The Tantrum of the Snowflakes

snowflakes

 

It had to come to this.

Members of the “everybody gets a trophy” generation have taken to the streets to “protest” the election results, and in some cases, to riot.  It’s a shame that no one ever taught them that taking meaningless action to express dissatisfaction with a free election is not protest, it’s a temper tantrum.  If these people are really dissatisfied with the direction they feel the government is moving, they should craft a compelling argument for their positions.  Glorified loitering and inconveniencing others is hardly a compelling “statement.” 

But, before they attempt to craft an opposing argument, they should put some of their wounded feelings aside and try to employ reason.  The left has been spoiled for generations.  When the Democrats controlled government, they had the ability to use the coercive power of government to pander to any of their perceived needs.  It didn’t matter what those needs were, whether the programs to address those needs were effective or right, or even whether the consequences of the government programs they desired were counterproductive.  It just mattered that government did something, and that someone else paid for it or bore the consequences.

Typically, when Republicans took control of the apparatus of government, they employed restraint.  Traditional Republicans usually believed in limited governmental power and in allowing each person to exercise their own individual liberty.  In a worst case scenario for today’s fragile, precious snowflakes, the Republicans merely rolled back some of the more egregious abuses of governmental power and temporarily reduced the programs of the social-engineering elite.

Now, the left is confronted, for the first time in over a century, with a Republican president who supports a very activist, involved government, and not a limited government.  And this phenomenon was created and supported by the left, as they incrementally expanded the powers of the centralized federal government and decreased the power of the states and the liberty of individuals.  Finally, they are confronted with the prospect of seeing an intrusive, all-powerful government conceivably being used by the opposition to impose a different set of coercive policies on the population.  Forgive me if I have little sympathy for those who are comfortable allowing the government to impose its will on the population when one group is in power, but uncomfortable with having a different group impose its will when it secures power.  Did the left really think that governmental tyranny would only exist while they held the reigns of power?

These “protestors” come from a generation with a limited, insulated worldview.  They were raised by “helicopter parents” who shielded them from any personal responsibility and protected them from any of life’s unpleasantness.  For many, this is the first time they didn’t get what they thought they wanted; the first time somebody actually said, “NO!” to them.  Their sense of moral superiority has been honed to the point that they can’t even conceive of any different viewpoints, and the only way to handle opposition is to demonize and try to dehumanize those with contrary opinions.  When they seek out others, they surround themselves with like-minded sycophants and only follow media that reaffirms their previously held views.  Individual liberty is an afterthought, if it is considered at all.  Many of the young seek out the homogeny of self-affirmation, rather than the challenge of considering, and responding to, different life experiences and viewpoints.  They herald diversity as an ideal, but fail to actually practice it.

It never occurred to these precious snowflakes that a large, intrusive central government might actually be used against them and advance an agenda contrary to their preferences.  Their sense of moral infallibility blinds them from realizing that there is an inherent contradiction in supporting an all-encompassing, intrusive government in some areas, while opposing it in others.  They don’t recognize that restoring a small, constrained government is preferable to a large, dictatorial, activist government, because their moral worldview can’t process the fact that some people want to live their own lives, make their own decisions, and bear their own consequences free of the whims of elites.  They have failed to realize that when a person or entity is granted unlimited powers, they won’t hesitate to use those powers in any way they see fit.

Donald Trump may very well be a bad president.  Contrary to a century of Republican practice, he has advocated for a very proactive government.  If he follows through on his promises, he won’t wield power much differently than previous Democratic administrations.  The policies may differ a bit, but the methodology he proposes comes straight out of the “progressive” playbook.  Those who protest against the election of Trump, because they fear he might actually implement certain policies, must recognize that the entire system of government must change.  A large, monolithic government that micromanages people’s lives and property must give way to the government our Founders conceived – small, responsive, and dedicated to preserving, and not infringing upon, personal and economic choice and liberty. 

Just replacing one dictator with another won’t do.
  There will always come a time when a dictator will do something that certain people won’t like.  Right now, the young protesters are experiencing this reality.  If they want to be effective in changing things, the young protesters must look beyond their narrow worldview and address a structure that allows potential despots of any persuasion to wield power.

Or, we can just give them all trophies so they go back home.

 

 

Thoughts on the Police Shootings in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights

A few thoughts on the recent police shootings in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights:

Both the shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights are very troubling. Video in both instances seems to indicate the police officers overreacted. Although there were signs that Sterling was resisting arrest, he appears to have been subdued and on the ground before the fatal shots were fired. The case of Castile seems more cut and dried. He was pulled over, clearly explained that he had a concealed carry permit, and informed the police officer as to what he was doing. The police officer clearly overreacted by shooting a compliant and respectful Castile.

After shootings like this, a certain segment of the population comes out in blind defense of the actions of the police, and they maintain that any criticism of police conduct is an attack on all police officers. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Police officers are granted wide (and I’d argue, far too wide) latitude to legally use violence as part of their job. With this authority comes great responsibility. I would expect police to use the upmost discretion before resorting to violence, particularly deadly violence against any citizen. Police are charged with the duty to apprehend potential law-breakers. They are not authorized to function as judges, juries, or executioners. Police are only authorized to use deadly force when their lives, or the lives of others, are in immediate danger by a suspect. In far too many instances, police have been granted much more latitude in this decision than would be accorded ordinary citizens. The mere “feeling” that a suspect is a potential threat, or the results of an adrenaline rush after a chase, are not, and should not, be adequate justification for using deadly force.

Although I’d like to think the vast majority of police officers are dedicated public servants, I also realize that there are far too many officers who lack the psychological characteristics to function in this role. Far too many police are on a power trip, taking the job for the sole purpose of expressing their authority and, sometimes, violent tendencies. These officers should be identified, and removed from police forces.

The “thin blue line” in which any police officer automatically backs the actions of another officer, even if those actions are clearly wrong, undermines the confidence of the public in their interactions with any police officer. Those officers who perform their jobs properly, but who turn a blind eye on misconduct by others, are contributors to the distrust many in the public hold towards all police. This distrust will continue until all police officers insist upon the highest standards of conduct by their colleagues.

Some argue that the public does not respond with the same level of outrage when a police officer is killed as when a police officer kills a citizen. There is a reason for this. When a police officer is killed, the perpetrator is automatically considered a criminal, hunted down, and aggressively prosecuted. One who shoots police officers is clearly considered a criminal and is subject to the harshest sanctions allowed by law.

When a police officer kills a citizen, the circumstances are usually far more ambiguous. The first presumption, particularly by other police officers, is that the shooting is justified. Police officers are held to far looser standards in their use of violence than ordinary citizens. They need only demonstrate that they felt, in some way, threatened. Investigations are often suspect, with the colleagues of police officers being the same ones investigating the actions of another officer – a clear conflict of interest. When police officers engage in violent actions, they are not immediately arrested. Instead, when identified, those officers are usually suspended, or placed on modified duty, with full pay. Police involved in shootings of civilians are accorded a presumption of innocence far greater than that accorded to non-police in similar situations.

