Neil Gorsuch

Judge Gorsuch's Natural Law

Trump's SCOTUS nominee is a natural law thinker. That's a good thing.



Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch isn't just a respected judge; he also holds a philosophy degree from Oxford, where he studied under John Finnis, one of the most prominent scholars in natural law theory. That may seem arcane, but Gorsuch's views about natural law set him apart from colleagues on the bench—and those differences may trouble not just liberals, but perhaps conservatives and libertarians, too.

Natural law is among the oldest philosophical traditions. Some of history's greatest geniuses, from Aristotle to Thomas Jefferson, devoted their most brilliant arguments to it, often differing about details but agreeing on the broad outlines. Natural law was the basis on which America's founders wrote the Constitution.

Among other things, it holds that politics isn't just a matter of agreement. Instead, principles of justice, or the idea that murder or theft are wrong, run deeper than government's mere say-so. Those things are actually wrong, aside from whether or not they are legal—and that means government itself can act unjustly and even impose rules that don't deserve the name "law."

That's a view many on both left and right share. The greatest spokesman for natural law in the twentieth century was probably Martin Luther King, who denounced segregation not because of its technical complexities, but because it betrayed the natural law principles of the Declaration of Independence.

But most judges today—including liberals and conservatives—reject natural law. They embrace a different view, "legal positivism," which holds that individual rights or concepts of justice are really manufactured government fiat. Even Justice Antonin Scalia rejected natural law arguments. "You protect minorities only because the majority determines that there are certain minority positions that deserve protection," he said, not because everyone has basic rights under natural law.

Still, even those who embrace natural law, including Justice Clarence Thomas, have their differences. For example, while Thomas and his allies see natural law as a basis for attacking legal protections for abortion and euthanasia—because they contradict the sanctity of life—others believe that natural law theory actually supports these rights, because it prioritizes individual autonomy.

That debate arises from a central natural-law question: What is the source of the good? Are things like life or freedom good because they relate to human purposes—such as the pursuit of a fulfilling life—or are they just intrinsically good, without any deeper reason? This debate matters because if life is just inherently good, then even someone suffering a terminal illness who wants to end his own life should be barred from doing so because life is good, period. On the other hand, if life is only good because it serves the goal of happiness, then someone whose life has become a burden of suffering should be free to end it if he chooses.

Oxford's John Finnis, and his student, Neil Gorsuch, embrace the intrinsic view: Life is just inherently good, full stop. In one scholarly article, Gorsuch argued that life is an "irreducible and categorical" good, not "instrumental or merely useful." Thus a person's "intent to die" should be off-limits, regardless of his suffering.

But this is misguided. The very notion of "good" implies an answer to the question "for what?" The correct answer is, for a flourishing life: It's why we eat, exercise, marry, or get jobs. Goodness is a function of our purposes. As philosopher Tara Smith writes in one criticism of Finnis, saying something is just an "irreducible and categorical" good isn't really an argument—it's just a bare assertion, or an "anti-theory," that "does not offer a justification of morality so much as a contention that no justification is needed." It's the equivalent of "because I say so."

Gorsuch's approach to natural law also indicates that he has a circumscribed view of individual choice, a subject that's always central to important constitutional cases, whether they be about abortion and euthanasia, or privacy and property rights. Justice Harry Blackmun put the point well when he dissented in the notorious Bowers v. Hardwick, which upheld state laws prohibiting same-sex intimacy. Courts, he wrote, protect individual rights "not because they contribute…to the general public welfare, but because they form so central a part of an individual's life. The concept of privacy embodies the 'moral fact that a person belongs to himself and not others nor to society as a whole.'" Many conservatives denounced that assertion, particularly Judge Robert Bork, an outspoken foe of natural law, who dismissed Blackmun's individualism as something that "can hardly be taken seriously."

In his 2006 book on euthanasia, Judge Gorsuch tries to take a middle ground. Echoing Finnis, he recognizes the importance of personal autonomy, but insists that government can "foreclose evil options without seriously infringing on individuals' opportunities" for self-determination. Thus he argues that terminal patients have a right to refuse medical treatment, but not to commit suicide, because in the former case he "come[s] to peace with death without necessarily having any intention to kill or help kill." That seems like a weak distinction, since we normally assume that a person who makes a choice, knowing the consequences, intends to cause those results. But it supports Gorsuch's ultimate conclusion that government can bar people from doing things it deems evil—just because—without actually violating their freedom of choice.

This isn't just an academic debate. Assisted suicide laws are now on the books in four states, and they've been challenged in the Supreme Court before. Sooner or later, the Court will review other laws, including abortion, medical marijuana, and the right to access medicine that has not been federally approved for sale. A person's natural right to make his own choices is at the forefront of all these questions. To take away his freedom just "because we say so" unjustly overrides his right to life. And while Gorsuch's philosophical opinions won't play the leading role in any court opinion on these subjects—such cases will focus mainly on legal and constitutional issues—all judges are influenced by their fundamental moral beliefs. After all, if the government can "foreclose evil options," that suggests the Constitution's protections for "liberty" do not bar the government from interfering with a wide range of personal decisions.

None of this is to say that Judge Gorsuch is a bad choice for the Court. On the contrary, while libertarians are likely to dispute his views of natural law, Gorsuch's views in this area are well within the mainstream of political philosophy, and his writings on these and other subjects reveal a deep commitment to ideas about justice and rights that are as important as they are timeless. Natural law thinkers may differ over important questions, but their debates play an essential part in our democratic and legal process—one many judges have ignored for far too long. As we choose someone who to help address some of our nation's most controversial questions, it's refreshing to see one candidate who takes these matters as seriously as they deserve.

NEXT: Uganda's Bad Seeds

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Leave it to a Trump nominee to pervert the idea of natural law into a monstrosity of injustice.

    1. In what way? Will he use the 14th Amendment to say assisted suicide violates due process?

      (I haven’t read his book)

      1. Will he use the 14th Amendment to force bakers to bake cakes for people they don’t want to bake cakes for?

        1. I’m sorry I brought up compulsory cakes – wait, I didn’t, you and the government did.

          1. You brought up the 14th Amendment, which is government

  2. Natural law precludes one operating strictly by fiat. Of course it will have outspoken foes.

    1. How? All you have to do is claim your fiat is part of natural law.

    2. As much as I would love to be a proponent of natural law, the idea is flawed philosophically, unless you are a Platonist. Furthermore, it is incompatible with a subjective theory of value. It’s one or the other, but not both. Since the subjective theory of value (STOV) is crucial for both economics and libertarian philosophy, it’s natural law that has got to go. But if we jettison natural law, from whence come our rights? We have to admit that there is no such thing as metaphysical rights. Rights are created by man, not granted by God or nature. My personal opinion is that rights are agreements (or contracts, if you will) that people make in how they will treat each other, and that they are rooted in our biology as a social species. This may not provide that cushy feeling of certainty that natural law does, but it is compatible with reality and the STOV.

      1. I don’t see natural law as implying that rights are products of nature, but as products of the mind as adduced from human nature with a specific purpose; to promote social harmony.

      2. My view is that freedoms are natural – long preceding government and even humanness – but they only become rights when we agree to protect those freedoms. And the bigger problem is that those freedoms often conflict. eg

        We have the freedom to claim exclusive control over territory.
        We have the freedom to claim a place to sleep and protect ourselves from predators.
        We have the freedom to claim the products of territory to sustain us with food.

