Apathy: The Tyrant’s Best Ally – Part III
Our entire society been conditioned to simply accept tyranny, to comply with tyrannical legislation, and to put our efforts into repealing those “laws.” While seeking to repeal that legislation is certainly a noble objective, it is not the only peaceful means of fighting tyranny. Simple non-compliance is another very powerful tool that we should never abandon. In New York and Connecticut, when they passed onerous new gun control laws, it is estimated that a mere 4% of New Yorkers complied with the SAFE act, and even a smaller percentage in Connecticut complied with the new gun control laws enacted in that state in 2014. Compliance gives legitimacy to illegitimate law. We have no moral or Constitutional duty to comply with the legislation of a lawless government that not only infringes upon our natural rights, but violates the highest law of the land. We do have a duty to refuse to comply.
But is simply ignoring the legislation in passive non-compliance the only form of non-compliance? On December 13th, 2014, thousands of patriots on the Capitol lawn in Olympia, Washington, soundly proved it is not. On that historic day, thousands of patriots stood in active non-compliance and deliberately and collectively defied the latest tyrannical act of a lawless government. I-594, an initiative that prohibited even temporarily handing another person a firearm without performing a background check, had gone into effect days before. While everyone there experienced a powerful sense of patriotism and solidarity, I think few realized just how significant that event was, myself included. That band of patriots, in a few hours, effectively and legally nullified a law that gun control proponents had spent millions of dollars and told incalculable lies to promote. It was as if it had never been passed. Not just for those few hours on the Capitol lawn, but permanently. It seems . . . fantastic. Too good to be true. But it isn’t.
The tyrants are now terrified that the law will ever be enforced. You see, their plan only worked if everyone went along with it. With mass open defiance, a few significant things happened.
First, an attempt to enforce the law would almost certainly be met with a Constitutional challenge. A challenge that would be likely taken to the Supreme Court, made up of elected justices. Since the initiative conflicted not only with the plain language of the 2nd Amendment, and Article 1, Section 24 of the Washington Constitution, but was also openly defied by thousands of the citizens, the likelihood of it being overturned by a Supreme Court looking at a coming election, would be higher than one would initially expect for a State where it could pass. That would set the tyrants back years, perhaps decades, creating a risk that I’m sure terrified them. Ironically, this gave the tyrants a vested interest in seeing to it that the initiative was not enforced.
Secondly, the very act of public defiance, combined with the Washington State Patrol honoring their collective oaths of office and refusing to arrest or cite anyone for violating the initiative, means it will almost certainly fail to reach a conviction for anyone charged with it. The reason is found in the 14th Amendment. Leaving discussions of the intent or legitimacy of the 14th Amendment aside, we can reasonably conclude it is universally recognized as the law of the land by the courts. You may wonder, what does the 14th Amendment, passed to protect former slaves from discriminatory laws and enforcement of laws, have to do with a discussion of non-compliance. The 14th Amendment states:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
That last phrase “nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” was intended to prevent the freed slaves from being subjected to discriminatory laws or discriminatory enforcement of laws. It prohibited selective enforcement. Should a person be charged under the language of I-594, they would merely need to point to the very public example of thousands of citizens openly defying the law in sight of the Washington State Patrol, and note that they were not charged or cited. After that day, any future enforcement, would by very definition be selective enforcement. Prosecutors live for conviction rates so they would be very disinclined to press a charge that has such an exceedingly low prospect of getting a conviction.
As a result, with the people refusing to comply, the tyrants terrified of enforcing it due to a Constitutional challenge, prosecutors wary of charging with it due to the likelihood of a successful 14th Amendment defense, and some counties all but stating they would refuse to enforce it entirely, I-594 is dead. All because a few thousand patriots stood in courageous and open defiance of tyranny. And the beast blinked. The power of that moment was only realized by most of those patriots in the days and months following the event.
But what if, you might ask, some years down the road, some prosecutor decided he was feeling froggy and tried to charge someone for violating the provisions of I-594? The victim of the State tyranny would have yet ANOTHER very solid defense: the principle of desuetude. This is the principle where a law becomes “rendered obsolete because of disuse.” Any law that has NEVER been enforced at all, is pretty easy to argue is “obsolete because of disuse.”
I-594 is dead. Open non-compliance works.
I’d like to conclude with some thoughts on the “how” of active non-compliance, and what that looks like. When we engage in active non-compliance, it should always be peaceful, we should always maintain the moral high ground, and we should always give the enforcers a chance to do the right thing and honor their collective oaths. We should work with the peace officers, if at all possible. We should not back them into a corner where they have motivation to arrest us. The individuals tasked with enforcing tyranny can be our most powerful ally if we can convince them to simply not enforce, rendering the tyrants laughably powerless.
Finally, while it feels good to say we don’t care what the “sheep” think, it is important to remember they can make our efforts far harder, or far easier. Imagine if you will, an arrest taking place at a peaceful non-compliance event. In one case, the protester is polite, well spoken, and even well dressed. He has a cordial conversation with the peace officer while being arrested, and chooses not to resist. Now, imagine, another protester, clad in mis-matched camouflage clothes, unkempt hair and beard, cursing at the peace officers and screaming “tyranny” while being arrested. Imagine also these events being shown on national media. The latter would seem well justified in the minds of the viewer. The former, however would leave the viewer puzzled, thinking “well, he wasn’t really doing anything wrong” . . . and perhaps, many viewers would even begin to question the law being enforced. The fight against tyranny is as much a psychological operation as a physical one and if we forget that, we will lose. The last place we want to forget that is in active non-compliance.
Tyrants only have the power we give them, so we must top giving it to them. We must collectively decide that we will not comply with tyranny. We will not comply with violations of our natural rights. Not now. Not ever. We Will Not Comply.
Long live freedom!