Finally, I have to shake my head in disbelief at groups, like Black Lives Matter, who protest against what they perceive as racial profiling by government officials (the police), while at the same time, proposing and endorsing the granting of additional powers to the state. Part of the reason for the prevalence of racial profiling and the use of violence against civilians is that police are granted extraordinary authority to use violence by the state. Any time you grant any authoritative body additional powers, there are large numbers of people who will abuse those powers, particularly if that authoritative body possesses a legal monopoly on the use of violence.

Much of the violence perpetrated by police is the direct result of expansive and broadly defined laws that criminalize almost every daily activity. Police are charged with enforcing these laws, many of which are designed for the sole purpose of raising revenue or placating and pandering to select constituencies. As government increases the scope of laws, they also increase the chance of encounters between police and the citizenry. As these encounters increase, so does the potential that a certain number of these encounters will end in violence. Besides the obvious tragedy of a loss of life, law enforcement encounters designed to enforce poorly-conceived laws undermines the public’s trust in the rule of law, and by extension, those who are responsible for enforcing the law.

Those who decry police violence need to stop advocating for a more “activist” government in other areas. An “activist” government, by definition, replaces personal liberty with the whims of those elites in power. Those whims may not be shared by large segments of the population, which leads to inevitable conflict when police are called upon to enforce the law. Even dedicated and professional police officers are put in an untenable position when they are required to enforce bad laws. If certain constituencies truly want to reduce racial profiling and police violence, they need to step back and stop demanding that government intrude upon every facet of human existence. If there are fewer laws, there will be fewer interactions between the police and the citizenry. And if there are fewer interactions between the police and the citizens they are supposed to serve, there will be far fewer instances of questionable and tragic police shootings.

The Republican Choice for President

I’ve had more than a few people ask me my preference for the Republican primary. Up until this point, I’ve been hesitant to name a preference. I tend to have very strong libertarian leanings, believing that individual rights, as outlined in our Constitution, take precedence over a collectivist, socialist system. Accordingly, my preferred candidate for the GOP nomination was Rand Paul. I also deeply admire the presumptive Libertarian Party nominee, Gov. Gary Johnson, and, depending upon how the campaign plays out, might vote for him in November.

For anyone who has read my blog or any of my Facebook entries, it is obvious that I can’t, and won’t, support either of the two remaining Democratic candidates. We do not need a president dedicated to pandering to every left-wing interest group and who advocates forcing his or her pet social-engineering projects on the population through governmental coercion. Private property is one of the cornerstones of liberty. Both Democratic candidates believe that their personal perception of the “public good” grants them the right to seize private property as they see fit to fund and support any group to which they wish to pander.

That leaves the five remaining candidates seeking the Republican nomination. I urge all voters to carefully read the candidate’s websites and to take some time to review their positions on the issues and their histories.

It is no secret that I consider Donald Trump a danger to both the Republican Party and to the nation. Historically, Trump has backed Democratic candidates and has supported “activist” government programs, like socialized medicine and the use of eminent domain for private projects. He has been very vague on most issues of substance, substituting bravado and insults for nuanced policy positions. He is not afraid of throwing his weight around to bully those with whom his disagrees, and there is no reason to believe that this pattern would change if he became president. He displays an alarming naïveté on foreign affairs, doing all he can to insult and alienate our nation’s neighbors and allies. His whole campaign has been based upon nationalist appeal, the venting of anger without any substantive remedies, and tapping into vague, populist slogans. When cornered on specifics, he has let slip an inclination towards an increase in federal governmental scope and power. The world saw what happened when industrialized nations elected National Socialists in the 1920’s and 1930’s. We don’t need to repeat that history here in the United States.

Ben Carson has arguably developed one of the most comprehensive, detailed, and workable set of policies on today’s issues. His proposal for a national, flat income tax is fantastic for its simplicity, effectiveness, and fairness. I urge everyone to take some time to take a look at his policy positions on his website.

While Dr. Carson is an affable and likeable candidate, I harbor serious doubts about his experience and overall temperament, and believe those to be current impediments to his ability to both win the election and to serve as an effective president. He would be a beneficial addition to anyone’s administration, particularly as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, or Surgeon General. I hope that his current campaign is just the start, and not the end, of his commitment to national service.

Either of the remaining three candidates would make fine presidents, and would be vastly preferable to either of the Democratic candidates.

John Kasich has had a solid record, both as a Congressman and as Governor of Ohio. He has confronted many challenges in Ohio, and has handled all of them well. However, he still has a tendency to rely upon governmental programs, when the free-market would be far more effective. With the exception of Trump, Kasich has been most vague about his policy plans once in the White House. He has, rightfully, extolled his record as governor, but has not been very specific as to what he will accomplish as president. I am looking for a more detailed and specific set of plans than what Kasich has already advanced.

Ted Cruz has laid out a fairly detailed set of proposals, and most of them are pretty solid. He is arguably the strongest Constitutionalist of the remaining candidates. He is a fervent believer in the Constitution and in respecting the limitations of federal power. He is the candidate least-likely to pander to specific interest groups in order to solicit political support. His vocal opposition to ethanol subsidies while campaigning in Iowa is a testament to his integrity on the issues and fidelity to his beliefs.

While I would probably have few reservations about voting for Cruz over either Clinton or Sanders, I do find some aspects of his positions and temperament troubling. His corporate tax plan seems to be a value added tax in disguise. I am always reluctant about supporting new ways to tax individuals and businesses, since such taxes always seem to supplement, rather than replace, other forms of taxation.

I also find his positions on immigration and social issues to be a bit too hardline. The government has no more business interfering in people’s private lives than it does their economic affairs. In addition, we have over ten million illegal immigrants in our country. While the United States certainly has a right, and an obligation, to secure our borders, illegal immigration has been tacitly accepted by government, private industry, and individual citizens with a “wink and nod” for generations. A nativist element in the country uses the issue of illegal immigration as a cover to express their deeply held prejudices. The rest of the country has had, in one form or another, no problem in hiring illegals when it was convenient. While I believe the government has no obligation to provide welfare and other governmental benefits to illegal immigrants, I believe that we need a more realistic policy towards them than just “throwing them out of the country.”

Finally, Cruz’s temperament is a potential issue. It is no secret that he is a strident advocate for his views, and this stridency has won him few friends among his Senate colleagues. His campaign has also engaged in very questionable tactics, using dirty-tricks to a far greater extent than any of his rivals. A president needs to work effectively with both members of his own party and with the opposition. Reagan did this masterfully, while failed presidents like Carter and Obama were less adept. We need a president who will be able to work effectively with Congress, while maintaining fidelity to his beliefs. While I have no doubt about the sincerity of Cruz’s beliefs, I do have serious doubts about his ability to work well with other politicians of either party.

Marco Rubio has pretty solid positions on most of the issues. His tax plan, while not a flat tax that I would prefer, is well thought-out and comprehensive. He is a solid Constitutionalist, and would certainly appoint strict constructionists to the Supreme Court. He does have the personality to work effectively with others in government, while maintaining his ideological integrity.