        Property rights in territory are entirely about protecting the first of those at the expense of the latter two. In nature, that first freedom has no concept of inheritance – no concept of being able to control that territory without personally fighting for it and continually defending the claim. The value of natural law as a philosophy is that is should but often doesn’t force us to look at what natural freedoms we infringe and who wins/loses when we turn some of those freedoms into rights. Because that is often the source and scope of cronyism when the beneficiary isn’t the one paying the price.


  4. “Natural law was the basis on which America’s founders wrote the Constitution.”

    That seems relevant in considering someone whose job will include applying the Constitution to the cases which come before him.

    “But most judges today?including liberals and conservatives?reject natural law. They embrace a different view, “legal positivism,” which holds that individual rights or concepts of justice are really manufactured government fiat.”

    Which means that most judges today deem themselves wiser than the Framers – and not coincidentally, they are bigger statists, too.

    John Austin, perhaps the founder of legal positivism, at least admitted there was a law higher than human enactments – a law emanating from God – Austin simply denied that it was the job of lawyers and judges to apply that higher law.

    Then the “great” Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, probably the first “out” atheist on the Supreme Court, came on the scene with a more hard-core positivism. Holmes denied that a higher law even *existed* – you might as well believe in a Sky Daddy!

    Even when upholding the rights of a pacifist he went out of his way to express his disagreement with the Sermon on the Mount.

    If libertarians don’t like Holmes’ atheistic positivism, they might want to consider accepting natural law like the founders did – even the religiously-liberal Jefferson, who by modern standards looks like a fundamentalist bleever compared to the likes of Holmes.

    1. Natural law is the basis of libertarianism regardless of whether individual libertarians believe in god. There are attempts to ground natural law in things such as human nature or biology. Without a concept or argument that rights are natural, you are going to have a difficult time taking any moral position about rights.

      1. So? Take a nonmoral position about rights. Natural law isn’t the basis of libertarianism. I’m as libertarian as they come, but natural law is a crock, as are most “natural” things.

        1. Then you have already lost all arguments to the exppanding will of the state. The state will eventually enslave you when enough of your countrymen are not sufficiently libertarian.

          Oh look, here we are.

          Natural law is the only good argument for liberty without an all seeing all powerful state. Any other argument for liberty give too much power to the enemies of it….

          1. I’m on the fence with this one. I realize that my rights are only granted by the society around me, but I also know that I don’t want to murder or be murderered. Possibly out of fear of being thrown out of the tribe or from some other product of evolution. Possibly just because our brains have developed the ability to feel compassion for others. I do know that morality does not come from the state. I also know that humans have a great talent in justifying their immoral actions to themselves. So while I believe the concept of natural law is far from obvious, it seems that defining a natural law is the best avenue for securing individual liberty.

            1. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

              1. Yep, so self-evident, that had to rewrite it from “pursuit of property” to “pursuit of happiness”.

                Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very inspiring opening, but it’s kind of like a Rorschach test. People see in it what they want to see, and not much else. Which is a major flaw that “Natural Law” has no answer for.

          2. “Natural law” isn’t even an argument at all, it’s FYTW. You want an argument, you’ve got to persuade people. Tell them why something’s good?especially good for them or their loved ones. Doesn’t have to be “moral”.

            1. All moral arguments eventually boil down to an assertion that something is good and something else is bad. Libertarian morality, which makes individual liberty the ultimate moral good, is no different. You can’t prove that individual liberty is good, in a moral sense, from first principles.

              Natural law is a narrative we tell ourselves to give that assertion more weight. You can bump the assertion up one level and say that natural law is derived from God, but then you are just asserting that God exists and that his law is natural law. Maybe it’s true, but it’s not a scientifically provable claim, obviously. The same is true for any other attempt to justify natural law. The same is true for any attempt to justify any moral system.

              Ultimately, the best argument for libertarian morality is the one that convinces the greatest number of people to adopt libertarian morality. A narrative that appeals to some higher power may fit that bill. A simple assertion that natural law makes sense may fit that bill. A more utilitarian argument may fit that bill. There doesn’t have to be one single answer because different arguments will appeal to different people. And if someone wants to simultaneously try to justify libertarian morality using multiple complementary arguments, then that is fine, too.

              1. Rothbard talks about three possible vehicles to rights: deontological natural law, consequentalist utilitarianism, and emotivism. He then dismisses emotivism outright as silly and goes on to dismiss utilitarianism, with some very poor arguments, as also foolish.

                Dismissing emotivism was a terrible mistake. Emotivism is the most powerful of the three. It is in fact the root of most people’s morality. Most people object to hurting others not because of some philosophical argument, but because it makes them feel bad. We evolved to be a cooperative species and hurting other is, most of the time, counterproductive. Of course, there are times when hurting other feels good, and that is why we need a system of laws. The system of laws is based on how most of the people feel most of the time, which is not hate towards others and a desire to hurt them.

                And, as I said above, emotivism is consistent with STOV, while natural law is not.

                1. But (non-deontological) natural law can easily be grounded in emotivism. I mean, duh.

          3. “Natural law is the only good argument for liberty without an all seeing all powerful state.”
            And as we can see, it’s a terribly effective one.

        2. So you are a utilitarian libertarian instead of a philosophical one? Because it seems to work better instead of because it *is* better?

          1. We can go only by our perceptions & judgment. Usually things are as they seem, & the more we learn, the better we are at predicting how they’ll be. No way to know for sure whether something is better until after the fact, but experience (our own & that of others) helps a lot w that.

  5. OT: Unqualified candidates for school boards are inspired by Devos

    Allison Kruk is a financial journalist who moved to Newtown, in the suburbs of Philadelphia, after college. She and her boyfriend have no children, but she interned in schools and tutored in New Jersey prisons throughout college.

    But it wasn’t until she spent that weekend collecting letters from people concerned about problems that touch public schools, from gun violence to worries about immigration, that she thought of herself as someone who could make a difference through politics.

    “I don’t just want to sign an online petition or write a post on Twitter or Facebook,” says Kruk. “I want to be on the ground. Involved on the local level.”

    She notes that Democrats didn’t even put up a nominee in Newtown’s 2015 school board elections. “That’s something that Democrats and progressives more generally are realizing is essential to build a political movement.”

    1. I object to the idea that somebody running for a local schoolboard needs complicated qualifications. She’s interested in the subject, and willing to spend the time. It’s local government. She’s qualified. Maybe not the MOST qualified, but qualified.

      1. It was somewhat in jest, however she is 23. The whole article is “concerned” millenials, including one who knows that California schools are underfunded.

        1. It was somewhat in jest

          Hey person who is the new worst, there is no more joking on the Reason boards. Comments are serious business.

          1. You’re right, I forgot. I’ll be extra super serious from now on.

      2. +1 Citizen legislator.

      3. The left is completely unhinged when it comes to public education.

        My neighbor bitterly remarked on the (Republican) school board candidate signs in the yards across from them, that the people who live there have no kids, so shouldn’t have a say in who gets to be on the local school board.

        Since our school taxes rival my mortgage payments in size, I think it would be fair if people could give up their school board vote in exchange for not having to pay those taxes. Somehow I don’t think that would fly with my neighbor either.

    2. I was reminded of the documentary The Youngest Candidate.

      My 18-year-old self would have applauded these people; my older self thinks they’re going about it the wrong way and, if any of them had been elected, they would been on the road to being lifetime politicians (like *uck Schumer).

      1. Most of them haven’t figured out how to take care of themselves and they want to exert control over the rest of us.

        1. That is how they take care of themselves.

    3. “”””tutored in New Jersey prisons”””

      Sounds like she is very qualified to deal with those government school students

    4. “I had been calling and emailing and writing letters about how I thought [DeVos] was incredibly incompetent, regardless of your position on school choice.”

