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Guitars and liberty

I’ve written recently of the nature of authoritarians (here, here, and here, for instance). Specifically, I observed that authoritarians know only one basic approach. That is, they use force (and/or its threat) as a way of getting others to do what they want. It’s important to understand that authoritarians are not inherently bad people. In many, perhaps even most, cases they truly believe that their goal is worthwhile or even laudable. Quite often, it is. The problem, of course, is how they choose to achieve their goal(s). As I noted in yesterday’s post, those who refuse to comply become the nail to the authoritarian’s hammer.

Like the guitar player who knows only three chords, and only the basic fingerings of those three chords, the authoritarian’s repertoire is limited. Again, the authoritarian knows only the threat of force and the actual application of force. There aren’t many songs that can be played, that way. Thus, when someone “just doesn’t get it” and refuses to “get with the program,” authoritarians double down on force. If that doesn’t work, they double down, yet again. It’s a poor guitar player who plays the same song over and over, louder each time, in an effort to generate applause when the audience just doesn’t appreciate his efforts.

Appropriate “musical” interlude:



But what of the audience? What of those who will not applaud the non-musician with a guitar? What of those who will not comply with the backed-by-the-threat-of-government-force demands of the authoritarian? Depending on where they live, their repertoire need not be quite so limited.

There is frequent reference in the writings of present-day proponents of individual liberty to the “four boxes of liberty.”* Those are, in something approaching desired order of use:

  1. the soap box – for speaking out, protesting, assembling, petitioning for redress of greivances
  2. the ballot box – for the rather obvious purpose of voting out those who either infringe upon or will not defend liberty
  3. the jury box – for the purpose of the jury sitting in judgement of not just the facts of the case, but of the law itself, likely up to and including jury nullification
  4. the ammo box – for use as part of what Judge Kozinski termed the Constitution’s “doomsday provision” Silveira v. Lockyer, 328 F.3d 567 (2003)

Each of these has its place. While there are some who, unfortunately I believe, seem to frequently and enthusiastically call for using the ammo box,** I submit we are nowhere near that profoundly unfortunate necessity. We are, however, desperately in need of using the first three far more than we currently do. Still, each of them serves to illustrate the approaches available to those who will not give in to injustice, or sit silently while liberty is under attack.

The audience, then, has far more tools at hand than does the authoritarian. They have multiple ways of finding another guitarist, another genre of music, a different venue. The challenge, of course, is using them in a way that protects liberty rather using them to impose our will on others. Wanting to be left alone, when rightly conceived, means I will also leave you alone to live your life as you choose – even if I think your way of living life sucks.


*Wikipedia, of all things, actually gives a decent though brief treatment of this concept, including its likely origins.

**It’s worth noting that it’s not typically current or former law enforcement or military folks who are sounding the call for armed rebellion. No, that distinction falls largely to the keyboard commando, whether he lives in his mom’s basement or not. If that’s you, I lack the words to tell you just how much you (and I) don’t want things to ever reach that point. To avoid that, let’s use the first three boxes a lot, okay?

Of hammers and nails

More apologies to Francis Bacon…

I wanted to try to dig just a little more into the mind of the authoritarian. My goal was to write a post that was deep and insightful, something that would provide an incontrovertible explanation as to what drives the authoritarian. This is not that post.

My observation is that authoritarians understand that their approach, the use of force (even if the use is simply the threat of said force) always works – except, of course, when it doesn’t. It is that exception which serves to frustrate the authoritarian. In most instances, the authoritarian, usually via the particular agency of government he supports or represents, finds that the (sometimes judicious) application of just a little more force, will compel compliance by the one(s) who oh so clearly did not get the message the first time. This, too, always works. Again, except when it doesn’t.

It is the person who consistently declines to comply, the woman who simply refuses to knuckle under to code enforcement when she hasn’t violated the law, the man who defies his neighbors and their shock that he grows lettuce rather than azaleas in his front yard flower beds, who frustrates the authoritarian to no end. All the authoritarian knows, the only response of which he can conceive, is to double down on the pressure. The one who refuses to knuckle under, who refuses to give in, who simply declines to comply, is clearly a nail and the only tool possessed by the authoritarian is the hammer of (usually governmental) authority.

