Earlier this month an amazing thing happened on Channel 9. The broadcaster showed an incredible recording of Ashad Russell rescuing a police deputy from criminal attack. The viewing is remarkable, not only in content but more so because they actually showed it.
On 14 November 2016, Sheriff’s Deputy Dean Bardes of Lee County Florida, had stopped Edward Strother on the highway and was subsequently attacked. Strother managed to get the better of Bardes and was on top of the deputy, striking him and trying to grab the deputy’s gun.
Enter Ashad Russell – responsible citizen.
Russell who was driving down the highway at the time had witnessed the event unfold. He stopped, pulled out his firearm and repeatedly warned Strother to stop and get off the deputy. Bardes called out to Russell and said, “please shoot him”, which Russell did three times resulting in the death of the criminal. For those who want to see the event you can watch it here.
Normally, the media ignores or under-reports events where citizens successfully defend themselves from criminals, especially when it involves weaponry. The natural reflex position of those who believe in big government, as much of the media do, is that the state should be responsible for everything, even your personal defence. So when someone does this successfully it goes against the narrative that only the state should, or can, protect you.
The world is replete with examples of individuals stopping personal attacks because they were prepared and armed. This event takes the principle to the next level. Put in the terms of libertarian philosophy this is what happened.
‘The State, while attempting to fulfil its legitimate role of law enforcement, called upon a citizen to assist as it was unable to perform its role’
Not only do we have the right to defend our person and our possessions, this right extends to assisting others who are having their person and possessions attacked.
For those not familiar with the philosophy of Natural Law and personal ownership, allow me to take a few lines to bring this out of the philosophy textbook and into your thinking. Humans existed and functioned either individually or in communities long before governments were brought into being. Government, has been given delegated authority by the consent of the governed, to regulate some of our affairs. Chief among those delegated authorities is law and order and the administration of justice. There are multiple other habits and institutions that have existed long before governments were formed, some of the more important ones are:
- Religious beliefs
- Marriage, families and family relationships
- Property and property ownership
- Commerce and business relations
- Food production and distribution
- Construction of buildings, particularly dwellings
- Self Defence
The philosophy of Natural Law is most closely associated with one of the most influential philosophers in history, John Locke. For anyone not familiar with his writings I heartily recommend reading his works. Particularly ‘Two Treatises of Government, Part II’, which outlines the natural rights common to all humans that proceed government. Locke is a philosophy titan and an enormous catalyst for good in the history of the word. His intellectual descendants are legion with one of the greatest being Thomas Jefferson.
Chapter III of the referenced work, titled ‘Of the State of War’ outlines in detail the rights of individuals when someone creates a ‘state of war’ with another person. The term is used in juxtaposition against the term ‘a state of nature’ where one is in a state of unmolested freedom. In the language of the text, ‘war’ does not mean nation states and armies having at it. It refers to a state of enmity and destruction created between persons when one tries to exercise control over another. When a person departs from the law of reason and exercises destructive designs upon another, that person has also departed the bounds of civil society. A person without reason and bent your destruction must be dealt with as a threat and a person is well within their rights to destroy the one who would destroy him.
‘And hence it is that he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power does thereby put himself into a state of war with him; it being to be understood as a declaration of a design upon his life. For I have reason to conclude that he who would get me into his power without my consent would use me as he pleased when he had got me there, and destroy me too when he had a fancy to it.’
When a government attempts to curtail your ability to exercise the right to self-defence then the government itself becomes an accomplice with the one who would destroy you. Denying your rights is enabling those who would take your rights from you.
To some this will be a totally alien thought. If you’ve grown up in the western world with the education, news and entertainment system we’ve had for the last half a century, the concepts being discussed may be foreign to you but when considered will ring true. These concepts intersect with the design of the human psyche and demand space in your reasoning faculties. You were born to be free. Your person is your own and what your labour produces is yours.
This issue is no longer a dry academic point of discussion. The signs are getting stronger in the liberal democracies of the world that your freedoms rest in the whims and fancies of the ruling establishment. At present there is stiffing impulse for control by any means possible. Control of thought, speech, discourse and action with heavy doses of shaming or worse for those who don’t obey. If you don’t believe me try saying something they don’t like and see what happens, or even not saying something they demand and see the result, as Taylor Swift discovered by refusing to criticise President Trump. The overriding aim is one of control and reliance on government. All the things humans have done well without government control or direction for millennia must be subsumed under the control of the state. Even your personal defence.
In any age someone’s philosophy will reign over society, either in part or in whole. So if philosophy is of no interest to you, remember that you are of interest to philosophy.
During a physical assault things can happen very fast with instantaneous reactions required. It’s messy, imperfect and can have devastating consequences. In the midst of such an event you cannot expect perfect reasoning and clarity of mind with perhaps the exception of highly trained individuals. Even then, events don’t always go well as the example in Florida shows. A trained police officer was overwhelmed and would probably be dead if not for the responsible citizen joining with the state to stop criminal injustice.