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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Radley Balko on America's forgotten Founding Father

This is James Otis, not Radley Balko. Sorry about any confusion.

Radley Balko, arguably America's best journalist, pens a Fourth of July piece on James Otis, the forgotten Founding Father who helped lay the groundwork for the Fourth Amendment. Excerpt:

Mark Twain once wrote, "patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." Independence Day isn't for celebrating the American government and whoever happens to be currently running it, but for celebrating the principles that make America unique. And in fact, celebrating the principles that animating the American founding often means celebrating the figures who have defended those principles in spite of the government. Today, the American government is hunting down Edward Snowden. My guess is that a generation or two from now, we'll think of him more as a James Otis than a Benedict Arnold.

Here's another nice bit:

Otis lost in court, as he expected he would. But his speech likely changed the course of history. Sitting in the courtroom gallery that afternoon was a 25-year-old attorney named John Adams. He would of course go on to become America's second president. Later in his life, Adam's recalled the enormous and lasting impact Otis' speech had on him. He praised Otis' grasp of history, his fiery defense of the rights of man, and pointed out that, quite ahead of his time, Otis even declared that black men had the same natural rights as white men, including the right to own property.

If you don't know who Radley Balko is, check this out. Wikipedia has a good article on Otis.

(Via Arthur Hlavaty.)

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