Thursday, June 23, 2005

Doug Ireland's Flawed Thinking

Doug Ireland, author of the frantic call to arms against the coming "Christers" which we commented upon last week, responds to his critics:

Just so there can be no confusion, I have never made any secret of the fact that I'm a life-long atheist, and proudly so....

I came up with the word "Christer" to distinguish those Protestant fundamentalists and ultramontane Catholics whose politicized version of Christianity impels them to seek to impose their views on others through public policy and the State -- as opposed to ordinary believers who believe their faith is a private and personal matter, not a fulcrum for censorship of those who think or act differently.

Why on earth does an atheist object to someone imposing his values on others? There really seems to be no reason for someone who lacks a belief in God to join the oft-heard chorus of voices claiming that no one, particularly a Christian, has the right to impose his/her morality on another person. Indeed, the notion is patently silly, especially in the mouth of an atheist.

First, it's difficult to name legislation which does not impose somebody's morality upon the rest of society. Everything from desegregation to affirmative action to welfare regulations to environmental regulations to laws prohibiting gambling, prostitution, public lewdness, drug use, capital punishment, bribery, and so on all presuppose moral values that might not be shared by many of those who are subject to the pertinent laws. Should these laws never have been enacted? Should they be rescinded?

Beyond this objection, however, there are a couple of other difficulties with the concern about saddling others with one's moral values or one's religious views. It's a concern, oddly enough, that only theists can logically express. If an atheist like Mr. Ireland were to object to a theist that he should not impose his beliefs on others the appropriate reply would be to ask "Why not?"

If the atheist is correct in believing that we live in a world without God then a man has a "right" to try to do whatever he wishes to do. In a world without God, might makes right, so anything one is able to do, one has a "right" to do.

If the atheist objects to this, he might be asked what it is, exactly, upon which he bases his conviction that I have no right to impose my values. Is it the law? If I have the power to change or shape the law to conform to my desires then that objection fails. Is it that a right to impose one's will upon others robs the other of his worth and dignity as a human being? So what?

In a world without God human worth and dignity are arbitrary and chimerical. They're grounded in nothing except the subjective sentiments of a few human beings and have no real, objective existence. Even if worth and dignity did somehow actually attach to human beings, why would it be wrong, on the atheist's assumptions, to deprive someone of them?

The fact is that the only constraint upon anyone's "right" to do whatever he is able to do is God's proscription, but for the atheist that limit does not exist and for the secularist it is illicit to invoke it. In a Godless universe, or in the naked public square, we are all morally autonomous, free to do whatever we have the power to accomplish, including imposing our will upon others if we're able.

A second problem with the affirmation that it's improper to seek to impose our beliefs upon others is that the claim itself is a moral assertion. The person who makes it believes that it is wrong to engage in the particular behavior he is condemning. But the irony of this is that he is himself seeking to impose upon others his moral conviction that it is unjust to impose one's moral convictions upon others. In other words, he's violating his own principle in the very act of voicing it. He's attempting to inflict his morality on the rest of us.

The truth of the matter is that few people who argue that it transgresses some moral standard to impose one's beliefs upon others really believe it deep down. What they believe is that it's wrong to have others foist upon them convictions and values of which they disapprove. Their conscience is untroubled, however, by having others burdened with their own values, which is precisely what Mr. Ireland tacitly admits he wishes to see happen through the sexual subversion of American culture.

Thanks for the tip on Ireland's piece to No Left Turns.

Obituary of an Angry Man

Michelle Malkin directs us to this obituary of an unfortunate man who sounds a lot more troubled than even those of his family who wrote the obituary indicate:

Corwyn (Cory) William Zimbleman Tucson, AZ (formerly of Champaign, IL)

Age 53. Born April 18, 1952 to the late Willard and Gilda (Ebert) Zimbleman, died June 10, 2005. Throughout his life Cory was an extraordinary artist. His artistic talent and imagination would bring awe to all who viewed his work. His works grace an LP cover and numerous books; using Computer Aided Design (CAD) he designed home and business exteriors, interiors, and furniture for several architectural firms. His talent went beyond the fine arts as he added sculpturing, woodworking, metals, and other mediums to his repertoire.

Having never gained the recognition he deserved in his own lifetime his family hopes to publish a book of his works. Another of his passions was herpetology. As a child he was always bringing home reptiles. His friends nicknamed him "Snake." He even built a turtle pond in his backyard.

An avid atheist, he studied the bible and religion with more fervor than most Christians. He had strong political opinions and followed Amy Goodman's radio broadcast "Democracy Now."

Alas the stolen election of 2000 and living with right-winged Americans finally brought him to his early demise. Stress from living in this unjust country brought about several heart attacks rendering him disabled.

