A power to advance the public happiness involves a discretion which may be misapplied and abused.

James Madison, Federalist 41

Monday, May 6, 2013

American Self-Government

Boston, Massachusetts

Self-government is the greatest treasure of American Liberty. We need to be jealous of this awesome jewel placed in our hand. It does remain in our hand, does it not? Self-government demands civic responsibility and personal determination from every citizen. More importantly, self-government directly affects three hundred million people at this very moment. It also affects the unborn millions yet to draw a single breath of American freedom, future participants yearning to sip from the cup of Liberty, and taste the gracious benefits bestowed upon all of us.

We make the journey together, participating in this noble societal enterprise. We make great national strides and suffer mighty set backs, together. Yet, we are truly better off today because our ancestors gave us this political vehicle, even though misguided at times, because we are only human, prone to make unintentional mistakes. America is a young and vibrant nation, in the grand scheme of human history, fortunate, very fortunate indeed, that we remain a free nation of the globe.

Self-government is the people’s public vocation. We are proprietors, as well as common shareholders, ardently laboring to keep Liberty’s vessel afloat, on a safe course, with our eyes fixed, our hand steady on the wheel, not knowing what is on the other side of the horizon, yet striving for tranquil ports. We assume all the risk and responsibility. We share in the profits, as well as the deficits. We weather the intermittent storms and rough sea, and bask in the sun’s warmth atop calm water.

There is no disputing the fact, though, that the American people are the fountain of power. There is no doubt that we are the source of legitimacy, the wheelhouse moving the nation, shaping its laws, protecting all of our lives, liberties, and properties, so long as we prudently administer our public and private duties through a federal union of republican governments, conducted according to the rule of law, with merciful, equitable, and proportional justice. This may be an ideal conception, merely stale digitized bits, but it is not an idle proposition. Only with proper deeds can conceptions transform themselves into honest and peaceful actualities in time and space.

It is rather disturbing - but certainly not surprising - to hear and see so many people caught up in a popular whirlwind of fantastical manifestations, constantly drawing in the fearful, the paranoid, the ignorant, the timid, the useful, the conspiratorial, and many more suspecting no one, or everyone. This tempest of human nature, thousands of centuries in the making, continually spins, twirls, and hurls, with a subtle, but rhythmic flow of history, studied closely, fervently encouraged, always felt, barely comprehended, and, yet, there are a few opportunistic profiteers who sufficiently utilize this whirlwind to seek undue power and fleeting prominence once a moment of crisis, panic, chaos, and duress, sets in.

Most people, on the other hand, are temperate, remain well grounded, while holding genuine concerns for the common interest. Boldness and haste are not leadership tools to use on every occasion, and those who do, with reckless self-interest, will one day be defenseless, lying prone on the ground, cloaked with naked ambition, out in the open for all of us to see.

Maybe an insufficient understanding of internal and external stimuli has deceived this independent observer of fact and circumstance. It is possible, but certainly not probable, that I could dwell in a detached realm of my own creation, having nothing to do with reality. Maybe I possess limited and deficient senses lessening my ability to employ reason and logic in a sufficient manner, constructing faulty premises, leading to erroneous conclusions. To sacrifice a bit of modesty, I highly suspect that this is not the case.

Let us take a closer look at this debilitating popular whirlwind, particularly as it pertains to the recent public debate about gun control. The term gun control itself is loaded, pun very much intended. These two words form a political concept. It means different things to different people. One possible definition of gun control is simply an individual with a firearm, safely, properly, and lawfully owning and operating it, with discretion, respect for life, consistency, and precision, whether shooting paper targets, animals for sport and food, or stopping violent assailants. Another definition of gun control is legislative assemblies passing laws and ordinances to regulate the access, use, possession, manufacturing, and sale of firearms and ammunition, which is the most widely held political notion of the concept.

Aside from this understanding, and more importantly, the gun control debate concerns violence, specifically committed with firearms. Obviously, no person, no matter their political philosophy, possessing a correct mind, or acting with any sense of moral virtue, wants even more violence and death committed in any community, with any implement, for any reason.

American society has legal exceptions for homicides committed with firearms, specifically for self-defense, police power under the color of law, and during military operations in foreign countries. Common law, and American society, has excused these particular species of firearm violence. Even with these few distinctions, abuses and accidents can, do, and will occur.

The other species of firearm violence involves individuals who commit wanton acts of murder, mayhem, and destruction, no matter the motive, in which society imposes severe penalties and burdens for crossing the clearly marked moral and legal line. Usually, most people take notice when the perpetrator has already crossed the line. American society, and its laws, highly regulates the act of using a firearm for self-defense, murder, suicide, or any other unfortunate accident resulting in the premature and sudden death of innocent people. Legislation is easy, and proper. Legislatively removing or preventing the evil nature of depraved maniacs is nearly impossible.

Let us now look at the statistical segment of this inquiry, in particular respect to suicide and violent crimes, committed with and without firearms. In America, thirty-eight thousand individuals committed suicide in 2010, of which, just over half used a firearm. The other half resulted from poisoning and suffocation. Of course, this is an unpleasant societal component to contend with in modern America. Suicide results, in many instances, from an extreme sense of despair. Over the past two decades, the national suicide trend has fluctuated within a narrow range and, more recently, with a slight up tick.

What is even more disturbing, and quite alarming, is the increase of active duty suicide within the American military, and by veterans. This is a result, in great measure, of living in a perpetual state of war, surrounded by death and destruction, where hyper-vigilance causes fatigue and disillusionment, where helplessness and despair creeps in over time, even among our most trained, brave, and committed, volunteers, and all of whom deserve our utmost care.

It does appear, though, no new studies, propositions, ordinances, laws, and policies, now passionately called for, to suggest that a meaningful reduction of people killing themselves, with firearms, will occur any time in the near future. Human society has a proven inability, so far, in which history suggests, to prevent warfare and suicide, and by no way does this mean there will not be punctuated fluctuations of both, or future societal responses to them. In some instances, you can consider war and suicide as being the same thing. Societies and individuals entertain both, and sometimes at the same time. Suppose, for instance, there were no firearms in America, or in the world - a highly unlikely and imaginary supposition - would we all be happier if murders and homicides occurred without firearms, at any rate and frequency, in any of our communities, with any weapon causing mass carnage? If there were no firearms would that automatically lower the number of suicides? Can it be that firearm suicides will drop but poisonings and hangings increase? Would we really be happier and safer as a society by waging wars without firearms and explosives? It is to my understanding that the Roman Empire inflicted death and destruction on a grand scale, enslaved numerous generations, for centuries, with laws, swords, and fire. Obviously, technology has advanced to the point where human societies now live with the menacing prospect of chemical, biological, and nuclear conflict.

