by Alex Symington……………
Last week in Key West the Newspaper [The Blue Paper], I wrote about the quiet coup of corporate co-option of our government and listed the glaring evidence to that truth. Towards the conclusion of the essay I had used the word “revolt” in, what I thought, was contextually appropriate. I submitted the piece and after the editors read it they cautioned me on the word “revolt” and sent me a link to The Cornell University Law School web site “Legal Information Institute” citing “18 U.S. Code 2385 – Advocating overthrow of Government.” I was intrigued.
This information came to me as the deadline loomed so I dutifully altered the concluding paragraph. I then set out to research the legality of restricted speech and found that throughout our relatively short history as a nation the interpretation of the first amendment has varied and American citizens, at times, have felt the wrath of a fearful government when outspoken. The word, “revolt”, has several connotations and my usage had been to express a revolt of ideals and repudiation of the economically, spiritually and intellectually stifling paradigm we exist within; a revolt of the spirit, if you will. Unlike second-amendment-purists and canned-food-and-gun-hoarders I have my feet firmly planted in reality and know any armed rebellion against our mighty military forces would be a tragic, pathetic failure. That is the farthest thing from my mind.
Any significant changes in the Corporate State System will have to be non-violent, but we must first undergo a fundamental change in our perception of our counterfeit representative government. We must recognize the false choices and false promises of a false two party system, both sides, bought and paid for by the corporate power elite. A successful return to pre-Corporate owned government would require law enforcement; both civilian and military, to ignore their masters and stand down and passively support the citizens in their cause to return the government to its intended of-by-and-for the people.
So, am I “breaking the law” by saying these things? I read and re-read the “18 U.S. Code 2385” many times over due to the fact that it is soul numbingly dry and difficult to wrap the mind around, but with some perseverance I concluded that the gist of it is this; you aren’t allowed to “overthrow” the government. On the surface, that seems a reasonable rule.
However, to play devil’s advocate, here is an excerpt of a letter written in 1787 from Thomas Jefferson in Paris to James Madison. “…Societies exist under three forms sufficiently distinguishable. 1. Without government, as among our Indians. 2. Under governments wherein the will of every one has a just influence, as is the case in England in a slight degree and in our states in a great one. 3. Under governments of force: as is the case in all other monarchies and in most of the other republics. To have an idea of the curse of existence under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep. It is a problem, not clear in my mind, that the 1st. condition is not the best. But I believe it to be inconsistent with any great degree of population. The second state has a great deal of good in it. The mass of mankind under that enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has its evils too: the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject. But weigh this against the oppressions of monarchy, and it becomes nothing.”
He continues with the following, which given today’s “Patriot Act” mentality, might be considered treasonous and rendition worthy. “Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.” [Translation: I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.] “Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs. I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions indeed generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government….”
To those avowed flag-lapel-pin-wearing, pocket-constitution-carrying, founding-father-fetishists, Jefferson said much more incendiary stuff than this. To put it in contemporary parlance, just sayin’.
An example of an “unsuccessful rebellion” that “established the encroachments on the rights of the people” was the failed Occupy Wall Street movement that was summarily shut down by the Corporate State and its goons; however before that took place the movement introduced into the American lexicon and psyche the truth of the one percent lording over everyone else.
The ACLU, whether you love it or hate it, is a reliable source of information on what is legal and illegal when it comes to civil rights and constitutional law. According to the ACLU on the subject of speech they have this to say, “The First Amendment protects your right to express your opinion, even if it’s unpopular. You may criticize the President, the Congress, or the chief of police without fear of retaliation. But this right does not extend to libel, slander, obscenity, ‘true threats,’ or speech that incites imminent violence or law-breaking”
As for talk of government overthrow, there is this, “In the 1940s and ’50s, suspected subversives or Communists were often charged with ‘incitement to illegal activity’ and convicted. Subsequent courts have interpreted the government’s ability to prohibit ‘speech-as-incitement’ more narrowly. The government can’t stop you from talking generally about ideas or future events, but it may ban speech that’s directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Additionally, “You can’t be held responsible for the way that counter-demonstrators or your own supporters react, as long as your words don’t directly incite violence or law-breaking. It’s the responsibility of the police to control the crowd.”
To the above in bold, my “general” use of the word “revolt” was/is very unlikely to “produce imminent lawless action”. So, we can see, there is still a bit of flexibility (so far) when it comes to speaking generally about the people’s right to bring about change in government and words like rebellion, revolt and revolution might be used in hypothetical terms or simply refer to the revolution of the spirit as in my case, as long as one isn’t calling for imminent violence or specific instructions inciting violence.
I understand the editor of Blue wanting to err on the side of caution, but I think that my interpretation of the first amendment is in line with all of the above. We should feel free to explore and debate options and means of improving our governance. If we are denied that, we are being, not only illegally muzzled by this insidious new Corporate State, we are being denied our basic rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness promised in our Declaration of Independence.
This is not the first time I’ve attempted to address the intentional deterioration of our civil liberties by the Corporate State. (Links below) Sadly, there is no denying our government is in a state of “degeneracy” that Thomas Jefferson talked of in his letter to Madison and our republic is ill and in need of “a little medicinal rebellion” to bring us back to health. Thank you, Mr. Jefferson, for helping clear that up.
More from other sources: