Legalizing the Constitution

by Deana Chadwell8/28/18
I once had a bumper sticker that read “Legalize the Constitution,” and occasionally I would find myself having to explain it, and often to defend it. Really? Not only is the Bill of Rights no longer understood or venerated, but confusion reigns. The most important, the First Amendment seems most prone to misuse. It reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Seems simple, yet we find ourselves at a point in our history where its import is ignored, repudiated, or twisted all out of proportion.

The First Amendment starts with the phrase “Congress shall make no law…” So this limits the activities of Congress – not of states, or individuals, or schools, or any other group.  Just Congress. A community can pass a law against obscene language in public if it wants to. A teacher can limit the amount of speech and its contents in her class – she isn’t Congress. A pastor should be able to say anything from the pulpit that his congregation will tolerate.

Secondly, it keeps Congress out of the business of setting up a national religion – common at the time of writing. It keeps Congress – not anyone else – out of regulating religious practice. Nothing in this statute prohibits states, or cities,  from doing so. I suspect that, if Michigan continues its march toward Islam, that at least some of its cities will take advantage of that freedom.

Thirdly, Congress is forbidden to make any law that abridges freedom of speech. This is where we are up against a hard wall. There can be, in this country, no national law enforcing political correctness. Which means that federal law enforcement cannot arrest, incarcerate, try, or convict anyone for an utterance just because it is offensive to someone. If I fail to utilize the correct non-gendered pronoun, I could be imprisoned in Canada, but the First Amendment prohibits that here.

So, does that mean that a company can’t fire a person because he was overheard bad-mouthing the boss? Or propositioning a female employee? Or calling someone the n-word? No. The business belongs to those who own it and since private ownership of property is another of our cherished rights, the business can hire and fire whom it will. There are social and financial consequences and the Bill of Rights doesn’t protect us from those. If Facebook and Twitter keep offending conservatives, we’ll just leave – life without them is possible – but the government has to stay out of it.

Does it mean that the president can’t remove the top secret security clearance from some ex-bureaucrat? No. A security clearance gives a person the right to know, not the right to speak about what he knows – that’s why the word “secret” is involved.

Fourthly, “freedom of speech” just means that no federal legal action can be taken against you for something you say. That is not an absolute – threatening to kill or harm someone is illegal, inciting to riot is as well. Shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater will land you in some trouble. Lying under oath can cost you. Common sense prevails.

“Freedom of speech” does not protect you from the negative social consequences of being linguistically obnoxious. It does not abrogate laws against slander and libel. It merely means that the federal government can’t grab you out of your bed in the middle of the night and throw you in a dungeon for complaining about the powers that be.

I like a Jordan Peterson quote I recently ran across: “Free speech isn’t merely the right to criticize those in power, and it’s also not only the right to say what you think. It’s actually the right to think.”  And I would add that is also the responsibility to think – before you speak. Every right has a concurrent duty, and the more important the right, the more onerous the obligation. It is horrifying to hear elected officials and other limelight individuals saying in public that our president should be killed. If they don’t like Trump’s policies, then argue against them, but don’t advocate his death.

It is embarrassing to hear our fellow Americans screaming obscenities, which are neither thought nor speech.  Taboo words and phrases are linguistically interesting in that they don’t originate in the language center of the brain, but rather in the limbic system – they come boiling up out of the brain stem without a single cogent thought behind them. [See: The Science of Swearing]

What’s more, actions are not the same as speech, though courts have disagreed with me. Burning flags, throwing rocks through windows, burning effigies are not discourse – they are temper tantrums. If a person can’t articulate his grievances in actual language, then he hasn’t thought, hasn’t convinced anyone in power of the rightness of his cause, and it’s likely he doesn’t even know what his cause is.

The First Amendment keeps the government from denying us the right to gather in groups, carry placards, chant slogans, sing songs – yes, but the key word in the amendment is “peaceably.” Demonstrations we are seeing in the streets these days are not peaceable. Nor are those assembling speaking in any coherent sense. In fact, lately, many of such protests have been attempts to deny others their rights to freely assemble and to speak.

The First Amendment does not protect us from hearing things we find objectionable. We have no right to go through life without being offended. We have no right to be shielded from those with whom we disagree. We have no right to coerce others to agree with us. I am a Christian and as such, I have an obligation to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with my fellow man. That is the “practice” of my religion. Yet many today think that the expression of my gratitude for my free salvation is an effort to “force” my religion on them. “Force” involves violence, not speech.

Speaking of which, does “freedom of religion” apply to jihadi activity? Is Islam even a religion? One of these days SCOTUS will have to figure that out. The First Amendment really doesn’t protect us from anything but the federal government, however the federal government does have the responsibility of protecting its citizens from “all enemies, foreign and domestic.” [See: Oath of Allegiance] We’ll have to wait and see.

How does the First Amendment affect education? It should not have limited what I as a teacher could say in my public school classroom – my atheist colleagues could say what they thought, but these days Christian teachers must be very careful. Those who think there is any such thing as neutrality, are mistaken. If we limit our children’s view of the world by excluding God from the classroom, we have taught them, by default, that God isn’t. Schools have hidden behind that sloppy thinking for generations.

Look, we cannot protect the Constitution if we don’t take the time to think it through, if we don’t even know what it says. It is not a bludgeon with which to accost or silence our opponents. It is not an invitation to lie or manipulate. It is meant to defend honorable citizens from a government’s tendency to become dishonorable. Our Constitution – the most astounding covenant outside of the Bible – deserves not only “legalization,” but reverence, care, and protection.


Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com. She is also an adjunct professor at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. She teaches writing and public speaking.
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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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51 Responses to Legalizing the Constitution

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    When it serves leftists’ purposes, they believe speech can be restricted in schools. This can be by saying that as a federally funded institution (and thanks to SCOTUS decisions incorporating much of the Bill of Rights into state laws, public education in general) any religious expression is a state religion. Of course, they wouldn’t object to expressing Muslim or pagan religions, and probably not Hinduism or Buddhism. And their whole basis comes from a false reading of the First Amendment. But no matter.

    Meanwhile, when it serves their purpose, they believe that the various freedoms of the First Amendment (and others) can be restricted. It would be nice if they could be forced to confront the contradiction in public. They don’t care, of course, but it would still be embarrassing for the public to realize what’s going on.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    “I”m for free speech except hate speech.”

    “What is hate speech?”

    “Anything I don’t like.”

    Free speech is inherently about tolerating ideas you don’t agree with. This value has to be balanced against practical concerns (yelling “fire” in a crowded movie house) and the need to rise above anarchy. Some limits must be set.

    Free speech has aways been a struggle particularly because a lot of really obnoxious and evil nonsense has been defended as “free speech” when the only intent was not self-expression but a sort of a protected libel. Some of that has to be protected. Some has to be slapped down. Making those distinctions is not easy but the one thing it requires is backbone and wisdom.

    Enter the Snowflake generation which is indoctrinated almost completely in every idea that is the antithesis of free speech. They might as well call it the “First A-mood-ment” for them. If something gives them a bad feeling, it should be shut down. They’ll find a reason afterward for doing so. It was “hate” speech. Or it was “racist.” Or whatever.

    Free speech ought to have limits or else one is just making the error of reductio ad absurdum. As I said recently to a friend, liberals (throw in libertarians as well) are rarelly wrong, in principle. But they are always wrong in degree. It’s true that a very small drop of arsenic in a glass of water (very small) won’t kill you. It might even be beneficial. But at some point the dose will be large enough that it will be harmful. There’s nothing wrong with giving asylum to true refugees. But if you label anyone crossing the border illegally as a “refuge” who is due “free stuff” that you and I have to pay for, then you’re drinking poisoned water.

    So it is with free speech. It cannot be an absolutist principle. But defending the concept inherently means defending the ability of some very noxious and disingenuous people to undermine our society. We must thus heartily use our own free speech to counter them and not cede to them the floor as most adults have done today, afraid to death of being called racist, sexist, homophobic, or even just to appear uncool for countering the nonsense being spread today.

    There is free speech at StubbornThigns, for example. But it is not absolute nor should it be. There is no shortage of places on the internet where Leftist goons can go on jihad and try to prove to the world that they are the Superior Beings. But I’m not going to pay x-amount of dollars per month to turn my site over to them. But, again, if they want to more fully present their side in an intelligent article, I’ll publish it, whether I agree with the content or not. But verbal nihilists, anarchists, and graffiti artists are not welcome.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Actually, even shouting “fire” in a crowded theater can be legitimate if there really is a fire (though not if you’re calling on a shooter to get started, of course). Makes me wonder if anyone did that at Cocoanut Grove.

      Blogging on Disqus, I’ve never tried to block or ban anyone, and hardly ever even down-vote them. Trolls love that anyway, since it gives them their excuse to hate us.

