Values: How Much Do We Have In Common?
By T. F. Williams
I would like to think we hold some values in common which we as citizens would hold inviolate. I am beginning to think this is no longer true and it causes tremendous concern for the future of this country.
Freedom of expression is no longer inviolate as evidenced by the Cancel Culture. If this essential freedom is not honored, then we are descending into fascism and dictatorship in all but name. This isn’t President Trump being a fascist or trying to curtail rights; rather, it is those who call him a fascist who are in actuality discarding this essential right and destroying the ability to have a meaningful debate. This is evidenced by the shootings of people who say all lives matter as opposed to black lives matter. When did it become acceptable to murder someone for simply disagreeing with your point of view? That is fascism by definition.
During President Trump’s time in office he has made no move to silence anyone who hadn’t signed a document of some type in which they willingly curtailed their rights due to a position they wanted to hold. I did it when I obtained my access to certain information during my military career and while working for a government agency after I left active duty. Military members have their rights curtailed because of the unique lifestyle and circumstance of their career choice.
People within law enforcement and the intelligence community make the same choice. They sacrifice to ensure those institutions are seen by the public as apolitical and capable of being fair. These values of an apolitical intelligence and law enforcement community are being eroded as evidenced by the information we now have about the prosecutions of Carter Page and Mike Flynn as well as the investigation into President Trump and Russian collusion.
Freedom of expression is essential to the disinfecting of political thought and cultural standards. You cannot effectively discredit a bad idea by hiding the idea and keeping it from intellectual scrutiny. You cannot advance great ideas without exposing them to criticism and determining the flaws to ensure a great plan and societal acceptance are beneficial. Iron sharpens iron as the Bible says and we must have real discussion and debate about anything which is to be implemented as law or policy in this country.
Theft is also being changed from absolutely wrong to being conditionally wrong depending upon the thief’s ethnicity or socioeconomic status. I really cannot wrap my head around a justification of taking something from someone which they earned or purchased for their use simply because someone else feels they should have it, though they haven’t tried to acquire it legally. If you riot and loot you are guilty of destroying someone else’s property. Property which they have worked to acquire; and if it is a business, property with which they are trying to earn a living while providing a service to the surrounding community. We cannot allow this to be acceptable behavior; if we do, already underserved communities will be even more underserved as businesses will not locate within them because of the increased risk.
Real education is no longer valued. We do not teach children to think and parse information to come to a realistic appreciation of an issue. We do not teach logic. If we were serious about thinking through a problem we would ensure our children could understand math, the scientific method, and philosophy. We would use the real world evidence of the effects of capitalism, socialism/communism, and fascism. We would know socialism/communism is economically impossible. We would know of the dangers to liberty posed by both socialism/communism and fascism. There would be a debate. You cannot improve everyone’s life by bringing us all down to a lowest common denominator. It is unrealistic and demonstrably false to say we all perform at an equal level thereby deserving of equal remuneration. Equality of opportunity is an achievable goal. Equality of result is not an achievable goal.
We also do not understand the definition of what is a right. A right is something which is inherent and is not dependent upon another person for me to put into action. My freedom of expression isn’t dependent upon someone else for me to act upon. Neither are freedom of association as I can or not spend time with people who choose to spend time with me. I can purchase a weapon if I have the means. I can protect my home. I can keep my personal issues as personal issues. I can practice my faith without anyone else even knowing.
However, if I want medical care I am dependent upon people who have invested time and resources in the necessary training and equipment to provide that particular service to the community. It is therefore not an inherent right as I have no right to compel someone to provide me a service.
It is also why education cannot be an inherent right; rather, it is a service we as a society has determined that a certain amount of education is necessary to ensure the proper running of society and has limited the amount of education citizens will fund through taxation up to and including a high school education. Beyond that amount, we have decided the cost of additional education is up to the individual or the individual’s family to provide.
