Patterico's Pontifications

8/5/2008

Totalitarians, Leftists, and Censorship

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Politics — DRJ @ 5:39 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Today’s New York Post includes an article by columnist Ralph Peters entitled “Thought Police: The Left vs. Free Speech.”

Peters begins by recounting his recent experience in San Francisco where a reporter asked if Peters “should be tried for war crimes for his columns in The Post supporting our military.” From that appalling anecdote, Peters moves to his broader point: Leftists are intolerant to speech that challenges their beliefs, especially in academia. He also argues that modern history’s greatest “censors and book burners” had their roots in liberal ideologies.

I think it’s hyperbole to imply all liberals want to squelch speech, although it’s not clear if Peters was referring to all liberals or just those on the extreme left. Modern college speech codes suggest he’s not far off the mark when it comes to some academics.

However, I was most interested in Peters’ theory of the relationship between totalitarianism, censorship and leftist ideology. He begins by noting a book by Mahvish Rukhsana Khan that compares Guantanamo prisoners to Holocaust victims – a comparison Peters (and I) find outrageous – and expands to a discussion of the roots of modern totalitarian regimes:

“The truly outrageous aspect of such comparisons [between GTMO detainees and Holocaust victims] is that the American left, with its Stalin-redux willingness to rearrange history, neglects to mention that, outside of Japan, all of the 20th century’s great totalitarian regimes had roots on the political left.

It wasn’t just Lenin and Stalin whose propaganda machine prefigured MoveOn. Nazi is an acronym for “National Socialist.” Read Mein Kampf. It isn’t a tribute to free-market capitalism, folks. Mussolini was a populist. Mao was a leftist, as was Pol Pot. The last century’s worst censors and book burners all emerged from leftist ideologies.

At the moment, the American left evokes our Communists in 1939, who contorted themselves to justify the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Stalin and Hitler. As this column recently pointed out, Support Our Troops, Bring Them Home! disappeared from the political scene the instant Obama called for sending those troops to Afghanistan and Pakistan, instead of back to Fort Hood.

For the hardcore left, the party line always trumps conscience. MoveOn isn’t new – it’s just Pravda with poor punctuation.”

I think Peters makes two separate but, in his view, related claims:

1. Modern totalitarian regimes have their roots in liberal ideology.

2. Totalitarian regimes and liberals are more likely to censor ideas they find offensive.

Is he right or wrong, and why?

Full disclosure: I don’t know what I think about this but I enjoy historical comparisons and this is an interesting theory.

— DRJ

129 Responses to “Totalitarians, Leftists, and Censorship”

  1. Is he right or wrong, and why?

    I think he is entirely correct, and I can cite one example, right off the top of my head.

    The Left is fond of pointing out some vague similarities between Germany in the 1930s and today’s Republican Party. (Usually nonsense, but that’s another argument.)

    What this ignores is the fact that the very word “Nazi” was a shorthand word for National Socialist Party, just as Gestapo was shorthand for Geheim Staat Polizei (Secret State Police).

    They were for the nationalization of any corporation, full employment programs (they actually believed that it was the government’s responsibility to provide a livelihood for every citizen), the abolition of unearned incomes (such as pensions or inheritances), profit-sharing by large industries, old-age insurance, the death penalty for “profiteers”, and what was politely referred to as “expropriation of land without compensation” (outright theft of real estate from landholders).

    Do any of these party platforms sound familiar?

    Social Security
    The Kelo decision
    Windfall taxation
    Nationalization of the oil industries
    accusations of war crimes against “oilmen”

    MoveOn isn’t new – it’s just Pravda with poor punctuation.

    Heh.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  2. I second the admiration for the line “MoveOn isn’t new – it’s just Pravda with poor punctuation”.

    Also, the full name of the Nazi Party:
    German National Socialist Workers’ Party.

    Very few right-wing orginizations promote themselves as “workers” parties.

    Another Drew (ab2eae)

  3. This is pretty much the thesis of Jonah Goldberg’s ‘Liberal Fascism’….

    oldirishpig (24cbbf)

  4. Well, they’re trying to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine primarily because they don’t like the success of conservative talk radio. Liberals own network TV and print media, but have been unable to be successfully in talk radio. Therefore, conservatives must not be allowed to enjoy their success. The free market must be overruled.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  5. To second #3: “Liberal Fascism” is a fascinating, eye-opening book (for me anyway.) I encourage all to read it — Goldberg clarifies the historical and political concepts of fascism, and you’ll be struck by how similar the Democrat Party leaders’ (Pelosi, Reid, Obama) preferred proposals and policies sound to those of the early European fascists (e.g., mandatory national civilian volunteer corps), as well as the fascist tendencies of some of our 20th century presidents (e.g., two Roosevelts & Wilson). It’s a chilling & scary book because we’re so close to seeing it happen once again.

    ColoComment (b698b7)

  6. Jonah Goldberg definitively answered both questions. But I’ll take a shot:

    Liberal ideology has its roots in the concept of justice and equality for all. Liberté, égalité, fraternité. Beautiful sounding. But who makes people equal, who creates liberty? How do you promote fraternity and justice?

    Conservatives believe that such things arise when the proper conditions are created. Free men. Safety. Opportunity. Economic growth. Free speech.

    Liberals confuse something that is desirable (liberty, equality, fraternity) with something that must therefore be forcibly created. And the only mechanism to create such a thing is the power of the state.

    The odd thing is – the use of state power generally degrades the conditions that create equality and liberty. Liberals inevitably assume that the problem isn’t the application of the power of the state, but that it wasn’t being used enough, or in the right way. So, inevitably liberal rule devolves toward tyranny.

    Another way to consider it is that there is a Laffer curve for freedom and equality, just as there is for tax revenue. A small amount of government control increases freedom and equality (for example, fair and impartial courts for the resolution of business agreements). Beyond a certain point, however, the use of government power to force freedom and equality becomes counterproductive.

    Modern liberals, despite decades of evidence, still do not understand the Laffer curve.

    Geoman (db0384)

  7. Geoman – It’s that old concept of who watches the watchers. Who are those people that are making the decisions about what regulations (books, speech, etc.) are best for us and are they truly representative of society?

    The left’s knee jerk response to bad speech, which is often merely speech they disagree with, is less speech rather than more speech, even in a country which prides itself on its freedom of speech.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  8. You would think that the very people who were victimized by Nazi Germany might be more open to free speech of others and more tolerant of opposing viewpoints. There are a very high number of Holocaust survivors living within a few miles of me and it seems the local Jews in general follow the liberal party line regardless of the evidence. This Presidential cycle is once again marked by quite vicious in attacks on Bush and his alleged clone McCain.
    No matter what Republicans might do to help minorities, the media academia will neverthless blame all of society’s ills on the greedy conservatives.
    Perhaps others have different experiences, but I’ve found that ex-pats from countries as varied as Ireland and Venezuela embrace socialism and think government is the answer to whatever they think is needed in the guise of “free” services.
    I have local friends in education who cannot be open about their conservative leanings since they would be vilified by the leftists running things.
    And that’s not just in Fla. A friend in Arkansas says academic life is just as liberally biased as here.
    Not to stereotype, but it seems that liberals really get a bee in their bonnet if you say anything at all ill about their beliefs or cherished leaders. It is rather amusing that terms like “Fairness Doctrine” are anything but fair. Libs don’t like sunshine laws on their secret deals or even secret ballots for people voting on potential union formation.
    Some here think it is sophomoric to give liberal loons affectionate nicknames since senators are so deserving of respect, but from what I’ve seen US Senators are mostly arrogant, pompous asses with a sense of entitlement. I note that Pa. voters in 2010 will likely have a choice of voting for two liberals- Matthews and Specter. And there is hope among some dems that Specter or Olympia Snowe will be encouraged to switch to dem caucus to give a potential Obama Presidency a filibuster proof Senate.
    And once again, I note that Pelosi’s book reviews are beingcensored by Amazon so anyone checking will think it is a better read than it actually is. I haven’t read Goldberg’s book or its reviews, but it is unimaginable that he or a Coulter would have their negative reviews deleted.

    madmax333 (0c6cfc)

  9. I’m currently reading a book about the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. The French Revolution left a legacy of the “proletariat” periodically taking over, sending the wealthy to the guillotine and declaring everyone’s property to be theirs. Of course, each time their utopian state collapsed and the adults had to come back and bail them out. Napoleon did it with a whiff of grapeshot. After 1870, the Third Republic took over after the “communards” had been crushed and ruled France until the 1940 defeat. France has never really recovered from the revolution. The left is intolerant of any opposition but cannot rule when given the opportunity. Robespierre destroyed the first French republic with his zeal to perfect it.

