I support the absolute right of all of these people to ridicule religion all that they want. I don't think the government should fund any of it, but I do believe in this fundamental principle: The right to ridicule religious beliefs absolutely trumps the so-called "right" not to have one's religious beliefs ridiculed.
I basically agree with Mike's post. In particular, I agree that there is no 'right' not to have one's religious beliefs ridiculed, and I also agree that if one is going to violate people's beliefs in the manner of that 'artist' Andres Serrano then one ought to do it on one's own time and with one's own dime, as the saying goes. Adolescent purveyors of schlock who delight in offending the sensibilities of the 'bourgeoisie' or the 'booboisie' in H. L. Mencken's phrase have no right to taxpayer money. Dumb notions are rampant on the Left, and one of the dumbest is that a refusal of sponsorship amounts to censorship. This notion is beneath refutation, so I will say no more about it.
But I do have one minor bone to pick with Mike. He speaks of the right to ridicule religion as 'absolute.' I wonder what he means by this term. Does he mean that there are no conceivable circumstances in which the exercise of the right in question could not be justifiably limited or prevented? If that is what he means, then I disagree.
Consider property rights. Absolute? Are there no conceivable circumstances in which a man's right to property cannot be justifiably limited or infringed? Suppose I own half of Montana, and the federal government needs a few acres for a defense installation. It forces me to sell those acres at fair market value. I say that's a legitimate exercise of eminent domain. Or how about free speech? It is widely recognized that one cannot justifiably say just anything anywhere to anybody. The right to free speech is not the right to speech that incites violence in a situation in which an outbreak of violence can be reasonably expected to occur if the speech is delivered.
Same goes for the ridiculing of religion via speech, gestures, placards, and Serrano style 'art.' Suppose Marilyn Manson is burning Bibles on stage at some venue in Los Angeles near Biola. Some Biola students and there and are recognizable as such. Suppose the ridicule is ramped up to the point that the Christians in the audience are in danger of grave bodily harm. Then I say the right to ridicule meets its limit. But that is to say that the right is not absolute. It is relative to the circumstances.
Victor Reppert thinks that a conservative case can be made against immigration restriction but cites a libertarian article in support of his contention. But as I see it, it is important to distinguish carefully between conservative and libertarian positions on this and other issues, despite several important points of agreement. Pace Reppert, no conservative who understands his position can support open borders or tolerate the elision of the distinction between legal and illegal immigration. There are no conservative arguments for open borders. But let's turn now to the article in question. Here are some excerpts:
. . . the false dichotomy between civil and economic liberties. Both incorrectly bifurcated forms of freedom are rooted in the same set of property rights, first and foremost in one’s own person and, by extension, in the tangible property one acquires justly through homesteading, gifts and honest market transactions. If Big Brother tries to comprehensively regulate immigration, he can smash economic freedom of association. And if the state has the power to oversee our economic lives, our personal freedom will always suffer in the process.
This is the type of excessive rhetoric that libertarians are known for. Immigration laws obviously limit economic freedom of association, but to write that they "smash" it is to suggest that the limitation is some pure power move on the part of "Big Brother" without reason or justification. But there are a number of solid reasons for border control none of which is so much as mentioned in the article. I sketch some of them in Immigration Legal and Illegal. And what exactly is wrong with the distinction between civil and economic liberties? The word 'civil' derives from the Latin civis, civis, citizen and civitas, civitatis, state, citizenship. So I hope I will be forgiven for asking how a person could have civil liberties apart from his membership in some state or other, and how a person who has civil liberties in a state of which he is a citizen can have any civil liberties in a state of which he is not a citizen. As an American citizen I have the civil right to the presumption of innocence. But I don't have that right when I head south of the border. I can see how economic liberties are grounded in the universal right to life, a right that does not derive from membership in any polis, civitas, Staat, state. But civil rights and liberties are state-specific. The right to vote is a civil right, but Mexicans don't have the right to vote in American elections any more than Americans have the right to vote in Mexican elections. There is no universal right to vote wherever one happens to be.
