Madame Jeanne-Marie Roland Quote

“O liberty! O liberty! What crimes are committed in thy name!”

~ Madame Jeanne-Marie Roland

November 8, 1793, her last words before being executed on the guillotine, quoted in Alphonse de Lamartine's Histoire des Girondins

Ratings and Comments

Me Again
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Me Again    11/14/06

Nodding my head.yes.It's a shame.

David L Rosenthal

Crimes are committed in the name of many things. These crimes are crimes; they are not expressions of that in the name of which they are committed. Crimes committed in the name of liberty are not expressions of liberty, but simply crimes.

Mike, Norwalk

Compelled compliance, license, victimless crimes, torture as an interrogation technique, theft of the noble labor's fruit, required ID, loss of Habeas Corpus, legally neutered jurors, judges run amuck, unlimited legislature, an unbridled fascist executive branch of government, an unconstitutional central bank, etc. etc. etc are all crimes (against Nature, Nature's God, and otherwise) and yet such liberty must be protected so we go the pre-emptive wars after wars, after wars. (here is where I insert the quote)

Joe, Rochester, MI

Norwalk Mike has it right. And Rosenthal, as usual, allows a double standard. If he does it, it's "expressions of liberty," but if someone else does it, it's not expression of liberty, "but simply crimes."

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

Mike's got it... while not all crime is done in the name of liberty, and not all that is done in the name of liberty is a crime... far too much that is done in the name of liberty is in actually a crime against the very liberty it claims to support...

Ken, Allyn, WA

It matters very little to me whether I am robbed in the name of liberty, the children, God; or for a drug high and whores. My wallet is still gone, and robbery is a crime. Both should be prosecuted.

David L. Rosenthal

Crimes are crimes, Joe. Or can you define them in such a way as to make them other than crimes? If so, you could be a lawyer.

E Archer, NYC

Crimes are merely what men say they are -- they are made up and often reformed or repealed. Breaking a law is a 'crime' only in that the law has been broken -- there is no actual crime however if the law is unconstitutional. In nature there are no crimes -- there are consequences, however, as there are with all choices. We must be able to personally develop our faculties for evaluating the resulting consequences and make adjustments based on our experience. As far as rights go, no democracy can vote them away -- they are inalienable.

David L. Rosenthal

But you are not saying that crimes are not crimes, are you? Because that would be hard to rationalize. In the context of this quote, crimes are crimes, and liberty is not a license to commit crime.

Jack, Green, OH

The quote is all the more poignant and meaningful when one considers it was Madame Roland's last word before placing her head upon the guillotine - her testament to the trumped up charges which put her there.

Mike, Norwalk

Anonymous from Reston said well here. Scripturally speaking, crimes are uniquely to corporeal man's administration. Breaking eternal laws are called sin; and living a lesser law than God's is called transgression. Morality can not legitimately be legislated, thus hopefully only those numerated issues within the Decalogue will be defined as crimes. (infringement on third party rights - my rights end where your nose begins / having another god is a personal issue beyond the scope of temporal administration, etc.) Abortion may be a crime against Nature or Nature's God but, it is only a crime in the carnal world when temporal politics say so.

David L Rosenthal

"Morality can not legitimately be legislated, THUS hopefully only those numerated issues within the Decalogue will be defined as crimes." You refer here to the Ten Commandments or to the Bill of Rights? In either case, I don't get it. The Bible indicates that causing a fetus to exit the womb prior to its natural time may be punished, depending upon the ultimate result. So you are saying, then, that it would be a sin, but not a crime. And when the fetus is partially removed, now alive outside the womb, partially, then it is a crime to kill it? I think one of us is slipping. You tell me which one.

E Archer, NYC

God's laws or the laws of nature are still determined from man's evaluation of them -- they are declared by man. Often man is incorrect in determining the laws of nature (.i.e.. the sun being the center of the universe, etc.) Any claim of "God's law" is again simply a man's judgement. Nature's laws cannot be broken -- that is why they are called 'laws'. Man's laws are merely 'statutes' and are completely subjective. When a statute is broken, it is called a 'crime'. The problem arises when man tries to act like God and mete out punishment in God's name. Let God do his work, and man do his.

David L Rosenthal

O reason, o reason, what insanity is stated in thy name! A crime is a crime, and liberty is not a license to sin, to transgress, to commit crime, atrocity, or abuse, or any other act of the nature of these. All the rest is blowing hot air. The quote is understandable, if one takes into account the circumstances of the speaker, as Jack pointed out earlier. But beyond that it is generally not useful to automatically imbue with criminality any given act committed in connection with the processes of justice. Often enough it happens that liberty is abused, but justice still must be sought.

E Archer, NYC

The distinction must be made between 'laws' and 'rules'. Laws are immutable. Rules are ever changing with the times. Gravity is gravity -- ignore it and fall down. As far as spirituality goes, there seems to be one 'law' that appears to be universal: As you sow, so shall you reap. It is built in -- there is no avoiding it. That being the 'law', all rules thus are extensions of that -- like 'do unto others as you would have done unto you' -- that's a rule (The Golden Rule, actually). Why do we follow the rule? Because of the law behind it. How is it enforced? Automatically. But there are a great many humans who in the zeal for the rule forget the law and attempt to enforce the law themselves (I guess because they really don't believe in God's justice or worse they believe themselves to be the 'chosen ones' in whom God entrusts his power). The thing that most religious zealots forget is God's mercy, grace, and goodness. Judge not, lest ye be judged. If 'sin' is a crime, then we are all criminals, and absolute justice is punishment for all. If then we are all in need of forgiveness, then we best get with dispensing it -- why? Because of the law -- as we sow, so shall we reap. 'Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.' Not bomb the infidels, jail the immoral (for ALL are immoral), and kill, kill, kill whether in the name of Liberty, God, or whatever.

David L Rosenthal

But you are not saying that crimes are not crimes, are you? It's a simple question.

E Archer, NYC

I am saying what you may call a 'crime,' David might very well differ from someone else. Simply, a crime is a violation of a human statute. It is made up. In nature, there are no crimes -- only actions and reactions.

David L. Rosenthal

Fine, but the quote is not about that. The quote is about what the author said. And the author speaks of crime. It is to that I have responded. What you have twisted this into has little to do with to what I responded. Now, if you want to keep on talking trash, feel free.

E Archer, NYC

OK, then, let's wrap this up. As I stated, men make declarations from which rules become extensions. 'I am free and independent with inalienable rights' is a declaration -- it is an assertion. We have inalienable rights because we say so and have ultimately fought and won against those that claimed otherwise. Thus, in the context of Liberty, a 'crime' is a violation of that declaration. If we do not make the declaration ourselves that we are free and have rights, then we don't have them. In Madame's case, she fought for the free republic of France, and after the revolution, she was executed by the Robespierre and Girondist factions that ultimately brought socialism to France in the name of Liberté, Fraternité, and Égalité.

David L. Rosenthal

That was a crime.

E Archer, NYC

Not sure what you refer to, David. Yes, there are 'crimes' but they are made up. So to simply say "a crime is a crime" does not make sense. Otherwise, whatever someone says is a crime would actually be a crime (whether anyone else agrees or not) which is purely arbitrary.

meenal, delhi

so true!!

J Carlton, Calgary

From the the Star wars movie Evil Empire:"So this is how Liberty dies, with thunderous applause." Interesting how art imitates life.

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Robken    9/23/11

Alas, even today, those shouting the same rhetoric are being persecuted and killed, as we have created a world where those freedom-fighters and those wanting their liberty are called terrorists.

jim k, Austin, Tx

The congress has turned vices into crimes, such as using drugs. Please explain why someone smoking marijuana is commitinga crime and what business is this of the government anyway. Smoking dope is not the smartest thing to do but neither is smoking cigarettes, but why should either be a crime and look at the trouble this War on Drugs has caused. Check out on the web for more information. My drug of choice is caffeine, as in coffee.

J Carlton, Calgary

Jim, I'm sure you already know the answer to your question...the government can "tax" tobacco, so that's ok for them. They make money and they don't care about your health anyway. And they can't control Marijuana production because anyone can grow no tax money...might as wellmake it a crime. There! Now they have an avenue of "control". Morality, Integrity and Justice have nothing whatsoever to do with it .

Romualdo, Woodland Hills

We humans have this innate need to pigeon-hole things so that we can gain a sense of order thereafter. The word 'crime' pigeon-wholes, in my opinion, all things that run amock self respect and respect for others. And yes, all actions trigger consequences ... good and bad. The good ones are not a problem to society. The bad ones are just that ...BAD!, and should prompt a remedial response by the community to ensure it never happens again. If torture, or the death penalty accomplish the removal of crime as such, then fine.

Howard, Bangkok

You rock Mike. I think you must have read Frederick Bastiat's THE LAW. Whether you did or not, you hit the nail on the head.

Bobble, Burlington, VT

The following also could be said:

"O Peace, O peace -- what crimes are committed in thy name ?"

Patrick Henry, Red Hill

Everything is a matter of right definition.

In its most sublime exemplification, Liberty is constituted of the freedom to act in a manner that is in accord with the dictates of protocols of conduct that are not devices of men.

Ultimately, Liberty and Justice can rightly be regarded as being concomitants of Righteousness, in the absence of which neither can truly be realized.

The French Revolution was a nihilistic, gratuitously sanguinary, moral and sociocultural convulsion, an utter burlesque of the American Revolution and an unholy precursor to the Bolshevik Revolution.

A characterization with which Madame Roland, likely, would be in agreement, sacrificed, as she was, on the altar not of Liberty but of ideology.

E Archer, NYC

Since natural law 'is,' the 'common law' is an extension of the 'right' to defend oneself against predators. We say it is a 'right' because if we are prevented from doing so, we become prey. The predators, on the other hand, say they have a 'right' to their prey. To deny the nature of the world does not change it.

In the Common Law, a crime is defined as an intentional, malicious act. The 'atonement' for the crime should be proportional to the damage done. With this simple definition, entire volumes of statutes can be thrown out. You do not need to declare 'rape' a crime -- it is a malicious act. To simply cause harm to another is not automatically a crime -- there has to be intent (mens rea).

And what ultimately determines whether an act is a crime is a JURY! How far we have fallen from our common law roots.

"O Justice, O Justice, what crimes are committed in thy name."

Kevin Rogers, Adelaide

There is nothing wrong with liberty as such. It is just that supporters of a cause can easily use weasel words to invoke a righteous ideal to oppress others.

The new oppressors called themselves the committee for public safety, even though they were extremely dangerous.

The same thing happens today and always will. So be wary.


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