    Now, we are informed that the Greens are determined to stamp out wealth in order to slow CO2 emissions.

    “We are constantly battling against increases of wealth… There’s a very fundamental problem here that no one really wants to talk about.”

    From the sound of his plans, as much as we can learn about them, Obama might even be able to pull it off. There’s nothing like a depression to cut down on energy use.

    MIke K (2cf494)

  10. Instead using gulags, any modern leftists successfully squash free speech by labeling those who disagree with them as “racists,” “homophobes,” “haters,” “want-to-see-children-starve” and/or “striving-to-torture-the-elderly.”

    Perfect Sense (9d1b08)

  11. Geoman #7:

    Liberals inevitably assume that the problem isn’t the application of the power of the state, but that it wasn’t being used enough, or in the right way. So, inevitably liberal rule devolves toward tyranny.

    That makes sense to me but how does censorship fit in? I can see why a tyrant would censor speech but I thought a tenet of liberalism is a belief in individual rights. It’s hard to square that with censorship.

    DRJ (9d1be2)

  12. DRJ, Liberalism is, but Liberalism was specifically a reaction against Communism and an attempt post WWII to retake progressive ideology from its captivity by Communist elements.

    Leftism is a collectivist ideology that does not maximize individual liberty and is often hostile to it.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  13. just imagine what gov’t would be like if the liberals had unfettered control as opposed to the conservatives. which would lead to an authoritarian govt? see, its simple really.

    chas (0b23fc)

  14. Comment by DRJ — 8/5/2008 @ 6:52 pm

    well classical liberalism, yes. but today’s liberals are descended from the “progessives” of the early 20th century and they were all about doing whatever it took to advance their agenda.

    chas (0b23fc)

  15. SPQR,

    So you distinguish pure liberalism from other corrupted forms? It seems Peters is saying there is something about liberalism that makes it especially susceptible to that kind of corruption.

    I understand micromanaged, socialist societies. (French civil law is a good example.) But I’m less clear on why censorship is the inevitable companion of liberalism unless we assume liberalism always results in a micromanaged society and as those societies mature they can’t tolerate dissent.

    DRJ (9d1be2)

  16. Bill Whittle said it well when he said that conservatives are interested in equality of opportunity, while liberals are interested in equality of outcome.

    That capitalism generates wealth is beyond debate. This capitalist reactor of ours easily invents more, learns more, and produces more benefits in a year than mankind did under a millennia of rule by Kings and Barons and Caliphs and Emperors. It’s just amazing what people can do when you just get the hell out of their way.

    As an economic system for increasing prosperity, you just can’t beat it. And those who despise capitalism can’t argue with this – they just can’t. What they can do, perpetually and loudly, is talk about how unfair Capitalism is. Because it allows the hard-working and ambitious to keep the rewards of their hard work and ambition, Capitalism does indeed produce some pretty uneven results.

    But does uneven mean unfair? Depends on how you measure fair.

    Now far be it for me to split linguistic hairs and argue over what the definition of ‘is’ is. But if we’re going to get to the heart of this unfair business, we have to ask ourselves, unfair to whom? Because if we are to talk intelligently about this, we’re going to have to understand something right out of the gate: life is unfair. If life were fair, we’d all be the same – same intelligence, same drive, same capabilities. But we’re not. It is a hallmark of our species that we vary wildly in these and many other categories. That’s what makes us so diverse, and we sure want to celebrate that, don’t we?

    So, when we talk about making things fair, making them equal, we find ourselves in the same impossible conundrum as we do when we discuss The Irresistible Force meeting The Immovable Object.

    Cool! Which would win?

    Neither. It’s an oxymoron. The definition of Irresistible Force means that there cannot be an Immovable Object, and vice versa. You have to pick one or the other. They are mutually exclusive.

    Likewise, when we try to measure fair and equal, we have to face the hard reality that people are different. So, do we want to measure an equal front end: equality of opportunity – or an equal back end: equality of results? Can’t have both.

    Here’s why:

    When the Declaration of Independence thundered that All Men are Created Equal, it meant equal in those essential elements: equal under the law. Equal in terms of basic human rights. Equal in dignity. Equal in the sense that if someone with a lot of money thinks they can cut in front of me at an ATM line just because they’re rich, then they can just kiss my Royal Irish Ass! – that kind of equal.

    But to believe that all people are equally capable is to, well, not be paying attention, as a quick game of one-on-one half-court between Michael Jordan and Michael Moore will quickly reveal. (note to Don King: There are millions, and I mean millions to be made off this idea. Call me.)

    There will always be people smarter than you, and people more stupid; people more and less motivated, ruthless, connected, ambitious, frugal, hardworking than you are. Nothing can change that. Nothing should change that – because there lies the Gulag. People are different. Leave them alone. Encourage the downhearted, by all means. Help those in need when they ask for help. But otherwise mind your own business, bub.

    Society is as fair as it can get when all people have equal opportunity to make what they will of themselves. We are not there yet. We are close. We are much, much closer than many would have us believe.

    But people are different. They will always be different. They will succeed and fail differently. There’s no two ways around it.

    Like so many flawed ideas beloved by the far left, equality seems like a noble enough goal. Until you think about it. People have different capabilities. So do you want equality of opportunity – as I do – where people can make of themselves what they will? Or do you want equality of results, where society steps in to make sure that everyone comes out the same?

    If society had a magical way of raising the bottom up, of speeding up, buffing up, and tidying up Michael Moore, thereby giving him the means to beat Michael Jordan in our (sadly) mythical game of half-court, well we’d all be the winners and life would be just dandy. But, alas, this wonderful, brilliant idea is marred only by the annoying fact that it is demonstrably impossible. Michael Moore can never play as well as Michael Jordan. Never. If you want that game to come out a tie – equal! – then you are going to have to hobble Michael Jordon.

    You’re going to have to remove a foot or two from his femurs, stitch him into a clumsy, bulky, ugly suit adding a few hundred pounds, heavily sedate him to slow down his mental powers, fill him full of cheap booze to degrade his aim and coordination – oh, and really mess up his face surgically. No fair if people are rooting for him disproportionately! That might hurt Michael Moore’s self-esteem and limit his ability to compete.

    Do all these things, and more, and you will have two equal players. You will have a really stupid, incompetent, pointless game. You will have removed all the grace, power, style, finesse and genius from a gifted and noble man, and added nothing whatsoever to his opponent. You just made Michael Moore equal to Michael Jordan. Now is that fair to Michael Jordan?

    And after you’ve done all these things, Michael Jordan will still hand Michael Moore his ass because he thinks and acts like a winner and not a victim.

    Equality under the law: good. Essential.

    Forcing people of differing skills, motivation and capability to be ‘equal:’ ruinous. Suicidal. And deeply, deeply unfair.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  17. DRJ, I distinguish between Leftism and modern Liberalism ( classical liberalism being yet a third thing ). Many confuse the two, not least those who are Leftist and call themselves “Liberal”. Historically, the modern Liberal arose within the Democratic party by tossing out those with communist affiliation.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  18. “Well, they’re trying to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine primarily because they don’t like the success of conservative talk radio. Liberals own network TV and print media, but have been unable to be successfully in talk radio. Therefore, conservatives must not be allowed to enjoy their success. The free market must be overruled.”

    daleyrocks, is it a stretch to say that liberals don’t believe conservatives even have a right to success, let alone enjoy it?

    Dana (254946)

  19. As for why censorship arises, it is specifically because of the emphasis upon collectivist principles over individualism.

    Witness what is going on in Canada with Mark Steyn, Ezra Levant and others. The faux “human rights commissions” suppress speech under the rubric that criticism of nominally protected groups makes them feel bad. Groups of people sharing some politically correct characteristic are more important than individuals.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  20. #20, akin to Vonnegut’s classic Harrison Bergeron’s opening line,

    “The year was 2081, and everyone was finally equal.”

    Dana (254946)

  21. SPQR #20,

    So you think Peters was talking about leftists as opposed to classical liberals. That fits with Peters’ ultimate point about totalitarian states. Based on that, I assume you both think today’s Democratic leaders are more leftists than liberals. If so, then what do you see as the difference between leftists and classical liberals?

