Monday, November 24, 2014

An Open Letter to the Freedom Movement

May 24, 2002
Dear Fellow Freedom Lover,
      What do you do when you see someone you care about is making a terrible mistake?
      First, you try to tell them. If they won't listen, and the mistake is going to have a negative impact on you, your family and everyone else, you either try to change their minds or take other actions that redirect them. In life, as in political and social movements, direction is everything.
      I wanted to share my thoughts with you today because you are a leader, maybe someone I know personally, in what is loosely known as the Freedom Movement. For reasons that will become abundantly clear, I want to talk about the abuse of power by those within our movement, why such abuse is intolerable, and the reasons I am now doing what I am doing. You must clean your own house before giving advice to others. Actions speak louder than words.
      I am going to demonstrate, in action, a better cultural means for achieving justice while I clean my own house.
      I am going to horsewhip journalist, commentator and political operative John Fund -- not in the literal sense, mind you, but painfully nonetheless. Matthew Earl Jones, a friend of Morgan's, offered to horse whip him in person but violence is not the answer.
      You all know Fund.
      He has long been touted as a "hero" of the Freedom Movement. But in truth, Fund is a serial sexual predator, a liar, a cheat, and a violent abuser.
      I have reason to know. He abused my daughter, Morgan.
      When I first became active in the Libertarian Party in the early 1970s I was delighted and excited to find and meet people who cared about the issues of human rights and justice. Although I did not talk about it at the time, my family had been active on freedom issues for a long time -- they have been active shapers of society for many years in their small ways; around 400 years, more or less.
      I assumed then that everyone I met understood that if freedom and justice are not for everyone they are not issues of freedom and justice but issues of privilege. While I cannot look into the minds and hearts of even my closest friends, I have come to understand that you must judge movements by the actions they take and not by their rhetoric.
      Some of you will have read Marshall McLuhan's influential book, "Understanding Media". McLuhan convincingly argued that "the medium is the message." There are a lot of ways to understand these words. They apply to entertainment and advertising -- but they also apply to all other arenas of human action, most especially to what we have been working toward for the last 40 years.
      Applying the rhetoric of freedom to only a fraction of the issues of human emancipation and justice caused a distortion in the public perception of what freedom means. Focusing on issues that most immediately benefited only a portion of the population became the message. It was a gross oversight at best.
      Human emancipation and justice is not about "gun rights". It is not about "taxation". It is not about "deregulation". It is not even about "privatization". It is about giving all individuals more and better choices and affirming their individual right to make their own lives better, safer, and happier.
      In working to reach this goal and working to broaden the movement's base, Libertarians and Republicans have been forced to confront the appallingly small ratio and number of women in the Movement.
      Why is that?
      I am going to tell you.
      Freedom as an issue did not begin with Ayn Rand. It did not begin with the Founding Fathers. It began long before our nation was founded. We will never know exactly where it began, but the desire to survive and prosper and have those you love do the same is the Mother of Freedom. Freedom is all about women.
      It began, perhaps, with a tiny sect of religious adherents who adopted a culture of personal freedoms for the most downtrodden amongst them. It began with Christianity -- and with the most universally subjugated segment of humanity, women.
      Women chose to become Christians because as Christians they enjoyed rights untasted by pagan women. Women chose their husbands. They were not forced into child-marriages. They were not expected or forced to kill their female children at birth. They enjoyed spiritual equality in the early Church, occupying positions of authority. They often married pagan men, converting many of them to Christianity and raising their children in their own religion. They controlled their own lives in many ways that women would not again enjoy for a millennium and a half.
      Christianity did not grow suddenly, but slowly -- at the steady rate of 10% a decade. Its success need not be ascribed to theology, but to cultural strategies that made being Christian an advantage to women.
      It prospered not by conversion but by the very human values of personal freedom and inclusion in a community culture that expressed itself by the benevolence of the way they treated those around them.
      In times of plague, instead of abandoning their friends and kin (as was the practice with pagans), Christians stayed to nurse the ailing, taking on the task of nursing pagans abandoned by family and friends.
      While the intention was not conversion, the effect made itself felt. Being Christian made you part of a community that lived out its stated beliefs in ways that were tangible, sending a clear message to those all around. This, in large part, offset clear disadvantages of becoming Christian in a world that viewed their perceived spiritual beliefs with frequently aggressive hostility.
      As with all movements, time changed the character of the movement. By the time Christianity was the dominant religion in the Roman world, by 600 AD, it no longer bore the faintest resemblance to a freedom movement. But Christianity had displaced all former dominant religious viewpoints. This had been a real revolution.
