Thursday, September 29, 2016

"Created Equal"? — Not here in Darwinland

When I finally got around to thinking more deeply about it, I came to realize that many of the Founding Documents have been twisted into something never intended by the Founders. For example, the establishment clause:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

Here, "establishment" meant the establishment of an official national church, as the Church of England was back in Britain. It had nothing to do with prayer in school, or letting Muslims in. It was about how you couldn't have a national church. You could, of course, have State Churches, and some states did.

Nor could you prohibit the free exercise of a religion, except of course when a religion violates the Constitution, or even lesser laws when the religion requires drug use or other dubious things.

The problem is, of course, that the Founders were mostly thinking of different kinds of Christianity, not religion in general, and Christianity, by their time, had ceased to be a paradigm that all of human activity had to be forced into to fit. Other religions, like Islam, not so much.
Indeed, I'm sure that if there'd been a million or so Muslims wanting to immigrate in the first years of the Republic, most of the Founders could have come up with reasons to prohibit it, on the grounds that Islam constituted a political ideology as well as a religion, that was in contradiction to the Constitution, our other Founding Documents, and the idea of America as a free society.

In short, the idea of freedom of religion at many points contradicts the American ideology of republicanism and many of the other freedoms. If Congress wants to prohibit Muslim immigration on those grounds, it has every right to, just as it can (and should, by law) prohibit communists. And of course any other ideology hostile to American principles, whether it calls itself a religion or not.

So, from this point of view, expressed bluntly in the graphic to the right, a great deal of what we consider fair play and pukka behavior, which firmed up and became a standard known as the "Enlightenment" turns out to be, when nonWestern societies are encountered, a veritably suicidal position.

I don't know who the quote is from, but I generally agree with it, though I wouldn't use the word "tribal" exactly that way — I'd prefer "ethnocentric" or something of the sort — but, as is indicated in the Bailey quote, the Founders did not mean what everybody seems to think they mean by

“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.”

They didn't think everybody was equally tall, or equally smart, or equally anything in the usual sense. (I believe many Founders meant it also in the sense that gentle birth was invalid, and no class of person — peasant, aristocrat, etc. — was superior to others in any legal sense. In short, the Founders eliminated the aristocratic system completely for the new country.) What they are actually equal in is suggested by what follows — they have equal rights. They have a right to equal treatment under the law. They do not have a right to equal outcomes. That is, everybody has an equal right to freedom of speech. They do not have a right to have the same outcomes to their speech that people who speak differently do.

That is, you have a right to speak all kinds of vulgarity, but you do not have the right to require people to treat you as though you do not speak that way. You have a right to worship Chernobog, or Saraswati, or Baron Samedi, or pumpkins, but you do not have the right to require people to take you seriously about it.

And I should mention here, that the Bill of Rights itself is a little uneven, that is, the First Amendment says:

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.

While the Second Amendment reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

What's the difference? The First says that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment, etc., seemingly leaving the states and other authorities free to do so. The Second says "...shall not be infringed," meaning that nobody can mess with your right to keep and bear arms. Nobody can infringe it, not Federal, not state, not county. Just thought I'd toss that in.

Your rights are about what you have a right to do, not about what people must do in reaction to the way you exercise those rights. "Must" is one of those words that should make you suspect that somebody doesn't want you to have rights, but quite the opposite.

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Quibcags: Who could be more "civilized" than Cleopatra, drawn here by Malycia. And in the second we have Ranma, of Ranma ½ (らんま½) , in the middle, surrounded by some of his fiancées, all of whom differ from one another, sometimes profoundly. So it's men in its broader sense of men and women who are not created equal.

2 comments:

  1. Dang, wish I could write as well as you folks can. :)

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  2. Equality is the greatest wish of losers and the greatest enemy of winners. It is the hobbling of the smart to let the stupid keep up with them and become a burden. It is the friend of criminals and the arch enemy of the victims. It is the law which undoes all other laws, and the rule that allows cheaters to get away with cheating. It is the lowest expectations codified to hobble those with greater skills and ability and succor the sick and the deranged. It is the religion of the Godless Nihilist and the Highest Principle of those who have no honor. Equality is like a snake that shows its love and devotion to you by embracing your neck until you strangle to death.

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