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On Freedom of Speech in the United States

Perhaps one of the most enduring things where the United States is concerned is its founding documents.

Many have called, for example, the United States Constitution all but—if not—a miraculous document.

I’m not entirely sure I would go that far. What I would say, however, is that the Constitution is in many ways a marvelous work, worthy of study and consideration.

This includes most certainly, the Bill of Rights (though in my view, not necessarily all of the amendments that followed). Take the First Amendment as an example. I would venture that many don’t realize just how concise it is. In its entirety, that enumerated right says:

Amendment I. 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.

Overall, it’s literally amazing how concise and to the point was the penning of this text. It probably shouldn’t be so amazing, but in the modern day, so many people run about doing and saying things without giving them the time and consideration they deserve. The result is obvious, besides that many perpetually trot about with egg on their collective faces, many corrections and retractions must occur.

You might’ve guessed that I brought up this amendment to the Constitution for another cause. If you did, you can count yourself either sufficiently astute to have picked up on what I was doing, or perhaps somebody who knows my writing style well enough to realize this is the case. Obviously, there are other possibilities, but those seem to me to be the most likely.

With that being said though, let’s get on with it!

It doesn’t take a genius to look at the First Amendment’s text and come to certain conclusions about its intent. To begin with, the first words of this wonderful gem are “Congress shall make no laws…” So the intent of this text, was not to place any restriction on any entity but Congress, and that by the way, the Federal Congress. Anybody making the assumption or coming to the conclusion that this text was intended to place restrictions on any entity but the Federal Congress, would be incorrect.

I like to think that, though this is the case, both “subordinate” governmental entities (I quote subordinate because that is not a true or fair description of the entities in question, but that is a matter for another article), and the people of the United States in general hold similar values where it’s reasonable for them so to do. Though I like to believe that such is the case, there is no requirement in the United States Constitution for them to do so.

Further, there are more than a few instances where governments, companies and other bodies, and individuals do not support the idea of freedom of speech.

You want an example? As a former member of the United States Air Force I, like many of my peers, superiors and subordinates, had a security clearance. I’ll not go into detail on the level of that clearance or the extent to which I “used” it. What I will do, is make something crystal clear to those never having had a clearance, and reiterate to those who did or do, something considered of grave importance with regard to it.

At some point along the way (in actuality at multiple points), it was made very well understood by me, that I was not to divulge information gained as that was marked as classified in some manner after having been allowed access to it. There were limitations in place that made it so I and others like me, could pass the information in question only to those authorized to receive it, who could be positively identified, and who had a need to know. You may not like that or agree with it, but that is the reality of the agreement I—and if you had or have a clearance—you made.

Were I to choose to release any of that information without approval, I should be aware—as should others—that the result of such a release may be consequences that are far from desirable. Like it or not, that is a restriction on my (and your) freedom of speech.

Want an example that is likely more meaningful to more people? If, like me, you work in a field where information is a commodity that cannot always be shared without damage occurring to the entity for whom I work, you likely signed a “non-disclosure, non-compete agreement” with that entity. In so doing, you indicated that you would keep certain proprietary information, well proprietary, not to put too fine a point on it.

Keep in mind too, that as a former member of the U.S. Military, I was forbidden to do things like, protest while in uniform. And many businesses and other entities have similar requirements as conditions of continued employment.

It’s not so much that you cannot breach confidentiality agreements or codes of conduct, it’s more that in doing so, there will almost certainly be consequences.

One of the “hot topics” of the present day, is whether National Football League players have the “right to” protest, by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem of the United States.

The first and foremost thing that must be said about this is, “It is not a ‘First Amendment issue.’” Wether they do or do not choose to protest during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner has not one blessed thing to do with the Government (really at any level).

It does, however, have to do with the contractual obligations to which players have obliged themselves. As I understand it, as players in the NFL, those individuals are obliged to:

  1. Be on the field at the playing of the National Anthem
  2. Be standing as a sign of respect when it is played

I’m sure there are exceptions to these “rules.” I’m equally sure most of the “protestors” are likely not excepted individuals.