Rubio’s history on the immigration issue is mixed. I believe that the attempts of the so-called “Gang of Eight” were well-intentioned. Their proposals acknowledged the reality that exists, and did not solely pander to either the nativist or social-engineering liberal elements. However, he has supported expansions of the H1-B visa programs, which have had a detrimental impact on some U.S. workers. He has since backed off his previous support of H1-B visas.

Rubio is young, and is not as experienced as I would prefer. But he is far more experienced than our current president, and has demonstrated his leadership skills and ability to work with other politicians. I think he has laid out a solid foreign policy platform and has the ability to be a very successful leader.

While I would have no problem with selecting Kasich or Cruz over either Clinton or Sanders, I think that Marco Rubio would be the most effective president of the current candidates of the two major parties, and will be the most electable of the current Republican candidates.

 

The Tyranny of Legislation

In a society based upon the principles of individual liberty, there is a need for only seven laws:

  1. One may not take another’s life unless one’s life or property is in imminent danger.
  2. One may not physically assault another individual unless one’s life or property is in imminent danger.
  3. No one has a right to take, use, or damage another’s property without the voluntary consent of the owner of such property.
  4. Commerce must be conducted honestly. All products and services must be represented accurately and function as described and intended.
  5. All parties who voluntarily enter into an agreement or contract are obligated to fulfill the terms of said agreement or contract.
  6. All social and economic interactions must be undertaken on a voluntary basis. No one must be coerced to engage in any social or economic activity.
  7. An individual’s personal rights must always be respected and protected. No personal, moral, societal, or other preferences supersede the rights of personal liberty.

Laws may be legitimately passed to clarify each of these seven laws. For example, laws or regulations preventing one from causing pollution may be legitimate, since pollution emanating from one individual or concern may damage the property of another. Laws that ensure commerce is conducted honestly may be legitimate, provided that such laws don’t hinder commerce or provide an advantage or penalize any party.

Any type of law not addressed by the above seven laws is probably illegitimate in a free society. These include laws in which one’s personal morality, preferences, or ideals are coercively imposed upon another. Examples of these types of illegitimate laws include laws that regulate individual behaviors that do not infringe upon the liberties of others. Sexual practices, religious preferences, economic decisions, personal moral beliefs, and lifestyle choices are areas that should not be subject to coercive legislation.

Laws should also not be passed to address the economic or social preferences of any group of individuals, regardless of how noble or useful such preferences appear. Not only do attempts to establish a “nanny state” paternalistic society inevitably fail, they also are an affront to the concept of personal liberty. One should have the freedom to make one’s own decisions, even if those decisions are bad. When government tries to act as the arbiter of “good decisions,” or attempts to protect people from the consequences of their decisions, that government creates a society of mediocrity. In such a society, the population has no personal incentive to make good decisions, since government protects them from their own failures. Conversely, and more importantly, such a society also discourages risk taking. Those who have accomplished the most throughout history have usually been those who were willing to assume the largest risk and to deviate from conventional thinking. A paternalistic nanny state merely reinforces and rewards the status quo. It actively discourages new thinking and the new ideas that fuel economic and social progress.

Attempts to create social or economic engineering solutions through the coercive power of government, besides infringing upon personal liberty, inevitably lead to unintended consequences. These so-called solutions usually involve providing an advantage or reward to a certain group, while denying the same advantages or rewards to other groups. This means that government, instead of protecting individual liberty and initiative, actively interferes with the organic growth of the economy or society by imposing its preferences for behavior or outcomes. For example, providing tax incentives to specific industries artificially inflates the value of these industries, while ignoring or penalizing industries that may actually produce more societal or economic good if left to compete in a free marketplace. This also creates an atmosphere that invites governmental corruption, as any special interest will lobby, petition, or bribe the government for special favors. When a favor is granted to any specific interest, other interests are, by definition, penalized by not being allowed to compete on the same level. Rather than competing on merit, by the strength of their own products or services and their acceptance in a free marketplace, organizations are forced, in this corrupt environment, to compete upon the basis of the clout they wield in government. There is no economic or societal advantage in using clout, rather than merit, to determine the success or failure of any undertaking.

The same argument about unintended consequences holds true to legislation that attempts to regulate personal behavior. The attempt to ban the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages failed miserably. People routinely ignored the law (leading to a breakdown in respect for government) and illegal organization sprung up and thrived in order to satisfy the demand for the now-illegal beverages. A similar situation exists in the consumption of recreational drugs. Legislation outlawing the consumption of recreational substances and the so-called “War on Drugs” did little to stifle demand for these substances. Instead, these laws caused the emergence of illegal organizations and cartels to supply the inherent demand for these substances. Since this commerce is illegal, there are no contractual controls to govern the behavior of these organizations or ways to ensure that such commerce is conducted honestly. It should come as no surprise that these illegal organizations engage in violent behavior, since their basic trade is illegal to begin with.

In order to combat the violence caused by organizations that have sprung up in response to such ill conceived laws, public law enforcement has had to become more militaristic in order to fight the violence, and more and more laws that restrict basic civil rights and liberties have been passed in order to address the problems caused by this illegal trade. For example, in order to prevent cash transactions and money laundering by drug cartels, Americans can no longer conduct any cash commerce in excess of $10,000 without notifying Federal authorities. Even if the authorities are notified, civil forfeiture laws allow government authorities to seize property if they claim to suspect such money or property was obtained through illicit drug sales. There is no need for due process before seizing a person’s property – suspicion is enough. It is up to the owner of the property to prove that their property was obtained through legitimate means. The basic concept of innocence until proven guilty, which is a cornerstone of a free society, is abandoned in order to maintain the façade of legislation initially enacted to create a socially engineered solution to a perceived problem.

There is no denying that addiction can be a tragic and debilitating experience. However, the choice to consume an addictive substance rests solely with the individual choosing to indulge in these substances. He or she should bear the brunt of those decisions, not society as a whole. The entire population should not have their behavior constrained, or liberties restricted, because a small proportion of the population fails to make good decisions. Attempts to use the coercive power of government to regulate specific behaviors not only fails to ensure good decisions by the targeted population, such legislation usually has significant negative effects on the rest of the populace.

Laws that exceed the seven listed above are fundamentally an attempt by a group of people to impose, through threat of government-enforced force or forfeiture, their will upon others. No matter how well-intentioned, laws that impose the will of one group upon another group are an assault on personal freedom. The United States was not founded upon the principle of the mediocrity of collectivism. It was founded upon the principles of individual liberty and personal initiative. We must be very vigilant when leaders or candidates propose “solutions” that exceed the scope of these seven basic laws. Although they may craft a compelling argument in favor of their solutions, these “solutions” are merely the leader or candidate’s attempt to impose his or her will on the populace. There is a term for the form of government that coercively imposes its own preferences on the population, even if the leaders are “freely” elected by the populace. That term is “dictatorship.”

 

Why Progressives Must Ban Santa Claus

Progressives, in their never-ending zeal to establish a utopia on earth as envisioned by a select group of elite social engineers, have neglected to confront one of the most oppressive symbols of the white male dominated Western-centric imperialistic patriarchy of privilege – Santa Claus! Good progressives must demand that even the mention of this evil being be preceded by a trigger warning and that safe spaces be created free of Santa Claus’ presence. It’s time the left declares a war on Santa Claus.

