Perspectives: Deposing our inner tyrant

OPINION – The boy’s mother was at her wit’s end. Glancing around the crowded restaurant she spied a highway patrolman walking past and motioned him over.

As he approached the table, the mother said to the boy, “Jimmy, you better eat all of your peas, if you want to grow up big and strong like the policeman.”

The trooper smiled down at the wide-eyed youngster, drew himself up to his full height and said, “Jimmy, I’m six foot four and two hundred forty pounds. I hate peas and I’ve never eaten a single one in my entire life.”

The inner tyrant exists in all of us. It’s the self important little dictator that justifies our desire to impose our will on others by any means necessary.

It’s simple to spot this quality in others. Seeing it in oneself is another matter entirely.

One of the biggest indicators that our marching orders are coming from the inner tyrant is when self-righteousness replaces empathy for others. Concepts like the Golden Rule and “live and let live” are discarded. When the only thing that truly matters is getting our way, it’s easy to treat others like objects instead of individuals who matter as much as we do.

As blogger Eric Peters often points out, the inner tyrant is “possessed of superior knowledge in all things. He knows it. His irrationality is his most formidable weapon – because it end-runs reason, logic, principle – and thereby, morality based on natural law. He will force you to do it.”

When something offends us, do we, like Jimmy’s mother, reach for someone in authority to force a solution in our favor? Do we use the law as an excuse to punish others simply because we can?

Writer Karen De Coster tells of an incident in which, traveling alone, she momentarily stepped away from one of her bags at the airport. Though her bag was just a few steps away, a woman approached her and told her that security was looking for her for leaving her bag unattended. As De Coster made her way to the gate to board her flight this woman relentlessly pursued her, determined to alert security.

The airport busybody was energized by the prospect of ruining De Coster’s day for the imagined breach of a bureaucratic rule. Rather than seeking to free us from inane rules or laws, our inner tyrant prefers to force others to obey.

But this is not surprising. It has been understood for generations.

In 1925 H.L. Mencken wrote: “One of the main purposes of laws in a democratic society is to put burdens upon intelligence and reduce it to impotence. Ostensibly, their aim is to penalize anti-social acts; actually their aim is to penalize heretical opinions. At least 95 Americans out of every 100 believe that this process is honest and even laudable; it is practically impossible to convince them that there is anything evil in it. In other words, they cannot grasp the concept of liberty.”

Our inner tyrant is not only drunk on an inflated sense of importance but also loves a good contact high from the state’s authority.

The state provides the mechanism of force for those with the irresistible desire to control others. This is why our inner tyrant thrills to hear words like “we” and “the public” or “the common good.” These words represent an appeal to force by which individuals are brought to heel.

Again Eric Peters summarizes the sad truth, “Because there is nothing in this life more indecent than the urge to dominate and control other people. It is the primal sin, if you like, from which all others follow. Every theft, every assault, every murder – including mass murder – derives from the urge to control.”

So how do we topple the inner tyrant?

It begins with the understanding that freedom is an indivisible commodity. If we wish to freely make our own choices and pursue our own happiness, we must allow others to do so as well. This includes those who make peaceful choices with which we disagree.

We may seek to persuade them to different choices, or we may simply choose to avoid them altogether. But, in the absence of a victim, force should never be an option—whether it be our own or borrowed from the state.

Our inner tyrant deserves no more than a speedy trial, conviction, and permanent banishment.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • philiplo May 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    So words like “we” and “the public” and “common good” are “an appeal to force by which individuals are brought to heel?”
    When I read those words you wrote, I was struck by how closely they mirror these other words:
    “We (“we”) the people of the United States (“the public”), in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity (“for the common good”), do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
    What evil tyrants, to have written such a thing, trying to bring us all to heel!

    • Bryan Hyde May 2, 2013 at 8:10 pm

      Let’s think this though, shall we? The document you’re quoting was written to create, define and limit the federal government–not the people. By strictly defining the upper limits of government power, it actually increased freedom for everyone. Can we say the same about the busybodies who see to control our lives by whining about how “we’ need to give up liberty for the “common good” of the community? See the difference?

      • philiplo May 2, 2013 at 9:39 pm

        No, that document was NOT created to “limit the federal government.” At the time it was created, there was only limited governance from congress because the Articles of Confederation gave that body no teeth. The “union,” as it were, was in danger of breaking up because congress could not do any of the things necessary to hold it together (levy taxes, enforce treaties, etc.).
        Looking at Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, you see a lot of powers of the federal government carefully spelled out, along with the “necessary and proper” clause, which says that the Legislative Branch (congress) shall have power, “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”
        As we disagree so profoundly on the thesis of your argument, perhaps we would do better discussing specifics. Are there personal liberties you believe those “busybodies” are currently trying to strip from you?

