Headline of the Day, or, Federalismo ad Absurdum

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"Leave intimate moral decisions to states and their legislatures"

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  1. The American left has long imposed its values on a divided country through the courts ? from the abolition of school prayer to civil rights for blacks to the legalization of abortion.

    Damn those lefties for stealing from whities the right to oppress the blackies. Damn them to hell.

  2. And without a trace of irony, at that.

  3. So, is the argument that we should allow states and their legislatures the intimate moral decisions on how best to go fuck themselves?

    Yes, as a Pennsyvlania resident I can support this fully.

    Mom: “Freepers, why do you try to impose your moral imperatives at a federal level?”

    Freepers (REDUCTION AD ABSURDUM): “Well, the left wing does it!”

    Mom: “If the left wing jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?”

    Libertarians: “Oh, what I wouldn’t give to find out!”

  4. Jennifer,

    Damn those lefties for stealing from whities the right to oppress the blackies. Damn them to hell.

    I think that if the length and breadth of the left’s efforts to impose values from the federal level were civil rights related issues that your remark would have some punch. But that in fact isn’t the length and breadth of the left’s efforts.

  5. I think that if the length and breadth of the left’s efforts to impose values from the federal level were civil rights related issues that your remark would have some punch. But that in fact isn’t the length and breadth of the left’s efforts.

    You’re not wrong, but to say the left “imposed its values”, and then to list one of those values as “civil rights for blacks” is pretty damning.

  6. Qbryzan,

    You’re not wrong, but to say the left “imposed its values”, and then to list one of those values as “civil rights for blacks” is pretty damning.

    Yes, I understand that point. I am merely agreeing with the general proposition, if not the specific examples. Of course a reasonable libertarian argument would be something like this: (1) Voting Rights Act: good because it merely enforces the 15th amendment and because equality in voting is a right much like free speech, etc.; (2) Civil Rights Act: those provisions which force people to comingle are problematic from a libertarian perspective, though those which undermine via the 14th Amendment segregationist state laws aren’t problematic (because they also coerce certain types of contacts or social situations).

    In other words, you have to tease out what “civil rights for blacks” means. I would hope that the author meant what I will call the “reasonable libertarian argument” (RTA) on this matter.

  7. Qbryzan,

    I am not quite sure if I wholely or even partly believe in the RTA, but that is how I took that comment.

  8. And those damned lefties stole from public schools the right to force their students to pray to a Judeo-Christian God, too. At this rate, those leftie bastards might make “separation of church and state” some sort of law or something.

  9. A country as big and diverse as the United States is wise to leave as many intimate moral questions as possible, from the regulation of marijuana to the regulation of marriage, to the states and to their legislatures.

    Pure crap. No government is qualified to make “moral decisions.” Only individuals can do so. Morality is the act of making choices, and regulating those choices relieves individuals of their responsibility to act morally. Therefore government control promotes immorality.

    No level of government should be telling adults who they can consensually sleep with or what they can voluntarily ingest.

  10. Jennifer,

    And those damned lefties stole from public schools the right to force their students to pray to a Judeo-Christian God, too. At this rate, those leftie bastards might make “separation of church and state” some sort of law or something.

    You are basically ignoring the historical problems associated with this issue. And this is coming from an atheist.

  11. I’m pretty sure that by “the states” the article means the people of each state. If they meant the state government, the phrase “states and their legislatures” would be redundant.

  12. Jennifer does (inadvertantly) point to a problem we have with the interpretation of the First Amendment religion clauses though: neither the language in the clauses nor the thinking behind are a slamdunk for “conservative religionists”* or “secular liberals.”*

    *The pigeonholing sucks, but I’ll use these terms as a shorthand for now.

  13. I’m pretty sure that by “the states” the article means the people of each state. If they meant the state government, the phrase “states and their legislatures” would be redundant.

    Even so, I don’t buy the argument that it is an infringment of rights to tell the people in group A that they can’t restrict the rights of the people in group B.

  14. Jennifer,

    The first question would be whether the federal government even has the power to do the area in question.

  15. Given how left and right sorted out in the 60s and before, there is nothing inconsistent in saying that the left was morally correct in furthering the civil rights movement even if it was nonetheless wrong to use the courts to do so. (It isn’t, after all, as though the left is always wrong and the right always right — these days, it is more likely both are wrong.)

    For what it’s worth, and having lived through that period, I don’t think it is true that there was any strong majority among white Americans opposed to civil rights by the 1960s. There may have been soft majority opposition and there certainly were plenty of hardcore racists left, but the tide had already begun to turn and the Civil Rights movement succeeded for the most part contemporaneously with that shift in majority sentiment. Even in the South, where that shift was obviously far less rapid, it had nonetheless begun. The notion that the government can significantly and rapidly change the prevailing positive morality of a society strikes me as highly unlikely. (Which is not to say, by the way, that like frogs in slowly heating water, people cannot be inured to social changes wrought by government.)

  16. Abuse of federal power is always justifiable in someone’s eyes. Sometimes, the reasons for such abuse are fundamentally sound. However, that doesn’t make the abuse right or even the optimal course of action.

    For instance, if certain kinds of discrimination are fundamentally a violation of civil liberties, a federally mandated, one-size fits all solution may not be the ideal approach for ending those forms of discrimination. There’s no doubt that institutional racism is a bad thing, but I would’ve preferred that the federal government dealt with the matter in ways consistent with federalism and limited government.

    It’s easy to say that the ends justify the means, but many bad things that are happening today are the direct result of the bad and extra-Constitutional methods people in the past used to achieve good things (and yes, the SCOTUS can violate the Constitution, too).

    Not that I want to start a left-right argument here, but the left did some not-so-good things with federal power, too, especially on the economic side. Also, sending troops in to private factories, rounding up Japanese Americans, etc., etc., etc. My point? THEY’RE ALL BAD!!!!! Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Jesus. It’s enough to make one join the LP. No, wait, maybe it isn’t 🙂

  17. Larry A,

    All law is necessarily a moral decision. To punish someone for murder is making a moral statement – that murder is wrong, and that those who do so are deserving of punishment.

    The question is not whether morality should be enforced, but what morals are enforceable.

    – Josh

  18. Anybody else notice this?

    From “The Economist” Magazine

    That’s shocking in contrast to the headline. Isn’t The Economist usually sane?

  19. Also, isn’t it odd that there is no credited author? Did I just miss it?

    M.

  20. Also, isn’t it odd that there is no credited author? Did I just miss it?

    M.

  21. Well, it is good to remember that when they said that “The Federal Government cannot impose a religion” it menat that it was te job of the States to do it, and that they were free to persecute other religions if they felt like it…

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