The next month, a mentally deranged boy stole his mother’s firearms, shot her in the face with said firearms, then proceeded to take those firearms to an elementary school and kill 27 children before finally killing himself. Democrats promptly forgot the states’ rights arguments that they just made the previous month and immediately began to call for nationwide restrictions on ownership of semi-automatic weapons and the nationalization of records pertaining to firearm sales and mental health. Apparently, many of the same people who think that it’s wrong to incarcerate someone for non-violently possessing an inanimate plant don’t apply that same argument to… someone non-violently possessing an inanimate tool. Republicans then (correctly) responded that inanimate objects aren’t the issue, but that criminal behavior is the issue — the same logic they enjoy evading in the marijuana debate. For the time being, it seemed, everything was back to normal.
Last week, however, the Supreme court heard arguments on cases pertaining to gay marriage, specifically whether or not the ill-named “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) was constitutional and whether or not the the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment would invalidate state laws prohibiting marriage between same-sex couples. Again, we had leftists arguing in favor of states’ rights and incorporation via the 14th amendment). The republicans re-iterated their tired nonsense about how smoking marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to legalizing inter-species marriage (or something) and how stoned, inter-married goats destroy the family (or something). Here again, we have the parties flipping and flopping as usual — not on the issue as people tend to focus on, but on the underlying principle behind the issue. But wait — something was a bit different this time around: the arguments now coming from the left arewholly different because you have leftists making arguments based on principle. Namely, the principle of individual rights, and that people should be free to do as they choose without government intervention.
This is astonishing because leftists typically make arguments based on “what works” or “policy outcomes”. While it is mind-blowingly naive, arrogant, and reckless to believe that government can or should use violence – that is, create laws – on the basis of “policy outcomes”, that is nevertheless how democrats and the left typically making their arguments. When gun laws are the issue, they say more restrictions would reduce gun violence and don’t really care about an individual’s right to protect his life from violence. When drug laws are the issue, they rarely argue that drugs should be legalized because individuals have the right to choose what they put in their own body. Rather, they argue that we should approach drugs as a “public health issue” (ie: defer to treatment) because that does less harm than incarceration. When mandatory healthcare is the issue, they argue that a government run health system would be more cost-effective — without regard to the morality of taking from one person to give to another. They are certainly not alone in ignoring principle and making specious arguments based on the outcome, but it’s very rare to hear a democrat argue because of principle, especially the principle of individual rights. Republicans, at least rhetorically, are more likely to make arguments on the basis of principle, but will discard principle quite readily when it suits them.
Yesterday’s Daily Show (around the 8:20 mark) provided a great example of this. Jon Stewart played a clip of Justice Alito (a “conservative” justice), during the Gay Marriage arguments, saying “same-sex marriage is very new. I think it was first adopted in the Netherlands in 2000. So there isn’t a lot of data about its effect. You want us to step in and a render a decision based on a decision of the effects of this institution that is newer than cell phones or the internet?” Jon Stewart, rightly, became indignant and added “No, we want you to step in and render a decision on whether it’s right or fair or just under the constitution, having nothing to do with its ‘newness’ and what you think might happen… You don’t have to beta test rights”. I agree with Jon Stewart 100% on this. The trouble question is: why doesn’t Jon Stewart agree with Jon Stewart on this? He clearly doesn’t agree that someone has the right to keep what they earn or the right to defend their life with a weapon of their choosing, so why would he base his argument for gay marriage on individual rights? This is not limited to Jon Stewart by any means — I saw much of the same on many news sites and my facebook feed throughout the week — but the segment provides a well-known example of the type of doublethink exhibited by democrats and republicans alike.
Amazingly, many people think that the problem we have nowadays is too much ideology and lack of compromise. If people think ideology is driving debates in this country, they aren’t paying attention. Rather than too much ideology, our political landscape is hodgepodge of disparate desires about how people think the world should be coupled with a complete lack of morality and decency about how to achieve that, with just about everyone using government as a truncheon to force their fellow man to conform to their worldview. Democrats try to use government to make sure that your hard earned money is distributed around the country (to fund social programs) and around the globe (to fight wars) while republicans try to use government to prevent gays from getting married while claiming to steal slightly less of your money than the democrats but still doing all the same things.
Occasionally, someone drops a nugget of truth, such when stand-up comedian Chris rock says “no decent person is just one thing. republicans are idiots and democrats are idiots. conservatives are idiots and liberals are idiots. any person who makes up their mind before they hear the issue is a Fuckin’ fool”. He started that off right and then botched the landing. If I started a question with “is it acceptable to steal…” do I really need to finish that sentence? Must I really elaborate on the conditions surrounding this hypothetical theft? Is it worth hearing me out to see if I make a good moral case for theft? No, because theft is wrong, period. You absolutely can — and in many cases should — make up your mind before you hear the political issue, when that involves calling for more violence to be inflicted on your fellow man. If you’re advocating expansion of government, you are, by definition, promoting theft of property (in the form of taxes) and violence (the introduction of force) against ostensibly free individuals. See, what this boils down to is that you either believe that individuals have natural rights or you don’t. If you believe that individuals have natural, inalienable rights by virtue of owning their own bodies and you have the guts to take that belief to its logical conclusion, than you should reject any government encroachment on the individual, no matter the issue.
Here is a handy stick figure video to explain things if you’re straddling the fence of morality on this: