The chief benefit of any nominally Democratic form of government is not that it gives the Common Man his say – he is all too often a fool and frequently also a swine – but the characteristic most commonly named as its major defect; it is inefficient. Not even the most hysterical of rabble-rousers can force it to move swiftly for long, and often they cannot persuade it to move at all. Consequently, many of the worst ideas loose among the chattering classes never move far beyond the college campuses and coffee houses where they are born. Those that do mostly collapse of their own stupidity long before they pose any serious danger to the public at large.
This may seem a fantastic statement, seeing how much Left wing nitwittery we have weighing us down in these modern times, but consider the fate of countries that have – or had – more efficient governments. In Russia and mainland China there were no checks and balances to hinder the visions of the State. The consequences of this efficiency can be counted in millions of deaths, and in widespread poverty, despair, and environmental ruin.
In the United States we are raised to think of the purpose of government to be the safeguarding of the common good, but historically this has never been the case. The purpose of government is, and always has been, to transform the will (and all too often, the whim) of the Head of State into reality, both practical and impractical. The history of this shows clearly that the average Head of State can no more be trusted with planning the future of his people than a five year old can be trusted with a gallon of nitroglycerine. Therefore it can be said that an efficient government is an authentic public menace.
We in the United States have escaped this menace. As we observe the fate of places like Russia or Cuba that did not, we should give daily thanks.
It has come to me that one of the issues that plagues the Art World these days is an excess of museum (or performance hall) space. Tax money is spent on a great many museums, and one of the consequences is that there is actually space available for exhibits of sophomoric “Statement” Art like Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ.
Now, I don’t want to censor Mr. Serrano’s little anti-Christian temper tantrum; if he wants to travel the country at his own expense, putting on art shows, more power to him. And if some trendy Intellectuals want to band together to defray his costs, more power to them, too.
But, at least to my mind, the fact that space was found in tax supported museums for this, and other notably vulgar displays indicates that there is too much of such space available. Surely if museum curators had to decide whether to display Piss Christ or a treasured Van Gogh, the Van Gogh would be hung, and Serrano could go hang.
I recently caught a segment of a local radio talk-show featuring an argument that has, by my own count, been going on for at least a decade. It apparently comes around every year: the question of whether hunting is, or has ever been, a sport.
Now, the argument that hunting deer includes no trace of fair competition has some basis. But, regardless of what modern language has done with “Sport”, my understanding is that Sport originally almost always had to do with killing animals, or trying to kill people. Hunting or training for war. All less bloody sports came later. That’s simply how it is. Until very recently a “Sportsman” was a man with a gun (or a crossbow) over his arm.
So, can we debate whether hunting deer is humane? That’s an argument with two sides that actually make some kind of sense. Leave whether it is “Sporting” out of it. It may be that “Sport” has come to mean something else, but its origins were bloody. If the people arguing that deer hunting is bad were saying that it isn’t a sport as we now understand the term, it wouldn’t bother me so much. The assertion that it has NEVER been a sport betrays the encyclopedic historical knowledge of a mollusk. It is the kind of smug, ‘don’t you understand that I’m smarter than you?’ argument I am used to from certain elements of the Left that enrage me because they reveal the appalling ignorance of the speaker and taint a serious issue with idiocy.
Gun Control advocates like to complain that Second Amendment advocates do not take the subject seriously. They mock the rhetoric of those that hold that the Second Amendment is a protection against tyranny. “What good are handguns going to do against tanks?” they ask.
There are several answers to this.
In the first place, respect for the founding document of the nation is a basic issue. The “Living Document” argument is hogwash; there is a legal method for amendment included in the Constitution. If you want to change something about the Constitution or its amendments, and you are not prepared to undertake to pass an amendment, then you are a scofflaw. Claiming that it is acceptable to interpret the documents so that they are taken to mean something other than what they say is an attempt to weasel out of the necessity of referring any amendments to the People.
In the second place; who said the Second Amendment didn’t apply to Tanks? It doesn’t say anything about handguns; it just says “Arms”.
In the third place, while the authority of a tyranny may be secured with Tanks, it is implemented by the day-to-day obnoxiousness of petty government officials. And such vermin are, and should be, frightened of an armed populace.
Therefore I propose the following revision of the Second Amendment;
The occasional horsewhipping or lynching of an obnoxious government stooge being necessary to the security of a free people, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
A man who faces the future unafraid may be a Saint, but it is far likelier that he simply hasn’t been paying attention.
The problem with believing firmly in the First Amendment is the company it keeps. There is a blogger in jail in Alabama. I’m not going to name him, because his personal situation isn’t what I want to talk about. From everything I have read he is a raving twit who makes hysterical accusations against anyone he dislikes. He has been sued for that. Further, he has been uncooperative with the Judicial process, to the extent of not showing up for a hearing or hearings. Nevertheless, as matters stand he should not be in jail.
He was jailed because he defied an injunction ordering him to cease blogging about the plaintiff in the suit against him. Mind you, the trial has not taken place. When it does I have scant reason to doubt that this pillock will lose, and will have behaved badly enough that a jail sentence is a real possibility. But the trial has not yet taken place. The Injunction he is in jail for defying is attempting to prevent his from publishing what has not YET been ruled to be defamatory and actionable. The Injunction is clearly a violation for his First Amendment rights.
It’s tempting to just dismiss this. The blogger in question is a poisonous little twerp. The content that the fuss is over seems unlikely to be true, and likely to be found outside of the umbrella of opinion. The dweeble deserves to be in jail or fined. He’s in jail. What’s the problem?
The problem is that prior restraint of free speech does not just keep dweebles from posting fake stories about infidelities they fantasize that their enemies commit. It keeps perfectly decent people from exposing government wrongdoing, before the exposure of a trial. And if you wait until the people whose First Amendment rights you are defending are perfectly decent people, you will be behind the curve and wrestling against a weight of case law put in place to “get” dweebles, and other offensive jerks. A First Amendment that does not protect offensive speech is worthless, if only because it is almost always possible to find somebody who is offended at anything.
So we who care about Freedom of Speech end up defending jerks like Larry Flint, the KKK, The American Nazi Party (can you imagine the door prizes?), and this blogger from Alabama. And washing afterwards.