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Liberalism needs protection

Edward Campbell

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We have a Conservatism needs work thread, but I don't agree with either:

    1. The current definition of conservatism; or

    2. That what most people define as conservatism needs much of anything, beyond a swift kiss in the arse.

But, liberalism, that wonderful idea best expressed for us by John Stuart Mill, over 150 years ago, and grossly misunderstood in America and most of Europe, does need work and, right now, a lot of protection, too.

This example, which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisons of the Copyright from The Telegraph, is from Britain but it is a common theme amongst the illiberals who currently hold far too much power in far too many institutions in Europe, America and Canada, too:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10517111/Campus-segregation-religious-freedom-cannot-be-allowed-to-trump-equality.html
the-telegraph-logo.jpg

Campus segregation: 'religious freedom’ cannot be allowed to trump equality
A free society leaves theocratic patriarchy alone in the home and the place of worship, but cannot countenance it in the public square

By Matthew d’Ancona

14 Dec 2013

It is two years today since the great Christopher Hitchens died, in Houston, Texas, aged only 62. As a lifelong observer of British politics – even as an expat – he was singularly unimpressed by David Cameron, of whom he once said, witheringly: “He doesn’t make me think.”

Yet I cannot help wondering if Hitch, had he lived, might have revised his opinion just a little in the past week, as he watched the PM wade into the controversy over the segregation of men and women at campus meetings addressed by Islamist and other fundamentalist religious speakers.

Last month, Universities UK (UUK), the body that replaced the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals in 2000, issued an apparently routine guidance paper on how institutions of higher education should deal with external speakers. Amid all the stupefying blandness and bureaucratic jargon was an astonishing series of contentions that seemed, at a stroke, to call time on the movement for women’s equality in British civil life that stretches back to Emmeline Pankhurst and beyond. One felt uncomfortably reminded of the early pages of Brideshead Revisited, where, as Charles Ryder recalls, “in Eights week, came a rabble of womankind, some hundreds strong, twittering and fluttering over the cobbles and up the steps”, and his scout, Lunt, explains with horror that “I’ve got to buy a pin-cushion for the Ladies’ Cloakroom.” This was Oxford in 1923. Are we really still discussing the place of women in universities 90 years later?

It should be noted that, in a 2008 YouGov poll, nine out of 10 Muslim students said that segregation was unacceptable. This is not a story about Islam versus the West. It is a case study in the way in which our institutions deal with the one in 10 who want men and women to sit in separate spaces in campus meetings.

Most shocking in the guidance is the lack of drama with which the document surrenders hard-won rights. The crucial passage reads thus: “concerns to accommodate the wishes or beliefs of those opposed to segregation should not result in a religious group being prevented from having a debate in accordance with its belief system. Ultimately, if imposing an unsegregated seating area in addition to the segregated areas contravenes the genuinely held religious beliefs of the group hosting the event, or those of the speaker, the institution should be mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully.”

First out of the traps last Thursday was the Cabinet’s doughtiest opponent of Islamism, Michael Gove, who accused the universities of “pandering to extremism”. On Friday, the PM’s official spokesman said that Cameron felt “very strongly about this” and “doesn’t believe guest speakers should be allowed to address segregated audiences”. He added: “We want to support the universities in taking a tough approach, and if more may need to be done then of course the Government would look at that.”

This was not, please note, an instruction. Universities are not part of the public sector in the same way as state schools, prisons or embassies are: they are educational charitable corporations. In Downing Street, however, this distinction is regarded as technical. As far as the PM is concerned, universities are part of the public square and – though institutional autonomy is the essence of the system – not everything that happens on campus and in the cloister can be ignored by a responsible politician.

Lurking behind his statement – as with the question of MPs’ pay and the proposed 11 per cent rise – is the implicit threat of legislation. But Cameron’s hope is that the moral force of his office, sparingly applied, will do the trick. In response, UUK has withdrawn the guidance on segregation pending legal review.

So far, so good. But this is a test case about much more than fringe events on provincial campuses. It is about the very basis of a pluralist society and what philosophers call “value incommensurability” – the clash between principles, and the dilemmas that such conflicts pose. As a ferocious opponent of theocratic creep, Hitchens argued that secular society was becoming far too emollient and unwilling to defend Enlightenment values against attack. Diplomatic immunity, equality before the law, the right of the novelist to free expression: all are now weighed against the risk of upsetting the theological apple cart.

