Death By A Thousand Cuts
“I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.”
Up until 1905, when it was officially banned, Lingchi is/was a means of torture and execution used in China for the most heinous of crimes; including treason. It involved tying the victim to a wooden platform of some kind and then slicing off portions of their flesh until they slowly bled to death. Lingchi is also known as Death By A Thousand cuts, and the idiom is still used to describe a period in which a series of small bad things happen, none of which would be fatal by themselves, that ultimately lead to a slow and painful demise.
I realize that bringing that up at the beginning might conjure up some pretty gruesome images in your mind, but I do so because I firmly believe that liberty is suffering the same fate; death by a thousand cuts. The sad thing about it is that the indoctrination people have undergone at the hands of the public fool system; their ignorance and apathy are acting similar to an anesthesia during a surgery; preventing them from seeing what is happening right in front of their very eyes.
As I write this there are those living in this country that are actively protesting against the stay at home orders; demanding that their State Legislatures reopen their States and let people go about their ‘normal’ lives. Even so, there are still those who think that reopening the country is a bad thing, that the number of cases of Covid is going to skyrocket and that we need to stay at home until the virus is completely eradicated.
To those who wish to live their lives in fear I have but one thing to say to you; go ahead and lock yourself away for the remainder of your life; but don’t demand that the rest of the country follow suit; let those who are not afraid live their lives resume them. The sad thing is, I see many people out and about, and I even saw a protest yesterday, where people were demanding that the State be reopened, and some of them were wearing face masks and practicing social distancing. If you ask me, these people are perfect examples of how the damage has already been done; they are willing to submit to certain limitations upon their liberty in return for a restoration of certain privileges.
This is all possible because of one simple thing; most people do not know what true liberty is. You can dig out a dictionary and look up the word liberty if you want a quick and easy definition of it, but if you really want to know what it means you need to find a legal dictionary for the correct definition of it.
For instance, Black’s Law Dictionary defines liberty as,
But then Bouvier’s Dictionary of Law, 1856 edition goes even deeper, discussing the various kinds of liberty; such as Natural Liberty and Civil Liberty. For the purpose of my discussion I will give a brief description of both.
According to Bouvier, Civil Liberty is defined as: the power to do whatever is permitted by the constitution of the state and the laws of the land. It is no other than natural lib-erty, so far restrained by human laws, and no further, operating equally upon all the citizens, as is necessary and expedient for the general advantage of the public.
Now let’s compare that to what Bouvier says about Natural Liberty: Natural liberty is the right which nature gives to all mankind, of diposing of their persons and property after the manner they judge most consonant to their happiness, on condition of their acting within the limits of the law of nature, and that they do not in any way abuse it to the prejudice of other men.
They are quite similar but they have one defining characteristic that sets them apart; that fact being that under Civil Liberty your rights can be limited or restricted under a constitution, or by what society deems is ‘expedient for the general advantage of the public.’ Under Natural Liberty there are no such limitations; the only limits being what the Laws of Nature dictate.
This brings up two questions. First, what are these Natural Laws that define the limits placed upon our liberty, and secondly, who gets to decide what is “expedient for the general advantage of the public?” Let’s begin by discussing Natural Law.
Simply stated, Natural Law is the law that applies to all mankind in a state of nature without any governing body to dictate how they should live their lives. Jurist John Locke describes the status of man under a state of Natural Law as follows:
What that basically means is that we can do whatever we want and nobody can tell us otherwise.
However, Natural Law theorists, at least some of them, believe that there is some kind of supreme Creator who has also handed down certain rules by which their creations should live. Locke then goes on to explain,
In an 1819 letter to Isaac Tiffany, Thomas Jefferson distinguishes between pure unadulterated liberty and rightful liberty under Natural Law as follows,
Therefore, under rightful liberty each individual is free to do as they please so long as they do not obstruct others from enjoying the right to live their lives as they please.
However, man is a flawed creature and this often allows their envy, greed, and lust for power over others to infringe upon the rights and liberty of others. Therefore, some form of Civil Laws are required to secure liberty and justice to all; hence the need for government.
The best government, or at least my thoughts on the best government, is one which secures to the people the greatest degree of liberty, while at the same time seeking to ensure that no one, including themselves, violate the liberty of a single individual unless they are found to have violated the rights and liberty of others through due process of law.