  3. Pst4gop says:

    We have a High school football coach out here in Washington that got fired for praying after football games and anyone on either team could join in or ignore as they choose. He was told to stop and he did not stop so the school board fired him. Brad was at the school board with my wife and I and no-one brought the argument, which you just laid out. Congress is the only thing limited by the first sentence of the first amendment, and Congress prays every day before beginning a session. So if Congress is not prevented from praying, how in the world can this apply to a high school football coach out here in Washington?
    And do not get me started on “The separation of Church and State” misinterpretation.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Great points, Pat.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Many years ago, when some “separation of church and state” leftist had an article on the subject in the editorial section of the Curious Journal, I noted that somehow leftists discussing the First Amendment never actually quoted it. It isn’t hard to guess why. People who don’t know it can be fooled into believing their false interpretation as long as they don’t know what it really says.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Several times over the years, I have gotten into discussions with leftists and libertarians regarding the question of how the Federal Government should address religion and each time the leftists/libertarians claim the 1st Amendment requires separation of Church and State.

        I asked them if they had actually read the 1st Amendment and could they quote it to me, specifically the clause regarding the separation of Church and State. Of course, none of the geniuses could give me the text.

        In each case, they were a little surprised that all the 1st Amendment said regarding religion was, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

        • Timothy Lane says:

          This is a combination of stupidity as well as ignorance. Their lack of knowledge of the First Amendment is ignorance. And the fact that it plainly never occurred to them to check shows their stupidity.

          This seems a common error with leftists. I think I may have mentioned the leftist way back who did some story about a high school cooking instructor who found obscure Christian cultists demanding that they teach cooking feces, human flesh, and poison because of certain (cited but not quoted) Bible verses.

          Naturally, the idiot teacher and her principal never checked the verses, and presumably there were plenty of people who took the story as a serious notion who also failed to check it out. I checked every verse out, of course, and found that the first two involved possible punishments for disobeying God. This may have something to do with why there have never been any such cults in reality.

          The poison came from an alternate ending to Mark. My own Bible didn’t include it, but Elizabeth knew of it (naturally). And meanwhile, the article never had any Jews or Muslims or Hindus or Jains insisting on imposing their dietary laws on the class. It was clearly pure Christophobia.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Ask yourself one question: Have our youth been subverted?

    Of course they have been. Mostly they are no longer a product of the family or even of the church community. They are a product of state schools, liberal news, and the liberal media. And these entities have an agenda, typically an anti-parent and anti-church one (not to mention an anti-Western and anti-white one). Parents going along with the agenda (such as turning their houses of worship over to Cultural Marxism) doesn’t change that fact.

    Is it wrong to ban books? Sometimes. Those “square” parents back in the 40’s or 50’s were worried about our youth being subverted. Sometimes over-zealous religious elements got involved and took it too far. But they were expressing our natural and healthy cultural immune system.

    If you’re a free-speech absolutist and think pronography should be on the shelves of a third-grade elementary library, you’ve got a screw loose. Some things should be banned. We need to have wise filters. These filters are going to be selective. Sometimes too selective, sometimes not selective enough. But filters we must have.

    One of the most iconic scenes from one of my favorite movies, Field of Dreams, is when Kevin Costner’s libtard wife, Annie, gets up in front of a school board meeting in a self-righteous and spirited defense of not banning a certain book. Of course the face of her opposition is an uptight religious lady.

    Let us concede that there are uptight religious ladies and there are some liberals doing good work to prevent otherwise good books (such as Tom Sawyer) from being banned. What we must recognize today is that this entire “liberal” conceit of being for freedom of speech is, and always was, a farce. It was about a bunch of self-appointed zealots grandstanding in a way that we now call “virtue signaling.”

    How do we know this? Because you’ll find almost none of these “classical liberals” today opposing the bullying and censoring Left who are now the banners of books and are the de facto old religious bitties with the sourpuss faces who just can’t stand someone not thinking as they do.

    These “liberals”, like Costner’s Annie, subverted the very idea of guardrails and are now clueless, gutless, or just unwilling to admit their error and try to put things right.

  5. tcincp says:

    The only comment that I have regarding the article is that I think that it is a great article that reduces a bunch of applied B.S. to simplicity that anyone should be able to understand. We have let the left make it complicated.

    I do have a question, however, in regard to several of the comments. At least twice I noticed that Libertarians, when referenced, were (at least on paper) joined with leftists. I, myself, am as conservative as they come and recently I have been thinking myself more closely related to Libertarians than Republicans. Other than their views on war I never thought that their views were all that different from mine. What have I missed?

