In 2016 San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick raised the ire of people across the country when he refused to stand during the playing of the National Anthem at the beginning of games. While I didn’t fully support his reasons for doing so, I fully supported his right to do so. At the same time I also realized that the 49er franchise is a business that relies upon ticket sales to make a profit, and if the actions of one player on the team had a negative impact on ticket sales the team was within their rights to take whatever actions they felt were in the team’s best interests.
What gets me is how people reacted negatively to Kaepernick’s actions without fully realizing what it was they were claiming to be defending. I am constantly bombarded by people who want me to share things on Facebook, or some other social media platform, that either display the flag, support the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, or respect for the National Anthem. It’s almost as if those three things are the measure of a person’s patriotism, and anyone who does not do them is unpatriotic.
What is the National Anthem, or the Star Spangled Banner, if it is not a song about the flag? What is the Pledge of Allegiance if it is not a person pledging their allegiance to that flag? Both of these acts, repeating the pledge and showing respect during the playing of the National Anthem, are people’s way of showing support for, and allegiance to the flag and the country; not necessarily the principles this country was originally founded upon.
I’m sure most have repeated the Pledge numerous times, but I’ll repeat it here to refresh your memory: I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. While the Pledge has undergone alterations since it was originally established, (the inclusion of the words ‘under God’), that is how it is currently recited.
My biggest gripe with the Pledge is its reference to the fact that America is one nation, indivisible; I simply don’t believe that to be the case, not at all. If you actually believe that, then you believe that with the ratification of the Constitution each State surrendered its sovereignty and independence and formed a consolidated union; inseparable and permanent; that the creators of government, or the Union, could never again decide to sever the ties that bind them to that Union and regain their sovereignty and independence.
If you believe that, then you also believe that the created is superior to its creator, that the Union is superior to the will of the individual States, or the people living within them. If you believe that then you are a statist who believes that the will of the Union, or government, is superior to the individual liberty and freedom of choice inherent in each and every one of us.
That is why I do not recite the pledge, nor stand with pride when the National Anthem is played; for the flag is representative of the nation, and the nation has lost my respect because IT has lost its respect for liberty and justice. Oh, people make a great fuss about how free they are, how this is the land of the free and the home of the brave; but as my dad used to tell me, “Actions speak louder than words.” You can say you support and defend liberty all you want, but if your actions do not support your words, well there is a word for that too; it’s called hypocrisy.
I am truly tired of hearing people talk about freedom, when they don’t know the first thing about what freedom is. For instance, people often proclaim they support freedom of speech; until someone with an opposing idea comes along, then they have no qualms about denying the freedom of speech of those they disagree with. It is this pervasive lack of understanding about rights and liberty that causes me to lose my temper with people; for they claim to love and cherish those things, yet turn around and support a government, or the passage of laws that turn around and chip away at them.
If people truly understood what liberty was, and where it comes from, they would not sit idly by while a government that supposedly derives its just authority from their consent goes about destroying the very liberty it was supposedly instituted to secure with every act they take. Yet in today’s modern political climate, those of us who stand in defense of the very thing government was instituted to secure are treated as enemies of the State; which is a correct assessment; for we are enemies to those who seek to deny and abolish individual liberty.
The way I look at it is that any people, any system, any nation is worthy of my support if it, in turn, supports and defends my rights and my liberty. However, the moment that changes, the moment my rights and liberty come under attack, all bets are off and those doing the attacking become my enemies. I refuse to support a system because it is the only one we’ve got, or to vote for the lesser of two evils because they are better than the other option. If a candidate, or a system does not exert all their energy towards preserving my rights and liberty, then fuck em, they aren’t worthy of my support!
My God people, how many of you have ever actually read the Declaration of Independence, and thought about what it says? Jefferson’s words stand as a reminder, and a course of action, should government ever become something that seeks to deny and abolish our rights and liberty. Here, read it for yourself: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Isn’t that perilously close to treason Neal? Well if treason is defined as resisting the unlawful infringements upon my rights, about not bowing down and kissing the feet of those who would enslave me, then yes it is…but then again those who fought for America’s independence were also guilty of treason in the eyes of King George III.
People accept their pitiful state in life because it is all they know; not one of us has ever tasted true freedom; we were all born into bondage to a system that cares little about preserving and protecting our God-given rights and liberty. Our school systems, had they been actually educating the people, would have taught us what liberty was, and how we should constantly be aware of our governments attempts to restrict and deny it. Yet being as they are funded and run by the very entity that seeks to deny our rights and liberty they have become systems of indoctrination that produce generation after generation of obedient little drones; who think that by voting their voice matters, that they have a say in what government does.
How did that premise work out for the people of Virginia this past week when their voice told their State Legislators to back off on their efforts to push forward restrictive gun control laws, and their Legislators laughed at them and went ahead and did it anyway? How did it work when the people rose up and flooded the mailboxes and switchboard at our nation’s capitol in opposition to Obamacare, yet Congress went ahead and passed it anyway?
