Posts Tagged freedom

Behind The Masque: The Day ISIS Tried To Recruit Me


I was wandering out front of my local twenty-four hour CVS a few nights ago when I felt a bottle smash into my head. Shattering glass, shooting unreasonable pain. My hand, simple white adornments to my arms, were now covered in blood. My blood! Another bottle to the head sent me reeling into an incoherent stupor.

I knew I was being lifted by my legs and arms. Why? Had I not paid the correct change for the package of gum I purchased? Confusing, absurd thoughts moshed through my mind. I know I gave them the correct change! “I ave u….now(spitting blood)….rect change.”

They dropped me next to a car. “Will you shut him up!” said a man in a black mask. I could barely make his voice out, but it sounded familiar.

At that moment, I was struck with the full annihilating fury of a boot to the back of the skull. Things went dark quickly. I reached to put my tooth in my pocket but passed out too quickly to make it happen. I liked that tooth. Gone.

It seemed like hours I was in the trunk of this automobile. I smelled of sweat and blood. I was able to mat down much of the blood with some stray socks left in back, but beyond that, I was in pretty bad shape.   I was too weak to bang loudly on the trunk, so I rapped consistently until I passed out after what seemed like an eternity.

When I awoke I was out of the car lying in a comfortable hospital bed. The room had no windows. A black hooded medical attendant was there to try to see if I’d be coherent enough to participate in what insanity was about to take place.

I may have a concussion, hell, I might have worse that that, but I have watched enough of the news to know what is going on.

“You are those bastards in ISIS! Aren’t you?! You degenerate murderers. And now you’ve got me. And just what the hell do you think you are going to do to me. This isn’t that post-apocalyptic warzone Syria gave you because it wasn’t worth defending. We are in America, pal. You touch one hair on my head and my kids will be singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl while you and your crew of “warriors” will be sucking pounds of Deer Park water out of a towel while some lunatic tries to get you to recite the zip code for every city in Bangladesh.”

The hooded man sat next to me. It was oddly comforting. In a computerized voice, used to protect the speaker from giving away any clue as to who they might be, softly said “I’m sorry for how we got you here. The boys get carried away from time to time. It’s a hazard in what we do. My name is T. Let me promise you right now, you will not be harmed for the rest of your time here. Let me also promise you this, if you like what we are doing, you are welcome to stay with us for a while and help the cause.”

“I’m an atheistic, anarchist Jew. The closest I have ever come to jihad was arguing with a Palestinian over the price of shwarma at a restaurant in the West Bank 15 years ago. I think you grabbed the wrong guy. My name is Keith Spillett.”

“The Keith Spillett who writes The Tyranny of Tradition website…kind of like The Onion but for….”

“YES!!!! YES!!!! That’s me! If I hear the Onion comparison one more time….”

“Didn’t mean to offend you. Actually, we are great admirers of your work.”

“I hadn’t realized that the Jihadist community was big on metal satire.”

“Oh…yes, we loved the Rick Santorum one. We even thought about creating some Celine Dion internment camps, for obviously different reasons.   Oh…and the one where Cronos is related to Kate Middleton! Killed me! Al-Baghdadi himself said that your story on Van Halen causing Ebola was the hardest he had laughed in years. We spotted your talent right away. You have the rare ability to make a ridiculous lie sound completely truthful.”


“Well, is this a job interview?,” I said laughing uncomfortably.

“Yes….yes…you could say that. Certainly not in a traditional sense, but we would like you to help us better get our ideas across to average Americans. They see us doing these beheadings and are horrified. But, they are missing the deeper meaning. I have chosen you to bring that meaning to them.”

“And if I don’t???”

“I give the briefcase of money to someone else, you take a nap in the trunk and you’ll be there for work Monday morning. We mean you no harm.”

“Can you try to better explain to me what is happening and what you want?”

“Better than that…I’ll show you.”

As I walked out of the makeshift hospital room it finally dawned on me that I was in the back of a trailer. The trailer door opened and a radiant, punishing sun beat down on my head. Men dressed head to toe in black were pacing around filled with frantic, nervous energy. It looked horrifically familiar. I’ve seen this place before. This is ISIS territory! Where they do all the beheadings! My god! They are going to kill me!