        • Bryan Hyde May 3, 2013 at 12:07 pm

          Compact theory vs. Consolidationist theory? You and Hamilton would get along great.

          Even so, the fact remains that political power begins in the people who, in 1787, sent delegates representing their states to fix the Articles of Confederation. These delegates, as direct representatives of “We the People” instead created a compact–meaning a contract between the various states–which called into existence the federal government. The Constitution is that contract and it describes the delegated powers that define the upper limits of the federal government–not the people.

          Federal powers are few and defined, the powers of the states and the people (where sovereignty ultimately resides) are numerous and undefined.

          Madison reaffirmed this in Federalist #45 and the 10th Amendment underscored it yet again. Modern sophists depend upon phrases like “necessary and proper” and the interstate commerce clause and other emanations and penumbras to justify their perversion of the Constitution. But the state ratifying convention notes are crystal clear on what the original intent and understanding was of those who wrote and ratified the Constitution.

  • Didja know May 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Wow! The first ones I thought of are the same tyrannical group that makes up the city council, water conservation board, board of trustees at DSU, and city planners, etc. Seems like they’re all the same group of people making all the rules, trying to control & dictate & impose their will on everyone else.

  • Not a Dixie-ite May 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    How can anyone stand the tyranny of their st george governing officials?

  • laxmom May 2, 2013 at 6:28 pm

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  • mark boggs May 2, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    We heard quite a bit about “we”, “the public”, and “the common good” when it came to the prop 8 battle in California.

    You wrote: “It begins with the understanding that freedom is an indivisible commodity. If we wish to freely make our own choices and pursue our own happiness, we must allow others to do so as well. This includes those who make peaceful choices with which we disagree.

    We may seek to persuade them to different choices, or we may simply choose to avoid them altogether. But, in the absence of a victim, force should never be an option—whether it be our own or borrowed from the state.”

    I know you claim to be a libertarian, but I’m not sure how a libertarian, and one who penned the above paragraphs, could convince himself that the state has a necessary business telling two people that they have no right to join into the civil contract of marriage.

    • Bryan Hyde May 3, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      It was same-sex marriage activists who sought to use the power of law to enforce a new legal definition of marriage that initiated force against others. Government is the hammer they are trying to use to accomplish what they could not in the court of public opinion.
      Heterosexuals didn’t just get together and decide to create marriage in order to punish gays and make them feel left out. A union that is capable of creating new life has been the foundation of humanity since long before government ever got into the picture. Even the supposed might of government can’t make an unfruitful union equal by edict.

      • philiplo May 3, 2013 at 7:41 pm

        Infertile couples need not apply, eh? Post-menopausal women, you’re out of luck.

        • Bryan Hyde May 4, 2013 at 7:30 am

          You and Mark Boggs both have grasped at the straw of procreation as a “qualification” for marriage. But that’s not what I wrote. Please read it again. I said “A union that is capable of creating new life has been the foundation of humanity.”
          The ability to produce new life (and the responsibility to raise one’s offspring) has always been CHARACTERISTIC of marriage. Be honest, are the vast majority of marriages between post-menopausal or infertile couples? Stop speaking to the exception and speak to the rule.
          Mark knows I support personal liberty and unalienable or natural rights, because they decrease the power of government over us. But he is calling for increasing its power over us through the forced association of so-called civil rights that are government-created obligations.
          There’s a world of difference between the two. But that distinction often gets lost in the emotion of the debate.

          • mark boggs May 4, 2013 at 7:53 am

            Civil rights legislation and voting rights legislation are government created, or forced, obligations. Oh, sure, you may see those as overdue recognitions of pre-existing or inherent rights, but let’s not pretend that the supposed inherent nature of them stopped people from violating them for years and years with no recourse from those whose rights were being violated.
            You may find the whole thing morally repugnant; a scourge which, religiously, you feel compelled to fight against. I suppose that’s all fine, but let’s not act like it is consistent with the entirety of your other, pro-liberty and individual freedom beliefs.

          • Chris May 4, 2013 at 9:22 am

            I agree with Mark that your opposition to gay marriage is a conspicuous contradiction of your espoused libertarian views. Expanding the legal definition of marriage does not “force” anything on anyone. By your reasoning, extending the vote to women was an unwarranted intrusion by government upon us men.

          • Bryan Hyde May 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm

            Force and the threat of force are the dynamics by which government operates. If you’re using government to solve a problem, you are appealing to force. I don’t call for government to be the final arbiter of how to define marriage. I understand that when government is removed from the equation, no one can force anyone to think or do anything. We can only seek to persuade one another. The people calling for more laws, and consequently more coercion on the matter are the same sex marriage activists. They have failed to persuade and now seek to use the power of the state to force acceptance of acts that many people choose not to accept as normal.