    Drumwaster #17,

    Bill Whittle is a powerful writer and that excerpt was very helpful. But I guess I’m the Michael Moore in this discussion because I still don’t understand why censorship is inevitable.

    DRJ (9d1be2)

  22. As for the fact that National Socialism was an ideology of the Left, the reality is that the contrary myth dates back to the ’30’s. National Socialism was rooted in German non-marxist socialism. The Marxists pioneered the propaganda technique of labeling everyone in the socialist movement but them as “right wing”. German national socialism had the socialist elements of emphasis on collectivist economic principles, organizing the workers under the aegis of the state, improved working conditions etc. Some of this is covered over by Leftists because Hitler himself was weak in the socialist economic ideology and emphasized his nationalist goals more. Those in the party with a stronger grounding in the economic ideology fade into the background once Germany is on a war footing.

    Likewise, Italian Fascism was a varient of socialism that had a strong overlay of nationalism. Italian Fascism had a different ideology of how to organize the economy under state control than German national socialism but in practice and under the pressure of war both ended up in a similar situation.

    The Left has focused on the nationalist elements of both to claim them as “right wing” movements – something that better fit the model of Franco’s movement in Spain.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  23. DRJ: “So you think Peters was talking about leftists as opposed to classical liberals. That fits with Peters’ ultimate point about totalitarian states. Based on that, I assume you both think today’s Democratic leaders are more leftists than liberals. If so, then what do you see as the difference between leftists and classical liberals?

    First, I use the term “classical liberal” to identify an ideology that dates back to pre 20th century or at least pre WWII when “liberal” meant a pro-individualist ideology.

    I think with Peters, the confusion is between modern “Liberal” and Leftist. “Progressive” is the code word that Leftists prefer to use for themselves these days.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  24. Because (as was pointed out in the Whittle piece), those on the left are interested in equality of outcome. Our current PC threats “to preserve self-esteem” is nothing more than limiting what can be said.

    We can no longer say “blind”, it is “visually impaired”, while “deaf” has morphed into “hearing impaired”. “Crippled” is out, to be replaced with “differently abled”.

    This urge to restrict hurtful words is one thing, but who gets to decide? The moment anyone begins arguing, “this you may not say, these words you must not speak” for no other reason than “you might offend them”, then you have censorship. If people can be punished for such things (civil suits or the loss of employment), then you have the power of the State forcing that censorship.

    The end result is totalitarianism, even if it starts with the best of intentions.

    “The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.” — H.L. Mencken

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  25. There are a lot of other examples that Peters didn’t – probably couldn’t for space – include.

    Like the global warming advocate James Hansen, about which ironically enough there is a book decrying his supposed silencing by the Bush admin, himself calling for people who criticize the global warming hypothesis to be tried for crimes against humanity.

    In Canada, a pastor wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper opposing gay rights, a Canadian “human rights” tribunal ordered him to write an apology, pay a fine and forbade him from writing or speaking in public about his opinions on gay rights.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  26. SPQR,

    Thanks for your patience. Now that I’ve thought about it, I agree that “liberal” typically refers to those who embrace classic individual rights while “progressive” is a term that applies to those who focus on economic equality. The latter probably are more likely to believe in collectivist, state-managed solutions and less likely to tolerate dissent so censorship is more likely.

    If we assume that today’s Democratic leaders are more progressive than liberal, why did that occur? Is it a happenstance or is there a mechanism that leads a liberal to be a progressive as his society and/or economy matures? I thought Peters was trying to make the latter point.

    DRJ (9d1be2)

  27. DRJ, the real liberals became “neo-conservatives” as they were driven out by progressives.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  28. “There are a lot of other examples that Peters didn’t – probably couldn’t for space – include.”

    And burning Beatles records.

    afall (602184)

  29. Barry Goldwater was a “Liberal”!

    Another Drew (ab2eae)

  30. SPQR,

    Oiram’s point on the gorilla thread seems like an example of Ralph Peters’ point, i.e., that censorship is acceptable to promote a result. In Oiram’s comment, he felt the work done by environmentalists to protect nature and endangered species is so important that we shouldn’t criticize them or their work for fear it will make their mission more difficult.

    It seems like a classic example of censorship in pursuit of a noble goal — the means justify the ends — but the same could be said of conservative evangelicals who don’t want criticism of religion in society, or gun rights advocates who think gun control legislation shouldn’t even be considered. It makes me wonder if censorship is correlated more with the emotional reaction that comes from extremism than from liberalism. I don’t know.

    I envision conservative vs. liberal ideology in terms similar to Bill Whittle: Conservatives believe in capitalism so they want to let the process work without interference. Liberals believe in fine-tuning the system to get more desirable (fair and equitable) results. Perhaps the liberals-turned-neocon, evangelicals, and gun rights’ advocates are liberals when it comes to their issues because they are willing to fine-tune the system to get a desired result. In that case, censorship is just another tool in their toolbox and censorship really is a result of liberalism.

    DRJ (9d1be2)

  31. DRJ, I guess I missed these “evangelicals” – they sound more like CAIR to me. And I think there is a big difference from opposing the consideration of legislation to forbidding speech about it.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  32. i.e., that censorship is acceptable to promote a result.

    That is “the ends justifying the means” crossed with “feelings are more important than facts”. The attempted result of “nobody ever gets their feelings hurt” is worth whatever restrictions on speech and personal freedoms lost it takes to make it happen.

    It is inevitable, for once they accept that they can never talk a man out of his hard earned money for no reason whatsoever, but the spin of “wouldn’t you agree that higher taxes are worth saving puppies and kitties?” accomplishes the same thing, with the side benefit that you can make him feel like a heel for daring to protest.

    “Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.” — Robert A. Heinlein

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  33. I think the differences lie in who the groups trust with power. Classical liberals trust the individual. Leftists/proggs trust government and organizations.

    JD (5f0e11)

  34. Yes, he is correct, IMO–and this question has fascinated me, as a former liberal, so I read the original theorist of this trope, Erik von Kuehnelt, in his historical books about Leftism. He influenced Buckley and I imagine Goldberg.

    Peters nails it when citing the French Revolution–it was the culmination of the Romantic movement in the arts, which romanticized the lower classes and the Noble Savage, and politics, with slavish devotion to direct democracy by those idealized masses. Mob rule and totalitarianism, massacres were the inevitable end.

    Our Founding Fathers hated the French Revolution, and our checks and balances were instituted to combat the death and chaos direct democracy brought to France. Every time voting rights get looser, true conservatives worry–from Andrew Jackson’s inauguration, where the mob overran the White House, to the motor voter law, to voting by felons. Every time a city bans trans fats–the Committee for Public Safety?–true conservatives should worry. Every phony revolution since then has stolen the language and techniques of that revolution. You would think we would learn!

    Patricia (f56a97)

  35. “2. Totalitarian regimes and liberals are more likely to censor ideas they find offensive.”

    I saw simplistic generalizations supporting the first, but no mention of anything like this second.

    afall (9c73e4)

  36. Classical liberals trust the individual.

    While they have their special brand of freaks, this group are now called “Libertarians”…

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  37. It’s glib blather like that that destroys everthing and makes rational discussion impossible. One can object to the way the prisoners in Guantanamo have been treated without invoking the Holocaust or anything else. In fact by invoking the Holocuast one trivilizes not only that disaster but Guantanamo.

    David Ehrenstein (21c975)

  38. “2. Totalitarian regimes and liberals are more likely to censor ideas they find offensive.”

    I saw simplistic generalizations supporting the first, but no mention of anything like this second.

    “Hate Speech” laws, and the Fairness Doctrine…

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  39. SPQR,

    Re: evangelicals.

    Somewhere in my editing I omitted what I meant by that. I was thinking about people who use religion as an excuse to foreclose debate, not every believer or every evangelical. I meant no offense. I think we all are loathe to discuss and compromise on subjects that are extremely important to us and that was an example that came to mind.

    I don’t often think out loud like this because it causes confusion and I’m more likely to say something that is unclear or that I don’t intend. It’s probably a good time to stop so I don’t do it again.

    DRJ (9d1be2)

  40. but the same could be said of conservative evangelicals who don’t want criticism of religion in society, or gun rights advocates who think gun control legislation shouldn’t even be considered.