As opposed to the Roman Empire, America has a very large and free population, over three-hundred million people, and as many firearms. Logic, but certainly not reason, could lead one to believe that half the population of America can arm their unarmed neighbors, or, worse yet, even hold them hostage and relentlessly wage war on them. I do not want to seem cold, casual, pedantic, arrogant, or crass, about the death of any human being, with any implement. I am, nonetheless, rather amazed, though, that, with so many people and firearms in America, we still have relatively few firearm homicides.

More people die in America due to legal/illegal drug and alcohol abuse. There is a lot of federal, state, and local time and resources properly appropriated, in some instances, for programs to prevent and reduce drug and alcohol deaths, abuse, and crimes, still, they all occur in every community, at different rates, frequency, and impact. Workplace accidents and personal crimes without firearms account for even more deaths in our communities. Congress created, and the Executive administers, the Departments’ of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Justice, to name a few, who devote a large amount of time and resources addressing various criminal incidents and non-criminal accidents that result in death, committed with and without firearms.

Every sane person in America wants to reduce all violent crimes, whether committed with firearms, or not. There has been either a designed attempt to mislead, or a general lack of basic research and contextual awareness, when using statistics pertaining to firearms and violence. Statistics are facts. They may be compiled, interpreted, disseminated, but should always be used as a test to uncover fallacious assumptions. Discarding and ignoring specific data points that may diminish a proposition embraces predestination, a personal quest to slay a particular beast.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 4.8 million crimes of violence occurred in 2008, over seventy percent of those crimes occurred without using any weapon. Two-thirds of the violent crimes committed with a weapon, those criminals used a weapon other than a firearm. Roughly sixteen percent of all violent crimes were committed with a firearm. There is already a tremendous amount of federal, state, and local laws and ordinances regulating firearms, for the criminal, and the law-abiding people buying, possessing, and using them, lawfully. Never has there been such a clamor about so few people, unless it is about the wealthy one percent. The national violent crime rate, in which firearms are only one constituent component out of several variables, has fallen over the last several years.

Are we to suppose that this decrease in the national trend happened because of a criminal background check system for legal firearm sales, which, we hear so often, are not fully enforced, or consistently updated and sufficiently administered? Is it because there is a gun show loophole? Did this decline occur because of the prison industrial complex we hear so much about? Do stop and frisk laws in certain jurisdictions reduce firearm violence rates? Do concealed carry laws make it more likely a criminal will have known easy targets? Is it possible, if the national trend persists, that the status quo is good enough?

Whatever we’re doing, or not doing, as a society, seems to be working. Ah, yes, it can go lower if we can just have more gun control. A stiffer penalty for existing law is more practicable than erecting new ones. Even with a national trend temporarily moving in the right direction, there are still unusual, extreme, and commonplace incidents of violent crime perpetrated with firearms that continue at exaggerated rates, for diverse motives, in multiple manners, particularly with greater frequency in large urban localities with very strong gun control laws. Media editors and producers will continue to magnify or ignore each unfortunate instance of violent crime that happens in American communities, and they may or may not provide an honest assessment.

This ends the statistical component of the inquiry. Next, we will move back into the metaphysical and perceptual realm. It should come as no shock to the enlightened masses of America that the human condition produces more good and wholesome actions than any horrid and ferocious barbarity may suggest. Maniacal crimes are nothing new in human society, and, thankfully, they are still a rarity. Of course, the manner and method has changed over the ages in line with technological innovation, but the motives remain strictly primitive. It is horrible whenever a murderer kills twenty people in one brutal instant. However, are we a bit better off as a society when twenty murders occur in separate and unrelated events during a twelve-hour span over a weekend?

We do know that half of the nation is not running around with firearms killing and maiming the other unarmed half. A very small and somewhat insignificant few always prey on innumerable soft targets, especially in a free society. A dozen wolves fail more often than they succeed in taking down one sick, young, or infirmed American Bison out of hundreds. The herd is constantly on the lookout, defends their ground when needed, succeeds or fails, and then moves on to graze. As for the wolves, they usually choose easier targets than Bison. This is certainly not a defeatist mentality, nor is this some sort of twenty-first century Social Darwinian assessment gleaned from the National Geographic channel in HD; it is a realistic observation of nature, though, which has numerous instances of predator-prey relationships, where there are no laws other than the ones that operate in the severe and arbitrary realm of beasts. Most people in America, if they have any basic sense of common decency or shame at all, any sense of society and community, do not casually turn themselves into beasts and inflict physical harm on their family, friends, and neighbors. All of us normal people in America directly feel the stomach churning heartbreak human misery brings to us on every painful occasion it chooses to make itself successful and known.

Over the last several decades, it is sad to admit, Americans have become all too familiar with the horrific capacity of human beings to inflict pain and death in an instant, and on a mass scale. Sometimes it’s fashioned by foreign assailants murdering our own people right here in America, and around the world. At other times, even more common, it’s by the brutal hand of our own family, friends, and neighbors. All cruel and unspeakable occurrences evoke a natural cathartic response.

People ask the same questions, repeatedly. How can this be? Why did it happen? Can we be safe anywhere? Whom can we trust? Where did we go wrong as a society? What should we do now? What more could I have done? Who can we punish? What new law can we pass to prevent such atrocities in the future, even if that means saving just one life? What current laws need to be changed, or enforced? Naturally, we ask these questions. There is nothing wrong with asking any questions. The answers remain quite elusive. However, it is a well-established fact, though, that we, as precious human beings on Earth, experience a great deal more that is good. There is no doubt, in this free and independent mind, a proud citizen of a free and independent country, that America will continue to see even greater and more numerous acts of peace, love, and happiness. Liberty’s trebly is loud enough to drown out the dour murmurs, and mighty enough to beat back the belligerent malefactors prostituting the troublesome and very natural human societal afflictions of war, hate, and misery.

Americans have also become too familiar with repetition. This broken record skips because it has numerous nicks and scratches, accumulated over several generations. It sounds the same worn out and tired beats, over, and over, and over, again, and again. The people of America hear and read the same repetitive lyric. They see the same political actors, some playing the same role for decades, and all of it produces the same rhythmic results, the same rambunctious reactions, and the same hasty proposals, time after time, when any horrific event unfurls right in the open for all eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts that feel, and minds that absorb.

