Liberty or Lockdowns

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These were my notes for my talk at the Fight Laugh Feast event in Dallas this evening.

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A Brief Preamble

One of our great Founders was Patrick Henry, and he was great because of what he saw (that so many others did not see), and he was great because, when he saw what he did, he did not flinch, he did not run.

So before getting to my argument, I want to share just a few quotations from Patrick Henry, including his most famous one, in order to get you into that condition that every good Christian should be in during these tumultuous times, that condition being “churned up.” The purpose of this brief preamble is to get the blood pumping. If they do not get your blood pumping, have your wife call 911 because I think you might already be dead.

First—“If this be treason, make the most of it!”

Second—“It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains.”

Third—“Suspicion is a virtue as long as its object is the public good, and as long as it stays within proper bounds . . . Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel.”

Fourth—“What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”

Fifth—“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”

Sixth—“Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty?”

Seventh—“The eternal difference between right and wrong does not fluctuate, it is immutable.”

Eighth—“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government—lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”

Ninth—“When the American Spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different; Liberty, sir, was then the primary object.”

Second Introduction

The great Thomas Sowell once identified a fundamental difference between the conservative mentality and the progressive mentality. He said that when it comes to addressing societal problems, the progressive thinks in terms of “solutions,” while the conservative thinks in terms of “trade-offs.”

Here’s Sowell:

“There are no solutions, there are only trade-offs; and you try to get the best trade-off you can get, that’s all you can hope for.”

Thomas Sowell

Now in the actual world, the world we actually live in, to use your resources for one thing means that you cannot use them for another thing. You are always engaged in trade-offs. Trade-offs are inescapable. It is not whether you are trading-off but which thing you are trading-off.

But if you think like a progressive—meaning that you do not think about trade-offs at all, but only in terms of “solutions”—what this means is that you are going to make some very bad trades. This is because all the trades are being made by someone who does not know he is making them.

To spell it out, when the stir and panic about the coronavirus first hit, the imperative was to “do something.” Masks, lockdowns, vaccines, and vaccine passports all had the advantage of coming in a box that was plainly marked “solutions.” Nobody in power was calculating the trade-offs. They wanted a solution and, as it turned out, their solutions always seem to involve ceding them unlimited power.

Enter the Politicians

The politicians are the ones who must implement the solutions that the left demands, and their calculus is a little different. They, like the conservatives, think in terms of trade-offs also, but not in terms of societal trade-offs. They function in terms of electoral trade-offs. “What is most likely to threaten my reelection? What is most likely to help secure my reelection?”

And this means that if the progressives can get up enough of a hue and cry to threaten the reelection of unprincipled politicians (but I repeat myself), they can get a lot of bad solutions layered on top of hidden trade-offs passed into law.

All Lies

But this kind of detachment from reality is a lie, and it results in nothing but lies. We are being led by the nose, all the time. We are being lied to, all the time.I mean, think about it. When I say lied to “all the time,” I mean incessantly, constantly, endlessly, perpetually—like your neighbor’s dog, barking away at midnight the way it does.

And that is because all of this is about control. This is not about disease control, but rather about people control. And anything that disrupts or retards those efforts of theirs at people control is more or less fine with me.

This is because our diseased establishment resembles nothing so much as a sickly yellow custard that is a little green around the edges. It is time to clean out the fridge. Since it is becoming apparent that our ruling elites are neither one, not knowing how to rule, and not being at all elite, it is time for us to acknowledge the obvious, fill up the streets, and just say no.

I didn’t even know that absurdity had a pinnacle, and yet, here we all are, rocking back and forth on the top of it. Because of an irrational panic, how many millions of healthy people were sentenced to house arrest for a year? What did “fifteen days to flatten the curve” turn into? It morphed into “until the vaccine,” and then when the vaccines arrived, and a bunch of people got the vaccine, it turned into “you’re going to have to mask up again this fall” even if you have had the vaccine. I tell you what. Why don’t you get all the vaccines, and then double mask, and go down into your basement, and play doctor with your boosters. Just to be sure.

So, confronted with an establishment that wants to triple down on all this stuff, what should the Christian response be? They will be calling for more lockdowns, more masking, required vaccinations, vaccine passports, more boosters, and all the rest of it. They will use various verbal tricks in order to spook the populace—which is showing definite signs of becoming surly—into conformity again.

It is possible that they might quit if the bloodletting in the coming mid-terms results in blood up to the horses’ bridles, as in Revelation. But even then, they will only quit and go on to some other power-scam.

Religious Refusal

There is a strong case to be made by those Christians who want to make an appeal for a religious refusal. Suppose the president, or whoever it is behind him these days, issued an executive order mandating that we all wear blue ball caps every Tuesday. There is a valid and quite strong religious objection to such a decree, and it runs like this: “I am not your slave.”

We have to recognize the difference between people who have been slaves for generations, and who are on the brink of being liberated, like the Israelites in Egypt, and a people who have been free for generations, and who are on the brink of being enslaved, like Americans in 2022. The strategies employed by these two different kinds of people are going to be different, of necessity, and the very first thing to do is not to confound the two scenarios.

And so we resist, as we ought to resist, and we claim the liberties that pertain to us as free men. Like Patrick Henry, we are more concerned about what they will do to us when they are our masters and we are their slaves than we are concerned about whatever panicporn fright they are trying to spook us with.

In Christ, we are free men. And as we make this claim, one of the things we have to come to grips with is the fact that Caesar is not in charge of what constitutes a valid religious exemption. Jesus is Lord, not Caesar, and this means that Caesar does not get to determine what Christ has decided to give to us. If Caesar wants to be blessed, he should recognize it, but he is not the source of it. I should say that again. Caesar is not the source of our liberties, Christ is.

But our secular Caesar will want to set up the terms and conditions under which he will magnanimously grant you that exemption. And what they will probably want from you is a certain measure of irrationality—something like “I belong to a sect that has every strict laws against wearing the color blue under any conditions.”

They will say that in order for it to be a true religious scruple, it has to be arbitrary and make no sense, and all your fellow Presbyterians (or whatever) have to share your scruples about the same thing, and in the very same way. If you have an intelligent religious conviction that says that people who are not slaves should not be ordered around like they were slaves, they will say something like “Ha, ha, DENIED!”

You have no inherent problem with wearing blue, or blue ball caps, or blue ball caps on Tuesday, but when the president picks up his pen and orders you to do something he has no authority to order, then you should invite everyone to watch you—in accordance with the laws of your religion—walk all the way through Tuesday without a blue ball cap anywhere in sight.

But they will say it is not a true religious conviction unless it operates like an irrational taboo, or like some religious phobia. If it comes to them that way, they can afford to be magnanimous (sometimes), pat on you the head, and send you on your merry little exempted way. Thus the Amish don’t get drafted, the JWs don’t get blood transfusions, and so on. But they don’t know what to do with a comprehensive faith—like the Christian faith—that shapes and molds slaves into free men.

They want to be in charge of every detail of human existence. They have a lust for control and power. They are totalitarians in spirit, and the fact that they want it to be a Brave New World totalitarianism, and not a 1984 totalitarianism, shouldn’t change anything as far as we are concerned. It is going to wind up as an amalgam of Brave New World and 1984 anyhow.

And so they will want you to come to them, hat in hand, and to ask for an exemption because you belong to a bizarre sect that is running its own little clown show—telling its members to touch not, taste not, handle not. They will not know what to do with a faith that teaches its adherents not to cede authority to their clown show. That is a sane religious conviction, and we commend it to them.