Must I fisk my own commenters?

Why yes.  Yes I must.

My Don’t Obamize the Tea Party post went up a couple weeks ago.  A couple days ago, commenter ‘Doc’ found it and left a comment.  That’s what commenters do.
I appreciate comments.  So I’ll be gentle.  Here we go.

“As a wildly conservative Christian ‘evangelical’ (a term that is about ready for the dumper, just like ‘born-again’, as far as having any usefulness in actually describing a ‘branch’ of Christianity), I basically agree with you. My emphasis would be: the Constitution. We need to rediscover it, like Josiah rediscovered the Book of the Law.”
I neither understand nor care about the differences among various ‘branches’ of Christianity.  You all look alike to me.  [In a good way, honest.]  Also, I don’t know who Josiah is.  However I applaud your loyalty to the Constitution, and am mildly amused at the juxtaposition of ‘wildly’ and ‘conservative’.

“We need legislators, executives, and judges willing to admit that, e.g., Social Security is grossly unConstitutional, and we need to be arguing over exactly how to end it, not how to ‘fix’ it.”
Ending is fixing, in it’s own way, right?  So is privatizing.  No real disagreement here, although that particular battle needs to wait a while.  I have some thoughts on how to work up to it (coming soon).  Also, from our Department of Picking the Nits, slight misuse of the term ‘e.g.’ there.

“If we actually followed the Constitution, the ‘social’ issues would be much easier to deal with because, e.g., we would also acknowledge that the Federal Gov’t has exactly zero power to force states to make abortion legal.”
Or force them to make it illegal, either.

“Likewise there would be no Federal judicial actions regarding, e.g., the military’s policy re homosexuals, or homosexual ‘marriage’.”
Misfire.  And everything was going so well!
The Constitution provides for Congress (federal legislative branch) to raise and fund a military force, and for the President (federal executive branch) to be Commander in Chief of the military.  Seems like, under the concept of checks and balances, the federal judiciary branch might just have a role in there somewhere.
Regarding ‘marriage’, though, I’m with you.  In fact, I see no reason for ‘federal judicial actions’ regarding (e.g.) heterosexual ‘marriage’ either.

[Do you always put ‘it’ in quotes like that?]

“Good grief, per the Constitution, if a state wanted to make the Presbyterian Church of America (not the Bible-less PCUSA, mind you) the state religion, it should be allowed to; it’s only the Federal gov’t that can’t establish a ‘religion’ (which word, to the Founders in the 1780’s, referred to any of the denominations of Christianity, not to Islam/Buddhism/Wicca/etc).”
And ‘good grief’, we’re off the reservation.  You display not just pro-Christian bias, but pro-your-kind-of-Christian bias.  Per the Constitution, the First Amendment does not apply to religions other than yours, to include forms of Christianity of which you disapprove?  That’s what you just said.
On the plus side, I mentioned Wicca in my post, you mentioned Wicca in your comment.  So either you really did read the whole thing, or you think that Wicca is a real religion.  Either way, good on ya.  Mate.

And by the way, suppose a state decided to make Wicca, or Judaism, or even the “Bible-less PCUSA” the state religion?  You’d be cool with that, right?  Or, when you say you want states to be able to do such things, do you assume the religion involved will be yours and only yours?

“We ‘So-Cons’ could fight at the state level for whatever ‘intrusive’ policies our little hearts desired, while the economic engine of the nation would run unfettered by ludicrous interpretations of the Commerce Clause.”
Combining this with the previous quote, what you’re saying is that the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply to the governments of the various states.  Okay.  States have their own constitutions that could include such provisions*.  But what if a particular state didn’t?  Up to them, right?

If the various states are not bound by the Bill of Rights, then a state government could shut down a local newspaper for criticizing the governor; it could allow the state patrol to come into your house for a search without cause; it could imprison you for refusing to give testimony against yourself, if such protections didn’t exist within it’s own constitution.  See my point?  You need some quiet time to think about this.

Thanks for the comment!  I hope you leave some more.  I got a whole post out of this one – it wasn’t as funny as I hoped (it rarely is), but maybe next time.

*Wisconsin’s constitution has a declaration of rights (Article 1) that is both more clear and more robust than the Bill of Rights.

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6 Responses to Must I fisk my own commenters?

  1. Doc says:

    MP, thanks so much for taking the time and effort to respond to my comment, particularly when you did it in such a polite, respectful, thoughtful, and witty way.

    Random thoughts in response:
    I could be mistaken, but I think, when the Constitution was written, some of the states actually had ‘established’ religions (one denomination of Christianity or another). I’m pretty sure that at least Virginia and Massachusetts levied a tax that apparently could be paid to the church of one’s choice. The Constitution allows this; it only prohibits the Feds from having an established religion. The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law…”; it never says a state legislature can’t make such a law. The rest of the Bill of Rights doesn’t specify who may not abridge this or that right; it simply says they may not be abridged. Combining the fact that at least some of the states had some kind of established religion, and that only the First Amendment specifies that Congress may not do such and such, making no mention of any other legislative body, it appears that the Founders intended it to be up to the states to decide if they would or would not have an established religion.