Let’s look at why the presence of Santa Claus must be eradicated from a progressive society.

The most obvious reason is the blatant bias and discrimination practiced by old St. Nick. He only delivers toys to the homes of Christian children (excepting Jehovah Witnesses and some other small denominations). While distributing toys to the homes of practitioners of the same oppressive religion that brought us the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and so many other calamities hundreds of years ago, he intentionally refuses to deliver toys to adherents of Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Hinduism. Displaying his abject lack of commitment to diversity, Santa Claus bypasses the homes of Wiccans, Animists, non-theists, and anyone else who does not recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It is long past time that society rejects such an exclusionary and prejudiced practice.

Santa Claus also perpetuates social division and inequality. Even with his exclusionary practices of ignoring non-Christians, it is no secret that children from wealthy families receive better presents than children of the economically oppressed. There is no place in the world for such inequity.

Santa Claus’ labor practices also deserve scrutiny and condemnation. He has established an off-shore manufacturing facility, beyond the reach of OSHA regulations, equal opportunity laws, and other regulations designed to ensure the fair treatment of workers. His workshop lacks diversity. His workforce is exclusively composed of elves. Nymphs, fairies, sprites, and other mythological creatures need not apply. Even the elves are not guaranteed fair treatment. There are no assurances that the employees of Santa’s Workshop are being paid a living wage and there is no union to protect the interests of the elves. Considering that alternate employment opportunities in the barren wasteland of the North Pole are scarce, we can be almost certain that Kris Kringle is exploiting his workers. Remember that even within the confines of his establishment, opportunities for advancement are almost non-existent. Santa’s Workshop has always been led by a white male. There are no females, minorities, or underrepresented mythical beings in any significant leadership positions.

Santa Claus is a typical white male Western colonizer. He established his workshop in lands traditionally inhabited by the Inuit population. It is very unlikely that he secured the permission of the aboriginal population before establishing himself in the North Pole. Even though he has taken their land, Santa refuses to employ the indigenous peoples in his enterprise, instead importing elves from far-off lands. His presence in the North Pole certainly is contributing to climate change and it is not unreasonable to believe the presence of such a large manufacturing and distribution concern is contributing to the melting of the polar ice caps.

Santa Claus ignores the basic precepts of social justice in his activities. He routinely spies on the children serviced by his operation, to the point that he can actually see if they have been sleeping and knowing when they are awake. Ignoring socio-economic factors and cultural differences, Santa takes it upon himself to be the sole judge as to whether children have been naughty or nice. He refuses to accept the fact that children are not in control and not responsible for their naughty behavior.   If children are naughty, it must be due to the oppressive climate in which they are raised. Naughtiness is a problem of all of society, not of individual children. Santa’s inflexible expectations of behavior are obsolete in a culture of moral ambiguity. Singling out naughty children and penalizing them by delivering coal instead of toys is a major attack on the self-esteem of our young charges.

Even the use of coal to discipline naughty children displays Santa Claus’ disregard of proper environmental stewardship. Why must he deliver a fossil fuel that is one of the major contributors of global warming? He displays a blatant disregard for our planet. If Santa Claus was truly concerned about the future of the world, he would only deliver locally-sourced, environmentally sustainable, gluten-free, renewable items to children. Our environment would be so much better if Santa was to stop delivering toys and coal to children and replaced it with something more environmentally sound – like kale.

One must not ignore the chilling affect of his surveillance activities against our children. Old St. Nicholas has, in recent years, established a secret police force to supplement his already intrusive monitoring of the behavior of children. He has deployed a Gestapo-like contingent of elves to invade children’s homes, where they sit on a shelf all day observing the behavior of children. Every night, these intrusive investigators return to the North Pole and provide Santa with a report on the activities of children in a given household. After submitting their reports, these elves return to the homes of children, spying on their activities from the safety of a shelf in the house. One can only imagine the pressure this puts on our population of delicate children. Rather than receiving gifts as their rightful entitlement, Santa is planting the subversive idea in children’s heads that rewards are actually based on behavior.

It is a documented fact that Santa Claus presides over a hostile workplace. One of his reindeer, afflicted with a physical deformity that made him different than other reindeer, had been continuously subjected to hostile comments and ridicule. It is known that this poor reindeer was purposely excluded from the recreational activities of other reindeer, all because he was different. Santa maintained a blind eye to this practice and only accepted this oppressed reindeer when he was able to exploit the reindeer’s disability during one particularly stormy Christmas night. In fact, progressive organizations like PETA have publicly questioned whether it is right that Santa forces eight tiny reindeer to pull a heavy sled full of toys for twenty-four hours straight, with no breaks for recuperation or refreshment. How can anyone, in good conscience, defend this type of animal exploitation?

Some apologists of Father Christmas point out that he does have a diverse sleigh team. The lead reindeer, Rudolph, is differently enabled. Two of his reindeer, Dancer and Prancer, are known to be gay. And two others, Cupid and Vixen, are believed to be transgendered. Although this one instance of enlightenment on the part of Santa should be applauded, it hardly mitigates his other offenses.

No progressive could condone the lifestyle choices of Santa or the bad example he sets for our children. Santa Claus has been photographed smoking a corncob pipe, ignoring the known health effects of tobacco consumption or the danger his second-hand smoke poses to his employees and the children he services. Kris Kringle is also morbidly obese, and, according to all known accounts, limits his diet to milk and cookies. This sets a bad example to children who may be lactose intolerant and, as any good progressive knows, cookies are laden with sugar, a known poison. All reports indicate that Santa Claus lives a sedentary lifestyle and exercises only once a year, when he spends an entire day descending and ascending through chimneys. This is hardly the type of person any progressive would subject to children.

Santa Claus is an exclusionary, reactionary, unenlightened relic of the dark ages and the mere mention of his name should be prohibited. Progressives must demand that the government protect children from his presence and that all visages of St. Nicolas be removed from public and private spaces. It is apparent that a vast right-wing Christian conspiracy is in place to support this racist, big corporation bigot, probably financed by the Koch Brothers. All good progressives must protest until speech codes to outlaw his name are implemented and government regulations are put in place to prevent Santa and his elves from entering progressive safe spaces. Only government should be empowered to distribute free goodies, not conservative Christians trying to brainwash our children with tea bagger ideas through bribery. The progressive cause depends upon swift action to eradicate this threat to a truly color-blind society of equal outcomes.

The Misrepresentations and Naïveté of Firearms Opponents

After every notable act of violence involving firearms, there seems to be a knee-jerk reaction among a portion of the population to call for bans on certain types of weapons or restrictions on gun ownership. Those calling for restrictions on Second Amendment rights use historical misrepresentations, incendiary rhetoric, and an inability to learn from experience to justify their emotional distaste for firearms.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution clearly reads,

“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.”

Opponents of firearms emphasize the term, “well regulated Militia” as their justification to legislate restrictions on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. They interpret this phrase to mean the government has the right to impose regulations on ownership and that the right to bear arms is only guaranteed for military units sanctioned by the Federal government. These opponents of firearms either fail to recognize the historical context of the Second Amendment or are engaged in a purposeful attempt to misrepresent it.

