If the legislature would add to that a perpetual tax of a cent a head on the
population of the State, it would set agoing at once, and forever maintain, a
system of primary or ward schools, and an university where might be taught, in
its highest degree, every branch of science useful in our time and country; and
it would rescue us from the tax of toryism, fanaticism, and indifferentism to
their own State, which we now send our youth to bring from those of New
England. If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of
civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. The functionaries of
every government have propensities to command at will the liberty and property
of their constituents. There is no safe deposit for these but with the people
themselves; nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press
is free, and every man able to read, all is safe. [emphasis added]
Usually, one only sees the strongly emphasized part of the above quote, but I
believe it is useful to place the quote in the context of its origin. All those
who seek to bend Jefferson to their cause need to spend more time reading all
of these quotes they so love in the context from which they are excerpted.
There are two significant ideas expressed in the above excerpt. The first is
that it is important that education be democratized; Jefferson believed that at
minimum everyone should be capable of literacy and numeracy or as was often
stated in my youth: the 3 ‘R’s — Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. The second idea of import
is that expressed in the final emphasized line of the excerpt to wit the free
press. In Jefferson’s context that would be a press free of government
influence and coercion.
While there still exists the peril of government propaganda as news, to it has
been added the danger of corporate propaganda. An insidious form of propaganda
that many fail to see the danger of because they believe that the “free market”
will keep corporations “honest”. Unfortunately, as evidenced by such outlets as
Fox News Channel and MSNBC, people are little engaged in questioning what they see
and hear from these entities.
The point expressed by Jefferson is that a democracy and its citizens remain at
liberty only so long as the citizens remain vigilant against all encroachments
and actively engaged in the processes of democracy. Jefferson, however,
believed in an utopian, hyper-libertarian form of democracy predicated on the
belief that every citizen would be self-supporting subsistence agrarians.
Jefferson consistently refused to acknowledge the reality that America was as
much a nation of merchants as farmers, leading to the constant and unaddressed
tension between the “Jeffersonian” ideal and the “Hamiltonian” reality even in
the context of his own era.
None of this is new nor is it inevitable. The American Republic can only
survive if the people begin to actively engage against the true forces of
anti-democracy. We too often overlook what the founders of the American
Republic meant by government which was an institution of arbitrary oligarchic
forces in the form of kings and nobles rather than institutions of consistency
— Rule of Law — and merit.
He began with a word on a page. One word, alone on a page, empty figuratively
if not literally, for the word was not big nor robust enough to fill the page
on its own. He stared at the word upon the page, the blank page. He wondered at
its meaning void of context; he waited for another word to emerge as this one
had with force, determination, and vigor to appear upon the page marring its
pristine blankness. None came, yet. He continued to concentrate on the word.
The word was a good word, one that could offend certainly but rarely would.
When it did offend, the offense was generally limited to those sorts of people
who are offended by everything about them, the sorts of people who think the
world and all its contents filled with an unacceptable audacity of existence.
He thought these things and cared not whether he or his word upon the page
would offer affront to those sorts of people; Others he knew would not.
After a time, a seemingly interminable time, a new word emerged, following the
first upon the page. This second word added meaning to the first, giving
context, but it came forth shyly without the assurance of place with which the
first had arrived. He had a sentence almost now. Incomplete in meaning but a
beginning. He knew more words were needed to finish what the first had begun.
However, he did not know what those words should be, although he eagerly
awaited the appearance of the next.
He waited not long; the third word came, more assured than the second but not
so self-assured as the first had emerged to appear on the page. Soon the words
came without pause falling from his pen tip in micro drops of ink. A torrent of
words flowed from mind through hand to page. The first page filled with words
its pristine whiteness forever marred by the blackness of the ink upon its
After a time, he began to tire, but the words did not slow. As slowly as those
first words had come, all of the following flowed forth without pause. No rest
for he from the words. He could not stop; the words demanded release. He was
powerless to resist them.
His thirst grew. His hunger gnawed at him. But, these sensations were weak
compared to the words. Hunger and thirst desired surcease, yet they were at
best annoyances compared to the words. His arm ached, his hand cramped, yet no
cessation of writing occurred. His only hope was to finish the words before his
material vessel failed. Finishing would release the hold the words had upon
him. He would be able to relieve his body’s desires only if he could finish the
❖ ❖ ❖
They found him collapsed upon his pages of words. Too late. He had ceased as
had his words. The words had finished, but they left him with little strength
to satisfy and revive his body. So like the words, he finished this world.
Those who found him lifted him from the pages. None paid the least attention to
the pages upon which his emptied vessel rested. The words which had demanded
release found no audience amongst those who came intent on rescuing him. The
pages lay abandoned for the moment, unattended, unnoticed. The words had no
choice but to be patient; they could not command others yet as they had
commanded, he who spilled them forth.
Others soon appeared in the rooms of him who wrote the words. The new comers
cleared the clutter from the rooms. They packed and boxed the things that might
hold value for others. One came to the place where the words on pages rested.
She glanced at the pages, lingering briefly upon the words. The words did not
speak to her; she knew them, but they seemed to her incoherent and without
Perplexed she offered them to the others. No one of them understood the meaning
of the words as put together. Finally, the leader took the words on the pages
and placed them in the rubbish bin.
Panaeolus subbalteatusIt’s spring breakThe kids from the mountain valleyshave come to the coastto the big citybringing gifts of hallucinogenic substancesfresh from the cow pasturesPanaeolus subbalteatus
I have acquired my firstFrom the older brother of a friendWe make the exchangebehind the Naro Expanded Cinemawhere I plan on trippin andwatching the midnight showing ofStop Making Sense
When my hippie parents gave me the talk,they included detailed explanations of the psychotropic, addictive, and toxic tendenciesof “narcotic” substances deemed illictby our all-knowing government
I’ve only ever tried dope and shroomsdon’t like dopedid like shrooms
I’m prepared exceptAmong the crowd in the lobbynear the stair to the balconyis Brian
“Hey, I heard you’re dropping shrooms,” he says
I had not long beforedropped several capson my tongueletting them softenand feed me their psychoactive toxinsthen chewed and swallowed
“Yeah,” I say smiling
“Do this,” he said, grinning broadly and madly.I do“Now stop,” he says