    To reduce it to simplicity, I assume that their name implies that they believe in Liberty. Yes, OK they MIGHT take that idea to extremes sometimes, if that’s really possible. I ask this out of a genuine interest to find out what I have missed. What ideas do they have that makes them deserving to be grouped with Leftists?

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Actually, we have at least one fairly regular contributor who considers himself a libertarian, and others with at least some libertarian sympathies (including me). But it’s also true that ideological libertarians tend to take this too far (e.g., Harry Browne’s weird notion that an anarchocapitalist nation could never be conquered because there would be no government to surrender to the invader, which is why I never considered voting for him).

      In addition, an awful lot of libertarianism is heavily based on libertinism. I had a contributor to my own fanzine who called himself libertarian and certainly seemed to be. He voted for the Demagogues to support abortion — and never mind their already increasing hostility to the Bill of Rights. That wasn’t as important. Just ask yourself how many of Jacob Sullum’s articles involve drug laws. Ann Coulter once considered running as a Libertarian against the liberal Republican holding her House seat in Connecticut. But it fell apart over the Libertarians’ insistence that she adhere to their pro-drug stance.

      If that last seems unfair, then I will note that Libertarian candidate L. Neil Smith, in one of the volumes of his Commonwealth series (which had a serious historical flaw at its root, but never mind), had a Libertarian gathering with buttons saying, “Thank you for pot smoking.”

      But there are exceptions. In 1997, the Libertarian candidate for Governor of New Jersey ran an anti-abortion campaign against Christine Todd Whitman and whoever the Demagogue was.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        ideological libertarians . . . weird notion

        One of the most striking aspects of libertarians is just a personal kookiness.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Below are links to two articles I wrote on libertarians and why they are fundamentally different from conservatives.

      http://www.stubbornthings.org/libertarians-bolsheviks-right/

      and

      http://www.stubbornthings.org/libertarians-chirping-sectaries-russell-kirk/

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I have been thinking myself more closely related to Libertarians than Republicans.

      tcincp (not sure how that is pronounced….rhymes with scincp?), you ask a great question. There’s no simple answer. If we are honest (which we are here), one could make a good case that there are over 20 different kinds of conservatives. Or a hundred. Or maybe a million. Much of the definition of “conservative” (or any ideology) stems from what is explicitly and vociferously rejected not necessarily what it it for. It’s thus not precisely an either/or situation, especially because I consider the libertarian attitude (not their actual platform) to be inherently part of conservative DNA. It’s the part that stresses liberty and risk over security and “free stuff.” It stresses free market solutions rather than top-down government ones. We’re fine so far.

      Where libertarians go wrong is that they take the principle of liberty and make it an absolutist principle and thus run it to absurd degrees. But that’s really only the half of it. Excesses of liberty (even with some consequences) I could live with. The problem is that “libertarianism,” as actually practiced, is just another sly word for “liberalism.” It is exuberance without restraint. Anarchy without order.

      And, precisely, libertarians are not against some of the key things conservatives are dead-set against. Libertarians don’t reject abortion, open borders, legalizing all drugs, prostitution, and a number of such core issues, almost all of which conservative are staunchly against. To say that a libertarian is another brand of conservative is like saying painting stripes on a pig makes it a cousin of a zebra. There are fundamental practical differences, all (I would say) disingenuously papered over by libertarians’ veneer of being so staunch pro-liberty. It becomes a rhetorical trick. Liberty. The three syllables can bamboozle many and hide the truth of the matter.

      We must be honest again and state that a conservative issue has always been limited government. And this site’s Pat Tarzwell is of that type. He’s genuine about it. Heck, he thinks public libraries are inappropriately socialistic. (I disagree, but would err in his direction.)

      But most conservatives will draw Social Security, Medicare, and almost assuredly have their hand in the government till in some way, even if not consciously of their choice. So to a large extent, today’s “conservatism” is an affectation — an identity, if you will. They’ll post picture of guns and bacon on Facebook but “hands off my Social Security.” The behemoth of the Federal government is not in danger of shrinking, although I do think Trump has taken a few good whacks at it here and there.

