Friday, January 30, 2004

Is Bush's proposed budget for the NEA an insult to conservatives?

Roger Kimball thinks not, as long as Dana Gioia is in charge. I tend to agree. It would be nice if the NEA were a real endowment, and contented with supporting the arts that are supported by consensus, not the type that wants to be paid for anti-social, anti-religious, far left screeds.
If America is to be piddled upon from a great height, it shouldn't have to pay for the privilege.

Eugene Volokh: Gay rights and the First Amendment

The prof cites Irving Kristol as stating that advocation of homosexuality and pornography are not covered by the First Amendment. (Here's a follow-up.) I think that twenty years ago, I would have agreed with Volokh that Kristol is wrong. Now, I'm not so sure.

I have realized that, for all our emphasis on liberty, the arrogation to themselves of expanding power by the federal courts threatens a lot of what we think of as part of our rights, the right of the majority, especially on a local level, to define the kind of society they want to live in. It's the right of people to enter public spaces without being embarrassed, the right of parents to feel that they can let their kids go out and play without fearing that their efforts to instill values will be swept away on a tide of "free speech."

On one hand, I think that it is protected speech to decry the brutalization of gays, especially by police. On the other, I do not think that laws against homosexual behavior are flatly ruled out by Constitution. I think that the line of cases based on privacy are misguided and poorly reasoned. It should certainly have been possible to find grounds to strike down the law against used of contraception on the ground that there is no way to enforce it consistently with the Fourth Amendment. What constitutes probable cause to justify barging into someone's home to check on whether they are using contraceptives? I have a hard time imagining what it would be. However, prohibiting doctors from performing abortions is a differet matter. I suppose that if doctors were doing so during housecalls, I would agree that it would require a higher level of scrutiny before issuing a search warrant, but I don't think medical clinics have quite the same level of protection that homes do. It's true that the basis of this protection of homes may be based in privacy concerns, but I'm not willing to extent the language of the Constitution to every claim of privacy.

Here's another, more eloquent explanation, in the context of a dispute over the removal of a Christmas tree from the atrium of the University of Indiana, and a discussion on the Dennis Prager show. Prager defended the tree. Tarzana Joe opines:
His adversary in the discussion, a law professor at the school, replied that we lived in a country where once the majority supported slavery. Thus, the opinion of the majority should be held as having no value when deciding the fate of the tree. To equate the majority�s delight in a tree to their toleration of slavery is to understand neither Christmas nor slavery. Never mind that slavery was never put to a direct vote in this country, her point was made with the holier-than-thou sanctimony that achieves its purest form only in the breath of atheists.

But I was listening. And the professor�s remark suddenly enlightened me.

The tree is not the enemy. Neither is Christmas. The enemy is the majority. The majority is tyranny. The tyranny of morality. The tyranny of temperance. The tyranny of abstinence.

The left knows better. But the majority is too stupid to ever understand that. The left knows that they will never be able to educate or convince the majority. Thus, the majority is to be defied and defiled. If you are part of the majority, you participated in slavery, the oppression of women and the Indian wars. The majority is to be opposed and beaten with the only weapon available in a representative democracy�the fiat of judges.

Once the judges do their work, the majority will adapt to the new ways�even if they don�t have the capacity to understand them. Heck, they might even be able, someday, to witlessly mouth the tenets of the left just like a catechism.

It has already worked with abortion. The majority feels abortion is a horrifying thing-- but do nothing about it.

So where ever the majority lives�eating meat, wearing fur and leather, praying, celebrating, marrying�you will find the left attacking. Just listen for it.
This is why I fear the dominion of the unelected, life-tenured, whether they be federal judges or university professors.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Journalists play the "Freedom of the Press" card.

"The worst thing that could come out of the Hutton report would be for journalists to become timid in the face of government attempts to manipulate the news agenda."
No. The worst thing, from their point of view, would be to rescind the tax that subsidizes the BBC, and make them all go get real jobs. The best thing for the people would be if the BBC had to pay its own way.

Listening to Josh Marshall sparing with Hugh Hewitt

It's a replay of yesterday's show. Marshall is smooth, not like Peter Beinart, Erwin Chemerinsky or even Michael Medved. They, including Hugh, are all good debaters, as is evidenced by the rising pitch of their voices and the increased pace of their speaking, and the amazing number of details they command. I couldn't think as fast as these guys, let alone spit it out at the rate they do. They all get that tone of exasperation with the density of their opponents, but Josh usually maintains a position of bemused distance from the fray, like a cartoon fighter holding an opponent with a shorter reach away with his hand on the forehead, while the other guys windmills away fecklessly. But yesterday, his voice lost its sonorous modulation and got a little squeaky, as he laughed and kept repeating "You're wrong!" again and again. They were discussing Kerry's vote against authorizing the 1992 Gulf War. When Hugh brought up the point that if Kerry had been president then, Saddam would still be in control of Kuwait and all of its oil, he changed the subject, claiming that Colin Powell didn't support the war either, but he lost his cool when Hugh asserted that, but for our actions and the imposition of inspections, Saddam would have had nukes within another few years.

I like Hugh's show, among other things, because he's so good at puncturing the pretensions of guys like Marshall who think that they have the truth, because they live amidst journalists who never say anything that they disagree with. It's the knowing glance, the arched eyebrow, the slight roll of the eyes most of the time. But when someone like Bernard Goldberg points out the obvious, they react like Masons toward someone revealing their secret signs.

The media debates its own objectivity.

You'd never hear about it in the WaPo if it were between Republicans and Democrats. There isn't anybody in the press to take the Republican side, but when it's between two Democrats, it gets coverage.

What strikes me about the Dem primaries, however, is how they seem headed toward a replay of 1972.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Mosque and State in Iran

Joseph Smith, the first modern prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was once asked how he was able to govern such a large people as the Mormons had become in Illinois before they were driven out. He said, "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves." Too bad the Ayatollahs in Iran don't have that confidence in their own followers.

It's a basic tenet of Mormon belief, as well as a logical conclusion, that freedom, including freedom to worship or not, is an essential part of the justice of God. How could he judge us for things we had no choice in? That's about as fundamental a concept as there is, it seems to me. Why then do so many religions seem to slip into totalitarian mode?

Could it be, . . . hmmmm . . . SATAN!? Probably yes, but I think it has a lot to do with human greed and hunger for power, as well. The only power any church or religion should have is to disfellowship or excommunicate its members, which is the same power any association has. If religious leaders think they need the power to chop off hands, noses, ears and heads to enforce morality, I'd say they've failed as teachers and preachers, and that God is not with them.