      Right, never mind the central controversy of her nomination. Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

      1. O.k. so you haven’t precluded me from finding someone else to micturate on your leg and then I can tell you its raining. Seeing then that you will believe it, I will continue and micturate on your rug. What a shame, it tied the room together so well.

      2. What does school choice have to do w the US Dept. of Ed.?

    5. ‘Qualification’ is the new buzz word I see. Schoo boards, at least the ones I know of, don’t have ‘qualified’ people running them.

      If these shitheads pissing on DeVos are so god dang worried about ‘qualifications’ then they would be equally concerned about Bill Nye, David Suzuki, Naomi Klein, Al Gore and others acting as if they’re experts on climate change. Or even Paul Krugman on his pseudo-intellectual political gibberish.

      Something, something, principals over principles.

      1. Thankfully, the school boards here aren’t partisan elections. Unfortunately, they’re in May and the teachers’ unions pretty much determine the outcome.

      2. It is the new prog buzzword. Basically it works like this:

        Not qualified = not a prog = probably a Republican = racist

        1. Yep, although it’s not really a new thing. They’ve done it for decades, it’s just now there’s more of an ability to push back.

          I mean, you see it most often with the meme ” $Republican WILL TAKE US TO WAR!!!!!!11″ Never mind of the major foreign wars this country has been involved in, every single one except the GWOT was started by a Democrat. WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam….all Democrats fucking with things they didn’t need to fuck with.

          Hillary wanted to shoot down Russian jets over Syria to prove how tough she was, but Donald Trump is somehow going to be worse for peace?

      3. ‘Qualification’ is the new buzz word I see..

        My retort to anyone fetishizing “Expertism”…

        (*the idea that you need various and arcane credentials and narrow areas of work-experience in order to be allowed into the higher offices of government)

        … is basically to quote Anton Chigurh =

        “if the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use is the rule?”

        – meaning: if decades of successive “experts” is what produced for us this gigantic bureaucratic self-serving shitshow we call “federal __[insert whatever department you want]____”… I’ll take the uncredentialed neophyte, thank you. Because even if all they do is tear it to pieces and leave steaming wreckage in their wake, it would be hard to not call that ‘a good start’ regardless.

        1. You have paraphrased my feelings exactly. If the “experts” at the dept of education have had 40+ years of wasting money for equal or worse performance, maybe it’s time to peer into what makes one an “expert.”

    6. I’d rather have John Kruk on the school board.

    7. I don’t recall all this talk about qualifications eight years ago when a first term senator decided to run for president. I mean, I’m sure all these same people were equally concerned with his lack of qualifications, right? Because if they weren’t, then I guess it isn’t really about qualifications, and is all about Team concerns. Which would imply they aren’t about principles, which they are, right?

      1. This. X1000. Expert only matters when SJWs say it does.

        1. Being an SJW qualifies someone to be an expert. Duh.

          Also, just realized this thread is a day old. Which makes me decidedly “not an expert on commenting.”

  6. Good stuff. I love that we’ve advanced as a society that such issues are no longer merely academic. Having said that, one of the problems with the ‘natural law’ doctrine is that it gives people an easy excuse for violence: “It is my natural right to do X, but since government prohibits it, then I can resort to violence.” And in this case X could be “not live with muslims” or “free from criticism or ridicule” or some other nonsense claim limited only by one’s ability to be offended. In fact, as long as we have free speech, then there is no excuse – your only obligation is to convince others that you’re right. That’s why I’ve fought so hard to protect free speech – I’m not harboring a secret manifesto to pick fights and launch witch hunts and wars. And why should I?


    1. Ignore the retard please.

      1. [puts Lee on ignore]

        1. Well I guess I asked for that.

      2. “The world is too dangerous to live in ? not because of the people who do evil, but because of the people who sit and let it happen.” ? Albert Einstein

    2. Ummm… natural law isn’t whatever “X” you pull out of your ass.

      1. Don’t bother arguing with him. His sole objective is to provoke a response. If you go back through his various handles and posts, he does whatever he thinks will bait people into arguing with him. He isn’t interested in a genuine exchange of ideas, he’s interested in drawing people out for his own entertainment. That’s why nobody responds to him anymore. He knows damn well that natural law by its very nature doesn’t condone violence against others and is hoping someone will jump on him for it. He’s never “fought so hard to protect” anything, unless you count sitting on your ass typing on a computer to be fighting. He’s a garden variety troll.

        1. unless you count sitting on your ass typing on a computer to be fighting

          natural law by its very nature doesn’t condone violence against others

          The keyboard is mightier than the F-35. 🙂

      2. Ultimately it is, since there’s no authoritative objective source of what Natural Law is.

        1. My two fists of iron are all the natural law I need.

      3. Seeing as it’s entirely subjective and not-at-all objective, it really is.

  7. Life is just inherently good, full stop. In one scholarly article, Gorsuch argued that life is an “irreducible and categorical” good, not “instrumental or merely useful.” Thus a person’s “intent to die” should be off-limits, regardless of his suffering.

    Did he actually make that last argument in the “life is good” piece? Because mosquitos and tapeworms and flesh-eating bacteria are all living things, is he a Jainist who won’t step on an ant?

    Or maybe it’s just human life – like the people currently sitting on death row. Is he unreservedly anti-death penalty? Or are there conditions under which life is not the supreme good?

    “Good” – good for whom? If me killing myself is such a fundamental assault on “good” that you are entitled or obligated to stop me from killing myself, what other harms might I do to myself that you should prevent? Drug use? Prostitution? Gambling? Anything that prevents me from living up to my full potential as a human being – with you deciding what my full potential is and what “full potential” means in terms of the purpose of human life? That seems to run counter to the suggestion that, if all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with a right to the pursuit of happiness, that the pursuit of happiness is something the individual is solely and supremely able to define for himself.

    1. And if human beings are obligated to stop others from doing things that prevent them from living up to their full potential, does that suggest an obligation to provide others with the means to live up to their full potential as well? Are food stamps and free college a fundamental human right because to fail to provide them violates the sanctity of human life and the moral obligation to make sure everybody lives up to their full potential?

      So many questions.

    2. I believe Gorsuch specifically uses assisted suicide as a slippery slope argument against other unsavory acts that involve only yourself. So in answer to your last question, yes.

      1. Here it is

        Gorsuch also rejected the “libertarian case for assisted suicide” because, he argued, “faithful adherence to libertarian theory” would also justify the legalization of “mass suicide pacts…duels, and the sale of one’s life (not to mention the use of now illegal drugs, prostitution, or the sale of one’s organs).”

        1. I disagree that faithful adherence to libertarian theory would produce the things that he says. Mass suicides are extremely rare and I’ve never read of a single case where one was prevented by government laws. Duels don’t occur because they are something from a different era, not because laws happened, kind of like jousting. Simply revoking the laws against dueling wouldn’t bring it back. Finally, the sale of one’s life? The sale of one’s life happens right now. If you join the military for pay, you are then bound to be killed if your commanders think that should happen. You don’t get to change your mind, and if you run away you can be tried as a deserter and shot. So don’t tell me about selling your life, but I guess if the government does it it’s all ok, kind of like lotteries.

          Yes, using now illegal drugs and prostitution shouldn’t be criminal acts, because criminalizing usage hasn’t stopped them (and likely has increased use in the case of drugs), not to mention producing more crime, vastly increased costs to society, exploitation and abuse, and so forth. I have no desire at all to use drugs that are currently illegal and would (and do) counsel my patients about the risks of harm from the drugs they would like to try, but prohibition has made the problem worse, much worse, not better.