The segregation row has forced us to confront the friction between religious sensitivities and core aspects of our common citizenship. The heart of the matter is the word “freedom” and its abuse. The original guidance claimed that forbidding segregation by gender on campus might infringe “the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker”. This is babble, but it is dangerous babble. It implies that upsetting the religious sensibilities of an individual or congregation – and it is possible to take offence at anything – is a form of censorship.

I heard a similar argument made during the gay marriage debate: that same-sex weddings would somehow infringe “religious freedoms”, even though they were to be held exclusively in civil settings. In the segregation row, the hurt feelings of a believer or group of believers are weighed against the entire principle of gender equality – as if core principles are upheld only on the probationary basis that they do not upset the faithful. This amazing proposition reverses the polarities of the 20th century and replaces the totalitarian state with the totalitarian individual – the person who claims that absolutely anything that offends him is an assault on his “religious freedom” and has to be stopped. And let us be frank: because, collectively, we have grown fearful of religious extremism, we, too, often nod respectfully when we should be fighting back.

Nicola Dandridge, the chief executive of UUK, has said that “where the gender segregation is voluntary, the law is unclear”. Voluntary segregation? Pull the other one. Hobbes teaches us that fear and liberty are consistent – but only in the sense that “as when a man throweth his goods into the Sea for Feare the ship should sink, he doth it neverthelesse very willingly, and may refuse to doe it if he will.”

I do not believe that the gender segregation under discussion is freely practised in any meaningful sense. It is an expression of theocratic patriarchy that a free society leaves alone in the home and the place of worship – as long as the law is observed – but cannot possibly countenance in the public square.

In any society, pluralist or otherwise, we are constantly forced to assign priorities to different values. Religious freedom – the right to worship, to free association, to a diet consistent with one’s faith, and so on – is rightly accorded respect. But that freedom cannot be allowed to distort and trump the ideals of the modern academy, at the heart of which is the notion of a scholarly community divided by civilised argument, not race, faith or gender.

Cameron – often accused of believing in nothing – was right to take a stand. But the story is not over. Christopher Hitchens liked to quote Auden’s line in “September 1, 1939” about “The enlightenment driven away”. Two years since Hitch’s death, the struggle to keep the Enlightenment safe is as fierce as ever.


This is not about Islam, or any religion for that matter ~ Islam is not the only one that segregates congregations. It is about individual rights which must, always, in liberal societies, be protected from the depredations of all collectives, including churches and the state, itself. It's not about "equal rights" it is about individual rights: we all have 'em without any regard whatsoever about race, colour, creed or belief system.

You may not, ever, impose your beliefs on me. It is bad enough that we enshrine the customs of one religion into civic life - why on earth are Christmas and Easter public holidays, for example? Your freedom of religion is entirely offset by my freedom from religion: yours, his, hers ... all of 'em. The fact that a speaker, with deeply, sincerely held religious beliefs, demands a segregated audience is interesting, but, in any liberal society, wholly and completely irrelevant to anything. (S)he may not impose her or his beliefs on anyone: the fact that the speaker believes, sincerely, that a mixed audience is blasphemous is his or her right ... to believe. It does not provide a right to deny access or seating to anyone, ever.

So let's not worry about conservatism, the Chinese are working on it, it is their cultural norm, not ours; let's worry about what matters to us: liberalism, it needs a strong, active defence because it is under attack by barbarians, from within.
 

CougarKing

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Edward Campbell

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Our Charter is touted as a liberal document but it is, at its heart, very, very conservative, being obsessed with protecting groups against individuals.

As a broad general rule the common law does a better job of protecting rights than does any written constitution, including the great one in the republic to our South.
 

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>That what most people define as conservatism needs much of anything, beyond a swift kiss in the arse.

I think you are being too gentle.  And that is discipline I do not care to administer.
 

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One of the real problems with a debate like this is the corruption of language and meanings. I very much doubt that the Liberal Party of Canada actually stands for for the "Liberalism" you are espousing, and what the Liberal/Progressive wings of the Democrat party in the United States stands for these days is far closer to 1930 era Fascism than anything else. Whatever the Liberal-Democratic party in the UK stands for is unclear to me.

Since I agree with you that the classical foundations of Liberal thought: "Life, Liberty and the Persuit of Happiness" in the immortal words of our neighbours, or freedom of expression, property rights and the Rule of Law in the more formal sense, are to be preserved and protected, I have no real argument with this thread at all, except one: Which political party/movement in the modern Canadian environment actually espouses these things?

