Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Happy Independence Day – Thank You Thomas Paine

Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour; a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.[1]

So begins the publishing success that was the equivalent of Harry Potter in the 18th Century. This is not a work of fiction. This is not something that deals with magic and fantasy. And yet it persuaded many people to risk everything for a goal that was considered pure fantasy at the time. A bunch of colonies were going to unify and rebel against Great Britain. The opinion of many of the colonists was that such a plan would be nothing but a Great Folly.

What convinced these colonists to risk everything?

Let me be clear on everything. Their lives. Their property. The lives and property of their family members. Torture. Not waterboarding, but the organ failure producing torture of places that are not America. This was not simply going all in in a game of poker. This all in was limited only by the imagination of one’s captors. They were going to engage in treason.

You don’t really think they were endangering their families by rebelling, do you?

Section. 3. Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.[2]

Corruption of Blood?

It sounds dramatic. It is.

English Crim. Law. The incapacity to inherit, or pass an inheritance, in consequence of an attainder to which the party has been subject

When this consequence flows from an attainder, the party is stripped of all honors and dignities he possessed, and becomes ignoble.[3]

Of course, all of that presumes that the family is still alive to contest this in court. It also presumes that their property hasn’t been given away, or sold. That probably presumed too much for the time.

The best selling book in the colonies in the 18th Century. Common Sense.

Every thing that is right or natural pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ‘TIS TIME TO PART.[1]

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first a patron, the last a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. WHEREFORE, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows, that whatever FORM thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.[1]

We have taken this idea of security and expanded it to mean a security blanket. Those who fought to separate from England would be embarrassed at the depths to which we have sunk in our risk paranoia. There is no freedom that some many would not sacrifice for the delusion of complete safety.

I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature, which no art can overturn, viz. that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered, and the easier repaired when disordered;[1]

Outside of Corruption of Blood and a few other technical terms, the document creating the eventual government of the United States of America is simple and resistant to disorder. Contemporary legislation is in a whole different category.

The Bill of Rights is a bunch of restrictions on the government. These restrictions make it more difficult for the government to lock you up. A side effect is that it is also more difficult for the government to lock up bad people. Pick pockets, embezzlers, thieves, rapists, child rapists, murderers. All of them are protected by the Bill of Rights.

Did the people, who just risked everything, not realize the consequences of what they were doing? Did child rapists not exist back then?

They understood.

They understood that the rights of the citizens are more important than the desire to punish the guilty. When we become more concerned with punishing the guilty, than with protecting the Constitution that protects us, then the tyrants have won.

When something is presented as being for the children, it is because this is an attempt to get around logical debate and appeal to emotion. There are places where the people have little, or no, protection from their government.

China.

North Korea.

Cuba.

China may need to give up some of that control. Why? The benefits of a market that is open to countries with more freedom. The inability to suppress information. The desire, of so many of their citizens, for freedom. Maybe we should have an exchange program with China.

Send us your citizens, who are yearning to be free. We will send you our citizens, who are yearning to avoid risk.

Win and Win.

We are a nation of immigrants that has given up and decided to play it safe. We are trying to trade off our liberty for the illusion of safety. We do not deserve that liberty. We need to bring in people who do – the Chinese, the North Koreans, the Cubans, and others. What do we lose by sending them our people – people who do not understand what they have?

We are having a mid-life crisis. Rather than trying to recapture freedoms, we have given up. We want to crawl back into the womb and hide. What if somebody hurts my feelings with mean words. What if somebody hurts my child? What if somebody hurts me? That is the price of being an adult. That is the price of living in the real world.

There are plenty of people, who will tell us they can protect our feelings.

Liars.

There are plenty of people, who will tell us they can protect our children.

Liars.

There are plenty of people, who will tell us they can protect us from the big bad terrorists.

Liars.

Maybe we should educate our citizens. Most of these citizens are just citizens because of the accident of being in the US when they took their first breath. Maybe we should educate our citizens about what others gave up for their freedoms.

Visit some war memorials. Read of the mistreatment that led people to move here. Read of the mistreatment that led people to fight for freedom. Freedom can just as easily be lost. Too many people sacrificed everything they had for us to barter away freedoms for a little temporary safety.

Freedom isn’t easy.

Footnotes:

^ 1 Common Sense
by Thomas Paine, initially published anonymously
Links include the postscript, which is dated 2/14/1776, only just more than a month from the first printing.
Full Text, in several formats, from Gutenberg
Maybe you don’t want to read this, but would prefer to listen to someone else reading.
Full Text Audio, in several formats, from Librivox

^ 2 Constitution for the United States of America
Article. III.
Full Text

^ 3 Corruption Of Blood
The ‘Lectric Law Library’s Lexicon
Definition

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Comments

  1. The writer of this article is a complete and total IMBECILE. The daughter was threatenening to sue the cop so that perhaps he’d stop hanging up on her and take the call seriously you idiot! If you’re too dumb to figure out that she was panicking, helpless, and the cop was being a complete douche bag, antagonizing her, then keep your irrational thoughts to yourself because now you’re letting the world know just how myopic you are!

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