At what point in the game are the people going to realize that their voice does not matter; that their rights and liberty do not matter to government; that it will do what it wants, when it wants, regardless of what you say about it? At what point in the game, if ever, are people going to tell government, “You know what, we don’t need or want you anymore; pack your bags and go home, and take your oppressive bullshit laws and your jackbooted thugs with you?”
I’m betting if that time ever comes, the people will see the true nature of those they elect; for they will not willingly relinquish the power they have amassed over us; they will use whatever force they can muster to retain control over our lives, our property, and our liberty. Hell, the Civil War should have proved that to be the case when Lincoln refused to allow the South to secede in peace, and used overwhelming force against it to compel their allegiance to the Union.
The purest definition of liberty is the ability of each individual to live their own life, make their own choices free of restraint or restrictions, so long as in so doing they do not restrict the rights of others. Liberty begins to die the moment it is considered that society, or the needs of others takes precedence over the rights and property of the individual. From that point forward plunder becomes the rule and purpose of law; either one’s property is plundered to satisfy the needs of others, or their rights are plundered to appease those who do not like the free exercise of them.
There are so many books, written by men far wiser than me that explain this in great detail – so many in fact that I hardly can decide which one to quote from to prove my point. Yet I’m guessing that at least 90% of the people of this country have ever even heard of them, let alone read any of them and sought to make sense of the words they were reading.
For instance, in Frederic Bastiat’s book The Law, one finds the following:
Life, faculties, production–in other words, individuality, liberty, property—this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it.
Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.
Each of us has a natural right—from God—to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?
If every person has the right to defend—even by force—his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right—its reason for existing, its lawfulness—is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force—for the same reason—cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.
Then in Lysander Spooner’s book No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, one reads:
It is no answer to this view of the case to say that these men are under oath to use their power only within certain limits; for what care they, or what should they care, for oaths or limits, when it is expressly provided, by the Constitution itself, that they shall never be “questioned,” or held to any responsibility whatever, for violating their oaths, or transgressing those limits?
Neither is it any answer to this view of the case to say that the particular individuals holding this power can be changed once in two or six years; for the power of each set of men is absolute during the term for which they hold it; and when they can hold it no longer, they are succeeded only by men whose power will be equally absolute and irresponsible.
Finally, in Etienne de la Boetie’s book The Politics of Obedience, we read:
A people enslaves itself, cuts its own throat, when, having a choice between being vassals and being free men, it deserts its liberties and takes on the yoke, gives consent to its own misery, or, rather, apparently welcomes it. If it cost the people anything to recover its freedom, I should not urge action to this end, although there is nothing a human should hold more dear than the restoration of his own natural right, to change himself from a beast of burden back to a man, so to speak. I do not demand of him so much boldness; let him prefer the doubtful security of living wretchedly to the uncertain hope of living as he pleases.
Those are just a few short passages taken from books that have taught me that the government I live under is not worthy of my support, or my respect; and I haven’t even quoted from those men we call our founders.
Although it was written 200 years before the American Revolution Boetie’s book describes perfectly the current state we as American’s live under; even though we claim to be free and have a government that supports and defends our freedom:
Can that be called a happy life? Can it be called living? Is there anything more intolerable than that situation, I won’t say for a man of mettle nor even for a man of high birth, but simply for a man of common sense or, to go even further, for anyone having the face of a man? What condition is more wretched than to live thus, with nothing to call one’s own, receiving from someone else one’s sustenance, one’s power to act, one’s body, one’s very life?
What can we, as private citizens do, that does not have some tax applied to it; some rule regulating how we must do it, or require a permit or license? Sure, we can eat, sleep and fornicate; but so can the animals we keep in pens to provide us with our meat…and they are anything but free. Yet millions of people support the very engine that denies them their freedom; while others are so pitifully apathetic, occupied with sports and other means of entertainment, that they have no clue as how pathetic their existence truly is.
Boetie describes these people as well, saying, “Poor, wretched, and stupid peoples, nations determined on your own misfortune and blind to your own good! You let yourselves be deprived before your own eyes of the best part of your revenues; your fields are plundered, your homes robbed, your family heirlooms taken away. You live in such a way that you cannot claim a single thing as your own; and it would seem that you consider yourselves lucky to be loaned your property, your families, and your very lives.”
Boetie also writes, “It is incredible how as soon as a people becomes subject, it promptly falls into such complete forgetfulness of its freedom that it can hardly be roused to the point of regaining it, obeying so easily and so willingly that one is led to say, on beholding such a situation, that this people has not so much lost its liberty as won its enslavement.”
And how Neal, may we ask, did we win our enslavement? Well it’s quite simple actually, we agreed, gave our consent, to a system of government that is capable of limiting and restricting it; one which we have no means of recourse, or means of punishing those who abuse their power and deny our freedom. Yes, I’m talking about the Constitution; for I believe it was through its adoption that the gateway to tyranny was opened, and all manner of evil has subsequently followed.