Since the Conservative movement is the current holder of the torch for these values, then the "work" members of Conservative parties need to do is to be articulate and vocal defenders of these values, and to advance them in public discourse at every opportunity. If this is the "Kick in the Arse" you are advocating, then I fully agree.
 

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E.R. Campbell said:
...
    2. That what most people define as conservatism needs much of anything, beyond a swift kiss in the arse....


Really? That seems just wrong. >:D
 

Edward Campbell

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Thucydides said:
One of the real problems with a debate like this is the corruption of language and meanings. I very much doubt that the Liberal Party of Canada actually stands for for the "Liberalism" you are espousing, and what the Liberal/Progressive wings of the Democrat party in the United States stands for these days is far closer to 1930 era Fascism than anything else. Whatever the Liberal-Democratic party in the UK stands for is unclear to me.

Since I agree with you that the classical foundations of Liberal thought: "Life, Liberty and the Persuit of Happiness" in the immortal words of our neighbours, or freedom of expression, property rights and the Rule of Law in the more formal sense, are to be preserved and protected, I have no real argument with this thread at all, except one: Which political party/movement in the modern Canadian environment actually espouses these things?

Since the Conservative movement is the current holder of the torch for these values, then the "work" members of Conservative parties need to do is to be articulate and vocal defenders of these values, and to advance them in public discourse at every opportunity. If this is the "Kick in the Arse" you are advocating, then I fully agree.


The conservatives who need a kick in the arse are the crypto-fascists who want to impose their beliefs on others. There is, as you, Thucydides, have often noted, not much to choose, in ideological terms, between fascists like Hitler and communists like Stalin and Mao; ideologies, when taken too far from the moderate middle, all end up in the same place: brutal, stupid, dictatorships which self destruct because no one who actually listened in Econ 101 can, possibly, be either a fascist or a socialist.

You know that I reserve my greatest disdain for Marxists, who are, by definition, blind fools - even the ones with PhDs from Oxford and Yale, and for the religious right because they are also crypto-fascists. It is intellectually impossible to believe in liberal democracy and the supremacy of any god at the same time. Neither Marxists nor the religious right can be allowed into any sane government; I know we've amended the game laws so that it's illegal to shoot them, but ...

 

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E.R. Campbell said:
.......I reserve my greatest disdain for Marxists, who are, by definition, blind fools - even especially the ones with PhDs from Oxford and Yale....
Stumbling into Marxism blindly is a 'lesser sin' than choosing it when one's education makes one supposedly capable of analytic thought.

....and for the religious right because they are also crypto-fascists
    :nod:
 

FJAG

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E.R. Campbell said:
Our Charter is touted as a liberal document but it is, at its heart, very, very conservative, being obsessed with protecting groups against individuals.

As a broad general rule the common law does a better job of protecting rights than does any written constitution, including the great one in the republic to our South.

Let me say as a start that I agree--generally--with the premise set out in your first post.

I don't agree with this later one. The Charter is massively pointed at individual rights. The group provision comes with the "such reasonable limitations as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society" clause which has been very strictly construed by the courts. The common law is a fickle tool that is very much subject to the whims of the judges who create it as influenced by the people who appoint/elect those judges. The predominant legal principle in common law is the concept of stare decisis which in short means to render decisions in a case in a manner that is consistent with previous decions by a higher court. It is a system designed to preserve the status quo and has been very slow to react to societal changes. While there have been some judge made improvements, most of our radical changes--think women's rights, human rights, etc--have come from legislatures and our elected officials.

My belief is that the general expanding trend we had, over the last half century, towards a more secular, more free society has come to a pause if not retreat. Much as I would like to blame Vic Toews for the newer trend towards undermining individual rights for public safety concerns, I don't think he was the cause just a tool in its implementation.

Eastern societies--especially middle-eastern ones--have been,and continue to be, unable to shake off centuries' old religious conservatism. Western societies have been reactive to what they perceive as a threat to their way of life since Islamic radicalism/terrorism has come out of the closet and placed itself squarely in our face. Well before 9/11 however we've had a growing movement back to "Christian values". Bush was "born again" well before his election, he just let it out more as he grew in confidence after 9/11.

