Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Clarifying what should already be clear (by Alex)

I went back and perused the comments and allow me to clear up a few points that seems hopelessly above the heads of those writing. (I won’t answer all the comments, because it gets tiring dealing with circular logic, which most of these fall into).


I don’t know how many times I have to say that I am not referring to the “nothing can ever be known” existential bullshit. I am not copping out of the argument relying on a semantic twist. Despite the archeological analogy I gave (which should show that I am in fact talking about the common sense definition of know- not the philosophical definition) you guys still miss the point- which makes it impossible to carry on a logical debate.

I will try another example. If I were talking about the existential “stoned out philosophy professor” version of know (which EVERY argument in the comments accuses me of) and I was saying you didn’t “know” the sky was blue, I might get into

“well what is ‘blue’, really? which wavelengths of light constitute blue? how do I know that what you see as blue isn’t what I perceive as green? Yadda yadda yadda”.
I completely agree that is a horsehit argument as far as this debate is concerned, and that is 100% NOT what I have said, or intend.

What I charge, is that you don’t “know” the sky is blue, because you can’t see it from where you are standing. (And let’s assume I am talking about a real patch of sky, of some fixed point in time, that does in fact have some overall color we could likely agree on if we were all standing at the same point- no technicalities buried in there, just plain ol identifying the color of the sky). You aren’t looking up at the sky and then saying “yup- it’s blue”. Instead, you are piecing that assumption together with evidence you have at hand.

Nobody has raincoat or umbrella, so it is not gray or rainy. The welcome mat has no mud or gravel on it so it is not snowing. When it is overcast the secretary doesn’t eat he lunch outside, and she’s outside today. The weatherman called for blue skies today. Etcetera, etcetera. Therefore, it must be blue today.

Now there is no problem in making these inferences and drawing a conclusion, so long as you don’t claim you KNOW that the sky is blue. You think it is. Depending on the reliability of your indicators (and your logic) you may have a very good probability of actually being right. But if you aren’t able to actually look at the sky, you don’t KNOW it is blue.

Continuing with this analogy, what I have been accused of (variously) is saying “nobody knows what color the sky is”, “nobody knows what blue is”, “you are wrong, the sky isn’t blue” and a whole host of other things I never said or implied. What I said is that if you are inferring that the sky is blue, then fucking say that. And since you can’t actually “stick your head out the window” when they were writing the constitution (to brutally stretch this analogy far beyond its limits) you are inferring. If you had a “this is what we mean by the 2nd” document to go off of, I’d say that is essentially your mirror to the sky and then we could all say “I know what I see, and it is blue”. But you don’t. You have a patchwork of pieces and ideas captured in samples of writing- some more on point than others. Before I get attacked, yet again, for saying “See, those writings are worthless”, that is not my point. Just admit that the question should be “what is your interpretation of what the founding fathers meant” instead of “what did it mean at the time of writing”. Then we could have a real debate (by allowing that BOTH sides are engaging in an interpretation- but one side saying they just KNOW what the founders meant is preposterous and a logical fallacy)

So there- no fancy “you can’t know anything” bullshit, no complete dismissal of the evidence you have used to formulate your conclusion (in fact, nobody has yet asked me what my interpretation is yet, so you have all just assumed you know what I think). Just a simple statement- don’t confuse inference with demonstrable fact.


What I hate is saying “hey, if we just figure out what they knew, we’ll be all set”. As if they had all of the answers, or were somehow pure in thought. Yes, these men had some truly great ideas, and accomplished some amazing feats that benefit me (and the rest of the planet) greatly even today. But when we put what they thought above everything else, it expects their thought to be somehow an answer in and of itself. My point was to say that even the greatest among them (and I would place Jefferson there even though his views on mixing races would not look favorably on my even being conceived) had conflicting thoughts on even the most fundamental principles. Abhor slavery, yet benefit from it personally. See all men as created equal, yet still insist on a fairly rigid class system (not even talking about slavery here- just the separation of the proper class and the working class). So why place so much stock in what they thought- to the exclusion of everything else? Yes, we should study what they thought- there are timeless ideas and wisdom buried in their writings, and reflections of people consumed with contemplating freedom and governance.

But to rely ONLY on their intentions? That is crazy. They didn’t have all the answers then, and we don’t now. It’s work. It is a mental struggle. Balancing the ideals that form our democracy is a challenge- and anyone who thinks that the intent of the founding fathers is the panacea to trying to sort out the often unpleasant choices forced by competing rights is simply delusional. But no, I don’t “hate” the founding fathers, I respect many of them a great deal and do enjoy their writings.


Yes, I know that may come as a shock to my critics, but I place a tremendous stock in words. In fact, my livelihood depends on them. But words that appear to be in the “hey everyone knows just what that means” category can easily shift into the “let me think about that” category. Use an example of “speech” (as it relates to the constitution). At the founding fathers time, you had the written word and spoken word and that was pretty much it. Then it expanded to includes actions that signified a position or thesis (like a demonstration). And again to include artistic expression. These aren’t quantum shifts, but changes to the term never the less. And now we debate if money equals speech. Either way you come down on the side of campaign finance regulations, you are transforming the word (and concept) of free speech in a way that has nothing to do with what the founders envisioned. No amendment to the constitution (gasp) yet you’ve expanded the meaning (to either include or exclude something that was never considered at the time of ratification). Oh my god… you’ve just become a dreaded judicial activist no matter which way you come down. Whatever will you tell your family?

So yes, I do attach a lot of meaning to the definition of words. But if you can’t recognize that the same word can have different meanings, and that the meaning may evolve over time, again you are clinging to an idealistic past that never existed that way in reality (where there was no ambiguity or struggle with definitions whatsoever- everything was just absolutely defined).

I promise not to spend too much time firing back on the comments in the future, but seeing what I said so crudely misrepresented is just plain frustrating. Disagree with me all you want, but ascribing things to me I never said is wrong.

Next Post in the series
Previous Post in the series

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.