My breathing sped up, I began hemorrhaging sweat, my eyes darted around looking for a way out. A calming hand caressed my back. “How did I get here? We can’t possibly be in the Middle East. Not unless I was in the back of a flying car!”

“Relax…we are somewhere in a safe area of Alabama. Type of place you go and people don’t ask questions.”

“So….you do some of these beheadings IN America???”

“Sure! It’s much easier in terms of organizing the supplies you need inconspicuously. We’ve done some shoots overseas as well, but this is usually our favorite setting. It looks very dramatic around nightfall.”

“So…ISIS members are everywhere! Jesus Christ! We’ve been overrun. They are taking control. I should have never voted for Obama!!!!”

“Relax, Keith. Just relax. Let the events unfold. You will understand soon enough.”

I sat alone on a side of a hill unguarded. I could have run off, but they knew they had played deeply enough on my morbid curiosity to keep me around. Things were so bizarre. These anti-modern religious men were putting together what could only be properly described as a scene for a movie. A set was created from the natural elements of the ground, fake trees and a lighting scheme that made the whole place seem like the most dramatic dusk since the one Jesus saw on the cross.


Suddenly, they brought out a woman. She was screaming and trying to escape. Writhing with agony. She had been clearly beaten and tortured. It was apparent that these were going to be the last moments of her life. My God…they were going to behead her!

Was this a trick? Did they want me to make up some story about how some crazy fake ISIS beheading of like, Lita Ford, took place. T quickly found me and grabbed me by the arm. “We must go there now! Now! It’s happening NOW!”

She handed me a video camera and I ran with her. I had lost my identity for a moment in the crazed energy that exploded out of her. I knew only to run and then film. The woman’s head was pushed onto a wood block. “Now….you must film NOW!” and so I did.

The blade of her executioner smashed down on her neck. Blood shot out, but the neck remained intact. Her scream was the worst noise I have ever heard. There is nothing it can be compared to. He hacked again and again. I disappeared into the task at hand. ‘Tell The Story With The Camera’ I kept saying over and over in order to keep from shaking or collapsing.

What happened next was unforgettable. The executioner lifted the head from the ground and held it skyward in unspoken presentation to Mohammad. Blood drained all over his black outfit. Then, he casually tossed the head off screen. T told me “Cut!”

“Jesus Keith….that was great!!! You got the whole thing in one shot. Perfect. You have the guts of a cat burglar. I told you this was the guy! He gets it! This guy really can look past the horror to see the truth.”

In an oddly familiar voice, the executioner mumbled, “yes…yes he can.”


“You look like you need a drink. Sit down in the chair right over by the trailer.”

I slumped into the chair. T followed quickly with two glasses of bourbon. I took a glass and fired it down without speaking a word.

T began, “I’ll never forget my first beheading. It was extremely difficult at first, but once I understood…”

“UNDERSTOOD! We just murdered a woman. I just filmed the murder of a woman.”

T began laughing…”Yeah…yeah you did!”

“What the hell is wrong with you? What kind of Jihadist would give me alcohol? And you are laughing! Don’t you understand what you…what WE just were a part of?”

T’s mask turned towards me, “I certainly do…I just think that YOU don’t. I think when you’ll see the whole picture you’ll understand. It’ll make all the sense in the world, Keith. Then, you can decide what you want to do.”

Then, T shouted something loudly in a language I guessed to be Arabic. Quickly, all of the black robed, black masked ISIS killers surrounded me.

“Alright,” said T, “here goes!”

With that the mask was untied and I was staring directly into HER face. The soothing radical jihadist with the computerized voice was none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton. She smiled ear to ear and winked at me.


Then, the executioner removed his mask. It was President Barack Obama.


The next mask removed belonged to former President George W. Bush. “Fooled ya, huh!?”

“I DON’T….”

Each face more bizarre than the next, former football player Ray Lewis, Metallica “drummer” Lars Ulrich, Tim Tebow, Danzig, Steve Jobs (who I believed had died!), Mrs. Glessman, my former 3rd grade teacher. All of them. Others too. They simply became a blur. What the hell was going on?