To be clear, this is about meeting the expectations of agreements to which players have assented, not the First Amendment to the Constitution.

As for me? I have no “dog in this fight.” I pay as little attention to professional sports as I’m able to. They neither interest me, nor do I find a compelling reason to support them.

Far too much of the time, a bunch of entitled brats go out and throw around balls like they’re something special. Then sadly, their stars “fade into the distance.” The result is a lot of often broke, entitled individuals who think I should be paying them mind for some reason. Forgive me for refusing to support that.

That’s my “two cents” and you’re welcome to it.

Okay, having slightly exceeded my “desired word count.” Permit me now to wish you the best of days, and thank you for your attention to my drivel.

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My Own of Course — Whose Ideas Do You Support?

I have to be entirely honest, I have zero idea how much of the time I sound big headed, conceited, whatever you choose to call it.

It’s not so much that I don’t care, as that:

  1. I’m pretty well convinced that people will assume you’re conceited for nothing more than that you disagree with their “obviously correct” premise(s).
  2. I try to do regular self-examination, to ensure that I am where I feel I need to be. Where the places I feel I need to find myself, may appear to be big headed ones to others can not be a matter of great concern to me.

I not super recently, but recently nonetheless responded to a family member, that one of the most important things I can imagine keeping as a “basis for life,” is being true to your beliefs and understandings. That’s not to say you’re always correct, but that until you’re shown to be wrong about something, it’s rather silly to not continue to hold with that something.

One of the better parts of this approach to life is, though it’s not always the case, most of the time, if you hold to things that are not true and live according to those things, you will be shown—often in quite short order—the error in your perspective.

One of the results of this, is that I have “crashed and burned” enough to make it so I am very careful about what I will and will not support.

The above is really intended as an “introduction” to that which this article actually addresses.

Call me crazy, but I have noticed that most folks spend very little time thinking for themselves. Rather, most folks see things with which they resonate and fail to critically analyze what’s being said, to decide for their own benefit (and the benefit and wellbeing of others), whether the things they’re supporting are true or correct.

I have some pretty good ideas why this is the case, but obviously, I can be wrong about such things. Here is a “quick and dirty” list of some of the major reasons I believe folks “let others think for them:”

  1. A perceived lack of intelligence
  2. A perceived lack of ability
  3. A perceived lack of experience
  4. A perceived lack of wisdom
  5. A perceived wealth of any or all of the above on the part of some other individual
  6. Guilt

So what’s the problem with allowing others to tell you what you ought to think without concerning yourself with the rectitude of what that other (or those others) have to say?

Years ago (around seventy, if not more), there were many German soldiers who were given an answer essentially, this very same question. The answer was, “I was just following orders is not a valid defense or excuse.”

Put another way, just because you got your answers for things from someone or some ones, who seemed to be smarter, more able, more experienced or wiser than you; or because you chose an answer that was incorrect—though it helped to assuage or cause somewhat to abate your guilt, does not make your choice correct. To be clear, I’m not saying it makes your choice inherently incorrect either, just that you have no way of being even remotely sure if you don’t take the time to think things through for yourself.

A person can certainly argue for the likely rectitude of the answer of someone who appears more able in some sense, but in doing so, that person has essentially assented to that person’s choices, correct or incorrect. Put another way, your decision that someone is, in some wise, more able to make a choice or come to a conclusion about something, is no less making that choice yourself.

It may be a good place to start—looking at what others have said about a particular thing or situation and using that as a basis for your own consideration—but it is not a good place to end.

Whatever you may think, and whatever you may have been told to the contrary, your choices are yours, and that’s regardless that they’re based on the supposed intelligence or consideration of someone else.

Yes, I know it can be difficult to take the time and effort to really understand things. I know too, that at times, your “research” may not be as good as the work of others.

