Hey, Joe: The 1st Amendment Isn’t About Your Diary, Nor is the 2nd About Hunting
Joe Biden's profanity-laced rebuke Tuesday of a gun-rights supporter is an angry act of misdirection.
Once again, candidate Joe Biden experiences a chillingly lucid moment on the campaign trail. Read the CBS News report.
Joe Biden had a heated exchange with a construction worker who accused him of trying to take Americans’ guns away during a campaign stop in Michigan. …
As Biden was working the room, one man confronted him about his stance on gun ownership.
“You are actively trying to end our Second Amendment right and take away our guns,” the worker told Biden.
Biden replied: “You’re full of sh**. I support the Second Amendment.”
“The Second Amendment — just like right now, if you yelled ‘fire,’ that’s not free speech,” Biden continued. “And from the very beginning — I have a shotgun, I have a 20-gauge, a 12-gauge. My sons hunt. Guess what? You’re not allowed to own any weapon. I’m not taking your gun away at all.”
“This is not OK, alright?” the man said, to which Biden replied, “Don’t tell me that, pal, or I’m going to go out and slap you in the face.”
“You’re working for me, man!” the worker said.
“I’m not working for you,” Biden said. “Don’t be such a horse’s ass.”
See the exchange at 1:39 below (some profanity—Biden’s).
Biden’s Sleight of Hand
Do you catch the bait-and-switch here? The citizen was asking the man auditioning to be his president about his Second Amendment rights. Biden answered by smacking him down like a serf (literally uttering a physical threat to slap him). Then he tossed him the scrap that hunting rifles are still permitted.
But the Second Amendment is no more about hunting than the First Amendment is about praying in secret or scrawling in your diary. Any honest reading of our Founders’ comments on private firearms ownership reveals that. And in fact Biden knows better, as he let slip in 2019. He told Anderson Cooper:
Look, the Second Amendment doesn’t say you can’t restrict the kinds of weapons people can own. You can’t buy a bazooka. You can’t have a flame thrower. The guys who make these arguments are the people who say, “The tree of liberty is watered with the blood of patriots.” We need the protection against the government.
I think I remember that phrase about the “tree of liberty.” Who was it who said that? Oh yeah, it was Thomas Jefferson. Biden identifies the author of the Declaration of Independence as the kind of crank we need to crack down on. That’s okay, I guess. Last week Biden judged Jefferson’s outlier Deism (among many hundreds of Protestant patriot founders) as a bit too much religion for 2020. Biden replaced the “Creator” who endowed us with our rights with a stammered reference to “The Thing.”
Fundamentally Transforming America
Once again, Biden is following the party line of elites, who want to erase America’s unique founding. Continuing Obama’s quest to “fundamentally transform” America into a “normal country” like Belgium, they’re desperate to stuff the actual beliefs of our forefathers down the Memory Hole.
I’m currently researching a book on the link between Christian human dignity and the right of self-defense, both against crime and tyranny. Read legal scholar’s Stephen Halbrook’s sober, even dry account of the roots of the Second Amendment, in That Every Man Be Armed.
He reveals the Second Amendment’s real back story. Halbrook compiles dozens of quotations from America’s founders, and the thinkers whom they cited. Virtually every mention of gun rights among the founders referred not to duck hunting clubs, but to “popular militias.” Unlike the National Guard, such militias were not controlled by the government. That’s why they were able to defy royal governors in states like Virginia and Massachusetts.
Such popular militias in England had overthrown Charles I. After 1688, when popular resistance brought down King James II as a threat to Protestants’ religious freedom? The British Parliament included gun rights in its “Bill of Rights.” It explicitly linked religious liberty to firearms, by limiting gun ownership to Protestants. (Don’t be too hard on the Brits. James II in exile had lived as the client of the French king, who shortly before 1688 had persecuted every last Protestant in France.)
Of Gun Rights and God Rights
Read David Kopel’s scholarly tome The Morality of Self-Defense and Military Action: The Judeo-Christian Tradition. He reveals that sermons at churches all across the thirteen colonies had long urged men to arm themselves and serve in those militias. Why? To protect religious, political, and personal freedom. Not to bag the meat for squirrel stew.
Our founders pointed to a long line of thinkers, starting with Cicero, going up through the Reformation and English Whig tradition. They drew on a solid intellectual tradition that asserted popular militias, not standing armies, as the guarantors of liberty. Drawing on these precedents, popular militias did much of the heavy lifting in the American Revolution. Do names like “Lexington” and “Concord” and “Bunker Hill” still ring any bells? Probably not among our young people, who’ve been taught that Rosa Parks founded the United States in 1955.
Do You Have a Permit for That Laptop?
Imagine if our country treated our First Amendment rights as cavalierly as it treats those recognized under the Second. (In case comparing them that sounds silly to you, it didn’t to George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, or any of the other founders.)
Let’s play this out, just for fun.
What if in different states your right to publish letters to the editor, blog posts, even comments on Facebook were regulated differently. In rural states, you’d be pretty much free to speak your mind, as long as you didn’t commit libel, steal intellectual property, make violent threats, or call for the violent overthrow of the government.
But in big urban areas, things were much, much stricter. Strict licensing laws banned most people who weren’t professional journalists from publishing actual articles with bylines. Why? Because without advanced training from Columbia Journalism School or some such institution, they couldn’t be trusted to comment “safely.” Some states permitted citizens to take extensive instruction, and gain a narrow “permit” that let them publish blog posts. But most of America’s largest, richest counties and states limited personal use of the First Amendment to short, harmless posts on social media.
It wouldn’t be much of a Constitutional right, then, would it?
Is This Bible Registered? Did You Buy It Out of State?
Likewise, if the First Amendment protection of the “free exercise of religion” meant that to enjoy it, you had to belong to one of a list of government-recognized churches. Or that you had to keep your religious beliefs locked up inside an hour or so of speech permitted on church property. But that is precisely the “freedom of worship” that Muslim countries permit local Christians. Interesting, isn’t it, that the Obama administration replaced “free exercise of religion” with “freedom of worship” on the U.S. citizenship test. And that Hillary Clinton used “freedom of worship” in her campaign speeches.
That kind of rhetorical shift doesn’t happen by accident. It’s part of a program. Leftist elites hate the original America for being Christian, individualistic, suspicious of tyranny, and protective of private property. That’s why they try to bury it under the flaws our founders inherited with their times, such as the worldwide acceptance of slavery. They distort it, in tendentious textbooks like Howard Zinn’s. And pretend that the “real” America only began at Ellis Island, or with the Civil Rights movement.
They don’t even have the decency to try to amend the Constitution they want to destroy. They leave that to unelected judges, to nullify our rights with the death of a thousand cuts.
“I’m Not Working for You”
Which returns us to Joseph Biden, the “moderate” Democrat in 2020. I hope the Trump campaign is ready with its attack ad, with Biden cursing at a blue collar worker for asserting a constitutional right. Then threatening to slap him. I want to see today’s video clip run a thousand times come October.
Biden: “I’m not working for you. Don’t be such a horse’s ass.” Then:
“I’m Donald Trump, and I approve this message.”
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration.