Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Respecting liberty to fix America

Respecting liberty to fix America

(My Clovis News Journal column for October 12, 2012)

What is "America"? America isn't the landmass, although it does sit on a spectacular and rich piece of real estate.

America isn't the shared history, although that is a vital thread that gets neglected, inverted, or obscured today.

America isn't the US government or those employed by it, nor is it the massive mountain of "laws" that government has imposed.

America isn't even the individuals living here. Many who have lived here for generations, both in and out of government, violate everything America is with everything they advocate or support.

What America is, at its very core, is a way of respecting the liberty of the individual that had never been tried before.

An argument could be made that it was the Constitution- or better yet, the ideals spelled out in the Declaration of Independence- that made America what it was. Not perfect, but a good start.

A great many people feel, for one reason or another, that they owe an obligation of obedience, or even loyalty, to the government authority in America. What they miss is the fact that this "authority" is not embodied in any person or group of people. Not the president, the congress, or any employee or agent of the government. If there is any authority called "The United States of America" that you should respect, it is only in the Constitution.

Any government employee, from the president to the congress or the Supreme Court, is a legitimate government authority only as long as he strictly obeys the law that sets out his job parameters. When he fudges that obedience he is no longer a legitimate authority and you owe him nothing.

That means if he works for the government and supports any gun "law", no matter how "reasonable", he loses all authority. That means if he rules that the Patriot Act is "legal" (in clear violation of the letter and the spirit of the Constitution) he is no longer an authority. It means if he signs a health care bill, or a wealth redistribution plan, or keeps supporting any department or agency not specifically authorized, by name and function, in the Constitution, he has lost his claim to be an authority of the government. He is not "America".

This realization may disturb some people, but it may allow others to finally defeat the cognitive dissonance caused by feeling they are supposed to respect the government authority, while knowing that what government employees and agents do is wrong. They have been misinterpreting just what the authority is all along and throwing their support or obedience behind the false authority.

Getting this right is the first step in fixing America.


Emotionalism part 1- "Super-Hate"

Emotionalism.  We are all susceptible.  But too often this is the excuse for initiating force, or even (shudder) calling for government to stick it to ... whoever we are emotional over.  Or, it can be expressed by defending- against all reason- someone who is a real bad guy, but whom we "like" for one reason or another (this I'll discuss in Part 2).

I often see the irrational "super-hatred" aimed at "sex offenders".

Most of the time, but not always, this emotionalism is due to people being "too close" to the issue.  Maybe a "sex offender" abused them, or scared them, or they are worried about that sort of thing potentially happening more than most people are.  Unless you or someone you know has been violently violated in a sexual way, I think this "super-hate" gives sex a magical mystical quality that it doesn't really have, probably due to a certain degree of anti-sexualism or "Victorian" attitudes.  Perhaps in some people's lives it does have this power, and it lacks this power in other people's lives.  One size does not fit all.

Many times over the years I have watched as libertarian friends went ballistic in unlibertarian-seeming ways in their hatred of "sex offenders" who never actually initiated any force, but who lived up to the "offender" part of the label by offending someone (such as "the public").

I don't know of any other accusation where the accusation alone is sufficient to create this hatred. Not only that, but anyone who suggests that the alleged actions may not have actually happened, or may not be wrong in and of themselves gets covered by the "super-hate" along with the accused.  With accusations of theft or murder, anyone recognizing that the accused may not be guilty doesn't get treated this way, and neither does the accused in most cases.

It didn't matter that I basically agreed that their conjectured or real scenarios weren't good- I apparently didn't go far enough in my hatred, and I dared see the other side- and see that accusations do not equal guilt, and that if no force was initiated, the Zero Aggression Principle wasn't violated.  And, I admit I often played it up longer than necessary to see where it would go and see whether the root of the hatred would come up.  It usually eventually did.

One big part of the problem is that making exceptions for government intrusion or personal initiation of force is that once you let that camel get his nose under the tent, you can't stop it from lifting his head and removing your protection completely.  You only deserve the liberty you respect in others- even those you despise.

Once you stop reasoning with regards to someone, your enemies can move you just a bit further toward their position.  They make it OK to hate someone for their own purposes.  "Liberty doesn't deal with this issue- let us take care of it for you."  Or, the non-governmental way to say this is "Well, this really offends me, so I'll say this is an initiation of force, or a credible imminent threat to initiate force, and I'll use 'defensive' force against this person.  It's OK.  Really."

In either case, there is a danger of "mission creep".  Actually, let me re-phrase that- there is probably a guarantee of "mission creep".  More things will either "need" government "help" or will be called "aggression", so the justifications will get easier.  It's not just a slippery slope; it's one you willingly ran toward and jumped down.  And, bit by bit, your liberty is destroyed.