Quite a while back I wrote a short essay on this topic, inspired by a question posed by Jay Solo:
Do you expect the "reset button" to need to be used in our lifetimes? For the sake of a common number, let's define "our lifetimes" as the next fifty years. Hey, I could live that long, given my genes and medical technology.I left a comment there, and turned it into a post here.
I was recently discussing with someone the concept of the Second Amendment as the government's reset button. Ultimately a major reason it exists is so the populace cannot be prevented from being armed, or easily disarmed through registration or excess regulation for that matter, in case we must ever take back the government and start again if it gets out of hand or something akin to a coup happens and the imposters must be reckoned with.
It says that the government provides for the national defense, but we retain the right to self-defense, and to keep and bear the tools needed for that, including defense against the government if it ever turns its might inward or ceases to represent us at all. It's not a separate entity, after all. It's us. If it ceases to be us, it ceases to be in our control, it needs to be taken back into the fold.
Do you think this will ever be needed?
I've quoted Jefferson's letter to William Smith several times recently, but this part is the one I find most interesting:I then recounted the story of the Bixby family, of Greenwood, S.C. Son Steven Bixby shot and killed two Sheriff's deputies who came on to his property over a 20-foot easement taken under eminent domain law. I concluded my previous piece:
Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed. The past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.It seems, in the main, that we aren't informed at all, much less well. Lethargy? For the overwhelming majority, yes indeed.
Until it happens to you. Then you get pissed right quick, and wonder why nobody hears your side of the story.
I think a lot of people are getting fed up with ever-increasing government intrusion into our lives. With our ever-shrinking individual rights. More than one of Jay's respondents noted the apathy of the majority, though, and I agree. Government interferes lightly on a wholesale basis, but it does its really offensive intrusions strictly retail. So long as the majority gets its bread and circuses, it will remain content.
But not everyone.
Yes, these people were extreme. Killing two officers and then engaging in a gunfight with many more over 20 feet of property certainly is excessive.Yesterday, in a comment thread, I discussed the case of 72 year old Melvin Hale, who in 2000 shot Texas DPS trooper Randy Vetter to death when Vetter pulled him over for a seatbelt violation. Hale had stated previously that he would kill any officer who tried to cite him for not wearing a seatbelt. My correspondent "Adirian" stated about Hale, "Live free or die. He proves that some of us still mean it.". Hale pressed the "Reset" button, just like Steven Bixby did. As of 2005, Hale was still alive at 77, serving a life sentence for Vetter's murder.
But I don't think this is going to be an exceptional case as time goes on.
I think more and more individuals will be pressing the "RESET" button in the future.
With about the same effect.
So much for "live free or die."
Still, I stated back in 2003, almost five years ago, that I thought more people were going to find their own personal limits with respect to government overreach and press the "reset" button individually. Today over at Rodger's place I found the story of Stuart Alexander, "The Sausage King" of San Leandro, California. Mr. King murdered three meat inspectors, also in 2000, who, according to Rodger, were harassing Alexander until his limit was crossed. Under the view of surveillance cameras he himself installed, he shot three of the four inspectors, and pursued the fourth who escaped. Mr. King died of a pulmonary embolism while on Death Row.
In following that story, I found this Vin Suprynowicz column that collects a number of similar incidents in one place. Also included in his list are Carl Drega who in 1997 killed two police officers, a judge and a newspaper editor, and Garry DeWayne Watson who killed two city workers and wounded a police officer, also over an easement issue and also in 2000. Drega died in a police shootout. Watson killed himself.
Then there was Marvin Heemeyer of Granby, Colorado. He killed no one but himself, but he wreaked a lot of destruction with his armor-plated bulldozer in 2004. Heemeyer's rampage was also over property rights.
So here we have seven incidents in which individuals reached their own personal "line in the sand." Were they crazy, or were they just serious about defending their rights as they understood them against government intrusion? Most of them did, indeed, decide to "live free or die," but what did their acts accomplish? I'd never even heard of Melvin Hale until yesterday, or Stuart Alexander and Garry DeWayne Watson until today.
I repeated as the conclusion to my first post on the Supreme Court's Boumediene decision yesterday that "Claire Wolfe Time" passed us by long ago. For those few of you unfamiliar, Claire Wolfe's most famous quote is this:
America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.That's the opening line of her 1997 book 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution. But she was wrong, and Jefferson was right. We should have pressed the "reset" button often - had a mini-revolution somewhere in the country about every 20 years or so - just to keep our political masters reminded of who it was who holds (now held) the reins, but after the one big one from 1861 to 1865, our stomach for it was (understandably) gone.
And now it's too late. Instead of putting government back in its proper place, any overt organized resistance to government overreach generally results in government overkill these days.
In all, I think the normally pollyannish Peggy Noonan was right. There's tough history coming.
UPDATE: In a comment at Xavier's on the Melvin Hale incident, Oleg Volk writes:
This is a good reminder that ALL LAWS come down to the state's willingness to imprison or kill non-compliant people. Minimizing the sheer number of laws would reduce the number of conflicts people have with those who pass those laws and those who enforce them.I left a comment of my own that hasn't posted yet, but basically, "minimizing the sheer number of laws" isn't in the job description of lawmakers. When your only tool is a hammer, all your problems look like nails.