    That kind of capsulizes the issue here. What evangelist calls on Congress to put his objection to criticism into the law of the land? Gun rights people aren’t calling for a law beyond the constitution. But progressives are around-the-clock advocates of more and more laws. More restrictions, less freedom. Unless it’s their own freedoms, that is. There is no liberalism in progressivism. Liberal means allowing a wide range of thought and behavior. Like suntan oil and insect repellent…apply liberally. Being liberal should mean being anti-restrictions of speech, thought, and action. Not that conservatives are averse to restrictions on some things, as well. Ugh. At least sometimes it’s in the realm of restricting bureaucrats and lawmakers. Way not enough, though.

    allan (20b502)

  41. ‘“Hate Speech” laws, and the Fairness Doctrine…’

    The article didn’t mention the fairness doctrine nor hate speech laws. But there was a picture of Hitler.

    afall (bd740e)

  42. allan:

    What evangelist calls on Congress to put his objection to criticism into the law of the land?

    I’m not well-versed on school issues since my kids are grown but don’t some religious groups want to prevent the teaching of evolution in the schools? That seems like censorship to me.

    DRJ (9d1be2)

  43. DRJ, it is a varient of censorship, although currently the battleground is more of a stealth attempt to legitimize the parallel teaching of “Intelligent Design” – a faux “science” that is stealth creationism.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  44. The evolution issue is an example of people trying to turn back the tide of hedonistic modern society but using a foolish example since evolution only conflicts with literal interpretation of the Bible. If you accept Genesis as metaphorical, as the Catholic Church does, there is no conflict.

    A classmate of mine in medical school was raised in a very orthodox Jewish family. His grand father was so devout that, even though he was a rabbi, he refused to accept money for it and earned his living as a butcher. My friend said that one day, he decided to test his religious convictions. He lit a match on the Sabbath and waited to see what would happen. When nothing did, he said that he had lost his religion.

    It is not necessary to be “more Catholic than the Pope.”

    Mike K (2cf494)

  45. DRJ-

    You said…

    “Oiram’s point on the gorilla thread seems like an example of Ralph Peters’ point, i.e., that censorship is acceptable to promote a result. In Oiram’s comment, he felt the work done by environmentalists to protect nature and endangered species is so important that we shouldn’t criticize them or their work for fear it will make their mission more difficult.”

    So how come the Left can criticize our volunteer military putting their lives on the line in Iraq, as well as the President and Congress who legally sent them there? Doesn’t it make the soldiers’ lives more difficult? Doesn’t it embolden the enemy and result in more American and Iaqi deaths? Why isn’t the Right calling for censorship on opposition to the Iraq War using Oiram’s logic? Certainly the case is more justified than the one he was talking about?

    Are Leftist’s thoughts static? In other words, have they decided to end their internal debate? (Couric: “Do you ever have doubts?” Obama: “Never.”) And having ended that internal debate, do they want to squelch any external factors that may change their positions?

    I care less if my son is a liberal or a conservative; I just want him to continuously process new information and adjust his worldview to align with the way the world actually works.

    Just some ramblings of a guy who should be in bed…

    MartyH (fd100c)

  46. MartyH,

    I told my son just last week that I don’t care who he votes for as long as he can articulate logical reasons that justify his vote.

    Of course, he was listening to his iPod at the time so I’m not sure how much of that sunk in.

    DRJ (9d1be2)

  47. I would hope that my children don’t vote for someone just because I’m voting for them. I would hope they vote for the candidate because they’ve thought about what they want America to be.

    Plus, I’ll take away their allowance FOREVER if they vote for Bambi.

    steve miller (23965d)

  48. Bambi will take care of taking away their allowance. No need for parents when you have the nanny state.

    Icy Truth (4beca1)

  49. #38.(more)…

    Anyone who compares GTMO to the Halocaust is either a blind fool, or is so stupid they are a threat to themselves and/or others, and need to be institutionalized.

    Another Drew (ab2eae)

  50. Peters has it right. Hey, even among my friends, the ones who want to cut off debate are always leftists. The problem is that not all of these guys and gals are low IQ specimens. Most are smart people with a strong paternalistic streak and/or a real lack of conscience. Some will, in the same conversation, excoriate the USA for acting in its own self interest and defend all of Stalin’s pre-June, 1941 activities as being justified by his self-interest. Of course, some are high IQ specimens but defective because they suffer from SLD (self-loathing disorder) syndrome.

    Ira (28a423)

  51. 19, Dana, the Liberals believe everything is a zero sum game. If Conservatives have any success, then Liberals are losing in that arena.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  52. Some excellent points here. Noting Patterico’s points on banning trans-fats, I’ll point out Chicago’s 10.25% sales tax as a signpost on the road to fascism. Oh, and the handgun ban, the foie-gras ban, the de facto ban on Wal Mart, traffic-light cameras, and the banning of smoking just about everywhere. Mayor Daley is a benevolent dictator in every sense of the word. To his credit, however, there isn’t much censorship.

    carlitos (ef0c6f)

  53. DRJ, as to why censorship arises, I think it comes from the desire to perfect. If there are other ideas competing with the totalitarian ideals, then people might choose those options; by choosing those options they’d be led away from the perfect path. Therefore, people must not be allowed to choose other options, and the easiest way to do that is to keep them from being aware there ARE other options.

    The Medieval Roman Catholic church censored books to prevent the spread of ideas that could lead people away from what the church believed was the right path. The impulse, and its results, are no different than the desire to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine to silence talk radio.

    Rob Crawford (6c262f)

  54. One of the many worthwhile things that Jonah Goldberg says is that the idea that Fascism was of the Right was spread by the Communists who thought that International Socialism was the only true way, and therefore nationalist Socialists were the enemy and therefore were on the Right.
    Of course, once Germany attacked the USSR Stalin appealed to Russian Nationalism; IIRC Goldberg states that the USSR after that was a truly fascist country.

    Götz Aly’s Hitler’s Beneficiaries shows that the National Socialists Worker’s Party lived up to its name, provided a higher standard of living (for so-called Aryans) than many Germans had ever known even well into the war. This was funded by plundering German Jewry and then systematically looting the occupied countries from top to bottom with a special emphasis on stealing from Jews. German bankers kept German inflation low by currency manipulation in the occupied countries; ordinary soldiers brought back loads of food and clothing to their families with them when they came home on leave.

    PeterB (f915e9)

  55. 1. Modern totalitarian regimes have their roots in liberal ideology.

    As written this is demonstably false…but it also isn’t what Peters saya. He is very careful and always says “left” not “liberal.” Liberalism, when used as shorthand for the left end of the American political spectrum, is different from the ideology of the same name. Free speech, freedom of religion, or any other individual right, have only arisen within liberal ideology. Totalitarian regimes always espouse “group” over “individual.” That is the real dimension at play here, and the real connection between totalitarian tendencies.

    The trouble is that we are taught that totalitarian tendencies emphasizing nationalism/race are “right wing” while those emphasizing economic class are “left wing”, as if that was the breadth of our ideological universe. Its nonsense. The real difference is between systems that respect freedom of individual conscience and those that do not. The political left in America today obviously do not respect individual conscience, and that is why they are more akin to Stalin/Hitler then they are to John Stuart Mill, who to my mind is a real liberal.

    Rich Horton (92ab8a)

  56. Interesting to me that most of the discussion on this thread is based on the rise of ‘modern’ fascism (as in, during the Modern period approximately 70 years ago) while making no reference to current examples thereof, except those which come from “the left.” Like Hate Crimes legislation and what that one guy said to Peters that day. (Coincidentally, that guy happens to be the Official Spokesperson for all of us who are part of the New Fascist Leftist Coalition to Elect Barack Hussein Obama (NFLCEBHO), so that was a good catch by Peters.)

    But I’m curious. If the left is singularly responsible for fascist ideologies, would you please tell me where these ideologies come from, and why they somehow don’t qualify : You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.If you have nothing to hide, then you won’t mind wiretaps/library searches/gov’t eavesdropping/etc.The Constitution should be altered in order to prevent states from allowing gay people to get married.It’s better that orphaned kids live in foster homes and orphanages than be adopted by gay people. I’ll keep it simple, though other examples spring to mind (book burning?! Liberals aren’t the book burners of today! But I digress).

    In short, it seems to me that the accusation of “fascism” is a little too close to home to various political ideologies throughout time. Sure, it’s fun to bash the left for the 30s and 40s (not to mention Hate Crimes legislation and that one guy’s comment to Peters, as if these measure up to Nazism), but let’s be intellectually fair and consider the fascism and authoritarian on both sides, thank you very much. Particularly since that which comes from the right is on-going today, not only 70 years ago.