          I’m pretty sure that we are going to be able to grow functional organs for transplantation very soon, so the last part will be moot.

          1. Simply revoking the laws against dueling wouldn’t bring it back.

            Eh….I would love to see some of these smear merchants in the media slapped with a fucking glove and called to the field of honor.

            1. They would be scared to touch the gun so it would be a turkey shoot.

        2. Gorsuch also rejected the “libertarian case for assisted suicide” because, he argued, “faithful adherence to libertarian theory” would also justify the legalization of “mass suicide pacts…duels, and the sale of one’s life (not to mention the use of now illegal drugs, prostitution, or the sale of one’s organs).”


          Bottom line…the man is looking for justification to allow government (him) to rule over others and bind them in a manner that government (he) sees fit.

          Government owns you, because if government doesn’t own you how can I use government to stop you from doing things I find icky?

          1. Or he believes that the right to life is actually unalienable. Which means that you cannot give up your life to another even if you want to.

    3. Top Men and Women are allowed to be sloppy thinkers with glaring gaps in their logic. Serious people wouldn’t even bother with the things you are pointing out.

    4. The natural law argument is not that life necessarily good, in the sense that it goes well, but rather as something of intrinsic and transcendental ethical value. It’s why Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (in the Greek sense of Eudaimonia) are presented as they are in the Declaration of Independence, although those three have indeed been seen by some as ways for Man understand the transcendentals of Goodness, Truth, and Beauty.

      Of course, you’re trying to counter a natural law argument with a utilitarian (indeed nihilistic) argument, so there’s a deeper problem in seeking to understand the vocabulary involved.

  8. Via Cafe Hayek….

    HL Mencken

    The elements in democracy that are sound in logic and of genuine cultural value may be very briefly listed. They are:

    1. Equality before the law.

    2. The limitation of government.

    3. Free speech.

    All the rest of the democratic dogma is, at best, dubious, and at worst palpable nonsense. No professional whooper-up of democracy, so far as I know, is in favor of the three things I have listed.

    1. If I don’t see rights in actual, tangible things, then I’m not biting. IMHO, all the best schemes for protecting liberty boil down to a respect for my claims to control physical stuff; the rest is important, but derivative.

  9. ‘Sorry I’m late, I’m going through a divorce’: United Airlines pilot is removed from flight from Austin to San Francisco after ‘ranting about her break-up, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’ over the intercom

    United flight 455 was scheduled to depart Austin?Bergstrom International Airport at 5:02pm but was delayed for more than two hours after the pilot went on what passengers described as a ‘rant’.

    The pilot came into the cabin wearing ‘street clothes’ and talked to passengers over the intercom about her divorce and the presidential election, passenger Randy Reiss told KVUE.

    Reiss said the pilot also mentioned that she was going to be on Oprah.

    Passengers said the pilot called President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton ‘a*******’.

    Someone* is going to friend this sassy lass on Facebook. Also, ban female pilots. Goodness gracious.

    *I’m that someone.

    1. I missed this part!

      At first the pilot seemed friendly, said Reiss, but things took an awkward turn when she pointed out an interracial couple sitting in first class.

    2. I don’t think Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is anorexic.

      1. They are aliens though.

    3. I’m going to give a qualified would baring some heinous jpegs. That kinda crazy sounds like a good time (using someone else’s name)

    4. AUS – SFO: why would I ever get on that plane ?

      1. The Pineapple Progress Express?

  10. This is what happens when teens take an interest in politics: Stephen Miller Is a ‘True Believer’ Behind Core Trump Policies

    The ascent of Mr. Miller from far-right gadfly with little policy experience to the president’s senior policy adviser came as a shock to many of the staff members who knew him from his seven years in the Senate. A man whose emails were, until recently, considered spam by many of his Republican peers is now shaping the Trump administration’s core domestic policies with his economic nationalism and hard-line positions on immigration.

    From his days at a public high school in Southern California, where he preached against “political correctness” and liberalism and called in to conservative radio shows, to his time at Duke University, where he was known for controversial writings in the student newspaper and a failed attempt at a run for dorm president, he has delighted in challenging prevailing orthodoxies.

    1. Mr. Miller, known for his skinny ties, so-outdated-they’re-chic pants and his recently abandoned chain-smoking habit, enjoyed a relatively turbulence-free ascent in Mr. Trump’s orbit until the travel ban. His eagerness to keep a tight lid on key details of executive orders to prevent leaks ? as well as his inexperience ? has at times hampered coordination between the West Wing and agencies that would have to carry them out, several White House officials said.

      In part to deal with the confusion that surrounded the travel ban, Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, recently created a 10-point protocol that requires all major executive actions to be cleared with the communications department and other senior White House staff members before implementation.

    2. Mr. Miller’s flexibility as a speechwriter is offset by the consistent stridency of his political philosophy, which has remained much the same since he was the distinct minority at Santa Monica High School, a liberal outpost where he often railed against fellow students and the school administration. Mexican heritage celebrations and Iraq war protests were things of particular offense. He produced a 2003 essay, “How I Changed My Left Wing High School,” that capped a high school career steeped in political activism.

      At Duke, Mr. Miller, who is Jewish, cut a similarly confrontational swath, and was briefly friendly with Richard Spencer, who later became a prominent white supremacist, when both were members of the university’s Young Conservatives chapter.

  11. If humans are not seen as an end in themselves and existence seen as an end and not a means, the results are too horrible to contemplate. Once you step down the road of saying humans serve some purpose instead of being an end in themselves, you end up with eugenics, murder and all of the parade of horrible that come with Utopian ideologies.

    You can come to that conclusion a variety of ways. You can just take it as a given the way natural rights people do or you can see it as the logical result of theism. But, if you don’t come to that conclusion and allow yourself to see human beings as tools to be used for some higher good, you have taken the first step towards rationalizing monstrous evil. It is really that simple.

  12. A judge that actually upholds the Constitution would be just fine. Why do I keep hearing this word ‘liberals’? Has anyone seen one of those? What about a wooly mammoth?

    1. Yes. Natural rights can be dangerous too. It can be a rationalization for all kinds of bullshit in the wrong hands. I would just like a judge who isn’t interested in saving the world or making history. It would be nice if we could get a justice who views sitting on the court as a trade and his job to interpret the law and the constitution as the drafters intended as best he can and not to impose his larger vision of law and society on the rest of us.

      1. The problem is that unless a judge is just as committed to defending the constitution from positivist, progressive assaults as the lefty judges are committed to making such assaults, you’ll just end up with a Kennedy or a Souter, a “just doing my job” hack who is committed to “faithfully applying precedent” no matter how awful the precedent is, and who wants a pat on the back from Linda Greenhouse when he retires – “such a principled moderate, not an icky ideologue!”

        1. And as the post notes, the Founders were steeped in natural law principles when they did the Constitution, so applying the Constitution “as the drafters intended” (I’d say “according to the original public meaning”) necessarily involves some natural-law considerations.

          1. One of the benefits of having a judge with natural law training is simply that natural law philosophy (I’ve read up on some while introducing myself to Thomism) has that distinct legal-philosophic vocabulary which the Framers wrote in but which even most judges today pay little heed to (I’ve had to work to unlearn basic terms when reading the Aristotlean use of words like ‘accident’ or ‘analogy’), and that’s a vital manner in parsing what was written about forming government and law.

