Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Regarding an Invitation

 I was initially attempting to post this as a reply to a comment on one of my other posts, inviting me to participate in another site that is "more structured" than Gates of Vienna.  But it is a bit long to fit in the reply section, so I suppose I'll just make it another post.

I tend to be more unstructured in my contributions to the Counter-Jihad, my "structured" thoughts start from the position of examining the essential question of what constitutes existence, and thus would be of limited interest to anyone else who is not interested in the ontological priority of evil relative to good.

Also, the particular structure of the 4freedoms site you mention is entirely incompatible with my thinking.  I should not feel free to express myself on such a site.  This can be seen at once by a quick examination of where I stand in relation to the four principles which presumably correspond to the site's name.

"1. Freedom of Speech: any speech allowed - except that advocating the end of free speech"

I could never participate in any discussion about free speech that did not allow such a self-contradictory premise to be challenged.  For one thing, I do not regard freedom of speech as an end in itself, but merely as a means towards the end of permitting people to be fully accountable for their own opinions.  This means that I am not opposed to entertaining arguments over the possibility of any better mechanism to allow people total responsibility for their own beliefs.  Also, if freedom of speech is really to be an axiom, then it absolutely must include freedom to advocate the end of free speech, if only to develop the countervailing argument.

"2. Freedom of Election: any party allowed - except one advocating the end of democracy"

This is not completely repugnant on logical grounds, but it is wholly unsatisfactory to me as I regard Rule of Law as infinitely superior to simple democracy as a basis for proper government.  From my point of view, democratic processes are simply a means of emulating the outcome of a contest of sovereignty with minimal resort to the chaos and bloodshed which would attend actual war between competing factions.  Since any democracy will inevitably come to a violent end when the outcomes of popular elections are sufficiently divorced from the will of those who actually hold the sovereign power of feeding and defending the nation, unlimited commitment to the principle of democracy will inevitably lead to the most sanguinary and destructive kind of conflict.  To abandon the freedom to advocate limiting democracy before that point is reached is rather like prohibiting the use of brakes on automobiles...yes, they rather subvert the whole exercise, but they are rather necessary.

"3. Freedom from Discrimination:  all citizens are equally protected by secular law"

This is actually not terribly long as citizenship is very narrowly defined to include only those persons who substantially contribute to the sovereignty of the nation by provision of its fundamental needs.  But I find such a narrow definition of citizenship to be unsatisfactory and thus would prefer a society in which nearly everyone can be a citizen but where the laws are structured such that those who make significant contributions to the welfare of society are better protected than those who detract from the welfare of society.  This may not be what the foregoing freedom means...but it is hard to say what else it might mean.  The principle of the Rule of Law helps to protect and ensure freedom (though not equally, the freedom of some need and receive little protection from the Rule of Law, the freedom of others much), but that is evidently not what is meant here.  If Rule of Law is applied equally, some will be more protected than others (for instance, laws against murder tend to protect the less physically violent more than they protect those prone to such violence).  Anything that would protect everyone equally would have to be applied unequally, and would not be the Rule of Law.

"4. Freedom from Religion:  religion is only exempted from legal purview in the private sphere"  I cannot see how this principle is even remotely compatible with the other four.  Given that I do not wholly accept any of them as far as I can best interpret them, this might not be an absolute rejection in itself.  But as it does happen, I fully support the right of people of any religious persuasion (other than Satanism and Atheism, which are both explicitly anti-religious in character) to fully express their own beliefs in the public sphere, form political organizations and vote in elections based on their religious affiliation, and to appeal for the protection of the laws all without any legal discrimination against them as a result of their religious beliefs and affiliations.  I do not support unlimited freedom of anyone to violate or denigrate the religious beliefs of others (which is why anti-religions such as Satanism and Atheism cannot receive the same freedoms), but as long as contrary expressions are based on positive beliefs rather than simple denigration of others I would not wish to involve legal distinctions between different opinions regardless of whether they are of a public or private character.

Since I could not possibly feel free to express myself fully under the restrictions imposed by any one of these "freedoms", I seriously doubt I could make any serious contribution to any site that required my compliance with all four of them.  Nor would I find much interest in saying anything that I could say without transgressing those "freedoms".