“T…or…Hillary…why are you doing this? WHY?”



“Yes! Yes! Freedom! True Freedom!”

I stared incredulously.

“Keith, you know the answer to this question, but I’m going to ask it anyway. Who is more free, a Jihadi who can kill or steal anytime the mood strikes him? This person has the power to act on every horrible whim that passes through his mind at any given moment? Or the fellow who spends his entire life with his head buried in a cubical praying he gets a raise so that he can afford to buy another piece of electronic equipment? The zombie…drifting from cradle to grave trying to create tiny manipulations in order to get the simplest, most basic image of freedom for a fleeting few seconds. Hell, if you cut his head off, you’d be doing the second guy a favor!”

“Why Keith? Because this carnival you see here….THIS IS TRUE FREEDOM. We sprinkle in a bit of the sections of the Koran to show we are capable of restraint and all that but never doubt for a moment that this is about Freedom.”

“But, she was an American?”

“Yes she was. Of course! This is Alabama! Who were you expecting? A Korean?…..Are you following this? You still look a bit confused?”

“Why me?”

They all began laughing. “Because you are the audience, dummy! Who do you think this is all for? When you realize you can do whatever you want whenever you want to whomever you want, you have become a true member of the freest society on the planet. We got there first and as your public servants, we plan to bring as many of you as we can with us.”

“Keith, we need you to write stories for us. Crazy terrorist plots that were foiled in the nick of time. The crazier, the better. Make them funny. Have terrorists shoot the Space Needle at New England! Have “ISIS” set up a casino style betting service where people can profit through decapitations and different styles of murders. The government is 100 percent behind this. Blow up Yankee Stadium!  You know you want to! We can make whatever you write come to life. Just give us a few days notice, we’ll make it happen.”

“For us to truly realize our birthright as Americans, freedom, we must destroy all the things that stand in our way. Love, compassion, empathy….all impediments to experiencing true freedom. We will teach them freedom through wars and beheadings. Freedom will come to America when we can own every awful thing we’ve done or will do with a smile on our face and without a trace of guilt. Because this is what it means to be free!”

She extended her hand out to shake mine. In that moment, everything flashed before me. All my actions, my thoughts, my beliefs, my fears, my dreams….every element that mentally constructs the thing that calls itself Keith Spillett. No one to answer to, no God to punish me, no law to force me into a prison cell….only the will and what it most wants in every moment.

Every day a celebration of my innermost wants above the needs of all others. A license to will the world into whatever I want it to be. So much suffering will be caused, so much sorrow, so much terror, so much pain…but not for me.

I shook her hand and smiled, “When do we start?”

, , , ,


Dissecting CARCASS’ “Heartwork” – Second Incision…Carnal Forge

This is the second in a series of articles analyzing the lyrics from the 1993 Carcass album “Heartwork”.

The second song on the record “Carnal Forge” is one of the more lyrically challenging songs I’ve encountered.  When I first got a copy of the record, I sat there with a dictionary for an hour trying to figure out what on earth Carcass was talking about.  Jeff Walker is known for having a remarkable vocabulary and this song proves it. Unless you scored in the top one percentile on your college boards, you are going to need help with a few of the words he uses.  As a service to our readership with IQs below 160, I took the lyrics and clarified them a bit.

“Carnal Forge”

Multifarious carnage
(A massacre that takes many different forms)
Meretriciously internecine
(A vulgar, disgusting display of death)
Sublime enmangling steelbath
(A glorious, destructive bath)
Of escheated atrocities
(Of things lost to the State through terrible acts)

Enigmatic longanimity of ruminent mass graves
(Quiet graves that show a mysterious ability to suffer without sound)
Meritorious victory, into body-bags now scraped…
(A great win worthy of recognition that is shown by a high body count)

Regnant fleshpiles
(The authority and power of piles of dead bodies)
The dead regorged
(The dead shot out of their graves)
Osculatory majestic wrath
(A union of beautiful anger)
This carnal forge
(Human forms beaten and molded like a blacksmith working with metal)

Desensitized – to perspicuous horror
(No longer able to feel the awfulness of horror)
Dehumanized – fresh cannon fodder…
(Humans reduced to objects and killed on the battlefield)

