Accustomed to infringement

One of my daily stops around the interwebs is Kent McManigal’s “Hooligan Libertarian” Blog, where  he regularly points out the folly of putting your faith in the gang of criminals and thieves who aim to plunder our productivity and run our lives. He often focuses on the ongoing attacks on our right to self-defense, as he did the other day:

“If you are in favor of government at any level having any power to make any rules whatsoever about weapons you are the opposite of ‘pro-Second Amendment.’ You are completely anti-Second Amendment without any wiggle room.

“Worse, you don’t understand that the natural human right to own and to carry weapons doesn’t come from any document. Documents (and legislation) can neither give rights nor take rights away. The two available options are to respect rights or to violate rights, If rights are touched in any way, they are being violated.”

The late Pat O’Donahue, a reporter I respected immensely, made a point of saying that this U.S. holiday is called Independence Day for a reason, and he fiercely chastised anyone who called it “the Fourth of July.” The celebration is about the Declaration of Independence, not the calendar, he would say.

Kent is passionate about the Second Amendment; I am passionate about the First.

If you are in favor of government at any level having any power to make any rules whatsoever about religion, speech, the press, peaceful assembly, or petitioning the Powers That Be, you are the opposite of “pro-First Amendment.” You are completely anti-First Amendment without any wiggle room.

I once told our congressvermin that I consider the Federal Communications Commission to be an unconstitutional agency because the Founders prohibited interference of any kind with freedom of the press, whether the journalist’s press is made of wood and steel, radio waves or digital bytes. He looked at me with utter incomprehension. He advocated for reinstating the “Fairness Doctrine,” which infringed on the electronic press’ right to determine its own content.

Three years ago, every governor or local tyrant who imposed limits on the right of people to gather in groups of 10 or more infringed on a basic human right — “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”

The school administrators who suppress prayer or student Bible study or hijabs are violating the very first clause of the First Amendment.

And don’t get me started on “hate speech.” Oh my goodness, some ignorant people say the stupidest and most hateful things — but if we criminalize their speech, they remain ignorant and they hide their stupidity. Better to let them express their ignorance openly and leave the rest of us free to respond. You can’t put shackles on free speech and still call it free.

I know I am spitting into the wind. The First Amendment has been under attack since a few years after it was first passed, from the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1797, to the Espionage Act of 1917, to the USAPATRIOT Act of 2001 — and the FCC was created in 1934 — so we are accustomed to infringement.

As a lifetime journalist, I am appalled by what has become of my chosen profession. The watchdog has become a lapdog; the people’s curb on the runaway power of an oppressive state has become a cheerleader for oppression and a powerful censor. As an advocate for free speech and a free press, however, I can only exercise my own right to condemn their choices; any attempt to muzzle or regulate the “mainstream media” would have the inevitable effect of also muzzling and regulating those I consider the real journalists, who continue to chip away and report the truth.

I am ever heartened by the belief that none of this can ultimately deprive us of our rights, because, as Jefferson wisely observed, these rights are “certain,” “unalienable” and “endowed by their Creator.” In the end the rights remain, even if tyrants violate each and every one. They were not created by a government, and neither can a government erase them, though it may constantly try.

And so I celebrate the day in 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was unveiled to the world. Its eternal concepts are battered and worn, but they continue to resonate with free people everywhere.

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