The tyranny of the majority

Via Hit & Run, this lunacy courtesy of former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork:

The December 19 issue of National Review, marking the magazine’s 50th anniversary, includes a feature in which 10 people offer suggestions on “How to Increase Liberty in America,” to which I contributed a few paragraphs about ending the war on drugs. Sandwiched between Clint Bolick on school choice and Ward Connerly on colorblindness is Robert Bork on censorship. Just to be clear: He is for it.

“Liberty in America can be enhanced by reinstating, legislatively, restraints upon the direction of our culture and morality,” writes the former appeals court judge, now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “Censorship as an enhancement of our liberty may seem paradoxical. Yet it should be obvious, to all but the most dogmatic First Amendment absolutists, that people forced to live in an increasingly brutalized culture are, in a very real sense, not wholly free.” Bork goes on to complain that “relations between the sexes are debased by pornography”; that “large parts of television are unwatchable”; that “motion pictures rely upon sex, gore, and pyrotechnics for the edification of the target audience of 14-year-olds”; and that “popular music hardly deserves the name of music.”

Consider me a dogmatic absolutist. Also, Judge Bork might want to re-read this (for the first time?):

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It’s clear that “conservatives” like Judge Bork don’t particularly care about constitutional principles. No idea of liberty or limited government could ever be compatible with the notion that censorship is an enhancement of our liberty. That’s not obvious, no matter the proclamations from Judge Bork. Judge Bork is really saying that courts that give acknowledge rights are activists capitulating to the liberal agenda, while legislatures that restrict rights are society enhancers promoting freedom. Judge Bork believes in principles no more profound than “Everyone must abide by my beliefs.”

It certainly is a shame that he missed out on the Supreme Court with brilliance like that. America is clearly worse off.

I’m not convinced of the “truth”

In a much-talked-about editorial titled “The Truth about Torture,” Charles Krauthammer delves into the torture debate with a lengthy analysis of the issues involved. We don’t come to the same conclusions, I think, although it’s possible he’s closer to my absolute anti-torture stance than he implies. But it’s a useful discussion. I have one question. Consider:

Let’s begin with a few analytic distinctions. For the purpose of torture and prisoner maltreatment, there are three kinds of war prisoners:

Third, there is the terrorist with information. Here the issue of torture gets complicated and the easy pieties don’t so easily apply. Let’s take the textbook case. Ethics 101: A terrorist has planted a nuclear bomb in New York City. It will go off in one hour. A million people will die. You capture the terrorist. He knows where it is. He’s not talking.

Question: If you have the slightest belief that hanging this man by his thumbs will get you the information to save a million people, are you permitted to do it?

That’s an absurd scenario that’s been readily debunked throughout the blogosphere in the last week, so I won’t go into it here. I’m more interested in Mr. Krauthammer’s assumptions (although he’s not alone in pushing this scenario with the same assumptions).

Specifically, how do we know there’s a nuclear bomb set to go off in one hour? I don’t ask that as a “gotcha” question; it’s not. I’m genuinely interested in the assumption because it could change the approach to the scenario. Isn’t there a possible inference in this scenario that indicates intelligence gathering might be useful? Or do we want to just continue with the assumption that we’re not good enough to prevent such terrorism from reaching the United States through time-tested methods, thus torture is the only option?

For more insight, read this.

As long as it’s for the children

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that, if I ever have a son, I will leave him intact. Yet, I have a fear associated with that decision that is only reinforced by this recent story from Winnipeg:

St. Boniface Hospital has suspended circumcisions of male newborns after a mix-up where the procedure was performed on the wrong baby.

Authorities say they’re investigating the incident.

“We’re concerned about any event of this nature because obviously a child was circumcised before his parents had a chance to make a decision and to give their consent and we will look into that,” said Helene Vrignon, a hospital representative.

Vrignon said the identities of two baby boys on the same ward got mixed up. The family of the boy who was incorrectly circumcised had not yet made a decision about whether to have the procedure done, she added.

I have no idea what my response would be if doctors made that mistake with my child, but it wouldn’t be a delayed decision on whether or not I’d sue. I fully comprehend that this is an unlikely scenario, but it’s certainly possible. Given that approximately 75% of newborn males in Virginia are circumcised upon birth, parents still view circumcision as a decision-less decision. I’d take no chances a doctor might make an “inappropriate” mistake. I’d still have a letter before the birth for every doctor involved indicating that circumcision should not be performed.

But the bigger problem in this scenario should be obvious. The doctors circumcised the infant without consent, as Mr. Tetreault said. He implied the parents’ consent. Presumably, the law in Canada, as in the U.S., focuses on the parents, but that’s the wrong analysis. Is everyone involved so dense that they can’t make one minute shift in thinking to grasp the medically-unnecessary surgery inflicted upon the infant without his consent? Let everyone play musical chairs with their roles in this example and the principle remains. Yet, we ignore that this lack of consent occurs every day in America. Future generations will look back in disbelief at our blatant ethical violation.

The game took a dreadful turn early in the 2nd half

So this is the Democratic boundary of free speech?

Gov. Rod Blagojevich is vowing to appeal a federal court ruling that shot down a new Illinois law intended to ban the sale of violent or sexual video games to minors.

U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly ruled Friday that the law, which was to take effect Jan. 1, was unconstitutional, and he barred the state from enforcing it.

The Democratic governor and other supporters of the measure have argued that children were being harmed by exposure to games in which characters go on killing sprees or sexual escapades.

“This battle is not over,” Blagojevich said in a statement. “Parents should be able to expect that their kids will not have access to excessively violent and sexually explicit video games without their permission.”

The judge said that it would interfere with the First Amendment and that there wasn’t a compelling enough reason, such as preventing imminent violence, to allow that. The state also would have to show the law was the only way to achieve the state’s goal and that it was as narrowly written as possible.

I keep forgetting that as long as it’s for the children, any law is reasonable. No need to remember that some parents believe their children shouldn’t be shielded from “harmful” products as much as their children should be taught to make appropriate choices. And shockingly, those same parents believe they should be the ones to do the teaching. That the Constitution implicitly backs them up shouldn’t come as a surprise. Granted, if all else fails, they’ll call Super Nanny, but she’s a television personality, not a government statist.

I don’t always enjoy being right

I wish I wasn’t prophetic when I wrote this:

Is it reasonable to assume that if we rely on racial profiling, terrorists will switch tactics to include racial (and gender) profiles we’re not looking for?

I’m not surprised. Terrorists may be one size fits all, but that’s going to change.

She was the typical girl-next-door _ pretty daughter of a hospital secretary who grew up on a quiet street in this rust-belt town and finished high school before becoming a baker’s assistant.

Years later she was in Baghdad, carrying out a suicide bombing in the name of jihad _ a disturbing sign of the reach of Islamic militancy.

Neighbors say Muriel Degauque, who blew herself up last month at age 38 trying to attack U.S. troops, had lived a conventional life but became heavily involved in Islam after marrying an Algerian.

Muriel Degauque was white. Would racial profiling for young men of Middle Eastern descent have stopped her if she’d blown herself up in the United States instead of Iraq? I reiterate what I’ve written in the past. Police, military, and intelligence gatherers are trained to do a job. They generally do it very well. Relying primarily on something so easily mistake-prone (racial profiling) will give us a false sense of security. That is not what we need when dealing with terrorism. I’d rather trust intelligence info, detective work, and the field instincts of a police offer dealing with suspicious activity. We’re going to win the domestic portion of the war against Islamofascist terrorism because we have those three capabilities. We’d be wise to remember that every time someone promotes racial profiling as essential to the war against Islamofascist terrorism.