Monday, July 18, 2011

A Citizen's First Defense Against Tyranny

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Over the years, I have had the good fortune to have met some interesting people, many of whom I considered to be mentors. Many of them probably never knew how much I had learned from them. Some were famous but many, many more were not but the lessons learned were just as important and, in many cases, more so.

Dick DeGuerin, a near legendary Houston-based defense attorney whom I knew briefly in Houston, TX, credited many people for having been his mentors. Those include, of course, lengendary trial lawyers --among them Percy Foreman with whom he worked for years. When 'Texas Monthly' interviewed DeGuerin, the famous lawyer underlined how important it is that all our citizens acquire an essential knowledge of those few documents that guarantee ---by law --our rights as people and citizens.
Times, took a kind of informal poll of people. He stood out on a corner and read various lines to people and asked them where it came from and if it was a valuable right, etc. A lot of people said “Well it must be the Communist Manifesto” or some radical writing or we don’t need that. What he was doing was just reading the Bill of Rights.

--Dick DeGuerin, Famous Defense Attorney as quoted in 'Texas Monthly'
Our 'rights' are guaranteed us in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights! They are not 'common law'; they were written down on paper, put before the people and ratified! They are the law! We must be vigilent in their defense as the laws themselves have protected us from those who would deny them. Until A. Scalia can undo them, the mountainous body of case law that affirms them and protects us from tyranny.

We must be vigilent. It is clear of late that the government must not be expected to think for us! Nor will the powerful lobbies on K-street restrain themselves. They are not paid to protect us. They are paid handsomely by wealthy special interests NOT to protect the rights guaranteed you in the Constitution; rather --they are paid to protect --not rights but privileges that are claimed by the increasingly rich and powerful ruling elite. This elite of just 1 percent of the total population owns more, controls more 'wealth' than the rest of us combined.

If you would be free, you must defend freedom for every citizen.
Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

--Eugene Debs, upon sentencing on November 18, 1918 to ten years in prison
Eugue Debs opposed U.S. entry into World War I but was arrested, jailed and sentenced for having opposed it in a speech. Free speech did not exist for Debs. But as he himself made clear, if anyone is denied free speech, if anyone is denied his/her freedom, WE are not free!

His sentence was appealed but upheld by the Supreme Court in a decision famous for a blatant fallacy, an obvious false analogy that would not be equaled until A. Scalia would join the court and reverse the laws of cause and effect! Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes likened Debs' opposition to the U. S. entry into WWI to '...yelling fire in a crowded theater' when there is no fire.

But ---there was a fire!

There was a clear and present danger then just as there is now --the 'clear and present danger' that is posed to every 'right' that is listed in the First Ten Amendements to the U.S. Constitution. Then as now, war --whether declared or undeclared, legitimate or no --seems always to be the convenient rationalization by which our very freedoms are or will be denied to us.
Tens of thousands of Americans are being held in super-maximum-security prisons where they are deprived of contact and psychologically destroyed. Undocumented workers are rounded up and vanish from their families for weeks or months. Militarized police units break down the doors of some 40,000 Americans a year and haul them away in the dead of night as if they were enemy combatants. Habeas corpus no longer exists.
American citizens can “legally” be assassinated. Illegal abductions, known euphemistically as “extraordinary rendition,” are a staple of the war on terror.
Secret evidence makes it impossible for the accused and their lawyers to see the charges against them. All this was experienced by the Argentines. Domestic violence, whether in the form of social unrest, riots or another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, would, I fear, see the brutal tools of empire cemented into place in the homeland. At that point we would embark on our own version of the Dirty War.

--Chris Hedges, America's Dissappeared
In Orwell's '1984' the institutional denial of all rights and, indeed, humanity itself is 'justified', rationalized and made 'the law' because of 'war', a perpetual state of war. In 1984, the war may have been a fiction maintained by government for the very purpose of enslaving the population. Likewise, a 'War on Terrorism' need never end! Thus --the government need only cite it to deny you every ratified right listed in the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

But --a citizen cannot defend those things about which he/she is ignorant. At the very least, a good citizen should be expected to have read the Bill of Rights --the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Every citizen should know what his/her rights are and should be prepared to quote them to your arresting officers and/or any 'judge' who would deny you those protections.