American Political Philosopher, Author, and Musician
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MERRY SECULAR CHRISTMAS   Dec 07   © 2007 thebrazenhubris.com

 

I’m referring to the kind with the beautiful lights and cold weather and Santa and catchy, melodic music. This next essay- like the rest I’m beginning to suspect- has come about due to a slowly building annoyance at the ignorance of remarks from some people who in many instances otherwise earn my respect- those in the “conservative” media.


This time around the stars of the essay are Ann Coulter, Mark Davis (Dallas area radio personality- heh heh), and some other guy who was filling in for Rush Limbaugh on Christmas Eve. (I could do the research and find out whom, but his comments weren’t that original so I’ll just present them and allow them to stand on their own.)

This particular strand of ignorance began when Mark Davis was discussing prohibition of cigarette smoking in private restaurants. Though he disagreed with the ban, he said that it was “constitutional”. In weeks following, there were other such scenarios in which he said that states could make any laws they want, unless the constitution specifically denies that power to the states.
Ann Coulter’s recent article about Huckabee’s stance that sodomy is a “constitutional right” echoes Mark’s apparent position. She lampoons that view in the normal fashion- incredulous at the notion that sodomy could be a constitutional right. I have no personal interest in Huckabee (sort of sickens me) or in homosexuality (see previous, unless it’s chicks!), and I do like Ms. Coulter’s writing, but I am a guy who one might say has an anal retentive attitude about the Constitution and logic in general so I just can’t let these nice folks get away with these errors.
Alexander Hamilton argued against a Bill of Rights in The Federalist 84, predicting that this exact kind of error would be made when people construe “particular reservations” to be the limit of our rights, and even a mechanism to further restrict our rights when in fact- in his words- “we retain everything”.
Hamilton didn’t get his way- in that we have a bill of rights- but Amendment 9 addresses his concern directly:

THE ENUMERATION IN THE CONSTITUTION, OF CERTAIN RIGHTS, SHALL NOT BE CONSTRUED TO DENY OR DISPARAGE OTHERS RETAINED BY THE PEOPLE

(Emphasis my pleasure)

As a friend likes to say every few minutes: “here’s the bottom line”:

LIBERTY is my right. LIBERTY is the right of every individual, and the purpose of The Constitution is explicitly stated in the preamble: “To secure the blessings of liberty”.

That’s the baseline- any individual can do whatever the F he wants to do. That’s what freedom is, gals and guys. Gather ‘round and sit Indian-style; and hear the rest of the story:

That’s great, except when someone wants to get in the way of someone else’s freedom. That’s why- put your juice down and listen- we have laws.

What kind of laws can government make, kids?

(and note that this applies to ALL levels of government, according to the Supremacy Act of the Constitution)

If you didn’t say:

“The kind of laws legislative bodies can make are laws that do not respect establishments of Religion, according to the First Amendment.”

Then you’d be wrong.

This gets us back to that old dusty nugget: Is the first Amendment a separation of church and state, or does it just mean that the federal government can’t establish a national religion?

Before I get all over that analysis- and you know I can’t wait to do it- it’s best done by first introducing the next dunce on the list of those who inspired this essay:

“The unknown fill-in host for Limbaugh during the Christmas holiday”

His topic of the day was religion, and anyone could call in with any comments or questions about religion in any form. At some point, the host said that “If God weren’t there to tell people not to kill, people would kill”. This is the general “morality comes from Religion” theory. He went on to say that he believed that if people didn’t believe there was a god and punishment then they would all go out and rape and murder. He said he wouldn’t, but he believes that’s what would develop. In another scenario, he said if you were walking through a dark alley and 10 big guys were walking toward you, wouldn’t you feel better if you knew they had come from a bible study class?

These are often the kinds of questions that theologians like to debate with atheists or agnostics. They have nice conferences, collect large fees, and move on to other towns. Since neither side believes the issue can really be solved, it makes for continuous, lively debate.