Meritorious horror
(Something awful being praised for its greatness)
Perspicuous onslaught
(An obvious massacre)
Dehumanized – cannon fodder

Killing sanitized
(Murder in a way that is clean and neat)
Slaughter sanctified
(Murder made holy)
Desensitized – to genocide
(No longer capable of feeling what is wrong with mass murder)

Reigning corpsepiles
(Piles of dead bodies ruling over the land)
Death regorged
(Death shot upwards)
Sousing bloodbath
(Being drenched with blood)
Carnage forged…
(Bloodshed and death turned into something else)

In the cold, callous dignity of the mass grave…
(Respectful mass graves without feeling)

Multiferocious carnage
(Violence taking different forms and leading to a massacre)
Cruel, mendacious creed
(Evil, lying system of belief)
Sublime, murderous bloodbath
(Glorious massacre)
Of fiscal atrocities
(A massacre having to do with money)

Inexorable mettle in redolent consommé
(Unstoppable courage blended into a pleasant smelling soup)
An opprobious crucible of molten human waste…
(A disgraceful furnace of melting bodies)

Priapismic deathpiles
(Bodies piled up to the sky)
Infinitely regorged
(Endlessly shot upwards)
The smelting butchery
(A process of separating metals, a process of slaughtering animals)
Of the carnal forge

Desensitized – to pragmatic murder
(No longer feeling the horror of murder which is committed for practical purposes)
Dehumanized – into cannon fodder…
(Turned into non-human form and destroyed without feeling)

“Carnal Forge” is a searing study of the horrific nature of war.  The whole “war is bad” theme has been done to death in heavy metal, but through the use of clever language and Joycean puns, Carcass is able to breathe life into a hackneyed lyrical concept. The major motif in the song is the monstrous merger between mechanized and human form.  The effect is that the listener has a difficult time distinguishing between the two.  This melding of forms stresses the concept of dehumanization in an even more immediate way.  When Walker sings of “inexorable mettle in redolent consommé” he is giving the image of a soup made from mettle (courage) but also a soup made from metal (the human form turned into scrap).  “Fiscal atrocities” means the destruction of capital, but also is meant to imply physical atrocity (the destruction of the human form).  In these puns, we see a world where the lines blur between the animate and inanimate.  When this line is obliterated, so are we.  Our willingness to see humans as objects makes it possible for us to murder those who share our likeness.  It is in the Carnal Forge of war that our human characteristics are lost.

The ultimate irony of this destruction through desensitization is that it is so engrained in some circles that it is not greeted with horror.  Instead, it is celebrated.  Soldiers who return are feted with parades; those who do not are given dignified, stately memorials.  The dead do not care about these things.  They do not care about the flags that cover their caskets, they are not interested in the soldiers firing skyward in their honor, and they do not gaze proudly at their names etched into stone walls.  They cease to feel anything in the name of country or God or safety or resources or land or whatever-reason-was-given-to-them as they take their final journey into endless night.

There is no honor in death.  The dead only know coldness and silence.  Yet through a stroke of pure madness, many believe that the great wrongs that have been committed can be righted through ceremony.  The louder we shout our love for the soldiers, the easier it is to forget the great waste of life that has been sacrificed in our names.  Even the veneration of the dead is an act of objectification that makes future suffering more possible and even more likely.

Remembrance of their anguish does not wipe the slate clean.  It is not for them; it is for us.  A genuine act of contrition would be to create a world where massacres are entirely unacceptable, no matter who commits them.  We do not live in that world.  Instead, we live in a world where idle actions and traditions absolve us of our responsibility to stop the madness of war.

(Special thanks to Metal Matt Longo for his brilliant edit of this.  Thanks to his fine work this article is being simulcast by the good folks over at  Stop on by.  Tell’em Keith sent ya!)

To get to part 3 click here

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Guided Meditation For Conservatives

We, at The Tyranny of Tradition, are proud to present today’s guest writer, Jonathan Winthrop.  Winthrop is a conservative columnist, syndicated talk radio host, all-around great American and a personal friend of mine.  He is the founder of the The Conserva-zen Institute for Self-Enlightenment and Lower Taxes.  He has published a series of  New York Times best-sellers including “Visualize Liberty”, “Visualize a City On The Hill Without Liberals” and “Visualize, Then Fire”.

