First Amendment

Home » First Amendment

The Missing Ingredient in Your Fact-Based Arguments for Liberty

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online Archives by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 12 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Facts are essential to making the case for liberty. But you can make dry facts come alive to your listeners — by using the mind-changing power of stories.

Stories — both true and fictional — have a special power. The greatest teachers have Memorable Storiesalways used stories: think of the parables of Jesus, the fables of Aesop, the witty tales of the Taoist Chuang-Tzu. Nearly every culture uses stories both to entertain and to convey vital lessons.

Now we have scientific evidence that stories are extraordinarily effective. Bestselling author Carmine Gallo, in his book Talk Like TED, cites Princeton University research which used MRIs to study how the brains of audience members reacted to stories. The studies showed that stories actually activate all areas of the brain.

Says Gallo: “Brain scans reveal that stories stimulate and engage the human brain, helping the speaker connect with the audience and making it much more likely that the audience will agree with the speaker’s point of view.”

Obviously, if we want to successfully persuade others, we should be telling lots of stories.

When you can combine a story with your facts and figures, your audience listens. They identify. They are moved. They feel, as well as calculate. Further, while it’s hard to remember facts and figures, people remember stories — and eagerly share them.

Let’s take as an example the issue of medical marijuana. There are many logical, fact-based arguments that can — and should — be used in persuading others on this issue. But consider this story, a version of which was published in the Pittsburgh Press in the early 1990s, before liberty activists begin to have success in getting states to re-legalize marijuana for medical purposes:

James Burton, a former Kentuckian, is living literally in exile in the Netherlands. Burton, a Vietnam War vet and master electrical technician, suffers from a rare form of hereditary glaucoma. All males on his mother’s side of his family had the disease. Several of them are blind.

Burton found that marijuana could hold back, and perhaps halt, the glaucoma. So he began growing marijuana for his own use and smoking it.

Kentucky State Police raided his 90-acre farm and found 138 marijuana plants and two pounds of raw marijuana. At his 1988 trial, North Carolina ophthalmologist Dr. John Merrit — at that time the only physician in America allowed by the government to test marijuana in the treatment of glaucoma — testified that marijuana was “the only medication” that could keep Burton from going blind.

Nevertheless, Burton was found guilty of simple possession for personal use and was sentenced to one year in a federal maximum security prison, with no parole. The government also seized his house and his farm, valued at around $70,000. Under forfeiture laws, there was no defense he could raise against the seizure of his farm. No witnesses on behalf of the defense, not even a statement from the Burtons, were allowed at the hearing.

After release, Burton and his wife moved to the Netherlands, where he could legally purchase marijuana to stave off his blindness. Instead of a sprawling farm, they now live in a tiny apartment.

They say they would love to return to America — but not at the cost of Burton going blind.

See how that puts a human face on the medical marijuana issue?

There are equally moving, equally appalling stories about taxation, utility monopolies, First Amendment issues, gun rights, licensing laws, war… virtually any issue. Anywhere the government has committed aggression against individuals, there is a story to be told.

A great place to find such stories is the website of the Institute for Justice (IJ), a libertarian legal defense organization. IJ has done a wonderful job of collecting stories of heroic individuals fighting to defend their lives and property against oppressive government.

Whenever you come across heart-rending, powerful stories of victims of government, or people overcoming oppression, collect them for future use.

Most people decide what they believe not just on bare facts but also on feelings and emotions. Give them stories to hang your facts on, memorable stories that make your facts come alive, and you will be far more effective in your political persuasion.

They Said It

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

Chuck Schumer(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 8 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

DEMOCRATS TO VOTE AGAINST FIRST AMENDMENT: “The First Amendment is sacred, but the First Amendment is not absolute. By making it absolute, you make it less sacred to most Americans. We have to bring some balance to our political system.” — Sen.Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Apr 30, 2014, announcing that Democrats will vote this year on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to override First Amendment protections of political speech and political activism by restricting the amount that individuals and groups can spend on such speech and activities.

SAVE THE FIRST AMENDMENT: “Displeased with recent legal victories in which free speech has prevailed over limitations on political speech imposed by Congress, Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), Mark Udall (D., Colo.), and other Senate Democrats have introduced a constitutional amendment that would not only set aside the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence and invest Congress with virtually unlimited power to regulate the political activism of private citizens, alone or in groups, but would also give the federal government and the states the power to shut down newspapers, television stations, and radio networks that displease them. This is an all-out assault on the First Amendment and an act of vandalism against the Constitution.” — The editors of National Review, “Save the First Amendment,” May 2, 2014.