This repetition occurs every time a deranged assailant goes on a murderous rampage, especially when quickly snatching several lives, ravaging many bodies, in one brutal instant. Nevertheless, we all know, or should know, that lives are taken, young and old, every day in America, in far greater quantities, avoidable and unavoidable, for diverse and mysterious causes, without a single firearm used. This does not mean that any person tolerates violent incidents without firearms, most especially when it involves an unjustified physical attack on innocent people. It is foolish, and holds no argumentative value to intimate such non-sense about Americans tolerating inhumanity and death simply due to policy disagreements, a particular political ideology, or merely having an axe to grind. Just because depraved incidents naturally occur, and continue to be extreme rarities in society, no American, in their right mind, simply tolerates any criminal adventures, even though they do occur every day in America, and around the world.

The American people act with more compassion, justice, and mercy than any perplexing series of warped actions can tarnish, or diminish, in any way whatsoever. We do not need to hear lectures about not having proper compassion, uttered from behind official podiums, when the camera and lights are on. We are not children. No one needs to point a finger at us. We, the People, if anything, tell our servants what to do, and how to act, according to the laws sanctified by our elected assemblies. Some individuals really enjoy browbeating, and shaming people for not agreeing with political proposals dealing with the terrible actions of a relatively few deviant perpetrators.

The American people are among the most generous and compassionate people of the globe. We selflessly spill our own blood and spend the treasure of our citizens in so many ways, for so many reasons, with both good and bad outcomes, here and around the world. The United States, the fifty republican forms of government that compose the Union, do a great deal for our country. Every government in America has a natural desire to protect the common interest or general welfare of all the people, which, also, has natural limits placed on it to avoid arbitrary authority from making improper incursions into our lives, liberties, and properties.

We hear the clarion call for more laws, shouted down from the mountaintop, no, better yet, from the clouds, even though there are many laws already operating, and some curiously, or incompetently, enforced. We have too many laws to catalogue here, and, I suppose, maybe even too many to enforce. We should be aware of the two-thousand page laws passed in Congress, and the thousands of administrative regulations to implement them. This does not mean that we suddenly give up a need for necessary alteration and further legislation today, or in the future, although we should certainly try to enforce and correct the laws already in the code.

Murder is illegal, in every jurisdiction, with specific gradations, and in some jurisdictions, death by poisonous cocktail or electrocution is the penalty, unless the act results in a murder-suicide. Whom, in that instance, do we penalize, ourselves? Shall we parade in the streets dressed in sackcloth, a national day set aside for self-flagellation? Multiple murders committed by one perpetrator, or more than one, is illegal, and carries with it additional legal sanctions. To carry this train of thought a bit further, using any firearm - a black powder musket or pistol, revolver, semi-automatic pistol or rifle, an automatic, or any other powder charged dispenser of lead - whether legally owned or not, during the commission of any crime, is also illegal, having a multitude of penal sanctions attached to the criminal act.

For sake of argument, ban and confiscate all semi-automatic rifles - chances are it will not happen. Oh, but one might say, mass murders, or any murders and deaths now committed with firearms, would be least likely to occur if we just limit the possession of firearms to single round black powder muskets and pistols, six round revolvers, or fifteen round semi-automatic pistols. Not many, if any, criminals or mentally deranged individuals used a black powder musket, or pistol, during the commission of any recent twenty-first century crime that resulted in a mass casualty event.

Move on to the next classification. Plenty of people use six round revolvers to kill innocent people, and commit suicide. The last class, a semi-automatic handgun, is the most prevalent firearm in society. Even if unnecessarily limited to ten rounds, an individual looking to kill and maim innocent people, could carry five extra magazines and shoot sixty-one rounds. Just to save one more life, should we pass a law to limit the amount of magazines to one per household? Shall we put manufacturing limits on the number of bullets a magazine could accommodate? Do we go even further along, and say that no person can buy or possess more than one revolver in a lifetime, or black powder rifle or pistol, and limited to one hundred bullets in a lifetime? Banning the manufacture, sale, and possession of all semi-automatic rifles, and placing limitations like the above-mentioned hypothetical propositions, would only make it illegal and out of reach for the law-abiding citizen, possibly making it a bit harder for some domestic criminals, and may do next to nothing to deter foreign malefactors, who recognize no laws, from killing and maiming the American people.

We hear feeble assertions made about violent entertainment, movies and video games, even though overwhelming majorities who see and use them do not commit illegal acts of murder and assault. Sure, there are young, impressionable minds, voraciously consuming violent entertainment that may induce them to act in a manner inconsistent with the laws and ordinances society has enacted. Should we assume that violent entertainment strips a person of morality and correct judgment? Of course, the fictitious and vivid incidents of violence expressed through diverse mediums have increased over the past few decades. People still have responsibility, whether they take it or not, and usually face the consequences for their own choices and actions. Individuals should not be sheltered from responsibility by suggesting violent entertainment brainwashed them.

Today, violent portrayals in media are more frequent and accessible to consumers. Is this why violent crime has gone down over time? Have we blindly accepted the notion, or merely invented it, that violent entertainment directly causes a level of desensitization, especially in the most vulnerable and impressionable minds, that mysteriously creates an automatic disposition, or a greater propensity, to act out a murderous fantasy scenario in real life, with no consequences and remorse, through no fault of their own? Are we all not human beings, with basic notions of morality, who possess free will to act, or not act?

From cartoons to words, and from movies to video games, there is violence in entertainment. There is violence in society, and overwhelming majorities of people do not commit atrocities on their fellow human beings because of movies and videos. In fact, it is very clear, that human beings have killed each other, and plundered each other’s property, with ferocious purpose and determination, regardless of assigned motives, long before the advent of any written language, religion, movie, video game, or mobile internet device.

Do you see the celebrified breed on television, hear the whiney and droning voices on the radio, or read the editorial scribblers commenting about the non-violent entertainment that makes us feel good about ourselves? Of course, they do that. That kind of media does not generate enough profitable clicks, viewers, and listeners. So let us see the death, devastation, mayhem, blood running in the street, car chases, barricaded suspects, and contrived controversy. Roll the footage and keep it coming; somehow, American society likes that. Could it be that we have become so civilized that most of us satisfy some unconscious primitive impulse to see death and destruction visited upon others in fictitious movie productions or through real time news footage? Is there a genetic footprint to show us how difficult and dangerous human life was one hundred centuries ago?

