According to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the incident does apparently prove that, as is made clear in the title of their press release last Friday: “DISCOVER BUILDING TRAGEDY AFFIRMS ILLEGITIMACY OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE.” This, of course, is in reference to the hostage situation last week at the Discovery Channel headquarters in Washington D.C., in which an “environmental activist” decided to force the Discovery Channel–at the point of a gun–to run programming more in line with his views about the dire need to curb population growth.
Says the CSGV:
Lee’s goal was to influence federal environmental policy and he chose a high-profile target to make his point. “In our constitutional system, violence in furtherance of political goals is always illegitimate, no matter what views one holds,” said Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Executive Director Josh Horwitz. “Our democracy is only as strong as our citizens’ commitment to engage in the lawful redress of grievances.”
With their constant demands for a government monopoly on force (that’s not my own wording–they explicitly call for that, citing the “wisdom” of Max Weber, who’s authoritarian advocacy eventually led to a German law that helped Hitler tighten his grip on power in the 1930’s), the CSGV is basically saying that if there is to be any killing, the government is going to be doing it, while the people do the dying. Furthermore, in saying that the Discovery Channel headquarters incident “affirms the illegitimacy of political violence,” they are equating a guy ready to kill to stop the broadcast of “Kate Plus 8,” with, say, this guy–a comparison that is nothing less than evil.
To say, as the CSGV does, that “Our Democracy is only as strong as our citizens’ commitment to engage in lawful redress of grievances,” is to assume that the government is willing to obey its own rules (the Constitution, in our case). As long as that assumption is true, all is well, and the people are indeed obligated to obey the law, and work to peaceably change objectionable political realities. When, however, the government picks and chooses which Constitutional rights it will honor, and under what circumstances, that obligation no longer exists–can no longer exist. To quote John Locke:
… whenever the Legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the Property of the People, or to reduce them to Slavery under Arbitrary Power, they put themselves into a state of War with the People, who are thereupon absolved from any farther Obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence. … [Power then] devolves to the People, who have a Right to resume their original Liberty, and, by the Establishment of a new Legislative (such as they shall think fit) provide for their own Safety and Security, which is the end for which they are in Society.
Once the people are “absolved from any farther Obedience,” and start acting on that absolution, then, perhaps, the government will realize (far, far too late) that the Constitution it ignored had been protecting it, as well as the rights of the people.
The CSGV’s position that political violence is always illegitimate indicates a view that there is never a point at which a government can go too far, never a point at which a citizen can morally refuse to allow the government to kill him without a fight.
There can be no liberty under such a system, and no free people will submit to it (not if they wish to remain free).