Category: Individual Liberty

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, January 28, 2016
By

breaking-the-lawThe weekend forecast calls for sunny skies, so you decide to have a picnic in a national park with your family. After finishing your meal you throw away your trash. Your son, however, isn’t so careful — he leaves behind a few leftover items. As you leave your picnic area, a park ranger asks if you or your family has left trash in the area. You tell him that you’ve cleaned up after yourself.

You’ve just committed an arguable federal felony: False Statements to a Federal Official. Any false statement made to a government official — even when it is made in conversation and not under oath nor in writing — can leave a citizen vulnerable to a “false statement” charge.

That many seem absurd, but as civil rights lawyer Harvey A. Silvergate notes, this hypothetical example has real-life parallels. Overcriminalization and an increase in vague regulations have made most of us unknowing and unintentional felons.

This wasn’t always the case. Under the common law, criminal intent — an intention to commit a crime or violate a law — was a necessary element of every crime. Most statutory laws also require criminal intent. However, as William J. Sloan explains,

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Violet_crawleyDefenses of limited government are rare in pop culture. You won’t find many characters in movies or TV that say that what is needed is for the state to be less intrusive and less centralized. So it’s particularly surprising to find one of the most passionate appeals for individual freedom over government encroachment on a television station that was created by an act of the United States Congress and partially funded by the federal government.

That’s what awaited fans in last night’s episode of Downtown Abbey.

For the past several weeks Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, has been opposing a merger of the village hospital with the Royal Yorkshire. The hospital storyline has been rather dull and seemingly inconsequential, especially for the show’s final season. But last night the hospital plot revealed itself to be about something much larger than we might have realized.

The Dowager’s opponents, most of whom are family members, assumed she was simply resistant to change and was loathe to relinquish any personal power. But as she explains, she has a deeper understanding of government and the duty to protect freedom than anyone had assumed.

“For years, I’ve watched governments take control of our lives. Their argument is always the same: ‘Fewer costs, greater efficiency.’ But the result is the same, too. Less control by the people, more control by the State — until the individual’s anguishes count for nothing. That is what I consider my duty to resist.”

“Your great-grandchildren won’t thank you when the state is all-powerful because we didn’t fight,” adds the Dowager. Indeed, not that the state is very close to being all-powerful we should be thankful for our ancestors from the last century who did fight and managed to hold off big government—at least for awhile.

(Via: Hot Air)

maxresdefaultMy parents should have been jailed for child neglect.

At least that’s what would be their fate if I were growing up today. Fortunately for them (and for me), I was a child during the 1970s, a time when kids were (mostly) free to explore the world.

At age seven I was allowed to wander a mile in each direction from my home. By age nine I was exploring the underground sewers and drainage system of Wichita Falls, Texas. When I was a 12 I was given a .22 semi-automatic rifle and allowed to roam the woods all day. I had almost total freedom as long as I agreed to one condition: I had to take my younger brother along with me.

We didn’t have cellphones to serve as electronic leashes; we merely had the setting sun as a guide to when we had to be home. Until dusk, our parents rarely knew where on the planet we were.

As a Gen-Xer I’m probably part of the last generation who had childhoods in which we were free to roam. However, some parents—part of the “free range parenting” movement—are trying to preserve that fading legacy. For their attempts to instill confidence and self-reliance in their children they are increasingly being treated as horrible parents. For example, last year a 10-year old-boy and his 6-year-old sister were walking home from a park in an affluent Maryland suburb. The police stopped them and the parents were investigated for child neglect.

The parents were later cleared of all charges. But it was a wake-up call for many parents about the overreach of government. Since then a few lawmakers—at least at the federal level—have attempted to return some freedom back to parents.
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laughton-465-(1)1Today marks the 152nd anniversary of the Gettsyburg Address, the speech given by Abraham Lincoln after the battle which left 7,000 American soldiers dead and 40,000 wounded.

Given its power and permanence, it may seem strange to memorialize it by pointing to an obscure comedy film from the 1930s. But it’s one that stirs all the right sentiments.