      Therefore before (or while) bashing Libertarians, it is only fair to point out the plank in my own eye. That said, I see libertarianism as a heresy of conservatism. It’s a needed part of conservatism but when separated from the basic moral underpinning of conservatism, it runs so far off the reservation that it inevitably ends up in liberalism.. And, much like large swaths of conservatism, it is merely an affectation, another ideology (exactly like Teddy Kennedy and leftism) that gives one personal sanction to act as one will as long as one mouths the feel-good rhetoric. It’s fundamental as well that the idea of limits is anathema to libertarians. But you can’t possibly have a good and functioning society without them.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        The key to judging any libertarian is by his response to issues such as bakeries being forced to bake specialized cakes celebrating homosexual marriage. A true libertarian would oppose it, but a libertinist libertarian wouldn’t. And there are a lot of such issues, involving marriage licenses, adoption agencies, bathrooms, bakeries, florists, photographers . . . And that doesn’t even count free speech issues regarding abortion.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Ask a conservative the cake-baking question and you’ll surely get the same answer: There is no shortage of places to get a cake made with candy sculptures of the groom and groom doing it on top of the frosting with the “top” guy even giving a reach-around with the help of a wire pipe cleaner for an arm.

          My answer would be this: I wouldn’t frame it strictly as a freedom-of-religion question because, God knows, the barbarous Mohammedans should not be accommodated on all their beliefs.

          Let’s first get to the essence of the question: This is about a militant movement wiping out of any opposition to the homosexual agenda. It’s not about the hurt feelings of some gay couple who are rejected at the bakery. It is well known that these gay goon squads are going out of their way to manufacture issues like this.

          There are indeed religious freedom questions that come up from time to time. This one, however, is a bullying question. However you feel about gays or about Christians, we should not give legal backing to a bunch of bullies.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Quite true, and some pro-homosexual liberals actually agree with us here. Note that, for whatever reason, Breyer and Kagan joined the 4 conservatives and Kennedy on the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. But most pro-homosexuals treated as this as a tribal decision. I suspect libertinist libertarians would do the same.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              And that doesn’t even count free speech issues regarding abortion.

              Pro-abortion is such a defining issue for libertarians: There is nothing above my will. That is what their support for abortion is saying.

              Conservatives don’t (generally…I hope) think like a comic book character would. Although libertariantards bandy about the word “liberty” and “rights,” they seem to miss that the most fundamental right — upon which all others flow — which is the right to one’s life.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Ayn Rand started with that, but her sexual libertinism led her to support abortion. The fact that most opponents of abortion do so for religious reasons, inimical to Rand’s militant atheism, was a major motive for this.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Ayn Rand started with that, but her sexual libertinism led her to support abortion.

    The ideal for man (or Randian woman), as shared by many toxic ideologies, is The Man of Unrestrained Will. The French Revolutionary leader’s glorified “the will of the people” and used it to justify their own actions, pencilling in what they thought that “will” was at any given time. They used it to kill many.

    Obviously you have the Hitlerian documentary, “Triumph of the Will.” And you’ll note in Randian, Objectivist, and Libertarian characters the extreme dislike of anything being put over their will, whether religion or the state.

    I was just watching a little more of the series, Bosch, this afternoon. Bosch’s ex-wife was introduced. It turns out she is (or was) a police profiler. Apparently that’s how they met. She was giving some free advice to Harry on a a case he’s handling that involves a serial killer. She notes that in this particular case (a trait common to psychopaths) that the killer thinks he is smarter than everyone else.

    This is a common trait amongst libertarians as well. In fact, libertarianism is not really a collection of ideas. It’s more a cult of Little Monsters (as Mr. Kung refers to them), the Golden Children who should rule by right of being superior. And that’s what men, in particular, become when their wills are unrestrained, when they think their own shit doesn’t stink. They become pompous Little Monsters. Or big ones.

    We can, and should, always be having a discussion about what kind of authority we cede to the government, Federal, state, or local. And we should always err on the side of not giving them very much, for once you give it to them, it’s almost impossible to get back. I just don’t think you have to be a near political psychopath in order to push back against the nanny state. I don’t have to, for instance, be perfectly pure and dispense with public libraries because I don’t like the socialism of Obamacare….even while honestly acknowledging the entire slippery-slope aspect of any kind of socialism.

    In my experience, Libertarianism is more of a yute identity. It’s a great identify for Little Monsters who wish to be unrestrained and have a ready-made comic-book-level political philosophy at hand to justify it.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I don’t have to, for instance, be perfectly pure and dispense with public libraries because I don’t like the socialism of Obamacare….even while honestly acknowledging the entire slippery-slope aspect of any kind of socialism.

      In the past, growing up and gaining experience was seen as a positive. Along with the pains of growth one learned what worked and what didn’t. What was good and what wasn’t. What was true and what was false. In other words, one learned discernment and gained the ability to judge people and things.

