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Reading Them the Riot Act

The Riot Act is passed under King George the 1st of England. When 12 or more people are illegally assembled, the Riot Act is read before the people are... dispersed. Justice is swift. No need for courts or evidence. After one hour has passed, your personal presence within range of a constable's billy club is evidence enough. The police are automatically forgiven for any injury or death that may result during the enforcement of this law. (That means that they can kill you. No questions asked.) The following paragraph is read before justice is dispensed... (rendered into modern English)

Our Sovereign Lord the King charges and commands all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God Save the King! -- The Riot Act, 1715. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Riot Act is a law of prior restraint. That means that before you do anything wrong, the government can declare that you are already doing something wrong by assembling. Lots of people carrying signs and demanding their rights under the law tend to make government officials nervous. Thus, the Riot Act was used mostly to quell political protest. The Riot Act was overturned in 1967 or 1973 depending on which source you check. In the USA, the Kent State shootings took place in 1970. Protests against the Vietnam War were met by the National Guard. With that many weapons out and tempers high, bad things can happen. Four students were shot dead and many more were injured. It shocked the nation. The government learned that it could no longer stop political protest by reading them the riot act. I pray that it remembers that lesson today. [3] [4] [5] [6]

There Are No Slaves in France, Except That There Are

France has refused to acknowledge that slaves exist in France even though a major slave port exists in France. This has created a problem for French courts because they cannot deal with an issue that doesn't exist, so to speak. It all comes to a head when a young woman, traveling through France, leaves her female slave at the local convent for temporary lodging. When she returns, the nuns declare the slave to be a free woman. The local admiralty court agrees. The master never told the nuns that the female accompanying her was a slave. And after all, France has no slaves. Remember? This incident occurs at the port city of Nantes, a major slave port. This legal precedence implies that all slaves passing through the port must be freed! They kick the final decision up to the new King of France, Louis the Beloved. Unfortunately the new King is 5 years old. By next year the King's Regency Committee will decide that a slave must be freed unless the proper paperwork is filled out. The law is not settled though. The bureaucracy refuses to record the new slavery law because... after all... there are no slaves in France. [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The French of the 18th century were the same people who shouted, "Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!" France was building an image as the center of modernity, enlightenment and cultural. The contradiction of allowing slavery must have embarrassed them. In the modern day the United States is embarrassed by its vices. We pass a law to build a border fence because we know that maintaining our borders is the correct thing to do, but we fail to fund it because we want cheap labor. In the past we made alcohol illegal because drinking was creating a social problem, but we continued to drink anyway while patting ourselves on the back for voting for the socially correct thing. Now we make a plant illegal for the same reason. We are embarrassed by our vices and we punish politicians when they attempt to address these issues in a sensible and honest fashion.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1715, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. A Brief Chronology of the House of Commons.
  2. Riot Act - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 13 January 2016. “The Riot Act (1714) (1 Geo.1 St.2 c.5) was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain that authorised local authorities to declare any group of twelve or more people to be unlawfully assembled, and thus have to disperse or face punitive action. The act, whose long title was 'An Act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the rioters', came into force on 1 August 1715. It was repealed for England and Wales by section 10(2) of, and Part III of Schedule 3 to, the Criminal Law Act 1967.”
  3. A Brief Chronology of the House of Commons. “The Act was repealed in 1973 by the Statute Law (Repeals) Act.”
  4. Fricking - definition of fricking (2016). Retrieved on 13 January 2016. “Vulgar Slang Used as an intensive.”
  5. Kent State shootings - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 21 January 2016. “The Kent State shootings (also known as the May 4 massacre or the Kent State massacre) occurred at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, in the United States and involved the shooting of unarmed college students by the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970. The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.”
  6. Alex Shrugged notes: My buddy used to play cards with those guys of the Ohio National Guard. They were good men. Normal men. They were not prepared to stop a riot. They were only there to threaten, but through a series of errors (mostly made by their officers) they were cornered by the mob, and they panicked. Bang. So if you ever wonder why the governors are so hesitant to declare martial law, now you know. If you call on the National Guard, be prepared for someone to get shot... often the WRONG someone. Otherwise, don't call.
  7. Slave Routes - Europe. old.antislavery.org (2016). Retrieved on 22 January 2016. “Nantes, on the Atlantic coast of France was the country's major slaving port, with over 1,400 voyages leaving for Africa during the 18th Century, 357 of them belonging to a single trading family, the Montaudoins”
  8. Chatman, Samuel L. (Summer 2000). ""There are no Slaves in France": A Re-Examination of Slave Laws in Eighteenth Century France". The Journal of Negro History (Association for the Study of African American Life and History) 85 (3): 144-153. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2649071. Retrieved 22 January 2016. "The French held tightly to the maxim that "There are no slaves in France." This maxim is a potent element of the French national ideology and serves to foster a romanticized view of racial egalitarianism in French society. Indeed, the maxim predates France's involvement in the Atlantic slave trade. The maxim was thriving at least two hundred years before the phrase "Liberté, égalité, fratenité" was shouted in the 1789 French Revolution. This paper sets out to show how, in law, the "Freedom Principle" for African peoples was eroded in eighteenth century France during a period when France was developing a radical new political discourse based on concepts of freedom, equality, and citizenship.". 
  9. Reiss, Tom. Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, The. Crown Trade. 

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