    Tom (45798e)

  57. Crap. Sorry for bad formatting of second paragraph. There should’ve been an unordered list in there, but this fascist wordpress template messed me up.

    Tom (45798e)

  58. this fascist wordpress template messed me up.

    Help help, he’s being repressed!!

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  59. Liberals aren’t the book burners of today!

    No, they’ve moved from books to words and speech.

    And thoughts.

    If you aren’t allowed to think something, you sure as hell won’t be saying it aloud, and as for writing it down? Fuggedduboudit.

    Books are a little passe anyway, in a world with instant full-color world-wide communications…

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  60. The political left in America today obviously do not respect individual conscience…

    I think this really depends on your point of view – and, perhaps, your priorities. I won’t speak for anyone but myself but I highly value the rights and opportunities of the individual. For example, I am much more concerned about the rights of the individual than I am about maintaining free market absolutism, which is why I support policies such as mandatory ‘living’ wages and employer-subsidized health care and pregnancy leave. I value the individual rights of, say, Vermonters to have all the guns they want, while recognizing that all the innocent individuals who are getting shot to hell here on the South Side of Chicago need some strict protection from gun violence.

    I value the opportunity of individuals to aggressively pursue what they will, up to the point at which their exercise of free will results in the oppression of people further down the chain. Consider the companies that dump their waste in the land and rivers of people who aren’t politically able to oppose such things. So I support “anti-free market” policies that inhibit their ability to do this – because of, not in spite of, my reverence for the individual. But I certainly privilege the individual conscience of those who are oppressed above the individual rights of those with power to continue to oppress.

    Tom (45798e)

  61. which is why I support policies such as mandatory ‘living’ wages

    You do realize that “living wage” only causes employers to hire fewer workers, right?

    Vermonters to have all the guns they want, while recognizing that all the innocent individuals who are getting shot to hell here on the South Side of Chicago need some strict protection from gun violence.

    You don’t think that perhaps the fact that those innocents aren’t allowed weapons of their own might have something to do with it?

    Because personally, I’m finding a hard time coming up with ways you can make handguns more illegal in Chicago. the people that HAVE them don’t CARE about the law. It’s why they have them in teh first place…

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  62. @60: Oh, for the love of Pete(rs).

    Exactly how in hell has anybody prevented you from thinking, Drumwaster? What specifically does this look like?

    Wow.

    Tom (45798e)

  63. @62: Scott, I’m fully aware that there are good arguments to be made against the supporting points I made. But I’m more concerned about my larger point – liberals do, in fact, value the individual – in response to the accusation that liberals do not value the individual conscience.

    Tom (45798e)

  64. The irony is, though, that all of your points are based on the government enforcing something…

    This is counter to the idea of individual liberty…

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  65. Tom – I have a problem with your analogies about gay marriage and wiretapping as examples of fascism of the right.

    Isn’t a constitutional amendment opposing gay marriage really a response to gay activists using the court system to bypass the legislative process to get what they want? That’s the way this country was designed to function, not fascism.

    With respect to wiretapping, there is no evidence that Bush has a desire to listen to every day conversations of Americans except in the fevered minds of the pillow biting left. It is being done under constitutional and legislative authority, although the left will argue that, in the context of a war against terror. Your examples, sir, fall flat.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  66. For example, I am much more concerned about the rights of the individual than I am about maintaining free market absolutism, which is why I support policies such as mandatory ‘living’ wages and employer-subsidized health care and pregnancy leave.

    But by supporting those things you are taking away the right of the individual to decide whether or not to offer those things on his own. Stealing from the rich to benefit the poor is not what should pass for government policy.

    And all you have done is force some people out of work, and added a layer of bureaucracy (and therefore, tax expenditures), all in the name of helping “the little guy”.

    That isn’t ensuring equality of opportunity, that is ensuring equality of outcome, punishing the successful while protecting the incompetent from the consequences of his failures.

    I value the opportunity of individuals to aggressively pursue what they will, up to the point at which their exercise of free will results in the oppression of people further down the chain.

    That would be fine, until you define “oppression of” as “making more money than”.

    But I certainly privilege the individual conscience of those who are oppressed above the individual rights of those with power to continue to oppress.

    And with that, you give rise to The Beatification Of The Victim. Anyone can claim to be oppressed, and give historical examples of same, from decades or centuries past, and your tactic of giving them some sort of preference based on their membership in that group will only lead to a fracturing of the society and oppression of those seen as the oppressors (in today’s society, white males are still the group that it is okay to mock and deride).

    Hell, even the group from “The Breakfast Club” got it at the end. It isn’t what group we appear to belong to, it’s who we are inside. The moment you start judging people because of what they are, you lose all sense of who they are. And that judgment will alwaysalwaysalways include preferential ranking. (People can’t help themselves from doing this, it’s the R-brain doing it, more often than not.)

    So when you point to an ideal of belief, of behavior, of actions taken, you next have to consider what methods will be allowed to change the less-than-ideal. If you start using the power of the State, the end result cannot help but be a totalitarian government of some sort, unless precautions are taken, and those only last while people agree on what they say. (Freedom of Speech vs. “The ‘N’ Word”)

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  67. Tom claims to value the individual but all of his example privilege the government, rather than giving liberty to the individual.

    JD (5f0e11)

  68. “19, Dana, the Liberals believe everything is a zero sum game. ”

    Liberals believe in Keynesian economics and the multiplier, which isn’t very zero sum.

    “I’ll point out Chicago’s 10.25% sales tax as a signpost on the road to fascism. ”

    So we’ve gone from tyranny being “taxation without representation” to “taxation with representation.”

    “If you aren’t allowed to think something, you sure as hell won’t be saying it aloud, and as for writing it down? Fuggedduboudit.”

    So what are people not allowed to think?

    “the pillow biting left”

    What does this term mean?

    afall (dfd808)

  69. So what are people not allowed to think?

    Why are there additional criminal penalties for what a criminal might have been thinking? If a white man mugs an affluent black couple, is he doing it because he wants his next fix, or is it because he was “motivated by racism”?

    Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered. That in itself is enough reason to send his killers to their own executions. Should it matter what they might have been thinking during the act? Or are we only supposed to be punishing the act?

    “Hate crime” is nothing more than a euphemism for “thoughtcrime”. Double-plus-ungood.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  70. Fascists always say that their actions are only to correct injustices to deprived individuals within society; whereas, their actions diminish individual liberty and empower a government that creeps ever so slowly to totalitarianism.

    Another Drew (a8404e)

  71. “Pillow biters”…

    Aren’t those the people that lie awake at night terrified that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying themselves?

    Another Drew (a8404e)

  72. Aren’t those the people that lie awake at night terrified that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying themselves?

    Parents of teens?

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  73. “If a white man mugs an affluent black couple, is he doing it because he wants his next fix, or is it because he was “motivated by racism”?”

    So you’re talking about bias motivated sentence enhancements.

    “Should it matter what they might have been thinking during the act? Or are we only supposed to be punishing the act?”

    I think we can determine that some motives for crime are more evil than others. That some motives have more objectionable effects and can receive a more intense punishment.

    ““Hate crime” is nothing more than a euphemism for “thoughtcrime”. Double-plus-ungood.”

    IIRC, thoughtcrime was punishment for simply thinking the wrong thing. That’s different than looking at someone’s motivation for doing something already prohibited.

    afall (de7003)

  74. “the pillow biting left”

    What does this term mean?

    afall – You can make it mean whatever you want it to mean. I think it mean those on the left who worry the the imperialistic, warmongering, oilseeking, domestic spying, torturing, sadistic, retarded, worst president of all time, will do anything and everything to oppress the American people and brown people arond the world in pursuit of the extension of his Chimpy McHitlerburton regime. These are the absurdists who equate Guantanamo with gulags and the holocaust. They believe there were precedents for habeas corpus rights for illegal combatants. They believe black helicopters are hovering outside their windows.

    YMMV of course.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  75. I forgot, they also believe Bush has shredded the Constitution, but can’t point to any evidence.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  76. Drum…
    Other than the parents of teens, who worry that their kids will be doing the same thing that they did when they were that age.

    Another Drew (a8404e)

  77. “afall – You can make it mean whatever you want it to mean. ”

    But what did you mean? And what does any of that stuff you mention have to do with biting pillows?

    afall (e5bcb9)

  78. “…because I still don’t understand why censorship is inevitable.” Comment by DRJ at #22.