No, I am not telling you that you must ignore the work of others, in which they have invested time, energy, intelligence, experience, wisdom and potentially so much more.

About now, maybe you’re wondering exactly what it is I am saying. Let me see if I can clarify.

When you blindly accept the statements or considerations of others as valid or correct, you are placing your “personal stamp of approval” on those statements or considerations. Whatever you may think about that, doing so means you are adopting or accepting the ideas behind them.

I urge you to take care to not accept the ideas of others blindly. I ask that, instead, you take the time to consider what it is you’re anticipating accepting. Put it “under the microscope.” Really think about it. Look for flaws in what you’re getting ready to incorporate into your worldview.

In Nazi Germany and the USSR (and China, and Cuba, and North Korea, and Iran among others) things were allowed or accepted as facts by far too many folks that should never have been. Oh, to the folks in question at the time, they sound good and solid. Now ask those folks (or those still around to talk about it, or read what they have said) if they would make the same choices today that they made in the past.

I would be so bold as to venture that many would not do so.

The conclusion of this article can be summed up in a fairly simple way. Think for yourself. Do not allow yourself to be swayed by things that sound good. Decide for yourself what is correct and incorrect.

Yet again, I’m just over my “self imposed” word count. That being the case, allow me to wish you a good day and thank you for reading.

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The Result of Riots

Here’s the reality. Someone did something bad or wrong, you’re upset (maybe irate). That is understandable.

Let’s look at how one responds though. Allow me to present a simple scenario. Your daughter fails a critical test, how do you respond? Do you deal with your daughter, or do you spank and ground some kid you see at random on the street? Am I wrong in assuming the answer to this question seems obvious?

Many years ago, it was fairly common for young royals to have “whipping boys.” These were people who were punished because it was assumed the young prince or other peer should not be. Even this makes more sense than the presented scenario, and that’s saying something, since it really makes no sense at all. But you see, at least the “whipping boy” knew he “had it coming,” and in many instances was in some wise “paid for the privilege.”

Like the “whipping boy” scenario, and the breaking of store windows and looting of said stores, senseless acts of violence, theft and destruction help nobody. In the best case, they drive up prices, as those against whom that violence, theft and destruction is perpetrated have to pay for the results of the damage.

Even in cases where the “culprits” are caught, you can pretty much rest assured they will likely never pay a dime to those to whom they did damage or harm. And whether you think so or not, very few business make enough money to “eat” such a loss (and even if one does, such acts often make it so the costs in question keep them from achieving other ends, such as expanding their businesses and potentially helping yet others in the process).

In case you’re thinking, “They probably aren’t even the ones that will fix the window,” keep the following in mind. Even if they’re leasing the facility out of which their business operates, one of the below listed is probably true:

  1. They will very likely at least have to pay for “signage,” since that was likely an expense they incurred when they started (or as an “add on expense to”) their business. They may have to pay for windows and other damage regardless that they are leasing.
  2. Though the building owner probably has certain kinds of insurance, they may or may not have insurance against intentional damage and destruction.
  3. Even if the owner does have such insurance, you can pretty much be sure:
    1. Not everything will be paid for by the insurance. Some items even for the lessor and pretty much everything done by the lessee will be “over and above” what the insurance covers.
    2. Insurance almost always assumes the “best case scenario.” They have to do this, because if they didn’t, premiums would be prohibitively high. The result? It is often the case that claims drive up cost of the insurance in the future. So adding insult to injury, the insured person or company faithfully pays premiums, then makes a claim and as a result of the claim, their insurance premium increases, increasing the “cost of doing business.” Again, very few can “eat” that cost increase, so the tendency is to “pass it on.”

Worst case? Who even knows for sure? The business can’t afford to keep its doors open, workers are forced to look for other jobs, owners fall back into less prosperous positions where they can no longer offer others jobs. People are unable to afford to live, who knows what else?

Now in case all of this is not bad enough (and it is), remember too, that people caught in the act of looting or vandalizing—again, someone who likely had nothing to do with the thing against which they’re protesting—will also likely suffer. The worse the acts, the greater the punishment if convicted of wrongdoing.

