I lived in the wonderful little town of Hyrum for the majority of my life. Its rural nature makes it the object of ridicule at the hands of other Utahns at times, but I had never been ashamed of the cowboys and cattle pastures. I had been proud to tell people where I was from.
Well, I had been proud, that is, up until last year’s Independence Day celebration. The festivities in Hyrum had concluded with a closing prayer given in Spanish, and that set the town in an uproar. True colors were displayed as many residents shamed themselves by publicly revealing their hatred and intolerance for one of the many cultures present in the community. Apparently, it was inappropriate to conclude an American holiday in the Spanish language. The residents would rather it had been done in English, the language of the tyrannical regime from which we declared our independence two centuries ago.
Hyrum must be establishing a tradition for embarrassing itself every Indepedence Day. I attended the city’s parade this last Monday with my family. I was nervous this year because I can no longer bring myself to stand with my hand on my heart when the flag passes, and I didn’t know how my family or bystanders would react. I had been wisely counseled by a good friend to do it anyway and let it mean something different to me in my heart, that it was better to do that than to cause strife with family and friends. But when the time came, I simply could not do it. I would not have been able to live with myself.
It turned out that my concerns were unfounded as no one really noticed my lack of respect for the flag, but the rest of the parade was profoundly uncomfortable as I saw it for what it truly was for the first time in my life. The parade is nothing but State worship. We stand at attention to this false idol and cover our hearts to honor the government that enslaves us. We applaud the police officers who are more likely than anyone to violate our rights. We shed a tear in memory of the brave men who gave their lives to free us from Britain, men we would label as terrorists today.
I remember thinking, These aren’t my people. This isn’t America. There is only compliance and obedience and servitude here. Where is the rebellion, the defiance of authority, the dissenting voice? Where are the Americans?
It was then that a group of young men proudly carrying an American flag hung upside down with “Children of Debt, Inheritors of War” scribbled across it in black marker walked past me. I was so shocked that I didn’t get a chance to stop them and talk with them about their message. These were my people. These were Americans, valiantly protesting the egregious wrongs committed by the men and women who pretend to represent them.
It wasn’t until the following Friday that I noticed the headlines confirming my thoughts in glorious irony: Hyrum City police had forced the men to leave town under threat of arrest for flag desecration. Apparently, such a thing is a misdemeanor in Utah. If this isn’t a brilliant display of the absurd contradiction that is the State then I don’t know what is. The notion that the State will employ force to punish individuals for expressing themselves by altering a flag that represents the freedom to express oneself would be hilarious if it didn’t fill me with rage.
The last I’ve heard of the matter is that the Cache County Attorney doesn’t intend to press charges. This small victory for these young men, this acquiescence of the attorney’s office in fear of the people, this evidence of some lingering spirit of liberty in the hearts of my countrymen — this all renews my pride in my country and my love for my fellow Americans.
Best. Independence Day. Ever.
After we successfully removed Bob Bennett from office for disqualifying himself for it, a friend of mine asked me if we should do the same to Orrin Hatch. I’m going to just throw the following points out there for consideration, and y’all tell me what we should do:
- The Senate Judiciary Committee — including Sen. Orrin Hatch — unanimously approved the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” today.
- This act creates a blacklist of websites that registrars and service providers must block if the attorney general orders them to. Financial service providers are forbidden from doing business with these sites, and advertisers are forbidden from advertising on these sites.
- The First Amendment to the United States Constitution orders that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…“
- The oath of office for U.S. Senators includes the following: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…“
If the government were a business and Sen. Hatch were truly my employee, I would have canned his keester years ago.
I know I’m a little late responding to this, but former Senatorial candidate Cherilyn Eagar published an editorial in the Standard-Examiner last month in which she suggests that Utah ban the sale of violent video games to children. It’s a shame, really, because although her article is well written, concise and understandable, it completely misses the point.
Every time I hear those dreaded five words — “There should be a law!” — I cringe, mostly because the person proclaiming them has no idea what they are advocating. A state law is nothing if it cannot be enforced. You can fine someone, but what if they don’t pay the fine? Well, you order them to appear in court. What if they don’t show up? Well, you issue a warrant for their arrest. What if they don’t want to be arrested? Well, then you tase them or beat them or shoot them. You eventually either kill them or put them in jail.
“I realize that when I give my consent to the adoption of a law, I specifically instruct the police – the government – to take either the life, liberty, or property of anyone who disobeys that law. Furthermore, I tell them that if anyone resists the enforcement of the law, they are to use any means necessary – yes, even putting the lawbreaker to death or putting him in jail – to overcome such resistance.”
Want to express yourself or communicate with your fellow men and women in Brigham City? Sure! Just fill out an application and give the city 24 hours’ notice. If you’re approved, the city will let you know where, when and in what manner you can speak.
That’s right. The Brigham City council recently approved an ordinance that makes it illegal to protest in public without begging the city for permission. Those caught engaged in “unlawful protest” can be fined $750 and thrown in jail for 90 days. The city was kind enough to provide Utah Liberty with a copy of the ordinance, which can be downloaded here (PDF).
Let’s consider some actions that could now get us thrown in jail in Brigham. Let’s say that I’m walking down the sidewalk with five or so of my buddies (the ordinance arbitrarily makes it okay for “spontaneous protests of five or less [sic] individuals”) and we decide we’d like to talk to each other. About what? Oh, it doesn’t matter, because the ordinance just says that “the communication or expression of views” is what’s being regulated here. Let’s say we’re talking about last night’s episode of Fringe. I mention that I liked it. I thought it was gripping and well acted. Now let’s say a police officer overhears this. He asks us to cease and desist from this unlawful speech and writes us a $750 ticket. If we continue to talk, we are arrested and spend 90 days in jail.
Ah, well, they wouldn’t do that, you may think to yourself. This ordinance is for trouble-makers and such. Let me tell you this: just because they wouldn’t do it doesn’t mean they can’t. And believe me: if some cop has something personal against you, he will.
Who can say with a straight face that this is a just law?
I hate to pick on the Deseret News again, but they keep making it so easy. The paper called on Americans to condemn the planned burning of copies of the Quran by the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida. In doing so, the News has joined the U.S. government, thousands of Indonesian protesters, General David Petraeus, the U.S. embassy in Kabul, the White House, NATO, Hillary Clinton, the Vatican, and the United Nations. All of this attention and condemnation aimed at a 50-member church that wants to burn some books.
As with the “Ground Zero” mosque debate, both sides are completely missing the point on this issue. Those defending the mosque pleaded for religious freedom, while those opposed called for sensitivity. Those defending this little church in Florida are asking for religious freedom and crying free speech, while those opposed are worried about sensitivity and national security. But none of this matters, because both of these issues boil down to one principle: property.
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