THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 366, May 7, 2006
"The Lamestream Media"
Special to TLE
In the last few weeks, I was somewhat taken aback to learn that I oppose freedom of speech; I do not support the right to keep and bear arms; I am, by turns, a statist or an anarchist; and I'm a racist to boot. I'm under no illusions that any of these descriptive terms are good things. Fortunately for me, it just so happens that none of them are true.
I'm not particularly offended when I receive emails like the ones I allude to here. After all, as long as I know the accusations are untrue, what difference does it make? But when I thought about it a little longer, I realized that such claims do make a difference because they reflect relatively accurately on the writer if not the target. Let me explain.
Lady Liberty is against free speech!
A couple of weeks ago, I suddenly started receiving dozens of e-mails a day from the members of a mailing list I hadn't joined. Because I'd conducted an interview some time ago with one of the principals of the list, however, another of the principals apparently saw fit to add me to the distribution. Though I was (and still am) interested in the topic in general terms, I have no interest whatsoever in being on the mailing list. As a result, I politely asked to be removed.
In short order, I received two more emails. One was from the person who put me on the list in the first place. She huffily told me that she was sorry she'd bothered me and that she'd certainly be happy to never speak to me again. The other was from a list member who informed me, complete with misspellings and several choice curse words, that I was obviously against free speech and had a good deal of nerve to dare to call myself Lady Liberty.
As much as I rail against censorship, I do have to acknowledge that I support certain instances of it. For example, I agree that parents should be able to determine what their children do and do not see and hear. I do not, however, think that their choices should be applied to all of us, or even to all children. I also support self-censorship. If it offends you, don't listen to it! If you disagree, either ignore it or exercise your own free speech rights to offer up a counterpoint.
An obvious and benign extension of self-censorship includes moving on if you have no interest. My own freedom of expression lets me say pretty much whatever I like, and you have no business telling me to shut up. By the same token, I have absolutely no right to force you to listen to my speech. Yet by figuratively walking away from a discussion in which I had little interest, I was accused of opposing somebody's freedom of speech. On the contrary: I support their right to chat all they like via mailing lists or any other medium they care to use. But demanding I stick around and listen to it all means that others were infringing on my freedoms, not the other way around!
Lady Liberty doesn't support the Second Amendment!
I've received emails on this topic ever since I started commenting on stories about Concealed Carry Weapons legislation in the various states. The problem? I'm not a fan of such laws. Saying so has apparently upset some gun rights advocates enough that they don't go on to see what I say with the very next breath, and that is this: We already have a CCW law in every state, and it's called "the Second Amendment."
My point is a relatively simple one. States that pass CCW laws require that applicants jump through a variety of hoops. They must provide all sorts of information about themselves (often including fingerprints). They must undergo background checks. They must take training and pass tests. Then and only then are they given a license that says they can arm themselves. Please don't think that this means I consider training a bad idea. It's the licensing itself I consider wrong at best, and a real danger to freedom.
When we get a permit or a license to do something, by definition that permit can be revoked by the state. It may or may not need cause to do so; it may or may not manufacture that needed cause at a later date. In the interim, those who are licensed now have information about themselves and their firearms neatly and irrevocably stored in a government database which may or may not be misused or hacked. You'll forgive me if I disagree that an unalinable right can ever be "licensed," and for thinking that those who seek a permit for such are the ones who are giving up their rights.
The truth is that my support of the Second Amendment is unequivocal. Unfortunately, even those labeled gun rights supporters are often more lenient in their own advocacy than I am. The only CCW laws I freely support are those in Alaska and Vermont. In those states, the one requirement for carrying concealed is that you want to. Now that, my friends, is the Second Amendment as it was intended!
Unfortunately, so much of the Second Amendment has already been taken from us that we find ourselves in a place where even gun advocacy groups call the return of firearms to New Orleans residents "good news." Lest you think I'm anti-gun after all, remember just what's involved in the return of these unlawfully stolen guns (taken by police from law abiding citizens in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina): Citizens must go to either the police or other law enforcement agency (it depends on who stole the weapons in the first place) and ask for the guns back. They must then prove ownership and undergo a background check.
"Proof of ownership" requires registration numbers, purchase papers, or the like. How, if your home was damaged in Katrina flooding, should you present such papers? Could you "prove" you owned (on paper) the gun your grandfather gave you when you started hunting at the age of 12? And if you do prove legal ownership, why should you be forced to endure a background check (for many, the second time they've been so humiliated for the same gun)? This is not good news. It's more government piled on top of already onerous regulations.
Unsupportive of the Second Amendment? Only if intolerance of infringement makes me so!
Lady Liberty is an anarchist!
I freely admit that I don't think some laws make any sense and that they should not be enforced until the day they're repealed. The vast majority of gun laws and drug laws are high on my list of those that ought to go away. I'm also big on the reversal of "victimless crime" laws such as prostitution. Do I think drugs are great? Not particularly. I just think you own your own body and can do whatever you like to it. Do I condone prostitution? Not personally, no. But it also seems to me that the only broad harm coming from either of these vices is directly related to black markets and draconian enforcement.
