Tam Quoted Me In A Post

AT VFTP a fact worthy of a post all its own. And thank you, Tam. What with Dolly’s lackadaisical attitude about things bloggal, here lately…

Hey! I resemble that remark!

…Things have gotten a touch slack here at BTB lately. I’m sure, if one of us bothered to look, we’d see a sharp drop-off in our traffic to match.

And I suppose I should apologize for the lack-o-bloggage of late. It’s got so bad the cats have taken notice and are starting to bug me about not posting. I just… I’ve been very busy elsewhere and have also been suffering from amotivational syndrome without the benefit of drugs. Just… blahs. Combine the two and one just can’t get up the enthusiasm for a good (or bad) blog post.

Anyway. In my last post, I asserted that liberty is a binary condition. Folk commenting at Tam’s alluded to my generally wannsinnig condition and asserted the contrary — that there is (or is perceived to be) a continuum of liberty and infringements thereupon, and that free/not free is not determined by the flipping of a switch.

And, I suppose, for all conditions taken in aggregate, that might be true. We are more free in the area of speech than we are in the area of no-knock, kinetic entries, though we are not truly free in either situation. However, let me ask you this: since when does the government get to legitimately decide the limits on its power under a charter designed to limit its power?

I made a comparison to pregnancy. Surely, one must think — in a knee-jerk, I-haven’t-really-thought-it-through sense of the verb to think — that pregnancy is definitely scalar. Afer all, there is a continuum of the condition from undifferentiated blastular mass to exclamations of “You did this to me, you bastard” in the delivery room.

Right?

No. I don’t think so. There is a moment in pregnancy — almost always unnoticed by any of the parties to the condition — when the bit flag flips from “not” to “hot.” That moment has been observed under microscopes as being the veriest instant that the first sperm cell penetrates the ova’s cell wall and induces the chemical change that locks out all the others. Before that instant, the host organism (thereinafter designated “Mother”) is not pregnant, and after it, she is. The condition may not last, but, given the evidence, it is undeniable.

In the question of liberty — on any and all questions — we have passed that moment of conception generations ago. Now, we’re arguing over the color of the booties and what wallpaper to put in the nursery.

I think the analogy holds.

At some moment — possibly at Marbury v. Madison, possibly even earlier, at the moment that George Washington ordered forth the troops to put down the Whiskey Rebellion, but in any case, very early on — the American people passed from being a free people to being subjects of the state.

In terms of fighting tyranny, the situation is — in my mind, at least — every bit as black-and-white. There is a direction arrow on that thing. One way goes toward liberty, the other toward tyranny. Every action you take in any arena — political, economic, religious, interpersonal — has the same bit flag to flip. Your actions contribute to ordered liberty, or they do not. There is no “neutral” position for the switch.

For the fools who equate a preference for gainsaying all proposed government action — a prejudice, if you will, that demands government prove the case that its actions will not harm rather than help the cause of ordered liberty — who equate that stance with anarchy: grow up. Government is necessary, true. The desiderata is self government. The argument is over the irreducible minimum of state. I contend that that is far less than most people are willing to admit.

That’s my case, as incoherent as it may be. Take your best shot.

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