EVERYONE IS UNDER SURVEILLANCE NOW — SNOWDEN:

Edward Snowden

“[Surveillance] is no longer based on the traditional practice of targeted taps based on some individual suspicion of wrongdoing. It covers phone calls, emails, texts, search history, what you buy, who your friends are, where you go, who you love.” — NSA whistleblowerEdward Snowden, “Everyone is under surveillance now, says whistleblower Edward Snowden,” Associated Press, theguardian.com, May 3 2014.

PULLED OVER FOR DRIVING WHILE HUMAN: “Driving stiffly, having tinted windows, slowing down when seeing law enforcement, and driving in an out-of-the-way area may be innocent conduct by themselves. But when taken together along with driving a vehicle with out-of-state plates in a mountainous smuggling corridor 40-45 miles away from the border, we conclude Agent Semmerling had reasonable suspicion Ms. Westhoven was involved in smuggling activity.” — Federal Judge Scott M. Matheson, Jr., writing in US v. Westhoven (US Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, April 24, 2014). Also cited by the judge as reasonable cause for suspicion: acne, nervousness, driving with hands on the steering wheel in the 10-2 position.

Jimmy KimmelEARTH DAY GIFTS: “I never know what to get the Earth for Earth Day. So I just bought it an iTunes gift card and buried it.” — Jimmy Kimmel April 23, 2014.

FOREIGN AID:

Jimmy Fallon

“Joe Biden said the U.S. will help Ukraine with financial aid as long as the leaders tackle corruption. Because if anything stops corruption, it’s bribing someone to stop corruption.” — Jimmy Fallon April 22, 2014.

NOT IN AMERICA: “Donald Sterling’s girlfriend said she’s ‘going to be president of the United States’ one day. Yeah, like we’re going to elect someone who secretly records people’s private phone calls and conversations.” — Jimmy Fallon May 1, 2014.

RE-QUOTED AND NOTED

MISES ON POLITICAL ACTIVISM: “No one can find a safe way out for himself if society is Ludwig von Misessweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result.” — Ludwig von Mises from his 1922 classic Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, quoted by Jim Powell in his investment newsletter Global Changes and Opportunities Report, April 2014. You can read Socialism by Mises in its entirety online here or download it as a free ebook from the Mises Institute here.

They Said It…

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It… section in Volume 19, No. 5 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

NSA Director Keith AlexanderNSA HEAD PREDICTS LEGISLATION TO RESTRICT FIRST AMENDMENT: “I think we are going to make headway over the next few weeks on media leaks. I am an optimist. I think if we make the right steps on the media leaks legislation, then cyber legislation will be a lot easier.” — outgoing NSA director General Keith Alexander, March 4, 2014. An outspoken opponent of whistleblower Edward Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald, Alexander himself has been accused by critics of leading unconstitutional programs and lying to Congress.

Charlie Earl
LIBERTARIAN CANDIDATES “BANNED” BY GOP IN OHIO: “I really am theequivalent of a book in Boston. Yeah, I’ve been banned.”  — Libertarian Party of Ohio gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl, after Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted disqualified Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary from the May 6 primary, based on an obscure clerical error. This new Republican attack follows a failed attempt in January to keep all Libertarians off the 2014 ballot. In Ohio the GOP governor faces a very close race and a strong LP showing could cost him the election.

NORTH KOREA OFFERS BALLOT MODEL FOR DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS: “With no one else on the ballot, state media reported Monday that supreme leader Kim Jong Un was not only elected to the highest legislative body in North Korea, he won with the unanimous approval of his district, which had 100 percent turnout. … Voters in the election have no choice who to vote for — there is only one candidate’s name on the ballot for each district.” — Associated Press, “NKorea: Not a Single Vote Cast Against Kim Jong Un,” March 10, 2014. (See quote above about Ohio’s ballot shenanigans.)

Secretary of State John KerryKERRY CALLS FOR NON-INTERVENTION — FOR EVERYONE ELSE: “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests. … You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext.” — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on TV news shows Face the Nation and Meet the Press, March 2, 2014. Apparently Kerry is not familiar with recent U.S. activities in Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yugoslavia, etc. etc. etc.

Jimmy FallonGOD SAYS DON’T BLAME ME FOR OBAMACARE: “This week President Obama told his supporters that they are doing God’s work by helping to promote Obamacare. God said, ‘Whoa, there. Look, I’m flattered. But Obamacare, that’s all you, man. Don’t involve me in that mess.’” — Jimmy Fallon, Feb. 27, 2014