Let’s talk about “cancel culture” and free speech.
A good starting point for this conversation is the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,
which protects the freedoms of speech and press in the United States.
The text has been “incorporated” by the Fourteenth Amendment and now
applies equally to federal, state, and local governments (i.e., not just
Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. . . .
U.S. Constitution, First Amendment (excerpt)
An important point that we need to make right here at the beginning is that the text of the First Amendment does not create
a freedom of speech. It doesn’t say that it is establishing or defining
some new freedom out of thin air. Read it more carefully. It is saying
that Congress cannot abridge the preexisting freedom of speech.
It assumes that the freedom is already there. The freedom of speech is a
human right that comes not from governments, but, depending on your
worldview, from nature, evolution, or God.
So we have to make a distinction between the “freedom of speech” as a
general principle or idea, and the “freedom of speech” as a
constitutional limitation on government. They are related, but they are
different. Both have value. Both deserve to be defended.
Public primary elections for the Democratic and Republican parties will be held on June 8, 2021. Off on a Tangent is
making recommendations to party primary voters in each contested state-
and federal-level primary race in Virginia, as well as those for
Loudoun County local offices.
Political parties are private organizations that should not have any
official standing in our political system, but Democratic and Republican
primaries are held by the Virginia Department of Elections and are
funded by Virginia taxpayers. The purpose of a party primary should be
for members of that party to choose who will represent them on the
general election ballot. Virginia, however, has an “open primary” system
where any registered voter may vote in any one (but not more than one)
primary each year.
This series of recommendations applies only to public,
taxpayer-funded primaries. Both the Republican and Democratic parties
are making some of their nominations at party conventions or through
other private means.
The South Riding Proprietary is a homeowners’ association (HOA) that
acts as a defacto local government for the South Riding community in
Loudoun County, Virginia. At the propriatary’s annual meeting on May 25,
2021, two seats on the Board of Directors are up for election. Members
of the board serve three year terms. South Riding property owners may
cast votes for these board seats either by attending the annual meeting
in person or by submitting a proxy vote beforehand. Proxy votes may be
cast using paper ballots that were mailed to property owners, or
electronically on the South Riding Proprietary web site.
The annual meeting must achieve a quorum (combining in-person
attendance and proxy ballots) of at least ten percent of all South
Riding property owners. If a quorum is not achieved, the meeting will be
recessed for a period of less than thirty days. At the resumption of
the meeting, a quorum of only five percent is required. The meeting may
then be repeatedly recessed and resumed until the five percent quorum is
achieved. The South Riding Board of Directors cannot seat members or
perform any official work without a quorum.
Three candidates appear on the director ballot: incumbent Director
Michael Hardin, incumbent Director Kevin Ubelhart, and Francois
Desamours. Property owners may vote for up to two candidates, and may
write-in other names if desired.
HOAs provide shared community services including maintenance of
common areas and private streets, trash services, snow removal,
community pools, playgrounds, parks, and so-on. But most HOAs, including
ours, claim numerous other authorities to restrict the use of private
property. These broad authorities are supposedly authorized by the
disclosures (i.e., covenants) that owners accepted at the time they
purchased property in an HOA neighborhood. Among the terms each
homeowner must accept is that they will include the same disclosures
when selling the property later.
In practice, this establishes a kind of private government. But no
government (or private organization, for that matter) may restrict a
person’s human rights to life, liberty, and property except in certain
very limited ways. Your property is your property, and you may do
whatever you want with it as long as you don’t directly harm others.
Compulsory HOAs that restrict these rights violate Article 1, Section 11, of the Constitution of Virginia,
which guarantees that citizens may not be deprived of their property
without due process of law (paragraph 1) and states that the right to
private property is fundamental (paragraph 3). They also violate the
similar protections in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The South Riding Proprietary (and all other HOAs) must repeal all
unconstitutional policies and regulations and stop all extralegal civil
enforcement. Until it does, I recommend that all South Riding property owners abstain from voting in the Board of Directors election. We should deny them a quorum and prevent them from operating at all until they confine themselves within the limits of natural law and human rights.
Includes photos by Couleur and Hans Braxmeier (Pixabay)
The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) announced today that the agency
will perform a controlled burn of the famous cherry blossom trees in
Washington, DC. The measure is described as a necessary COVID-19
prevention step that was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC) and the White House COVID-19 Response Team.
NPS Northeast Region spokesperson James McPhearson, speaking at a
press conference in Washington earlier today, said this step is not
taken lightly. “We know how important the blossoms are to the region,
and they are an important part of the area’s history, but, you know,
COVID. The blossoms are now a serious threat to public health. We’re all
in this together.” When asked to elaborate on what specific threat the
cherry blossoms posed to the community, McPhearson said, “Look, I really
don’t understand it either. Maybe the trees release the coronas when
they get to full bloom? I don’t know. The CDC told us to do it. It makes
as much sense as all the other stuff we’ve been doing since this
pandemic started.” He then made an air-quotes gesture and blurted out,
Fire experts from the U.S. Forest Service will assist the NPS in
coordinating the burn. Officials are expecting only minor damage to
monuments and structures around the National Mall and Tidal Basin,
mainly from smoke. The U.S. National Weather Service has issued a Fire
Weather Watch for the entire area because burning blossoms on some trees
may turn into cute, little firebombs that travel on the wind throughout
the DC metro area. During the burn, there will be rolling closures of
roads and highways in the affected area.
Off on a Tangent attempted to contact Doctor Anthony Fauci,
the chief medical advisor for the White House COVID-19 Response Team,
for comment. Fauci, who was locked in a sterile containment unit and
wearing six face masks even though he has already been vaccinated, was
unable to communicate.
The United States Senate voted today to acquit former President
Donald Trump (R), ending what was only the fourth presidential
impeachment trial in American history. It was historically notable as
the first time a president had been impeached a second time, and the
first time an impeachment trial had been held for a former president.
The United States House of Representatives passed an article of
impeachment in January, while Trump was still in office, alleging that
he had incited an insurrection. This led to a trial in the Senate which
was presided over by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Senate’s
president pro tempore. It would have required a two-thirds supermajority
of senators to convict and remove the president from office.
The Senate voted 57-43 to convict, however this fell short of the
required two-thirds majority of 67. All of the Democrats, and the two
independents who caucus with the Democrats, voted to convict. All but
seven of the Republicans voted to acquit. Republican senators voting for
conviction were Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins
(R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ben Sasse (R-NE),
and Pat Toomey (R-PA).
Three presidents have been impeached—President Andrew Johnson (D) in
1868, President Bill Clinton (D) in 1998, and President Donald Trump (R)
in 2019 and 2021. All were acquitted in Senate trials, and no president
has ever been removed from office. Articles of impeachment against
President Richard Nixon (R) passed the House Judiciary Committee in 1974
but Nixon resigned before they could be considered by the full House or
brought to the Senate for trial.