Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dangerous Precedents

Instapundit points to protest demonstrations outside Speaker Boehner's house--and reminds the left:
Have fun folks. You are establishing precedents that will return on you threefold.
I'm reading Christopher S. Mackay's The Breakdown of the Roman Republic: From Oligarchy to Empire, as part of making sure that if my students in Western Civ ask me questions that aren't answered by our textbook--that I don't look like a complete idiot. 

Mackay makes the point that one of the contributing factors to the breakdown of the Roman Republic was the increasing use of violence as a political method, increasingly so from the assassination of Tiberius Gracchus onward.  Each time that violence became a method for resolving a political difference, it became that much easier for the other side to use it the next time.  The left has become so consistent in their use of violence and intimidation that one of these days, the temptation is going to overcome good sense on the right about this--and the spiral will get completely out of hand, much as assassination became a tool of political process in late 19th century New Mexico Territory.

Demonstrations outside someone's home isn't political violence of course--but stuff like this vandalism on the truck of Idaho Department of Education Superintendent Tom Luna is starting to get closer and closer to the sort of behavior that provokes eye for eye.  (And let me point out that I'm not particularly happy with some Luna's proposed changes to public instruction.)


  1. I'm not sure whether I agree with Luna's changes or not. Most likely, if I took the time to examine them all, I'd be split on them. However, it is absolutely unacceptable to use violence or threats agains him or his family members, as someone has done. I haven't heard many of the liberals here in town denouncing the "hate speech" and "uncivility" that led to these incidents.

  2. Speaking of the fall of the Roman empire, don't forget the mass defection of Roman "citizen's" to the "barbarians" to escape Roman taxation. When they crossed over into barbarian lands, the Germanic tribes might have taken everything they owned, but after that they were free to make a living without fear of the tax collectors.
    "But what else can these wretched people wish for, they who suffer the incessant and even continuous destruction of public tax levies. To them there is always imminent a heavy and relentless proscription. They desert their homes, lest they be tortured in their very homes. They seek exile, lest they suffer torture. The enemy is more lenient to them than the tax collectors. This is proved by this very fact, that they flee to the enemy in order to avoid the full force of the heavy tax levy. This very tax levying, although hard and inhuman, would nevertheless be less heavy if all would bear it equally and in common. Taxation is made more shameful and burdensome because all do not bear the burden of all. They extort tribute from the poor man for the taxes of the rich, and the weaker carry the load for the stronger. There is no other reason that they cannot bear all the taxation except that the burden imposed on the wretched is greater than their resources."