Part-Time Freedom Advocates
A few people--fewer than I expected, actually--took issue with my bashing some of the "Founders" for being oppressive hypocrites. So let's get specific, here.
The Sedition Act of 1798 made it a crime to "write, print, utter or publish... any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States," with the intent to defame them or to bring them "into contempt or disrepute," or to "excite against them... the hatred of the good people of the United States." And, of course, since crooks always deny being crooks, the politicians would treat EVERY accusation against them as being "false" and "scandalous," and therefore CRIMINAL. I dare say that, under that law, just about everyone reading this message would qualify as a criminal.
And the Act passed a mere SEVEN YEARS after the First Amendment (and the rest of the Bill of Rights) was made part of the Constitution. (Incidentally, as Thomas Jefferson pointed out at the time, the Act obviously violated not only the First Amendment, but the Tenth Amendment as well. Where in the Constitution is Congress authorized to regulate or forbid ANY speech, anywhere, in any
context?) Frankly, I think that if John Adams had been dragged out and hanged the moment he signed the Sedition Act into law, he would have deserved it.
(Some folks mentioned that via the "Homegrown Terrorism Act," and other supposed anti-terrorism acts, George W. Bush has also outlawed certain criticism of the government. While I would agree to a certain extent, I would also point out that at least today's control freaks had to use vague definitions and legalese word tricks to do it, whereas the Sedition Act did it in amazingly blunt, broad terms--something the Americans tyrants wouldn't dare try today. Today at least the fascists have to try to conceal their censorship agenda under the cloak of something more justifiable.)
Again, what makes things like the Sedition Act (and the crushing of Shay's Rebellion, the Whiskey Rebellion, etc.) so infuriating is all the great pro-freedom rhetoric which John Adams and the other founders spouted when someone ELSE was in power. But once THEY were at the helm, suddenly resistance to "authority," or even mere criticism of "authority," became a horrible sin. Such is the hypocrisy of all statists: they show righteous indignation at those who use "government" to impose things they don't like, while condemning as evil those who resist "government" when it imposes things they DO like. But if you accept the premise of "government,"
that's a temptation almost no one can resist. If you believe someone has the right to rule, even if only in a limited way, then it's so tempting to want to have that "authority" use such power to make the world the way YOU wish it was--to punish the things you don't like, and to reward the things you do like. That's why statists are so often (if not always) hypocrites.
If you oppose "gun control" while supporting the "war on drugs"--or the other way around--you are a hypocrite. If you support corporate subsidies while condemning welfare for the poor--or the other way around--you are a hypocrite. If you think it's okay to force people to fund a war they don't like, while complaining that government is forcing you to fund some other program you don't like--or the other way around--you are a hypocrite. In short, if you praise freedom out of one side of your mouth while advocating the initiation of "government" force against your neighbor FOR ANY REASON, you are a hypocrite. (Don't overlook the word "initiation," by the way.)
Don't pretend that, as a matter of principle, you love freedom, unless you also mean freedom for people you don't like to do things you think are stupid, immoral, etc. Valuing your OWN freedom is no virtue. The lowest scumbag on the planet values that. It's valuing the self-ownership of everyone else that is the sign of a real freedom advocate. And, I'm sorry to say, even most of the Founders fail that test.