Saturday, February 27, 2010

R3volution: Liberty First!

What are rights? If you have to ask permission from someone, it's not a right. If only some people are given a pass on an issue, it's not a right. A right accrues to you as a person, and must be exercised wherever you are, regardless of what others might think or do.

In the United States, our natural rights to life, liberty and property are proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, and they are protected in the Constitution. But the Constitution does not "give" us our rights. Rather it forbids the federal government from violating them. Specific rights are described in the Bill of Rights--the first ten amendments to the Constitution--but the 9th and 10th amendments make it clear that our rights are unenumerable, whereas the privileges we grant the federal government are enumerated and circumscribed. And since the Constitutions of all of the several states also pledge to protect the natural rights of every citizen, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights apply in every state.

Every government functionary, from every branch of federal government, state government, and the military, swears an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. These people have no obligation or loyalty to any politician, any other government official or any other person. Their sole obligation is to the Constitution of the United States, and their function is always to defer to and protect the rights of the citizens of the United States for whom they work. This means that every senator, representative, military person, sheriff, lawyer or police officer is obligated to uphold every provision of the United States Constitution. This is one of the ways in which that document serves to protect our rights. (Please check out Oathkeepers and No Sheriff Left Behind to see how the military and our peace officers can do their office and protect our rights).

But we only have the rights we assert are ours. If we allow the violation of our rights, if we ask permission to exercise our rights, we have abdicated them. Our rights travel with us wherever we go. As Michael Badnarik says in "It's Good to be King!", our rights exist wherever our feet land. Therefore, if we are to reverse the terrible violation of our rights in the growing police state in the United States, it is important to exercise our rights, even when it is inconvenient to do so. We must do so politely and firmly, without iniation of force against anyone (which is a violation of the rights of others), but we must do it.

The other day the Liberty Kids, traveling in New Orleans as part of the Southern Tour of Operation Defuse (in conjunction with the Liberty Restoration Project and Texans for Responsible Government), encountered a potential violation of their rights when their car was pulled over on suspicion of a traffic violation. The officer asked for the ID's of everyone in the car, including passengers. Only the driver, since he has signed a contract by obtaining a driver's license and is driving on public roads, is required to show his license. All others are not required except when the officer can cite a probable cause that each has personally violated the law. (There is no collective responsibility for any crime in the United States. That would be a violation of individual rights).

One of the Liberty Kids, Catherine 'Conintelpro' Bleish, refused to give over her ID thus asserting her rights. She politely requested to be informed of what crime the officer was accusing her of, and she also informed the officer that the whole encounter was being streamed live on the web through three different computers in the car. The whole episode may be viewed at Qik, here.

In watching--or more accurately listening, it was dark--two aspects of the encounter were especially interesting. The first was that the officer was uninformed about the Constitutional rights of the passengers in the car. He called for extreme back-up--6 squad cars--and tried to tell Catherine that it was not necessary for her to stream the encounter. She replied that on the contrary, it was "very necesssary" and continued to stream. This alerted the grassroots of the R3volution movement. The second was that it became somewhat of a standoff when Catherine requested that the officer show her the law. Because between the live streaming and Twitter, the R3volution grassroots who were monitering Qik and Twitter, quickly pulled up the relevant Louisiana Statute and case law and the Liberty Kids had all the information before the police did.

The Liberty kids also cited the Fourth Amendment:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, Shall not be Violated, and no Warrents shall Issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or Affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The officer refused to listen to the citation of the Constitution that he was sworn to uphold, walking away, probably because he was unable to bully the Liberty Kids.

Of course, the Liberty Kids driver got a ticket, and the whole stand-off took about forty minutes. But as the cop walked away, the Liberty Kids wished him a good night, told him that he served a beautiful city, and then called out "Liberty First!" The cops pulled away, "tails between their legs" according to John Bush, Texas Libertarian.

Liberty First! It means taking the time to assert our rights, to act as free human beings, to politely the forcefully demand that our public servants understand their duty to the Constitution.

Liberty First! It means that all of us should carry a United States Constitution and the Constitutions of our respective states in the glove box with the registration information. We should politely assert our rights in any encounters with our servants, the peace officers. They have forgotten that their duty is not "to arrest and detain", rather it is to "protect and serve." Protect our rights and serve us. It is our duty as their employers to educate them so that they understand that they are to be Peace Officers, not law-enforcement. The Engineering Geek and I plan to carry extra copies to give to the officers upon any such encounter.

Liberty First! It means that we all should equip ourselves to photograph and record every encounter with our public servants, so that we have a record of what happened. When they know they are being recorded, they will be more likely to remember their place and their duty, even if they have never read the Constitution they have sworn to uphold. If we can live stream or twitter with the grassroots, so much the better. Transparency is more than a political campaign promise, easily violated. It is our protection against a police state.

Liberty First! Foremost! And always!

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