A thousand acts of kindness and love occur every second on this Earth. There are movies about this, too. The human race would already be extinct if evil outnumbered its ravenous opposite. Is there any entertainment and information that prevents murder and supports life? Is there any other form of human expression that better serves our intellect, not despoils, or makes a mockery of it? Further legislation to regulate violence in movies and video games is a hollow gesture.

Every time there’s a mass murder incident, we see the police, fire, EMS, and other first responders performing an admirable public service. We see “ordinary” citizens turn themselves into extraordinary heroes in an instant. We hear an awful lot of heartfelt condolences that go out to the families and friends of victims. We hear the frenzied speculations. We see the press conferences. We see the flowers, the candlelight vigils, the handwritten placards and notes, the toys, and balloons, gently placed near a crime scene to remember the innocent fallen. Facebook posts, tweets, and pictures inundate the digital echo chamber.

We hear songs and hymns. We see the ruptured communities consoling each other. We see charities - even the criminally fictitious organized to swindle. We see the funeral processions and diverse religious ceremonies. We hear the speeches. We see the tearful memorials, eulogies, and testimonials. We see the darkness. Yet, we continue to feel love’s warmth, and the light of justice is always well within sight and reach. Yes, that is why we, who go on in this life, look up, move forward, and thankful we can participate in this life with a sense of purpose, with greater awareness and respect.

We see and hear the various mediums reporting, and, at times, misreporting and sensationalizing fluid events, turned out all day and night, for weeks. Our need for information is primitive and natural. How information is used can have good and bad results. We need information, of the good and bad variety. It provides us with balance, perspective, compassion, context, and generally contributes to our overall knowledge and experience. We see the celebrified pundits running around presenting their patrons with a little bit of fact and context, mixed in with plenty of advertisements, inconsequential gossip, a race for the scoop, political agendas, speculative assertions, innuendos, and sweeping generalizations.

We see the tormented actions of the mentally disturbed, or chemically imbalanced brain, when, typically, most of the truly distressed and vulnerable minds and souls do not physically harm anyone but themselves, and when they do, it is most often silent and of an intimate nature, although they do have a greater propensity to create violent episodes. One could simply say that people who have a disturbed brain commit all violent crimes. It is clear, though, most people do not have a mental illness, and most people do not commit crimes. Without getting into the medical and legal definitions, disturbed individuals, whatever internal and external forces influencing them, who do commit violent criminal acts, for the most part, have somehow shaken off the normal personal restraints morality and society impose on the rest of us, and do not follow the law, or have any respect for human life and private property.

The disturbed individual, who is not suffering from any organic or chemical brain imbalance, otherwise known as a criminal who chooses to be so, is also a rare and extreme variable of human nature, deviating from the more moderate course of society, dwelling in dangerous excesses and deficiencies, which may be seen or unseen. They execute distempered designs that abuse the liberty we take for granted, whether well thought out and planned, or completely random with a great measure of spontaneity. Most of these willing assailants are miniature tyrants, especially the individuals plotting and planning. They possess little or no regard for the law, unless it is the law of their own will. They have no conception of common decency. They are slaves to their self-interest, emotions, and, in some cases, paranoid delusions. They first ravage themselves. Then, they naturally move toward the lives and properties of their family and friends. Next, when that is fully degraded and adequately despoiled, they move to their innocent, weak, and unwitting neighbors, preying on the most vulnerable and helpless in our communities.

As individuals of a free society, the American people certainly retain a God given right to defend themselves, with or without government, with or without force, with or without a firearm, from the despotic brutes and reckless rogues whose venomous plague spreads through our communities, contaminating all of us with a miserable disease. We have more ability to restrain our own thoughts, words, and actions, than we have the practical capability as a society, through the imperfect art of legislation, or as an individual acting on their own behalf, of restraining and preventing the torturous thoughts, wicked words, and deplorable deeds of others.

We see and hear our public servants, celebrified punditry, and other citizens offering the most emotional testimonies, and many tripping all over themselves to see who can be the most sincere or suggesting doing even more to protect our own children from ourselves. The opportunistic profiteers exploiting tender episodes, stoking public clamor, and misdirecting debate, only drives an audience of fools and dupes that click, read, link, and vote. Predictably, we see demagoguery and political posturing rising to an unhealthy, and unwise, extreme, just like any other human activity can produce.

We should never set aside public discourse and political debate, for any reason, even if it’s blatantly and selfishly deployed for political advantage. Everybody has a right to express any opinion, however passionate or sincere, whether absurd, ill conceived, extreme, hateful, or wrongheaded, so long as it does not pose immediate physical harm or danger to any person or the public. The bloody shirt waves high atop the political flagpole, catching the popular wind on a daily basis. One has every right to wave that shirt, even with deplorable acts of flattery, fawning over popularity, and running with haste into reckless countermeasures.  We should never grow fond of limiting any fundamental right such as political speech. This would be highly offensive, wholly repugnant to a free people, and has no place in a republican form of government. It is plainly certain that we need a more tempered public discourse and policy driven by fact, mature deliberation, and reason, not zealous circumspection, vindictive retaliation, rabid emotion, or party loyalty.

Now we must address the perverse realm of conspiratorial assertions. We see and hear the fear and confusion. Some of it craftily manufactured to evoke a predictable response. The amount of hysteria swirling around our public discourse about gun control is very disconcerting. The hypothesized assertions cast about are truly wondrous. I fully recognize the need to curtail the expansive nature of public discretion, power, authority, and jurisdiction. Nevertheless, when we hear people denouncing firearms, and speculation about the need, or no need, for a Second Amendment, discourse is really bordering on madness, but in no way, I suspect, does it reflect national sentiments.

Are we to suppose that our government, composed of ourselves, will suddenly show up at every house and confiscate every gun in America? Do we not trust ourselves with self-government? Does our government not trust the American people with firearms? Does anyone with any sense of reason, logic, history, proportionality, and justice see a mass confiscation of firearms happening in America? It is highly improbable, and downright dangerous, for anyone to even propose, let alone employ, through any means, such a sweeping national policy.

I understand the suspicion people have about a national gun registry of those who lawfully possess firearms and, more importantly, government power in general. To suggest that a list of names, though, whether already completed and stored in a guarded database deep underground in an undisclosed location, or compiled at a future date, will directly lead to a confiscation of all or most firearms in America, is not only a paranoid conception, to say the least, possibly induced by the exaggerated populist delirium recently unleashed in America, but is altogether a ludicrous proposal.

