DAVID MARCUS: Owen Shroyer's sentence shows America is one step away from tyranny

On March 16th, 1801, President Thomas Jefferson pardoned the newspaper publisher James Callender who had been tried, convicted and sentenced to 8 months imprisonment for criticism of former president John Adams. It set a vital precedent that allows journalists to do their jobs, unfettered by the state, or so we thought.

Today, almost two and a quarter centuries later, journalist Owen Shroyer has been tried, convicted and sentenced to 60 days in prison for publicly questioning the results of the 2020 election. It turns out that sometimes, sadly, the arc of history bends towards tyranny.

Let us not mince words, there is nothing that Shroyer did in his work that can be considered a crime in a just republic dedicated to the protection of speech; whether by podcast or megaphone, he was exercising his rights.

The Department of Justice argued that Shroyer, who did not so much as enter the Capitol, deserved prison for shouting “Death to Tyrants,” on its steps, and yet thus far no Democrat politician has been charged for marching with protesters and chanting “No Justice, No Peace,” during the summer of George Floyd riots in 2020.

When private businesses and homes were looted and burned for months no penalty was meted out to those who stoked the devastation, but when the Capitol saw windows broken, scuffling with police, and trespassing on January 6th the hammer of so-called justice fell swift and powerfullu upon citizens.

The lives and property of citizens it seems are fair game for political protest, poetic even, “the language of the unheard,” but touch one stone owned by the state, question its holy authority, and the dungeons open.

Yes, today merely questioning the state is enough for our new brand of federal grand inquisitors to demand imprisonment.

Take this abhorrent line from the DOJ’s sentencing memo claiming that Shroyer, “stoked the flames of a potential disruption of the certification vote by streaming disinformation about alleged voter fraud and a stolen election to thousands, perhaps millions, of viewers of his program on InfoWars."

Ladies and Gentlemen, if this is a crime then we no longer live in the United States that we and our ancestors once knew, in fact, the most cherished principles of the American founding have been torn from us and lie in shreds.

In the Rights of Man, Thomas Paine wrote, “such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.”

Be he right or wrong in his opinions of the 2020 election, this was the foundational principle that Shroyer stood upon, for truth has no liberty to appear when the state punishes that which it calls falsehood.

The time to take for granted our most precious freedoms has slipped behind us, now with eyes ablaze and voices full throated we must once again secure them from those whose calumny is destroying our nation.

Ronald Reagan warned us gravely that freedom is always only one generation away from extinction.

Today that extinction feels imminent as the dying breed of true free speech advocates such as Shroyer are hunted by the government like so many buffalo upon the plains.

The state arrests journalists, it indicts political opponents, it censors speech on social media, it investigates Catholics in their churches and parents at their school board meetings.

Is this not tyranny, even if it is dressed in the American flag and the fine cloaks of public office?

It is not the flag or the offices that bestow these rights up on us, it is not even our Constitution, it is our God, and no mortal men may crush them under the duplicitous guise of safety or security.

I speak only with my own voice, but trust my sentiment is shared by millions of freedom loving Americans, I will not be dictated to by the government for saying whatever I damn well please.

Thomas Paine said something else, he said, “I prefer peace, but if trouble must come, let it come in my time, that my children can live in peace.”

Now is the time for trouble, not for violence, but to stand up, to lift our voices and pens as Paine did so long ago, but with this firm warning, the patience of those deprived of liberty is not without end.

Every hour that Shroyer spends in prison is a stain upon our nation, and more, a call to action lest we be the next ones thrown in a call for questioning our mendacious leaders.

This is a time that will try our souls, and test our fitness to remain a free people.

For now we still have a republic, but if we bow our heads to this tyranny, if we bow our will to the state, if we bow our spirit to despots, then we will not long keep it.

Our government has made our political speech illegal, it leaves us only one option, no, only one to duty, to embrace and support the language of the outlaw.

Image: Title: Owen Shroyer