In Ruggles of Red Gap, the great Charles Laughton plays Marmaduke Ruggles, an English manservant who has been gambled away by his master (a duke) to a pair of unsophisticated “self-made” millionaires from America (Egbert and Effie). Ruggles sails to the New World, settles in with his rambunctious new employers, and hilarity ensues. (more…)

Do Google Earth satellite images point to more grim news from inside North Korea? According to an article from United Press International (UPI), Curtis Melvin of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University noticed a substantial difference in satellite images of a North Korean prison camp from 2013 to some taken last month:

[A]erial snapshots from Oct. 15 indicated considerable changes have been made to Camp No. 16.

Melvin said the new changes included dams, hydroelectric power plants, apartments for the camp’s guards, an athletic field, a mine and fish farms. These facilities were not visible in satellite imagery taken in 2013.

The latest construction appears to indicate that North Korea is planning for an increase in the population of inmates detained at Camp No. 16 … In 2014, Amnesty International said in a statement the camp imprisons about 20,000 people and the prisoners are forced to work in very treacherous conditions. [emphasis added]

Camp No. 16, also known as Hwasong or Myonggan concentration camp or Kwan-li-so (Penal-labor colony) No. 16. Camp No. 16 is a prison-labor colony where detainees are expected to work for life with no hope of being released and it is the largest of all the penal-labor camps in North Korea. The UPI piece points out that it was one of five political prisons where up to an estimated 120,000 people are punished for various “crimes against the state.” Despite testimonies of defectors who survived these camps and later escaped North Korea, Pyongyang denies the existence of camps and has officially accused all the witnesses of lying. (more…)


The fears of the past resonate in the present, and it’s no wonder humanity sometimes grasps desperately for answers in response to a frightening and unknowable future. Sometimes these answers come to us through literature and film which may allow us to dispense with the worst of them, given enough time.

The Overlords of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End – a classic 1953 science-fiction novel that serves as the basis for a Syfy network miniseries beginning Dec. 14 – turn out to be a very mixed bag for their underling humans. On the one hand, the aliens’ presumed benevolence ushers in a utopian era of peace and prosperity where armed conflict and atomic warfare are effectively abolished, and no person goes hungry or suffers illness long. On the other hand, the Overlords’ munificence generates intellectual sloth and cultural stagnation. To some, abandoning free will and flushing centuries of human accomplishments down the loo poses benefits far outweighing the costs. To others, it means sacrificing all that it really means to be human. Additionally, the Overlord “Supervisor” Karellen issues an edict – similar to the warning given Pandora by Zeus about opening a box – prohibiting humans from exploring space, which places profound limitations on human free-will.

According to Clarke, the trade-off is precursor to the next step of human evolution, rendering corporeal existence and Earth itself moot on the path to attaining a higher plane of being for ensuing generations. Humankind has to persevere, however, through the perils of the Atomic Age first, and the only way to avert a nuclear war is through intervention of the Overlords. However, as Clarke shows us, even the Overlords are devoid of free will after they are eventually revealed as performing the bidding of the next layer of galactic bureaucracy, the Overmind. (more…)

trump-towerThe duty to respect individual property rights has been a part of the law since the Decalogue included the commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” But for just as long, governments have included an exception for the state in the form of “eminent domain.”

The term eminent domain was taken from the legal treatise by the Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius in 1625, which used the term dominium eminens (Latin for supreme lordship) and described the power as follows:

… The property of subjects is under the eminent domain of the state, so that the state or he who acts for it may use and even alienate and destroy such property, not only in the case of extreme necessity, in which even private persons have a right over the property of others, but for ends of public utility, to which ends those who founded civil society must be supposed to have intended that private ends should give way. But it is to be added that when this is done the state is bound to make good the loss to those who lose their property.

For most of U.S. history, the “ends of public utility” meant the government could take property to build highways and railroads. But in 2005 the Supreme Court ruled in Kelo v. City of New London that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified private redevelopment plans as a permissible “public use” under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

At the time, Acton president Rev. Robert Sirico said that, “In the Supreme Court’s “new” ownership society, the very safety and security of God-given, inalienable rights are threatened.” That has been the general position of most every conservative and libertarian since the unfortunate ruling was handed down. But there are some people who think taking private property and giving it to others for their private use is “wonderful.” People like Donald Trump.

Ellen Carmichael explains why Trump loves the Kelo decision and why he is wrong to support this misuse of government power:
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