          2. Endowed by our creator.


            Granted by the king.

      2. We should just replace SCOTUS with an AI bot that is capable of reading and interpreting something exactly as written, and only one thing to read, the Constitution.

        People are biased in almost everything, including politics. And that bias prevents them from taking anything literally, unless they agree with it.

        Gorsuch is probably the best we can hope for from this corrupted political system we live under. Any time we feel like complaining about it, we should just remember how close we came to getting a couple Hillary appointments.

      3. “[…] interpret the law and the constitution as the drafters intended”
        Hi! I’m gay! Going by “as the drafters intended”, I’d be in prison!

        There’s a reason this kind of “originalist” thinking doesn’t have much popularity outside the straight white male crowd. Because if you’re not in that crowd, it’s pretty obvious that the drafters didn’t intend to protect you or your rights.

  13. The American Conservative takes note of the growing scandal of a Muslim professor at Georgetown University saying that slavery and forced concubinage aren’t necessarily wrong.

    The article quotes an anonymous Catholic (Georgetown professes to be a Catholic institution) who criticizes the Muslim professor, while making the usual pious noises in favor of academic freedom.

    But let’s consider – does a Muslim professor at at Catholic university have the academic freedom to exaggerate the benefits of Islamic slavery and to defend the kidnapping and forced concubinage of Christian women?

    And this isn’t just any Muslim professor, but a professor at Georgetown’s prestigious School of Foreign Service *and* he heads up the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding. And Georgetown isn’t just any Catholic university but a Catholic university which has recently made a well-publicized effort to atone for its past complicity with slavery.

    So after hiring this guy to help train America’s future diplomats, and to promote good relations between Christians and Muslims, and having made a commitment to repent of institutional complicity in slavery, is Georgetown precluded, on academic freedom proinciples, from firing this guy for his proslavery remarks?

    1. The Vatican document Ex Corde Ecclesiae governs the duties of Catholic universities, and this decree has been incorporated into the particular law of the American Church.

      “Catholic universities must show “Commitment to Catholic ideals, principles and attitudes in carrying out research, teaching and all other university activities, including activities of officially-recognized student and faculty organizations and associations, and with due regard for academic freedom and the conscience of every individual.”

      How much “regard” is “due” to academic freedom?

      “…Academic freedom is an essential component of a Catholic university. The university should take steps to ensure that all professors are accorded “a *lawful* [emphasis added] freedom of inquiry and of thought, and of freedom to express their minds humbly and courageously about those matters in which they enjoy competence….

      “…With due regard for the common good and the need to safeguard and promote the integrity and unity of the faith, the diocesan bishop has the duty to recognize and promote the rightful academic freedom of professors in Catholic universities in their search for truth.”

      So…was this Muslim professor exercising his rightful academic freedom, or is it necessary, for the common good and the integrity of the faith, to fire him?

    2. “It’s not immoral for one human to own another human” Brown stated in his clearest defense of slavery. Brown went onto state that being an employee is basically the same as being a slave and painting himself as a real romantic Brown told me his marriage was akin to slavery because his wife held rights over him. The fact that both of these arrangements can be terminated and are consensual seemed lost on the aloof academic.


      1. So, why as Muslims should we tolerate and invite someone like Brown to speak and why is Brown hideously exploiting Georgetown’s commitment to be inclusive?

        I think the answer to the last question is because he can.

        1. If I were a Muslim and not a nut, I would hate this guy. He is out there using his platform to make it seem that all Muslims are boy raping, enslaving assholes. If some alt right guy were giving speeches portraying Islam the way this guy is, he wouldn’t be allowed to speak on college campuses much less get a job as a professor at one.

          1. They’d smash the windows in the student center until the speech was cancelled, then they’d high-five each other on their victory against fascism.

            But they’d still refuse to condemn this guy for saying the exact same crap.

          2. As the left’s new most special, special snowflakes, they’re going to have to start defending this stuff. And they will. The Shariah advocates are more like the left than anyone else, so it makes sense.

            1. If I was a conspiracy theorist/paranoid I would note that historically, the American Left and the Democratic Party has needed some form of shock troops/violent mobs that they can whistle up when needed. They had the KKK, militant unions, the Weather Underground types, black bloc, etc. Wondering if the real shot callers are looking at the pajama boys and realizing they can’t be counted on to apply the necessary direct action in pursuit of revolutionary goals, and are looking at outsourcing that job.

          3. He’s a literalist and as such, he perfectly illustrates the divide in modern Islam between entities such as ISIS and moderates.

            Mohammed was a prophet of God.

            Mohammed had slaves.

            Are you more holy than Mohammed?

            No, therefore you can own slaves.

            1. If he’s a scriptural literalist, shouldn’t he be teaching at a PROTESTANT university?

              *cymbal crash*

    3. No professor has the freedom or should have the freedom to lie and distort history. The version of history and Islamic slavery is just demonstrably wrong. What he is doing is no different than having a professor who denies the existence of the Holocaust.

      Intellectual diversity is generally a good thing in a University. When it includes lying about established history for the purpose of propagandizing for and justifying evil, diversity is not good. This ass clown needs to go. He should not be employed by any reputable university any more than the nuts on the Right who claim the holocaust never occurred do.

      1. That would be the rational decision. The professor is demonstrably incorrect, and persists in being so. However, the progressive stack gets in the way as the messenger becomes more important than the message.

        1. “progressive stack”

          He’s a white male defending the kidnapping and rape of women.

          1. He’s Muslim.

            1. Feminists have an ideal crusade to wage here – a “we’re outraged,” “hear us roar,” battle against actual rape culture being taught to those who aspire to serve America abroad.

              1. It would require them to redraw the battle lines. I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.

                1. I predict thumb-sucking think pieces by some feminists Raising Concerns about some of the Trump-Like Characteristics of the Islamists.

                  1. Just so long as they include swipes at Trump and Christian fundamentalists – calling them equivalent to Islamic extremists – then such think pieces will be a contribution to feminist debate.

                    1. 5 Reasons This Muslim Professor Is Just Like Trump

                    2. “Why Is Trump so worried about Islamic extremism, he should support it because it reflects his misogynist agenda!”

              2. As alway they will fail to step up in this case. Muslim outranks women on the progressive victim hierarchy.

      2. “any reputable university”

        Is there even one left in the country that is not a hive of leftist propaganda?

    4. To be fair, the Old Testament agrees with him. There’s quite a few passages instructing the followers of God to do exactly that.

      If you think slavery, rape, and rape of slaves are morally wrong? Then congratulations, you have modern morals that are broadly shared with the world! But they are not derived from any Abrahamic religion, even if some modern incarnations of those religions have adopted those values.

  14. Federal Agency Eased Sanctions for Plagiarism, Data Fabrication in Taxpayer-Funded Research

    A federal agency that funds scientific research nixed punishments recommended by its own ethics watchdog for some academics who plagiarized and manipulated data in grant proposals and taxpayer-funded research, public records show.

    The inspector general for the National Science Foundation identified at least 23 instances of plagiarism in proposals, NSF-funded research, and agency publications in 2015 and 2016. It found at least eight instances of data manipulation and fabrication in those years. NSF officials disregarded recommended sanctions against some of the scientists and academics implicated in those findings. Though many were temporarily barred from receiving additional federal funding, nearly all will be eligible for taxpayer support and official roles in NSF-funded research in the future.

    1. Almost every time I have looked into NSF distributions to technology businesses, the payoff has been a joke, like money gets distributed to some professor, and the funds are allocated to an undergraduate capstone that reinvents the wheel and masquerades as Important Work. But hey, maybe I’m looking at the minority.