Visualize Reagan:  Guided Meditation For Conservatives

By Jonathan Winthrop

Guided meditation is an important component on the path to spiritual enlightenment.  Today, I present to you a short exercise to help you free your mind of some of its stress and strain.  I recommend you sit down in a cool and comfortable place, dim the lights and play some soothing music.  Close your eyes and let a feeling of safety wash over you.  Have someone with a calming voice (preferably not someone with a foreign accent) read you the following words.

Envision Reagan.  He stands straight and proud.  Look closely at his face.  It is a calm face.  It projects strength.  Liberty.  Freedom.  Look closely at his mouth.  The confident smile.  Like the Duke.  Poised.  Look into his eyes.  Steel Blue.  Knowing.  Like a wise Grandfather.

Reagan is at the podium.  He stands in front of a room full of proud Americans.  Good Americans.  People like you and me.  They are singing.  He raises his hands and they fall silent.  He speaks of freedom.  He speaks of joy.  He promises to lower the marginal tax rates for earners making over 250,000 dollars a year to below ten percent.  You gaze at him.  He begins to glow.

You and Reagan are transported to a beautiful serene valley.  Reagan stands in a meadow surrounded by happy animals.  Playing.  Sheep and lambs run around him in a circle.  Reagan smiles.  Angels dance around him.  They lift him upward.  Slowly.  He levitates towards the clouds.  Gentle white wings appear in his back.  Reagan begins to soar faster until he disappears in a white blur.

You are in a nursery surrounded by beautiful newborn babies.  All the babies gently coo.  You see a beautiful boy.  You pick him up and look closely at his face.  The baby’s face morphs into the face of Reagan.  He smiles.  You feel warm.  His eyes lock with yours and you feel a perfect inner peace.  Those same knowing eyes look back at you.  The eyes of Reagan.

Bad people appear.  Communists, 60’s radicals, liberals, mass murderers.  The baby Reagan becomes the strong, grandfatherly Reagan.  His eyes grow red.  A beam shoots out of them and kills all of the bad people.  He stomps on each of their bad faces.  He looks at you and smiles.  The babies are safe.  All of the babies are in Reagan’s arms.  He comforts them.  Like a Grandfather.

Reagan does not take.  He gives to those who deserve and shows a firm hand to those who don’t.  He is peace through strength.  He sees the part of us that is rejected, that is lonely, that has been weakened by government programs like affirmative action and Planned Parenthood.  He reaches out his glowing finger and he heals us.  He heals us.  He heals us.

Audio copies of this meditation read by Charlton Heston or Ann Coulter are available through City on The Hill Publishing for $19.99 plus shipping and handling.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Op-Ed Response to the Sarah Palin Oystergate Scandal

If you want to find out what started this whole mess, here’s a link to the original article.

Get more coverage of  Sarah Palin and Oystergate on Facebook or Twitter

There have been many scathing editorials written throughout America on the Sarah Palin Oystergate Scandal.  This recent item was a column that appeared in this morning’s Fort Worth Examiner. Jonathan Winthrop, who is referred to in his bio as a “true, red blooded patriot”, writes a weekly column for the paper called “America:  Love It or Leave It or Don’t”.

Even Bloodier Libel

By Jonathan Winthrop

If there’s one thing Americans have had enough of its Sarah Palin bashing.  First, the liberal media machine said she was not “intellectual” enough to join their little club.  Next, they said her words were causing deranged loners to turn violent.  Now, they are saying that she hates Swedes.  By the end of the year, they’ll be accusing her of the Kennedy assassination, breaking into the Watergate Hotel and turning Jeffery Dahmer into a cannibal.  It is interesting that every time that Kenyan in the White House has his poll numbers drop or has to go to the sentencing of one of his former Chicago cronies, Sarah Palin says something that gets herself in trouble.  If one looks closely, it starts to become obvious that the Obama administration, along with the wealthy Hungarian-American George Soros, are behind this latest round of Sarah bashing.  Sound crazy?  Let’s look at the facts.