I see this authoritarian approach demonstrated a lot on Quora. As it happens, I’m a fairly active writer there on topics relating to the right to keep and bear arms, so I’ll use that an an example of authoritarian thought. It is worth noting that authoritarian thought is not at all limited to discussions of guns. I’m simply pulling from where I often see it demonstrated.

It is not at all uncommon for one or more gun control advocates to suggest that with the proper application of governmental force, whether by law enforcement or by, say, the National Guard, any and all sorts of gun control measures could be successfully implemented. The logic goes something like this:

  1. Pass the law/issue the EO
  2. Threaten the necessary force
  3. Most gun owners will comply
  4. Apply the necessary force to those who do not comply
  5. The vast majority of remaining gun owners will fall in line
  6. The scourge of violence committed with guns will be removed from American society

It is this same logic which is arrayed against other behaviors some find so objectionable as to be worthy of being wiped out. Let’s look at a First Amendment issue and make “hate speech” the target.

  1. Pass the law/issue the EO
  2. Threaten the necessary force
  3. Most who engage in hate speech will comply
  4. Apply the necessary force to those who do not comply
  5. The vast majority of those who still engage in hate speech will fall in line
  6. The scourge of hate will be removed from American society

That both the right to keep and bear arms, and the right to say things that are offensive, including things that are vile, disgusting and even evil, are constitutionally protected means little to the authoritarian. He seeks “a way around the Constitution” so as to apply force to end that to which he or she stands opposed. She seeks a way to force you to comply.



Recently (a good, relatively imprecise word that takes up less space than “the other day”), I wrote about the desire of most people to simply be left alone. That was brought on by some thinking I’ve been doing about busybodies (moral and otherwise) and authoritarians. While I vacillate somewhat in my views of both groups (some days they are all evil, space-Hitler wannabes and other days just people with whom I have a major disagreement), most days my calmer, more rational side comes down on the side of them just being people with whom I strongly disagree about, well, lots of things. Primarily, of course, I disagree with their belief that they have the fundamental right to tell me, you or anyone else what do.

I go through periods in which I don’t get the reading done that I want. Today, though, I was only a day late in reading this post from Sarah Hoyt. The part that resonated with me was this:

It was the last meal we had in Portugal, Tuesday lunch.  Somehow motorcycle helmets came up.  And my brother explained to my parents that Americans have weird hangups and fought tooth and nail laws on mandatory helmet use and seat belt use, despite the obvious benefits of both.

At which point I explained that (It’s not true that “F*ck you, no” became my catchphrase this trip, but it’s also not a total lie) “F*ck you, no. I don’t care how beneficial it is, what right does the government have to mandate things EVEN IF THEY ARE GOOD FOR YOU.”

At which point everyone but my husband stared at me in sheer incomprehension.

I encourage you to read the entire post, if you’ve not already done so. If you aren’t a regular reader of her blog, According to Hoyt, you should probably change that, too.

Anyway, there is a lot to be learned from the last sentence of the above quote, “At which point everyone…stared at me in sheer incomprehension.” It is that incomprehension against which those who love liberty struggle, as much as it is against the uncomprehending authoritarians. It is not simply that authoritarians believe their way – always someone (or several layers of someones) in charge of one part or another of others lives – will work better than the alternative. Rather, it is that they do not and cannot conceive of the alternative working, not really.

In my calmer, more rational moments, I recognize that’s why authoritarians make the arguments they do. It’s why they try to hold up Somalia as an example of libertarianism. It’s why they speak of the need to license gun owners or to outlaw “hate speech.” It’s why they seek to misrepresent constitutional conservatives. Because the alternative, that people are largely capable of running their own lives, that locals know more about their circumstances than some group of “experts” 2,000 miles away, and that most people are pretty honest and trustworthy, simply makes no sense to them. When we speak to them about natural rights (whether you choose to define them as coming from God or simply part of being human), they laugh, not because they have a good argument against them, but simply because the idea is contrary to how they view the world. It’s like trying to teach a goldfish to whistle – the concept is alien. The big difference, of course, being that in this case alien is also threatening.