  15. One reason we might ban assisted suicide is that we don’t trust the government. We need strong protections to prevent it from becoming euthanasia.

    1. It is one thing to say a person has a right to take their own life. It is quite another to say that a doctor has the right to help you do that. Once you go down the road of saying it is okay for doctors to kill their patients, you always end up with euthanasia and the murder of the unfit and the sick. It has happened every single time a society has embraced doctor assisted suicide. There is something inherent about giving someone the power to kill that can’t be controlled. No one ever just kills in small amounts. That kind of power is too tempting.

      1. It is quite another to say that a doctor has the right to help you do that. Once you go down the road of saying it is okay for doctors to kill their patients,

        You’re confusing euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. In euthanasia, the physician kills, in physician assisted suicide, the patient kills themselves.

        It has happened every single time a society has embraced doctor assisted suicide.

        Really? Care to give some examples? I can’t think of a single instance.

        1. In euthanasia, the physician kills, in physician assisted suicide, the patient kills themselves.

          If you assist someone in their death, you are killing them.

          Really? Care to give some examples? I can’t think of a single instance

          Nazi Germany for one. The Nazis started out with physician assisted suicide and euthenasia of those considered unfit and went from there.

          More recently, look at the experience in the Netherlands.


          Just do a net search and the horrors that have resulted there are well documented and not just from pro life sources.

          1. I have written prescriptions for medications for hospice patients that carry a substantial risk of being used by that patient to end their life, either accidentally or deliberately. I have even been told by a patient that he intended to do so if his pain became unbearable, but I wrote the prescriptions because my duty as a doctor is to help my patient in the best way I can, not to assist in prolonging their suffering. When someone’s life becomes an endless cycle of anguish and misery with no possibility of improvement, they should have the right to end it in a manner of their choosing, not linger on in agony so you can feel good about your morality.

            Oregon legalized physician assisted suicide back in the 90s and there has not been euthanasia of the disabled. It has not happened every single time. I would be the first to agree with you that babies should not be euthanized as they cannot make that decision for themselves, but that’s a different debate, not what’s being discussed here.

            1. not linger on in agony so you can feel good about your morality.


            2. There is a tremendous difference in intent between prescribing something that could end someone’s life and prescribing something that will end someone’s life.

              1. “There is a tremendous difference in intent between prescribing something that could end someone’s life and prescribing something that will end someone’s life.”
                “Look, I didn’t know they were going to kill themselves. I just heard them say they wanted to kill themselves, so I went, unlocked the gun cabinet, cleaned the gun (don’t want any misfires), loaded it up, gave them a shot of whiskey and the loaded gun, and left the room. What happened after that was entirely unrelated to my actions.”

                Yeah, that sounds legit.

                Disclaimer: According to her death certificate, my grandmother died a natural death from her cancer. According to my father who dumped her medication in the toilet, She’d taken a couple of weeks worth of pain pills in one day. And I’m fine with that. My grandmother died like she lived: on her own terms. The only morally questionable part is that everyone involved -from the doctor who proscribed her medication, to my parents who talked to the paramedics, to the coroner who wrote the death certificate- felt obligated to lie about what happened.

          2. If you assist someone in their death, you are killing them.

            By that proggy logic, “gun dealers are killing people.”

            The Nazis started out with physician assisted suicide and euthenasia of those considered unfit and went from there.

            Nazi euthanasia didn’t arise out of physician assisted suicide, it came out of eugenics programs. (And, incidentally, it was also tolerated by the Catholic church, something that forever destroys the credibility of the Catholic church when it comes to sanctity of life.)

            More recently, look at the experience in the Netherlands.…..therlands/

            That article also deliberately confuses euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Babies being euthanized is obviously not “physician assisted suicide”.

        2. Really? Care to give some examples? I can’t think of a single instance.

          Liverpool Care Pathway is what they call it in England.

          1. That’s not a problem with physician assisted suicide, it’s a problem with a government-financed health care system, a system that has strong incentives to kill its patients to lower costs. You’re forfeiting your life simply by entering such a system when you’re seriously ill.

      2. It has happened every single time a society has embraced doctor assisted suicide.

        But as with the “gateway drug” theory, that’s weak evidence for causation. It just may be that a society that’s on its way to murder will go thru the stages of assisted suicide & euthanasia 1st.

    2. One reason we might ban assisted suicide is that we don’t trust the government.

      What does the government have to do with what I do with my physician?

      1. Because once doctors have the authority to kill their patients, the government finds it very tempting to tell them when they should. This is almost certain when the government is paying the bills, which it does in many places.

        1. Which is an argument against the government paying the bills. It interferes with your relationship with your doctor when someone else is involved.

          1. Yes. This is very important!! Good doctors know this implicitly. Which is why they cringe about government regulation of health care.

        2. Because once doctors have the authority to kill their patients,

          Physician assisted suicide doesn’t give doctors the authority to kill their patients.

          the government finds it very tempting to tell them when they should. This is almost certain when the government is paying the bills, which it does in many places.

          Government insurance programs end up killing patients one way or another to save costs. The problem there is with government health insurance programs, not physician assisted suicide.

        3. … that’s not how physician-assissted suicide programs work.

          There’s a long series of hoops that a patient has to jump through in order to get their prescription. Once they do that, they get a medication bottle, same as any other prescription. They choose when (and even if) to ever take it.

    3. One reason we might ban assisted suicide is that we don’t trust the government.

      What does the government have to do with what I do with my physician?

    1. Total bad ass. A great American. Sorry to see him go.

  16. I have a natural right to own, control, and defend my own body. I ignore any so called ‘law’ that says otherwise.

    1. Lots of people ignore those laws. Lots of them wind up in a cage from ignoring those laws. In the USA, you do NOT own yourself, the government owns you, and the courts have upheld that again and again and will continue to do so.

      1. In the USA, you own a lot more of yourself than in all other countries.

  17. Re: The pathetic arrogance of man

    I don’t claim to speak for Nietzsche so excuse me if I’ve taken his writings out of context. Two of his quotes capture what my reason informs me of humanity and our place in the Universe.

    The first is that we talk a lot but our actions tell a story as well and that story goes something like this:

    …Read from a distant star, the majuscule script of our earthly existence would perhaps lead to the conclusion that the earth was the distinctively ascetic planet, a nook of disgruntled, arrogant, and offensive creatures filled with a profound disgust at themselves, at the earth, at all life, who inflict as much pain on themselves as they possibly can out of pleasure of inflicting pain–which is probably their only pleasure…

    The second is we are arrogant and myopic:

    In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of “world history” ? yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.
    One might invent such a fable and still not have illustrated sufficiently how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened.

    1. Morality is not discovered; it’s decided.

    2. Nietzsche understood what a Godless universe actually looked like and what denying God really meant. I have a lot more respect for him, though I don’t agree with him, than I do for the half wit atheists who have followed him who live their lives in a state of either nihilism without the abyss or just put God back into the universe, sans the characteristics they don’t like, and call him “justice” or sadly “natural rights”.

  18. OT: Trump is Hitler because he mentioned Evola, as in:

    “Julius Evola and different writers of the early 20th century who are really the supporters of what’s called the Traditionalist movement, which really eventually metastasized into Italian Fascism.”

    Apparently, referring to a “movement” as a “cancer” now counts as enthusiastic approval of that movement, at least if you are a NYT journalist.