      At the most elemental level, freedom is the struggle for personal autonomy expressing the desire to choose for one's self which path seems to best facilitate happiness and prosperity. Without this essential ingredient, Christianity would have remained a small, obscure Judaic sect.
      Freedom, choice is tiny individual increments, changed the world.
      America itself began, not as an experiment in government but as a living exemplification of the "City on the Hill," the world of God made visible and tangible in the eyes of humanity. New England genealogical information is the most complete in the world because Puritans believed they were numbering up the chosen people of God. The Puritans acted out their belief that the spirit moved in the individual to reveal a higher truth. The Quakers, settling the New World at the same time, also acted out this belief in a more extreme form, rejecting even the semblance of the ritual hierarchy of a priesthood.
      And each of these sects had something else in common: they accorded unprecedented autonomy to women, freedom that they had not enjoyed in the old world.
      The economic realities of the colonial period were not forced servitude for women, but an astonishing autonomy of action. While they could not enter into professions, such as the law, they were accorded many freedoms that allowed them to build up capital holdings to enrich their families and themselves. The right of franchise was property based, not limited by gender.
      The corollaries to this are clear. In New England women early entered into the teaching professions. The move towards the franchise for women began in New England and it was here that it was most fiercely promulgated.
      The opening years of America's colonial period is ripe with the presence of a multitude of small sects, each fervent in belief and each providing more autonomy for the individual, in worship or other aspects of choice, than was enjoyed in the old world.
      In this fertile ground the doctrine of political freedom was nurtured and bore fruit.
      One of the very real differences between the American Revolution and the French Revolution was the presence, in America, of a new, pervasive culture of individualism with strong roots in religious conviction. New England harbored a population that believed, as common cultural heritage, that individuals were free, but that a large part of freedom was invested in the obligation to do right. New Englanders needed less government because they carried their governments, as individuals, as spiritually integrated internalized values.
      It did not end with the Revolution. The subsequent generations, especially in New England, would extrapolate the doctrine of individual, political and spiritual autonomy in the Transcendental Movement. Adherents to Transcendentalism would be the foundation of the Abolitionist, Naturalist, and Suffragist Movements.
      Freedom has a genealogy, a dynamic, and an internal truth. We ignore it at our risk.
      It is a big world out there and a simple recitation of belief does not convince more than a handful. The fact is, that most individuals are not philosophically amendable through the written word. They use other means of determining what they think and why. They may think by majority, by affiliation with respected leaders, by association of family, religious or civic connections. They may need to see it work before they accept change that strikes at the most essential level of their lives.
      This makes sense, since most people never consider the philosophy that drives their lives. Their philosophy is the unreasoned underpinning that is unquestioned because its existence is unrecognized. They choose for freedom every day. They ignore politics.
      We know the percentage of individuals in a population who think for themselves and are therefore open to arguments of reason. That number is 4%.
      Clearly, more people watch Oprah than will ever pack themselves into a CATO Dinner or attend a Libertarian convention.
      Which brings me back to the matter of John Fund.
      John Fund identified himself to the American people as a voice of truth and justice. He spoke for family values. He took money from Ralph Reed to represent Right-to-Life issues. He was doing this while moralistically wagging his finger at the television camera and proclaiming, "The truth will set you free."
      He was also busy impregnating my daughter, then coercing her to have an abortion she was reluctant to undergo, and using an old family friend, Manny Klausner, to pressure her into obedience to his wishes.
      He refused to be accountable.
      He lied to me continuously, repeatedly, and evidently without qualm.
      He used a masterful combination of fraud, coercion and violence to get his own way for the last nearly four years.
      He never did the right thing.
      I have now begun to call him on it.
      This is an opportunity for the Freedom Movement to finally, after a silence that is decades long, not only to speak up on issues that illustrate the application of individual rights for women but also to speak directly to and for the fundamental ideas of freedom and justice through action.
      I have intended for some time to start a defense fund to sue perpetrators of violence against women in civil court. That is one of the reasons I started my 501(c)3, the Women's Institute for Individual and Political Justice. You can view my Web site at You can contribute. You can help.
      One picture is worth reams of legislation. Seeing one woman and then several and later dozens of women made whole while their abusers pay the price can entirely reformat the present perception of what freedom means. It can broaden out the public perception of individual rights. It can bring women into the Freedom Movement. It can demonstrate nonpolitical means for enacting just outcomes.
      Let us return to the quote from McLuhan:
      "The medium is the message."
      This time, the message is justice.
      You can contact me by e-mail   (Wrong phone number removed, email corrected)
      Yours sincerely,
      Melinda Pillsbury-Foster