Adam Kokesh, a veteran of the Iraq War, was recently
convicted in a Virginia court for possessing drugs and guns. Kokesh has been an activist in the
liberty movement, speaking out against war and speaking in favor of gun rights
and other libertarian issues.
On July 4, 2013, Kokesh was videotaped with a gun in public
in Washington DC. He posted the
video online. He was purposely
engaging in an act of civil disobedience.
Ironically, he underestimated the power of the government. Days later, his house was raided for
guns and drugs.
Originally, Kokesh was planning on getting a large group of
people to walk from Virginia into Washington DC, openly carrying guns against
the law on July 4, 2013. While he
described it as a nonviolent demonstration, I think his followers found their
better sense and decided not to participate.
I think Kokesh is a good guy. He has come strongly to believe in libertarian
principles. Some people outside of
pro-liberty circles will see stories about Kokesh and think he is some crazy
guy who wants to commit violence.
He may be a little crazy in the sense of being willing to take a stand,
but his purpose is to take a stand against an out-of-control government. The thing that many people don’t
realize is that it is the government initiating force. If you are minding your own business
and not threatening to initiate force on anyone, then Kokesh is no threat to
you. He stated in front of a
judge, “the only time I was violent was when I was a Marine”, referring to his
time in Iraq.
Kokesh is being convicted because of his well-known views
against government. They really
are trying to teach him a lesson.
He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, which is absolutely insane for
someone who did not hurt or threaten to hurt anyone.
Kokesh’s conviction reminds me in a lot of ways of tax
protesters who refuse to file a tax return. They come up with supposed legal reasons on why they are not
legally required to pay income taxes to the federal government. Sometimes their logic is great in terms
of dissecting the laws. The
problem arrives when the judge and jury don’t see it the same way.
If I were sitting on a jury and someone was being prosecuted
for tax avoidance, I would not vote to convict. It is a victimless crime. I know that everyone else is paying income taxes (although
not really). Everyone else is
following the law. But it still
doesn’t make the law just.
I also understand that most other people do not see things
the same way that I do. And for
that reason, I would never recommend that someone avoid paying taxes, unless it
is legal. Most judges and juries
will convict someone if they violated the law. Most will not consider whether the law is just.
Adam Kokesh underestimated the power of the government in
the same way that tax avoiders do.
I think Kokesh understands this now, but unfortunately it is too late
I am all in favor of being an activist for liberty. But you really have to be careful when
you resort to civil disobedience.
When it comes to guns, you really have to be careful. The government likes its monopoly on
guns and will come down especially hard on those who challenge it.
The answer to advancing liberty is almost never to challenge
violence with any insinuation of violence of your own. It is through education.
There are over 300 million people living in the United
States. There are only 535 people
in Congress. The only way they can
have power over the rest of us is if we consent to it. When a sizeable portion of the American
population no longer grants its consent to big government, then that will be
enough to stop big government.
Civil disobedience can work when millions of people are doing it. It tends not to work as well with just
Kokesh actually hosted a show on the internet and also
recently wrote a book. He is very
knowledgeable. He is a principled
advocate of liberty. His
interviews have been effective in helping others get educated about the
benefits of liberty. Kokesh was
doing a great deal for the cause of liberty, but he went astray in underestimating
the power and ruthlessness of the government.
I hope for his sake that his prison sentence is not too
long. I hope he learns from his
mistakes. I hope he gets back into
society at some point and makes a great contribution to the cause of liberty. It will be in the form of educating