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The Problem With Reason

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case out of Washington D.C., where a long-standing law prohibiting honest citizens from owning and keeping handguns for their self-defense and the defense of their families is being challenged as a violation of 2nd Amendment rights. It would seem, at first, to be a clear division of positions - one either contends that the 2nd Amendment was written regarding individuals, or it was not. But, a longer inspection makes things a bit sticker. For Liberals, the fact that the Bill Of Rights was clearly written to protect the people from a repressive government makes it hard to claim that they should be denied the right to protect themselves from criminals. But for Republicans, the notion that an individual has the right to bear arms runs into trouble as soon as you ask how far that right extends; taken to extremes an insurrectionist collecting an armory of weapons could claim he was protected by the Constitution. One is forced to depend on Reason, no matter where one's ideals and emotions originally direct their opinion.

The problem with that Reason, however, is that people tend to ignore it when it won't say or do what they demand of it. An obvious example is the pervasive paranoia on the Left, which increasingly blames things on President George W. Bush, no matter how absurd the charge, but the Republicans have their own share of myopia on that count, as the 2006 mid-term elections bear out. America was hardly thrilled with the Democrats, yet the GOP managed to convince the voters that they should change the party in power. As a result, the nation is thoroughly disgusted with Congress, yet has given no clear signal who should lead; the Anarchists must see this as their golden opportunity. Certainly the focus of political ads for the Presidential campaigns has been largely stylistic, with little to no substance for anyone to use to decide who should get their vote. The serious voter must be close to despair.

The United States is a country truly unique in the world. And yet, American politics is no more lucid and civil than many other places. To run for President requires a campaign fund larger than the value of some corporations, it depends on a serial contest in multiple venues, where candidates must hone an image sufficiently distinct to stand out, but sufficiently common to remain appealing as a member of the established community. It's a lot like any large demographic, a majority of middle-road performance, with a few noteworthy for their failures or success. The American condition is different, because when it works, the system produces leaders who listen to the people, respond to their needs, and whose vision advances the country, more often and with better foresight than any other nation on the planet. But the way we get there is far from reasonable at times. It is chock full of emotion and symbolism, of sometimes trite, even banal displays of the obvious. The most reasonable candidate is often the first rejected.

American business is still the template for the world in many ways; organization, marketing, and distribution are obvious arenas where U.S. companies excel. Yet the United States is also home to some of the most bone-headed economic decisions ever made by a non-Communist/Socialist government. American CEOs run the range from some of the most insightful and innovative leaders in the world, to some of the most insipid and trollish boors on the planet. Reason gets a migraine just trying to explain why that is so.

The American Education system is regular derided for its poor quality, in part due to a determined emphasis to place socially "conscious" issues on equal footing with practical developmental tools, or even superior. Yet the lion's share of innovative products, medical breakthroughs, and applicable discoveries continues to go to the United States. Apparently, geniuses somehow understand the limitations of the public education system and find alternative avenues for self-education and intellectual growth. Yet again, Reason is baffled by the results.

Reason is an essential quality of a complete adult, yet it constantly finds itself trumped in decisions of the moment.


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Comments (15)

Abortion: not mentioned in... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

Abortion: not mentioned in the Constitution, Supreme Court finds Constitutional right.

Right to bear arms: mentioned specifically in the Constitution, as an individual right, Supreme Court finds . . . ?

Wouldn't it be something if they don't find right to a specifically referenced right, but stand by the "penumbral" right to an abortion.

I wouldn't put it past 'em, if they get old Kennedy to open up his law professor bag of tricks.

Don't forget the phrase "wa... (Below threshold)
Dave W:

Don't forget the phrase "wall of separation" between church and state comes from a supreme court justice Hugo Black. The constitution provides no "wall of separation". It provides actually quite the obvious. It provides that congress cannot write a law that establishes a church. public displays of religion, saying god in school and the god on our money does not define a specific church.

...taken to extremes an ... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

...taken to extremes an insurrectionist collecting an armory of weapons could claim he was protected by the Constitution.

Well, count me an extremist. Collecting guns is not the crime here, insurrection is. The person in question has the right to collect guns until he or she proves him or her self to be a criminal, after which the right will be rescinded.

If "the Bill Of Rights was clearly written to protect the people from a repressive government" then, by definition, the Bill of Rights was written to protect insurrectionists - no?

It comes down to how one defines "repressive government" and when to say enough is enough. I would hope at such a point, it would not be a matter of a disgruntled individual or two but masses of people rising up. Nonetheless, it would require stepping outside the current form of "the law" and a willingness to reap the consequences. This is where individual morality and conscience rule and it highlights the importance of a well established and common sense of right and wrong. This is exactly why the left hates Christianity so much. They instinctively recognize that morality and religion are the indispensable supports of liberty. Destroy the supports - destroy liberty.

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity...And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." - George Washington

Well, there's enough waxing eloquent for the day.

Yet the lion's share of ... (Below threshold)
Adriane Author Profile Page:

Yet the lion's share of innovative products, medical breakthroughs, and applicable discoveries continues to go to the United States.

Unfortunately, this is usually due to incredibly well educated foreigners who come to the US for its college level (+) academic freedom. Only half the science/math/engineering PhD candidates are American born and educated.

Adriane, ever notice how ma... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Adriane, ever notice how many foreigners come here planning to stay just until they get their degree ... then they raise their kids here?

There's a reason, sister.

Like DJ said, Adriane... it... (Below threshold)

Like DJ said, Adriane... it's AMERICA that does all these things. Not necessarily Americans. And certainly not only those Americans whose families have been here for several generations.

The greatness of America is from many sources. The people certainly are a large part of it, but also the culture, the political atmosphere, the society, the history, the geography...

You just prove DJ's point even more when you note how many non-Americans come here to achieve their great feats.

J.

The only thing you need to ... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

The only thing you need to remember is that every descision the SC makes is an *opinion*.

Be afraid, be very afraid...

Well, if the founders fough... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Well, if the founders fought a war against their government at the time, King George of England, then our founders and the citizens won that war and authored and ratified a constitution. The Bill of Rights, clearly written to guarantee the power of the people over their government, in which the 2nd amendment is included. Now we have to decide whether they meant it for "regular" citizens? Sometimes I wonder if acadamia hurts our country or helps it. ww

Hopefully the Supreme Court... (Below threshold)

Hopefully the Supreme Court finds some path to uphold the Bill Of Rights while protecting the public from criminals, the mentally ill or even crackheads who want a gun for mischief or worse.

The extreme levels of crime in Washington D.C. forced the city to enact an over-reaching ban for all citizens on handguns. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will be wise enough to find some solution, unless they once again largely dump the problem back on the local government to come up with a fresh approach to keeping crime levels lower while honoring the Second Amendment.

More guns in the city also increase security risks for elected officials as well, so likely they want some say in the decision as well. If all elected officials require new heavy security just to go to their apartment to sleep at night if a fresh wave of guns hits the streets, then the decision could have a deeper security issue impact for our government beyond just some test of limits of the Second Amendment. Opening up new security risks for government officials and offering the mentally ill or terrorists more attempts to impact our government in Washington are all issues the court will have to consider.

The Supreme Court record on protecting the BIll Of Rights at face level value has been very unclear. For example, the Supreme Court has given government powers to regulate speech far beyond any reasonable face reading of text of the First Amendment, so don't hold out much hope for much wisdom from the Court. If the court sends the D.C. issue back to the government, they'll be seen as not resolving much. If they place limits on the ruling, then some will say that' they're "legislating from the bench". You can't please everyone.

DELUSIONS of the moment DJ,... (Below threshold)
epador:

DELUSIONS of the moment DJ, not decisions. As amply demonstrated in #9.

If firearms are outlawed in... (Below threshold)
Allen:

If firearms are outlawed in this country, can you imagine the loss of life when authorities try to seize them? I'm sure the lefties have never thought of that. I wish I could find the article, but the article stated that close to 9 out of ten households have firearms. That has to keep the lefties in a cold sweat.

Its easy for the wealthy li... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

Its easy for the wealthy liberals in WASHINGTON D.C.(DISTRICT of CRINIMALS)to demand that eveybody else go around unarmed while they in their ivory towers can enjoy armed protection 24/7 typical bunch of rich liberal eletists crooks REMOVE THEM ALL

Paul, what are you smoking?... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Paul, what are you smoking? ww

A thought experiment ...</p... (Below threshold)
Adriane Author Profile Page:

A thought experiment ...

You live in the noble city of, say, Cleveland. And Cleveland has 4 hospitals: St. Mary's, St. Anne's, St. Patrick's, and St. Christopher's.

Everyone who goes to St. Christopher's dies. Hangnail or heart attack, it doesn't matter. Everyone dies.

Go to St. Mary's, St. Anne's, or St. George's and you live. Why the even had Christofer Reeves up and dancing after just 24 hours.

You are in a car accident and as the medics strap you in the ambulance, you ask, "Hey, where we going?"

"St. Christopher's," they reply.

"No way, man! Everybody who goes to St. Christopher's dies! Don't take me there."

"Dude, you're just looking at this wrong. Health care is not for individual Clevelanders; it's for Cleveland. Average out Everybody dying at one hospital and Everybody living at 3 others and you have a 75% survival rate. And that's good enough for Cleveland."

Do you lay back & enjoy the ambulance ride?

Adriane:Do you la... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

Adriane:
Do you lay back & enjoy the ambulance ride?

No.

Your thought experiment simply serves to illustrate the importance of individual choice (i.e. the choices made by the individual). The choice belongs to the individual as do the consequences.

As a corollary of your thought experiment, the choice to possess a firearm, or to not, belongs to the individual, as do the consequences of that decision.




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