Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thomas Jefferson and Dancing for Freedom

Of all the most famous founding fathers of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson was perhaps the one who best understood the meaning of freedom. The man himself was not perfect and indeed there are many who love to point out his flaws. One of the main points they make is that he spoke of freedom as he owned slaves. This is, in my opinion, a classic example of trying to invalidate the message by assassinating the character of the messenger. How can a man talk about such principles when he doesn't live by them? Mr. Jefferson was just a man, complete with all the faults and foibles that come with being a man, trying to make his way through life as best he could in the times he lived in. That does not make his message any less powerful, or any less valid. He was very much an individualist, and very much believed in limiting the power of government, respecting the god given rights and protecting the sovereignty of the individual.

He was so much respected that there is a monument built to him in the nation's capitol. I must wonder if Thomas Jefferson would have approved of such a monument being built, but nonetheless it is there. Personally, I would consider it a tribute to the ideas of freedom he proffered rather than a tribute to the man himself. I think it should exonerate the ideas of individual liberty and personal freedom rather than the man who put those ideas on paper. He was a product of the times he lived in, someone who rose to the occasion when he was called to do so, as so often seems to happen in history.

And so it was that Brooke Oberwetter, evidently a great fan of the third president, decided in 2008 that she would like to celebrate the ideas of freedom by silently dancing at the Jefferson Memorial for ten minutes at midnight on his birthday. She, and about twenty of her friends, wore ipods, by all accounts other than the police's remained quiet and respectful, and expressed their joy that this man had lived and had eloquently opined his views on freedom by dancing around his statue. For this act, and for asking the arresting officer what law she had broken, she was arrested. Thus began her ordeal and a quest to find freedom and justice in a nation where such words hold no meaning in the eyes of those who enforce the will and collectivist ideals of the power elite.

Recently, a judge in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the park police were justified in arresting Oberwetter. I suppose they believe that the right to freely express one's self in public ends once you step inside the hallowed halls of a memorial to the champion of the right to freely express one's self. But this case went further than that. It upheld the privileges of the policing class. It upheld their perceived authority and their ability to arbitrarily determine what constitutes a protest, or dancing, or an expression of any type and what constitutes a breech of the peace. It exonerated their abusive actions. Keep in mind that in this case no one was harmed and no one complained. It was the police who decided the actions of this woman was a form of protest, even though she'd likely tell you it was a form of celebration.

This court obviously couldn't care less about individual free speech rights, or any of the natural individual rights Jefferson so strongly advocated. This judge does not feel it necessary to protect those rights from overbearing police who would abuse their power and violate those rights. This judge. like so many others of their ilk, is not protecting the Constitution and the rights of the common folk, but is protecting the privileged class from being held accountable for their criminal actions that do harm others. It seems to me that Ms. Oberwetter wasn't arrested for the act of dancing, she was arrested for the act of questioning a law enforcement officer. She was arrested for questioning authority. That seems to be a great crime in this nation lately, one that many a judge in many a court is upholding.

Fortunately, the attitude of the population seems to be changing of late. Certain people are deciding for themselves what it means to be free and have stopped letting the control freaks in black dresses sitting behind benches decide. They have decided to question authority and the legitimacy of so called laws that discern no victims. They have decided to act like free people by simply saying "no" to authorities and disobeying their dictates. They decided to show solidarity with Brooke Oberwetter and anyone else who wished to dance at the Jefferson Memorial by holding their own little silent dancing event. They decided to expose tyranny for what it is. You can see what happened here.

A couple of comments about the video. Some of you might recognize Adam Kokesh. He's the host of a show called "Adam Vs the Man" on RT. He's also an Iraq war veteran who ran for a seat in the House of Representatives in his district in Arizona. I doubt very much that the person who was elected to that seat cares as much about your personal freedom as Adam does. He went to Iraq and put his life on the line in an effort to advance the ideals that government should respect the natural rights of individuals, and now he dances (if you can call it that) in an effort to get his own government to recognize those same ideals and to stop violating the rights of peaceful individuals. As a reward for his valiant efforts he was body slammed to the hard concrete by a police officer. It might not seem that bad as Adam is a strong young man, but such a move could have possibly resulted in great bodily damage and even death.

These people were harming no one. They were disturbing no one. It was the police that initiated the disturbance. It was the police who threatened the safety of innocent individuals. It was the police that became violent. It was the police who brought harm to others. In their over zealous efforts to blindly enforce the law without question and to please their superiors, the Park Police showed their true colors and their violent nature. They showed their willingness to give up their own thought processes and their intolerance for anyone who questions their authority. They have been exposed as the supporters of tyranny that they are. Is it any wonder so many are now referring to police officers as thugs? Is it any wonder more and more people are losing respect for that profession?

You may notice how quickly these police closed down the monument and ushered out anyone with a video camera. Likely they knew what they were doing was wrong. Likely they realized how tyrannical they would look. It quickly became "illegal" to video record in the Jefferson Memorial. It seems to me that the "authorities" want to be able to video record the common folk whenever and wherever they feel they can use such technology to fleece them for fines and fees, but turn the cameras on them to record their criminal activities and the story quickly changes. All attempts to criminalize video or audio recording the police in public while doing their public duties need to be exposed, challenged and overturned just as all laws restricting the freedom speech should be. These laws are another example of government over stepping their bounds and trying to prevent their agents from being held accountable for their actions.

One might argue that dancing in the Jefferson Memorial is no big deal. That the people wanting to engage in such activity are foolish or silly and should merely bow to the will of the "authorities" and happily obey their wishes. They would argue that such people shouldn't make a federal case out of this behavior. I would agree with them that dancing at the Jefferson Memorial is no big deal. I would argue, however, that it was the "authorities" who have made it a big deal. It is they who have made this into a federal case. Had they just left these people alone to dance silently as they wished, no one would have noticed and they would have gone away after a few minutes. They could have exercised restraint, but instead, the "authorities" decided to crack down on this innocuous activity and put on a show for all to see.

Now the activists are fired up. The "authorities" have thrown down the gauntlet. Peaceful activists have decided to take up the challenge and have promised to once again show up at the Jefferson Memorial next Saturday to silently dance in celebration of Thomas Jefferson and his freedom ideals. I'm pretty certain that TJ himself would have applauded these efforts, after all he apparently loved dancing, calling it a healthy and elegant exercise and instructing his daughters to learn to dance. He also advocated a revolution every twenty years or so to keep the government in check. It seems that perhaps the people have finally decided to take his advice in a peaceful manner. They have decided that freedom looks like silently dancing to honor one of the founding fathers. If you agree, and you live in the Washington DC area, then perhaps you should join them. Wouldn't it be something to see hundreds of people silently dancing at the Jefferson Memorial to honor the concept of freedom? I think that would be a wonderful sight to behold.

The "authorities," on the other hand, just might feel it is too late to back down. They want to continue to make the common folk feel powerless so that their agents can continue to have their way with us and they can continue fleecing the masses. These are interesting times we live in. It will be interesting to see how far they will go to maintain their air of legitimacy. It will be interesting to see if in the future they continue to bust heads for quietly dancing, just how many peaceful heads they will be willing to bust, and how they will define exactly what dancing is. It will be interesting to see just how tyrannical and out of control they have become.

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