    It’s for the Divine Right of Kings, Papal Infallibility, or those of the Absolutely Correct (PC).

    Censorship is needed to promote that which is not proved. The “Progressive Left” is the modern day equivalent of a feudal kingdom and it’s nepotist and crony social hierarchy. WHO is correct is much more important than WHAT is correct. Actual facts being irrelevant to the opinions of the “WHO’s” (no pun intended). Censorship is necessary for the advancement and maintenance of the “WHO”, just as censorship was necessary to a feudal monarchy and the totalitarian Liberalism of 20th. Century socialists. Orwell got them by the short hairs when he observed that; “Some are more equal than others”. Censorship maintains that equal inequality.

    C. Norris (02ce8d)

  79. “Peters begins by recounting his recent experience in San Francisco where a reporter asked if Peters “should be tried for war crimes for his columns in The Post supporting our military.”

    In “Post Modern” America I would categorize the reporters question in the spirit, context and venue in which it was asked, as “hate speech” and sue him accordingly! What’s good for the goose….

    C. Norris (02ce8d)

  80. afall – It’s in 75.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  81. Interesting Post.
    I pretty much agree. Although like you said there is Japan.

    Here’s the thing, the extreme leftist fringe of the Democrat party is as scary to me as the Religious right who claim apocalyptic endings for Humans is inevitable. Both extremes are necessary to get their respective parties elected.

    Although I lean to the left, I recognize the need for both parties coexisting. If you leave the Democratic party and the left unchecked, you end up with Communism. Leaving the Republicans and capitalism unchecked and we end up with 4 or 5 corporations running things and the rest of us with no chance of moving up the corporate ladder.
    Again both scenarios are frightening.

    Oiram (983921)

  82. “afall – It’s in 75.”

    Urban dictionary tells me that the term refers to anal sex. I don’t see how any of stuff you mentioned in #75 refers to biting pillows OR anal sex. Are you making a reference to anal sex?

    afall (a5594e)

  83. afall – Don’t know anything about the Urban dictionary. I’m talking about irrational, bedwetting, pillow-biting fear.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  84. That’s different than looking at someone’s motivation for doing something already prohibited.

    Tell that to the professor who lost his job for saying that there are fewer women in the Physical Sciences. He was merely pointing out a verifiable fact, yet he was forced to step down because of what other people accusing him of thinking. His action was perfectly legal, yet he was punished for his alleged motivations.

    There are numerous cases of civil punishments of varying degrees for violating politically correct speech, or “making a workspace unwelcome” (or some such twaddle) which would be an exercise of First Amendment Rights.

    And why would the motivation for the crime make the crime any worse? Did Matthew Shepard suffer more because he knew that his attackers hated him for his homosexuality rather than his skin color or the sound of his voice? Should the brutality of their actions be forgiven if they only hated the color shirt he was wearing or the music he had on his Walkman?

    If it is the action we are punishing, motive is nice but not essential in proving the facts of the case to a jury. The prosecutor can be completely ignorant of the reasons behind the actions, yet still be able to prove who performed those actions. (Especially if it was a random attack, as sometimes happens.)

    Just ask one of the lawyers here…

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  85. I get how bedwetting has to do with fear. But not pillow biting. Can you explain? Like find another use of it? So you’re not referring to anal sex?

    afall (2ed38c)

  86. It doesn’t seem to be the case, afall…

    Though I wonder why you would automatically go there… :)

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  87. For example, I am much more concerned about the rights of the individual than I am about maintaining free market absolutism, which is why I support policies such as mandatory ‘living’ wages and employer-subsidized health care and pregnancy leave.

    That in a nutshell is how the US (and Europe before us) ended up losing the manufacturing and industrial jobs to nations that don’t feed non-productives with earnings and savings of productives.

    And that’s the fatal flaw in full-on democracy…when one segment of the population is given the privilege of voting themselves the right to take the earnings and savings of another group. Why produce if you can vote yourself the earnings of the working suckers? Some call it wealth re-distribution. Nice words for outright confiscation.

    The checks and balances that may have worked earlier in our nation’s history have become impotent with the increasing growth of the governing class who are at the hub of the re-distribution operation. It hit its stride with the income tax, and should carbon credit scams schemes be made into law, this re-distribution will be turbo-charged. For then the economy overall will be politicized. Only favored industries will survive. Just another version of nationalizing industries. Now that the mortgage industry is half-nationalized, what’s next? I’m guessing the auto world with GM essentially insolvent, and Ford and Chrysler closing in. After that, airlines, and maybe even Wall Street. Recall that Goldman Sachs and their peers are using the Fed and Treasury ‘backing’ to use their toxic debt instruments as collateral assets. This credit collapse has some more surprises to go. We may end up looking back fondly at the Carter days of stagflation. Not the end of the world, just ratcheting down the high living that was born from belief in heaven sent Holy Debt.

    The mantra: Too big to fail.

    allan (86b5b3)


  88. Although I lean to the left,

    Dr. Pepper hurts when it is projectiled through your nose.

    afall is being particularly trollish today. Willfully obtuse, if you will.

    JD (75f5c3)

  89. Drumwaster, JD, et al,

    Many of you have rightly pointed out that I look to the government to grant power that individuals wrongfully deny others. Yep.

    I believe that in virtually every society throughout history, some individuals, when left entirely to pursue their own ends, have demonstrated a willingness to oppress others to further their own personal gain. Government need not over-regulate everyone else, but the minimum protections must be in place to prevent the powerful from oppressing the powerless.

    This is, in fact, the stated role of the government. According to our Declaration of Independence, individuals have the “unalienable rights” to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and “that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” What do you think the founding fathers had in mind when they were talking about “securing” these rights? Securing the rights of individuals corporations to pursue their own interests to the point of exploiting others? Or protecting individuals from others who would exploit them?

    In some ways, government is a safety-net, our means of collectively securing our individual rights when other means fail – or when more powerful entities actively seek to deny them.

    When the people of many states failed to segregate their schools and provide fair access to quality public education, it took judicial enforcement (or, as it would be called here, “activism”) in order to get it done. When the people in many places used slavery, Jim Crow laws, and segregation to inhibit the unalienable rights of black Americans, the government stepped in numerous times – and thank God for that, because individuals might never have been able to redress these wrongs on their own.

    When corporations fail to regulate themselves and instead engage in environmental practices that threaten others and their lives, liberty, and pursuits of happiness, it is the role of the government to step in and restore these rights to the individuals who lack the power to fully protect themselves.

    Government as a tool to protect our three basic rights. Nothing more, nothing less. (Here’s the Declaration of Independence link.)

    Tom (45798e)

  90. How does a “living wage” fit in that? I am trying to figure it out, but it does not make sense. How does subsidized health care and strict gun control fit into this paradigm. I ain’t seein’ it.

    JD (75f5c3)

  91. Tom, apples and oranges.

    For example, I am much more concerned about the rights of the individual than I am about maintaining free market absolutism, which is why I support policies such as mandatory ‘living’ wages and employer-subsidized health care and pregnancy leave.
    As someone has already pointed out these are public policies involving state action and NOT examples of rights involving individual conscience. Conflating policies and rights is not a good thing to do. For example, when a public university attempts to compel speech from individuals (e.g. forcing a student to write/publish an apology for “offending” someone on pain of expulsion) that is not an issue of good or bad public policy, it is a violation of an individual conscience (what you can think of the rights to freedom of speech, religion, against self incrimination, etc as adding up to as a whole.) If we choose to have or not have “living wage” laws is a question of public policy and not of rights.

    Rich Horton (92ab8a)

  92. Conflation of rights and policies, or privileges if you will, is commonplace in today’s politics. I think WLS or Patterico had a post where Constitutional scholar John Edwards was asked about whether things were Rights or privileges. He managed to call clearly enunciated Rights privileges, and policy preferences Rights. It would have been funny, if not so sad.

    JD (75f5c3)

  93. afall – I can understand how you might confuse my comments 75 and 76 for anal sex. I mean it’s staring you right there in the face. The confusion is particularly appropriate for this thread too, which touches on speech codes and censorship. The left has a big fondness for redefining intentionalism and the hunt for racist meanings from the right in the McCain campaign has been absolutely hilarious.

    Are you by any chance a woman afall?

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  94. I believe that in virtually every society throughout history, some individuals, when left entirely to pursue their own ends, have demonstrated a willingness to oppress others to further their own personal gain. Government need not over-regulate everyone else, but the minimum protections must be in place to prevent the powerful from oppressing the powerless.