      In today’s idiocy, it is considered virtuous to forego judgement and discernment is a word too many have never heard. Throughout history, people have been able to keep going off the cliff of theoretical purity by using these two hard earned gifts. Generally speaking, it is when mankind forgets these things and believes in pompous and preposterous theories of life that things go badly, indeed.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        This is what Elizabeth calls ideolatry and I call absolutist ideology. Thus, libertarianism believes the Behemoth is never the answer, and leftism worships the Behemoth and seeks unlimited power for it. Conservatives (and any surviving liberals) avoid both extremes, though conservatives usually support libertarian views and liberals usually support leftist views.

  7. pst4gop says:

    Brad you know me better than I know myself. I do not remember ever talking about libraries, (that does not mean I have not, just I can’t remember doing so). But thinking about what you said, you are correct and this is where my “ideolatry” about libraries comes from, mostly.
    A short example from The Law by Frederic Bastia
    “A Confusion of Terms:
    Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

    Just because I do not want the government to provide public libraries does not mean that I do not want them to exist.
    I don’t have to, for instance, be perfectly pure and dispense with public libraries because I don’t like the socialism of Obamacare…
    I would think this way even if the Republicans would grow a pair and get rid of 0bamacare altogether. This all comes from a desire for the purity of the ideals of the founders. I do not even hope to get back there completely, but we are so far from those ideals you cannot even discuss cutting back on what the government does without being accused of being the worst person on the planet or other fine things, by both the left and most on the so called right. But in my version of sticks and stones, words will never hurt me.
    I am a centrist from the founders view. With the extreme right being Anarchy or no government at all (Libertarians purist), and the left being Total government control, (Communism, Socialism, Fascism or any other totalitarian group); I think we should be in the middle maybe slightly to the right, but not much. That slippery slope you refer to is the government scale with America’s pivot point in the middle, and all the leftist BS weighing down the left side of the scale so much so that we have to habg on as tight as we can just to keep from slide off into oblivion.
    I am no Libertarian because I firmly believe what Madison wrote in Federalist 51:
    “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If
    angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.
    In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

    Is a library anything more than a pebble in this pond or another straw on this camel’s back, maybe not. If I could have the government that I wanted but had to leave public libraries in, I would cave on that point in a heart beat.
    In the made up immortal words of Woodrow Wilson; Freedom…You can’t handle freedom, but the government is here to take care of you.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Very famous quote by Madison. He really got to the heart of why we needed a Constitution for our new government, as we already had in the form of the Articles of Confederation, which unfortunately was too weak to be workable. That’s why L. Neil Smith used it as the basis of his fantasy libertarian utopia. (Entertaining, but the basis for it — adding one word to the Declaration of Independence, requiring unanimous consent to supply government with its just authority — was totally ridiculous to anyone with a modicum of historical knowledge.)

      Leftists still use the basic idea that Bastiat was discussing. To them, anyone who opposes free contraceptives (or anything else, really) is against people having them at all. Basically the same argument, just a slightly different form. Bastiat is most famous for the Broken Window Fallacy, which I discussed in one of my early articles.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        requiring unanimous consent to supply government with its just authority — was totally ridiculous to anyone with a modicum of historical knowledge.

        Unanimous consent didn’t work out so well for the Polish Duma. It is, no doubt, one of the main reasons Poland disappeared a couple of times in history.

        Imagine how it would work out in a popular democracy.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Quite so. No one in Philadelphia would have suggested such a ridiculous notion. And that doesn’t even take into account the trivial detail that there was considerable opposition (Adams later estimated as roughly 1/3 of the population) to separation from Britain. Smith obviously had no idea of any of that.

      • pst4gop says:

        Absolutely Timothy, If we oppose, fill in the leftist blank, we are haters, or we want kids to starve. The last example applies to my argument against free and reduced lunches at school. (there really is no such thing as reduced fee lunches, they are all free). In the school district where Sandy is a school board member, they are over 70% of the students getting free lunch. Now we are not in a wealthy area, but 70%? B.S. and what is really pissing me off is that the leftist are pushing for 100% so those that really need help will not feel bad.
        This is the slippery slope we fear, maybe it is a more analogous to the Chinese water torture. Break us down, one drip at a time.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I do not remember ever talking about libraries

      Pat I’m surprised you don’t remember that, although it wasn’t an in-depth discussion. You were arguing from first principles, which I can respect. And I was basically saying that life is full of blurred lines and if we have to have some socialism, making a wide variety of books available to people doesn’t seem such a bad thing.

      That’s a great quote by Bastiat and I’m in full agreement. I’m a “radical” in that I think the public schools should be done away with, atrophied by true free market competition, starting with vouchers.

