The Fable of King Richard's Horse
As retold by Sam Aurelius Milam III
Once upon a time, long long ago, in the Kingdom of Claymere, a criminal was condemned to death. This criminal begged the King for an extra year of life, and promised that in return he would teach the King's favorite horse to sing.
This was during the reign of King Richard the Pragmatic, who of course denied the request. However, Good Queen Genevieve pointed out to her husband that he had little to lose by granting the wish. She reminded him that he could have the criminal executed any time and although it probably wasn't possible for a horse to sing, the risk was minimal: a meager bit of upkeep for the criminal and a guard or two for a year. King Richard had lots of idle guards, for Claymere was at that time a peaceful kingdom of law abiding folk.
The next morning found the criminal singing heartfelt arias to the King's favorite horse. Luciano, a nearby stable apprentice, overheard the commotion and took a break from shoveling something or other to deride the criminal.
"Ya idiot!" he exclaimed. "Na horse can't sing!"
"Well," replied the criminal, whose name was A. Capella, "Mayhap ye be correct. Natheless, I gat another year."
"But singin' ta a horse?" jeered Luciano.
"Ken ye," suggested the criminal. "Much may hap in a year; I may die the while. The King may die, and God may will an heir of greater mercy."
"Not likely!" commented Luciano.
"Natheless" continued the criminal. "a year be long. Mayhap in a year could the Good Queen prevail upon His Highness to let me live. Who knows?" concluded Mr. Capella, "In a year, the blighted horse might even learn to sing." And he sang to the horse of love, of tall mountains and clear blue mountain lakes, of meadows filled with flowers, and of many valiant deeds.
Never was there such merriment in the stables of Claymere as during that year. Also during that year the Royal Troubadour died and, at the urging of Good Queen Genevieve, the singing criminal was pardoned and granted the vacant title. After that, he filled the Court of Claymere with glorious music until he died many years later, at a ripe old age.
The King's favorite horse never did learn to sing, but many good yeomen learned that persistence in a forlorn hope is better than no hope at all, and sometimes can even be the key to success.
Other Claymere fables available upon request: The Fable of Good Queen Genevieve and The Fable of Baron Grinit.
The Liberty Pole
by Dante DeAmicis and Don Cormier
Every July 4th, we're bombarded with patriotic American symbols such as flags, eagles, fireworks, the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, and so on. Only a few antiquarians realize that an important symbol of freedom has been forgotten in the commercialization of Independence Day. That symbol is the liberty pole.
In Colonial days, the liberty pole was a wooden shaft of varying heights which was raised in a village square or other convenient gathering place, decorated, and used as a rallying point for denouncing government actions, such as the Stamp Act of 1765.
Around such poles, people sang songs, listened to speeches, hanged hated officials in effigy, and commemorated acts of defiance. Before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, liberty pole rallies were an important way of expressing political discontent, and of spreading revolutionary attitudes among the less prosperous members of the population. Political posters, slogans, and pamphlets were tacked to the poles, making them an 18th century equivalent of our electronic bulletin boards.
After the Revolutionary War and the adoption of the Constitution, the new centralized government exerted its authority by imposing an excise tax on distilled spirits. This tax met with strong resistance in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina, where the liberty pole custom enjoyed a revival. As Thomas P. Slaughter relates in his book, The Whiskey Rebellion:
Perhaps the reason that the Liberty Pole has been forgotten is its association with this unsuccessful phase of the American Revolution.
At any rate, now for the $64,000 question: Why is a Liberty Pole not the symbol for the Libertarian Party, instead of a statue given by France to our government long after liberty ceased to be our guiding ideal?
by the Editor
On July 8, 1994, I received from the United States Postal Service a letter which said the following:
By John Perry Barlow
Amendment I Congress shall encourage the practice of Judeo-Christian religion by its own public exercise thereof, and shall make no laws abridging the freedom of responsible speech (unless such speech is in digital form or contains material that is copyrighted, classified, proprietary, or offensive to non-Europeans, non-males, differently abled or alternatively preferenced persons), or the right of the people peaceably to assemble (unless such assembly takes place on corporate or military property or within an electronic environment), or to petition the government for redress of grievances (unless such grievances relate to national security).
