Dagdha's Blog

Independence Day

Posted in Uncategorized by dagdha on July 4, 2012

Names, like any words, are powerful. Unlike most nouns, names are unique in that they are consciously chosen in order that the named might embody the name, and not the other way around as is most often the case with improper nouns. Parents give their sons strong names and their daughters beautiful names in hope that they will embody socially ideal characteristics, or in some way emulate their namesakes. But names are not always given altruistically, and they can misguide people into believing the wildest mythologies, like Independence Day and the belief that our country was founded on principles of freedom.

Before I continue however, take a moment and consider the meaning of “free” and it’s bastardized substantive “freedom.” The former, at least for me, evokes a sense of a lightness and purity of thought, speech, and action, whereas the latter immediately introduces an (often civic) oppressor. With all of the rules that you are forced to obey, are you really free or simply allowed a greater degree of freedom than people under more oppressive regimes? And are we really? Or has a lack of education and overabundance of distraction created that illusion? I’m not going to answer these questions with my opinions. It’s merely important that they are asked.

Ask 100 people in this country why the pilgrims fled to North America, and 99 of them will tell you they sought freedom of religion, but this is dastardly untrue. The puritans sought the freedom to practice religion as they wished, that is true, but they left enraged by the relaxed religious freedoms of England. They saw deviations from Biblical law as abominable, and they wanted the freedom to persecute the sinful. So they packed up and moved to bumfuck nowhere to do as they pleased, much like the fundamentalist Mormons who still practice polygamy. And once they got here (the pilgrims, not the Mormons), the violence never stopped. They justified Native American genocide through a guise of proselytizing and religiosity. Alongside these atrocities were the Salem Witch Trials, also led by religious fanaticism and intolerable violence, and the Atlantic slave trade, the repercussions of which are still vividly apparent three centuries later. And these are only three of the most infamous examples in early American history. But little has changed. Wars are still being fought on domestic and foreign soil for religious ideals (Bush’s “war on terror”), supported for the exact opposite ideals that America claims as its foundation. Yet people still believe the same rhetorical bullshit bought decades ago, before computers and unlimited access to information and international perspectives.

Unfortunately our Constitution has been rendered meaningless, at least if read in it’s original form.  Just look at the Bill of Rights:

  • 1 – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  This shouldn’t need any commentary. Look at the abuses against Occupy Wall Street, the treatment of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, and countless recent examples. Or open a book and look at the McCarthy era. Freedom of speech? Only if it doesn’t challenge the lies of those in charge. Truth is universal, so why should it ever feel challenged? 
  • 2 – “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”   …as long as those arms aren’t bigger than what the government has. And guns conveniently help with the Poor problem. 
  • 3 – “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.” I could try to argue that our taxes pay for an obscenely large defense budget, thereby diminishing our affordable quality of life, but I respect our soldiers too much and know they get the short end of the stick anyway. So I’ll concede 1 of 3 so far…
  • 4 – “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 warrants 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.” Two words: Patriot Act. That took care of those pesky warrants with a convenient excuse of “probable terror.” And our forefathers didn’t have computers, so of course this doesn’t apply to any digital information, content or copyright. Silly people, those rights belong to the other People, also known as corporations.
  • 5 – “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” The clause about double jeopardy has probably held up the best in this one. Again the Patriot Act, and now the NDAA and others, remove the nuisance of a trial by jury. And the rights to life, liberty, or property? The Federal Reserve and other private banks own those rights now. 
  • 6 – “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” See #5. 
  • 7 – “In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.” To clarify, John Adams explained: “As the Constitution requires that the popular branch of the legislature should have an absolute check, so as to put a peremptory negative upon every act of the government, it requires that the common people, should have as complete a control, as decisive a negative, in every judgment of a court of judicature.” I have no criticisms, but I am poorly versed in common law cases.
  • 8 – “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” I’m not sure what constituted ‘excessive’ when this was written, but a half day’s wages for not moving a vehicle in front of my home before the sun is fully up, on top of the taxes I already pay on those wages, seems a little fucking excessive, especially when those taxes don’t even go towards cleaning the same damn spot.
  • 9 – “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” LOLLMAOOMGROFLCOPTER.
  • 10 –The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Medical marijuana. Not going to elaborate because you either understand the severity of gross misunderstanding where prohibition is concerned, or you’re a naive twat.

So many amendments have been made and precedents set, that the original simplicity of our Constitution has been lost. It was intended to be understood by the people, the foundation of democracy. Democracy literally means “Rule of the People” (δῆμος+κρατία), not “Rule for the people.” If our country was truly a democracy, and not a wealth-owning polyarchy, then why is our system of government so difficult to understand? The willfully ignorant aside, no one understands our laws, at least not in the way we understand mathematics and scientific law. Civil law is based entirely on logic games and rhetoric that is difficult to master, so how can you even begin to presume that we have anything close to true democracy?

I will always admit that I know relatively little about everything, but one unassailable truth I have never seen challenged is the relationship between genius and simplicity. So is it possible that we are led by fools, or if not fools, at least people no more intelligent than you or me? Kurt Vonnegut once mused that there’s nothing more terrifying than growing up to see your classmates run the country.

And don’t tell me that it’s the size of the country that makes it impossible to understand holistically. Of course loose analogies are needed to understand vast systems, but I can conceptually understand M-Theory and psycholinguistics without having taken calculus or psychology, so should our government be any different? Yes, I’m being tiresome and over simplistic, but that seems to be the lowest common denominator for the vast majority of our country’s population, or at least the ones I’m surrounded by, and it’s driving me fucking mad. It’s like watching a perpetual loop of painful dramatic irony written for reality television.

If I come off as spitefully unpatriotic, then go read a few essays by Thomas Jefferson, who encouraged challenging government for the sake of honesty. But please, do not misinterpret my sentiments. I love my country dearly, just as a parent still loves his prodigal son or daughter, and I want to be proud of my country. I want to believe in the mythology that was sold to me in elementary school history books about a nation run by selfless heroes and eager adventurers, but I refuse to ignore a decrepit legacy in favor of a shiny, but thinning, veneer.

I feel I am veering into the familiar and formulaic territory of a gregarious rant, so I’ll end with a couplet from my favorite Independence Day song, “You got to know the truth, before you say that you got pride.”

 

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