Our real problem is that there is a very large group of people--read voters--who profess the belief that "Christian values" constitute the only moral compass for our society and that their belief structure should be protected by the state even to the cost of individuals. In large part they consider that since they are the members of the protected group, their individual rights are covered by that group protection. Any individual not covered is an outsider of the group and therefore not worth worrying about. That applies to other religions, Sunday shopping, pornography, the right of CEOs to take massive pay and bonuses out of companies, or whatever individual unpopular "right" you can point to.

It never ceases to amaze me that there are individuals who vehemently disagree with some of my more moderate beliefs. Its not that I don't think that they have a right to disagree with me, it's that I can't even comprehend why they would not accept a tolerant, moderate position. It seems to me that more and more that we, as a society at large, seem ready to throw people and thoughts we find outside of our norm under the bus. Unfortunately the rabble rousing is becoming ever more shrill and seems to be falling on fertile ground.

Colour me  :paranoid:
 

pbi

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E.R. Campbell said:
...This is not about Islam, or any religion for that matter ~ Islam is not the only one that segregates congregations. It is about individual rights which must, always, in liberal societies, be protected from the depredations of all collectives, including churches and the state, itself. It's not about "equal rights" it is about individual rights: we all have 'em without any regard whatsoever about race, colour, creed or belief system.

I'm good with this: we need to be on guard against further encroachments by either organized religion or by the government into peoples' lives.

You may not, ever, impose your beliefs on me. It is bad enough that we enshrine the customs of one religion into civic life - why on earth are Christmas and Easter public holidays, for example?

But not really with this. I see nothing wrong with aspects of the dominant culture  (and its religion) in any country benignly forming the basis for holidays, celebrations etc.  That is, as long as these things aren't done in a stupid, punitive or oppressive way that harms or significantly discriminates against people of other beliefs. "Offending" IMHO doesn't fall into either of these categories. If people don't like seeing Christmas decorations on a fire station, let them cover their eyes.

Where we would have a problem IMHO would be if those firefighters would only come to put out fires on Christian-owned property, or demanded bribes from non-Christians. (Think Bosnia...)

Since the Conservative movement is the current holder of the torch for these values, then the "work" members of Conservative parties need to do is to be articulate and vocal defenders of these values, and to advance them in public discourse at every opportunity.

That, and stop being fellow-travellers with the Rush Limbaughs, Rob Fords, Oral Roberts, Michelle Bachmanns, Sarah Palins, Tea Partiers, and other triumphantly ignorant rabble-rousing populist nitwits who will merely replace our freedoms wth their beliefs. Why do so many repulsive, stupid  people associate themselves so proudly with "conservatism"?. Shouldn't conservatism leave the nasty weirdos for the Left to embrace?

The conservatives who need a kick in the arse are the crypto-fascists who want to impose their beliefs on others.

What I said....

You know that I reserve my greatest disdain for Marxists, who are, by definition, blind fools - even the ones with PhDs from Oxford and Yale, and for the religious right because they are also crypto-fascists

And, were Marxism ever to actually take power, would be the first ones getting the midnight knock.

While there have been some judge made improvements, most of our radical changes--think women's rights, human rights, etc--have come from legislatures and our elected officials.

There are, I think, a lot of people on the Right (especially in the US) who would disagree with you. They often roll out the mantra about "activist judges" usurping the legislative function, and then in the next breath usually suggest some version of the idea that judges should be far more subject to political control (ie: partisan interference to get our particular definition of "justice").

It never ceases to amaze me that there are individuals who vehemently disagree with some of my more moderate beliefs. Its not that I don't think that they have a right to disagree with me, it's that I can't even comprehend why they would not accept a tolerant, moderate position.

IMHO this is because if you look inwards from the Left or the Right, the Centre is to your Left or to your Right. Thus "Moderates" (damn their reasonable eyes...) are obviously spineless fence sitters who are really aligned with the hostile end of the spectrum, but lack the courage to admit it. :)



 

FJAG

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pbi said:
There are, I think, a lot of people on the Right (especially in the US) who would disagree with you. They often roll out the mantra about "activist judges" usurping the legislative function, and then in the next breath usually suggest some version of the idea that judges should be far more subject to political control (ie: partisan interference to get our particular definition of "justice").
All too true, I'm afraid. "Activist" has unfortunately become a dysphemism for "change advocate" or "reformer" and it cuts against judges and legislatures equally. I note in today's US news that the vast majority of sheriffs in Colorado are refusing to enforce that legislature's gun control legislation (which in my opinion is quite moderate but in the sheriffs' eyes is radical activism.) What the "Right" continuously forgets is that there are three legs to the stool upon which a democracy sits - the executive, legislative and judiciary. It's the judiciary that's supposed to protect the society from both the tyranny of the other two. That's where a well thought out and worded constitution plays its part.

