Costumed Beggars vs. Costumed Bullies: Which are Worse?

by Will

Liberty Minute July 31 2014

New York’s Times Square is in habited with costumed characters who pose for photos with tourists in exchange for tips. These street performers have no way to compel people to pay them.

The street performers are outnumbered by another costumed troupe called police officers; they routinely issue citations to people accused of committing trivial infractions of ordinances that have little if any connection to the protection of persons or property. Unlike the costumed street performers, however, police do issue demands for payment and will track down and use violence against people who refuse those demands.

Recently a New York cop confronted a street performer named Junior Bishop, who was dressed as Spiderman. Bishop was supposedly “shaking down tourists for cash” – although witnesses say he was politely asking for tips. When the officer tried to arrest Bishop, the performer was compliant – until, witnesses said, the officer went for his throat. Given the recent death of Eric Garner following an NYPD chokehold, Bishop understandably was in fear for his life, so he fought back.

Cops and their media allies described Bishop as a “beggar.” His fellow performers insist that the officer is a bully. Assuming that both descriptions are accurate, which is a greater potential threat to the public?

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Public Safety Isn't a Law Enforcement Priority

by Will

Liberty Minute July 30 2014

Whenever a police officer detains a citizen, officer safety is the highest consideration. When the citizen is injured or killed without justification, officer safety and institutional protection for the agency employing him trump full and timely disclosure of the facts. This is borne out by the actions of the Missouri Highway Patrol following the death of 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson.

Ellingson drowned while handcuffed on May 31 after being arrested by Trooper Anthony Piercy on suspicion of boating while intoxicated. Ellingson, who was in a life vest with his hands cuffed behind his back, fell out of the trooper’s boat. His specially designed vest somehow came off in the water. Repeated attempts to rescue him were unsuccessful. His body was found the following morning.

Defying that state’s Sunshine Law, the Missouri Highway Patrol has refused to honor public records requests, insisting that the investigation isn’t complete. However, Trooper Piercy has been returned to duty following a brief paid vacation – also known as administrative leave. That development suggests that either Piercy has been cleared of suspected wrongdoing, or that his department has no problem with allowing a homicide suspect to carry a gun and badge and exercise custodial control over other suspects.

Far too often, public safety is last on the list of law enforcement priorities.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

A Century Ago, the Gates of Hell Were Opened

by Will

Liberty Minute July 29 2014

One hundred years ago, the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a member of a Serbian nationalist group triggered a series of diplomatic ultimatums that eventually led to World War I. Combatants on both sides of that conflict went giddily off to war in the mistaken confidence that the affair would be brief and glorious.

More than four years of unfathomable bloodshed and barbarism later, Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire were in ruins, a generation of young men was destroyed, and several murderous ideologies – Communism, various forms of militant nationalism, and politicized Islam – were unleashed on the world. A vindictive victor’s peace through the Versailles Treaty reduced Germany to starvation, thereby cultivating and nurturing the seeds that would blossom into National Socialism.

America’s improvident entry into that war was hastened by Germany’s sinking of the Lusitania, a passenger ship that crossed a blockade carrying war material bound for England. Both the British and US governments, which had sent the Lusitania as a deliberate provocation, shared culpability with Germany for that act.

If the US had stayed aloof from the war, a negotiated settlement may have been achieved. But then, as now, ambitious people in exalted posts craved warfare and worked to inflame tensions, rather than abating them.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

A Dictator Blames the Refugees for Fleeing

by Will

Liberty Minute July 28 2014

James Madison, recognized as the chief Framer of the US Constitution, explained in Federalist essay number 10 that the constitutional republic he envisioned would encourage political and economic competition among states. The assumption was that states that were congenial to freedom –including economic freedom – would attract a larger population of productive people. This would enhance that state’s prosperity, and encourage other states to adopt similar policies – or pay the economic costs associated with a more oppressive government.

The original concept of “economic patriotism,” in brief, is the idea that government should be prevented from stifling prosperity. Barack Obama, who famously criticized the Constitution for failing to mandate economic redistribution, has inverted the expression “economic patriotism” by describing it as a willingness to submit to whatever regulatory and tax burdens the central government deems appropriate.

In a speech before a partisan crowd in Los Angeles, Obama condemned US corporations for a practice called “inversion” in which they shift their tax domiciles to other countries with less draconian tax rates. Such businesses, insisted Obama, are “corporate deserters.”

Obama, who is a socialist down to his corpuscles, sees the flight of productive people to foreign shores as an indictment of the refugees, rather than of his own increasingly despotic government.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Scouts Receive "Civics Lesson" in American Totalitarianism

by Will

Liberty Minute July 23 2014

Visitors to the former Soviet Union were frequently admonished not to take photographs of buildings and government personnel, out of fear of attracting the attention of the secret police. The danger was particularly acute when entering or leaving East Germany, where border guards stationed at the Berlin Wall checkpoints were very aggressive and entirely capable of killing people on the spot for trivial infractions.

The same is true while crossing the border between South Korea and Communist North Korea – or crossing into and out of the United States of America.

A Boy Scout troop from Des Moines, Iowa traveling to Alaska was detained  after one of the Scouts photographed a border guard. Without legal authority, the guard confiscated the young man’s camera and threatened to arrest him, claiming he faced a $10,000 fine and ten years in prison. The agents demanded to search the troop’s vehicle. As one Scout moved to comply, he was threatened by an agent who drew his pistol and pointed it at the teenager’s head.

After being detained without legal cause for four hours, the troop was allowed on its way.

One Scout leader described this incident as a “civics lesson.” It is, in the sense that it shows how closely the US government resembles its totalitarian ancestors.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Marijuana Prohibition Kills Children

by Will

Liberty Minute July 22 2014

Anna Conte of Albany, New York died at the age of nine, a casualty of the bureaucratized cruelty and misguided sanctimony of drug prohibition.

Desperate to get relief for their daughter, Anna’s mother and father had traveled across the country to Colorado, exploring the possibility of moving there in order to have access to cannabis oil.

A few weeks ago, the New York State Legislature enacted a measure allowing the use of medical marijuana to treat afflictions such as the severe form of epilepsy from which Anna suffered. For reasons of institutional inertia, however, that measure won’t take effect until late next year.

At the time the bill was enacted, Anna was in the audience at the state capitol, and she was reportedly the first to leap to her feet to applaud. This was a selfless gesture of gratitude on behalf of other children who may benefit once the new law goes into effect. Both Anna and her mother Wendy knew that by the time the youngster was given unimpeded access to cannabis oil it would be far too late.

Because of marijuana prohibition, Wendy Conte could do little more than watch her daughter slowly die in avoidable agony.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

"This Ends Today": So the Police Murdered Him

by Will

Liberty Minute July 21 2014

Eric Garner was killed by the police on the streets of Staten Island, New York for no defensible reason. The 48-year-old father of six and grandfather to two had just broken up a fight when plainclothes officers appeared and started to harass him.

Garner, who was six foot three and more than 350 pounds, was a gentle and genial man, but he was weary of being the focus of unwarranted attention by the police. He had court dates later this year for charges of marijuana possession and selling untaxed cigarettes – but on the day that he was killed Garner had done nothing whatsoever to justify being interrogated by the police, let alone arrested.

The first fatal mistake Garner made was to act as a peacemaker, thereby underscoring the uselessness of the nearby police – who were on hand not to protect people and property, but to rather to pester people engaged in unauthorized commerce. Garner’s second mistake was to complain to an officer about the harassment he was receiving, and to declare: “This ends today.”

Within minutes, five police officers attacked him, one of them slipping behind him to apply an illegal chokehold. Garner died of cardiac arrest after being strangled and beaten in full public view.

This is a country where atrocities of this kind occur daily.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.

Drug Commissar gets his "Rush" from Imprisoning Others Who Seek One

by Will

Liberty Minute July 18 2014

What a rush!” exulted Idaho resident Monte Stiles after completing his first tandem skydive on July 10. That description was not metaphorical: The chemical reactions involved in skydiving and similar high-risk activities have a consciousness-altering effect – and addictive properties — far stronger than narcotics use. In fact, this is a selling point for those who promote, and profit from, this high-risk behavior.

