for prosecution. 

Nowadays, pundits will say that unwelcome words or online postings “cause” a suicide.  Remarkably, this double-think goes unchallenged.  This is one of those cases where the truth is so self-evident that explaining it becomes difficult.  The word “suicide” is reserved for killing one’s self.  By definition the killer and the victim are the same person.  To say someone else caused a suicide is to say that the act is not what it is.  This is not just a matter of minutia.  People are often put in prison or executed for killing other people.  By definition the victim causes the suicide.

The reader may choose to respond with anger and disbelief, but the fact of the matter is that suicide victims cause their own deaths.  Putting the truth plainly is not the most sensitive thing to do, but often it is the kindest thing to do.  Tragically, statists exploit the grief of suicide victims families.  Rather than guiding them to acceptance and helping them move on, suicide victims are used as poster children for laws that squelch discourse, and empower bureaucrats.  Personal tragedies, childhood crushes, and teachable moments become part of a media circus, with children playing the Orwellian character, “Boxer” in the center ring.

The immediate outcomes are personal, but the paradigm shift this facilitates is even more abominable.  If a writer is responsible for the way readers respond, then all writers are potential unwitting murderers.  This not only has the effect of incriminating the innocent, but also absolving the guilty; if the author of an email or posting can “cause” a person to kill him or her self, the author could also “cause” a person to kill someone else.  Thus a killer could use the “somebody dared me to do it” defense!

Some readers may think I am being alarmist, and that these semantic sins won’t have legal consequences.  Unfortunately, the tree of irrationality is already bearing tyrannical fruits:

  • I attended a school assembly where an FBI agent told children that he has had to arrest kids for sending unwelcome emails, and they have been taken from their parents and put in juvenile detention. Missouri has made “cyber-harassment” a Class D felony.
  • State Representative Lisa Brown supports similar legislation in the Michigan Legislature.  She supports fines for adults who make unwelcome remarks about other adults in blogs.

I have made a distinction here between words and violence, but I don’t wish to say words are of no consequence…. Just the opposite.  Words communicate ideas.  Belief in certain ideas can be lethal.  The philosophy we have, guides our response to the words we hear.

When one’s philosophy equates words with violence, one is inclined to respond with violence.  Not only does this bring greater tragedy, but it does nothing to defeat the depraved ideas.  Brute force is impotent against flawed beliefs.  The best way to defeat false beliefs is with the truth.  This is much easier said than done, but that doesn’t make it less true.  The ultimate alternative is the draconian approach of criminalizing ideas and executing heretics.  In the battle of ideas there is no substitute for philosophy.

[Republication of the unabridged article with credit to Scotty Boman is welcome]

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Heed the Wake-Up Call from Space

August 13, 2009
The collision between Earth and an asteroid a few kilometers in diameter may release as much energy as several million nuclear weapons detonating, one after another.

The collision between Earth and an asteroid a few kilometers in diameter may release as much energy as several million nuclear weapons detonating, one after another.

Carl Jung once coined the phrase “Synchronicity” to describe meaningful coincidences.  July 20th was the fortieth anniversary of the first manned moon landing, the 33rd anniversary of the first robotic Mars landing, the 15th anniversary* of the first time humans saw a comet hit a planet, and the date upon which the second such impact was observed.  Of these four events two are especially meaningful.

Fifteen years ago a comet named Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacted the planet Jupiter.  It left a scar in the Jovian atmosphere the size of the Earth.  Jupiter’s powerful tidal forces broke the comet into pieces that hit the planet in a volley of impacts.  If Earth had been hit by a comet that massive, life as we know it would be over.  One would think that would be a wake-up call.  Perhaps people would mobilize to prevent such an event from taking us out.

Such was not to be the case, other than a select few, humanity at large has lived in denial: Being more afraid of gays exchanging vows or cattle passing gas, then of a preventable phenomena that could cause our extinction.  But perhaps I am over-reacting here.  Shoemaker-Levy 9 was the only impact of such a massive object with a planet to be observed in recorded history.  Besides, Jupiter is the most massive planet in the Solar system, so it is more likely to attract objects like comets and asteroids.

One common reason to not be alarmed was the notion that such events are rare.  So rare that it had only happened once in recorded history.  That the most recent extinction level impact hit the Earth 65 Million years ago.  So most people (at least those with no concern for future generations) could smugly assume that no such impact would happen in their lifetime.

Well this past July 20th a discovery was made that should have been the ultimate wake-up call.  It put the infrequency argument to rest.

That is what makes this the most meaningful coincidence.

