02/24/2016 11:31 am ET Updated Feb 23, 2017

Economic Stability, the Puritan Manifesto and the Two Mr. Penns - Part 3

My previous blog, "Economic Stability, the Puritan Manifesto and the Two Mr. Penns - Part 2", showed how the more vocal dissenters of a society, whether it be of today or several hundred years ago, are a very important part of civic duty and the political process. In a free, open society, healthy, productive dissenters, such as the Mr. Penns of this world, should be encouraged and supported, not mocked with their voices suppressed by the press.

As seen in my blog Outlaw Heroes, Drug Lords and Illegal Commerce - Part 2, under the British viewpoint, John Paul Jones was nothing, but a traitor, rogue, and pirate, whereas under the American viewpoint he was a hero and great humanitarian. In the case of the Two Mr. Penns there seems to be this same paradoxical description of a rogue and rebel vs. a great humanitarian.

For example, in Jim Powell account of William Penn in William Penn, America's First Great Champion for Liberty and Peace, we see an account of a great man and humanitarian, as well as a bit of a rake, knave and rebel. I call particular attention to the fact that William Penn, upon NOT being arrested for his Quakerism with those of lesser standing, INSISTED upon BEING ARRESTED along with everyone else! (For me there is no doubt as to the genetic link between the Mr. Penn of the 18th century and Mr. Penn of the 21st century!) and I quote:

William Penn was the first great hero of American liberty... Almost everywhere else, colonists stole land from the Indians, but Penn traveled unarmed among the Indians and negotiated peaceful purchases. He insisted that women deserved equal rights with men. He gave Pennsylvania a written constitution which limited the power of government, provided a humane penal code, and guaranteed many fundamental liberties... The French philosopher Voltaire, a champion of religious toleration, offered lavish praise. "William Penn might, with reason, boast of having brought down upon earth the Golden Age, which in all probability, never had any real existence but in his dominions."

Penn was the only person who made major contributions to liberty in both the New World and the Old World. Before he conceived the idea of Pennsylvania, he became the leading defender of religious toleration in England. He was imprisoned six times for speaking out courageously. While in prison, he wrote one pamphlet after another, which gave Quakers a literature and attacked intolerance. He alone proved capable of challenging oppressive government policies in court -- one of his cases helped secure the right to trial by jury. Penn used his diplomatic skills and family connections to get large numbers of Quakers out of jail. He saved many from the gallows.

William Penn was born on October 14, 1644, in London... Left mostly to himself, young William became interested in religion... Quakers were a mystical Protestant sect emphasizing a direct relationship with God. An individual's conscience, not the Bible, was the ultimate authority on morals. Quakers didn't have a clergy or churches. Rather, they held meetings where participants meditated silently and spoke up when the Spirit moved them. They favored plain dress and a simple life rather than aristocratic affectation.

After acquiring a sturdy education in Greek and Roman classics, Penn emerged as a rebel when he entered Oxford University. He defied Anglican officials by visiting John Owen, a professor dismissed for advocating tolerant humanism. Penn further rebelled by protesting compulsory chapel attendance, for which he was expelled at age 17.

His parents sent him to France where he would be less likely to cause further embarrassment, and he might acquire some manners. He enrolled at l'Académie Protestante, the most respected French Protestant university, located in Saumur. He studied with Christian humanist Moïse Amyraut, who supported religious toleration.

Back in England by August 1664, Penn soon studied at Lincoln's Inn, the most prestigious law school in London. He learned the common law basis for civil liberties and gained some experience with courtroom strategy. He was going to need it.

Admiral Penn, assigned to rebuilding the British Navy for war with the Dutch, asked that his son serve as personal assistant. [] Young William developed a cordial relationship with the King and his brother, the Duke of York, the future King James II.

Penn's quest for spiritual peace led him to attend Quaker meetings even though the government considered this a crime. In September 1667, police broke into a meeting and arrested everyone. Since Penn looked like a fashionable aristocrat rather than a plain Quaker, the police released him. He protested that he was indeed a Quaker and should be treated the same as the others. Penn drew on his legal training to prepare a defense. Meanwhile, in jail he began writing about freedom of conscience. His father disowned him... He learned that the movement was started by passionate preachers who had little education. [so he] resolved to help by applying his scholarly knowledge and legal training. He began writing pamphlets, which were distributed through the Quaker underground.

...Meanwhile, Penn attacked the Catholic/ Anglican doctrine of the Trinity, and the Anglican bishop had him imprisoned in the notorious Tower of London. Ordered to recant, Penn declared from his cold isolation cell: "My prison shall be my grave before I will budge a jot; for I owe my conscience to no mortal man." By the time he was released seven months later, he had written pamphlets defining the principal elements of Quakerism. His best-known work from this period: No Cross, No Crown, which presented a pioneering historical case for religious toleration.

The Conventicle Act

He wasn't free for long. Penn decided to challenge the Conventicle Act by holding a public meeting on August 14, 1670. The Lord Mayor of London arrested him and his fellow Quakers as soon as he began expressing his nonconformist religious views. At the historic trial, Penn insisted that since the government refused to present a formal indictment -- officials were concerned the Conventicle Act might be overturned -- the jury could never reach a guilty verdict...

The jury acquitted all defendants, but the Lord Mayor of London refused to accept this verdict. He hit the jury members with fines and ordered them held in brutal Newgate prison. Still, they affirmed their verdict. After the jury had been imprisoned for about two months, the Court of Common Pleas issued a writ of habeas corpus to set them free. Then they sued the Lord Mayor of London for false arrest. The Lord Chief Justice of England, together with his 11 associates, ruled unanimously that juries must not be coerced or punished for their verdicts. It was a key precedent protecting the right to trial by jury.