  1. "1. Freedom of Speech: any speech allowed - except..." As soon as we include "except," speech is no longer free. Every dictator -- Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Castro, Pol Pot, et al. permitted people to say anything they *except* those things not permitted. Your invitation simply came with less draconian exceptions.

    "2. Freedom of Election: any party allowed - except one advocating the end of democracy" This makes a kind of sense. It isn't incompatible with your Rule of Law principle. It's hard to enshrine in law, though. Instead, free men should enshrine it in their souls. One is free to advocate anything, including Marxism (see #1), but if someone tries to impose it, the rest of us should promptly send them to the devil.

    "3. Freedom from Discrimination: all citizens are equally protected by secular law" doesn't go far enough. All *people* are protected by law. Individuals have inalienable rights. They must not be violated. If you don't have this, you don't have rule of law in any meaningful sense, since some people will be above the law and some below it.

    "4. Freedom from Religion: religion is only exempted from legal purview in the private sphere" is confused at bast. How about "Freedom of Conscience and Freedom to act accordingly, so long as one doesn't violate others' rights."

    BTW, atheism isn't anti-religious, but rather a-religious (some atheists are anti-religious, but this doesn't necessarily follow from atheism. And Satanists are not anti-religious; rather, they practice a different religion (strangely enough, they accept most principles of Christianity; they simply turn them on their heads and claim the bad as good and good as bad. It's a cuckoo doctrine.)

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. I hid the redundant comment.

    I'm not an absolutist about free speech. At some point, there has to be a distinction between "speech" and activities that are not speech or have sufficient characteristics different from speech to necessitate regulation. Freedom of speech doesn't protect anyone's unlimited use of loudspeakers, in fact, protecting the rights of others to speech necessitates that noise ordinances or nuisance abatement be permitted when one person's "speech" prevents anyone else from speaking. Yet speech is more or less free notwithstanding that there are logically restrictions on how completely free "speech" can be. But to place debate over the proper limits of free speech outside of the pale of subjects that can be debated ensures that noise will overwhelm signal in communication.

    Ultimately, all political questions are fundamentally about the application of organized violence. Laws are backed by the threat and application of lethal force, or they are not enforced at all. When we say, "there ought to be a law", what we must mean is "I am willing to make licit the killing of those who continue to act in some manner that offends against my moral beliefs." Because that's what a law actually does, it grants permission for lethal force to be used against people that violate the law.

    In this sense, absolutely all political systems are fundamentally "anti-democratic" because the people who end up classed as criminals subject to the threat or imposition of death for their behavior don't get to vote ever again once you kill them. That is, any law you actually enforce ends up restricting someone from voting, any law you don't enforce undermines the principle of the rule of law. So restrictions on voting are logically entailed in the rule of law if you have any laws whatsoever. And if you have no laws whatsoever, you need no process for deciding what those laws should be. This means that "democracy" can never be perfectly pure, everyone getting to vote on everything, because every vote on what the laws should be necessarily is a decision on whether some people can ever vote (or do anything else) ever again.

    "Discrimination" is ultimately a necessity of life in a world where not all things are the same. You have no right to not have anyone else discriminate against you for the simple reason that neither you nor anyone else has the ability to live without discriminating, and that includes discriminating in favor of some people and against others. You discriminate between food and dirt (and knives, poison, shit, your own organs), or you'd die (horribly). You discriminate between murderous psychopaths and people you can trust with your health and safety'll die. If murderous psychopaths have a right to not having anyone discriminate against them, everyone who respects that right is going to die. So if "freedom from discrimination" is an inalienable right, life cannot be, because you cannot live without discriminating.

    It's possible, indeed likely, that people really don't have an inalienable right to live at all. But when you're asserting that, it's only fair to be up-front about it.

    Freedom from religion is incompatible with every other freedom because it makes the question of what ultimate purposes people choose to act based on subject to legal sanction. If I am free to refuse to bake you a cake because you aren't offering me enough money to cover my costs and labor, but not free to refuse to bake you a cake because you specify a cake that will denigrate or violate religious beliefs, then I am not free to decide whether money or religion is more important to me...I am not free to even assert that I am free to make such a decision.

  4. Why someone chooses to do something they otherwise have a legal right to do must remain exempt from legal sanction if people are in fact to have legally protected rights, because if I can negate your rights by claiming that you aren't using them for motives which I find publicly acceptable (like making money rather than trying to follow an inspired life), there is no defending one's rights.

    But there are some motives which must be recognized as criminal intention, and a motive to denigrate and violate other people's religious beliefs is one such motive, just as a desire to molest children has to be recognized as making otherwise innocent activities pragmatically impermissible. This is a matter of practical law enforcement, when we establish that someone is inclined to molest children we cannot permit them to engage in private activities involving children as long as they "don't do anything criminal" a matter of enforcement we have to say they cannot have unmonitored access to children. The same is true of Satanism, and is only different in degree from atheism.

    Say what you will, Satanism and atheism are not about seeking one's own religious convictions but denying the religious convictions of someone else. Of course, there are degrees of the original, Catholic sense of the term, everyone that does not adhere to a specific interpretation of Roman Catholicism is an "atheist". I don't attend Latin mass, so I am an "atheist" in this narrow sense. And in that narrow sense I do not and should not have the same rights as a sincere Catholic to become a priest and administer (or define, or modify) the Holy Mass for Catholics. Catholics have a right to say I, as someone who does not and never will adhere to their doctrine in my heart, cannot be allowed to serve certain capacities in their religious orders.

    I have no essential and inalienable right to say they can't discriminate against me for not being Catholic. This is just another way of saying that they can choose not to hire me for a certain job because I'm not a Catholic just as much as they can do so out of a calculation that they can't afford to pay my asking rate. Of course, the reverse is true, I can refuse to hire them because I dislike Catholics just as much as I can refuse to hire them because their work won't be worth what I'd have to pay them.

    The difference isn't in exercising basic rights but in doing things like establishing a general societal "Freedom from Religion". There's no real way to get around the fact that this is a declaration of hostility against religion. The point of demanding people serving in essential posts of a faith organization be faithful is love of faith. The point of demanding that people serving in essential posts of secular organizations be without faith is hatred of faith. Love and hatred cannot be accorded totally equal respect in an ordered society, it is neither pragmatic nor morally good to attempt to do so.

  5. You cannot outlaw hatred entirely without destroying freedom (which is a hateful thing to do). But you can certainly say that there are things that are made permissible by a loving motive that are not permissible for a hateful one. You have no inalienable right to stick a scalpel up someone's nose...but the law will permit it if your motive, as recognized by the person who's nose is at stake, is to remove, say, a tumorous growth. But if your motive is to disfigure and torture them, then the law does not permit it.

    So too the formation of certain categories of organized associations based on faith or antipathy towards such, the organization based on a hostility towards a faith is simply less licit because the motive of the organization is clearly bad, the demands of practical policing require that greater social resources be applied to scrutiny of the behavior of the one compared to the other, just as you cannot allow a child molester to run a daycare.

    As fine as it is to talk of absolutes in the abstract, in reality you have to make pragmatic distinctions. If you're working on your roof and drop a hammer by accident, and it hits someone, there needs to be a mechanism for leniency because we all, every day, do things that are causally incidental to injury suffered by others. You put your brakes on in traffic to avoid hitting the car in front of you and make the person behind you late for work, or you flush your toilet while your neighbor is trying to get to sleep. But if done with the intention of harm, we have to be less tolerant. Not 'can' be less tolerant, but must.

    Because we cannot live without making judgments. And condemning everyone to die for your abstract principles is a judgment as well.

  6. You seem well versed on your Heinlein. He fleshed out in novel form the warp and weft of what a societal contract really is - a society that chooses a set of rules so that we don't all have to use Hatfield vs. McCoy every day when someone in our clan has a minor altercation with someone else's clan. My favorite is 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress'.

  7. I could probably benefit by reading more Heinlein, but who couldn't, right?