If you take nothing else from my Rambles, please, please, please remember these next couple of sentences. Nothing in the Constitution or Bill of Rights of the United States of America gives its citizens anything. Those documents acknowledge that humans are born with certain Inalienable Rights, and outline a series of restrictions against government to protect those Rights from being stolen away. To emphasize: the Bill of Rights protects rights already belonging to you it doesn’t give you rights through benevolence.
Winston Churchill once said that one should never let a good crisis go to waste. As a politician and leader, it was his prerogative to make the most of any given situation–to turn public outcry, outrage, or fear into a lever to pry more money, power, or influence from the populace. This is not a partisan statement. All portions of the political spectrum are guilty of this, and it has led to the downfall of pretty much every powerful government in history. Eventually the leadership takes and takes until the people refuse to give anymore.
Then war happens.
Historically, there have been many nations where the power was taken from the people by force of arms. There have been a few much more sinister governments who took advantage of confusion, fear, and anger to convince the populace that their Inalienable Rights were too dangerous, and should be forfeited for the greater good. In effect, the people voluntarily gave up their base Freedoms for a momentary sense of security–a deal with the devil.
You, me, our parents, and our grandparents have been the currency of a similar barter for nearly a century now. Since the early twentieth century (and probably before, but I consider the NFA of 1934 to be the first big offender), we have allowed the government of the United States to convince us that our guaranteed Liberties are just too dangerous. So they trimmed them here and there in the name of keeping us safe from ourselves. One of the largest and most sweeping infringements on our rights of the last 100 years has to be the Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act is the sort of draconian legislation that would have made the founding fathers start another revolution. It basically gives the government carte blanche to suspend a citizen’s Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendment rights, if they decide that you might be a terrorist. That’s absolutely nuts, but we were so petrified of a bearded dude with a suicide vest that we allowed Big Brother to trample on our Inalienable Rights in exchange for a promise of safety.
And this happening in a country that revolted over some fucking tea.
This is all to say that we must be vigilant. An organized, civil, and Free society isn’t the sort of thing that just happens. It takes a lot of people making hard decisions. It takes risk. It takes sacrifice. Sometimes personal freedoms mean that you have to deal with idiots doing dumb things, dangerous things, or things that just don’t make any sense. But that’s part of the package. And it’s abso-fucking-lutely worth it.
Never give away a Freedom during times of war that you will miss during times of peace, because it’s not like the powers-that-be are going to relinquish it back to you when the threat has gone. They will hold that action as precedent and use it again and again until eventually it is the new normal. And then the only way you’re buying it back is with blood.
I’m afraid we’re already too far gone in the modern age. “Shall not be infringed” has been trampled into obsolescence. There are no more Self Evident Truths. When the government can tell you that you have to shutter your lawful business or that you can’t take your children to the park or that you don’t have the capacity to choose your acceptable level of risk, then we’ve lost what it means to be American. American used to mean Free to brave the wilds and push against the status quo. Now we must stay indoors, wear masks, and fear hugging our neighbors.
I’m not willing to cede these basic rights to anyone. You shouldn’t be either. I hope, deeply, that there will be legal precedents set with the SCOTUS that strike down executive orders from governors and mayors, if for no other reason than to say that the executive does not have the power to levy these types of mandates, even in a time of “crisis.”
Remember how I started this little piece. Are you willing to be forced to shutter yourself in when there isn’t a virus being spread around? Are you willing to be told you have to close your business, because your governor or mayor or the president said so? If your answer is yes, then I charge that you aren’t worthy of the protections afforded to you under the Amendments to the Constitution. If your answer, like mine, is a resounding “Go fuck yourself,” then I think we can be friends, and I’d be happy to fight beside you when they come to shut us down.
Stay ready. Stay safe. Stay free.