The concept of Federal regulations and restrictions on everyday activities is, in a historical sense, a relatively new phenomenon. The idea that the Federal government has the power to impose its will on the states and the people therein did not even originate until the Civil War and was not institutionalized until the Progressive Era in the early twentieth century. The framers of the Constitution did not use the phrase, “well regulated” to mean Federal oversight and restriction on the right to bear arms. What, then, did the phrase, “well regulated,” imply at the time of the passage of the Second Amendment? “Well regulated” was a relatively common phrase meaning that something was in proper working order. Within the context of bearing firearms, “well regulated” meant that someone was properly trained and proficient in the use of these weapons. That meant that people bearing arms were expected to be trained in the use of the arms, and as members of the militia, engage in periodic drills. The phrase did not imply that the Federal government had the authority to regulate the use of firearms, as we commonly understand the term, “regulate,” to mean today. Indeed, the entire concept of granting a central government the right to unlimited regulation was totally foreign to the Founding Fathers. The term, “militia,” is also misunderstood or misrepresented by opponents of firearms. They argue that the militia only consists of the National Guard and reserve units of the uniformed services and that the Second Amendment only pertains to people enlisted in these government-controlled entities. This is probably due to ignorance of the Efficiency in Militia Act of 1903, which codified the circumstances in which state National Guard units could be brought under federal control. The act did not, however, restrict militia membership to organized units (like the National Guard). In fact, the Efficiency in Militia Act recognized the existence of an unorganized militia (which was also recognized in the Militia Acts of 1792). The unorganized militia was comprised of all able-bodied male citizens between the ages of 17 and 45. In other words, the entire population of capable males was considered, by default, members of the militia. (It could certainly be argued, based upon current legislation and Constitutional interpretation, that the age and gender restrictions are no longer in force.) Therefore, every citizen of the United States, by default, is a member of the militia and subject to the rights enumerated in the Second Amendment.

Militias in America were historically designed to allow citizens to band together for the common defense. All able-bodied males of a certain age (as codified in the various Militia Acts) were expected to be trained and proficient in the use of firearms and expected to be able to use those arms if the need arose. The Second Militia Act of 1792 required that every male citizen possessed a firearm and adequate ammunition. Except in rare instances, militias were established and controlled at the local or state level; federal control was limited to extraordinary circumstances, usually limited to service in a declared war or insurrection.

There was a good reason for establishing militias at the state or local level. People at the time of the passage of the Second Amendment distrusted a standing army in times of peace. The abuses of British authority were still fresh in their minds. Rather than granting power to a large central government, the citizenry preferred to restrict most political power to the states or individuals (as codified in the Tenth Amendment). If there is any doubt that the framers of the Constitution intended the Second Amendment to apply to all citizens, one needs only read the amendment carefully. It clearly states “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” shall not be infringed. Note the use of the word, “people.” The amendment does not restrict the right to keep and bear arms to governmental authorities; it extends this right to all people. This does not contradict the first part of the amendment because, as was already established, the militia was composed of all people. Anyone arguing that the Second Amendment should not be universally applied is ignorant, or is purposely misrepresenting both the historical context and the true wording of the amendment.

The opponents of the rights codified in the Second Amendment also resort to incendiary rhetoric to appeal to emotions, rather than reason. The most common example of this is referring to certain types of firearms as military-grade “assault” rifles, as if the only purpose of these weapons is to assault someone in the commission of a crime. Although many of the opponents of the Second Amendment are woefully ignorant of different types of firearms, they usually use the term, “assault” rifles to refer to automatic or semi-automatic weapons. Of course, many firearms opponents don’t even know the meaning of these terms.

In general terms, a fully automatic weapon fires multiple rounds with a single pull of the trigger. Machine guns are the most obvious examples of weapons in this category. A semi-automatic weapon only fires one round per pull of the trigger. Although a new round is automatically chambered after the previous round is fired, it can not be fired until the shooter consciously pulls the trigger. A single-shot weapon requires that a round be manually chambered each time the weapon is to be fired.

Fully automatic weapons, the only true “assault” rifles, have been subject to substantial restrictions since the National Firearms Act of 1934, and virtually outlawed by the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986. They are not available to the general public except under very stringent and specific circumstances, as prescribed by law. Today, the only “long guns” available to the general population are single-shot and semi-automatic rifles, each of which require a specific single pull of the trigger for each fired shot.

Finally, the opponents of the possession and use of firearms rely upon emotional knee-jerk reactions to violent incidents (or outright political pandering), rather than reason. Legislation at both the state and federal level restricting access to firearms has proven ineffective at stemming the violent incidents seen lately. On the federal level, more and more restrictive legislation has been passed (including the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Federal Firearms Act of 1938, the Gun Control Act of 1968, the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986, and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993). Many states have even more stringent restrictions on the use and possession of firearms than provided for by federal statutes. In addition, it is a crime, with substantial penalties, to harm a person with a firearm, except in cases of self-defense. If these laws have not prevented those with evil intentions from committing crimes, how can we expect further laws to do so? Rather than addressing the real causes of violence, further restrictions on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms will only penalize individuals who use firearms for legal purposes, like hunting, target shooting, and personal defense. Although further gun restrictions may allow a fearful population the illusion of protection, these “feel good” laws will do nothing to prevent future outbreaks of violence. Additional laws will only have the unintended (or maybe intended) consequence of turning otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals if they inadvertently run afoul of one of the newly legislated restrictions.

The recent spate of mass shootings has certainly been a tragedy, and it is understandable that people are searching for ways to prevent further occurrences. But further restrictions on our Second Amendment rights are not the answer. (In fact, they may even make the citizenry more vulnerable to attacks by removing the deterrent of self-defense). Most of the mass shooters are willing to die during the commission of their crimes, so further laws will not deter them. The perpetrators of these vile deeds obviously have no respect for human life, including their own. Perhaps the reasons for this tendency are worth exploring if we wish to prevent further occurrences of violence. Further restrictions on our Second Amendment rights, however, will, as historically shown, have no impact on preventing further mass shootings. In fact, further gun restrictions may have the negative impact of lulling the population into a false sense of security while other actions that may actually reduce tendencies towards violence are ignored.

Why the Left Truly Hates the Citizens United Decision

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (better known as the McCain–Feingold Act) prevented corporations and unions from funding any advertisements mentioning a candidate, or “electioneering communications,” within 30 days prior to a primary election or 60 days before a general election.  The law prevented any incorporated entity, including unions, corporations, and non-profit corporations, from using their funds to advocate for any issue, if any federal candidate’s name was included, in broadcast advertisements.  For example, within 60 days of a general election, a right to life organization could not air an anti-abortion ad if the name of any federal candidate were included.  An environmental advocacy organization would likewise be prohibited from broadcasting an advertisement in favor of clean-air standards if they chose to name any candidate for elected office.