    Then the Govt should be enforcing contracts entered into willingly, and providing for a national defense.

    That is teh minimum need for government, and save for a few areas I think it should only do just that.

    The problem with “government granted power/rights” is that they can be taken away without warning.

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  95. “Though I wonder why you would automatically go there…”

    It wasn’t automatic. I looked it up.

    “afall is being particularly trollish today. Willfully obtuse, if you will.”

    What does ‘pillow biter’ mean to you?

    Because if he was referring to anal sex, that’s pretty silly. It’s basically calling people ‘faggots.’

    afall (ae4236)

  96. “The left has a big fondness for redefining intentionalism and the hunt for racist meanings from the right in the McCain campaign has been absolutely hilarious.”

    This is why I’m asking you what you mean, so I dont have to define what you’re saying.

    “Are you by any chance a woman afall?”

    What? Why does this matter?

    afall (138f0d)

  97. “Are you by any chance a woman afall?”

    What? Why does this matter?

    afall – Merely curiousity. You argue like my wife and other women I know (uh oh! sexism alert). I responded to your question about anal sex with six comments but you are unable to drop the point. I’m not sure what that says about you.

    I think the regulars here would let you know if I were referring to anal sex I would not have hesitated to use more explicit and colorful language.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  98. afall is definitely reminding me of Steph today.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  99. What a productive thread…

    DRJ, I know you mean it when you say that Peters’ article seems to be the seed of an interesting discussion, but you should’ve realized that that discussion, in the hands of many of Patterico’s commenters, would become “Man, We Hate Liberals” instead of “Examining the Validity of Peters’ Argument”.

    Leviticus (a8c802)

  100. Because if he was referring to anal sex, that’s pretty silly. It’s basically calling people ‘faggots.’

    Nope. That is all you. He specifically told you what he was referring to. You are attempting to insert your meaning over the top of his expressed intent.

    JD (75f5c3)

  101. By the way, I’m still curious:

    If the left is singularly responsible for fascist ideologies, would you please tell me where these ideologies come from, and why they somehow don’t qualify:
    You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists. If you have nothing to hide, then you won’t mind wiretaps/library searches/gov’t eavesdropping/etc. The Constitution should be altered in order to prevent states from allowing gay people to get married. It’s better that orphaned kids live in foster homes and orphanages than be adopted by gay people.

    @66: delayrocks, you’re the only one who addressed this question, thanks. Here are my thoughts. You wrote:

    Isn’t a constitutional amendment opposing gay marriage really a response to gay activists using the court system to bypass the legislative process to get what they want? That’s the way this country was designed to function, not fascism.

    Well, it seems to me that “gay activists” are using the court system in the same way the civil rights activists had to in the 40s, 50s and 60s – for the same reason: to subvert the oppression of the majority. When the majority neglects its obligation to provide equal protection of the unalienable rights of those in the minority, I believe it is just for other means to be pursued in accordance with our existing structures. To me, the people bellyaching about the judicial activism from gay rights groups could have – and did – make that same argument against civil rights activism in the 50s.

    You continue:

    With respect to wiretapping, there is no evidence that Bush has a desire to listen to every day conversations of Americans except in the fevered minds of the pillow biting left.

    That is not the issue. The issue is that the Bush administration has wrongfully assumed the power to wiretap American citizens anytime it wants – without first obtaining a warrant (read: oversight!) – and it has done this.

    It is being done under constitutional and legislative authority, although the left will argue that, in the context of a war against terror.

    You’re darn right people will argue that. Where is the constitutional authority, other than in Gonzalez and Ashcroft’s trousers? Where is the precedent for these extraordinary steps this administration has gifted itself? And perhaps most interestingly, where is the concern about these maneuvers from the right? My God, just imagine the outcry if Clinton had done the same!

    Tom (45798e)

  102. would become “Man, We Hate Liberals” instead of “Examining the Validity of Peters’ Argument”.

    Or “NUH-UH!!! You Republicans are the facists!!”…

    Depending on the politics of the commenter…

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  103. My God, just imagine the outcry if Clinton had done the same!

    Tom – You are probably right that there would have been an outcry if Clinton had done the same, but at the same time, we find ourselve where we are because Clinton had been too lax on terror both in my opinion and in the opinion of the terrorists themselves. You are displaying the knee-jerk pillow biting reaction of which I was speaking. Without knowing details, which have been briefed to the leadership of Congress, you automatically assume Bush does not have the authority to do what he is doing. I don’t.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  104. “afall – Merely curiousity. You argue like my wife and other women I know (uh oh! sexism alert).”

    No need to get into intentionalism arguments here.

    “I responded to your question about anal sex with six comments but you are unable to drop the point.”

    You mentioned several things but none of them have to do with why someone would bite a pillow. How’s the connection work?

    “He specifically told you what he was referring to.”

    Yes but none of those things have to do with why someone would be ‘pillow biting.’ Maybe he’s just wrong, and meant to say bedwetting — which he added later. I can see how that fits in — bedwetting / fear, and then democrats fear those things he lists. But not biting pillows.

    afall (b2651a)

  105. “Man, We Hate Liberals” instead of “Examining the Validity of Peters’ Argument”.

    Comment by Leviticus — 8/6/2008 @ 11:53 am

    Leviticus – Why don’t you jump in and examine the vilidity of his arguments then.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  106. afall – Thank you for continuing to make my point.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  107. Vermonters to have all the guns they want, while recognizing that all the innocent individuals who are getting shot to hell here on the South Side of Chicago need some strict protection from gun violence.

    On behalf of the South Side, I am officially embarassed. Sure, you don’t mind Vermonters owning guns. After all, Vermonters are civilized … They don’t get all crazy and shoot stuff on the weekends after drinking ripple or Malt Liquor or whatever. Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge.

    carlitos (ef0c6f)

  108. “afall – Thank you for continuing to make my point.”

    Its just that the imagery doens’t work. You used bedwetting too — that imagery works. But pillow biting? What? Why do people bite pillows? How is that connected to irrational knee-jerk reactions?

    afall (dfd808)

  109. delayrocks, if you believe that this administration has been fully transparent to Congressional leadership on this issue, you have far more faith than I. Due the profound dishonesty and mishandling throughout the lead-up and implementation of the Iraq War, I am not willing to extend to this administration much benefit of doubt. You can call me whatever names you wish, but I would rather challenge that which is illegal and immoral – based on everything we do know – rather than blindly assume that they’ve got nothing but the best intentions, and that whatever is known only in secret is actually fully exonerating. Your optimism seems unwarranted, but maybe I’m just jaded after eight long years.

    Tom (45798e)

  110. Tom,

    You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists. If you have nothing to hide, then you won’t mind wiretaps/library searches/gov’t eavesdropping/etc. The Constitution should be altered in order to prevent states from allowing gay people to get married. It’s better that orphaned kids live in foster homes and orphanages than be adopted by gay people.

    These are not “ideologies” (as you put it.) Ideology, if it means anything, is more an explanation of “why” not “what.” People can espouse the same ideology but differ upon what they view the best public policy is in a given situation. So you cannot just make a grab bag of policy preferences you disagree with and say “voila! these are ideologies.” You’ll need to present what you think THEY are thinking when they espouse this, that or the other thing. What do you view is the common thread connecting these disparate policies? (Hint: given the list you give I dont think there is one.)

    Rich Horton (92ab8a)

  111. Reply to DRJ #31
    Whoh! whoh! whoh! there DRJ. Sorry you misunderstood me there yesterday regarding the Gorillas. I think this might be part of the problem. Contrary to what you said this was not a classic example of censorship. I would never suggest censoring your post yesterday.

    I merely suggested what effect it would have on how Environmentalists are perceived. I would never ever, ever recommend censoring this or any blog site. Got It?

    Someone suggesting and the government making you do things are two very different things. I know you know that. You have the freedom to twist what I was saying yesterday on a completely different topic as I have the right to defend what I said.
    Believe me, I understand the free market system you defend so aggressively.

    I choose to continue frequenting Patterico, but if I see many more comments like that, I will express my free will by not showing up here anymore.

    Sure one less Democrat to contend with, but you will be left with a “preach to your own choir” blog site.

    Oiram (983921)

  112. @107: carlitos, I wrote: “…all the innocent individuals who are getting shot to hell here on the South Side of Chicago need some strict protection from gun violence.”