  19. OT: Trump is Hitler because he mentioned Evola, as in:

    “Julius Evola and different writers of the early 20th century who are really the supporters of what’s called the Traditionalist movement, which really eventually metastasized into Italian Fascism.”

    Apparently, referring to a “movement” as a “cancer” now counts as enthusiastic approval of that movement, at least if you are a NYT journalist.

    1. Obviously sqlrs are Hitler too, and apparently more effective.

      1. You should know, Hitler was simply following the orders of the Lizard People.

        1. Yes, and made you mammals so much more entertaining. Also Your Future Reptilian Overlords could not even get a survey permit until you mammals had developed nuclear weapons. Hence why I am no amongst you.

    2. I alluded to this point in an earlier thread.

      And he called the Putin regime a kleptocracy while explaining that Putin is appealing to social conservatives and nationalists in the West.

      So it sounds like he’s not fully on board with Evola or Putin.

    3. “The fact that Bannon even knows Evola is significant,” said Mark Sedgwick, a leading scholar of Traditionalists at Aarhus University in Denmark.

      This is like a Rorschach test. The alt-right loves him because he knows who Evola is, others hate him becasue he knows who he is.

      1. Decades ago I heard someone talk before a small audience about Evola, and the speaker pretty well convinced me that Evola had been one of those intellectuals who’d been spuriously associated with a socio-political movement, coloring what everybody thinks about all of his writings now. Mussolini had all sorts of good things to say about a great variety of thinkers, and mostly strikes me as someone who liked to be thought of as an intellectual himself on the basis of a smattering of superficial knowledge of others.

  20. Watch out, Nazis: Meryl Streep Pledges to Stand Up to ‘Brownshirts’ in Tirade Against Trump

    Ms. Streep, in New York City accepting an award from the Human Rights Campaign, referred to the backlash she received after the Golden Globes in January, when she gave a speech denouncing Mr. Trump.

    “It’s terrifying to put the target on your forehead, and it sets you up for all sorts of attacks and armies of brownshirts and bots and worse, and the only way you can do it is to feel you have to,” Ms. Streep said. “You have to. You don’t have an option. You have to.”

    1. Where are these brown shirts? It must be really frustrating to be a Prog pledging to stand up to brown shirts and there never being any actual brown shirts around to stand up to.

      1. The brown shirts are too cowardly to show up and face the crowds of window-breaking, dissenter-assaulting, arson-committing devotees of social justice.

        1. …who are dressed in black shirts…oh, wait a minute,,,

      2. As much as I dislike Streep, I’m willing to bet the internet thugs did come out in force to issue death-threats etc…

        The 4chan/alt-right internet is not known for its restraint.

        1. Good point, I expect a lot of trolls and creeps welcomed the opportunity to insult and threaten her.

          1. Saying mean things on the internet makes you a creep. it doesn’t make you a brown shirt.

        2. It is very easy to dox someone if you call the police and they use the power of subpeona. If someone sends her a death threat, she should report it and the person should be prosecuted. If she doesn’t, then either they don’t happen or she doesn’t take them seriously. Either way, I don’t see why I should take them seriously either if she doesn’t.

        3. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”

    2. Ms Streep, I’ll take some of that fortune off of your hands for you.

    1. I am starting to wonder if Trump isn’t behind some of the fake news that is being leaked to the press. Trump knows the media will believe and repeat anything negative about him and do so without revealing the source. So he instructs one of his minions to leak something demonstrably false to the media, waits for the media to take the bait and run with it and then comes back with the proof that it is not true. If your plan is to wage war and discredit the media, and that appears to be his plan, hard to think of a more effective tactic.

      1. SteveCJjones
        Being able to accumulate a lot of money, which is what Trump has ‘succeeded’ at, isn’t a sign of intelligence, quality education or strong literacy or numeracy skills – look at drug gang leaders and failed state leaders. Being an overbearing thug, having utter determination and single-minded drive are more important than having anything more than basic reading skills. Trump appears to have a tiny vocabulary too – I wonder how many words he uses compared to the national average?

        SteveCjones knows what’s up.

        1. Yeah. Making a lot of money is easy. Mr. Jones chooses not to do so because he is just so much more moral than the rest of us not because it is hard or requires intelligence and work ethic he doesn’t possess.

        2. Academics are very invested in the idea that intelligence is not correlated with income.

  21. United States Tennis Association apologise for playing Nazi-era anthem during Fed Cup match with Germany

    The United States Tennis Association has issued an apology after a German national anthem used during the Nazi-era was accidentally played at a tennis tournament in Hawaii.

    The song was played during the opening ceremony of America’s Fed Cup first-round match against Germany.

    Performed by a Hawaiian soloist, the now obsolete first verse “Germany, Germany above all else” was sung ahead of the match, which took place on the island of Maui.

    1. It’s a 19th century patriotic song set to the tune of Haydn’t Emperor Concerto (ironically, the Austrian Empire was excluded from modern Germany).

      At the time it was a nice Romantic aspirational song about how all Germans – including those living in non-Germanic territory – should live together in brotherhood in a single country.

      The Nazis actually saw practical applications of that verse, so the first verse was unofficially dropped, so now they’re just supposed to use the third verse which is a bunch of stuff about brotherhood (“unity and rights and freedom…let us all strive for that”).

      Contrast that with the third verse of the U.S. national anthem:

      And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
      That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
      A home and a Country should leave us no more?
      Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
      No refuge could save the hireling and slave
      From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
      And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
      O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

      1. True. Our National Anthem gets more bellicose as it goes on; theirs puts its “worst foot forward.” (Then again, the number of verses that the citizens of each country know varies from zero to one–Canada, for example, is somewhere in between.) Ours is certainly one of the most militaristic on Earth.

        Our anthem, like theirs, dates from a time when our nationalism was far more benign to the world than it eventually would be. But, of course, we never went nearly as far over the edge as the Germans, so our nationalism itself never became verboten even in retrospect.

        1. Nazism’s problem was more about the socialism than the nationalism. The socialist conception of justice prevailed, just replacing “the proletariat” with “the nation” in it’s formulation.

          1. National white collar socialism vs international proletariat socialism.


    Typical big city corruption story. What makes it interesting is the guy’s name is Tito Jackson. What were his parents thinking? Its like naming your kid Fredo Corleone.

    1. They should have named him Jermaine instead.

      1. Met a girl the other night named James Dean. Seriously.

        1. There’s a gal who works for me named Tumaro Morning

          1. You hire Bond girls?

            1. Only Ivana Humpalot. Pussy Galore is unavailable due to having been grabbed by some American billionaire.

  23. My morality is natural. Your’s is perverted.

    1. That means something totally different when I say it. Are you sure that’s universal?

      1. Philosophically, there is no reason that we both can’t be right. However, our individual definitions are in practice meaningless without power, as individuals, or as a group.


  24. Our rights arise naturally as an artifact of our agency. A right is a right to make a choice for yourself.

    Violating people’s rights has consistent consequences cross culturally and throughout history.

    Those societies that protect our right to make choices for ourselves flourish. Those that don’t trend toward the ash heap of history. The history of the 20th century is an excellent demonstration of that fact.

    Altruism arises naturally through social evolution. There are evolutionary advantages to respecting other people’s rights. Thus, awareness of and respect for our rights came from the same place as opposable thumbs and language.

    This is what I’m talking about when I talk about “natural rights” and “natural law”.

    1. Well put Ken. I have been saying the same for years but I never articulated that well.

      Thank you, I am stealing that.

    2. Those that don’t trend toward the ash heap of history.

      Societies have a finite lifespan and end up on the ash heap of history regardless of how free they are. And over the course of human civilization, plenty of downright autocratic societies have flourished.

