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

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Round Two... Seriously? (by Alex)

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin… How can you say so much and still be so wrong?

You say:

I don't think so, Alex. Because when questions pertaining to the intent of the Constitution and Bill of Rights came up, it was the job of the JUDICIARY to determine what the words meant - and they certainly didn't say "Nobody knows." They looked at the evidence available - the Federalist Papers and other writings of the Founders and of public debate, and drew conclusions making legal [judgments] based upon those conclusions.

"Nobody knows" is a cop-out. We do know. All we have to do is the research.

As Apu wistfully told Homer, there are so many things wrong with that, I don’t know which part to correct first. You actually asked- “What did the Second Amendment mean when it was ratified?” and I answered your question truthfully, with the only answer to that question that is genuinely accurate- which is “we don’t know”. Read all the papers you want, all you have is an educated guess at what they meant. Dress it all up with all the “drew conclusions” and “do the research” you want.

You don’t know what exactly they meant when they wrote it, and when they ratified it. Chances are even they weren’t of one mind. Yet here you are ridiculing me for pointing out this rather obvious fact- “YOU ARE SIMPLY GUESSING”. But apparently you are some omniscient soul that can divine the collective meaning to the hundreds of people involved in creating and ratifying those words through the sheer force of your will power. Must be nice. It’s not a “cop out” to admit that we are all just making this up based on whatever limited information we can find and shaped by our own experiences now. If you wanted to know what I thought they meant, then you should have asked that. But you didn’t. For someone so fascinated with the meaning of words, you really missed the boat on that one.

Speaking of cop-outs, you really do a huge disservice to both Jefferson and yourself in your next diatribe. Allow me to sort out what you have tangled up. Despite your attempt to say I know nothing of our founding fathers (or of Jefferson specifically) it is you who misses the underlying point. Here is a man who fully KNOWS the travesty of slavery (all the quotes and links you provide fully illustrate this) and yet still allows it when forming the basis of this land. It is one thing to use the “well, it is easy to see in retrospect but given the customs and culture of the time…” excuse, but you provide example after example that he knew full well that allowing this was an abomination, contrary to every belief he held to most sacred to heart.

So he “cops out” because the “political reality” is just too tough? Because the “Economic conditions” wouldn’t allow it? Man, if that is your idea of how to support the ideal you believe in the most, something you would die for, I don’t want to see how you’d treat ideas you are only moderately in favor of. And to drive home this duplicity home further, the man had a sexual relationship with someone he OWNED. (Not proven beyond any doubt, but certainly backed up with a considerable amount of evidence). So even if you buy the, “he knew it was repugnant but was just a realist” line of crap, how do you excuse that affront to personal liberty? Again, I don’t want to come of as a Jefferson basher- he is a personal favorite of mine. But to say his mind was impervious to anything but the noblest of ideas is to ascribe to him a perfection that he (nor anyone else) would ever attain. (I will say my choice of words in "oblivious" was wrong- but to know something is wrong and still do it anyway is far worse than being ignorant of it)

Then you go rambling on about how you have an “allegiance” to the constitution, and I do not. Again, multiple errors in that twisted logic. First my allegiance lies to my country first, above any document (even the constituion). And those that would have it backwards (exalting any document above the good of the nation) ultimately do more harm than good in the long run, as they fail to see the big picture. They are so intent on “preserving” their own ideal of “what this document means” that they ignore the 200+ years of history, progress, case law, advances and changes society has undertaken since. But let’s just say “ hey, these flawed human beings in the 1700’s got everything right, so let us all just reside inside their heads forever”. Talk about burying your head in the sand.

Then you use the old “if everything is relative, nothing matters” or “black and white vs. shades of gray” line of drivel. Ignore any context and just get at the “absolute truth”. Well, there is no absolute truth. Murder is wrong, absolutely- all the time, right? What if you had a chance to kill (in cold blood- hell, make him unarmed and smiling at you) Hitler before the war began and save millions of lives? Still wrong? Maybe, maybe not. There’s your gray area. It so easy for the Scalias of the world to label anyone who searches for context as a spineless, groundless wisp of transient thought. Yes, I could be simple minded and just believe that all the answers to our complex legal challenges today lie in getting inside the heads of men from 200 years ago. Or I could believe that their intent is one factor in figuring out how to apply the law, but not the ONLY factor.

I could struggle to balance a law written when arms were muskets against the rights of some mother in Cabrini Green who puts her kids to bed in the bathtub because that is the most bullet proof place in the apartment. I could say, what are the principles that make the Second important enough to include in the bill of rights, and how do we balance those principles with the others? What is the reality of the law as it has evolved, through case law, regarding guns, crime, carrying arms, and the registration of weapons? Or, like you, I could just say “it means whatever they wanted it to, and that’s it- no more thinking on my part.” Which is the “cop out”? Which puts the ideas of one group of men in one isolated time period above the needs of those who must govern and be governed today?

And I love the way you just decide that the phrase in the beginning of the sentence is “explanatory”. Really? Why didn’t the court think so in United States v. Miller? It saw the phrase about the militia and observed that “[w]ith obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the second amendment were made. It must be interpreted WITH THAT END IN VIEW” (emphasis added). So the court said, rather clearly, that the second amendment must be viewed restrictively, as serving the purpose of supporting a well regulated militia. Golly I guess they thought those words weren’t simply “explanatory” (nice way of brushing them off). It gets even clearer later in the decision: “[i]n the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a ‘shotgun having a barrel less than 18 inches in length’ at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia, we cannot say that the second amendment guarantees the right to keep such an instrument.” Wow, a LITERAL interpretation of the 2nd that doesn’t just brush off the first phrase. Gee, how novel.

You can keep trying to find some “absolute” meaning in the constitution that is fixed, never changes, and applies properly forever- but you never will. It is a short-sighted, naïve, hopelessly simplistic way to try and iron out modern problems.

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