Imagine, for example, the potentially permanent mark on your record, indicating felonious activity in your past. I can promise such a thing will not make you in any sense, a “more productive member of society.” This includes, your actually being able to be seen as a person righteously attempting to right past wrongs with your words and actions.

Whether you like it, accept it, or don’t, people will use the past to determine the future. This includes in how they look at others. So a person who sees a former felon attempting to “tell them how things ought to be or work,” is less likely to place the weight on that person’s words that they might on a person against whom no such claim can be made.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s necessary to have such marks against you, and sometimes they will even “add to your credence.” But that’s not true as often as folks would have others believe.

You may not believe this, but many of us “out there,” entirely understand the idea that there are injustices in the World, and that they need to be dealt with. The question though is not if such injustices exist, but what should be done to correct them.

The one thing I can tell you with relative certainty, is that most folks will not agree with doing various kinds of harm to uninvolved individuals. This is—by the way—particularly true if those against whom you do harm are relatively unknown to you. And that’s regardless your thinking that they are evil for where they live, or the supposed color of their skin (and let’s be clear here, black and white are folly, we’re most all of us one shade of brown or another).

One more point. You may or may not be aware that, for the most part, wrong headed or hearted activities are not a matter of some huge majority out there in collusion or agreement. Rather, they are typically the acts (like the violence and destruction that often follows them), of a scant few. They may think they’re “speaking for the majority,” but I can all but promise you that, in general, they are mistaken.

Well, I seem to have more or less “stayed inside” my word limit. If you’re interested in what started me down this path, see the link to the article listed below.

As usual, have a wonderful day and thanks for reading.

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On Failure and Its Relationship to Success

Anybody who has ever spent time scribbling on a pad, or typing at a keyboard in a vain attempt to convey some idea is likely fully aware that what he or she is saying has been said before. It’s even possible that those saying what he or she is saying in his or her current work have been said better than he or she can manage. Even so, some of us continue to litter the world with our statements, hoping that:

  1. We can somehow “bolster” that which has already been said
  2. We are hopeful that our presentation is at least one coming from a “road less traveled” making it so we say things in ways not commonly having been seen.

There’s one other possibility, that being that our audience may not have seen the thing we’re saying before despite its (possibly even ubiquitous) existence.

But this is not the “primary subject of” this piece. It is rather a “sideline” I felt it reasonable to include to make it clear that what I’m saying is likely not one iota of it, new. So if you think you’ve seen the following before, it’s probably because you have, though the form may have been slightly different.

The meat of this article is the discussion of the relationship of failure to success, and I suppose to some lesser degree, why it’s important to recognize the nature of that relationship.

To start out in the most basic of places, when you were but a baby, not long after having spent the majority of your days lying on your back and looking up at the world (when not sleeping soundly), you—if you are at all like the average human being—began one of your most epic sets of failures. That may sound bad, but in reality, it was a pretty important time for you.

You see, all of that failure likely culminated in your ability to walk. I don’t know just how many times the average child tries to walk before succeeding, but based on my experiences with my own children, I would imagine they do so for some reasonably substantial portion of their very young lives.

The important consideration here, is that trying to walk generally results and a number of failures. Along the way, it is hoped those failures become less prominent (even though they likely continue to occur well past the time where the child learns to walk).

For those of you that never learned to walk (were paralyzed or had some other factor that kept you from doing so), not to worry, you too can very likely claim such events in your existence, just different ones.

Whether the thing you most or best remember failing at is reading, speaking, learning basic or advanced mathematics, or catching or kicking a baseball or football (or some other form of ball) is beside the point. The point is, you failed at something. And the reality is, the more successful you are, the more you failed.

Yet again, if I have failed to mention your most notable failure (which hopefully ultimately became a “success story”), rest assured, that was not my intent. My intent was to point out that we all fail.