From the start, this law was attacked by citizens as an unconstitutional infringement of the First Amendment of the Constitution, which protects freedom of speech and the right of the people to petition the government for redress of grievances.  In a number of cases, beginning in 2007, the Supreme Court agreed with the unconstitutional nature of the McCain-Feingold Act.  Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. (2007), Davis v. Federal Election Commission (2008), and, finally, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) Supreme Court decisions effectively gutted the key provisions of the McCain-Feingold Act, finding them an unconstitutional restraint on the ability of organizations to engage in political speech.

Since these decisions were announced, particularly the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commissions decision, many, particularly the so-called “progressives,” have been apoplectic.  They argue that allowing organizations of individuals the right to spend their own money advocating for or against political issues (and particularly, naming candidates’ stands on those issues) corrupts the political process by allowing wealthy organizations to “buy” governmental influence.

In this instance, the Supreme Court got it right.  (It may even be argued the Supreme Court didn’t go far enough in its decision).  The First Amendment clearly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (Italics mine).  There is no mention in the Constitution of limiting these rights to specific time periods or of restricting the types of communications that constitute freedom of speech.  The First Amendment has no restriction on who may exercise these rights or on how much an organization can spend on expressing their views.  The Constitution is clear that “Congress shall make no law” restricting these rights.  McCain-Feingold served to restrict First Amendment rights, and was rightfully ruled unconstitutional.

Recognizing the futility of trying to limit this type of speech through legislative means, “progressives” are trying to amend the Constitution to overturn the Citizens United decision.  Most recently, the New Jersey Assembly passed a bill calling for a Constitutional Convention to consider amendments to limit the “corrupting influence of excessive spending by outside interests.”  What the “progressives” don’t outright admit is that they are less concerned about the “corrupting influence of excessive spending” than they are of ensuring that the corruption is limited to advocating positions with which they agree.

There are many ways to influence governmental policy and spending money to air issue advocacy advertisements is just one of them.  Virtually every organization employs lobbyists who help craft legislation and garner support for it.  Organizations recruit and support “grass roots” volunteers to solicit support for favored candidates and legislation.  Political parties collect donations and dole them out to selected candidates.  Citizens can, and do (particularly in the age of the Internet), circulate petitions advocating for or against specific issues.  Ordinary citizens are free to write to their legislators or publish their own views using the media of their choice.  Why aren’t the “progressives” up in arms with these attempts to “corrupt” the political process? The issues the “progressives” have with independent expenditures of private money to influence legislation has less to do with corruption and more to do with control.  Organizations using their own money to advocate for their favored political positions cannot be influenced or restrained by specific political parties.  Political parties, or organizations beholden to them, are the chief organizers of “grass roots” campaigns.  They can easily control the influence and use of lobbyists through legislation.  But they have absolutely no control as to what a specific organization can say through independent political advertising.  Anyone, not just organizations favored by incumbent politicians, can craft, disseminate, and shape political issues.

So-called “progressives” are worried that moneyed interests, through their ability to fund issue advertising, will have an inordinate influence due to their wealth.  Besides underestimating the ability of the American public to engage in their own critical thinking, this argument ignores the fact that allowing private organizations to air their opinions is far more democratic than limiting messages to time frames and content approved by the government.  In addition, the value of individual wealth is greatly overestimated.  Organizations, particularly labor unions and non-profit corporations could pool small amounts of money from large numbers of donors to advocate for their favorite political positions.  Issue advocacy advertising is not the exclusive domain of a few wealthy individuals or corporations – it is now available to any group able to organize like-minded individuals and gain their financial support.

“Progressive” legislators and their supporters say they are worried that the ability of independent organizations to spend their money on issue advocacy will “corrupt” the political process.  By using this argument, the legislators are admitting they can easily be corrupted and will be unduly influenced by messages aired by independent entities.  In fact, legislators are already corrupted by messages emanating from their own political parties.  In every legislature, there is a party position called a “whip,” whose job it is to instill legislative discipline on its own party members.  The true issue is not one of corruption or undue influence – the “progressives” are really worried about who dictates the influence.  Because they, or their political organizations, have no control over the messages disseminated by independent organizations, the “progressives” lose their monopoly on shaping the types and content of messages received by the American public.  This is the true concern for those fighting to overturn the Citizens United decision.

If the “progressives” were truly concerned that those airing issue advocacy ads could “buy” government influence, they would shrink the size and scope of government so that there is nothing worth buying.  As long as the government insists of extending its tentacles into every aspect of human and corporate behavior, there will be those trying to exercise their influence so that government policies benefit their own specific interests.  Attempting to outlaw specific means to influence policy (particularly when allowing other techniques) does nothing to solve the perceived problem of groups attempting to purchase governmental influence.  There will always be those who attempt to corrupt the system by asserting undue influence as long as the government wields the power to control individual and business decisions.  There will always be legislators, and other government officials, willing to sell their offices to the highest bidder.  The solution to this problem is not to ban the constitutionally-protected right to free speech and to petition the government.  The solution is to remove the temptation to influence government by reducing the areas in which influence can be peddled.

Sadly, this is anathema to most “progressives.”  “Progressives” are dedicated to using government to advance their agenda of controlling the populace.  Reducing the scope of government, in addition to allowing independent issue advocacy, is an assault on their monopoly of control.

 

Obama’s Toddler Diplomacy

“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.” 

-President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, February 5, 2015

President Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast are being criticized from all quarters.  Some have said the president is “throwing Christians under the bus.”  Others have argued that the president’s remarks are historically inaccurate, dated, or serve to trivialize the heinous acts being carried out by groups like ISIS in the name of Islam.  While these criticisms may very well be valid, most commentators are ignoring the more important significance of Obama’s remarks.  His remarks serve as a reminder of the liberal mindset when dealing with enemies of the state – empathize with those whose actions deserve no empathy, try to reason with those who are unreasonable, search for explanations when no rational explanations exist, search for common ground when there is no common ground, and, when all else fails, blame oneself for failing to reign in evil using peaceful means.

How many of us have seen a three-year old toddler engage in a temper tantrum in a public place, only to find a (usually liberal) parent ignoring the situation or quietly trying to “reason” with the child?  Naturally, this approach almost always fails.  Three-year-old children have not yet developed the capacity for reason, so any attempt to rationally “reason” with them is bound to end in frustration for the child, the parent, and any other poor soul in the vicinity.  The only actions to which a child of that age is likely to respond is a firm voice commanding him to stop, or a swift swat on the behind.  Trying to “reason” with a three-year-old is about as productive as trying to teach a dog the principles of quantum physics.

Similarly, throughout history, there have been individuals, groups, and nations that have engaged in actions so heinous; they defy any reason or rational explanation.  Pol Pot wiped out 25% of Cambodia’s population in his attempt to create an agrarian Communist Utopia, Stalin thrust the Ukraine into famine in the 1930’s in his attempt to force collectivization of agriculture.  Japan ravaged China and the rest of Asia in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Hitler killed over 17 million people, and that number doesn’t even include war casualties.  We can go further back in history to find nations and rulers who engaged in wholesale torture, genocide, and repression.  None of these inhumane regimes were stopped by reason, empathy, or appeasement.  Either someone else stepped in and intervened militarily, or the evil rulers died of their own accord.