An amateur astronomer photographed a new dark spot on Jupiter. Within a day, an infrared photograph showed the glow of heat emitted from the same spot.  The consensus among astronomers is that this is the impact scar of a large asteroid or comet.

Just as disturbing as the severity of the damage is that no one even saw it coming.  This was a complete surprise.  The fact that we over-looked this object, raises the specter of other such objects being on a collision course with the Earth, but not yet discovered.

Clearly there is a need for improved detection; an Earth-bound comet or asteroid can be diverted from it’s collision course if immediate action is taken well in advance of the would-be impact.  The principle is similar to making a shooter miss her target.  If she is far enough away, a little wind or a twitch of the wrist by a fraction of a degree can make her miss, however this is not the case at point blank range.

So defending the planet has two key components: Detection and response.

While it is clear what needs to be done, it is not so clear who should do it, or how it should be done.  At present, very little is being done by anyone.

Too often people pass their responsibility on to the government, but this may be one area where it is at least constitutional.  The preamble of the Constitution of the United State of America includes providing for the common defense as one of the reasons for it being established.  Article I, Section 8, authorizes Congress to do a number of things (not all good) including provisions for the common defense.

Protecting the Earth from impact hazards, contrasts drastically from other NASA activities:  Astronomical research, space stations, and future exploitation of lunar resources are all activities that would be better left to the free market.  Furthermore, there is no Constitutional sanction for such activities.

Some might argue that the founders didn’t have impact hazards in mind, and that such an interpretation violates the principle of original intent.  Personally, I doubt the founders would want a military that could defend us from the weapons of 1700’s, but require a Constitutional amendment to protect ourselves from nuclear weapons or asteroids?

Another objection, in relation to original intent, is that asteroids differ from other threats in that we would be defending other nations in the process of defending our own.  I don’t think the founders would object to defending our country from absolute destruction by a foreign threat on the basis that doing so would have the undesirable side effect of saving billions of other people from death, and millions of other species from extinction.

All of the above statements may give the impression that I think such a defense must be provided by the government.  I don’t.  In fact I think it is entirely possible that a better defense could be developed by private corporations, in a perfectly free-market voluntary system.

A persuasive argument for such an absolutely Laissez-Faire Society is made by Linda and Morris Tannehill in their book, The Market for Liberty.  But this is a matter to be discussed if we are at the brink of moving from minarchy to anarcho-capitalism.  Clearly, this is not our present condition.

I have yet to meet a libertarian who would suggest that we make our nation vonerable to foreign invasion until we achieve a free market Utopia.  Likewise, if we require a free society as a prerequisite to avoiding extinction, then we may not live to witness such freedom.

I would love to see a society free of any coercive monopoly, but so long as we have a Constitutionally limited republic in which providing for the common defense is a core government function, it is the duty of our public officials to see that we are protected from deadly impacts.  Such an initiative should also encourage amateur astronomers, scientists, engineers, and aerospace businesses to play a key roll.

We are all in this together.

* Shoemaker-Levy 9 broke into fragments that hit Jupiter over a period of days: From July 16 through July 22, 1994.

Left & Right Torch Liberty

April 18, 2009

This week President Obama met with Mexican President Filipe Calderon.  Last month Secretary of State Clinton also met with Mexican officials.  In both cases, Mexican officials blamed our gun rights for drug cartel related violence near our shared border.

 

The Mexican government considers our liberties a threat, and our own administration seems inclined to concur (Though Obama has backed off, thanks to the political vigilance of patriots).  So, for now, his solution is to expand the enforcement of substance prohibition.

 

Conservatives are sure to complain that Obama has not been standing up for gun rights and improved boarder security, but they will also applaud his efforts to escalate the drug war.  In this way conservatives are as wrong-headed as Calderon, Obama, and Clinton; conservatives will trade in their right to keep and bare arms just to stop their neighbors from getting high.  Put another way, they are willing to let the liberals burn the second amendment, before they will allow their neighbor to burn a fatty.

 

Libertarians have no desire to control the personal behavior of others, so long as it does not threaten the rights of others.  Put another way, we believe in locking people up because we fear them, not because we are mad at them.

Drug prohibition is the cause of drug violence.  The profits made by the cartels, and the thousands of bodies left in their wake, are the result of US laws, but not the second amendment.  This is just one example of how the two sides of the statist coin fuel tyranny.

 

Unfortunately, the mainstream media likes it that way, so as the conservatives cry about us losing our second amendment rights, the gun grabbers will point out the growing death toll in Mexico.  As conservatives say, “build a fence,” the drug smugglers and criminal gangs will find more innovative ways to bypass it, or even exploit it.