You could say I have a “secondary agenda” in that I want to point out that where failure doesn’t always result in success (either at all, or to the degree we would have liked), it does so far more often than we like to credit it for. Indeed, out of all of the successes you experience in life, I would venture to say a full ninety percent of them did not occur on your first, nor even a large number of early tries.

Further, I would expect that the average person values the results of many failures culminating in success far more on average, than things that “came relatively easily.”

Don’t take me wrongly, I’m not sitting here saying, “You should like failure more than success.” On the other hand, you can take it for granted that what I am saying is, “In many cases, in order to achieve or attain success, you must first be prepared to fail.”

Sometimes the failure you experience will not be noteworthy. At other times though, you will have to fail big in order to ultimately be successful at something. And at still other times, you will not accomplish the thing you’re “trying for” even after much failure.

That can end up as nothing “more than” a learning experience, something as serious as long term debilitation, or something that produces other desired or undesired results.

But the point of all having been said up to now is very significant to people, and something that at the very least, I know I tend to forget far too much of the time. One of the (very important) potential outcomes of trying and failing is ultimate success.

True, it is only one possibility, but when you think about it, you have likely succeeded at a great deal more than you account after having failed.

Part of the point that needs made here is, if you have something in mind that at present you are unable to successfully do, if it’s important and worthwhile, keep trying. Obviously, there are limitations to everything like it or not.

If you tell me you want to jump from the surface of the Earth and land on the surface of the Moon unaided by any external technology, you need to know your desire is likely never going to come to fruition. Even with this being the case though, never forget that trying and failing is far more often than not a precursor to success. And while you’re at it, don’t forget that there are a good many things at which you all but must fail before you succeed.

Failure can be hard, flunking out of some class or even out of some general course of study (for example, third grade) can seem life-ending. You need to understand though, that as a rule, your failure is not as catastrophic as you might believe when living through it. That doesn’t make it feel better, nor often does it make success any easier, but in the end, if you can get there, you’ll likely look back on even your failure with some measure of fondness.

So to sum this up, remember we all fail. In the end though, the question is, “How do you deal with that? Do you continue to fail until you finally succeed (or learn the thing you’re trying to accomplish is not as important as you thought, or perhaps you’re truly unlikely to succeed at it), or do you give up without even really a fight?”

As I said at the outset, you’ve probably heard all of this before, and you may have heard it presented in much the same way. Nonetheless, it bears repeating often.

Okay, we return you to your day already in progress. As usual, thanks for reading, and I hope your day is a good one.

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On the PragerU Video that Follows the Post

So I’m watching this video from PragerU (with whom I tend to agree about ninety percent of the time—maybe a bit more), and I’m somewhat astounded—but not for the reasons the presenter might imagine.

I started to share the video, which overall, I still think to be quite good, since it presents a perspective I believe needs to be seen and challenged—again for reasons I’m sure to some will be all but “out of the blue,” when I was presented with an “interesting conundrum.”

As I started to type out my response, the ever-fickle Facebook (whether by intent or accident, and I tend to think the latter) decided to “reload my feed” in the middle of the response. To be clear, I had moved off the tab in which Facebook was open to do some minor research, when I came back my response had vanished, as had the post upon which I was going to make it. I was able to get back to the post with some work (it is no longer showing on my feed, and that I do not believe is accidental), so I had to go to the feed of the person who shared it to find it again.