Forgive me for clearing it all up for you here:

Morality does NOT come from religion, and doesn’t need to happily. While God may or may not be an invention of man, religion certainly is. As stated in our Declaration of Independence, it is self evident that all are created equal. We’re really only created equal in one relevant way: in that none of us has ever known one speck more about who or what created us or why than any other, and that’s a grand total of nothing, zip, and nadda. That fact is the source of natural rights, as I’ve proven in a previous essay.

The real source of morality is the laws of nature, in the form of capitalism- according the following formula. (warning, more proprietary brilliance ahead)

In that human beings have been created, and in that no such beings have been created with greater knowledge of creator or purpose than any other individual ever, then individuals have the right to continue the state of survival that their creator has provided for them.
Morality is the survival of the species and therefore the survival of the individual under the mathematical beauty of capitalism. A person who understands capitalism properly (probably just me) will recognize the tragedy of a murder or any other destruction of human life to be – in addition to the obvious personal orbit of the incident- a reduction in the human potential to contribute to the engine of capitalism and therefore a reduction in the probability of the successful expansion and progression of this species into this galaxy and beyond.
Murder isn’t against the law in the United States because the Ten Commandments say “thou shalt not kill”, it’s against the law because murder violates the natural right to life of the individual in question; and more generally is a crime against the human species as a crime against that which sustains us all: capitalism.
I understand the source of confusion for bible-Christian conservatives: There are some similarities between some of the ideas attributed to Jesus and ideas that are intrinsic to capitalism. For example, treating someone the way you would want to be treated and not lying, or paying Caesar what’s due Caesar and Jesus what’s due him, yada yada yada. Since capitalism automatically produces those sorts of relationships between people, bible-Christians have mistaken a “capitalist” nation for a “Christian” nation, and in so doing have tried to associate the blessings of liberty with the influence of Christianity.
Some big, steaming problems fall out of the backend of that misunderstanding, however. The biggest one is the fact that the ideas of bible-Christianity are fundamentally opposed to the ideas of capitalism. First, capitalism depends on the idea that all men are created equal. Bible-Christianity depends on the idea that one man was not created equal. The goals of capitalism are the blessings of liberty, domestic tranquility, and a more perfect union of people living and working together in freedom; capitalism portends unbridled optimism for the potential of humanity. The bible takes a giant dump right in the middle of that picnic basket. According the bible, human beings are inherently evil. Whatever their attempts to work together to create prosperous societies of peaceful individuals, they will all decay into evil and our only hope is to believe in something that seems illogical so we can have the chance to be someone’s servant for eternity. Thanks for the pep talk, pricks.
Do I feel safer walking down a dark alley knowing that the 10 big guys walking toward me just came out of a bible study class? I don’t know- am I a black guy walking down a dark alley in 1940 Alabama after 10 white guys wearing hoods just got out of a bible study class? Or maybe I’m a young alter boy and there are 10 catholic priests walking toward me in an alley. Am I living in an area where sermons are being preached from parts of the bible other than the bits that say “be nice to people”, unlike what’s preached to most of today’s bible-Christians?
Remember media-Christians: No matter how lukewarm your Christianity becomes, it’s still a piss-poor substitute for capitalism.

The moral of this parable is the following: Whoever that guy on the radio was is ignorant, and doesn’t deserve to have his name remembered.

And now back to the First Amendment issue:

Conservatives who believe that levels of government can make whatever laws they want to make, as democracy sees fit, are forced into that conclusion by their refusal to admit that the First Amendment means what it must and can only mean based upon it’s wording and upon the context of the published views of its author, James Madison. Make no mistake; this is a painful topic for the bible-Christians who also think of themselves as political patriots because it’s where their whole façade of logic gets rice-paper thin. Grasshoppers- when you’ve walked the length of this essay, and leave no trace of continued ignorance of the subject, then you will have learned.
Conservatives are willing to bargain away every principle they otherwise hold dear when they get too close to that first Amendment question. They generally avoid this issue like the plague, largely ignoring it when possible. They just can’t traditionally accept the idea that the first Amendment might actually be designed to be a wall of separation between church and state, as Thomas Jefferson famously opined, so they just say it simply means that the federal government can’t establish a national religion, and quickly move to the next caller or topic. The problem with that convenient duck is that the logical importance of the separation of church and state- which is like the dilithium crystal in our capitalist enterprise for you nerds out there ( I know, you’ll probably be correcting my spelling of “dilithium”)- is lost, and what’s left is a nation that has nothing special on any nation that has ever existed. What we have left is what has Mark Davis blubbering around about how a state or town can make whatever law they want- or as a cop once said to me on the side of an interstate after I told him that I enjoyed a little herb now and again: “It’s against the law. If they told us we’d have to stop eatin’ hamburgers, we’d have to stop eatin’ ‘em”.
What’s left is simply total democracy. Whoever gets elected can make any law that they all agree to make, because it’s their call until they get de-elected.
What if the first Amendment does mean a separation of church and state, however? What happens then?
What that means is that laws cannot be made that have no reasonable justification; those that depend solely upon ideas that are not based in reason. If it is the supreme law of the land that a law cannot be made that respects an establishment of religion, it stands to reason that this fact would demand that an evaluation take place that provides evidence that the justification of any law has been based in reason, rather than on tradition, dogma, or other names for ideas that are not logic-based. If this justification cannot be provided by the legislature, then the thus-derived-law cannot be constitutional. If this justification is provided, but doesn’t meet the objective rule of logic, then the law cannot be constitutional. This idea is something special, because it brings the beauty of math into the equation that determines what can or cannot be law (naturally), as opposed to the whims of the witch-hunters and do-gooders. This kind of nation is a different animal altogether. That kind of logic unleashes capitalism an a way that I can probably only imagine, because that’s just how I’m tuned by that creator whom none of you know any better than I. (which is “not at all”)
What is the real meaning of the First Amendment? Does it mean what Mark Davis and Ann Coulter and Joe Blow believe, or what Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (and I) believe?
Madison was redundant in his view that Religion was in his words “exempt from the cognizance” of the institutions of civil society. And then let’s look at the simple grammar of the amendment itself:

If the First Amendment only means that the federal government cannot establish a national religion, then it would have to use the phrase “the establishment of religion”. In fact, the phrase says that laws cannot be made respecting “an establishment of religion”. The use of the word “an” can mean only one thing: The author understood the potential of “establishment of religion” to be plural. The establishment of a national religion as implied by the media-Christians can only be a singular concept, which would require- mathematically remember- a singular article. The First Amendment can only logically mean, therefore, that laws cannot respect those concepts that are established from religion- independent of reason- which are clearly plural unfortunately.

And since apparently one of the themes of this little rant has been mathematics, I’ll unveil my “E=MC squared” upon society here: (though I know the entire essay has been unprecedented, the following evaluation is even that much more proprietary and brilliant, so hang on)

Capitalism = separation of church and state

When you restrict the government to reason, you are left with capitalism as a by- product. It’s fun to think about how many laws would just fizzle away if simply required to adhere to the basic requirements of logic in the expression of that law’s justification. I deal with that topic extensively in my first book, The Answers to All the World’s Problems, so buy that if you need more detail.
In the meantime, know that I’m wishing you a merry Christmas not because I believe all of that jazz about the virgin birth of the son of God, but because the lights are cool and it feels good to see kids get toys and to catch up with family and friends. And know that this feels good not because God scared some guy into scratching some warnings down for me about how to treat other people, it’s because people are not inherently evil. And for the rest of you radio pundits who can’t shake the separation of church and state jitters, for those of you who think that private behaviors- even disgusting ones that are consensual and out of the view of those who don’t want to know- can be subject to legislation are going to have to understand that freedom is a constitutionally protected right, according to Amendment 9. If you want laws against them, ultimately you should have to present the reasoning behind that position. You might be able to justify them on biblical or dogmatic grounds, but not necessarily on reason. If you can’t pull off the latter (no pun intended), then you don’t have The Constitution on your side. Now, can we get past all of this and on to the “heaven on earth” that capitalism can produce already? I mean, Jesus.

 

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