          • Snowfield May 4, 2013 at 10:22 am

            Saying that you don’t have to answer the question because most couples are fertile is a cop out. If fertility and child production is the sole purpose of marriage, there are lots of marriages you would have to consider to be invalid following that logic. You’re dodging answering that question by claiming infertility is a rare condition; But by your logic, a woman with a hysterectomy can not have a true marriage.

        • Chris May 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm

          “when government is removed from the equation, no one can force anyone to think or do anything”
          Are you serious? An angry mob cannot force me to flee for my life? A rapist cannot force his victim to submit? The schoolyard bully cannot force you to hand over your lunch money? In all respect, that is one of the dumber statements I have seen you write. Please correct me if I have misinterpreted.

  • mark boggs May 3, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Yes, the same hammer used by abolitionists and suffragettes and civil rights activists. Do you claim blacks tried to “redefine” what constitutes a full human being? Besides, wasn’t it “we” “the people” who wanted to use the government to enshrine Prop 8 as an amendment to the California State Constitution?

    And you sincerely believe that marriage has been a static institution of one man, one woman from the dawn of time? Or that the simple possibility of bearing fruit is the sole determinant of what qualifies two people for marriage? I imagine that makes it convenient for you to continue to ignore the disparity in what you’ve written above and what you think should be allowed in practice. Polygamy? Women as property? Yes, that static institution.

    And by your very last sentence, those that can’t have children, despite their gender, necessarily do not enjoy what you consider marriage. Can you honestly believe that? That the whole of the institution you hold so high as to withhold it from an entire group of people becomes solely determined not just by the right combination of genitalia but also the production of children from those genitalia?

    You trumpet the idea of individual freedom and individual liberty all the time, which is why I’m so befuddled by your ability to diverge so wildly from that view on this one issue.

    • Snowfield May 4, 2013 at 10:26 am

      There’s no point in arguing with Emperor Hyde, he knows what’s best for us all.

      • mark boggs May 4, 2013 at 11:44 am

        To be fair, Bryan is usually one of the most consistent thinkers I’ve known. He is an ardent believer in individual freedom and liberty. Which is why I find it so perplexing that he holds the view of SSM that he does.

      • Bryan Hyde May 4, 2013 at 2:32 pm

        Snowfield, you are special and unique. Like a magical snowflake sparkling its way down from heaven.

    • Bryan Hyde May 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      Note that the injustices you cite were a result of government enforcing things like fugitive slave laws, counting slaves as 3/5 a person in the census, and preventing people from voting. Those were acts of government that required restraining the power of the state.
      Prop 8 would never have been brought up if not for SSM activists seeking to change the definition of marriage in the first place. Prop 8 was a defensive move on the part of churches and citizens who did not wish to be forced by the state into a new definition of marriage.
      At this point the only likely solution is to get the state completely out of marriage. Acceptance or non-acceptance would then be on a strictly voluntary basis. Force would no longer be an option.

  • mark boggs May 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    I just wrote a lengthy response that was swallowed by the CAPTCHA response thing.
    Do you believe that blacks should have continued to try to persuade guys like Bull Connor and George Wallace that they were entitled to equal rights? Do you, like some of the hints Rand Paul has made on the subject, believe that the CRA and VRA of ’64 and ’65 were overreaches by the feds? Because I’m curious to know who would have made sure James Meredith was allowed into the halls of the University of Mississippi if not federal officials. Persuasion Man?
    FWIW, I’ll be standing right beside you if anyone ever tries to make a church marry a gay couple. And yes, let’s get the state out of the marriage business and let’s all have civil unions. Let churches keep the “marriage” word and if churches want to marry gay folks, well, more power to them. But if two people want to contract with each other so that they can enjoy all the rights and responsibilities of a civil relationship, e.g. visitation, inheritance, etc. we should no longer discriminate on the basis of gender.
    But as far as an employer feeling icky or put out because they don’t want to offer an employee the same benefits based on who they’re married to (which is where I’m guessing you’re going with the whole “citizens being forced by the sate into a new definition of marriage” thing) would they have any standing if they claimed to be repulsed by miscegenation and wouldn’t provide benefits to the black (or white) spouse of an employee?
    Face it, Loving v. Virginia already redefined marriage for many states. Without it, you’d still have places where two different race people (with children!!) would not have the same rights in those states as they would in the states in which they were legally married. If that’s stupid, then so is discriminating based on gender.
    I get it that people are repulsed by the idea of what gay people do with their body parts, so much so that they’re willing to erect as many roadblocks as possible to express that disgust and limit their freedoms, but that doesn’t make it defensible.

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