We already have a list, it is called the Bill of Rights, but it is only a written list, and means nothing if we do not uphold its principles through self-government. Gun confiscation is one great slippery slope. It touches on so many nerves and emotions, but fails to meet the barometer of logic, reason, and law. It arrives at a place where conspiracy theorists and willing purveyors congregate, each having their own turn sliding down into a reflecting pool of erroneous conjecture, straight into the endless realm of oblivion, joyfully taking along with them anyone that blindly follows endless circular arguments that cause severe bouts of dizziness and bloating.

A gun confiscation policy would only unleash wild scenes of civic unrest. Look at all the clamor and bickering going on around you right now. One is almost tempted to believe, due to the heightened rhetoric - if completely naïve, or just willfully manipulating the people’s apprehensions and rousing aversions for some private self-interest - that there’s a current effort afoot, swiftly moving closer and closer to your abode, waiting for the opportune time to break in and enter every house in America, first to find, and then to snatch away your firearms.

I ask the American people – most especially, the seers suggesting that law-abiding people are about to be disarmed - the following question: Who would benefit from such a policy? Would the United States government benefit? No! Would the American people benefit? No! Both are the same thing. It would not benefit any of us at all because the people putting in place such a sweeping policy would be in active rebellion, would they not? They would relinquish all the rights and privileges temporarily afforded to them by the American people, because they would be committing treason, nullifying their oath of office. It would be an act of government dissolution. Anarchy and chaos would ensue. Society would dissolve, and wars among the people begin. We would reduce society, and all of us in it, to a lawless land, where brute force and arbitrary authority, will reign. This sounds more like a Hollywood movie script than reasoned debate.

Let us be realistic here folks. All we need to do is look at the sheer size and scope of America. Over three hundred million people, about three hundred million firearms of all sorts, roughly half the population armed, a few of them unduly suspicious, not to mention all the criminal elements, foreign and domestic, who do not follow any laws, and would love to see such a massive breakdown in American society. It would be a free for all, absolute Liberty to do anything, and be harmed by anyone. It is very hard for America to control the complex illegal violent crimes currently underway in every community, let alone conducting such an anti-republican national policy of mass gun confiscation.

One has to take a large leap of faith to see a possible scenario where federal, state, and local officials - who are a small number of citizens, and servants, mind you, a part of our own family, friends, and neighbors - will suddenly conspire with each other against the rest of the people, and forcibly alter the U.S. Constitution, the Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, government, and society. Oh, I see, we should suspend our belief in the American people, those Liberty loving participants of self-government, who liberated millions from the vicious tyrannies of the world, and just stand by and let their own public servants swoop in using the pretense of law, safety, and necessity, under the cover of darkness, in one night, or over a longer duration, and confiscate firearms in America. Does anyone in America have any understanding of the immense difficulty and lunacy of carrying such a national feat into operation? Are we truly to suppose that our government would take guns away from peaceful law-abiding citizens? If there is ever a future time when the American government has all of your firearms, they will eventually end up giving them back, at a later date, when a foreign force invades America, and even then, a tyrannical government will take a great risk by rearming the populace whose rights were once taken away.

Let us go on a bit further along with the counterfactual prophecy some entertain. A gun confiscation policy would take the combined effort of too many self-interested and jealous entities to even undertake such a national proposition, let alone be successful at it. The American military, with all of our volunteer citizens, combined with civilian contractors, and all of our might, technological ingenuity, and national resources, had a rather difficult time disarming and reducing dangerous foreign assailants in a small town of Falluja, Iraq and in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It is difficult for our nation to secure a two-thousand mile southern border, let alone subdue and reduce a whole continent of free people not committing crimes. A tyrannical government would have a hard time marshaling a sufficient volunteer force, and national resources, under false pretenses, without very much credibility, successfully invade their own communities, enter the private homes of their neighbors, seizing their private property.

The future dictatorship some people are worried about would have to impose conscription, pay mercenaries, and possibly rely on foreign armies to conduct the nefarious operation. What would make anyone believe our national government, with the help of state and local governments, and anyone else willing to make such a hazardous venture, could ever successfully attempt such an odious display of national suicide? Who would consent to this? Are we really to believe, as rational creatures, that our political leaders, I use the word leaders loosely, our public servants, and the various departments and agencies under their attendance, would and could completely subjugate the American people and take all their firearms, jeopardizing all of our lives, liberties, and properties? One would be either too paranoid or too ignorant to realize the logistical absurdity and constitutional malpractice of such a brazen enterprise. The people who believe this and disseminate the idea are self-interested assailants of reason and logic.

Does anyone believe that hundreds of American towns and cities, and the citizens who populate them, would willingly participate in a policy that could utterly rip apart the whole fabric of the nation and bring us to a demoralizing state of war, where criminals reign with impunity? There are not enough crazy people in government - although there are most likely some - or in America, who would condone and participate in such policies without suffering a severe rebuke.

Do you not think the word would get out? Well, the fear of tyranny and despotism has been a concern since America’s founding. For every American generation, it has lurked just around the corner. That is what Liberty will do to society. The slightest advance against it will rouse suspicion. It is becoming a bit louder, though, in some fearful quarters, especially since certain recent events, discussions, and policies feed the fear and apprehension, which combine with current economic circumstances that heighten already elevated anxiety levels. Please, my dear American citizen, do not worry. We are too jealous of our rights. We would halt any traitorous design in its tracks. I expect nothing less from a free and virtuous people. Are we not free? Are we not virtuous?

People in America do not know what a tyranny looks and feels like. Too many casually throw around weak comparisons to the most brutal tyrannies of history. This is silly dribble bearing no legitimate analogy whatsoever. No one can seriously compare our situation with any tyranny from the past or present. We have not had an intimate relationship with it on our own shore. There is no person in any segment of society that truly welcomes it, nor will any particular social class profit by it in the end. This is fitting for a republican government. It is a fact that government power has expanded, and is expanding, at a steady pace, especially over the last decade, but it too has a limit, just as everything else in nature has its limit, and our consent and assent as free people ultimately draws the line.

The American people are scrutinizing public power and discretion at every level, and our elected servants, for the most part, listen, even if they are a bit tardy and paternalistic. After all, we grant them a temporary trust, which is revocable at any necessary moment. We have term limits. We vote. We run for public office. This is a republican form of government. We should be so fortunate never to have a tyranny erect itself on American soil. Of course, you may never completely rule out tyranny’s menacing prospect, even though it has a remote possibility, in my most humble opinion, of succeeding in America, for multiple reasons, especially due to such a large and free population, with too many diverse interests. Tyranny and despotism would be short-lived and prove to be a very troublesome adventure for any tyrant and its flattering minions looking to supplant and usurp the moral authority and legal legitimacy of the people at large.