Those who oppose authoritarianism suffer from no such disadvantage. After all, we grew up surrounded by authoritarians and busybodies. We have, our entire lives, interacted with the institutions they build and run. We know how they think. Many of us thought the same way for a good while, until “it” happened. For some it came on quickly, for others more slowly, but the result was the same. We had that “Oh, dear God, who thought this crap was ever a good idea and why did I ever buy into it,” moment. Followed by anger and frustration at the realization of how widespread “this crap” really is and by how completely we had accepted it. Even those of us who were known to be a little on the independent side (a characteristic thankfully instilled and nourished by my parents), bought into it more than we often like to admit. Still, at least we understand it. For many of us, the fact that we bought into it at all leads us to not only dislike it, but to actively hate it.

I don’t have a real clear picture of where to go from here, just some broad, general ideas. Clinging, nay fighting, tooth and nail for the principles found in our Constitution seems a good place to start. Beyond that, I don’t have much, right now.

What do you think?

*I really like The Princess Bride, okay?

To be left alone

There is, in California, a Vietnam war veteran (let’s call him “Frank”) who runs the business side of a major marijuana production and distribution network. Frank has set things up such that they sell only to distribution centers. He has taken steps to avoid any involvement with organized crime and “drug rings.” When asked what he thinks about further legalization of marijuana, Frank said he is opposed to it because the “the Man” would get involved and tax his income. He usually carries multiple concealed firearms. Frank has no concealed carry permit because, in his words, “then the Man would know I own guns.”*

What does Frank have in common with Bugs Bunny, Benjamin Martin, Josey Wales and Leon McDuff, all of whom are fictional characters? What does he have in common with people I have met from all over the United States who are ranchers, farmers, homesteaders, LEOs, veterans, teachers, attorneys (a surprisingly large number of these), authors, preachers and mechanics?

They all want to be left alone.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis, in Olmstead v. United States, noted that one of the purposes of the Constitution was to protect what he called “the right to be left alone.” This right, and the desire for it, are, I submit, very much at the heart of the American ethos. My experience is that most people simply wish to be left alone to live their own lives the way they see fit. Likewise, most people understand that living their own lives the way they see fit does not confer upon them the right to violate the rights of others to do the same thing.

Enter the busybody and his large, club-carrying friend, the authoritarian, stage left.

These folks, too, simply want to live their lives as they see fit. However, they have this one little thing, this slight twist on the issue. You see, they also want you to live your life the same way – as they see fit.

By himself, the busybody is usually no more than an annoyance. Though far more interested in the lives of others than is healthy, he can’t really do all that much. Tell him to go away, to piss off, to pound sand and he’ll leave, though he’ll make sure to do so in a way that expresses his displeasure and disapproval of you and your barbarian ways. So what? He has been successfully chased back into his own yard. It’s his friend who is the real problem.

The authoritarian believes, truly believes, a few things. Among those, we find that he believes there is a need for someone (or several someones) to tell other people what to do. It turns out that he also believes that he, and those who agree with him (like his good friend the busybody), are the ones who happen to be most qualified to do so.

The busybody focuses on the lives of others and what he thinks they should be doing. The authoritarian seeks to obtain and use the power to make them do it. Together, they are arrayed against your right to be left alone, and against the document written, in part, to protect that right. While Patrick Henry’s concerns regarding the proposed Constitution may have been well-placed, I still think it’s a pretty darn good document which, if followed, would achieve the goal of protecting liberty very well.

Some people, as it happens, are not that fond of liberty. They find it inconvenient. In 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the new constitution. It was agreed that government under the US Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789. And in 1798, with the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts, the attacks on liberty began. In the intervening years since then, those attacks have never stopped. The busybody and the authoritarian, appealing always to necessity,** seek to tell you how to live, what to do and what to think. In spite of what those in each of our two major political parties often suggest, we find them, the busybody and the authoritarian, on both the American right and the American left.

