7/29/2012

Rotten apples and free exercise thereof




Everyone knows the old idiom about a rotten apple spoiling the whole barrel. The saying is meant as a metaphor that just one bad thing can ruin all that it touches and for lack of a better definition, the process of contamination will cause a chain reaction eventually destroying everything in the barrel.

While developing the Constitution the Framers realized that from a political sense this "spoiling" was not only possible but almost inevitable in even the best designed forms of government. The Framers if nothing else were as a group very good students of history. They were well aware of how the great republics of the past had been brought down by an infection of unbridled power or greed or other human failings upon the body politic so they set about to design a system of governance to contain this rottenness.

They had no illusions about the character of men, as James Madison observed "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." But men are not angels so we do need governments and external and internal controls on government. This is why they designed internal controls such as the very necessary if sometimes frustrating system of checks and balances on government powers so as to contain the spread of corruption and power within the system. It is also why they gave us "external" controls the most basic being the ability to vote but also the much more unique tools afforded the people such as the First Amendment which is extremely powerful in it's implications for external control of government;


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.
Despite how government regularly abuses, especially of late, these basic freedoms, this simple but powerful text is not only part of the external control that American  society has over our government it is the law of the land. The fact that all branches of government may from time to time and with increasing regularity ignore this simple truth of the First Amendment does not make the government right, it only proves both the wisdom of our Founders and the necessity of the amendment itself to fight tyranny. This is also why much to the chagrin of the statist  in our society that the Framers immediately followed up the First Amendment with the Second:
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.
Please note that the purpose of both the "militia" and the people's right to bear arms is to maintain the security of a "free state". Nowhere is hunting or self defense even mentioned though these important off shoots of the Amendment are obvious.  At the risk of being put on some list somewhere I will state the obvious, the purpose of the second Amendment to the US Constitution is to protect the people's right to a free state. As Noah Webster wrote at the time, prior to ratification by the states, in order to emphasize these "external" controls upon the Federal Government
"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States"
Everyone at the time understood this to be the case it is only through the corruption of meaning and words that the statist factions of our society try so hard to dismiss the clear intentions of the Second Amendment.

Over and over again the Framers of the Constitution made clear that the First and Second Amendment were intricately tied together. Whether it be Alexander Hamilton who wrote in Federalist #29

"[I]f circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights and those of their fellow citizens."
Lest there be any doubt that the Framers intended the Second Amendment to be linked to those of the First and the protection of these rights , James Monroe makes it abundantly clear even to the most obtuse of intelects:

"...of the liberty of conscience in matters of religious faith, of speech and of the press; of the trail by jury of the vicinage in civil and criminal cases; of the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus; of the right to keep and bear arms.... If these rights are well defined, and secured against encroachment, it is impossible that government should ever degenerate into tyranny."
As did George Washington in his very first message to Congress,"Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the people's liberty teeth keystone" Or Thomas Jefferson "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

Here is where Thomas Jefferson nailed the sentiments of the Framers and Founders most accurately, when he said "as a last resort". Nobody should take the formations of militias to protect our liberties as something to be done lightly or at a whim. The idea of citizens arming themselves as protection against a tyrannical government should be viewed not only as a last resort when all other methods have utterly and completely failed, but as an admission that the American ideal itself has failed.

Just because our Founders recognized that the right to bear arms was essential to the defense of liberty does not mean that the need to resort to them was or is proof that liberty has been defended. On the contrary if the nation should ever resort to the use of arms in order to protect individual liberty it will show that the ideal of self governance by the people has failed. With all the safe guards built into our system of government to protect liberty, the idea that liberty should be lost is an indictment not against the petty tyrants that history has always spawned but against those whom are ultimately responsible for that liberty, We The People. Given such a gift as our Declaration and Constitution and yet to find ourselves today defending such simple and basic tenets of liberty is not a testament to the lovers of liberty but and indictment against our stewardship.

Bearing arms will be our shame not our triumph.

We must, we shall win the battlefield of ideas. We must show and educate the ignorant and the deceived that the most important thing in life is "the free exercise thereof". When the "free exercise thereof" is allowed as a matter of law and societal norm to flourish it is relief valve to the pressure of communal living. The reverse is true, once people are forbidden exercise of their rights then pressure begins to mount in a society. The more this simple concept of freedom is encroached upon, the more it is corrupted and spoiled by "rotten apples" whose goal whether simply misguided or as an exercise of power has and always will lead to the destruction of civil society.

History is filled with petty little dictators of all stripes who believed that they knew better than the people themselves what was best for them, this tyrannical mindset always leads to upheaval. The burden of those who love freedom is to not only to protect liberty but to explain the superiority of it.

Silence in the face of tyranny is not an option it is cowardice and a capitulation to the baser elements of mankind. Have no doubt that those who would sacrifice your freedoms to maintain or increase their power are the baser elements of mankind and must be exposed as such.

Barack Obama is a rotten apple corrupting not only American society, but is intent on shutting down the "free exercise thereof" which is the foundation of freedom. He and his ilk must be stopped before the last resort becomes the only one left to liberties children.

Silence and apathy is no longer an option. The exercising of our peaceful rights is the only defense against the use of our Second Amendment rights which would be our failure as Americans.

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