    My impression of the genius of the Founders is that, amongst other things, they intended for there to be some diversity between the states. One of the benefits of this is that citizens might, if necessary, ‘vote with their feet’, and move to a state whose laws were more to their liking, should their home state impose some abhorrent statue or other. Thus, should we return to the original intent of the Constitution, and, e.g., California were to choose Wicca as the state religion, I would expect some to be indifferent, some to like it, and some, including myself if I lived there, which I am very thankful I don’t, to be aghast and to leave. Perhaps to Kentucky, were it wise enough to choose the PCA as its established religion (full disclosure: I’m NOT a member of the PCA, there not being a local congregation of it in striking distance; I just admire it).

    So, yes, the Bill of Rights applies to the states whenever it simply states that this or that right may not be abridged, or must be allowed, and doesn’t specify who may or may not abridge it. The First is the only one that specifies Congress, I think. All the others would apply to the states as well.

    I intended to use ‘e.g.’ in my original comment the same way I used it above, to mean ‘for example’. In other words, in my original comment, Social Security is just one example of a grossly unConstitutional Federal program. I could have picked many another, from the DEA to the Ed Dept to HHS. Take yer pick: they all oughta go.

    I put ‘marriage’ in quotes in the original comment when coupled with the word homosexual. Marriage, when referring to the union of people as specified in the laws of every state in the land, and as specified in the will of God, has and had a certain meaning: the lifelong union of a man and a woman. While we might use the word ‘marriage’ in other contexts to mean other things (‘the marriage of the basil and the thyme in this dish is exquisite’), in the political context that’s what we’re talking about. If we allow the meaning of this word to be changed at will without changing the law itself to reflect that change, we are allowing the same thing the proponents of the ‘living Constitution’ are doing: twisting the meaning of words to someone’s ends. That way lies 1984: war is peace, love is hate, the enumeration of powers means the Federal gov’t can do anything it wants to do. This is why I oppose a Federal statue or Constitutional amendment on marriage: the problem is not primarily the desire to have homosexuals declare themselves married to someone of the same sex, the problem is the willingness to twist truth. I guarantee, even if such a statue or amendment were passed, eventually we would see the following:
    Two men walk into a justice of the peace and say, ‘We want to get married.’ The judge says, ‘Sorry, according to that stinkin’ Constitutional amendment those religious bigots forced on us, marriage has to be between a man and a woman.’ ‘That’s OK,’ one of them replies, ‘For the purposes of this marriage, I’m the woman.’ A short pause. ‘Well alrighty then,’ quoth the judge.

  2. Doc says:

    Quick addendum: a brief ‘Net search seems to support the notion that Massachusetts at least, at the time of the signing of the Constitution and for a brief time afterwards, had as its established church the Congregationalists. So I don’t see how the Bill of Rights could have been intended to prevent a state from having an established religion. I’m open to arguments as to why establishing a religion at the state level would be a bad thing, but it seems to be allowed by the Constitution.

  3. Doc says:

    And, in the main comment above, that’s ‘statute’, not ‘statue’, altho’, when one considers the stuff that’s often put outside large buildings these days, one can imagine a state gov’t imposing an abhorrent statue as well. 😉

  4. misterpterodactyl says:

    I’m pretty sure I agree with your interpretation of the Establishment Clause. The clause does specify Congress as its subject, so one could say it only applies to Congress whereas the rest of the First (and the rest of the Bill) apply to all. And since I (and apparently you) prefer the power of the federal government to be limited wherever possible, I can live with this. A few more thoughts:
    One, I think a state would be foolish to declare an official religion. Still, shouldn’t is not the same as can’t.
    Two, I have also heard that some states had official religions back in the day. They don’t any more. Why not? I don’t know, but possibly because of…
    Three: I would bet money that we aren’t the first guys to ever discuss this issue. In fact, I would bet there’s a huge volume of literature and law about it, maybe even a couple Supreme Court decisions. And I bet that body of work supports the opposite position. You’re free to disagree with that body, and you have a point.

    Regarding ‘e.g.’: I did that mainly to poke fun. It does mean what you think it means, but it is commonly used thus: I am often distracted by minor errors in grammar and usage e.g. your use of e.g. [See that? See what I did there?]
    The pattern is “abstraction or generalization, e.g. specific instance of said abstraction or generalization.”

    Finally, I highlighted your use of quote marks (which was not punctuationally incorrect) as another joke. Still, I have approximately zero patience for your attitude on this issue. You state that it’s the “will of God” that marriage be “the lifelong union of a man and a woman.” Is it also the will of god that the government endorse such unions? And that it should not endorse others? You specify ‘lifelong;’ is divorce therefore proscribed? How about remarriage after widowing?

    My position is this: that gay couples should have access to the exact same government-granted status as heterosexual couples do. I hear people disagree with that and claim they are ‘defending marriage.’ To me that is a non sequitur. ‘Traditional’ marriage (or whatever term you prefer) will continue to exist whether or not it gets the government’s nod, and whether or not ‘nontraditional’ marriage does.

    Thanks for the followup. See you around!

  5. Pingback: Kindly direct your attention to the comments in this post | Mister Pterodactyl

  6. Larry says:

    I, too, think that gay couples should have equal access to divorce courts.

    The Gubmint of either state or Fed should be concerned with the institution of marriage only as far as acknowledging that it is a legally binding contract between two consenting parties, and then ensuring that said contract enjoys full protection under the law.

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