Letters to the Editor for Mar 01, 2007
Thursday, March 1, 2007
MY QUIXOTIC QUEST
Last week I unwittingly submitted to your newspaper what was tantamount to my 30th anniversary of expressing myself in the public arena [Letters, Feb. 22-28]. It was 30 years ago last week that I had my very first letter to any publication printed, because it was 30 years ago last week that I received my official presidential pardon signed by Gerald Ford, which finally ended my seven-year ordeal of being on the lam from the FBI for refusing induction in 1969. That very same week 30 years ago I was finally free to go public with my feelings and opinions on various issues. I “came out of the cold,” so to speak, and with complete impunity.
Since that first letter-to-the-editor 30 years ago, my missives on a veritable plethora of topics have appeared in the LA Times, the SF Chronicle, The New York Times, The Guardian (of London), the International Herald Tribune, National Geographic, Scientific American, Discover, Life, and many other newspapers and magazines. I have not wasted my cherished First Amendment rights!
America is nothing if it’s not the most paradoxical of systems, and my particular case is the salient example of this. How strange it was that I was prosecuted and persecuted and pursued for seven years for an act of the highest morality—refusing to go to war to kill people—and yet that same government pardoned me without conditions for that same act of conscience. Is it any wonder that I have such a strong love-hate relationship for my country?
I’m perhaps the most confused patriot in America. I love this country for its unequalled wilderness and fantastic natural wonders, of which I constantly avail myself. I love this country for its theoretical liberties. But I despise the reality of how our so-called liberties are actually conveyed. In truth, we Americans are perhaps the most hypocritical people on earth. Very few Americans actually know what it means to be liberated in the deepest personal sense. I’m but one of a rare few Americans who I actually know who is truly liberated within myself, but because America is a veiled theocracy and profoundly repressed, I cannot live my life as the liberated man that I am. It’s for this reason I despise this country as it’s practiced.
I will continue to tilt at the windmills of hypocrisy and insanity in America as I continue to express myself through my frequent contributions to the public arena. I’m looking forward to another 30 years of penning my ruminations to as many publications as I can. —Jeffrey Van Middlebrook | Pacific Grove
CHECK YOUR TABULA RASA
Concerning Jeff Van Middlebrook’s letter supporting the draft, I find it disconcerting that he overlooks John Locke’s “government of consent” [Letters, Feb. 22-28]. To conscript people for any purpose is to deny the right of personal consent.
Jeff appears to be pushing for a government that performs particular activities that are unavailable to the average citizen. He has inadvertently stumbled upon the infamous “ruler’s paradox,” which states that if government authority comes from the consent of the people, then the government is limited to what the people themselves can do. That is, the government can only kidnap or steal if all citizens have the right to kidnap and steal within society. If citizens can legally commit all sorts of violent crimes, then government, acquiring its authority from the people, can do likewise.
So what is it, Jeff? Can every citizen kidnap or steal with impunity? Or is the government the sole transgressor here?
This question is fundamental to liberty. Where does government get its authority? How can it deny individual rights to the people who are supposedly the ultimate authority? —L.K. Samuels | Carmel
I am a 5th grade student at Coronado Beach Elementary School in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. I have adopted your state as a class project. Please send me one postcard from your state. Please do not send me anything but a postcard. We are unable to accept letters or packages due to safety precautions.
I am writing in hopes of getting a postcard from as many different people as possible. It would be great if some will take the time to write a short note on the postcard telling me something interesting or special about your state. I hope your readers can help me with my project. Please accept my thanks in advance for your help. Our school year ends in May.—Marshall Hughes | Coronado Beach Elementary School | 3550 Michigan Ave. | New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169