Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

Like Cinco de Mayo the use of '4th of July' as the colloquial substitute for the holiday has seen the meaning watered down. How much though I'm not able to tell.

Independence Day is my favorite holiday without exception. In my town I get up and go see the kids parade followed by the grand parade and then I go watch a pretty fair Revolutionary War reenactment at a local park. Where I live (Greater Seattle Metropolitan area) people still understand what Independence Day some degree. I'd imagine in the heartland this is even more true.

An example of misunderstanding Independence Day on a smaller scale come from when I remember hearing Rosie O'Donnel speak about the 2nd amendment. Before you read further don't think this is just some right-wing target practice on an overweight, lesbian blowhard...not everything Rosie says is insane.

Rosie said that she felt the 2nd Amendment wasn't really a right but instead was written for colonial times so that patriots could use their arms to protect themselves from the British. The quote is below:

"I think the Second Amendment is in the Constitution so that we can have muskets when the British people come over in 1800."
One of my great problems with this understanding of the 2nd Amendment is that it is a fundamental misunderstanding of the war for independence. When colonists took up arms against the British, they were taking up arms against their own country, not foreign occupiers. The war was against an unjust government that had placed taxes and restrictions on their lives without the proper representation in parliament to have their grievances heard. When these acts of tyranny were placed on the 13 colonies only force would result. Whether it be force from the government to collect taxes and enforce restrictions or force on the part of the colonists to throw back the oppression.

I could bore you with tons of quotes from the Federalist Papers on the original intent of the 2nd amendment. The consensus among the founding fathers was that the protection of free individuals was their own responsibility. This protection was against any government that raised a standing militia against its people.

Incidentally if you remember the Clinton administration's liberal use of standing militias against the people (DEA, ATF, NSA, et al) you'll understand the proper use of the 2nd amendment.

The misunderstanding of this amendment and many others comes from a misunderstanding of Independence Day. When we call it the 4th of July I wonder how much of the meaning is lost over time to newer generations responsible for upholding the freedoms we are supposedly guaranteed. I quote the late Harry Browne:

Most of us care only about the rights and freedoms that affect our own lives. People who don’t own guns can easily believe that reducing gun ownership will save lives without inconveniencing them in any way. Politicians are particularly prone to this attitude. Most of them work in buildings with heavy security; many of them have armed chauffeurs and armed escorts. So they don’t feel imposed upon when restrictive gun laws prevent average citizens from defending themselves.

All of our rights come with risks and when abused can cause serious problems. In the long run protecting all of our rights (even the ones we aren't' currently using) will protect the ones we use and protect our liberty. So let the 4th of July come and go but celebrate Independence everyday.


robert the grump said...

Well said, except for the part where you infer that it's constitutional for nutbag cultists to hoard weapons and shoot it out with the FBI.

That's illegal even in Texas.

Gino said...

actually, it is constitutional. and the reason for the 2nd ammendment.

one reason, of cousre, is to protect the first ammendment right to belong to a nutbag religion.

Gino said...

tracy: i like this peice.
can i c/p and put my name on it? ;)

Ronald said...

What we know about the branch Davidians makes them indefensible but I do remember all of the raids that different agencies performed on American citizens when state law or courts should have prevailed. I don't support Bush but a return to that police state mentality of the Clinton years is just as unthinkable

Esther said...

Good post! Thanks for reminding us of the meaning of Independence Day.

Yay, I'm not the only one who reads the Federalist Papers!

Tracy said...

The 2nd Amendment was not designed to be a way for US citizens to overthrow their government. Instead ALL OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS were designed to keep Government in its proper place to prevent the need for overthrowing. A powerful government cannot overpower an armed citizenry.

George Mason and Thomas Jefferson wrote at length regarding the need for violent revolutions. I'm not even proposing we be THAT bold.

Gino, feel free to steal it...I care not who gets credit.