Liberty vs. License: Where I Stand

Comments from one reader of yesterday’s blog post leads me to want to explain something further. Yesterday’s post was concerned with the rush to judgment in Ferguson and the possibility that the greatest potential victim in this entire episode is the death of due process. There has been, in my opinion, too much pre-judging taking place. You saw it in the many nights of protest that included looting and rioting. You saw it in the statement of Missouri’s governor when he said a vigorous prosecution had to go forward. You saw it also in the arrival on scene of Eric Holder, who made it clear he empathized with the protesters. I questioned whether the DOJ would really conduct a fair and balanced investigation, based on Holder’s public position on the event.

Yes, I have serious doubts about the storyline being promoted by Michael Brown’s defenders. First, the main eyewitness was Brown’s partner in the manhandling of a store clerk and the robbery of the store just prior to the fatal incident with the policeman. Is this a trustworthy witness? There are also accounts of the policeman who fired those fatal shots being attacked by Brown. Who is telling the truth? All I’m asking for is an approach that gets all the facts first, then makes a judgment as to guilt afterwards.

I was asked by one commenter if I wasn’t concerned about how the police acted, and that this might be an indication of statist control of society. Let me be very clear here. Anyone who has ever read this blog on a regular basis cannot fail to understand that I sound the alarm on statism constantly. I firmly believe in the rule of law. The end-run the Obama administration always tries to make around the Constitution is a genuine threat to liberty.

That word “liberty” requires some explanation as well. Some people have a terrible understanding of what liberty actually comprises. It is not licentiousness. That’s why I can never be a libertarian politically. Ideological libertarians want nearly a non-existent government, not only in the economic and educational spheres (where I have substantial agreement with them), but also in the moral sphere (where I disagree with them vehemently). They replace the God of the Bible, who has ordained civil government for very specific purposes, with the god “Liberty.”

True liberty always includes personal accountability and a framework, in society, for order. Liberty to do whatever one wants is not true liberty, but license. What I saw on the streets of Ferguson, as business owners had to defend their private property from those who wanted to just grab things for themselves, was license. A police force must stand against those actions. The responsibility of the police is to protect the innocent from those who are out to hurt and destroy.

Did the Ferguson police go too far? There is an honest difference of opinion on that. I suspect that some of those business owners wish the police had been more of a presence than they were. Did the police charge the protesters, killing and maiming everyone in their way?  I didn’t see any footage like that, did you? In fact, they seemed rather tentative at times, worried perhaps about the reputation they were getting. That never would have stopped Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Castro. We are hardly on the verge of a police state, at least at the local level.

Now, does that mean I have reached a definite conclusion about the events of that night when Michael Brown died? Regardless of my leanings, which are based on what I have read and seen thus far, I nevertheless would have to continue to suspend any final judgment. If I were a resident of Ferguson, I would have a clear conscience sitting on a jury to decide this matter. I would look carefully at all the evidence and make my final judgment only after reviewing the facts as presented by both sides.

But there are some things that are clear to me:

  • Scripture requires an orderly society based on the rule of law.
  • Government is not a necessary evil, but an institution established by God to restrain evil and maintain order.
  • Rioting and looting are sinful actions that need to be met with the force of the government and put down with a force equal to the sinful actions themselves.
  • Guilt or innocence will be decided in a court of law, not in the media or on the streets by the loudest voices.

This is where I stand, and I make no apologies for my stance.

Fairness & Due Process under Obama

Michael Brown’s funeral is now over. Nightly unrest seems to have left Ferguson, Missouri, for the present. However, expect it to return if the legal process doesn’t go as some desire. This incident is not unique with respect to making a judgment before all the facts are known; it’s becoming alarmingly common in matters touching on race.

All the Facts

Gov. Nixon of Missouri and the Obama administration, represented by Attorney General Holder, have made it clear they have prejudged the situation. Nixon tried to walk back his comment about a vigorous prosecution of the police officer, but few are buying his semi-retraction. Holder says the DOJ will investigate fairly, but that is difficult to accept, given his predisposition to believe the narrative offered by Brown’s advocates. The loss of one life is always a tragedy, but less so if that person attacked the policeman. We’re still waiting for all the facts to come out. While we wait, we must ensure we don’t suffer an even greater tragedy that would affect everyone:

Due Process

My reluctance to give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt when it comes to fairness and the rule of law stems from a long train of abuses in the past 5-plus years. The president seems to take any and every opportunity he can to blame Republicans for all the ills of society, never once taking any blame for himself:

Teenage Girl

Anyone who would use the IRS in an attempt to destroy political opponents has a lot of nerve casting blame on others:

Free T-Shirt

Congressional elections are drawing near. Prospects for Democrats are not good. They have to hope all these issues can somehow be buried and that the electorate will suffer from collective amnesia:

Election Issues

Unfortunately for the Republic, they’ve been able to do this before. Only an alert and principled citizenry can ensure it doesn’t happen again.