Please enjoy this scene from the comic mystery novel RED HOT LIBERTY.
Molly O'Malley is a real estate agent and Liberty True is her client. Liberty is a proud tin-foil-hat-wearing, conspiracy-theory-believing rebel patriot college professor. Liberty ends up changing Molly's life forever.
As Molly eventually says, paraphrasing Edmund Burke, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good women to do nothing."
The roads surrounding the college were packed with cars and it took longer than expected for Molly to arrive at Liberty's office. She parked between news vans from CNN and Fox News, and was curious about what was happening on campus. Everyone seemed to be migrating to the plaza outside the auditorium, but she didn't take the time to follow them. Instead, she wove through the crowd toward the history building where she found Liberty in her office, sitting on the floor in the middle of dozens of handmade protest signs.
In greeting, Liberty thrust a placard into Molly's hand. It said LIBERTY, NOT TYRANNY! "Congressman Spearing is here today to give a speech. The Tea Partiers and Patriot Moms are gathering. Let's tell him what we really think."
It had been a rough week, and Molly didn't want to play. "I can't stay for the rally, I just came by to let you know they accepted your offer and deliver the signed contract."
Liberty leapt to her feet and snatched the papers from Molly's hand. "Hallelujah! Woo-hoo!" She danced around the room, leaping and pirouetting quite gracefully for a woman wearing combat boots. She even belted out a chorus of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
Ross, who had been sleeping on the couch, managed to wake up and seem mildly enthused for a few moments before he yawned and promptly fell back to sleep.
Breathless, Liberty finally collapsed in the chair behind her desk. "Thank you, O'Malley. I've never been this happy. Ever."
Molly loved it when her clients were happy.
Liberty waved to the couch. "Sit. We need to talk."
Still holding the placard, Molly took a seat next to Ross, who was already snoring like a tuba-playing chainsaw.
"You love your daughter, this I know," Liberty said.
Molly nodded. "More than anything in the world."
"So, why don't you care what kind of a world she's going to grow up in?"
"You have to do more for her than you're doing." There was an unusual tenderness in Liberty's voice. "We live under a system of government that's supposed to be by the people, for the people. If the people don't get involved, don't participate in that government, then they surrender their lives and the lives of their loved ones to the control of others."
Molly was irritated. "I do the best I can."
"No, you don't."
Molly tossed the protest sign on the pile of others with a little more flourish than intended.
Liberty sat back in her chair and leveled her with assessing eyes. "A thirteen-year-old boy in Washington State was taken away from his parents because they insisted he go to church. He told his school counselor he didn’t want to go, so Child Protective Services took him away from his parents and put him in foster care. What do you think about that?"
Molly was startled. "Whether Angel goes to church is a decision for me to make, not the state."
Liberty nodded. "Increasingly, the government is making decisions about how you can parent, what vaccines you must give your child no matter what the risks, in what manner you can educate your child, and even how much your child should weigh. At any time, for any reason the state sees fit, it could take Angel away from you."
Molly thought about all the bad parenting she'd been guilty of and cringed.
"We the people are trying to get new legislation passed to protect parental rights. We need Congressman Spearing's support, and we're going out there today to tell him that. I think you should join us."
Molly was exhausted. Emotionally, she was leveled. Her stress level was in orbit. But she loved Angelina more than anything in the world, and there wasn't anything she wouldn’t do for her. "Okay, Liberty. I'll do it for Angel."
Liberty gave a loud war whoop. "That's my girl, O'Malley. We’ll make a freedom fighter out of you yet. And maybe a time will come when you won't do it just for Angel, but for America too."
There was a knock on Liberty's open door. The man standing in the doorway didn't look happy. "I'd like to talk with you, Liberty."
"So talk, Warner."
Liberty cocked her head. "This is my friend Molly O'Malley, and you can talk to me in front of her. O'Malley, this is my department head, Dr. Warner."
He cleared his throat and straightened his tie.
Molly stood. "Do you want to sit here?"
He ignored her, so she sat back down.
"There have been some complaints from your students about you again, Liberty."
"Is it true that you're offering extra credit to those who attend today's rally?"
"Those who don't want to attend, who have no desire to protest, feel as if they're being compelled," he said.
"They don't have to go."
"Then they are at a disadvantage in their grade."
Liberty shook her head. "They don't have to protest anything. It would just be good for them to see democracy in action."
"You really shouldn't be attending this rally yourself. We don't like our professors to engage in controversy."
"This is America."
He fiddled with his tie, his expression grim. "The majority of your students like you, Liberty. Adore you, really. But the faction who find your eccentricities offensive have friends and family in high places. We're very concerned."
"Your concern is noted."
He walked away without another word.
Liberty looked at Molly and said, "'To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.' I may be many things, O'Malley, but nothing ain't one of them."
* * *
Later, Molly glanced at the TV and saw a familiar face. "Stop there," she said.
Angelina paused on CNN. "Is that Liberty?"
"Yes. Oh, my goodness. Turn it up."
Liberty was saying, "…and we need to stop Big Brother from running our lives. The courts have determined that the rights of parents to direct the upbringing of their children do not exist beyond the threshold of the school door."
Liberty was wearing her trademark tinfoil covered hat and FREEDOM FIGHTER sweatshirt. Her protest sign said TIMID MEN PREFER THE CALM OF DESPOTISM TO THE TEMPETUOUS SEA OF LIBERTY – THOMAS JEFFERSON. "The government is collecting the DNA of babies at birth without their parents' knowledge or consent, for reasons they won't reveal. The vaccines they're making us give our children are killing them. Ritalin is being forced on schoolchildren."
The camera momentarily panned down to Ross, proudly dressed in the American flag.
Liberty said, "They have a fluoride mouth rinse program in schools now, when fluoride has been proven to reduce IQ by as much as twenty percent. They're making us teach revisionist history in the schools to further government agenda. Parents must have more rights in the education and welfare of their children. Government needs to get out of the way. Even Ronald Regan said, 'Government isn't the solution. Government is the problem.'"
The reporter nodded his head, his expression earnest. "Very interesting opinions. May I ask—"
"Actually, I'd like to ask you something."
The reporter seemed surprised. "Go ahead."
"Why the hell did CNN let Lou Dobbs go? He was a reporter with conviction. He spoke the truth."
This reporter sidestepped the question by asking, "And you are?"
Liberty looked right at the camera and said, "Dr. Liberty True, Professor of History at Blackstone University, and I'm a freedom fighter."