First of all, lets clear up the comments made by Palin.  We need to face the uncomfortable fact that much of what Palin said is true.  Unless they started having elections recently without me noticing, Sweden is a socialist country.  Tax rates for the average Swede are right around 99.3 percent.  According to several studies, the average Swede works two and a half hours a week.  Yet, for less than 12 hours of work a month, Swedes have full health care, a chauffeured limousine ride once a week to the local “free store” and are given up to four massages a month.  And who pays for all these perks? Why the taxpayer, of course!

From a young age, Swedes are taught not to work.  The most commonly used Civics Textbook in Swedish classrooms is a malignant piece of socialist propaganda called “Why Work…The Government Will Pay You Anyway”.  The crime rate among Swedish teens is appalling.  By the age of 15, 1 in 2 Swedes has committed a violent crime, stolen a car or missed more than 10 days of school in a year.  Most young Swedes wile away their time hanging out with friends or listening to violent so-called “heavy metal music” or surfing on the Internet in these things they like to call “chat rooms”.  Their government sponsored schools and socialist parents are getting them ready for a life of reading Lenin, taking government handouts and mugging senior citizens all while the US tax payer foots the bill.  In this context, Palin’s point makes a good deal of sense.  Do we want our young men and women forsaking their commitment to truth, justice and the American way and becoming like young Swedes? I, for one, do not.

Much of the rest of the story includes your usual cast of characters.  Wildly inaccurate MSNBC stories, articles written by deranged (George Soros sponsored) bloggers and money hungry former employees and their fictitious accounts of anti-Swedish tirades by the Palin family.  All the while, the Obama administration skillfully manipulates the media into anti-Sarah commentary and Swede-baiting.  It is not a coincidence that several of the states with large Swedish-American populations were toss-up states during the 2008 election.  Minnesota, Wisconsin and Indiana could all sway the 2012 election in favor of Obama.  The Obama administration, a ruthless organization of Chicago pols bent on forcing all working people to their knees at the altar of Godless Islamic Communism, is again playing puppet master, pulling the strings of the media in order to force good people to believe bad things.

Before we join in with the legions of torch carrying former 60’s love children eager to step on the throats of hard working Americans with their collective Birkenstocks, let’s remember the lessons of 9/11.  The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.  The price of eternal vigilance is abiding loyalty.  The price of abiding loyalty is everlasting devotion. Let us never forget the dream our forefathers struggled and died for.  Let us never forget the price some have paid and others may pay and still others haven’t paid.  We must defend freedom!  We must defend liberty!  We must defend Sarah!

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


The Locke-Hobbes Complex: Free the Goose, Locke up the Gander

The American Leviathan rises up to clobber all of the “bad” people who dare threaten to take our stuff and use our hospitals

The ideas of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes lay at the root of the American governmental experience at many levels.  Locke was a social-contract theorist who believed that all humans were born with rights and surrendered them in order to procure the advantages of civilized society.  He thought that if there was no government things might not run as smoothly, but people could get by.  Locke had a notion that people are rational creatures that are capable of making decisions that are in the best interests not just of themselves, but of the group.  Thomas Hobbes also bought into the idea of the social contract, but that is one of the few things the two agreed on.  Hobbes thought that human beings were essentially machines that functioned to protect themselves from injury and death and to get what gave them pleasure. Government was meant to act as a check on the base and violent desires of the masses.  He thought that without government life (like Napoleon) would be “nasty, brutish and short”.  Hobbes thought that you had one basic right, to be protected from the other maniacal machines around you.  Any other right could be taken away freely by the government in order to keep the people safe from themselves.

The progenators of the American governmental system were highly influenced by Locke and Hobbes.  Thomas Jefferson spent most of his political career doing a fair John Locke impression.  He turned Locke’s “life, liberty and property” into “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and parroted Locke’s controversial belief in the right of people to revolt against an unjust government.  James Madison (writing as Publius in The Federalist Papers) was clearly channeling Hobbes when he wrote in Federalist #51 that “if men were angels, no government would be necessary” and “ambition must be made to counteract ambition”.  Our constitution is a marvel of balancing Locke’s democratic intentions (the House of Representatives, the Bill of Rights) with Hobbes’ fear of the great unwashed hordes (the Senate prior to the 17th Amendment, the Electoral College).

