This article was originally published at americanchronicle.com and uncoverthenews.com on July 6th, 2008
In Illinois there is a law that says one must wear their seatbelt when driving their car. Should a member of a state sanctioned gang known as the police pull you over and find you are not wearing your seatbelt, they are instructed to write a citation instructing you to either mail your tribute to one of their collection agencies or report to one of their superiors should you decide you don´t agree with their "law" and you don´t want to pay them their extortion because you feel doing so would be unjust. Of course, should you decide to do the latter, the cards are stacked against you as it is their system that would be put on trial and they are not about to admit that their system is fundamentally flawed. And shame on you, citizen, for daring to question the system. These seatbelt laws simply create more victimless crimes that do nothing except steal money from those who are victimized by government enforcers looking for violators, and in the worst case scenarios can destroy an individual´s life.
Now, Illinois is not the only state in this nation that has created these unconstitutional seatbelt laws. In fact, the only state that doesn´t have a seatbelt law is New Hampshire, and I applaud them for having the courage to stand up to the federal government and tell them "No, we will not subject our citizens to such intrusive laws simply to receive your bribe money," but that is an article in itself. This is an article about a friend of mine named Jon who one day decided to stand up to this gang of thugs known as the government and did his best to defeat this behemoth against impossible odds. It is an article about how we have lost our freedoms, even in the smallest of matters, and how too few of us care.
Personally, I wear a seatbelt. I have always worn my seatbelt, and certainly since long before legislators decided to make a law forcing me to. But if I decided not to wear one for whatever reason, I don´t think it´s right that I be forced to wear one by government mandate. What right have they to determine the level of risk I am willing to take with my life? What right have they to tell me how to conduct my affairs whilst driving in my car, which is my private property? In fact, I remember that when the law was passed I almost decided to stop wearing my seatbelt just to say "screw ´em," but I didn´t. I know quite a number of people who felt the same way I did. Yet I just kept wearing my seatbelt, kept obeying like all the good little sheep, only vaguely aware that a tiny bit of my freedom had been taken away, that a tiny portion of my ability to determine what is best for me had been delegated to strangers, that a smidgeon of my private, personal life had been intruded upon by faceless bureaucrats working for the heartless state.
But, as many people would say, what difference does all that matter? They pass these laws for your own good. The same can be said for a myriad of other laws. After all, citizen, you are too stupid and juvenile to look after yourself. You can´t possibly make such tough decisions on your own, without the government´s help. Besides, we live in a democracy, right? And what the majority says, what the majority wants must be correct. But we don´t live in a democracy, we live in a republic, and I urge those of you who don´t know the difference to learn on your own what the differences are. One of the purposes of a republic is to keep the majority from abusing minorities. Majority rule is not always fair and just, in fact many times it´s very tyrannical. It has been referred to as the tyranny of the majority. This nation was set up at its inception to protect the ultimate minority, the individual. It was supposed to be set up in such a fashion as to prevent the government, or the majority, from infringing upon the God given rights of the individual. Seatbelt laws are a perfect example of how these fine concepts have been forgotten and discarded by so many living in this nation.
These concepts were not lost on Jon, however. He received a citation for not wearing his seatbelt and decided he was going to try to fight it. He wasn´t a sheep. He wasn´t just going to simply follow the herd, grumble a little, pay the extortionists and just go merrily on his way without so much as uttering a protest. He wasn´t going to just stand there while the shepherd known as government grabbed him and had its way with him. He would challenge the law, and challenge the legality of how such laws are enforced. Sure, he would have to do so in their courts arguing with their judges and follow their convoluted words, but his voice would speak out against what they were doing and he would be heard.
Now, Jon made a mistake. It was a simple mistake most of us would make. When he went to court the first time he was asked to plead and he pled not guilty. By doing so he more or less admitted that the court had purview and could judge him on whether or not he was guilty of this particular crime. Of course, many of us would have done the same believing that we are not guilty of committing a crime when in reality what we want to do is challenge the validity of a certain law and the proper function of the court in regards to that law. He had no real understanding of what he was doing, or even what the charges were against him, yet the judge asked him to enter a plea. This is actually true of most of us, that we have no real understanding of courtroom procedure, as the legislators and lawyers of this nation have so perverted the English language when writing these laws as to make them nearly impossible to understand. There´s a reason most people refer to such language as legalese. If you´re mad about the Hispanics not wanting to learn English, you should be livid about lawyers and judges who don´t wish to use it. Jon got a continuance.
The next time Jon went to court he was not allowed to make his arguments. He was not allowed to challenge the law. He was not allowed to challenge the court´s jurisdiction over him. When he asked his questions the judge told him he was dangerously close to a contempt of court charge. He had pled not guilty and all the judge was interested in was seeing the evidence that he was in fact not guilty and hearing from witnesses. But that wasn´t what Jon´s case was about. He didn´t believe a crime had been committed. There was no victim. There was no harm done to another. There was no property damaged. The judge didn´t care. He proclaimed Jon guilty and demanded the fine be paid. If the fine wasn´t paid, he threatened Jon with a charge of contempt of court and jail time. This is an example of how lives get ruined by a law that seems so simple, that is supposed to protect people from themselves, and yet all it does is steal from innocent people who believe they should be the ones to determine for themselves what safety measures to take while driving, making them victims of the heartless state. And where there are victims, there is crime.
And what of this contempt charge? What of this tool the courts use to be able to silence dissent without so much as even pretending to care? Have not the courts earned our contempt by upholding such blatantly unconstitutional laws? Is it not despicable how they victimize the public with extortionist schemes meant to pick the pockets of the citizenry? The courts are allowed to show contempt for the individuals it drags before it with impunity, but God forbid they should show the contempt the courts deserve or they will be thrown in a cold cell for as long as it takes to break them. It´s even conceivable that one could be declared an enemy combatant by showing such disdain for these extortionists and be thrown in some hell hole in some foreign land and then tortured until one screams "The courts in the United States of America are the best courts in the world! Now please stop!" and then breaks down in tears. This is certainly not fair or just. This is certainly not why these courts were set up. And then they wonder why people hold them in contempt? This is just another way for them to infringe upon one´s first amendment rights. They can´t even follow their own laws yet they expect us to.
And so they threatened to throw my friend Jon into jail for not wearing his seatbelt. He buckled and paid the fine. What would you have done? Jon told me that he believed it was his duty to challenge tyrannical laws. If only more people felt like him, if only more people would refuse to roll over and simply pay their fines without challenging those who wish to rule over us. If only more people would use the courts as a tool to challenge unfair, unjust, unconstitutional laws rather than as a simple venue to determine whether someone is guilty or not guilty of a crime that should never have been a crime in the first place. If just a few more people would take a stand then maybe things would start to change. Maybe those who would rule over us would start to realize that we are thoughtful, powerful human beings that no longer wish to be pushed around. Maybe they would start to treat us like adults who can make their own decisions rather than as children who need their hands held and constant guidance along the way. And speaking of children, it is they who are the real losers the longer these tyrannical laws remain valid in our system. They are being indoctrinated and becoming used to this government tyranny, and it is they who may never know the true meaning and the joy of freedom and liberty. Perhaps we could all learn something from Jon. Perhaps it is the duty of every freedom loving American to challenge tyrannical laws. If you don´t wish to do it for yourself, perhaps you can do it for the children.