Liberty will always be under attack. The radical document called the the Constitution of the United States of America has been opposed by Adams, Wilson, both Roosevelts, Nixon, neocons (including Hillary, aka “Dick Cheney in a pantsuit“) and our current crop of self-proclaimed progressives and socialists, to name but a few. Individual liberty, in spite of what they say, strikes some people as so bizarre and unworkable, and seems to fill them with such an inexpressible dread, that they oppose it in any way they can.

The defense of liberty is a lifelong struggle for every generation. We best get busy.

*If your response is that Frank is, by definition, a prohibited person, please be assured I’m already aware of that. Be further assured that Frank has apparently been armed since long before he achieved that august state. You can be even further assured, by reading again what I’ve written, that I nowhere addressed whether I think Frank should be armed. Please try, really hard, to not read your own meaning into anything I’ve written.

** “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.” ~ William Pitt the Younger


I like words. I mean, I really like words. A lot. Which is a good thing, since for a significant portion of my life I have made my living, in whole or in part and in different ways, with words. I grew up in a family in which words were important. My parents were, among others things, employed in the newspaper and printing industry for years; my dad as a linotype operator/machinist, then pressman and my mom as a proofreader. Beyond that, my dad was, for most of his adult life, what those in the arguably more liturgical sects would call a “lay” preacher.

All that “words stuff” sort of rubbed off, I guess. As a kid, I didn’t talk like anyone I knew. I was the weird kid, the nerd, the geek, who talked like an adult. Since we moved almost once a year, occasionally across town, once or twice across the state, but usually part or all the way across the country, I was also the new, weird kid who “talked funny.” I guess it helped, maybe, that I was also an introvert and that I fought dirtier than anyone I’ve ever met.

Anyway, have you ever encountered that word? You know, the one you like and which you can define, but find it difficult to demonstrate in a way that really helps you feel the meaning of the word? Behold the word. Juxtapose.

Merriam-Webster defines it this way: “to place (different things) side by side (as to compare them or contrast them or to create an interesting effect).”

Okay. Great. Now I know what it means, but the definition doesn’t give the feeling of the word anymore than it did when I read the denotative meaning the first time, decades ago. How to illustrate it? Perhaps, we could do this:

Let’s take a British rock band. Give them a flamboyantly gay (and absurdly talented) lead singer from Zanzibar. Have them record a song that introduces the suggestion of the sexual abuse of a boy by a woman, leading to an interest in women of questionable morals. Make sure the song is set to a 1970’s American country beat, in a country key and with country harmony. Something like this:


And that is what it means to juxtapose.

Give us anything but simple

I recently wrote a post that listed what I believe to be the six basic arguments put forth for gun control.  Some folks on Quora have disagreed. More about the arguments and the disagreements in a moment…

I’ve been involved in the gun control debate since my mid-teens (I got started early). I dare say there are probably no arguments for gun control I have not encountered, in one form or another. Gun control arguments, like “haters,” get old and boring after just a little while, so I actually spend time looking for new arguments. I am consistently disappointed. Anyway, let’s tell a few true stories.

The man, let’s call him “Bill,” was my very first client when I was working drug and alcohol rehab as a student nurse. Bill, according to his version of events, had once had a warm, close and loving family. Then, stuff happened and Bill started drinking a little bit, every once in a while. Eventually, “a little bit, every once in a while” turned into a lot, every day. His wife divorced him and his now adult kids wanted little to do with him. There I was, far younger and trying to help Bill see a way to sobriety, which meant a change in not only what he did (not drinking), but how he thought. Like all good alcoholics, Bill could smell my inexperience and so, he sprung his trap. “You aren’t a drunk, so you don’t understand what it’s like or why I drink.” I had no response. In terms of helping Bill, I was done.

Back to the drawing board for more education and training. Dr. Louise Bradford, using simple words of two syllables or less, carefully explained the nature of my failure, including its cause. Then, she had me attend multiple AA meetings in addition to those that were taking place during my normal clinical day. I learned a lot.

Segue’ to “Larry.”

Larry was also an alcoholic. He, too, had a sad story. Like Bill, he decided to challenge me to see if I was really ready to help him. “You don’t know what it’s like to be an alcoholic. Besides, you don’t even know why I drink.” Thanks to Dr. Bradford and the good folks at the AA meetings, I was actually ready, this time.

“You’re right. I don’t know what it’s like to be an alcoholic. I do know all about being sober. As for why you drink, yeah, I know why you-” With one argument down, Larry interrupted me.

“Oh, yeah? Why do I drink?” The challenge was clear, even to me. I thought of all I had learned, not only from Dr. Bradford, but from those folks I had met in various functional recovery groups and sessions. They had prepared me.

“You drink because you’re a drunk.”

Two more stories. First one,

One of the things I discovered is that a surprising number of people lie. They lie to themselves and they lie to others. They lie in business, in academia, in healthcare, in families, in religion, and in every other facet of life. It can be maddening. I’ve done it myself. Eventually, I realized it had become a habit, a reflex. Changing that behavior was hard. Really, really hard.

I was helped primarily by two people who never met. The first was a psychologist I knew from church. He agreed to see me, professionally. I figured we’d get into the “why” of my lying. Nope. He asked me about my faith and how important it was to me. I talked about it for a bit, noting that it was (and is) very important to me. He nodded, pulled a Bible from his desk and had me turn to and read Proverbs 6:16-19.

“16 There are six things which the Lord hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
19 A false witness who utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.”

He told me how to cope with what was, by then, an established habit so as to change it over time. Then, he said he saw no need for further sessions and ushered me out of his office. He changed my life.

then the second one,

I had a business mentor, let’s call him “Jim,” who taught me a lot. One of the things Jim said was that for years he struggled with how to deal with people who lied. “They shouldn’t lie,” he would say to anyone who would listen. “One day,” he said, “I realized how naive that statement was. Some people are liars. Lying is what they do.”

Now, what in the name of all good common sense does any of that have to do with the six basic arguments for gun control, or the objections people have to them?

People tend to hide behind complexity. We obfuscate, evade and avoid. We deny the unpleasant with arguments that offer psychological comfort. On the other hand, we can, with time, effort, experience and sometimes formal education and training, learn to discard the extraneous information, hack our way through the maze of nonsense and wade through the crap. When we do those things, we get our reward. That reward is simplicity.* Dr Bradford had education and experience. The folks in the various 12-step programs who were successful in becoming and remaining sober had lots of often bitter experience. The psychologist I knew had education and practical counseling experience. My business mentor had decades of experience in both business and in education. All of them, in each of the stories, was able to cut through the crap and nonsense (including mine) and provide a simple, truthful answer.

Sadly, most of us don’t like simple. Larry didn’t like simple. I sure didn’t like the simple answer I was given. Why? Why don’t we like simple? Quite frankly, the reason is this: simple leaves us with no where to hide. That’s it. We don’t like simple because it forces us to face the nature of ourselves and our arguments. It requires us to look at who and what we are, warts and all. That is why we don’t like simple. Note that I said simple, not simplistic.

So it is, I think, with gun control advocates. They don’t like those six arguments because they are simple. They leave no room to hide. Reducing the arguments to their most basic forms shows the attempts at obfuscation with facts and figures, the multiple attempts at cross-cultural comparison, and all the mud-slinging and name-calling for what they are: attempts to avoid the psychological discomfort of simple truth. While there are exceptions, most gun control advocates simply are not willing to say “I don’t like what you’re doing and I’m willing to use the power of government, up to and including the power to kill, to make you do what I want.”

To be fair, there are plenty of Second Amendment advocates who are equally uncomfortable with simplicity. They too, often hide behind complex arguments. They are unwilling to say “Liberty is so valuable that, although I don’t want it to happen, I am willing for you and those you love, me and those I love, and untold people, both guilty and innocent, to pay the price necessary for it to be maintained.” It’s sobering when put that way, yes?

In the interest of simplicity, let me be clear. I would rather be free than safe. I am willing to pay the price liberty, which encompasses so much more than just the right to keep and bear arms, sometimes demands. If I can find a way to both be free and to protect from its price those who value it less than I do, I am willing to do that. What I am not willing to do is to be stripped of my liberty for the sake of your feelings or even for the sake of your safety. If your decision to abandon liberty leads to you enjoying the great and rewarding safety that you desire, I am truly glad for you. But, when it comes to my liberty, regardless of what it might cost you and those you love, thousands or millions of others and even my loved ones (for whom even the thought of their pain, suffering or death fills me with dread), I will climb into no boxcar, whether physical or metaphorical. May God grant that I have taught my children the same and that such days never come.