One would think, if mankind were truly on the pathway to perfection as Christians often claim to be, that at some point in time there would be no need for government; as people would respect the rights and liberty of others without coercion and laws. In 1849 Henry David Thoreau wrote a book entitled Civil Disobedience in which he explains that premise, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe –
Now if you were to think about it, there are but three things that could be happening. We could, first, be moving towards a time when there will be no need for government and the laws it enacts to secure liberty to all the governed. Next, we could be standing in place, spinning our wheels, never moving forward to the time when the rights and liberty of all were secured. And finally, which is where I find America today, we could find the system designed to secure liberty to all being used to destroy, or abolish that liberty. In 1850 Frederic Bastiat described that condition as follows,
When America became an independent country it did so because people were fighting to shake off the shackles of a system of government that, to them, had sought to ‘reduce them under absolute Despotism.’ In 1776 a majority of the delegates to the Second Continental Congress affixed their signatures to the Declaration of Independence, stating, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Two things about that statement; first they recognized that they needed the hand of Divine Providence, (meaning a higher power), to achieve their goals, and secondly, they were willing to die to obtain them. Patrick Henry summed that up in seven simple words, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
The Declaration of Independence is the clarion call of those who love and are willing to die defending their rightful liberty. That document states,
If the Declaration of Independence is, therefore, the clarion call for liberty, then the Constitution is the coffin in which liberty will be buried; but I’ll get to that a bit later.
There are two important points in that statement. First is that our rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness do not come from government, they come from our Creator. Secondly, it is the function of government to secure those rights to us; not to obliterate them as it has been doing.
Secondly, and this is where we as a people have failed, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
In his pamphlet Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote,
Years later Paine would also write, “Man did not enter into society to become worse than he was before, nor to have fewer rights than he had before, but to have those rights better secured. His natural rights are the foundation of all his civil rights.”
Therefore, if government were to be just, if it were to be good, every act it takes must be designed to better secure the liberty of the governed; and if its acts had not that in mind, then government cannot be said to be fulfilling the purpose for which it was established, and that the Declaration of Independence tells people that, when that happens, it is “…their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” Not only is it our right, the Declaration of Independence says, it is OUR DUTY.
Well from where I sit I don’t see a whole lot of people fulfilling their duty; I see a bunch of people bowing down to tyrants and seeking to utilize government so that they can limit and restrict the liberty of those whose beliefs they disagree with. I also see the death of liberty by a thousand cuts; all because people prefer comfort and security over liberty.
A few examples of this are in order. Let us begin by examining what is currently happening in America due to the outbreak of this Covid virus. We, well some of us have, willingly surrendered our freedom to travel and associate for the promise that, if we stay at home and self isolate, we will be kept from contracting this virus. We have turned upon those who choose to exercise their rightful liberty by turning them in to the authorities, or shunning them as if they were lepers.
What about 9/11 and the threat of terrorist attack; how much liberty did we give up in response to that? Invasive searches upon our persons and belongings at airports, government surveillance of our private communications, bank records, and even our medical records are all routine occurrences now just to keep us safe from terrorist attacks.
What about our right to keep and bear arms for our defense against both criminals AND tyrants? Every time there is a mass shooting we hear the cry for ‘common sense gun control’, when guns aren’t the problem; what lies in the hearts of man is the problem. You can’t legislate away evil, and sometimes you just have to put it down to be rid of it; make the punishment for evil so repulsive that those considering it think twice before violating the rights of others.
Locke describes that condition as well in his Second Treatise,
But no, you can’t do that; it isn’t the individuals fault, it is societies fault, or their upbringing; and therein lies a big part of the problem right there; the idea that collective responsibility can be assigned rather than individual responsibility.
If people can be conditioned to believe that it is either societies fault, or societies obligation to ensure that we are all provided with comfort and security we destroy the concept that each individual is responsible for their own destiny; which lies at the heart of individual liberty.
I alone am responsible for putting food on my table; clothes on my back; a roof over my head; and for defending what is rightfully mine; not you, not government, and not society as a whole. Likewise, each of you are responsible for providing these same things for yourselves. The moment you let the evil concept that it is societies, or governments responsibility, you also accept the premise that your liberty can be denied you to serve that end.
Not only is our government not fulfilling its duty to secure liberty to all the inhabitants in America, it was designed in such a manner as to make it impossible for it to fulfill that function. When the Constitution was written and ratified the United States consisted only of 13 States; all of which were mostly along the eastern portion of what we now call the U.S.