Cory, a great man, so very talented, compassionate and intelligent, dedicated to the arts and humanities and the environment, will be greatly missed by his wife, family, and friends. He is survived by his wife, Patricia Montiel; his step-daughter, Esperanza Hernandez both of Tucson; his brother, Mike (Dana) of St. Louis, MO; his sisters, Susan St. Claire of San Jose, CA and Laura Zimbleman of Ypsilanti, MI, and his turtles Heidie, Skinhead and Studley and many other pets. A memorial service will be held Tuesday, June 21, 2005 from 6:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m., please call 883-2862 for information. Cremation has taken place.

Mr. Zimbleman could, of course, have moved a few miles south into Mexico to relieve his stress, but chose not to. Instead, at least according to those who wrote the obituary, he evidently allowed a pathological anger and hatred to ruin his health and ultimately claim his life.

When politics is what puts meaning into one's life, when ideology becomes an ersatz religion, then defeats in the political sphere become more than mere disappointments. They become life-crushing blows which bring out the very worst in people.

This is, indeed, a major difference between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives don't make ideology their religion because most of them already have a traditional faith in a God which transcends the world of politics. Liberals, on the other hand, often have no transcendent faith. They immanantize their religion and make their ideology their supreme value. An electoral defeat for them is a pill so bitter that their lives are devastated by it.

Mr. Zimbleman is perhaps an extreme example of the phenomenon, but judging by the venom that has poured forth onto the political stage since last November, his bitterness was by no means unique.

<i>Kelo v. New London</i>

If there were any lingering doubts in the minds of sensible people that the Supreme Court needs a major ideological makeover the Kelo v. New London case decided today should remove them. Throwing the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution in the trash can, five liberals decided that a municipal government can simply compel homeowners to relinquish their homes and property to authorities who may then award it to other private citizens, such as, for example, corporate businesses.

In other words, if a consortium wants to build a shopping mall on land you currently own, your land can be taken from you and given to the consortium. If a corporation wishes to build an office building where your church now stands they can simply convince the local government to seize the church and sell it to the corporate deep pockets.

Governments have always had the right to exercise eminent domain, of course, but under that principle the seizure of the property had to be for a public purpose. The Supreme Court has now said that wealthy corporations can take ownership of your property if they can persuade the local commissioners that it's in their economic interest to do so.

Voting in favor of this assault on personal property rights were all the usual suspects: John Paul Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion, such as it was, as well as Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

Sandra Day O'Connor wrote a rebuke of the intellectual and constitutional flimsiness of the majority's reasoning, and was joined in her opinion by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

We need more Justices like the latter and fewer like the former.

First Supreme Court Nominee

Bill Kristol evidently has some inside word on the Bush administration's plans for the Supreme Court:

Warning: THIS IS SPECULATION. Obviously, I think it's somewhat well-informed speculation, or else I wouldn't be writing this. But it is speculation.

(1) There will be a Supreme Court resignation within the next week. But it will be Justice O'Connor, not Chief Justice Rehnquist. There are several tea-leaf-like suggestions that O'Connor may be stepping down, including the fact that she has apparently arranged to spend much more time in Arizona beginning this fall. There are also recent intimations that Chief Justice Rehnquist may not resign. This would be consistent with Justice O'Connor having confided her plan to step down to the chief a while ago. Rehnquist probably believes that it wouldn't be good for the Court to have two resignations at once, so he would presumably stay on for as long as his health permits, and/or until after Justice O'Connor's replacement is confirmed.

(2) President Bush will appoint Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to replace O'Connor. Bush certainly wants to put Gonzales on the Supreme Court. Presidents usually find a way to do what they want to do.

And his aides will have an argument to make to conservatives (like me) who would be unhappy with a Gonzales pick: Bush would not, after all, be replacing a conservative stalwart like Rehnquist with Gonzales. Gonzales would be taking O'Connor's seat, and Gonzales is likely to be as conservative as, or even more conservative than, O'Connor. Indeed, Karl Rove will continue, Gonzales is as conservative a nominee to replace O'Connor as one could find who could overcome a threatened Democratic filibuster. Bush aides will also assure us privately that when Rehnquist does step down, Bush will nominate a strong conservative as his replacement. They might not tell us that nominee would be as an associate justice, for Bush would plan to then promote Gonzales to chief justice--thus creating a "Gonzales Court," a truly distinctive Bush legacy.

A Gonzales nomination would, in my view, virtually forfeit any chance in the near term for a fundamental reversal in the downward drift of American constitutional jurisprudence. But I now think it is more likely than not to happen.

A Gonzales nomination would also, it seems to us, almost force a Democratic filibuster. After all of the accusations that have been made against him concerning human rights abuses it's hard to see how Democratic senators could allow him a free pass onto the Court in the face of such strong opposition among their supporters on the Left. We'll see how the Democrats will respond to this scenario soon enough, apparently, at least we will if Kristol's speculation is correct.