*Note that I’m speaking of dealing with people, not quantum mechanics. People all around the world and throughout history tend to have the same wants, needs and motivations.

Of History

I occasionally can’t resist the temptation to write something with a Baconian title. Thus, this posting. Before I get any further into it, I want to share something from another loyal subject of the British Empire*, Rudyard Kipling. It is one of my favorites.

Norman and Saxon

-A.D. 1100-

“My son,” said the Norman Baron, “I am dying, and you will be heir
To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for share
When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:–

“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.

“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears;
But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield.

“But first you must master their language, their dialect, proverbs and songs.
Don’t trust any clerk to interpret when they come with the tale of their wrongs.
Let them know that you know what they’re saying; let them feel that you know what to say.
Yes, even when you want to go hunting, hear ’em out if it takes you all day.

They’ll drink every hour of the daylight and poach every hour of the dark.
It’s the sport not the rabbits they’re after (we’ve plenty of game in the park).
Don’t hang them or cut off their fingers. That’s wasteful as well as unkind,
For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher makes the best man- at-arms you can find.

“Appear with your wife and the children at their weddings and funerals and feasts.
Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish priests.
Say ‘we,’ ‘us’ and ‘ours’ when you’re talking, instead of ‘you fellows’ and ‘I.’
Don’t ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell ’em a lie!”

I like the entire thing, but what I find most appealing is the second stanza. Perhaps why will become clear in a moment.

In at least semi-accurate history, the English yeoman is an interesting figure; loyal to country and yet, strongly independent. The picture is one of the yeoman, working his land, perhaps even a freehold, when visited by his Lord’s tax collector. The yeoman dutifully brings out the tax, only to be informed by the tax collector that “the taxes have increased.” Our yeoman considers this for a moment before announcing that “no, they have not. If the Lord wishes to collect more taxes, he can come collect them himself.” For a long time, it was recognized by the nobility that the yeomen could be safely pushed only so far before there was “trouble.” See Kipling, above, and the term “fair dealing.”**

It is against this backdrop, I submit, that we have the view of at least some of the Founders that the US would be a nation of yeomen; strong, independent and intolerant of efforts to erode their liberty. The image of the American yeoman farmer comes into play here, though some of its earliest proponents found it more interesting as an idea than a reality when faced with its implications *cough* Adams *cough*.

The point of all this is that we have lost much of that idea. Far too often, we accept the idea of national sovereignty, not simply in terms of the US in its dealings with other nations, but even in its dealings with the citizens who constitute our republic. We have forgotten the concept of popular sovereignty. When we consider the implications of true popular sovereignty, we can perhaps understand Patrick Henry’s concerns regarding the newly proposed Constitution***, to wit that in the search for a stronger central government, we wound up with one more readily able to destroy liberty (Henry was also concerned with the rights and powers of the states, of course, but that is a separate though related issue).

I’m not sure that there is a way to return, in a real, meaningful and significant way, to the concept of a nation of yeomen and the popular sovereignty it would seem to demand. I will suggest, though, that the alternative is a gradual but steady and ongoing decrease in liberty.****

*Yes. I am well aware that the British Empire did not really begin until the early 17th century, and that therefore Bacon can only be said to have been alive during its earliest years. So, if your plan was to point that out, consider the point already made and acknowledged.

**I am also aware that Kipling greatly post-dates Bacon, the Saxons as depicted in the poem and the time period reflected in that picture of the yeoman. Feel free to move along.

***The fact that I swore loyalty to the Constitution does not mean I believe Henry’s concerns were ill-founded or that I was not serious (the phrase “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion” is important).

****That most of the rest of the world, especially the West, has definitions of liberty the US fails to meet is irrelevant to me, as those tend to define liberty in ways that support collectivism rather than individual liberty.