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The End of Treason

Reader comment on item: The End of Treason

Submitted by DA. Freiberg (United States), Aug 17, 2005 at 11:41


You do not trace its demise far enough. The Imperial British accused the revolting American colonists of treason against the British Crown. They were correct in their definition.

However, as I believe Benjamin Franklin noted, "History is written by the winners". "Treason", isn't treason when a revolution is successful. Many groups since the American Revolution have called themselves "revolutionaries" as a result.

The bottom line on a "modern" definition of treason should be simple: whether you are a citizen or merely a visitor in a country, if your actions or speech harm (or praise harm) to that country or its allies in a substantitve way, then you have committed treason. This would include both harm to other citizens and visitors, as well as attempted overthrow of the government.

Perhaps it sounds odd to include visitors, short or long term as they may be, but if I invite someone to my house, it is reasonable to expect that that person does not proceed to set my house on fire or encourage others to do so. While those who are citizens should be put on notice that citizenship is a two-way street; if you don't want to be a citizen, go live somewhere else!

Note the exemption in American law: you can advocate for a change in government, as long as your advocacy is for a PEACEFUL change. Ay, that's the rub...but that distinction could still be used to prosecute plenty of traitors in the US, if the US would only summon up the moral fortitude to go after them.

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