 

But for the few who care to look a little deeper…
I say freedom is the answer.  Don’t let a foreign leader talk us into surrendering our rights.  End the unconstitutional and intrusive drug laws that caused this crisis.  Then we will have a border that is much more manageable, and lives will be saved.

 

This isn’t the first time a foreign leader objected to American guns.   Many people will be celebrating Patriots Day.  This would be an excellent time to remind our neighbors what led up to the “shot heard around the world” and what those before us had to give up, to manifest the vision of liberty that so many Americans have taken for granted or forgotten.

Thank you Ron!

September 13, 2008

 

Dear Ron Paul:

 

I hope this message reaches you.  I know what it is like to get more mail than one has time to read.  Clearly you are blessed with an even larger volume of mail than I.

 

As a candidate and an activist in a third party, I wish to express my deepest gratitude for your September 10th press conference.  I was especially impressed with the respectful manner in which you handled unexpected surprises.

 

By resisting the demands of the Republican Leadership and giving a forum to their opposition, you have put your own re-election to Congress at risk.  We are blessed to have such a courageous person in Congress.

 

In Michigan, I had the fortune of being the Libertarian representative at the first meeting of the Michigan Third Parties Coalition (MTPC).  One thing I learned through this experience, is the value of respecting people who hold to beliefs that conflict with my own.  The formation of the MTPC was initiated in a letter sent out by a socialist, Matt Erard.  He understood the need to form a group that was non-ideological. 

 

Ideology is more than symbolic for people in the freedom movement, but there is a need for Detente in cases where people with irreconcilable differences face a common threat.  Clearly you get that.  I only wish everyone in our movement were so enlightened, but I have no right to apologize for the short-comings of others.

 

Without honest elections, the hope for peacefully bringing about a free society is dashed.  Those who honestly believe in the correctness of their beliefs have nothing to fear from an unfettered candid discussion of the transcendental challenges of our time.

 

When the debate process and other parts of our broken election system are remedied, it will be much easier to bring about liberty in our time and resuscitate our constitutionally limited republic. 

 

Thank you for bringing us one step closer to that day.  Libertarians everywhere owe you a great debt of gratitude.

 

Scotty Boman

Libertarian for United States Senate

Marriage, Family, and Custody

June 19, 2008

Families are the most fundamental social unit. It should not be up to politicians to structure a family.

Having federal officials, whether judges, bureaucrats, or congressmen, impose a new definition of marriage on the people is an act of social engineering profoundly hostile to liberty. ” – Ron Paul

“The very fact that the FMA [Federal Marriage Amendment] was introduced said that conservatives believed it was okay to amend the Constitution to take power from the states and give it to Washington. That is hardly a basic principle of conservatism as we used to know it. It is entirely likely the left will boomerang that assertion into a future proposed amendment that would weaken gun rights or mandate income redistribution.”  Ron Paul (October 1, 2004).

Politicians should not preside over a sacrament.

Marriage is a religious sacrament for people of faith. Politicians should not get between people, and the God of their understanding, by licensing this sacrament or by defining it. It is ironic that politicians actually seek the support of people in religious institutions, when promoting legislation that usurps the role of clergy in society. Libertarians believe in leaving spiritual matters up to spiritual institutions:

I believe in full:

That the Federal government has no Constitutional authority to define marriage. I personally support equality for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals regardless of their sexual orientations or perceived gender identity or presentation. I would call for the imediate repeal of federal and state Defense of Marriage Acts. I would do away with the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, thus allowing our gay and lesbian service men and women to serve their country openly and proudly. I oppose the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment and all state constitutional amendments seeking to define marriage as a bond between one man and one woman. I would do away with all special benefits and privileges granted to individuals on the basis of their marital status. I would like all state governments and localities to get out of the business of granting marriage licenses and allow people to enter into contractual relationships to order their lives as they see fit, but so long as the government continues to grant marriage licenses to heterosexual couples, I believe gay couples are entitled to the “equal protection” of the laws and should be allowed to obtain government issued marriage licenses as well. I do not believe the government should require religious institutions to perform marriage ceremonies that go against their church doctrine. I oppose all laws that discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered Americans and feel they deserve full equality under the law.

Parents Should Have Equal Custody Rights

Custody rights should be adjudicated by the states. The Federal government should not be involved in breaking up families for being too traditional or non-traditional. The number of adults participating in a family unit should be up to the adults entering into that arrangement.