“One of the things that Teller and I are obsessed with, one of the reasons that we’re in magic, is the difference between fantasy and reality” – Penn Jillette
This past week I had the opportunity to experience the engulfing marvels of Las Vegas, Nevada. The Las Vegas strip is filled with many late night shows and among them was the distinguished act of Penn & Teller. The spectacle is filled with illusion, comedy, and even politics. Both performers are avid Libertarians and constantly spread their message through their shows and on social media. Penn Jillette is the real driving force of the Libertarian message on the entertainment level as he is constantly challenging liberal ideologies of big government. In Penn’s discussion about politics, he addressed the topics of personal liberty, gun rights, and the importance of the Constitution.
The airport is something all individuals have to deal with, which means dealing with an assault on the 4th amendment. At the show, Penn displayed how the TSA scanners violated one’s ability to be free from unreasonable seizures and searches. Penn displayed this violation of personal liberty by showing how an actual TSA metal detector ($5000 to purchase) will not find all weapons as many plastic objects can cause harm. It was interesting to see how liberties can be denied and trumped at the will of government employees to search for anything suspicious. Their response to the situation was when travelling to use their signature Bill of Rights – “Security Edition”, whereby the first 10 amendments are printed on a metal sheet to be placed in a pocket and be detected by the metal detectors. Once detected, you are credited as a liberty and freedom fighter to push back oppressive big government policies. These sheets of metal were available at the gift shop after the show for $5 and it saw significant appreciation from the crowd as everyone seemed to by buying one.
The appearance of two Colt Revolvers truly captivated the spirit of the Libertarian and conservative ethic. Both Penn and Teller displayed how these tools are meant for protection against oppression and used them in their own illusion act to show how gun safety will always win the day. History plays a huge role into their arguments for gun rights as they constantly draw parallels to the mindset of our Founding Fathers. Penn dissects the very few words of the 2nd amendment and thankfully praises the cause of the Revolutionary War for the necessity of one’s right to bear arms.
The Constitution was the highlight of the show and was a humble third contributor to the act. The comparison of our Constitutional Republic to China’s lack of human rights made the case for American Exceptionalism. The illusion act to go with this contrast of political systems, was how the Constitution would never crumble and it can be adaptable to any other nation if they put in the proper work ethic. The free country is always the model America holds dearly to its heart, whereas, the Chinese model allows for ambiguity to devour human rights and provide a society that is tied to no principle values. It is clear that Penn Jillette is among the many leaders of this Libertarian movement and I encourage for all individuals to embrace his view and see the Penn & Teller show live in Las Vegas.
Follow Berent Batur on Twitter @BerentBatur.