Some believe tyranny is already here. I, for one, do not. For sure, there’s nothing in America that comes close to the notorious tyrannies of history, or the ones we see in foreign countries today. Others feel that it is fast approaching. Again, I do not feel this. In order for a tyranny to rule America, the people have to welcome it, letting it walk right in, willingly consenting to be slaves, shackling themselves to the arbitrary whims of a despot. Are the American people in chains? No! It will not set itself up and survive here in America, even if a few people may want to forge those chains. The American people will not stand for it. It is directly opposed, an exact opposite notion, to the very essence of American Liberty and Self-Government. We have more of a chance seeing the despot of distrust and the tyrant of terrorism make headway in America, than one coming from our own national consent. Having a suspicion about power is appropriate, even though that suspicion has a curious propensity to go far beyond the mean, just like the arbitrary power it opposes. It soon settles on reason and logic. A nation of cynics is incapable of self-government. They will crawl down a path of mistrust and deceit. The only suitable stewards of self-government are the patient, cautious, vibrant, and vigilant patrons of liberty, who remain vigorous, confidently striding together, walking upright, head held up high, united in the face of uncertainty, fear, and confusion, always determined to live in freedom, enjoy peace, and find that civic repose deserving of American Self-Government.

Friday, October 21, 2011

“Occupying” Mentalities

Photo from UPI/John Angelillo

Publicly expressing grievances in a lawful, respectful, and peaceful manner is a delicate and precious attribute of Liberty that all American citizens equally possess, wholly appreciate, and jealously cherish.  It is a welcomed event whenever any citizens decide to gather and publicly profess their self-interests, personal passions, and political grievances.  Every law-abiding American should always warmly welcome a public redress of grievances, no matter the repugnancy or legitimacy of claims, or the physical appearance of the claimants.

Self-government is a rare human treasure.  It demands active civic participation from the proprietors, that is, every citizen who elects servants to represent their particular interests.  An apathetic, cynical, and ill-educated citizenry cannot govern themselves; they are prone to participate in their own enslavement, or willingly enslave others. 

American citizens, and public servants alike, have a solemn responsibility, and hold a common, sacred, and noble trust - bequeathed to all of us by the ancestors of America’s freedom and independence - to live equally under, and have respect for, all the laws we enact through our popular assemblies.  Our various legislatures, state and federal, are the only legitimate mechanisms for our prosperity as free and independent citizens.  America is a nation governed by reasonable laws and equitable justice.  Both principles enable each of us to contend with the abusive conduct of our legislatures by reckless majorities and obstructive minorities.  If any American laws prove incompetent or unjust, citizens, after mature public deliberation and experience, acting through the ballot box and their elected officials, properly design a remedy.

It is a misguided notion to assume all the inherent excesses and deficiencies exhibited by our free society, legislative assemblies, its structural processes, and institutional intricacies, can simply disappear by enacting legislation.  Yet the American system is the best human invention devised, so far, that enables this proud nation of more than three-hundred million free people to protect Liberty’s flame.  Only in this American system will social tranquility grace our society with the peace, happiness, and repose deserving of a free and independent Republic.  Tranquility can only spring from our careful maintenance of Liberty’s fragile flame, managed through the honest, just, and transparent operation of our governing institutions.

Patrons of discontent that “occupy” Zuccotti Park - a publicly accessible, and privately owned, outdoor space in downtown Manhattan, New York - manifest extreme social philosophies that are not new additions to American political discourse.  The minstrel atmosphere of events, and ridiculously redundant denunciations, do not confuse, nor fool, this independent observer of fact and circumstance.  This chorus of “occupying” voices sings a clear “tune.”  You may even utilize a narrow brush to paint this small, loud and mostly youthful, troop of progressive flatterers with the radical left-wing colors of the Democrat Party.

Ironies are pouring out from the discombobulated morass of distempered Democrat revelers.  A relatively small group of protesters - brazenly “occupying” a private/public space, to combat the American system’s inherent unfairness, and, of course, the greedy corporations extorting labor and controlling our governments - have the audacity to disregard lawful and useful public ordinances, diminish and defile private property, using that property for monetary and political profits, distributing food to the public, attracting improper and unruly elements, which is not befitting of a peaceful public display of patriotism in a free Republic.  This behavior is more suited to the tempestuous nature of anarchy and despotism.  This little protest has morphed into a twenty-four hour a day public disruption.

What part of “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” do the “occupiers” not understand? Breaking legitimate laws and public ordinances, duly enacted by elected public servants, suggest to this free citizen, at least, that a breach of the public peace has indeed occurred, several times, on a daily basis.  Laws still matter in America, even the minor ones governing human behavior in public spaces. 

Speech is a sacred right.  Public assemblages petitioning for particular redresses are fundamental rights.  “Occupying” encampment tactics are different species of expression, falling under an alternate category.  Several hundred people parading across the Brooklyn Bridge without a permit is in fact against the law, and the result was mass arrest.  This was just the spectacle many were looking for, and the fiendish favorites flocked for a fantastic feast.

In fact, the “occupiers” are an organization petitioning Wall Street, not Pennsylvania Avenue, for a redress of economic grievances that originate from the District of Columbia.  It is even more curious, and a rather absurd development, that the “occupiers” think they represent ninety-nine percent of the people in this country.  They, and certain media outlets, have created a neat little myth down there at Zuccotti Park.  To claim their Utopian General Assembly speaks on behalf of the American people is an extravagant notion. 

In case the “occupying” tenants of Zuccotti Park did not realize - maybe they only read their own newspaper and listen to Democrat propaganda - there is not a credible public forum, outside of the federal government, that speaks on behalf of all Americans.  “Occupying” elements consistently claim that the federal government is just a puppet of corporations, who enrich themselves by exploiting laboring classes.  This has been a Democrat tenet for more than a hundred-fifty years.  It is a paranoid conception, nothing but a conspiracy theory, which always assumes, without any exceptions, corporations will use our federal government to destroy American Liberty, yet, Americans receive the best wages for their labor and the highest living standards in the world, all this with many more corporations, and greater Liberty, then ever before.  This great trend of human freedom will persist as long as private property remains protected.

