Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rights and Privileges

I started writing a comment for this post at "Unlawful Government" referencing the (even misdirected) intolerance emanating from a Florida church ("Dove World Outreach Center?" Seriously? Why do I get the feeling they wouldn't even get along with Westboro Baptist?), but my thoughts wandered enough, addressing things I've been thinking about recently, that I decided to just turn it into a post of my own...

Either we consider that freedom of speech (or religion or RKBA or 'due process' or etc) is a fundamental unalienable right, above and beyond infringement by our form of government, or it's merely a "privilege," the regulation of which we just haven't delegated to the federal component of that government. Ya gotta pick one. If it's a "right," then "incorporation" by(/of/to/whatever) the several States is unavoidable, seems to me. Either that, or they can just leave the union. Serves 'em right, eh...?

As long as you're not directly endangering someone else's person or property -- and no matter how "offensive," as that's precisely what the First Amendment was designed to protect, after all -- flag-burning is political speech. As is book-burning, as are campaign contributions. And don't even get me started on the profound, compounded, convoluted insanity of house-of-worship "tax-exempt status." We simply do not surrender the right of speech to obtain the right of association. Or vice versa.

On the other hand, as 'South Park' has (unintentionally) taught us, some religions are evidently more equal than others. And from the same WSJ article, Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle:
"America must contain this pastor if it wants to avoid a confrontation with the Muslim world," Mohsen Pak Aien, the head of Organization for Islamic Culture and Communication, told Iran's Tabnak news website.
And get this...
"The dangers of this despicable action are clear to all. It will ignite massive fires of anger and hatred toward America. The U.S. government and president will be held accountable if this happens in their country," said Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Sadeghi Golpaygani, according to Fars News.
...because you figure the president of this Constitutional Republic of expressly enumerated powers protecting open-ended rights has been delegated the authority to do what, exactly? Or do you mean it would be ok if only "this" happened outside "their country," like, say, the Middle East equivalent of the WTC?

Or this...
The two top Arabic news channels, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, reported the news in the context of a backlash in the U.S. against Muslims, and questioned how U.S. leaders could continue calling for peace and religious tolerance in other countries, if these episodes continued to flare up in America.
I do believe someone's referred to this concept as "blowback," in this case perhaps exacerbated by one faction's (hardly unique) hypocritical insistence that only the other faction's "leaders" exert control over -- or at the very least unequivocally denounce -- ostensibly rogue members of their "flocks."

Yet if Petraeus fears that "images of a burning Quran could be used to drum up anger toward the U.S. and potentially endanger troops," what the hell does he think invading and bombing might do? Has anybody asked him? But at base, we're talking about religions here -- including the one devoted to "the state," of course -- so what rationality can we expect, really?

On to the mosque. If they own the property in south Manhattan, they have the right to decide what to do with it. If they don't get to decide what to do with it, then they really don't "own" it, now do they? Whoever does get to decide does "own" it, regardless of whatever level of substantive "investment" they may or may not have made. Simple. Where do politicians get off telling a private citizens what to do, indeed. Do any of us effectively own anything -- including our own bodies -- anymore...?

In any case, it certainly strikes me as a ridiculously expensive (including the required annual tribute to the state for the "privilege" of continuing to occupy it, of course) piece of property on which to be doing just about anything other than "obscenely" profitable commerce, but it's just not my call.

But if you, dear reader, don't want what they want for their property, if you're sufficiently committed to controlling it, I'm sure they would entertain sufficiently lofty offers. That's right: voluntary commerce. Put up or shut up. Or boycott. 'Course, if you're already that exercised over the issue, that probably won't be a hardship, I'm guessin'...
The Florida ACLU condemned Mr. Jones's message Wednesday as un-American but defended his right to free speech. "We cannot pick and choose who is protected by the Constitution," spokesman Brandon Hensler said. "We're very concerned about this wave of anti-Muslim sentiment. But the answer is not to infringe on their right to say what they want to say."
Gosh, non-chauvinistic, non-jingoistic, uncompromising, nuanced yet consistent principle based on original intent. Liberty.

Ooo. This and this just in.

Say, are there any Toyota dealers on O'ahu? Anybody...?

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