If we want to have a similar discussion in regards to health care, then we have the discussion. However, emotional pleas should be disregarded and a look at the true cost of such an endeavor must be examined. We can look at the results of such a system in place in other countries. How long must an individual wait for an opportunity to see a physician for common maladies? How long for necessary surgeries? What are the economic costs? What are to be the wages for the physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, orderlies, and others within the industry and how will the wages compare to what they receive now? Will the treatment plan still be between the patient and doctor; even though fellow citizens are footing the cost through taxation? Will a bureaucrat or bureaucratic body make decisions about an individual’s health care and treatment plan? These are just some of the questions which have to be asked and answered.
One value we use to share, and has taken quite a few steps backward, is tolerance. We are becoming less and less tolerant of those who believe differently from us. We want to label people with differing beliefs as evil and bad and unworthy of respect or consideration. As a Christian I may not agree with other people’s faith, but it doesn’t mean they are bad or evil. They are just different. Just as I am a person of libertarian bent, I must remember those who are progressive, democrat, republican, marxist/socialist, or any other ideology are not inherently evil or bad. They are just different. It is no different, in my consideration, than I like blue and green and someone else likes red or orange. It doesn’t make them bad or evil, just different.
We must get back to a common set of values, ones on which we can all agree. All the rest we can agree to disagree.
The Second Amendment
By T. F. Williams
I was reading an article the other day from an Australian gentleman commenting on the protests and violence currently taking place in our country with a rather condescending tone about our beliefs, political system, and hold to traditional values. Somehow, in all this, the strict adherence to the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution was brought up to be shown as an example of our lack of enlightenment in his perception. He doesn't understand our history. As David Chapelle has said in his stand up routine, "The Second Amendment is there to guarantee the First".
A gun of any type is an inanimate object. It has no motive force of its own. It is neither good nor bad. The person who takes the weapon in their hands determines the way in which it is used. I have heard this termed as "republican" logic; no, it is just a statement of fact. It just is. It is no different than a screwdriver or saw or hammer. Each tool/object can be used in a variety of ways; the user determines how the tool/object is used. A nail gun can have just as deadly an effect as a gun and holds more projectiles. It is all in how it is used.
Government has proven it is not my friend, and in most cases, it isn’t my enemy. I also know what government can become from observing the world around me. I look at China, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, and even some of the laws regarding speech in other countries and their regulations and know it can quickly become my enemy.
I look at this current pandemic and see governors banning church services in which the participants are practicing the recommended social distancing; yet, mass protests of hundreds and thousands of people are allowed to occur. I see the rise of speech codes and “hate speech” laws and see the censoring inherent in them all. We are going down the role of reversing the freedoms we have long enjoyed.
The Second Amendment is very short and to the point: “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.” It is unambiguous and very clear; yet, lawyers and judges have found a way to mitigate and change the meaning of “shall not be infringed”. It is a typical politician activity. Someone uses a tool in the wrong way, causes mayhem, people get scared of something they do not think through, and to appear relevant politicians demagogue an inanimate object which cannot have possibly been the actual perpetrator of the crime. London, UK banned guns and saw knives being used and now are banning knives. Banning tools will not help when the perpetrator is intent on committing his crime. It is the heart of the perpetrator, not the tool they use.
Thomas Jefferson (I know a politically incorrect person to use) said, "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have." A very true and insightful quote. Benjamin Franklin said,"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." We cannot compromise our freedoms as guaranteed in the Constitutio. We are allowing elected leaders, bureaucrats, and those occupying the bench to ignore those codified rights, we have only ourselves to blame when we no longer have them.
The only way we can ultimately protect ourselves against tyranny is to use and exercise, to the fullest extent, every right which is ours. Protest without violence, write and express yourself on any and every issue of importance to you, vote in every election, do not avoid jury duty, and arm yourself. Remember to motivate your friends, relatives, and neighbors to be active participants in our constitutional republic. All of us must afford ourselves of every right which is inherently ours as human beings.
By T. F. Williams
I have been watching everything going on with the protests and intermingled riots/violence; I am asking what are the changes the protestors want? I haven’t heard a clear call for any change which I could accept save for a way to change police training to do a better job of de-escalation of the situations to which they respond. Nothing else passes the logic test, though I understand logic isn’t the basis for their issues. The basis for their issues is emotion, which they have been ill trained to parse as either legitimate or illegitimate. And yes, right or wrong. All emotions are not valid for a given situation.
For example, if a friend and you are having a private conversation about real issues in each of your lives (as friends are wont to do) and your friend points out an issue you are having and how a decision you made either led to or exacerbated the issue and you become offended your friend would even point that out. Well, the problem is yours and your emotional response. Inherent in the friend relationship and your participation in the conversation is the premise truth will be told to each participant. If that truth is causing you pain then you need to have a very straight conversation with the individual in the mirror. Your emotional, vice intellectual response, is not a legitimate response as a friend will tell you when you are making bad choices and decisions for your own benefit. It is called maturing.
We don’t let people do that anymore; we want to wrap them in a protective bubble so their feelings don’t get hurt. We are reaping the results of those wrong headed decisions with the rise of the “cancel culture”. Art, no matter the medium, is an expression of speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution and is supposed to make you feel something and explore those feelings in a way which leads to personal growth. When you want to destroy or hide a work of art, as Christians did with “Piss Christ” or those removing statues now, you are displaying your lack of emotional control and maturity.
Those statues you are tearing down are of fallible human beings who accomplished some great and not so great things. Some even committed what we today would term as atrocities or attempted genocide; in their time they were at the forefront of world events and political discussions. We are judging people from another time, another culture, and a whole different paradigm of thought by our mores, ethics and paradigm of thought. We are not contextualizing their deeds. Slavery, as an example, is abhorrent today but is still being practiced in parts of the world. You are concerned about a statue of a dead person as opposed to the actual deeds of those presently living?
Why not take the chance to stand in front of that statue and use it as a teaching tool of the history of the time and the lessons we learned from the decisions, good and bad, and how they shaped the time in which we now live. Why not tell of the poor decisions the person portrayed by the statue made and the results of those decisions? Why not put them in the context of the time which they lived and how their thought reflected the culture in which they lived? Why not explain how their lives reflected the competing ideologies present in the world they lived and juxtapose them with our world now? You know, as mature adults would do.
We fault the colonists for not standing up to slave owners or those who practiced indentured servitude; yet, we do not recognize the courage and bravery it took for them to stand up to the strongest empire of their day to demand and fight for their independence and freedom. Yes, it was hypocritical to allow slavery to exist; but, what would you and I have done in their place when trying to ensure a strong enough force to gain independence? What would we have compromised to ensure we could fight and have a chance to win?
I would hope I could have stood against slavery, as many abolitionists at the time did, but I am honest enough to say I don’t know that I would. I would have fought for independence no matter what, but would I be of strong enough moral fiber to risk not having the force necessary to carry the day against the British to fight slavery? I know where I have compromised in the past and made poor decisions; so, I have to acknowledge I wouldn’t know until placed in that situation. It is easy to stand in moral superiority after the passage of over 200 years while enjoying the liberty to express those ideas with the rights won by those we are judging.
Now, before I start this next part I will state for the record I am of Native American descent. Native Americans at the time the first Europeans set foot on this continent were nomadic, raided fellow Native American tribes, took slaves in those raids, counted coup, scalped their victims, took women to be their wives as part of the raids. They were not these “noble savages” so often written of in novels. They arrived here by crossing the land bridge between what is today Russia and Alaska.
There is no ethnic group better than another, all have committed what we today would consider atrocities. I am not here to pass judgement on any of them, just making a point we cannot start coming up with a “this atrocity is better than that atrocity so you are the worse ethnic group and must carry the blame for those previous generations” type of mindset. I refuse to take part in that type of discussion. I am not responsible for anything I personally did not do. I will not apologize for the misdeeds of previous generations. I will not pay for the misdeeds of previous generations.