      1. A finite lifespan? How long is it?

        To whatever extent autocratic societies have triumphed in the short term, it was in spite of and not because they disregarded people’s rights.

        And when they fail, it’s because they fail to account for people making choices for themselves, as well.

        Even communist China realized they had to reform or face annihilation. Whether they can survive into and beyond the next century as they are with only perestroika and without glasnost is an open question–but given history, they need to start protecting individual rights much better to flourish.

        . . . even their one child policy is falling by the wayside.

    3. Neither the Magna Carta, nor our independance would have happened without the power to make it so. Certainly wouldn’t have happened by the altruism of the respective Kings. I agree that certain moral codes have derived from the desire for group harmony, but they almost always only applied within the group. The ten commandments did not apply outside the Hebrew people.

      1. Certainly economic freedom creates wealth. While it enriches the powers that be, it also acts to undermine them because it creates a wealthy mercantile class who will eventually use the power that wealth brings to demand certain rights. A lot of what passes for altruism is nothing more than self-interest.

      2. “Neither the Magna Carta, nor our independance would have happened without the power to make it so. Certainly wouldn’t have happened by the altruism of the respective Kings.”

        The point was that if altruism arises naturally from the survival of the fittest (a fact the Nazis and others failed to account for), then the idea that a social adaptation like individual rights would confer a social advantage to societies that respect them shouldn’t be controversial either. After all, that mere respect for people’s rights confers an advantage vis-a-vis societies that don’t should be even easier to swallow than the idea that altruism does the same . . . and yet altruism does confer advantages.

        As an aside, evolutionary biologists finding that altruism arises from the survival of the fittest shouldn’t come as any surprise to libertarians who see the invisible hand arising from individuals seeking their own best interests.

        Meanwhile, the fact that respect for people’s rights advantages a society in terms of economic growth and expansion shouldn’t be controversial, and the fact that liberty and justice tend to make societies more prosperous and expansive shouldn’t be controversial either. Liberty and justice, isn’t that what we’re talking about when we’re talking about respecting and protecting people’s rights?

    4. I would also say that I’ve never seen an evolutionary ethics argument logically work without the conclusion being baked into the premise.

    5. Our rights arise naturally as an artifact of our agency. A right is a right to make a choice for yourself.


      I hope Christians will keep that in mind when considering assigning rights to human bodies that have no agency, such as fetuses and clinically brain dead corpses on ventilators.

      1. Or infants?

        1. Birth is biologically a fairly arbitrary point.

          No agency is possible before around Week 25; that’s the earliest time that significant cortical activity appears. From the point of view of abortion, that makes Week 25 a pretty safe cutoff: you are clearly not killing a person prior to that, but to be on the safe side, you might outlaw abortion after that, even though it probably takes another year for actual agency to develop.

  25. Libertarianism Edge Cases:

    Going Outside Turns Political in India Toilet Drive

    Does the use of force to make people stop from just taking a dump wherever they happen to be like wild animals violate the NAP?

    1. Its not ‘like’ wild animals.

      I remember reading about LaSalle exploring Louisiana and two things stick in my memory:

      1. Alligators were so abundant that he said if they were friendly you could walk across rivers on their backs. Probably a bit of an exaggeration.

      2. Indians went everywhere on foot and in single file. They would not stop for anything, including bathroom breaks. They just shit on the run. Must have been fun being the guy bringing up the rear….no pun intended. Ok, so it was intended.

    2. Does it violate NAP to kick someone’s ass for shitting outside your house?

    3. Does the use of force to make people stop from just taking a dump wherever they happen to be like wild animals violate the NAP?

      I’d say that taking a dump on someone else’s property violates the NAP.

      Whether taking a dump on “public land” violates the NAP is not a libertarian question.

    4. It’s a “tragedy of the commons” problem, and as-such libertarian principles are difficult to apply.

  26. “he also holds a philosophy degree from Oxford”

    Huge mistake. Philosophy? They don’t even teach that at private for-profit schools like Everest College (see the many reason articles).

    The University of Oxford is a “public university” (public money from the government). Hopefully all that socialism didn’t rub off on Gorsuch. Marco Rubio would have told him to train as a welder. Yuval Levin says that the study of Philosophy is a luxury good.

  27. Life is just inherently good, full stop.

    “Photosynthesis is just inherently good, full stop.”

    “Oxidation is just inherently good, full stop.”

  28. It works this way: Ask people if they desire to be targets of violence or fraud or if they prefer to have peaceful relations with others. Within any society, what do you think the percentage that would choose the latter?

  29. it’s refreshing to see one candidate who takes these matters as seriously as they deserve.

    Amen. I’d rather he took a more libertarian view of natural law, but the fact that he at least concedes that it exists is a big plus, and will lead him at least somewhat in a libertarian direction. And I’m glad that Trump had no understanding at all of such matters, otherwise he might not have made this nomination.

  30. Those who deny the reality of natural law deny the obvious. Of course murder is inherently wrong. Of course Hitler’s genocide was inherently wrong. To hold otherwise is to morally bow to whatever evil government may choose to do. Anyone really want to go there?

    So the question should move to, how can natural law be known? The classic answer is that natural law is known by reason and recognized by the heart. But neither the mind nor heart of any person is wholly reliable. Two possible means of determining natural law suggest themselves. One, the consensus of persons sufficiently educated and considered to be morally upright (though either could be argued to be begging the question). Two, an organization deemed to be morally infallible in its teaching on natural law (which in fact the Catholic Church claims to be).

    Obviously there will be objections to either method. But the dilemma of how to know natural law certainly does not rule out its reality and the necessity of striving to know it.

    1. So the question should move to, how can natural law be known? The classic answer is that natural law is known by reason and recognized by the heart.

      That’s a good answer, but it will never be complete. That is, there are acts that most people will agree on as moral or immoral, but there are also acts for which there will be widespread disagreement.

      To hold otherwise is to morally bow to whatever evil government may choose to do. Anyone really want to go there?

      Actually, that presumes that the law should reflect morality; that’s true only to a limited degree. Many immoral acts should remain legal, and just because something is moral doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be legal.

      Two, an organization deemed to be morally infallible in its teaching on natural law (which in fact the Catholic Church claims to be).

      An organization that collaborated with, and accepted large amounts of money from, Nazis has forever lost its moral authority.

      1. The pope resisted the Nazis. Regardless of whoever in the Church may have collaborated, that does not impugn the Church’s teaching charisms. Church members were certainly never promised impeccability.

        Regardless of what moral issues a government may choose to address in its laws, that government may never itself engage in morally unjust acts against its own citizens. And mass homicide and genocide are never tolerable in any cases.

  31. The left want 2 do away w/natural law cause the definition of natural born Citizen~They’ve been trying 2 change Art2 Sec1 for years~so they figure if they pretend its archaic the definition of natural born goes away & in turn makes Obama eligible which he never was

    Vattel’s Law of Nations
    “The citizens are the members of the civil society; bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens. As the society cannot exist and perpetuate itself otherwise than by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights. The society is supposed to desire this, in consequence of what it owes to its own preservation; and it is presumed, as matter of course, that each citizen, on entering into society, reserves to his children the right of becoming members of it. The country of the fathers is therefore that of the children; and these become true citizens merely by their tacit consent. We shall soon see whether, on their coming to the years of discretion, they may renounce their right, and what they owe to the society in which they were born. I say, that, in order to be of the country, it is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; for, if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country.”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.