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Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, (original, huh?) airs on Tuesdays at 10:PM and Saturdays at 8:PM, Eastern time on RainbowRadio.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Orwellian Language Part Two: Freedom
Part Two: Freedom
The next word I want to discuss that the Right has co-opted is “freedom.” (I will no longer refer the Right as “conservatives” to avoid confusion and maintain consistency with Part One.) Now there is one part of the Right that truly loves “freedom.” It’s the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. Unfortunately, to avoid conflict with their Religious Funny-mentalist wing, these libertarians have largely given up their dedication to individual liberty, and for the most part they now only really care about corporate freedom, or the freedom from government regulation for large corporations. Individual freedom to the Right is defined fairly narrowly and applies almost exclusively to right to own guns, and first amendments rights only so long as it fits their agenda. IOW – Freedom of Religion when it comes to putting prayer IN schools, in support of THEIR religion, but not as it applies to respecting OTHER religions but keeping prayer OUT of schools and maintaining the Separation of Church and State. They also claim first amendment rights when they post the names and addresses of abortion providers on the Internet, yet at the same time have tried to ban the distribution of information over the net to those trying to GET an abortion, as well as any objective or (god forbid!) pro-choice leaning commentary on the matter. I’m not suggesting that the Left never does this, only that I think their abuses are far less egregious. For my part, I believe the ALCU are the truly principled defenders of freedom in this country, as they have defended the freedom of both the far left and the far right and everyone in between. It is only the Right’s mental disease of religious absolutism that makes them view the ACLU as a decidedly Left-leaning or “liberal” (*their use of the word, not mine!) organization. The fact that the Left in this country largely supports them, despite the ACLU’s defense of many on the Right (Neo-Nazi’s, the Ku Klux Klan, Rush Limbaugh, Oliver North, many Religious Groups and Individuals, just to name a few) to me, only shows that the Left has a far more principled view of freedom than the Right does.
There are two key planks in the Rights platform that undermine it’s claim to be the party of “freedom,” even as they’ve used both in an absurd attempt to bolster it: Religion and States Rights. But before we look at those, let me propose a very simple working definition of “freedom.” It is the ability to do stuff. LAWS (and other prohibitions) can thus ONLY reduce you freedom: They can only reduce the amount of stuff you can do. The libertarian’s viewpoint is that the only laws that are needed are those that determine who’s “freedom,” or “rights” supersede. IOW, it’s very similar to my doctrine of choice that I previously laid out. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the two aforementioned Republican pillars: Religion and States Rights.
Religion. Hoo-boy, where to even start? First of all, don’t let ANYONE tell you that “[insert religious icon here] will set you free.” This is bullshit. Big-time, major-league, gold-standard, grade-A, five-star, BULL*SHIT! No two ways about it. Every single religion has it own collection of taboos and prohibition that come with it. So while they may claim you’ll be “free from sin,” in reality, you simply be prohibited to sin. IOW: There is less stuff that you will be allowed to do, above and beyond what the law already restricts. Now… It can be argued that this is a “better” or “more moral” way to live, and that’s fine – you are “free” to decide that for yourself. But when religion intermingles with government, the only result will be MORE prohibitions, MORE laws, LESS stuff you can do. As for the idea that the Left will take away your religious freedom? That’s nonsense. An outright lie in fact. The Left only wishes for the separation of church and state, so as any person can belong to any religion they want, as well as be free from the prohibitions of any religion they do not belong to – even if, or especially if, they choose to belong to none. They ONLY way you can have freedom of religion is to have freedom from religion. And the complete separation of church and state is the only way you can achieve that. Enough has been written about that, so I’m just going to leave it there. If you can't accept that at this point in human history, then you have been brainwashed by religion.
