Still less than a week out from the general election I’m seeing a lot of ideological banter on social media. There’s a lot of comparing and contrasting. Much is in the form of memes though some is serious. For example, a left-leaning friend (a real, old friend) posted the following on Facebook:
“I wish Republicans had the same unwavering, unconditional support for the First Amendment that they do for the Second.”
I “liked” the post. I like the sentiment. I will not get into partisan politics as both sides and parties have a lot of catching up to do with liberty on those two and many other fronts. My wish is that everyone would get behind all of the freedoms set forth in the Bill of Rights, 100% and all the time. That would be half of making the Constitution worthwhile (again?). (The other half would be narrowly restricting the government to just those parameters delineated). Already I lose people, I know.
My buddy isn’t likely to get his wish anytime soon. I will likely never see mine come to fruition. I can handle it, being that I am after all a rebel to all ideology. But there is always hope. I am a staunch supporter of the First and Second Amendments (and all else recognizing rights of the free people). I don’t have a story to go with the proposition of the First and the Second together though. I do, however, have one directly related to the Second Amendment and application of Due Process and Equal Protection.
Journey back with me now …
The year was 2008. It was May, I think. Let’s say May of 2008. Yes. The Atlanta Chapter of the Federalist Society announced a lunch and learn seminar centered on the landmark 2A case, District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)(the Supreme Court held the 2A protected individual rights to bear arms).
The case was, then, before the High Court, having just come out of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case, there, was known as Heller v. D.C. Litigants “hop the ‘V'” when they change courts to keep things interesting. The D.C. Circuit came to the same conclusion as the Supreme Court did later though, in my opinion, better, stronger, and less “qualified”. Judge Lawrence Silberman wrote the majority opinion.
Where was I? The Fed-Soc! This was the final Society function I attended (at least so far). And I only went because of the subject matter and the keynote speaker. Said speaker was none other than Judge Silberman.
I always hated legal seminars, even the ones about guns. I think Silberman said many nice and smart things. He’s a nice and smart man. The problem is that in those settings a haze descends over me. It’s all I can do to eat the lunch (not cheap in that case).
After the lunch there was a mix and mingle session. I remember looking out the windows. We were in the conference/gala room of some major law firm, on about the 50th floor of a mid-town high-rise. The view that day for terrific.
At some point I found myself in a small group with Silberman, a U.S. Attorney, some political hacks and a few bigwig attorneys. I thanked and praised the Judge for his work. There was a lot of nodding, smiles and those quips that only come from anti-government type conservatives who happen to make their living from the government. Then, as always happens, the Perrin came out. I said something like:
“I love my guns and I don’t support any gun controls at all, reasonable or not. But, whatcha gonna do? It’s the District of Corruption.”
Only Silberman (now a little nervous) broke the gawking silence, “Did you just say the District of Corruption?” I answered, “Yes. I did.”
I didn’t like even Antonin Scalia’s qualifications on the Second Amendment. And I wasn’t going to give any of my own about my statement. I excused myself so they could talk about me. I had other business downtown anyway.
About a mile south and a world away I had an appointment with the Southern Center For Human Rights. Whereas the Fed-Soc is arch-conservative and all that, the Southern Center is arch-liberal and all that. The scenery changes, I don’t. I was on a mission that day to fight for multiple rights. The venues were unimportant.
My business with the Center was this: various backwards Georgia counties allow(ed) for private probation companies to operate cases in State Courts. A very few did a good and reasonable job. The majority were as corrupt as the District. What one would expect from Georgia.
I had a lot of experience with two of those probation systems – one good, one bad. And I knew that the Center was investigating the bad one under cover. We had spoken on the phone but I wanted an in person meeting. It had nothing to do with the attractiveness of the young woman leading the investigation though that certainly did not hurt. (And I can’t remember her name…).
Our concerns were mutual. In addition to posing several Constitutional questions on the operation of government, these systems discriminated horribly against poor people. If you or I got a speeding ticket (well, if you did), you just paid the fine and went on your merry way. Poor folks facing the same predicament also faced a world of hurt. You might have paid $200 and moved on. They ended up paying $1,000+ over the course of one or more years. The abuses were too numerous to list. It was bad, bad enough to make me ride MARTA to fight it.
We talked for a good hour. No crazy Perrinisms, I just told her everything I knew and offered my help. She, they had a vague plan. Over the next few years, with a ton of help from private defense attorneys and many lawsuits and some legislation, the plan worked out. Kind of. Georgia still has a backwards system, greatly resembling the previous one, but it is now conducted under official guise. Progress, I suppose.
A little liberal progress. On the conservative front it was much the same. The Supreme Court gave us Heller and MacDonald and other courts gave yet more 2A friendliness. There’s still much to be done on all fronts. And I gave you this story, heartening testimony that one may support opposite ends of the freedom spectrum even in the same day in May in Hotlanta.
Now, I give you the following zany side stories! The price you pay for reading this far.
I spent the night (before or after I cannot remember – maybe both) at a hotel in Buckhead. Not wanting to drive downtown I took a MARTA train. I bought my token with a $20. The stupid machine spit out my token and 17 or 18 Sacagawea Dollars as change. Thus, as I eased around traffic, I clanged about with 4 pounds of scrap-metal in my pockets.
Upon leaving the Southern Center I encountered a beggar. Downtown Atlanta almost has as many beggars as D.C. has rats. I had walked past more than a few that day alone. This lady was different. She was well dressed. She seemed sweet and professional. And she seemed like she really needed a helping hand. She only asked me if I could help her with anything. No song and dance. No ridiculous story. No fake Rolex. I said, “Darling, you’re in luck!”
She was more than gracious to receive Sacagawea and the whole tribe. I was happy being able to walk upright again.
One good deed deserved another so I treated myself to a cigar. (You had to know cigars were coming). It was at the nice shop on Sidney Marcus that I don’t think is in business anymore. It was just down the street from my hotel.
Corona Cigars. I’m a Corona Club VIP! How ’bout you?
At the time I was reviewing Cigars for the now-defunct Vegas Room. As an assignment I bought a Davidoff Winston Churchill. Later that evening I removed with my smoke and a beer to the hotel pool area. Immediately upon lighting up my chair broke. This, aggravating my Sacagawea injury, killed the experience and ended my review attempt. I took my beer back to the room with a curse and a limp.
The moral to all of this is: reach across the aisle sometime and help the “other side”. Freedom is freedom is freedom. Also, if you can help a poor person, do so – it might benefit you immediately. And, finally, when you go to do your review smoking, pick a good chair…