      As for libraries, they provide a function with some overlap with private business. Would private businesses have filled the niche? Should it have? Are there not places for centrally-planned functions such as libraries, museums, and mass transit?

      I think there are. The problem arises when people give too much respect to government and expect it to provide everything. If it can do libraries, why not socialized medicine? A libertarian purist would say, “See! This is what we warned you stupid conservatives about. Any sort of socialism is a slippery slope.”

      But I would still insist there is a difference between the centralized functions of government services, particularly in regards to running a city, and the government trying to replace what can and should be a private function. Lincoln gave a good overall measure of the difference: “The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but can not do at all, or can not so well do, for themselves – in their separate, and individual capacities.”

      We think it absolutely silly when Libertarians insist that the military should be privatized. I would put emergency services in the same category. A private contractor might be able to run a paramedic service and a fire service. It might also do law enforcement as well. But are not there some services that should be core to government and best handled that way?

      Hospitals have a foot in both spheres, private and government and probably because of that represent the worst of both. And it’s not that government couldn’t run health care. It could. If you could always elect intelligent managers with integrity and good ethics, you could make it work efficiently, cut costs, and provide better service. But that is an unreasonable expectation. When a city cop screws up, there is someone to actually to complain to. But with a gargantuan system such as socialized medicine, there is no way for the consumer to make a difference.

      Some things must therefore be subject to the the greatest restrainer of all: Voting with one’s dollars. And that vote is capable of happening only when there is healthy competition.

  8. pst4gop says:

    Brad, I really do not object to libraries, roads, war fighters, police, fire or even education, or some other services being provided by government. I am certain that local government can and maybe should provide these things. But if we do not keep our eyes on the limitations we put on governments by the constitution of each and every state, they will grow unchecked as we have proven. Leftist are sneaky bastards and they game the system in ways that people on our side cannot imagine.

    You have hit the nail on the head; competition with the free market in all things would go a long way to limiting government. I know why, but can’t really understand how, we let this massive monopoly called government get so damn big. But we did and now it will require a long term fight, (or God forbid, violence), to put that damn Gennie back in the bottle.
    So I will keep leaning on and trying to teach first principles when I can. I hate this word, but I guess I am pragmatic with one eye fixed on what we had that created the greatest nation on the planet.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I know why, but can’t really understand how, we let this massive monopoly called government get so damn big.

      Pat, part of the formula is just the inevitability of bureaucracies growing and its natural resistance to being pruned. If 3M grows a useless bureaucracy, there could be real-world consequences in lower profits or higher losses due to just having to pay for the bureaucracy and/or the bureaucracy’s power in stifling innovation which is needed for hatching new products or improving old ones. State bureaucracies have several insulating factors, not leach of which is there is no inherent competition. We can’t go to Canada and say, “Gee….I’d like to buy your model of the slimmed-down Department of Energy,” assuming there was such a thing in Canada, which is doubtful.

      And cutting government always means cutting someone’s job. And because the “market forces” for a politician are different from that of a private CEO, it’s easier for the politician to just print more money, get larger funding, or demagogue his way to not only keeping the bureaucracy he’s got but calling it a violation of human rights if you don’t immediately expand it further. Steve Jobs, although he would regularly bamboozle the Mac crowd about some things, would find it hard to sell turds as iPhones. In private business when its the consumer’s own money at stake, it’s much harder to call shit Shinola.

      Sometimes people are honestly naive. I get that. I’ve been in those ranks far too often. But you can almost be sure you are talking to either a fool or a crook when a politician talks about “Cutting waste and trimming the fat in the bureaucracy” as a means of saving. Yes, that’s part of it. But right now that is the equivalent of telling a man to shave the hairs in his nose while he’s wearing the equivalent of a monkey suit (or maybe he’s just one of those hairy Mediterranean types).

      The other leg of the Big Government stool is feminism. The only way feminism can succeed is for government to become the surrogate husband. Men sin greatly in their constant desire for wars which has scarred mankind since our inception. But women have their faults as well. One of them is the desire for security over freedom. And ever since gaining the vote, Big Government has ballooned in order to try to provide that. I’ll stay agnostic on the moment whether this is good or bad, on whether some of it is good or bad. That is a separate question topically lost in the rhetoric of being “sexist” to even suggest such a thing. But I think there is no doubt that Big Government and the modern nanny state are products of women.