In conducting his foreign policy, Obama is attempting to apply reason where reason doesn’t exist.  It is not reasonable for a group of middle-eastern terrorists to behead foreigners, summarily execute individuals of different faiths or denominations, or burn prisoners of war alive.  No amount of reason will convince Kim Jong-un to abandon his quest for nuclear weapons or to provide his nation with even the rudiments of freedom.  Gathering the leaders of Europe together to sing “Kumbaya” will not stop Vladimir Putin’s quest to unite all Russian-speaking people under his dictatorship, even if those Russian speakers live in other sovereign states.  We can empathize with those who wish us ill all we want.  But no amount of empathy will prevent evil men from perpetrating evil deeds.

Diplomacy and compromise have an important role in international relationships.  When two civilized nations have a disagreement about a civilized issue, negotiation is often an effective way to resolve the issue.  But when a nation engages in conduct outside of the norms of acceptable civilized behavior, no amount of negotiation will ever be successful.  Perpetrators of evil will continue to engage in evil activities until their actions are stopped by another nation.  No amount of talking, understanding, self-criticism, empathy, or appeasement will reign in an evil regime.  Look at recent history.  Neville Chamberlain touted his appeasement of Hitler as guaranteeing “peace in our time.”  But it took Winston Churchill’s steadfast leadership and determination of physically attacking Germany to finally end the horror of the Nazi regime.

Barack Obama can continue to engage in all of his self-criticism about the past evils of Christianity, or even the United States.  But none of his self-reflection will stop organizations and nations like ISIS or North Korea from continuing to threaten United States citizens.  When a Jordanian pilot was immolated by ISIS thugs, King Abdullah II of Jordan, a 43rd-generation direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, didn’t wring his hands trying to understand or empathize with ISIS.  He recognized pure evil as evil, and immediately took action – executing ISIS terrorists and conducting air strikes against their strongholds.  King Abdullah recognizes that the only way to defeat evil is to eradicate evil.  Trying to reason with evil is about as effective as trying to reason with a three-year-old.

Liberals live in a world of delusion.  They are so certain of their own moral righteousness, they can not even begin to comprehend the reasons others may not share their opinions.  They believe talking to opponents, even those who seek nothing other than to do us harm, will eventually convince purveyors of evil to change their ways.  And if talking out the problem fails, which invariably occurs when dealing with evil, liberals shrink back into self-reflection and self-hatred – believing that they must somehow be responsible for the evil actions of others.  This leads to attempts at appeasement – another failed strategy for dealing with evil.

Evil can only be overcome by force.  It may be economic force, such as Reagan’s policy to increase defense spending which almost bankrupted the Soviet Union as they strove to keep up.  It may be military force.  Japan wasn’t going to surrender in World War II until they were subjected to certain nuclear annihilation.  Had Churchill followed Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement, Europe would likely still suffer under the Nazi yoke.  Regardless of the type of force used, only an unshakable resolve to directly confront threats to our citizens will be successful in defeating those who wish us harm.  Unfortunately, our current president believes that empathy for our enemies and endless self-criticism will convince them to stop their evil deeds.  Although Obama may pride himself on historical comparisons of Christianity to the Crusades and slavery, he shows an abject ignorance of the more important lessons of history.

 

A Tale of Two Justice Systems

Imagine you’re a 69-year-old retired veteran, taking your daily stroll through Seattle, leaning on a golf club you typically use as a cane.  Suddenly, a stranger approaches, falsely accuses you of swinging the golf club at her, and demands you drop the golf club immediately.  When you naturally refuse to relinquish your property, the stranger restrains you and, against your will, transports you away from the scene.

Wouldn’t you expect the stranger to be arrested on a slew of charges – kidnapping and attempted theft among them?

Suppose you are working as a reporter in Ocean County, New Jersey and you stumble upon a serious car accident.  After receiving permission from the firefighters on scene, you record the scene of the accident with the intention of filing a story about the incident.  A bystander takes exception to your activities, forcibly takes your camera, restrains you, and then, without your consent, forces you into his car, and whisks you away from the scene.

In this case, any reasonable person would expect the bystander to be cited for theft and kidnapping, among other charges.

Maybe you’re just minding your own business in California, when someone accuses you of murder.  The prosecutor knows the statements of the accuser are patently false, but allows the trial to continue without making any mention of the false statements.  You are convicted of the murder, based upon the false statements.

Wouldn’t you expect the prosecutor to be arrested for denying your rights to a fair trial?

If regular citizens committed these offenses, they undoubtedly would have been held accountable for their actions, and prosecuted to the full extent provided by law.  In fact, these offenses were committed by government officials charged with upholding the law!

In the first example, Seattle Police Officer Cynthia Whitlatch accused William Wingate of swinging his golf club at her.  She arrested him on these charges.  A video later exonerated Wingate, clearly displaying that Officer Whitlatch lied about the incident.  In the six months between the arrest and the release of the video, William Wingate was coerced to plead “guilty to unlawful use of a weapon, a misdemeanor, under an agreement in which the case would be dismissed after two years if he complied with all conditions ordered by the judge” (as reported by the Seattle Times).  Seattle police officials later apologized to Wingate.

In the second example, Andrew P. Flinchbaugh, a freelance reporter for The Lacey Reporter was filming the aftermath of a single-car accident involving an officer employed by the Ocean County, New Jersey prosecutor’s office.  Although Mr. Flinchbaugh was not interfering with first responders on the scene, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Detective David Margentino demanded that Mr. Flinchbaugh hand over his camera, even though Mr. Flinchbaugh was conducting himself completely within the law.  When Mr. Flinchbaugh rightfully refused, he was arrested on a disorderly person’s offense.  Charges against Mr. Flinchbaugh were later dropped, but the prosecutor’s office refused to issue an apology.

In the final example, Johnny Baca was twice convicted of murdering John Adair and John Mix, based upon the false testimony of a jailhouse informant.  Although prosecutors knew the testimony was false, they continued to press the case, until judges from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal excoriated the prosecutor’s for their misdeeds.  Patrick J. Hennessey Jr., the lawyer representing Baca, was reported to say he had never seen such an “egregious” case of prosecutorial misconduct.

In all these cases, little has been done to hold the perpetrators accountable for their conduct.  Officer Whitlatch has been reassigned to desk duty while an “investigation” is being conducted.  No known sanctions have been levied against Detective Margentino, but the prosecutor’s office has promised to update their training so that future constitutional violations of this type will not continue.  No prosecutors have been taken to task in the case of Mr. Baca.  In none of these cases were the officials, operating under the color of law, held criminally responsible for their actions.

In America, we really live under two sets of laws – those applied to ordinary citizens, and those applied to those who are supposed to enforce the laws.  Those charged with enforcing laws – judges, prosecutors, and police officers – are usually immune from criminal charges for the actions they perform as part of their official duties.  This concept of sovereign immunity shields those we entrust to enforce the law from being held accountable for following those same laws.  Essentially, while you or I will probably be held criminally accountable for actions that may violate laws, judges, prosecutors, and police are granted “get out of jail free” cards for violating these same laws.

