Saturday, October 02, 2010

Jacob Weisberg v. John Locke (And The Founders)

From Slate:

Palin's counter-snobbery holds those who live in the middle of the country, own guns, and go to church are more authentic, more the "real America," than those who live in coastal cities, profess atheism, or prefer a less demonstrative style of patriotism. But the insistence that gay people not be married, or that some go without health insurance, or that gas be lightly taxed, reflect choices about "how other people should live" no less than the opposite positions. Gingrich and others cast democratic decisions as illegitimate only when they conflict with right-wing ideology. If an unelected judge upholds gay marriage, he's practicing liberal elitism. But if the same unelected judge were to invalidate Obama's health care legislation, he would be defending the Constitution. Such hypocrisy is based on the construct of a pre-political state of nature, where we lived in abstract freedom until government arrived to limit and control us.

Thus Weisberg's "argument" boils down to "You cannot call me an elitist because I'm smarter than Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and all of the Founders." Yeah. That'll work, if you are an idiot.

So, if Weisberg rejects the political theory which grants individual and inalienable rights (i.e. the political theory underlying American government), I wonder what he replaces it with?


Anonymous said...

Do gay people have individual and inalienable rights? If they do, why can't they be married? If not, why do they not have individual and inalienable rights? Perhaps they should exercise their Lockean right to revolution if "activist" judges don't trump tyrannical legislatures to confer their just individual and inalienable rights on them.

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

Who says they cannot get married? If two gay people can find an institution that will marry them no one is going to stop them. So the question isn't marraige as such. (For example, the Catholic rite of marraige is about the bride, the groom, God, and the vows made. The state doesn't enter into it as far as the rite of marraige is concerned.) The question being argued about is the legal status(es) societies have traditionally conferred on heterosexual marriages. Now, those legal statuses are different in every society, and have never been classified as a "right" per se.

Don't believe me? Look at the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and what they say about marraige:

1) (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

Notice, the only questions you cannot limit are "race, nationality or religion". Gender is not mentioned. Thus societies can choose either to confer or not confer legal status to same sex marraiges without "rights" being involved.

Anonymous said...

The Federal Government in the Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman. So the federal government says that gay people cannot get married (to each other). So answer my question: do gay people enjoy individual and inalienable rights in the same fashion as straight people?

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

The DMA does not keep any church from marrying anyone, period. It only defines who qualifies for the legal recognition and sets a Federal standard (circumventing any differences at the state level.)

I'm sorry you wish to argue an imaginary proposition, but that is what is going on.

As for your question I do not believe straight people have a "right" to a specific set of legal recognitions, so why should I believe gay people have a right straight people do not have?

It's like complaining that handicapped people have a "right" to parking spaces. That is nonsense, because it is in no way a "right." It is law which may be removed at any time without interferring with anyone's "rights."

There is a differnce between a "right" and a "privilege" you know. The etymology of the word "privilege" is a "law pertaining to one person" (i.e. a private law), and as such cannot be a universal (i.e. a right).