Writing in opposition to the Constitution, Robert Yates, under the pseudonym of Brutus, stated,
That was when we were only 13 States; imagine how much harder it is for government to do ensure that we remain ‘free’ when we are 50 States!
Arguing against the Constitution in the Virginia Ratifying Assembly, Patrick Henry stated,
Henry would then go on to say, “You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government.”
Well tell me, and be honest, what is it YOU expect out of government? Is it that your liberty be secured, or is it that government keep you safe, create jobs, or fight off all the evil that goes on in countries outside our borders? And if you think it is governments job to secure your liberty, then how good a job have they done; and if your answers is ‘not very good’ then why do you continue to believe that voting new people into office is going to make things any better?
My God people, it is not the people who hold office that are the problem, it is the system they are elected to; it is flawed, it is weak, and it allows no means by which we can punish those who pass laws that overstep their authority and oppress us. As Patrick Henry also said,
Later in the same speech Henry also states,
When government has control of the court systems, the law enforcement functions, and with the passage of laws that make it a crime for us to keep and bear the same weapons government does, can you not see that Henry’s words ring true? This is even more so when the people willingly submit to the laws that restrict their liberty; saying that it is their duty to obey the law. Well Thomas Jefferson once wrote that, “The law is often but the tyrants will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.” He didn’t say individuals collectively, he said THE INDIVIDUAL; meaning that if the law violates MY liberty, it is tyranny.
If the Constitution were so gosh darned great, as some think it is, how could this have happened? If it were so gosh darned great how come better protections for our liberty weren’t built into it, and why weren’t effective means of punishing those we elect established?
Lysander Spooner accurately described our Constitution when he wrote,
Therefore, if the Constitution itself is unfit to exist, then so is the government it established.
Years later Emma Goldman would write,
In 1944 Judge Billings Learned Hand delivered a speech in front of 1.5 million New Yorkers wherein he said,
Liberty is an individual thing; meaning yours is yours and mine is mine, and neither of us has a right to deny it to the other. Therefore, if our government rests upon the concept of consent of the governed, then if I do not consent to having YOUR government restrict my liberty, yet it does so against my will, that can only mean that government is tyrannical…oppressive…and that it is not serving the purpose it was promised it would.
I am not your enemy, I only seek to be left alone to live my life as I please. I do not seek to take anything from you which is rightfully yours; but the money government steals from me and hands out in subsidies and benefits IS NOT rightfully yours, it is mine; I worked for it, I sweated and bled for it; therefore it belongs to me. My rights, my freedom are mine as well, and so long as I do not harm you in your life, property or the exercise of your rights, you cannot take them from me without becoming a tyrant.
I do not support this government, nor the document that established it, because I believe that it has failed to secure to every man woman and child in America their birthright to rightful liberty. If you support either government or the Constitution, then you are an enemy to liberty and a major part of the problem in this country.
If enough people were to say NO to government, and its enforcers, then we could turn the tide and liberty could once again flourish in America. But as long as people prefer comfort over the animating contest for liberty; so long as people lack the courage to stand up to those who oppress them, then not a single thing will change in America; no matter who you vote for.
I only see things getting worse; much worse. When ignorance, apathy, the desire for comfort and security, take the place of the defense of liberty, there isn’t much hope that liberty will thrive in such a country; and that is what I see when I leave my home and am forced to interact with my fellow countrymen; a nation of sheep too timid to defend what is rightfully theirs.
Like I said at the beginning, I don’t hold out much hope for the present generation to do anything that will restore liberty to America. I can only hope that one day, hopefully in the not too distant future, the people will stumble across these words and the spirit of liberty may be rekindled in America.
For those living today, I leave you with the words of Samuel Adams,
Neal Ross, Student of history, politics, patriot and staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Send all comments to: [email protected].
If you liked Neal’s latest column, maybe you’ll like his latest booklet: The Civil War: (The Truth You Have Not Been Told) AND don’t forget to pick up your copy of ROSS: Unmasked – An Angry American Speaks Out – and stay tuned – Neal has a new, greatly expanded book coming soon dealing with the harsh truths about the so-called American Civil War of 1861-1865. Life continues to expand for this prolific writer and guardian of TRUE American history.
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