I Don’t Know About You (But I’m No Sheep)

“America, free, happy, and enlightened, as she is, must rest the preservation of her rights and liberties upon the virtue, independence, justice, and sagacity of the people. If either fail, the republic is gone. Its shadow may remain with all the pomp, and circumstance, and trickery of government, but its vital power will have departed.”
~Joseph Story~
(1833)

Whenever I sit down to write one of these commentaries I take a great deal of pride in trying to support my position with, an often, overabundance of facts; laying it out in as clear a narrative as I can. I know that there are some who appreciate the time and effort I spend writing them; but I also believe that these individuals constitute a very small minority of the total population of this country.

I know that there are some to whom the subject matter I discuss is of absolutely no importance. Then there are those whose beliefs run counter to mine, and therefore they reject what I have to say rather than admit that, quite possibly, their beliefs are flawed; which is symptomatic of what is known as Cognitive Dissonance. Then there are those who are simply unable to comprehend the subject matter I discuss; it is simply beyond their ability to get their heads around.

I am not saying that I am always right; but I have enough integrity to admit when I’ve been proven wrong. However, for that to happen I must be provided with incontrovertible evidence to prove my beliefs wrong. My sole purpose in the studies I have undertaken is the quest for the truth. Yes, there have been times when the truth I’ve uncovered has proven to be a bitter pill to swallow; challenging my core beliefs, and often obliterating them. But honestly, which would you prefer, to accept the truth or to continue believing lies? Or is that merely a rhetorical question; one which I already know the answer to?

There are those who have told me that I am very smart; something I wholeheartedly disagree with. I’m simply an average guy who has spent an enormous amount of time studying a subject which is of great interest to me. Almost anyone could obtain the knowledge I have acquired if only they would put their minds to the task. Although I despise Alexander Hamilton, one thing he said I do happen to agree with, “Men give me credit for some genius. All the genisu I have is this. When I have a subject in mind, I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. My mind becomes pervaded with it … the effort which I have made is what people are pleased to call the fruit of genius. It is the fruit of labor and thought.”

There have been times I have read and re-read passages dozens of times without them making sense to me. Then I’ll read it one more time and suddenly the light goes on in my head and it makes perfect sense to me. That’s the way things are sometimes; you have to work at it if you really want to grasp what you are reading. It’s all a matter of caring enough about understanding what you are reading to put forth the effort required to understand it.

This process, and I hate to sound insulting, is called thinking; something which I don’t see a whole lot of going on in America. I do not consider repetition and memorization thinking; anyone can repeat something over and over again until they have it memorized. But to actually ponder it for more than a few seconds; pick it apart and try to actually understand what is being said is a skill that I do not see many people capable of, or at least willing to do. Therefore, when they encounter someone who has given a great deal of thought to a subject, they have nothing to fall back on to support their own views; therefore they resort to name calling and denigration of character of those who present opposing beliefs.

People, most people at least, have this deep rooted need to belong, to fit in, to be part of a group. While friendships and groups can offer support, they can also become a hindrance when one attempts to broaden their knowledge outside their comfort zones. Ever hear the old saying, “Don’t rock the boat?” Well that pretty much defines how people who value their position in a group more than they value knowledge or the truth. Far too often people will shun the truth, when in accepting it will threaten their position in a group, or with their friends or peers.

There is a quote that I’ve seen from time to time on the internet which says, “When you truly don’t care what anyone thinks of you, you have gotten dangerously close to something called freedom.” I don’t know who said that, but it is an apt description of how I feel about the opinions of most of the people I encounter. Sure there are those, most often those more educated than I, whose opinions I value; but for the most part I could care less what others think about me or my views. The way I look at it is, you can either choose to consider what I have to say or ignore it; it makes no difference to me.

At the same time, you damned well better not try to silence my opinions just because you can’t handle them. Just yesterday at work I was discussing a subject with a woman in Human Resources and another lady came out of her office and tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “You need to be careful when discussing politics, you might offend someone. If you need to discuss politics you might want to go outside where nobody can hear you.”

Excuse me; I wasn’t aware that the freedom of speech required me to limit my speech to areas where others don’t have to hear what I have to say. So I guess that means that everyone is free to repeat the lies and propaganda they have swallowed hook, line and sinker, but one who attempts to push aside the veil of lies and expose the truth has to shut up? Is that how freedom of speech works in politically correct America now?

I can fully understand the reasons why a company, or corporation may want to restrict the discussion of certain ideas or subjects; to prevent discord among the employees; but I cannot understand how people have gotten so thin skinned that ideas which conflict with their own are sufficient justification to silence open, honest debate.

Again, I hate to sound insulting, or insensitive, but have we become such a nation of pussies that ideas which we disagree with are so offensive that they must be silenced, rather than allowing them to upset our precious feelings?

Yet again, it seems that it is only the truth, or facts and evidence which contradict mainstream beliefs are those which face censorship; those who openly discuss the issues according to what is considered politically correct standards still retain their freedom of speech.
Does that sound fair to you? It certainly doesn’t sound fair to me.

People today, at least a majority of them, simply do not understand the nature of their rights. Most, if not all of our Founders believed in the principle of Natural Rights; that is our rights come to us as part of our nature as human beings, not as gifts bestowed upon us by a benevolent government.

Far too often I hear the term Constitutional Rights; which shows me that even those professing to protect our rights don’t understand their origin. Jefferson tells us that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that government’s are instituted to protect them, deriving their just powers by consent of the people. (Declaration of Independence)

While our Bill of Rights was specifically written to limit the ability of the federal government from restricting our rights, the fact that our rights predate any form of government should be sufficient argument to preclude any government, be it State or local, from restricting them.
I have never demanded that anyone simply abandon their beliefs and convert to my way of thinking. I only ask that I be allowed to present my case and allow others to choose for themselves which set of facts to believe.

People today are far too frequently required to obtain permission to exercise what our Founders considered fundamental rights. In most States you need a permit to carry a gun; yet the 2nd Amendment makes no mention of permits when it says we have the right to bear arms. You need a permit to hunt or fish; which is absurd as the government did not put these animals and fish on the planet for our consumption; God did. You need a permit to build a home, to drive a car, to hold a political rally, etc etc.

Are you aware that in 1967 Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said, “The right to defy an unconstitutional statute is basic in our scheme. Even when an ordinance requires a permit to make a speech, to deliver a sermon, to picket, to parade, or to assemble, it need not be honored when it is invalid on its face.” (Source: Walker v. Birmingham)

The other day I read a quote from income tax and overall political activist Larken Rose which I believe should go down in the history books as the quote of the decade, if not the quote of the century, “The truth is, one who seeks to achieve freedom by petitioning those in power to give it to him has already failed, regardless of the response. To beg for the blessing of “authority” is to accept that the choice is the master’s alone to make, which means that the person is already, by definition, a slave.”

Is that what America has become; a nation of slaves? Are we slaves to our government because we need permission to exercise our rights? Are we slaves because our freedoms of speech and expression are limited by whatever society deems to be politically correct? Are we slaves because of our ignorance, apathy and complacency?

They say the truth will set you free, but only if you first seek it out, and then only if you act upon it; or as von Goethe said, “Knowing is not enough, we must apply.” What good is understanding our rights if we don’t stand up for them? What good is knowing the Constitutional limitations upon government if we don’t hold government accountable to them? What good is information if people ignore it, or refuse to expend any time and effort in understanding it?

It is our duty, our responsibility to uphold the values and principles upon which this nation was founded. If we fail in this, if we forsake those principles, then what is to become of all the other freedoms we take for granted? As George Washington said in his first Inaugural Address, “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

Almost half a century later, Justice Joseph Story would offer a dire prediction of what would happen if we forsook the principles upon which our nation was founded, “Yet, after all, the fabric may fall; for the work of man is perishable, and must for ever have inherent elements of decay. Nay, it must perish, if there be not that vital spirit in the people, which alone can nourish, sustain, and direct all its movements. It is in vain, that statesmen shall form plans of government, in which the beauty and harmony of a republic shall be embodied in visible order, shall be built up on solid substructions, and adorned by every useful ornament, if the inhabitants suffer the silent power of time to dilapidate its walls, or crumble its massy supporters into dust; if the assaults from without are never resisted, and the rottenness and mining from within are never guarded against. Who can preserve the rights and liberties of the people, when they shall be abandoned by themselves? Who shall keep watch in the temple, when the watchmen sleep at their posts? Who shall call upon the people to redeem their possessions, and revive the republic, when their own hands have deliberately and corruptly surrendered them to the oppressor, and have built the prisons, or dug the graves of their own friends?” (Source: Commentaries on the Constitution, Section 901)

If I cannot speak my mind openly without fear of reprisal, or offending others, then the fundamental bulwark of open debate has died and all we have left is the politically correct narrative; no matter how far from the truth it may be.

As Justice Hugo Black once said, “An unconditional right to say what one pleases about public affairs is what I consider to be the minimum guarantee of the First Amendment.” I don’t know if the word unconditional means anything to you, but according to my dictionary it means: complete or guaranteed, with no conditions, limitations, or provisos attached.

So if you wish to retain the right to freely express your ideas and beliefs, then you damned well better respect my right to do the same!

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