One immediate solution is just about as far from anarchy as you can get: the judicial system. Juries have the rightin fact, they have the obligation!to consider the law even as they consider cases prosecuted under the law. If they find the law wanting, then guilt is immaterial, and juries should decide accordingly. Is it insensible to send someone to prison for smoking marijuana to minimize the nausea of chemotherapy? Then juries must find defendants innocent whether they violated the law or not. Is it just as silly to send someone to prison for smoking a joint to relax after work? Juries need to say so by refusing to convict. Is a businessman accused of hiring a prostitute? If both parties willingly entered into the transaction, it may or may not have been sinful (depending on the mores of those involved). But should it be illegal? It's high time juries made the answer clear.
Once juries wake up to their responsibilities once again (and shame on those judges who've been shirking their own duties by refusing to inform juries of the full scope of their jobs!), law enforcement will likely begin to selectively ignore laws they'll be wasting time arresting citizens for breaking. And once that finally happens, legislators can do pretty much what they like and it won't matter much (the only reason it matters now is because there are those who use whatever modicum of authority they've got or are given to go along with it).
Doing what's right and just isn't anarchy. It's corrective action if it's anything, and corrective action that will benefit others by restoring the full exercise of their rights to boot. The corrective action involves government reform and retooling, not complete retirement.
Lady Liberty is a statist!
There are some things that the government is actually good for. Constitutionally, the federal governmnent is charged with signing treaties, ensuring fair and unfettered interstate commerce, providing for the national defense, and (yes, I know it's ironic at this point in history) ensuring the rights of its citizens. I'm amenable to all of these things (though far from okay with the limits to which the control of interstate commerce has been stretched to facilitate government intervention in a variety of things in which it frankly has no business interfering).
Even in the smallest of communities with no "formal" government, there is leadership. Even within voluntary associations, there is someone in charge. Government is merely that basic tribal notion on a more formalized basis. Again, I don't object to the idea. I object to the abuse of it which, in today's world, is rampant. Perhaps the greatest abuse doesn't involve anything more or less than an overstepping of bounds. If government went back to handling the things it was supposed to handle and left everything else well enough alone, we'd all be better off. Certainly, we'd also be better off than if government (read "leadership" here) were abolished in entirety.
There are a few legitimate instances where trials and punishments are needed (murder, theft, assaults, and the like), and a system needs to be in place to administer such. There are times when defense is crucial, and an organized mechanism must exist to be effective. Borders must be secured. And if governments didn't have their noses stuck into charity, victimless crime, and complete safety (impossible to attain, but there are some who will make any law in an effort to achieve it anyway) for its citizens, just think how much else it could accomplish and with what efficiency!
Imagine no (or very few) trial delays, complete investigations as needed, far less prison crowding, and a whole lot more time to engage in important and legitimate government matters such as border protection, which brings us to. . .
Lady Liberty is racist!
Because I support (and in the strongest possible terms) secure borders, I've been accused of not only being statist but racist as well. "Don't you think everybody has the right to freedom?" Yes, I do. But no one who truly favors freedom can believe in freedom at the expense of others. And that's what unfettered illegal immigration is doing.
The illegal immigrant population is literally costing American taxpayers billions of dollars in schooling, medical care, welfare paymens, and law enforcement that we need not otherwise be spending. (Yes, I'm well aware that public schools should be privatized and that welfare should be abolished, but that's not happening next week.) Further (for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the ill advised War on Drugs), many of the illegal border crossings are made by a criminal element we'd just as soon not have here (up to and including those bent on further terror attacks).
To suggest our borders be open to all who care to enter is a two-fold problem. First, without borders, we have no country. There's no point. If we want to keep America a destination for freedom, then we need to keep America's lands, citizens, and culture secure. And secondly, entirely open borders mean all comers can enter. Does that sound warm and fuzzy to you? It does to me, too. But I still lock my front door at night, and people who seek entry to my home still knock politely for admittance (those who don't are likely to get a firsthand look at my real support for the Second Amendment.)
There's absolutely no difference between our borders and our front door. They're one and the same. And we must be able to pick and choose who canand more importantly who cannotenter if we wish to maintain our free country and our peaceful household. And with thousands of miles of border touching numerous of the fifty states, from our Founders forward it was realized border control was a federal matterand despite the fact our current administration (as well as its imediate predecessors) is seriously falling down on the job doesn't make it any less a federal responsibility.
I don't believe that legal immigration should be restricted to race, creed, or any factor other than a desire to live free and to actively contribute to your adopted country. In fact, if you're not a criminal bent on crime, and if you're going to assimilate rather than demand Americans cater to you and your language and customs, and if you renounce welfare in favor of hard work, then you ought to be welcome here. But if you're disinclined toward any of these things, then stay where you are. I don't want you around me, my neighborhood, or my country where you can be a burden on resources and a threat to liberty and sovereignty. That's not racist. That's the unvarnished truth no matter what color you might happen to be.
Lady Liberty is. . . Satanic?
A long time ago when I first rediscovered the Internet via an AOL account, I used to spend time in some of the chatrooms there. Because I was a strong proponent of freedom of religionI refused to favor one flavor over any otherI was actually once called a "minion of Satan." In comparison, I suppose being called anti-freedom pales a bit!
After giving all due consideration to some of these accusations (okay, except for the "minion of Satan" one), I'm forced to admit that there's really only one truly accurate response. In the words of the immortal PeeWee Herman (who was ironically arrested for a victimless crime himself some years back): "I know you are, but what am I?"