... Penn began to form a vision of a community based on liberty. He resolved to tap his royal connections for his cause. With the blessing of King Charles II and the Duke of York, Penn presented his case for religious toleration before Parliament. They would have none of it...

The Founding of Pennsylvania

Penn became convinced that religious toleration couldn't be achieved in England. He went to the King and asked for a charter enabling him to establish an American colony. Perhaps the idea seemed like an easy way to get rid of troublesome Quakers. On March 4, 1681, Charles II signed a charter... The King proposed the name "Pennsylvania" ...

Penn sailed to America on the ship Welcome and arrived November 8, 1682... Penn was most concerned about developing a legal basis for a free society. In his First Frame of Government, which Penn and initial land purchasers had adopted on April 25, 1682, he expressed ideals anticipating the Declaration of Independence: "Men being born with a title to perfect freedom and uncontrolled enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of the law of nature ... no one can be put out of his estate and subjected to the political view of another, without his consent." ... His First Frame of Government provided for secure private property, virtually unlimited free enterprise, a free press, trial by jury and, of course, religious toleration. Whereas the English penal code specified the death penalty for some 200 offenses, Penn reserved it for just two -- murder and treason. As a Quaker, Penn encouraged women to get an education and speak out as men did. He called Pennsylvania his "Holy Experiment."

Penn insisted on low taxes... Penn's First Frame of Government was the first constitution to provide for peaceful change through amendments...

Penn achieved peaceful relations with the Indians -- Susquehannocks, Shawnees, and Leni-Lenape. Indians respected his courage, because he ventured among them without guards or personal weapons. He was a superior sprinter who could out-run Indian braves, and this helped win him respect. He took the trouble to learn Indian dialects, so he could conduct negotiations without interpreters. From the very beginning, he acquired Indian land through peaceful, voluntary exchange... His peaceful policies prevailed for about 70 years, which has to be some kind of record in American history...

... With an atmosphere of liberty, Philadelphia emerged as an intellectual center. Between 1740 and 1776, Philadelphia presses issued an estimated 11,000 works including pamphlets, almanacs, and books. In 1776, there were seven newspapers reflecting a wide range of opinions. No wonder Penn's "city of brotherly love" became the most sacred site for American liberty, where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and delegates drafted the Constitution.

By creating Pennsylvania, Penn set an enormously important example for liberty. He showed that people who are courageous enough, persistent enough, and resourceful enough can live free. He went beyond the natural right theories of his friend John Locke and showed how a free society would actually work. He showed how individuals of different races and religions can live together peacefully when they mind their own business. He affirmed the resilient optimism of free people.

I do not believe that DNA testing is required in this case!

The resemblance between the two Mr. Penns is quite flagrant!

When I first heard about the "El Chapo Speaks" article and Mr. Penn's interview on 60 Minutes, I had no idea who Mr. Penn was. Of course, I knew he is a movie star, had been married to Madonna, has an understandable distaste for the paparazzi, and I know how to pronounced his name in English. Of these facts, I was aware. (I lived in Europe and Latin America since the late '80s, not on Mars.) And, since most of my cinema excursions of the past 20 years had been dominated by Walt Disney and other children appropriate movies, I had little knowledge of Mr. Penn's acting abilities, or any other work in which he is involved.

When I started my research for this series of blogs, I was quite frankly flabbergasted! The development work that Mr. Penn does as well as his acting, directing, and screen-writing abilities more than qualify this man as an expert, not only in his journalistic and reporting abilities, but also his profound sincerity in working to make the world a better place for us all!

Mr. Penn is so right, the journalist (who themselves are not journalists) but who participated in the ridiculous character assassination of Mr. Penn are simply jealous of him and his accomplishments--nothing brings out "green-eyed monster looking for someone to kiss" faster than someone willing to stand-up for principles and his fellow man! (Or, as Winston Churchill said "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.")

The fact that such an upstanding and hard-working member of society can be publicly bullied by irresponsible and malicious reporting (by what is supposed to be la crème de la crème of responsible reporting under global standards), is a sad, sad testament to the present social order and the chaos it promotes, as well as questions the integrity and morality of those who possess the power and obligation to denounce Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press issues. I hope that there is enough integrity and honor left in the world of journalism to denounce the way in which the American press has grossly manipulate the truth with the explicit intention of manipulating public opinion in upcoming presidential elections.

There are many, many journalists denouncing the demise of responsible reporting in the USA today. Let's see if these voices are willing to "put their money where their mouth is" and denounce the manipulations of the American press in the case of Mr. Penn's article "El Chapo Speaks".


This is my last blog in the series of blogs on the Failed War on Drugs and Failed War on Terror. However, stay-tuned for more. My next series of blogs will be regarding the government's failed war on domestic violence/domestic terrorism upon submission of my CEDAW case.

Until, government's get real on the violence and abuse within our homes and communities, everyone is society (except those at the bottom of the food-chain) are COMPLICIT to the criminal action of those around them. People everywhere, everyday need to start asking the question Mr. Penn had the courage to ask, "What am I doing in my complicity to this royal mess?" We need start to look at the War Within Us, rather than the War Without Us, if humankind is going to find solutions to the problems which confront the human consciousness with a burning challenge (Eduardo Hughes Galeano).