A collection of mini essays from a conservative perspective.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Flag burning and “Nose Law”, By James Cooke

I recently was discussing various issues that had come up at CONA as well as current issues with my Youth and Government delegation and the subject of flag burning was one of them. Now, at CONA a proposal had come up to make flag burning an act of treason. Feeling that that was too much, I thought our group should focus on whether or not flag burning should be outlawed or not. To my surprise, however, several students thought that was a great idea (goes to show there are more opinions out there then just mine!). It turned out to be quite a debate!

Anyway, how does flag burning fit into the concept of “Nose Law”? Lets look at the two sides of the argument. One says that the flag is our national symbol, and that men have died for our country and that flag. Valid point. On the other hand, we also have the right to free speech, and peaceful protest. Of course there is far more to both sides, but for simplicity I’ll stop there. Now, Nose Law: does flag burning, or desecration, violate the principal? If it does, the government has a right to regulate it. Since the flag is not a person, you aren’t harming another human being and therefore violating their rights in that way. Some may say flag burning offends them, however, offence is not a violation of Nose Law. There is simply no way to keep everyone happy and from being offended.

I see no reason that flag burning, or desecration, violates Nose Law. It simply does not negatively affect another person in such a manner that would justify regulation by the government. Does this make it ok? Not necessarily, I believe there are numerous things the government cannot regulate, but that does not mean they are ”Ok” to do. I personally find such disrespect for our nations flag, and what it stands for, utterly appalling. But again, offence is not a violation of Nose Law; all that can be done is create a culture that looks down at any person who chooses to do such an act. Regardless, I am thankful to live in a country where I am free, even if I choose to desecrate the very symbol of that nation. We are blessed indeed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Nose Law

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the YMCA’s Conference on National Affairs (CONA) with some friends from Arizona. We spent a week debating proposals on a wide range of topics from every imaginable point of view. I got to share a room with two other great guys: James Cooke, and one other guy who wishes to remain unnamed.

At night after lights out our room would discuss Natural Law, or, as C.S. Lewis puts it, the Law of Human Nature. This law means that some things are right and some things are wrong, and you don’t need religion to tell you that. Whenever you hear someone say, “That’s not fair”, or, “but you promised”, or, “I was there first”, they are appealing to a “higher law”. Our own Declaration of Independence talks about the “Law of Nature”.

Our discussions focused on the role of government in Natural Law. James and I decided that the government must follow a principle that we dubbed “Nose Law”. This comes from the phrase “Your rights extend to the tip of my nose”. In other words, if someone affects someone else negatively, then the government has the right to step in. In fact, we further determined that unless “Nose Law” is violated, the government has NO right to do anything. Clarification: the government has no right to protect you from yourself.

Now this may seem self-evident to some of you, but the real fun begins when you try to determine the exact line between harmfully affecting yourself and affecting those around you. What about verbal abuse? Prostitution? Flag Burning?

These are the questions that we tried to answer in our late-night discussions. Over the next few weeks James Cooke and I will be posting our positions about several different issues under Nose Law. Stay Tuned!

Friday, May 19, 2006

The 2nd Amendment and Gun Rights

     At midnight of April 19, 1775, 900 British Redcoats loaded into boats to cross the Charles River. Their objective? The seizure of American firearms at Lexington and Concord.
     Ever since the Pilgrims landed at Cape Cod, people have been coming to America to find freedom: Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, and, above all, the Right to bear Arms. These freedoms were valued by the colonists more than life itself. From the motto of New Hampshire, “Live free or die”, to the famous quote of Patrick Henry, “Give me Liberty or give me Death”; we see the extent that Americans were willing to go to secure Freedom.
     This is why in the early morning hours of April 19th, a small group of ragged militiamen lined up at Lexington Green and Concord Bridge to face the most powerful army in the world.
     The right to bear arms has been one of the most fiercely defended rights throughout history. A man with a weapon, be it a sword, a bow and arrow, or a gun, is a man who can defend himself, his family, and his ideals. The outlawing of weapons is the first step in a process that begins with freedom and ends in tyranny. It was not for idle reasons that Hitler required all guns to be registered and eventually confiscated.
      The Founding Fathers knew that if the ideals they had fought and labored so long for were to endure for generations, then there would need to be a prohibition on the government to keep them from restricting the right to bear arms. They knew that the Freedoms of Speech, Religion, and Press would evaporate if the people were denied the means to defend them.
     For this reason Congress passed the Second Amendment in September of 1789, and it was ratified by the states on December 25, 1791.
     For more than 10 years after it’s ratification the Second Amendment drew little attention or controversy, because everyone understood and agreed with it. But in the last few decades this interpretation has come under fire from individuals and groups who maintain that firearms are a detriment to society and should be heavily regulated or outlawed.
     Such a philosophy is dangerous. At best, it leads to more crime, and at worst it could cause us to lose the freedoms that we treasure. George Mason, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention from Virginia, said that, To disarm the people... was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” The Second Amendment is the foundation that the other freedoms are laid upon.  The undermining of the Second Amendment is the first step in undermining the entire Bill of Rights.
     The Bill of Rights guarantees the coveted freedoms that we enjoy here in the United States. They are the reason countless individuals have risked, and continue to risk, their lives to come to America. Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Religion, and the Right to a Speedy and Public Trial are just a few of the freedoms and rights that propelled the United States to become the preeminent world power. But without the Right to bear Arms, these freedoms mean nothing.
     In the era of modern warfare, with tanks, guided rockets, and airplanes, the Second Amendment may seem insignificant. But even in today’s world, the Second Amendment deters invasions of American soil. In 1960, a Japanese admiral was asked why, with the US Pacific fleet devastated at Pearl Harbor and the US Continental forces completely un-prepared, Japan did not invade the West Coast of the United States.  The Japanese admiral answered, “We knew that probably every second home in your country contained firearms.  We knew that your country actually had state championships for private citizens shooting military rifles.   We were not fools to set foot in such quicksand."
     The Second Amendment has lowered crime rates, protected us from invasions, and secured our freedoms for more than two hundred. But sadly, it is under attack from many people today. If the anti-gun groups win this battle, then our freedoms will be in serious jeopardy. Without the right to own a gun, the Bill of Rights is just a piece of paper.  But if the Second Amendment is interpreted as it was intended my the Founding Fathers, and if the American People are willing to defend their freedoms, then the United States will secure its place as the greatest nation the world has ever seen.
     We must not fail in this task. The flame of Freedom that lights the city on a hill must never be extinguished. The world must never lose the shining beacon of hope to which so many cling. By standing together and defending the Second Amendment, we can ensure that our Freedoms will endure for generations to come.

Monday, April 03, 2006

My Favorite Quotes On Taxes

“The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.”
-- Ronald Reagan

“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle”
--Winston Churchill

“Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the democrats believe every day is April 15.”
--Ronald Reagan