This also is a good time to question the entire idea of the national government trying to “seal the borders,” pick winners and losers among immigrants, decide who gets all the welfare benefits of being a legal immigrant and who is not even allowed into our golden door. Invariably, when the federal government imposes its way on immigration, we get some immigrants who come in with legal sanction and quickly become dependents of the U.S. government—whereas illegals are probably not net beneficiaries of the welfare state, legal immigrants might very well be.
I'm sorry, but this is hopelessly wrongheaded. Since the USA is a welfare state and under ObamaCare about to become even more of one, it is obviously suicidal for purely fiscal reasons alone to open the borders. Who would not want to come to this great prosperous nation of ours? Do I really need to spell this out? Only if the libertarians got their way and succeeded in shrinking the government down to 'night watchman' functions (the Lockean triad: protection of life, liberty, and property), would this fiscal objection to open borders be removed. But obviously this shrink-down is not going to happen. Given that the USA is a welfare state and will remain one -- the only real question being how much of one -- it is all the more necessary to control entry into the country.
Since conservatives often say our rights come not from the government but from God and the nature of man, it is not for the government to decide whether someone should have the right to live here or not—it is up to individuals and communities, which obviously are able to sustain a fair number of illegals.
This is very shoddy reasoning. Conservatives maintain that there are certain natural unalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the right to pursue happiness (which is not the right to be or be made happy). These natural rights are not granted by governments but secured by legitimate governments. They are rights that one has irrespective of one's being a citizen of a state. But it does not follow that every right that one has one one has irrespective of citizenship. My right to vote is not a right to vote anywhere. When I lived in Germany, Austria, and Turkey, I did not have the right to vote in those countries, nor should I have had that right. Just as I don't have the right to vote anywhere, I don't have the right to live anywhere or travel anywhere. When I lived in Turkey I could not stand on my natural right to live in Turkey: there is no such right. I had to apply for a visa and be granted permission to live there for a stated period of time after I had paid a fee for the privilege. Now you might not want to call living in Turkey a 'privilege,' but it is surely not a natural right that everyone has just in virtue of being a human being.
The author says that communities have a right to decide who shall live in them. But a community is a political entity, a state writ small, and what goes for states writ small goes for states writ large.
. . . constitutionalists in particular should question the very notion that the feds have legal authority to crack down on the border, since immigration is not an Article I, Section 8 authority of Congress. Conservatives especially should follow Reagan’s example and embrace immigration amnesty.
This is just false. "Congress shall have the power to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization . . . ." (Article I, Section 8) As for Reagan's example, is this guy suggesting that conservatives should follow Reagan's example even in matters on which he acted foolishly or not like a conservative? Come on! Amnesty for those illegals already here and established may well be unavoidable. But this is separate form the question whether the border should be sealed to keep out additional illegal aliens.
A guest post by Peter Lupu. Editing by BV. BV will respond to PL in the ComBox. Here in his own words is the argument that BV presented:
1. Every human person possesses a natural right to life.
2. If every human person has a natural right to life, then he has a right to defend his life against those who would seek to violate this right.
3. If every human person has a right to defend his life, then he has a right to an effective means of defending his life.
4. Every human person has a right to an effective means of defending his life. (From 1, 2, 3 by Modus Ponens and Hypothetical Syllogism.)
5. In many circumstances, a gun is the only effective means of defending one's life.
6. In many circumstances, human persons have a right to possess guns, a right that is not conferred by constitutions but ought to be respected by them.
In “Deriving Gun Rights from the Right to Life” Bill presented a powerful argument on behalf of gun rights that is grounded on the right to life. The argument is based on the assumption that the right to life is a natural right and, hence, is logically prior to positive law, where by positive law we mean a law that is enacted by society. In addition to the principle that natural rights are logically prior to positive law, Bill’s argument features two additional very important principles.
I take the view that some rights are logically antecedent to anything of a conventional nature such as a group decision or a constitution. Thus the right to life is not conferred by any constitution, but recognized and protected by well-crafted ones. In simple terms, you don't have the right to life because some people say you do; they correctly say you do because you have this right quite apart from anything they say. The right to life is a natural right. It is logically antecedent to anything of a conventional nature such as the positive law.