I was born to the nobility, which is to say I was born an American Citizen. When we had our revolution there were two ways to go. We could demote everyone to the peasantry under the kingship of an all powerful state in the manner of Hobbes’ leviathan. Or we could promote everyone to the status of an English peer. The Magna Charta and the English Bill of Rights had not applied to everyone, but our rights did.
When I was born, I could speak my mind freely. [ After a few months.] I could say any dang foolish thing that popped into my head. The government could do nothing. Other people could, but that was their right. If I walked down to the corner to say foolish things about the government I would be thought odd. The police would just make sure I wasn’t blocking anyone’s way. If I was convinced of the strangest religion – and from the outside many are peculiar – all I risked was social opprobrium. This directly contradicted the national system set up by the Peace of Westphalia. We didn’t care. In sixth grade the Gideons gave me a copy of the New Testament. I was free to accept it, cherish it, refuse it, or burn it. As it stands, It is thirty feet from me as I write this. If I, as an adult, slapped a holstered pistol to my hip and walked downtown, I was free to do so. Admittedly people would wonder why I would do so in such a peaceful place. If the police thought I was doing something wrong they had to convince a jury. If they didn’t it was over. Period.
Such freedom is a thing of the past. I have seen people stopped and searched without probable cause. Often times as a way of intimidating them. At a traffic stop I once asked a policeman why he needed my employers name and address and had a pistol drawn on me. The officer said I was obstructing justice. I’ve seen public officials commit perjury with impunity. We allow the federal government to stop us and search us with neither warrant nor probable cause in direct violation of the Bill of Rights. And make us wait in line for the pleasure. If one is carrying more money than the searchers like, they can arrest and seize the money. You must prove your innocence to get it back. Civil forfeiture is a bit more complicated in theory. But not in practice.
Americans are allowed to have weapons. Throughout most of history the difference between the free and the slave is that the free can possess weapons, travel freely, and pass his possessions on to his children or others. In fact for much of history a free man was defined as one who could carry weapons. The Saxons and the Franks were named after theirs. In fact weapons were less for fighting than for claiming a legal status. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Perhaps the most egregious recent phenomenon is the ‘Free Speech Zone.’ As though one’s inalienable right is only to be practiced inside painted lines.
We have too many rules. They are enforced in a brutally mechanical way.