      The third leg of the stool of Leviathan is commercialism/consumerism/materialism. Thank god our capitalist system can crank out such marvels, comforts, and life-saving technology and drugs. But this has bred an expectation of complete comfort all-of-the-time until the short tale of The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen describes not just a princess but the rank-and-file American. We expect damn too much. The very idea of denial has now been rhetorically refashioned so that if you wish to cut spending or balance the budget your are, at best, uncaring and, at worst, racist, sexists, etc.

      Saying no to any of this requires a lot of people to act non-stupidly and to act with nobility and foresight.

      • pst4usa says:

        Since you brought up Canada Brad, I have a small story about their leftist bend. As you see in hotels all over, they post a sign that asks the customer to help save the planet by hanging your towels up, telling the maid that you will use them again. It makes sense, since we do this at home, and it is normal for us. This is the new leftist feel good part. This particular sign added a line that explained that no-one would lose their job or have their hours cut if we all choose to do this. and they would give us $5 for each day we did this. So I had to ask, does this mean you have to over charge us by $5 everyday to cover the cost of pay for workers that have less to do? Oh no was the answer that came back. Leftism infiltrates everything.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Gives new meaning to the word, “towel-heads.” I don’t immediately see how using a dirty towel saves the planet. In fact, a dirty towel could breed a flesh-eating bacteria and soon be the scourge of the planet. Lest you think I’m exaggeration, before modern methods and attitudes toward cleanliness, millions perished from a dirty this or a dirty that.

          Thank God Himself for the ability have clean towels. Save the planet and make a libtard cry by keeping clean.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            For that matter, a London cholera outbreak was traced to a single contaminated public water tap in the mid-19th Century.

          • pst4usa says:

            Silly Brad, they will save hundreds of trillions of gallons of water every second of the day, not to mention the quadrillions of tons of detergent polluting the oceans and killing every living creature on the planet. Studies show that if just one towel could be reused it will save 347 kids world wide.

            Those numbers would be an understatement if reported by the left.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I just remembered something appropriate here. Back during the energy crisis of the mid 70s, a popular Texas slogan was “Drive 70 and freeze a Yankee.”

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Large corporations can be rather bureaucratic. I worked for the Jefferson County Sheriff (who is in charge of collecting property taxes), and later for Humana (this was back when they ran hospitals rather than insurance plans). The former was more political, but the latter was more bureaucratic.

        “War is the health of the state.” Especially modern total war, which means heavily mobilizing industry to supply armaments. We can’t ignore that in the growth of the Behemoth.

        I would say that either extreme of the freedom vs. security spectrum is a bad idea. You have to be in the middle, though if you go too far in the security direction you find yourself on the famous slippery slope and end up at the far end. That’s happening in most or all of Europe today, and perhaps here as well.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      There obviously is free-market education, and in theory there could be free-market libraries. Some museums are also privately owned, though usually small ones. Some access roads are private as well (and some toll roads have been privatized). There are also volunteer fire departments and private security guards.

      But even Ayn Rand believed that the police, military, and courts need to be run by the government, though they could hire private organizations to do most of that, even actual combat (paging Mad Mike Hoare, they need you in Syria). The courts are another matter, and the very top levels of bureaucracy to actually run things (and especially make the decisions).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        in theory there could be free-market libraries

        The way things are headed, the brick-and-mortar library likely is coming to an end anyway because of digital books.

        Yes, there are some great private museums. Personally (and tongue planted only slightly in my cheek), state-owned libraries have been a godsend in terms of saving art from primitive cultures such as Egypt.

        Yes, one can denounce this as cultural imperialism but it was the Egyptians themselves who plundered the tombs. How much would be left now if the British and French hadn’t taken so much of it out of their clutches? Just sayin’.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          And just think of how much more ancient literature we would have if it hadn’t been for various acts of destruction visited upon the Library of Alexandria (founded by the Macedonian Ptolemies, of course). They culminated with the infamous case of a Muslim torching what was left because anything that was compatible with the Koran was superfluous and anything that wasn’t was pernicious. Best to destroy it all.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          The classic case is the Elgin Marbles. Greeks wants them back, but they did nothing to save them for centuries.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Elizabeth and I visited the Parthenon in Nashville a couple of decades back. On the second floor they had replicas of the Elgin marbles. Even better, they had a copy of the great statue of Athena — and we came there in time to hear a lecture explaining its details (such as the symbolism of the original statue).

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Good example, Mr. Kung. Make that another stop with the Wayback Time Machine (patent pending). Let’s all go together and visit the Parthenon when it was new.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Better be careful. The Athenians expected visitors to fight for the city in wartime, and it was finished just as the Archidamian War was starting. Athens would be at war for over 3 decades.

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