There is no legitimate assembly outside of the United States Congress, except for a Continental Convention, when actually called for by two-thirds of the states, which can claim they represent the interests of all the American people, and every state of the Union.  Every other entity is merely a particular interest group, most especially a group that considers itself an organization, conducting political demonstrations, accepting private donations, and receiving an assortment of items delivered to the UPS store nearby.  This assemblage of bold adherents to radical governing ideologies are nothing more than an organization comprising of a few well placed, and sufficiently staffed, professional groups, who are paid to further a perverse global agenda seeking to undermine law and justice in this nation, and other independent nations around the world.      

Who gave this mutinous allotment of malingerers – the fervent sympathizers of progressive governing philosophies - a special trust reserved for our public servants assembled in legislatures?  American citizens only use proper instrumentalities and forums available in this Republic.  What state assembly, in this great Union of Republican governments, granted a special designation to this minuscule population of roving vagabonds to speak for so many American citizens?  It is a great error of reason to suggest that “occupiers” represent ninety-nine percent of the population, just as erroneous as extrapolating from polling data the overall sentiment of America.  The only numbers that matter in America are the votes tallied after an election.  Everything else is irrelevant.

“Occupying” forces do not even come close to the thirty-thousand that showed up for the most recent Columbus Day Parade in New York City, which “occupiers” even protested, a favorite target of the extreme left.  The number of individuals actually camping overnight in Zuccotti Park is rather inconsequential, especially compared to the drunken masses on New Years Eve, in which the NYPD does an outstanding job, with 1600-pound horses, managing, defusing, and controlling rowdy masses.

It should be a lesson learned, for any private property owner, municipality, city, or state government not to allow protesters – much smaller in number than they appear– to pull out sleeping bags and air mattresses, erect crude structures, receive commercial deliveries, accept monetary donations, storing food, feeding themselves, and the general public, all on publicly accessible private property, with no permits or licenses at all to conduct such activities.  Are these people gathering overnight considered tenants of One Liberty Plaza?  If so, they should, at the very least, pay rent to the property owner, taxes to the city, for the commercial and political misuse of a space that is meant to be publicly accessible, and whose property owner, in the property description document, informs prospective tenants that the park plaza has nice views of the financial district, trees, and plenty of public seating. 

Well, the proper and legitimate tenants, the taxpaying residents and businesses of the neighborhood, and the public in general, can no longer enjoy that once tranquil space.  If a narrow path weaving through numerous personal encampment zones, articles of several descriptions strewn all over the seats, tables, and landscaping walls - not to mention they are killing mums, very Anti-Earth - is considered publicly accessible, a serious legal problem exists and needs immediate clarification. 

The rambunctious “occupants” rudely pushed aside the rest of the public, taxpaying residents, businesses, and tenants of One Liberty Plaza, usurping jurisdiction over Zuccotti Park, and even changing the public/private ordinances, nature, and name of the space.  There is even a continuous contingent of police officers being paid taxpayer money to manage this delusional demographic.  Police officers must have other important duties, rather than babysitting an unpredictable youthful crew.  “Occupiers” should just get out and go home already, start paying rent and taxes, or, at least, financially burdened by arrest, conviction, imprisonment, patient bills, fines, and fees for breaking several public laws governing reasonable human behaviors.   

“Occupying” tactics, condoned and legitimized by a few predictable lawmakers, and a well-paid celebrified breed, leads this free citizen, at least, to assume it is quite all right for other individuals to simply, and “indefinitely,” engage in similar activities in and on any other city space that is accessible to the public.  Nonetheless, the “occupiers” are continually breaking public ordinances, which do not really seem to be operating at all.  Should we suppose, then, as rational creatures of nature, endowed with unequal inductive and deductive capacities, that the public ordinances once applied to Zuccotti Park no longer apply to other public spaces in and around New York City?

Can the public, so long as they’re an invading horde of Democrat loyalists denouncing capitalism and corporations, “occupy” Central Park, Prospect Park, and Gramercy Park, or, even worse, march out anywhere from their squalid utopian citadel and descend on our own personal and private properties?  What is to keep this roving brigade of rabble-rousers from coming to a neighborhood park near you, or even visit your private residence?  Can this band of brutes merely obstruct commerce, and disrupt street and sidewalk traffic, forever, intimidating any pedestrian or private business they see fit, at any time of their choosing?  If wet and cold weather persists, since we are closing in on the depths of autumn, and soon winter, will these encamped Democrat dwellers suddenly become ill, and spread communicable diseases to the rest of the population, as they traipse through restaurants like McDonalds to use the bathroom.  There is, and will continue to be, depraved spectacles and enterprising ventures departing from Zuccotti Park on a daily basis, if they continue to persist, not to mention other subversive entities and splinter groups that will promote, spin off, co-opt, plot, and plan concerted efforts to escalate the propensity of physical conflict and violent altercations.      

The various, verbal and visible, messages are quite clear to this independent observer, who is all too familiar with their antiquated mentalities and intrusive tactics.  Enroll into any liberal arts degree program in private and state colleges and universities, you will find all of the “occupiers” sentiments prominently advocated and professed.  Our primary and secondary schools also have curriculum designed by union educators that inculcated this latest generation with the polarizing polemics of class warfare and the inherent unfairness of capitalism.  Progressively liberal demagogues, and their well-paid professionals, administer a highly divisive social re-education program that bombards Americans with unreal notions of government and economic power.  Democrats want the federal government to be the dominant redistributive power, and that is the problem.  Their hard-core radical friends want to expropriate all private property and resources to redistribute the proceeds equally to all. 

Even the most casual observer can easily recognize the democrat flavors, and repugnant Marxist mentalities, swirling around the “occupying” crowd.  The varying elements possess warped rationalities, paranoid conceptions, and corrupting cynicism, carrying union cards, regurgitating defective arguments that divide, distort, and distract popular sentiments, with a virulent strain that brings disease and disgust to our national character and public discourse.

Infectiously filthy propaganda is nothing new in our schools or the media.  It is quite funny, though, that the bastion of liberal propaganda runs a particular promo – really, it amounts to a Democrat spot advertisement - in which the New Liberal Left’s champion denounces the politics of division.  Yet, the same celebrified pundit, and all of her collusive colleagues, cheerily glorifies political division any chance they have, especially when it takes the crude form of a frenzied mass of sympathizing subversives squatting in Zuccotti Park, denouncing a particular segment of American society based on income, wealth, and occupation. 