Amendment II A well-regulated militia having become irrelevant to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms against one another shall remain uninfringed (excepting such arms as may be preferred by pushers, terrorists, and organized criminals, which shall be banned).
Amendment III No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the owner's consent, unless that house is thought to have been used for the distribution of illegal substances.
Amendment IV The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures may be suspended to protect public welfare. Upon the unsupported suspicion of law-enforcement officials, any place or conveyance shall be subject to immediate search, and any such places or conveyances, or property within them, may be permanently confiscated without further judicial proceeding.
Amendment V Any person may be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime involving illicit substances, terrorism, or upon any suspicion whatever, and may be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb (once by state courts and again by the federal judiciary), and may be compelled by various means (including the forced submission of breath samples, bodily fluids, or encryption keys) to be a witness against himself, refusal to do so constituting an admission of guilt, and may be deprived of life, liberty, or property without further legal delay, and any private property thereby forfeited shall be dedicated to the discretionary use of law-enforcement agents without just compensation.
Amendment VI In all criminal prosecution, the accused shall enjoy the right to speedy and private plea-bargaining before entering a plea of guilty. The accused is entitled to the assistance of under-paid and indifferent counsel to negotiate his sentence, except where such sentence falls under mandatory-sentencing requirements.
Amendment VII In suits at common law, where the contesting parties have nearly unlimited resources to spend on legal fees, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved.
Amendment VIII Sufficient bail may be required to ensure that dangerous criminals will remain in custody, where cruel and unusual punishments are usually inflicted.
Amendment IX The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others that may be retained by the government to preserve public order, family values, or national security.
Amendment X The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution are reserved to the departments of Justice and Treasury, except when the states are willing to forsake federal financing.
Feedback — Unsigned comment1 scribbled on a returned copy of my essay MANifesto:
Law, American Style
This excerpt from The American Rifleman is reprinted with permission.
Ben and Kate Krantz, owners of a Nashville pawnshop, started wearing guns on the job after losing cash, jewelry and guns in a robbery. A month later, three armed men tried to rob the shop, but this time it turned out very differently. When the trio entered the shop, both Krantzes pulled their guns, and in an exchange of shots, killed one robber and wounded another. A police detective said the three were believed to be members of a local gang. (The Tennessean, Nashville, TN, 3/24/94)
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Natural Order — Not Command
by Don Cormier
Currently, The Lion King, produced by the Disney studios, is breaking box-office records around the country. In many ways, the movie deserves its success, because of its state-of-the-art craftsmanship. The animation, music, and dialog blend to create an amusing and poignant spectacle.
For those of you who have not yet seen it, The Lion King is about a lion cub who happens to be a lion prince — the potential ruler of a golden, picture-perfect African Savannah. The cub's nasty uncle kills the king and tricks the cub into running away. Years later, the cub, now grown to adult lionhood, returns, disposes of the usurping uncle, and assumes his rightful place as ruler.
From its very first song, The Circle of Life, the film preaches a "natural order" ideology which is more religious than scientific. Of course, in every natural environment, there is a food chain, a hierarchy of consumption, and a recycling of nutrients from the predators at the top to the microbes at the bottom.
However, to say that something exists is not the same as proving that it should exist. The film extrapolates from the existence of a hierarchy to asserting a moral need for hierarchy. In the moral universe of the film, attempts to change one's place in the pecking order are viewed as the height of folly and wickedness, and deserving of punishment. This evaluation of hierarchy is religious because it can't be proven by appeals to objective data.
It bothers me that millions of children below the age of 10 are going to be exposed to this dogmatic message. Of course, I'm not in favor of censorship, but it seems to me that parents should take time to discuss the film's moral implications with their children. Otherwise, the next generation could grow up with a vague feeling that it's morally wrong to disobey those with power and wealth.