Now… supporting “states rights” sounds like a pro-freedom agenda no? After all “rights” is just another way of saying “freedom” right? Bill of “Rights,” “Freedom” of Speech, Religion, Press, etc… (Sidetracking for a second, it sure make you wander how ‘pro-freedom’ the right can be when you hear conservatives arguing against the government (or the judiciary) “making up new rights.” Well… what’s wrong with that?! New rights = more freedom, no? But I digress…) But let's look at what States can do, and have done with their ‘rights.’ Medical Marijuana laws not withstanding, a State cannot make anything or any activity legal that the Federal Government has deemed illegal. (And if they think mary-jane has been legalized, the fact is that federal agents can still come in at any time and arrest anyone they want to for both dealing and possessing marijuana. They don’t, largely because they are supporting states rights in one of the very few instances in which they increase our freedom, but they still reserve the right to do so! I imagine the Fed won’t however since it might lead to a Supreme Court case that would likely (1) erode the power of the fed (good for the Right, as long as they control the State Houses, and remain in the Minority in Congress) but also (2) lead to broader legalization of marijuana, which they don’t want.) But with that lone exception, all a State can do with it’s power is to pass MORE laws: IOW – further reduce the amount of stuff we can do beyond what the federal government already prohibits.
Now I’m all for states managing their own fiscal affairs – levying taxes as they see fit, managing their public services, etc… But when it comes to LAWS, what kind of useful laws do states ever really pass? You can’t buy liquor on Sunday before noon. (Michigan.) You can’t buy alcohol, including Beer and Wine, in a supermarket, only in a state-licensed liquor store (Massachusetts); You can only buy liquor, excluding beer and wine, in a STATE-OPERATED, “ABC” Store (Virginia – a ‘red’ state taking a rather ‘communist’ approach, no?); You can only stock liquor in tiny “airplane” bottles (North Carolina, until recently); You can’t buy liquor on a Sunday at all (Connecticut – what a boon for neighboring New York on Sundays, huh?). This is just one example, but its illustrates fairly well what States do with their rights: PASS REALLY STUPID, POINTLESS LAWS! (The so-called "BLUE-LAWS" were a PRIME example, as was segregation... but I digress.)
Let me put it a different way… If something is not bad enough to be made illegal everywhere (murder, theft, rape, etc…) then why should it be illegal ANYWHERE?! And LOCAL laws get even worse! Now you have prohibitions on top of State Laws AND Federal Laws! Dry counties?! WTF?! If you don’t want to drink that’s fine, by where does 51% of a county get off telling the other 49% that they can’t?! And yet the Right, who claim to be all about “freedom” LOVE their states rights… except, you know… in the case of medical marijuana, when states have used their rights to actually increase our freedom. But restricting abortion, restricting alcohol consumption, restricting religious freedom (whenever a prayer-in-school or am intelligent design bill comes up, it’s ALWAYS at the state or local level!), restricting access or information about contraception or family planning, even restricting GAY MARRIAGE!
Oh, and how they've they criticized the states that allow it! But then they make a “states rights” argument for why the federal government shouldn't compel states to recognize it! WTF?! Hypocrisy anyone?! The rights of two men or two women to marry takes nothing away from anybody else. This is NOT the case of two people or groups with mutually exclusive rights here. This is about one group imposing their religious views on another. As a strait, (hypothetically) Christian Male, I can still marry, or remain single as I choose. I am free to do as I wish – which would not include marrying a man, as that would be prohibited by the church I chose to belong to. That situation does not change when two other men marry. My rights are not diminished in any way! This only extends increased freedom to them, as well as to me (though I would likely continue to choose not to exercise that freedom.)
Gun Ownership is about the only area that the Right supports states rights in an area that DOES increase our freedom. For the record, I’m OK with this. I like the fact that the decision of whether or not I own a gun is mine and mine alone. I DON’T own a gun. I DESPISE guns and I feel that a gun is a coward’s weapon… But I cherish that the choice is MINE.
BTW… Here are my weapons of choice: (LOL)
(And yes, they work.)
So again… You can follow a pro-religion political agenda, and sing all the praises of ‘states rights,’ that’s fine. But THIS “liberal” is NOT going to let you do that and then get away with any claims about protecting personal liberty.
For that? I’ll stick with the ACLU.