The most prominent, and usual, democrat notables, from the private and public arena, fall all over themselves to highlight this liberal construction project erected for electoral advantage, trying to gain legitimacy for their cause.  It is a form of self-flagellation for the well-paid celebrified punditry to denounce their economic status.  They pay homage by making public pilgrimages to the “occupied” space, conducting theatrical displays, and making disingenuous declarations that make them feel better, and seem useful.  Always be aware of those that are quick to attach themselves to a cause, it is usually a sign of self-interest and opportunism.

“Occupiers” in Zuccotti Park have the same philosophical persuasion, and use the same tactical application, as those who unruly “occupied” the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin earlier this year.  Madison was a test run.  How far can the radical liberal left go before they self-destruct, or cause civic distemper?  The Madisonian partisan project, along with all the creatures of an elite arrangement, who used naïve student debtors, wanted the “occupation” of Wisconsin’s Capitol building to spread, and considered as another “Tahrir Square.”  This was a rallying sentiment in Madison, and now echoed at Zuccotti Park. 

Extreme progressives possess a perverse affinity toward the “Arab Spring,” which, followed out logically, really amounts to a radical social revolution, where the participants gravitate toward extra-constitutional remedies, whimsical governing philosophies, the allurement of demagogues, curious political tactics, and suspicious associations.  Suggesting revolution in America as a possible remedy, when this nation has not even exhausted all the constitutional avenues that remain open for necessary and legitimate alteration, is a highly dangerous maneuver.  There are many protesters suffering from a severe denial of reality, and ignore the dangerous consequences of such a proposition.  Do “occupiers” really want to carry this “Tahrir” tactic out to its logical conclusion?  Is “Tahrir” just a casual statement thrown about to get some sort of reaction?  It is plainly absurd even to suggest such a reckless remedy, especially before all the lawful constitutional avenues open to the people of America are not even tried. 

There is a great difference between what happened in Cairo and the events currently going on in Manhattan.  Comparing century’s long oppression of Egyptians, and other enslaved populations in the region, to America’s current situation is an extravagant proposition that should meet harsh rebukes, and not taken as a credible proposal.  If the events unfolding in Northern Africa impress the “occupiers,” perhaps they should consider self-immolation, then, maybe, they might get their point across, and attract even more supporters. 

However, if one carries out this dangerous revolutionary logic forward to its eventual end, it leads one to perceive the American system as so corrupt, and a complete tyranny, that the normal governing processes are no longer conducive or open to American citizens, thereby implying second Amendment and Declaration of Independence remedies.  Is this what the “occupiers” mean when they want a “Tahrir” style moment?  Do they expect that most Americans would simply want to throw away the American system and separate from our most cherished values of constitutional practice?  Maybe the “occupiers” want the Egyptian military to take over America, or something of a similar nature.  Do they really expect, or want, the police and other armed forces to join their “occupation?”  This is not putting the cart before the horse; it is shooting the horse and burning the cart.

This “occupying” sentiment ultimately takes a contrary path from the constitution, the Union’s sacred bond, and the Liberty and Independence they both stand to protect.  What is even more serious, with far greater implications for our liberties as an independent nation, is the foreign global flavor of their “solidarity movement” that seemingly recognizes no international borders, national sovereignty, or American rule of law.  Several adversaries of American freedom are emboldened by any weakness exhibited, even though the spectacle of “occupationist” tactics represents an extreme perversity of liberalism, and a distinct minority interest.  

Public discontent is the best vehicle for foreign adversaries, and domestic deniers of American Liberty, Independence, and Sovereignty, that would like nothing better to happen to America then to have citizens set out against each other.  Americans have, and will continue to possess, the most freedom in the world.  Nevertheless, we are not free to do away with all the precious rights, ancient privileges, common law traditions, and sacred benefits we all inherited from our ancestors, which are contained in our various charters of freedom.

“Occupiers” also want something akin to an ancient Athenian style democracy.  If America was a direct democracy - which is unconstitutional because it is not a republican form of government, guaranteed to every state of the Union - one-hundred fifty-five million people could rule, absolutely, and directly, with a mere majority.  The presidential election in 2008 only had one-hundred twenty-five million people voting, and the total US workforce is one-hundred thirty-nine million.  Only citizens who vote move this nation, many people do not even vote at all, and those who do, are evenly divided.  It is impossible to have most people agree on any issue, at any time, and sufficiently administer the nation at large.    

The few individuals encamped in Zuccotti Park, and other smaller groups corralled in a few spaces across this nation, would be lucky to muster one million people at any one time, in any one space, let alone tens of million, which would still be an insignificant portion of people in America, by no way constituting a legitimacy to speak on behalf of the whole American population. 

Maybe they can garner enough people to gain representation in Congress.  If this was the case, a re-settlement plan is in order, preferably based on the trail of tears model.  They can go to Wyoming, with seed from Monsanto, fertilizer from Potash, some agrarian machinery from Caterpillar, and see what they can do for themselves.  That is where they can set up their social commune, or phalanx, and get out of New York City parks.  If the “occupiers” are claiming they represent ninety-nine percent, they must be talking about representing ninety-nine percent of the radical Democrat platform.

A Continental Convention is the last constitutional line of defense for the survival of our individual liberties and national independence.  We are not there yet.  If the requisite states call for a convention, this free citizen would welcome it as a legitimate assembly having the authority to propose amendments for state ratification.  Of course, this constitutional instrument must come before any type of civic conflagration or violent revolution.  A convention is the only legitimate assembly, outside of Congress assembled, sanctioned by precedent and the constitution.  It is the best venue, uniquely attached to the people and their states, to remedy any material defects that the American system exhibits. 

A grand forum, such as a Convention of States, can gather and propose amendments for ratification by three-fourths of state conventions.  This is the last path to take before anyone suggests secession and any other extreme tactics that undermine constitutional restraints on government power and any majority or minority interest that encroaches upon the precious liberties we all possess. 

Any action taking a revolutionary route outside of our American system is treason.  Liberty is not a game.  This is not some frat party, or hastily arranged university experiment on the commons, or classroom discussion.  Stakes are high.  America is dealing with severe economic tepidness and designing foreign adversaries.  It is a matter of national and individual Liberty and Independence.  This free citizen will continue to denounce despotic perversities, identify radical innovations, unravel deceitful devices, and unmask dissimulative demagogues, every time they rear their brutal heads, and there have been plenty.  Remember, there are no constraints on a free mind, but there must be reasonable restraints on corrosive actions that abuse the rule of law, equal justice, and public decency.