“Fear is an incredibly strong emotion,” explains Dr. Michael Davis, a neuroscientist at Emory University. “If something scares us, the body immediately releases endorphins, dopamine and norepinephrine. Endorphins mitigate pain, dopamine and norepinephrine are performance enhancers…. [The] general scientific thinking is that the more fearful a certain sport makes you, the greater the release of these chemicals. The greater the release of these chemicals, the greater the addiction-like symptoms.”

Psychology Today points out that “cocaine—long considered the most addictive substance on earth—does nothing more than flood the brain with dopamine. Norepinephrine, on the other hand, mimics the second most addictive drug on earth: speed. Nor are our neurochemicals one to one matches for these illicit drugs. In fact, they’re significantly more powerful. The most common endorphin produces by the body is 100 times more powerful (thus more addictive) than morphine. Which is to say, the particular neurochemicals produced by action sports are far more potent than any drug single drug around and—since one cannot cocktail massive amounts of speed, cocaine, and heroin without ending up dead—adrenaline sports are really the only way to get this kind of taste.” (Emphasis added.)

Monte Stiles is a mature adult. Like every other human being, he is – or at least should be – recognized as the owner of his life, and free to seek out the services of those who are willing to provide him with the consciousness-altering “rush” he can only get through such risky behavior. Servicing that appetite is an expensive proposition, but this isn’t an obstacle to Stiles: The former federal prosecutor, who spent roughly a quarter-century imprisoning people who pursued a “rush” through the less potent means of narcotics consumption, enjoys a lavish pension and steady income as a full-time anti-drug agitator.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Britain's Cultural Totalitarianism

by Will

Liberty Minute July 17 2014

Great Britain, once renowned as the Mother of Parliaments and the homeland of the Anglo-Saxon tradition of liberty under law, is now a fully realized post-Christian society ruled by undisguised cultural totalitarians.

The British Film Institute, which disburses tens of millions of dollars each year for movie productions, has announced a scheme of mandatory “diversity” called “Three Ticks.” To qualify for government funding, film productions must meet bureaucratic expectations for at least two of the three criteria – on-screen diversity, off-screen diversity, and “creating opportunities and social mobility.” In practice, reports the Telegraph of London, this means quotas “for ethnic minority, gay and female characters on screen” and also regarding the composition of the production crew behind the camera.

Ed Vaizey, the British Government’s culture minister – yes, there is such a position – has said that he wants to see all television, film, and performing arts companies subject to the same requirements.

It should be remembered that “Airstrip One,” the setting for the dismal totalitarian society depicted by George Orwell, had once been known as Great Britain. Nor should we fail to appreciate the fact that the United States tends to lag only a year or two behind the Mother County when such dreadful innovations occur.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.

Again, Thou Shalt Speak No Ill of the Dear Leader

by Will

Liberty Minute July 16 2014

Within the US Department of Justice is an entity called the Community Relations Service, or CRS, that supposedly works to pacify potential conflicts growing out of racial tensions. Under the reign of Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, however, the CRS has behaved like an arsonist, rather than a firefighter. Witness the agency’s role in organizing racially inflammatory protests in Sanford, Florida in response to the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.

The CRS has now dispatched a team to investigate an Independence Day parade float in Norfolk, Nebraska that offended local Democrats. The float displayed a zombie-like figure in front of an outhouse that was labeled “Obama Presidential Library.”

Although critics described the float as a racial slur, its creator, a US military veteran, said that the figure was intended to represent him, as well as fellow veterans who have been criminally neglected by the Veterans Administration.

Last year, the Justice Department contemplated hate crimes charges against a Rodeo Clown in Missouri who performed while wearing an Obama mask. The performer was fired and his professional association was required to undergo “sensitivity training.”

Only a totalitarian system punishes subjects for speaking ill of their rulers.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

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