Locke and Hobbes are still very much with us today, but in another more bizarre, irrational form.  The Locke-Hobbes complex can most clearly be seen in the Tea Party Movement, although it is certainly not exclusive to them.  Here’s how it looks:  The inward view of many Americans seems to be that Locke was correct.  The individual should be controlled by the government as little as possible.  Americans should be freed from many of the burdens of taxation or regulation.  What’s mine is mine and should not be taken, the government should not restrict the development of business, I should be able to say what I want to say and not be bound by political correctness, and the government should stay out of my private affairs.  At first glance, it seems as if Locke would be entirely comfortable at Rand Paul campaign headquarters dressed up like Patrick Henry with a NoBama tattoo on his or her forehead.

However, Locke’s ideas seem to appear in the rhetoric of both major American political parties (and quite a few smaller ones).  Some candidates rail against the idea of “big government” that doesn’t seem to get that “the government that governs best governs least”.  Others loudly protest a government that restricts reproductive rights or the rights of individuals to choose to live life the way they want to.  Whether it be keeping the government’s hands off my money or their laws off my body, the cries of individual liberty seem to echo from every corner of the American political landscape.

It would seem that a people so committed to the idea of the freedom and thriving of the individual would have no place for Hobbes’ principles…and yet they are very much alive in our culture.  A person can’t go five minutes without baring witness to a political diatribe on the importance of freedom and yet thanks to ever more strict sentencing laws the Washington Post reported in 2008 that 1 in 100 adults in the United States is in jail or prison.  The United States is the world’s leader in incarcerated adults both in percentage and in number.  In order to really understand the perversity of this statistic one must realize that China, a nation that our leaders have regularly excoriated for their unconscionable human rights record, has an estimated population of over 1.3 billion people, while the United States, the world’s beacon for freedom and liberty, has around 303 million people.  In spite of nearly a billion more people, China has less prisoners than the United States.  According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics study, non-violent crimes made up nearly half of the state prison populations in 2006.  On the federal level, non-violent crimes take up an even higher percentage of reasons for incarcerations.  Large numbers of Americans are in prison for non-violent crimes that run the gamut from drug abuse to public intoxication.  Clearly, much of the imprisonment in the United States does not even serve the purpose of public safety.

It would seem that a nation with such a highly advanced, Lockean conception of liberty would be able to come up with a solution that involved a bit more creativity than building more prisons, but that seems to be the solution we continue to come up with.  At the root of our problem lies an incredibly Hobbesean conception of the role of the state.  But, maybe we are just talking about the “bad” people here.  A common refrain is that criminals (often defined as the amorphous mass of people out to harm us and take our stuff) are not deserving of the same rights as the rest of us.  Even though the Bill of Rights spends nearly half of it’s time dealing with the issue of criminal justice, many believe that the rights of individuals should be obliterated upon the commission of a crime.  One would think that this current wave of liberty based hysteria would have brought more politicians into power who opposed the federal government tearing rights away from citizens and yet, Russ Feingold, the one Senator who opposed the 2001 passing of the Patriot Act, the largest broadening of federal investigatory power in the last 50 years, was voted out of office.  Is the message more liberty for the “good people”, less protection for “the bad”?  How are we able to tell them apart?

There are some things to be feared and some things to be appreciated about each philosophy. Locke’s social contract was so loose that some would get away with crimes that could severely harm their neighbors, but he believed strongly enough in people’s judgements to believe that this problem could be overcome.  Hobbes argued for a system that strangled human growth and potential on the altar of safety, but he also realized that there are characteristics that needed to be monitored in human beings in order to allow them to be protected from the loss of their most important right, the right to continue to stay alive.  It’s as if our culture has picked out the most base, selfish characteristics of both philosophies and melded them into a giant Leviathan that attacks the liberties of the “bad” with one hand while cherishing the rights of the “good” with the other.  What we fail to recognize is that we can easily be mistaken for either.  Hell may be other people, but after a while it becomes us.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,


%d bloggers like this: