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Title: Freedom’s Essential Hierarchy
Source: [None]
URL Source: [None]
Published: Jun 24, 2018
Author: Paul Jacob
Post Date: 2018-06-24 18:12:38 by tpaine
Keywords: None
Views: 102
Comments: 7

Townhall.com

Freedom’s Essential Hierarchy

Paul Jacob

6/24/2018 12:01:00 AM -

Have Americans forgotten that freedom makes getting along easier?

We do not all have to like each other. We do not even all have to be nice to each other. We just don’t have license to hit or hornswoggle our fellows. Hate speech may be bad, but it is hate assaults — not talk — that should be punished by law.

This distinction, between talk and act, is important. One way to look at it is to accept it as a “hierarchy.” And when it comes to hierarchy, you cannot get more deep into it than in thinking theologically. Which is why freedom of conscience was so key to the development of a free society.

Most people throughout history have put a lot of trust and importance upon the topmost Person on any possible hierarchy, God. But, I’m sure you’ve noticed, people conceive of their God (or even gods) differently, using different names, attributing different qualities. And because of all the trust we place in our Differently Conceived Deities, we can get pretty riled when somebody differs from our theological views.

Which is where the logic of our Founding Fathers comes in.

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in Notes on the State of Virginia. “It does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

What Jefferson did is rest his case on a very different hierarchy than Infidel/Heretic/Layman/Priest/God. Jefferson’s hierarchy depended upon the difference between Word and Deed. By whittling back the state to defense of rights to person and property, Jefferson’s idea — the old liberal idea, which now seems like a modern “conservative” idea — was to limit the number of issues over which we could rightly turn to violence. Either private violence or coercion by the State.

In a free society we expect people to take their verbal lumps. But actual physical assaults? Those we go to court over. And in a mugging, or a robbery, those are what we draw out the knives and guns and clubs to defend ourselves.

We do not draw out the weapons if someone disagrees with us on God. Or Goodness. Or Gender.

Yes, this means that free people under a rule of law are at liberty to insult each other, call each other nasty names, even demean each other. And those insulted, besmirched, and dissed may return in kind. Or shrug the negatives off.

But we needn’t let it go at that.

Bill Ottman, founder and CEO of Minds.com, a Facebook/Twitter alternative that seems to be gaining some traction, reminds us in a recent essay that there is more than one way to skin a hate. When coming across vile nonsense or worse, “the most important question is how we deal with these situations,” he writes. We don’t need to go directly to war. We do not need to upgrade vile to violence.

And it is not as if we are defenseless even against expressions of hatred. “We may be able to find the answer in the work of Daryl Davis,” Ottman offers, “a famous blues musician with a hobby of befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan.” Ottman quotes Mr. Davis as saying that “Once the friendship blossoms, the klansmen realize that their hate may be misguided.”

Without ever burning a cross in a Klansman’s lawn, or burning down a house, or even siccing a lawyer on them, Davis made headway against hatred. “By having dinner with Klansmen,” Ottman summarizes, “he has inspired over 200 members to give up their robes.”

This shows that free speech is not defenselessness or “giving up” — for when speech is truly free, speech is itself a defense.

Thomas Jefferson put it philosophically, in terms of truth: “Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error.” That may be true. But even if it isn’t always true — even if sometimes there is no “effectual” way to prevent error from dominating the minds of many, even most people — we are left with the great benefit of allowing not only freedom of reason and free enquiry, but also the freedom of invective, ridicule, mockery, and dismissal. Why? Because free speech is the only effectual agent against terror.

When we are given free rein (or just special license) to police others’ thoughts and speech, we open up floodgates of social discord.

Which is what we are seeing, increasingly, today. When expressing “unacceptable” opinions on sex and gender, for instance, becomes cause enough for some folks to bring down the full weight of Authority in defense against “offense,” what we get is authoritarianism, and more hatred, and more conflict than at all necessary.

When we learn that being offended gives us no special license to compel others, provides no cause for a bike lock in a sock to the head, no excuse for raising a weapon, no actionable cause for a lawsuit or even a dialing up of 911 — when we give up all that, that’s when life in society gets easier. Not harder.

But it does require a bit of mental toughness. That’s not a defect, however. For we can be adults about this.

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#1. To: tpaine (#0)

This is a damn good article. I agree with it. That is what I think. Thank you for posting it.

Vicomte13  posted on  2018-06-24   18:22:12 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Vicomte13 (#1)

This is a damn good article. I agree with it. That is what I think. Thank you for posting it.

Thanks, I thought that way too. --- ,The only fault I could find is that their was no mention of carrying a big stick.

tpaine  posted on  2018-06-24   18:41:04 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: tpaine, Vicomte13 (#0) (Edited)

And it is not as if we are defenseless even against expressions of hatred. “We may be able to find the answer in the work of Daryl Davis,” Ottman offers, “a famous blues musician with a hobby of befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan.” Ottman quotes Mr. Davis as saying that “Once the friendship blossoms, the klansmen realize that their hate may be misguided.”

A Russian novelist wrote a story about the armies of the Antichrist who had the following motto on their banners.

"Feed men, and then ask them of virtue." - Vladimir Solovyov

Tooconservative  posted on  2018-06-25   8:14:59 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: Tooconservative (#3)

Feed men, and then ask them of virtue." -

Davis, by feeding Klansmen, was influencing their virtue? --- And this was akin to doing the work of the Antichrist?

Hummmm, --- are you sure?

tpaine  posted on  2018-06-25   9:46:21 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: tpaine (#4)

Davis, by feeding Klansmen, was influencing their virtue?

Obviously, it was virtuous to the writer and to us. Solovyov's book (or article) was about a Japanese/Chinese army invading Europe, starting with Russia of course. At least, that is my understanding of it. This is part of a long series of historical essays and books in Russia about invading armies (like the Mongol Horde, Napoleon, Hitler). So they have a historical strain of paranoid writing in Russia, even more than the paranoid writing we've had in the States over the years. But for the Russians, it isn't paranoid if so many powerful empires have been out to get you.

So forget about the Antichrist part. It's nineteenth century Russian literature. The adage was what I was conveying. I only provided the info so you'd know the source of the quote (which you have probably encountered before elsewhere).

Tooconservative  posted on  2018-06-25   14:20:12 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#6. To: tpaine (#4) (Edited)

Perhaps this Wiki description helps a little. It is interesting that Solovyov is one of the writers that influences Vlad Putin and a few of his most ideological comrades from the Soviet era. They talk about this writer and others of his type. So the influence of Solovyov is not some dusty matter of the past. He has always had adherents among the Russian intelligentsia.

Solovyov further elaborated on the "Yellow Peril" in his apocalyptic short story "Tale of the Antichrist" published in the Nedelya newspaper on 27 February 1900, where China and Japan join forces to conquer Russia. Solovyov began his story with the epigraph: "Pan Mongolism! The name is monstrous Yet it caresses my ear As if filled with the portent Of a grand divine fate". In his story, the Japanese, after having adopted modern technology following the Meiji Restoration, teach the Chinese modern science and technology, after which a combined Sino-Japanese army conquers Europe. After a long era of occupation, the Europeans rise up, defeat and kill all of the Asians and then establish a "United States of Europe", living together in peace and prosperity as the various European powers have all learned that their real enemy is the Asians, not each other. The Boxer Rebellion in China was seen by many Russians as confirming the accuracy of Solovyov's anti-Asian writings and in the spring and summer of 1900 Solovyov was constantly interviewed by the Russian press about the "Yellow Peril". In an interview shortly before his death in July 1900, Solovyov stated he was very worried about what was happening in China, expressed regret that the Europeans had not joined forces already to stop the "Yellow Peril" and urged that China be partitioned between the various European powers before it was too late. Solovyov attacked those in the Russian intelligentsia who saw the British Empire as Russia's principal enemy and prompted the viewpoint that Russia was an Asian nation that should ally with China against Britain. Solovyov insisted that Russia was a European power that should side with its traditional archenemy Britain against what he claimed was the menace of China. Solovyov praised the German Emperor Wilhelm II for his Hunnenrede (Hun speech) calling for German troops be sent to China to behave like "Huns", saying the Kaiser was a "crusader, descendant of a sword-carrying host who in the face of the dragon's power understood that the sword and cross are one". Solovyov expressed absolute agreement with Wilhelm, arguing that in face of the "Yellow Peril", only the most merciless violence could save the white race.

As you know, the Yellow Peril stuff has been hashed over in American writing of the past. But Russians take it very very seriously.

Tooconservative  posted on  2018-06-25   14:33:54 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#7. To: Tooconservative (#6)

As you know, the Yellow Peril stuff has been hashed over in American writing of the past. But Russians take it very very seriously.

Can't think why...

Vicomte13  posted on  2018-06-25   22:09:48 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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