All that having been said, allow me to reconstruct as best I’m able, the response I initially began to generate to the video in question. Here is—essentially—what I was going to say:

  1. Liberalism as it is now espoused and expressed in the United States, bears little to no resemblance to what Friedrich A. Von Hayek was talking about when he used the term “Classical Liberalism.” The two have little (if any) similarity. Hayek can be seen to talk much more, about the type of Liberalism with which the speaker claims to associate in the video in question, in his various writings (including the relatively well known “The Road to Serfdom.”).
  2. As a person who most directly associates with Libertarianism, but as a “close second” resonates next most with “true modern Conservatism” (which is not the thing currently bandied about by folks in Federal politics  and in fact, is probably one of the closer views to “Classical Liberalism” out there) and Republicanism, I can tell you that, for as long as I have paid attention to politics, the “right” has always supported the “right to be wrong” so long as, in doing so one did not do things that were illegal. That does not mean they refuse to call wrong, well, wrong, just that, unless you are in breach of law, you are not told you cannot be wrong in belief or action. Put another way, the “Right,” at least in the U.S., has pretty much always defended the idea of free speech, and, inasmuch as it was legal (disagreeable or not) freedom of action.
  3. Though present day “Liberalism” (more accurately termed Leftism) has become more rabid in its desire and intent to “shut down” freedom of speech and action—a thing I maintain is a result of a “serious slide to the left” (in which Communists and Socialists have become all but mainstream to the Left of the United States—well, frankly, ’twas ever thus. The only thing that has changed is degree. Not content to “work” to be tolerated—a thing that was largely already happening—by those with more conservative, right-leaning perspectives, they have sought to codify their own perspective as the “proper” one—a thing which has resulted in the speaker’s apparent chagrin. I might add to this that, though marriage is these days in the minds of many, a “legal contract” more than anything else, it is in its origins in the United States, a Christian belief and that belief does not include the idea of men marrying men or women marrying women (one of many reasons I do not support the state having a hand in marriage at all—there being other ways to deal with legal issues than marriage, but that’s a matter for another post).
  4. It is—as far as I am able to see, based on my interaction with folks of supposed Liberal bent—a common thing upon which to malign Conservatives, that they are authoritarian. As far as I can tell, little can be further from the truth. Put simply, most Conservatives are for less government. In case that doesn’t make things clear to you, consider this, if someone is for less government, they are necessarily for the limiting of the powers of said government. There is little way to make arguments then, that Conservatism or Republicanism, support authoritarianism.
  5. The move—largely by the U.S. Left—to “governmentalize” issues of supposed discrimination—and I used “supposed” advisedly here, as some are truly discrimination, and some not—can pretty much never but end in authoritarianism. Put another way, as you make more and more laws and larger and larger government, you more greatly reduce freedom for the supposed sake of “security.” This is a thing you will find the United States’ founders and framers spoke—in general—soundly and strongly against, and for good reason (which again, is a matter for another article). Those truly on the “right,” ought to have zero interest in getting government involved in discrimination, but not because they agree with it. Rather, their assumed disinterest would be based on their ideal that government is unlikely to “do the needed job” well for a variety of reasons (the resultant loss of liberty—intentional or unintentional—among them).

One more thought (related to the video, but not directly in response to it). The apparent assumption that the Left or the Right “changing its position on” some aspect of life, means that the supposed “opposing side” must also change their position, is  entirely non-sequitur.

For example, assume (as history shows) that the Left was (Democrats in particular) the entity out of which was “born” the KKK. Now assume that the Left no longer supports the KKK (which I think incorrect, in that the far Left in my view, still does). The afore made assumptions do not mean that the KKK is suddenly a component or artifact of the Right. If that was not the case before the Left disavowed the KKK, what on Earth would magically make it the case after that had occurred? I get that Neo Nazis and Klansmen seem to show up to rallies of people on the Right, that does not mean all (or even a few) around them support them.

In the same way that it’s not illegal for “mainstream Leftists” or Right leaning folks to express their beliefs and opinions and act as they choose (assuming their actions to be legal) it’s not illegal for members of the KKK to do likewise (regardless their ideas and actions very likely being wrong). That doesn’t mean they’re supported by those whose parties they “crash” (Left or Right)—I think I can fairly say, in general, they’re not (on both “sides”).

Okay, as has been my custom of late, I am slightly over my self-imposed “thousand word limit.” As such, I’ll call this good for now.

As usual, thanks for reading, and I hope your day is a good one, be you a Leftist, a rightist, or a somewhere between the two.