The health care debate has catalyzed a wonderful national clash of cultures centering on freedom versus control. Here’s one example that’s both complex and delightful.
Progressive site TalkingPointsMemo ran a story yesterday about a man named “Chris” who carried a rifle outside an event in Phoenix at which President Obama appeared. “We will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote,” Chris said.
To many TPM readers, this kind of thing is self-evidently shocking and wrong: Carrying a weapon is inherently threatening, Second Amendment notwithstanding. And vowing to resist the properly expressed will of the majority—isn’t that an outrageous denial of our democratic values?
Well, … No. Our constitution specifically denies force to democratic outcomes that impinge on freedom of speech and religion, on bearing arms, and on the security of our persons, houses, papers, and effects, to name a few. Our constitution also tightly circumscribed the powers of the federal government. Those restrictions were breached without abiding the supermajority requirements of Article V, alas.
There are many nuances in this clash of cultures, and it’s fascinating to watch the battle for credibility. One ugly issue is preempted rather handily by the fact that Chris is African-American.
Next question, taken up by CNN: Was the interview staged? Hell, yeah! says Chris’ interviewer. And they know each other—big deal.
Finally, they were laughing and having a good time. Isn’t this serious? Yes, it is serious, says Chris’ interviewer, but “If you’re not having fun advocating for freedom, you’re doing it wrong!”
It’s a great line—friendly, in-your-face advocacy that might just succeed in familiarizing more Americans with the idea of living as truly free people.
Today Talking Points Memo is charging that the man who interviewed Chris was a prominent defender of a militia group in the 90s, some members of which were convicted of crimes. I know nothing of the truth or falsity of this charge, and I had never heard of the militia group, the interviewer, or his organization before today.
This struggle over credibility is all part of the battle between freedom and control that is playing itself out right now. It’s an exciting time, and a chance for many more Americans to learn about liberty and the people who live it.