The principles of judicial, prosecutorial, or police immunity have their origins in common law, and have been strengthened through statutory and case law.  Defenders of sovereign immunity argue that immunity is necessary to allow these agents of the state freedom to perform their duties without the constant threat of being second-guessed or harassed.  Proponents of immunity argue that agents of the court will be reluctant to diligently perform their jobs if, by doing so, they may be threatened with a barrage of lawsuits or possible criminal prosecution for simple “mistakes.”

As a result, agents of the court have an almost unlimited ability to betray the oath they swore to uphold the law.  A judge may sign orders he knows are illegal and face no criminal sanctions.  A prosecutor may allow false testimony or prosecute an individual she knows to be innocent and face no accountability for false imprisonment.  A police officer may blatantly violate someone’s rights or plant evidence, yet continue to be employed as a public servant.  The strongest sanctions that can be taken against agents of the court who betray their oaths is usually administrative – the loss of employment or the loss of his or her professional license.  Criminal prosecution, even against the most egregious conduct, is almost unheard of.

Fortunately, the courts have begun to poke some holes in immunity laws.  Sadly, these exceptions to sovereign immunity are not enough.  Judges, prosecutors, and police officers are well-trained in all the nuances of law – far better versed than the average citizen.  Yet, through our legal system, we do not hold them accountable to these laws.  Considering the pressure and professional stature involved with making arrests and winning cases, there is no incentive for law enforcement agents to actually follow the law.  In fact, and aided by immunity statutes, law enforcement agents are tacitly rewarded for skirting, or outright violating the law.  This results in thousands of people falsely convicted each year and thousands more routinely having their civil and constitutional rights violated.  When law enforcement agents aren’t held criminally accountable for their actions, abuses are bound to occur.  As these abuses pile up, public trust in these authorities diminishes.  Not only are individual liberties violated, the entire foundation of trust in the law crumbles.

If a typical citizen violates a law (regardless of whether she knew the action was illegal), she is branded a criminal.  If a judge, prosecutor, or police officer violates the same law in the conduct of their jobs, it is merely labeled a “mistake,” with no criminal sanction.  It betrays common sense that those who are most well-versed in the law are the least accountable to following it.  This is an abject assault on liberty and the tenets of civilized society.

 

The Nature of Rights

I had a client, who worked in the medical services field, once ask me if I thought everyone should have a right to health care.  I thought about the question for a minute, and then answered “healthcare might be a desire, it might even be a need, but it is certainly not a right.”  She was taken aback by my candor and thought that I was a heartless individual.  I was unable to convince her that “rights” had a distinct meaning – one that shouldn’t be belittled as a mere platitude.

We see the term, “rights” being used to describe anything an individual might desire, regardless of the effect that desire might have on others.  Rights are all too often viewed as mere entitlements that should be offered just because an individual desires something.  The word is becoming particularly clichéd in the political arena, in which politicians and their constituencies may argue individuals have a “right” to food, free healthcare, free birth control, or any other thing they may desire.

The promiscuous use of the term, “rights,” to describe wants, or even needs, trivializes the true nature and importance of rights to the point at which true rights are undervalued, and may even entirely disappear.  Before carelessly tossing around the term, people should really understand the characteristics and significance of rights.

Rights are actions that a person may undertake in a free society.  They are not granted by governmental entities – they exist solely because a person exists.  No overseeing authority grants rights.  They exist because of the free will granted to all by our Creator.  In a society dedicated to liberty, rights are inviolate, and can not be restricted or restrained by the coercive power of the state.  A tyrannical state is one that restricts rights of individuals by the threat of governmentally sanctioned force.  The more rights are restricted, the more tyrannical the society becomes.

Rights are inherent to each individual and are virtually limitless.  Although specific rights are codified in various national constitutions and international agreements, these codified rights are not to be viewed as limitations on rights.  The only limitation on rights in a free society is that those rights not infringe upon the rights of others.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate this concept is to provide a few examples.  In the United States of America, the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press.  This means that anyone may compose and disseminate their ideas.  However, freedom of the press does not mean everyone has a right to a printing press provided by the government.  Providing everyone with a free printing press would require that the government take the property and labor of one (the person building the printing press) in order to satisfy the desire of another (the person wishing to distribute their ideas).  Taking the property or labor of any individual, through any other means than a voluntary transaction, is a violation of that person’s rights.

Another example is freedom of speech.  We all have a right to express our opinions.   However, this right does not allow us to force anyone to listen to our opinions.  That would be a violation of the other person’s right to freely engage in the actions he or she desires.

A third example would be the right to bear arms.  In a free society, everyone has the right to obtain and use firearms.  However, no one is under the obligation to provide the citizenry with firearms.  This right can only be exercised through a fair and voluntary transaction between the purchaser and purveyor of such weapons.

The right to bear arms also does not guarantee that anyone can use weapons in any way they desire.  For example, the right to bear a firearm does not grant an individual the right to fire that weapon at another, since the victim would obviously have his or her right to life violated by this action.

In essence, rights are the God-given abilities to take whatever actions an individual chooses, provided that those actions do not infringe upon another individual’s ability to do the same.

As illustrated above, rights are not merely desires, wants, or even needs.  They are fundamental actions an individual may take, on their own accord, and through the use of their own resources and labor.  They are not actions that infringe upon another individual’s ability to take the actions dictated by their own specific consciences.

We are hearing a lot of talk about “rights” that are anything but.  For example, many in society are touting the “right to healthcare.”  While anyone has the right to seek healthcare, no one has the “right” to receive healthcare.  If we grant individuals the “right” to healthcare, we are, by definition, denying rights to those who may provide healthcare services or be forced to fund the healthcare services of others.  Healthcare, like any other endeavor, should only be provided through a voluntary and free agreement between the consumer and the healthcare provider.  Once we start, incorrectly, identifying the receipt of healthcare as a right, we are limiting the ability of healthcare providers to freely undertake the actions they desire.

A bunch of other things are being touted as “rights” by politicians, the media, and segments of the population.  Birth control, reproductive services, food, shelter, education, and a whole host of other things are being held up as “rights.”  While no government edict should be instituted to prohibit people from seeking these things, any attempt at using the coercive power of government to ensure the receipt of these things is an affront to liberty.  People have the right to seek out any good or service they may desire, they have the right to their thoughts and consciences, and they have the right to worship in any way they please.  They do not have the right to compel others to provide these things to them, nor do they have the right to use their “rights” to infringe upon the rights of others.

Governments may institute laws to protect rights, but these protections should be limited to preventing individuals and entities from infringing upon the rights of others.  Governments should not be in the business of granting or providing rights.  Rights are granted, not by governments, but by God.  But the ultimate responsibility for exercising those rights is borne solely by each individual.  If “rights” must be provided by another individual or entity (such as a government), they are not rights.  In fact, they are the direct opposite of rights, since they involve the coercion of one group of individuals in order to satisfy the desires of another group of individuals.  Rights are granted to individuals alone, and may only be exercised by those same individuals.  Any other use of the term, “rights,” perverts the true significance of this cornerstone of liberty.