    Is this an untrue statement? Seems to me that the victims of gun violence – almost exclusively people of color, btw – are indeed in need of protection from gun violence. I would never suggest that black people ought not to have access to guns on the basis of their race or class, as you seem to be inferring.

    I find your insinuations highly offensive. Would you please allow me to speak for myself, instead of inserting your own assumptions into what I’ve written.

    Tom (45798e)

  113. Is this an untrue statement? Seems to me that the victims of gun violence – almost exclusively people of color, btw – are indeed in need of protection from gun violence.

    Those gun restrictions and bans do not seem to be working, at least not for the law-abiding portion of the community. More laws!!!!!!!!!1

    JD (75f5c3)

  114. Tom,

    Black people on the South Side of Chicago are already prevented free access to (legal) guns. If you don’t suggest restricting access to guns on the basis of race or class, on what basis do you suggest restricting guns for them, but not for Vermonters? Currently it’s based on residency within Chicago city limits, a residency that many blacks can’t escape due to, well, race and class.

    I know that this wasn’t your main point, but your claim that Liberals respect the individual seems in some cases to be limited to individuals in Vermont (legal handguns, low taxes, legal gay marriage), not Chicago (illegal handguns, high taxes, illegal gay marriage). Isn’t Chicago’s government more “liberal” than Vermont’s?

    carlitos (ef0c6f)

  115. Those gun restrictions and bans do not seem to be working, at least not for the law-abiding portion of the community.

    I agree with that. It’s complicated. I’m frankly at a loss. I’m mostly in favor of “strict gun control” when it comes to how criminals acquire guns in the first place. That illegal weapons traders can and do go to states with less restrictions, buy a bunch of artillery and smuggle it in is a problem that could be addressed by the government. But no, I do not believe the answer is to disarm law-abiding citizens.

    Tom (45798e)

  116. Seems to me that the victims of gun violence – almost exclusively people of color, btw – are indeed in need of protection from gun violence.

    And Heller has re-affirmed that gun ownership for the purposes of self-protection is a right that no one can take away.

    It isn’t the law-abiding 99% that is causing the problems, it is the 1%, and mainly because he knows that he’s got a gun and that 99% don’t.

    How else can you explain the violent crime rate shooting up in places with the most draconian gun laws in the country.

    If you think it is the proliferation of guns that causes crime, then I need to see the stats on mass slayings at gun shows and gun shops.

    Because it seems to me that almost every one of the mass shootings in history have been in places where guns were forbidden to be carried. Schools. Churches. Post offices. Universities. Big city ghettos in blue States. Whereas in those places where the carrying of weapons is routine, the crime rate is almost nil. (When was the last time you ever heard of a shooting range being held up? Or a gun store?)

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  117. But no, I do not believe the answer is to disarm law-abiding citizens

    Then explain the rational behind Chicago (and DC, and LA, and on and on) and it’s 100% ban on handguns, and what you suggest be done to protect innocent people from death-by-firearm…

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  118. But no, I do not believe the answer is to disarm law-abiding citizens.

    Only problem is that is exactly the practical effect of the strict gun control laws.

    JD (75f5c3)

  119. carlitos, posted the last comment before I saw yours. My Vermont/Chicago observation is simply that there are vastly different circumstances that have more to do with sheer numbers of people and space, and urban vs. rural living, than race or class (though there are obviously also race and class differences between Vermont and Chicago as well, as you initially noticed. BUT that wasn’t what I was getting at).

    Comes down to, different places and scenarios require different laws, responses, thinking, etc. As I stated above, I’m at a loss about what can or should be done in Chicago, frankly. I’m disinclined to think that the answer is to pour more weapons into the city and let us all shoot it out, but on the other other hand, neither should law-abiding people be disarmed or unnecessarily hindered from acquiring weapons for self defense. It’s complicated. What would you suggest?

    Tom (45798e)

  120. Scott, I don’t feel the need to explain the rationale behind handgun bans, because I have not advocated for them here. Why don’t you look it up yourself if you’re so curious.

    dalyrocks, I know that’s the fear, and I can see it as it relates to bans, but does it truly pan out otherwise?

    I’m curious, what do you suggest should be done in response to high levels of gun violence?

    Tom (45798e)

  121. damnit… had a great response going, and IE crashed… fegging work computer…

    ANYWAYS…

    I’m disinclined to think that the answer is to pour more weapons into the city and let us all shoot it out, but on the other other hand, neither should law-abiding people be disarmed or unnecessarily hindered from acquiring weapons for self defense. It’s complicated

    The problem is, even in states that introduced conceal carry laws, the “shoot-out” never happened. People had guns while they walked down the street and such things never occured.

    It seems that when it is possible that it will be a fair fight, the criminal isn’t interested…

    As for who should get guns?

    First, I think that Mental health records should be accessable for the prupose of firearms background checks. as it is, they aren’t and that’s dangerous. I know people personally with no criminal history, but who have SERIOUS mental issues.

    I’m not saying “full records”, but they should at least flag the system with a “do not sell” warning.

    Second, I have no problem with a 10-day waiting period, hell, make it 15… There should, however, be an option to expidite things to a 1-day period (or a police-backed type of “on the spot” check) for people who have crazy ex’s who have threatened to kill them, or similar situations…

    I absolutely in leveling the field, and frankly if you commit a crime with a gun, it should be mandetory life. You shouldn’t even have to use the gun. Having it ON YOUR PERSON should get you locked up forever…

    that may cut down on crime somewhat…

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  122. I’m curious, what do you suggest should be done in response to high levels of gun violence?

    Disarming law-abiding citizens, or preventing themselves from defending themselves has most certainly not proven to be effective.

    JD (75f5c3)

  123. This goes back to whom you trust – government, or the individual. I would prefer to provide for my own defense, as the government, by way of the police, only can do so after the fact, at which point, it is a bit late.

    JD (75f5c3)

  124. “Leviticus – Why don’t you jump in and examine the vilidity of his arguments then.”

    – daleyrocks

    Because his argument is loaded to begin with. He’s interested in polemics, not discussion.

    Regarding the seeming bent of the thread: unlike some individuals from my side of the political spectrum, and unlike a noteworthy number of conservative commenters herein, I’m not interested in comparing my political opponents to the Nazis.

    Leviticus (757160)

  125. Tom writes: “The issue is that the Bush administration has wrongfully assumed the power to wiretap American citizens anytime it wants – without first obtaining a warrant (read: oversight!) – and it has done this.

    This is simply a fraudulent statement. The administration has never claimed anything like this.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  126. Perfect Sense, at #11: surely calling someone a name is orders of magnitude less bad than sending someone to the gulag. I would go so far as to say that they are so different as to render comparisons between them absurd.

    Drumwaster, at 17: I would argue that much of the progressive dislike for the unfairness of capitalism comes from the fact that hard-working people don’t necessarily get ahead in a capitalist system. Some of them do, but some of them don’t; and which do, and which don’t, is often due to external factors not under their control.

    Drumwaster, at 25: I choose not to use words like “crippled” because I consider them to be rude, and I really don’t object to the use of social pressure to discourage rudeness. (Legal pressure is something else altogether).

    PCD, at 52: I think most liberals believe some things are a zero-sum game and some things are not, and figuring out whether a particular game is zero-sum or not is one of the most difficult parts of policy design.

    Tom, at 61: I would like to second this. I am a liberal because I value the rights and the opportunities of the individual, and because I think that in many cases, the policy alternatives preferred by conservatives lead to a constriction of individual freedom. But I am aware that many of my policy preferences come at a cost, and that in many cases, increasing some people’s freedom of action requires curtailing the freedom of action of other people. But I don’t support everything proposed by “liberal” politicians, either.

    Tom, at 101: Speaking as a gay man, I think that one of the things the gay activist community is doing wrong is failing to do sufficient ground work to ensure popular political support. I mean, even here in California, if Proposition 8 fails, it will be by a *very narrow margin* … because the activists are focusing on the courts rather than pursuing a strategy which involves both using the courts and persuading the majority. This will get us some short-term gains, perhaps, but I also think it will make the longer-term struggle more difficult; i’m afraid that gay marriage will be more like abortion (in terms of being a long-term controversy) than school desegregation.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  127. if Proposition 8 fails, it will be by a *very narrow margin*

    One question…

    Are we talking LAT “Narrow Margins” or Sane People “Narrow Margins”?

    :)

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  128. Scott: i’m expecting Prop 8 to pass or fail within 5% either way.

    aphrael (12fba5)


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