Speech and Memorial Day

I'll second the good doctor's thoughts. Whether I agree or disagree with Crooked Timber’s Kieran Healy does not matter. On February 27, 1992 I stated:

I, David Willis Masten, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic...

This was part of my oath of enlistment into the U.S. Army. Every officer and enlisted man serving the U.S. swears to defend the Constitution.

Of what use are the deaths of my brothers-in-arms throughout the history of the United States, if Kieran can not speak his mind? For what purpose did the they strike out at the British? or the Germans, the Japanese, or the terrorists? When I took that oath I had in mind the freedoms in the Bill of Rights more than our peculiar method of selecting rulers. The right to speak openly for or against the various policies and ideas that shape our polis is perhaps the most important of the rights I swore to defend.

Asking if the deaths of the men and women sworn to defend the Constitution is worthwhile is not only appropriate on Memorial Day, it is necessary. Our political leaders must always be questioned about whether they are wasting lives, no matter the cause of war. Our greatest strength comes from our freedom to speak openly against our leaders. Our enemies, and apparently some of our own, may not understand, but the freedom of speech is most important during times of war and crisis. It is by speaking out from all sides that we are able to find the truth, understand the situation, and find the best resolution. It is when dissenters are silenced that hubris, ignorance and lies triumph to the great detriment of society.

There is no better way to honor our fallen servicemen than to exercise the rights they fought for and defended, especially on Memorial Day.

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Well, pretty much every USG

Well, pretty much every USG soldier who fired a gun outside USG territory in the last 40 years pissed on their own oath of enlistment. Note the lack of Congressional Declarations of War since WWII.

Not that any of it matters anyway, as Spooner has pointed out:

"On general principles of law and reason, the oaths which these pretended agents of the people take "to support the Constitution," are of no validity or obligation. And why? For this, if for no other reason, viz., that they are given to nobody. There is no privity (as the lawyers say) -- that is, no mutual recognition, consent, and agreement -- between those who take these oaths, and any other persons.

If I go upon Boston Common, and in the presence of a hundred thousand people, men, women and children, with whom I have no contract on the subject, take an oath that I will enforce upon them the laws of Moses, of Lycurgus, of Solon, of Justinian, or of Alfred, that oath is, on general principles of law and reason, of no obligation. It is of no obligation, not merely because it is intrinsically a criminal one, but also because it is given to nobody, and consequently pledges my faith to nobody. It is merely given to the winds.

It would not alter the case at all to say that, among these hundred thousand persons, in whose presence the oath was taken, there were two, three, or five thousand male adults, who had secretly--by secret ballot, and in a way to avoid making themselves individually known to me, or to the remainder of the hundred thousand--designated me as their agent to rule, control, plunder, and, if need be, murder, these hundred thousand people. The fact that they had designated me secretly, and in a manner to prevent my knowing them individually, prevents all privity between them and me; and consequently makes it impossible that there can be any contract, or pledge of faith, on my part towards them; for it is impossible that I can pledge my faith, in any legal sense, to a man whom I neither know, nor have any means of knowing, individually.

So far as I am concerned, then, these two, three, or five thousand persons are a secret band of robbers and murderers, who have secretly, and in a way to save themselves from all responsibility for my acts, designated me as their agent; and have, through some other agent, or pretended agent, made their wishes known to me. But being, nevertheless, individually unknown to me, and having no open, authentic contract with me, my oath is, on general principles of law and reason, of no validity as a pledge of faith to them. And being no pledge of faith to them, it is no pledge of faith to anybody. It is mere idle wind. At most, it is only a pledge of faith to an unknown band of robbers and murderers, whose instrument for plundering and murdering other people, I thus publicly confess myself to be. And it has no other obligation than a similar oath given to any other unknown body of pirates, robbers, and murderers.

For these reasons the oaths taken by members of Congress, "to support the Constitution," are, on general principles of law and reason, of no validity. They are not only criminal in themselves, and therefore void; but they are also void for the further reason that they are given to nobody."

What Does The Oath

What Does The Oath Mean?
Reading these words (slightly different, with his name there) in David Masten's post on Catallarchy tonight, I thought back to the first time I said these words, on August 18, 1985.