In 1788 Patrick Henry bemoaned the willingness of some to adopt a system which had so many inherent flaws that it was destined to destroy the liberty the people had so recently won, “I am fearful I have lived long enough to become an fellow: Perhaps an invincible attachment to the dearest rights of man, may, in these refined, enlightened days, be deemed old fashioned: If so, I am contented to be so: I say, the time has been when every pore of my heart beat for American liberty, and which, I believe, had a counterpart in the breast of every true American.” If Henry could say that then, before our government had amassed all the power it currently wields over our lives, our property and our liberty, what do you think he would say now?
Liberty never really dies, it is merely forsaken by those who should preserve and protect it with every ounce of their being. You may not have liberty, but that is only because you do not have the courage, or willingness to rise up and oppose those who restrict it. If the people of this country would stop fighting each other over who gets to control the system that denies them their liberty, they could rise up with a united voice and tell government that, NO, WE WILL NOT COMPLY WITH YOUR LAWS, YOUR TAXES AND YOUR REGULATIONS THAT RESTRICT OUR LIBERTY. NOT NOW, NOT EVER!!!
But since the people do not know what true liberty is, they mistake the breadcrumbs of a few paltry privileges that are given them and then call themselves free. As long as the people are given bread and circuses; meaning they have food to eat and things to keep them entertained, they believe they are free; especially since they get to choose who runs the system that enslaves them. As my friend Mike Gaddy said yesterday, “Voting in an election is analogous to being allowed to choose the members of the firing squad for your execution.” I think that is a pretty apt description of the whole process; particularly so since no matter which side of the political spectrum wins an election our rights and our liberty continually diminish.
Lysander Spooner described the process of electing people to office as follows, “… it is to be considered that, without his consent having even been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practise this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he use the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave.”
Bastiat describes the basis of a system which would support liberty, and how that system could be perverted to serve an ulterior purpose, “It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.
But, generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be entrusted to those who make the laws.
This fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder.”
The question is, which system do you support and defend; one which punishes plunder, or one in which the law condones it? If you believe that the coercive lawmaking power of government can take from others that which is rightfully theirs; including their income or their rights, then you support a system that condones the legislative power to plunder; which is exactly the way our system operates today.
Bastiat also describes the 3 ways in which a political system may exist:
-The few plunder the many
-Everybody plunders everybody
-Nobody plunders anybody.
If I can’t take away your life, your property, or your rights, then we don’t have the second option. If anyone’s rights or property are taken away by the legislative process, then we certainly don’t have the last option either. So we must have the first option; the few plunder the many – which can also describe an oligarchy. The only thing about our system is that the few keep changing hands every time power shifts between the Republicans and the Democrats.
Plunder continues to take place; it is just who is plundering whom that changes with each election cycle. All the while, liberty is sitting on the sidelines wondering who will take a stand for her.
You may not know what liberty is, or care that it is being stripped away from you, but I, as do most of those I call my friends, do. Although we had not yet been born when Boetie wrote his book, he still mentioned us by our characteristic love of liberty, saying, “There are always a few, better endowed than others, who feel the weight of the yoke and cannot restrain themselves from attempting to shake it off: these are the men who never become tamed under subjection and who always — like Ulysses on land and sea, constantly seeking the smoke of his chimney — cannot prevent themselves from peering about for their natural privileges and from remembering their ancestors and their former ways. These are in fact the men who, possessed of clear minds and far-sighted spirit, are not satisfied, like the brutish mass, to see only what is at their feet, but rather look about them, behind and before, and even recall the things of the past in order to judge those of the future, and compare both with their present condition.
These are the ones who, having good minds of their own, have further trained them by study and learning. Even if liberty had entirely perished from the earth, such men would invent it. For them, slavery has no satisfactions, no matter how well disguised.”
In closing, I would like to turn for a moment to Sir Isaac Newton and his 3rd Law of Physics, which states, “For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.” Now how in the world does that tie in to what you’ve been talking about Neal? Well it’s simple, for years, decades even, those of us who love and cherish liberty have sat back and protested against each and every infringement upon our rights and our liberty – that is the action.
Well the reaction is coming, and it will be as equal and intense as the actions which spurned it. We may not win, liberty might perish with us, but you can rest assured we won’t go down without a fight; and we’ll take as many of those we hold responsible for the tyranny we suffer under with us. As Tony Stark tells Loki in the first Avengers movie, “When they come, and they will; they’ll come for you. … maybe your army comes, and maybe it’s too much for us, but it’s all on you. Because if we can’t protect the Earth you’ll be damned well sure that we’ll avenge it.” Just replace Earth in that sentence with Liberty and you’ll get my drift.
So you just may want to tip toe a bit more around our rights and our liberty; otherwise you may reap some very uncomfortable and unintended consequences if you don’t.