I gave up on Areopagitica for now, the language is really dated, 1600’s, and the book was a cheap reprint so the text is tiny and annoying to read. I watched a youtube video summary(11 min) of “On Liberty” (which I bought previously) and I latched on instantly. It’s a totally different kind of book from the ones I’ve read before, which has me perplexed on how to actually interpret it. It’s not a novel of fiction aimed at enjoyment or a textbook filled with knowledge to commit to memory, it is more like…philosophy or a Bible.
I’ve always agreed with the views of maximum liberty and seeing it written down from 170 years ago is a bit of a shock because I find myself going, “Yes, yes that is exactly right.” I’m only on page 7 of 100 and it is very slow going. The language is in a very old style full of long run on sentences that make great use of semicolon, commas, and basically any other method to keep a thought going. The pronouns are confusing too.
The important thing I’ve gotten from the 7 pages I’ve read is that there is two kinds of tyranny. Tyranny from the state, which we all know of. And the tyranny of the majority, or social tyranny. This tyranny of the majority is what the author sees as the more dangerous one, because it isn’t bound by a constitution, there is essentially no way to stop it, and it works though society. He correctly predicts that in the future the social tyranny would become more powerful.
Social tyranny is a bit like group think, if you don’t think or behave like everyone else you are isolated from society, or punished, neglected, fired, or treated with disdain. A modern example, you make a joke on twitter, but the joke has a racial competent, so your company fires you. Legal under the law, but you’ve been punished by the tyranny of the majority that decided this kind of joke was not to be tolerated in society. A store refusing to serve someone who openly carries a fire arm is another example. Forced diversity is yet another. These examples are negative, but…
We can look into the past and identify some of the beneficial things that the tyranny of the majority forced onto society that made it better. Being non-religious was a big taboo in the past, as was being gay, now they enjoy more universal acceptance. Women’s suffrage as well.
One thing I love is that the author sees non-conformity as essential to expanding liberty and keeping the tyranny of the majority in check. This really helped justify why I always hold controversial opinions and will listen to anyone who has a crazy perspective regardless what society thinks of them. I often don’t agree with such people but I find their new perspective oh so refreshing. I think the first few pages could be summarized by; no one’s liberty should be limited unless it is reasonable to assume their actions would bring harm to others.
A process called nullification exists. On juries you can elect not to convict, even if the evidence shows that the defendant has violated the law, if you disagree with the law and find it unjust. A similar thing played out in Jackson’s time in the White House. South Carolina was threatening to refuse payment on a Federal tax. This was called nullification, and if the Federal government did not respond to non-payment, the tax would effectively be abolished though South Carolina simply ignoring it.
Anyways, news from the Oregon Standoff. The county Fire Chief of 30 years resigned after he caught 2 undercover FBI agents at the local Armory, and after getting stonewalled and talked down to by local government. He is part of a citizen created safety committee aimed at bringing resolution to the conflict but appears to be on the side of the people who are occupying the Wildlife Sanctuary. Their leader (Bundy) has called for a grand jury to review the violations of the Constitution by the government. I believe government has reached the point where the Constitution has been nullified by simply ignoring our rights. Below are a list of our amendments that I see as having been nullified. These are natural rights you are born with as an American, these are rights not to be touched by the hands of government.
1st- Free speech is limited to certain areas, the right to protest requires a permit, the press prints what the government asks them to.
2nd- The right to bear arms seems to always be in danger at the hands of politicians, but this one has not been nullified yet. Through Obama’s current executive action combined with various state laws, they will try.
4th – Freedom from illegal searches. Probable cause can be anything the police want it to be. Judges will give warrants that rely on the trust of known liars and drug addicts. Illegal searches are carried out daily without consequence.
5th – This one states that due process is required before any right is limited. Go to an airport and refuse security screening. You’ll be denied freedom of movement because you won’t throw away your 4th amendment rights.
8th – No excessive fines or bails. Considering police departments are run like a revenue arm of the local government and state, I think we know this one has been nullified. It also protects you from cruel and usual punishment. Life in prison for petty shoplifting? It happened. Life in prison for a small amount of pot possession? It happened. Cruel indeed.
I think it’s time we remember the last part of the first amendment, not often taught…
Congress shall make no law… abridging … the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
States are trying to test the water on how far they can go to restrict gun rights. Washington state has two pending bills, since the new year that would tax ammo and restrict gun sales. Oregon has one up for debate that would allow your doctor, boss, instructor, and family members to call in or submit a report online to add you to a list of people who are restricted from buying a firearm. It sounds like a 1941 German Secret police snitching on your fellow citizens. Weird stuff we are doing.