Quote of the day–Mark Philip Alger

Joe Huffman has his Just One Question. I have another:


If it is proper for a citizen to use force — even lethal force — to prevent or halt the commission of a felony (in the interest of preserving the life and property of the innocent), how much more-so to prevent an ongoing violation of a provision of the Constitution — given that the latter is the source of authority for the former?


When is it proper, for example, to use force to stop a legislator engaged in unconstitutional actions? Indeed, when is it required of those who have sworn oaths to… protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic…?


Mark Philip Alger
February 7, 2009
Our Curmudgeon…
[See also my Civil Disobedience web page. When you have an answer please share.–Joe]


8 thoughts on “Quote of the day–Mark Philip Alger

  1. Speaking as someone who has taken that oath, and is still bound by it (so far as I know, leaving military service does not break that oath), this is definitely something that gives me pause periodically. I can only imagine how it is for people still in active duty, and still having some of those same legislators and law-makers in their chain of command…

  2. Linoge. I’m wondering if I haven’t missed something. ::grin:: I was under the impression that legislators are NOT — specifically, and for good reason — NOT in the military chain of command. Which is why the military refers to the President and his assigns as the National Command Authority.

    Now, congresscritters may THINK they’re in the military chain of command, and they may wish they were, and they most certainly believe they SHOULD be, but… isn’t that kind of the point? They act in ignorance or arrogance with regard to the Constitution in nearly everything they do.

    And thank you for your service to our country.


  3. I’ve also asked myself that question, as one bound by that oath.

    Herein lies the problem. Our legislature can see fit to change the constitution seemingly at will. An amendment, or worse, striking down an amendment, is well within their purview, and the constitution is what gives them the power to do just that. So if, by some act, they struck down the first ten amendments, or even just the second, and that act was either agreed to by the Him, or his veto overriden, and then the new amendment ratified, and cleared by review of the SCOTUS, I would be honor and duty bound to fully support that constitution.

    It’s a function of the truest weakness of our constitution, that it can be changed, often enough by the fancies and socio-political whims of the day–take prohibition for example. We had the whiskey rebellion over the gummint’s designs on taxing whiskey. A hundred and fifty-odd years later, we criminalized liquor altogether, based on a popular notion of alcohol as the root of all societies ills.

    Now, we see guns as the new booze.

    In criminalizing private ownership of guns, there is a completely legal means of doing it, the same reason that there are currently lines of our constitution that are struck through–bits about 3/5 of a person, women’s suffrage, etc. Sometimes, we see the changes as good for the overall whole, ssometimes we see them as bad, and we reert back to common sense–i.e. prohibition, but the effect on the gun industry would be far worse than the effect on the booze industry.

    Prior to prohibition, almost every town in America had its own brand of beer. Microbreweries weren’t kitchy, they were de rigeur. Every town brewed beer, often with recipes coming from the old country, and often with more regionally available ingredients. We had a great many different beers, of different style and character. Following prohibition, there were only a very few breweries remaining, they had either the resources to mothball their operation or produce non-alcoholic beverages during the interim. When they restarted operations, they saw that the best way to get back into business full swing was to produce a beer that would either appeal to all people, or at the very least, be bland enough to not make them stay sober altogether. The result is the “American” style of lager. Almost completely devoid of flavor, mildly hopped, barely bitter. The most common thing it has to its ancestors is bubbles.

    So, since we’re starting with a relatively small number of companies producing guns, a prohibition of any length in the civilian market would result, if that prohibition was ever listed, with new guns sharing the characteristic of appealing to the most people. I shudder to think what commonality they would have with American beer.

    But to answer the original question, when does our armed forces raise up against a tyrannical government that i our own? Unfortunately, although we swear protection against foreign and domestic enemies, there is no set, formalized, even legal trigger for that action. No legal line in the sand. I think it is kind of like pornography–it can’t be defined, but you know it when you see it. Fortunately, I think things will have to get worse, much worse, before we see tanks rolling through the mall. Americans should never count on their military to fight their revolution for them, if that is what it takes. It should be a revolution of, by, and for the people, a popular movement, not one that can or should be fought by professional soldiers. If we host a revolution, it’s a coup, and the most common result is a dictatorship.

    Just my $.02 (which in terms of US currency and exchange, is worth slightly less than a zimbabwean nickel.)

  4. Another way of saying:

    “America is at that awkward stage. It’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.” – Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do ‘Til the Revolution

  5. Joe, I had, until now, managed to not see your Disobey page. Violation of one’s oath of office is something that deserves a strong and swift response. Fat chance of that happening these days. Getting to the disobey part:

    I found this odd. If an individual could use force to defend themselves, then wouldn’t it be acceptable for a group of people to use force? And if a group can use force to resist why can’t a government wage war against an aggressor? [Joe]

    I’ve had a rather long post simmering in my head on that subject. Ought to sit down and write it sometime. The Churchill quote is a good one, and reminds of another of my favorites, which you no doubt have on file, but I’ll toss it out for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t seen it:

    War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
    — John Stuart Mill

    Our legislature can see fit to change the constitution seemingly at will. An amendment, or worse, striking down an amendment, is well within their purview, and the constitution is what gives them the power to do just that.

    I am immensely grateful that such is not the case. Though it is true that over the years, with packed courts, and the burdens of precedent that have accumulated over the years, the Constitution has been bent all out of shape. But it remains true that the legislature may only propose amendments. I can only imagine how much worse off we’d be if they had to power to actually enact them. The power to actually change the Constitution remains with the people.

  6. The answer to that question” Is it correct to use force against one who is sworn to uphold the constitution violate that oath?” is maybe.

    The correct response is to use the tools the constitution gave us to correct that oath violation. That is the ballot box, protests, letters and calls to legislators, suits in civil courts etc.

    If the violation is so egregious that force is the only option than the answer is yes. The problem is who decides when the tools of the constitution fail to correct the violation and then we declare another independence but with the justifications of the revolt written and publicized. Before any single person gets to that point he/she, better make sure they have enough support to succeed, because the moment they declare their independence from the current constitutional government they are traitors to the existing government just like our founders were to the crown rule of England.

  7. Just a teensy nit to pick here, because I see the King referenced so often;
    As of the middle 1600s, England was controlled by a Parliament, with the Crown’s role being largely as figurehead, just as it is today. It was Parliament, with their concerns over what their constituents were saying, that urged for an end to the War with the Americans. It was getting very bad for business.

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