pbi said:
IMHO this is because if you look inwards from the Left or the Right, the Centre is to your Left or to your Right. Thus "Moderates" (damn their reasonable eyes...) are obviously spineless fence sitters who are really aligned with the hostile end of the spectrum, but lack the courage to admit it. :)

I think you're being very kind in your analysis and probably also correct. As I get older however I just think more and more that those folks are just plain stupid and incapable of critical analysis. The benefit of having had an education in an adversarial legal system such as ours is that it forces one to analyse your opponent's position against your own position so that you can develop appropriate counter arguments (or at least let you know early on that you should throw in the towel). Very few people these days either have that skill or are inclined to use it. We used to say that you know you have a good deal when both parties walk away unhappy. These days no one wants to compromise on anything.

:cheers: but still  :paranoid:
 

Edward Campbell

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FJAG said:
Let me say as a start that I agree--generally--with the premise set out in your first post.

I don't agree with this later one. The Charter is massively pointed at individual rights. The group provision comes with the "such reasonable limitations as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society" clause which has been very strictly construed by the courts. The common law is a fickle tool that is very much subject to the whims of the judges who create it as influenced by the people who appoint/elect those judges. The predominant legal principle in common law is the concept of stare decisis which in short means to render decisions in a case in a manner that is consistent with previous decions by a higher court. It is a system designed to preserve the status quo and has been very slow to react to societal changes. While there have been some judge made improvements, most of our radical changes--think women's rights, human rights, etc--have come from legislatures and our elected officials.

My belief is that the general expanding trend we had, over the last half century, towards a more secular, more free society has come to a pause if not retreat. Much as I would like to blame Vic Toews for the newer trend towards undermining individual rights for public safety concerns, I don't think he was the cause just a tool in its implementation.

Eastern societies--especially middle-eastern ones--have been,and continue to be, unable to shake off centuries' old religious conservatism. Western societies have been reactive to what they perceive as a threat to their way of life since Islamic radicalism/terrorism has come out of the closet and placed itself squarely in our face. Well before 9/11 however we've had a growing movement back to "Christian values". Bush was "born again" well before his election, he just let it out more as he grew in confidence after 9/11.

Our real problem is that there is a very large group of people--read voters--who profess the belief that "Christian values" constitute the only moral compass for our society and that their belief structure should be protected by the state even to the cost of individuals. In large part they consider that since they are the members of the protected group, their individual rights are covered by that group protection. Any individual not covered is an outsider of the group and therefore not worth worrying about. That applies to other religions, Sunday shopping, pornography, the right of CEOs to take massive pay and bonuses out of companies, or whatever individual unpopular "right" you can point to.

It never ceases to amaze me that there are individuals who vehemently disagree with some of my more moderate beliefs. Its not that I don't think that they have a right to disagree with me, it's that I can't even comprehend why they would not accept a tolerant, moderate position. It seems to me that more and more that we, as a society at large, seem ready to throw people and thoughts we find outside of our norm under the bus. Unfortunately the rabble rousing is becoming ever more shrill and seems to be falling on fertile ground.

Colour me  :paranoid:


I'm suspicious of all collectives, including governments and churches and organized minorities, too.

My problem with our Constitution is that, like all of the written ones, it reflects the issues of the time in which it was written ~ consider the famous 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution: it reflects a very real concern in 1791. In ours, one key issue is minority language rights: a reflection of a very real concern in 1982.

I don't believe that common law jurisdictions, the UK anyway, lags in rights. The Brits both led and lagged in universal suffrage ~ they granted the vote to some women before the US did but they didn't remove an age restriction (age 30) until after the US. The Brits also "led" the US and other written constitution  states on abortion and even on gay rights. The common law can adapt to societal needs.
 

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E.R. Campbell said:
I'm suspicious of all collectives, including governments and churches and organized minorities, too.

My problem with our Constitution is that, like all of the written ones, it reflects the issues of the time in which it was written ~ consider the famous 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution: it reflects a very real concern in 1791. In ours, one key issue is minority language rights: a reflection of a very real concern in 1982.

I don't believe that common law jurisdictions, the UK anyway, lags in rights. The Brits both led and lagged in universal suffrage ~ they granted the vote to some women before the US did but they didn't remove an age restriction (age 30) until after the US. The Brits also "led" the US and other written constitution  states on abortion and even on gay rights. The common law can adapt to societal needs.

I think the difference in our viewpoints (if any) may be arising from the definition of "common law". There are in fact several but the key one in our system is the distinction between "common law" (as seen in the UK and our nine common law provinces) on the one hand and "civil law" (as seen in France, Germany and Quebec) on the other.

Both systems have legislatures to enact laws or codes and courts to interpret them. The big difference is that in a common law jurisdictions, judges can create law where no legislative provision exists. Perhaps the most significant example of this is the law of negligence, which din't exist until it was created by the UK House of Lords in Donoghue and Stevens in 1932 (prior to that you had to prove some contractual connection to sue).  In civil law you have comprehensive codes to cover all aspects and while courts may interpret the code or define its application, they cannot create laws where no code on the topic exist). In common law jurisdiction and even to a great extent in civil law ones, once case law develops, judges have a set of rules which should have the effect (but don't always) of ensuring that subsequent cases are interpreted consistently with earlier ones.

Almost all legal systems have a form of constitution or "basic" law which transcends others so that subordinate legislation needs to conform to the basic law. If a subordinate law fails to conform then the courts can strike it down.

I think it is wrong to say that the UK is common law as opposed to governed by a constitution for several reasons. Just to be picky, Scotland has a mixed common law/civil law system while the others are common law; there is a constitution which however is not in a single document but which together define the essential elements of its legal structures (one of these principles is parliamentary supremacy which effectively could allow parliament to make laws that overrule basic civil rights - Need I also mention Magna Carta or the Bill of Rights?); and finally, (something which we don't have to worry about) is that the UK is now subject to several European Union legal structures to the effect that UK law is bound to the rulings of several European courts (e.g. European High Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights) which apply what one could refer to as European Constitutional concepts (Human Rights being the more visible flashpoint)

You and I definitely agree on the fact that outdated constitutional provisions (or for that matter any law, be it Sunday shopping or buggery) must be removed. Both our constitution and the US's have such provisions (take a look at how many amendments there have been in the US). Trouble is that there is frequently insufficient political will to make that happen - (e.g. 2nd Amendment or our Meech Lake accord)

I too dislike collectives (including the nation as a whole-I worry about tyranny by the majority as much as I do about those of private interest groups) when they can influence the state to make laws which infringe on an individual citizen's activities simply because the collective doesn't like those activities. Obviously restrictions are necessary: stabbing someone is inherently wrong; driving on the wrong side of the road is inherently wrong; shopping on Sunday is not, the marriage of two adult males is not, and (in my view although I expect many will disagree) neither is it wrong for a woman and her doctor to terminate a pregnancy.

:cheers:
 

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I guess we aren't far apart, I was, specifically, thinking of the British (mainly English) constitution vs all the written ones. When I look back to 1688, the 1830s and the early 20th century the Brits, with their unwritten Constitution, but it IS one, despite not being formalized, have been in the lead in developing a liberal, parliamentary democracy. In some (actually large) measure the US Constitution is an attempt to formalize, to explain, what the Bits gave themselves, by revolution and evolution in 1688 and during the 18th century.

 

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E.R. Campbell said:
... the Brits, ..., have been in the lead in developing a liberal, parliamentary democracy..

I read a book a few months ago that might interest you called Wellington by Elizabeth Longford, who was probably his most comprehensive biographer.

What makes this book particularly interesting is that much of it looks at his political career post-Waterloo. That period, while replete with rotten boroughs, the "Irish" question and industrialization was also the time of small cabinets and the rise of party politics (parties existed before this but party politics were a developing phenomenon).

If you like to look into the development of a liberal, parliamentary democracy, then this book gives an interesting insiders view of a critical phase in that process. You can get it through your local library system.

:cheers:
 

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Funny that this thread started just a few days before this whole Phil Robertson fiasco.

I am not Christian by any stretch of imagination, and I am 100% for homosexuals being treated equally.

But the fact that even one person in a "free" society thinks it is okay to suspend Phil Robertson for spouting off his bigotry is enough to cause alarm. The fact that an entire network somehow collectively decided that suspending him was the right idea is downright scary.

Somewhere along the line, the whole "no child left behind" thing got really out of hand, probably about the same time they started handing out medals to kids for losing. "Liberalism" appears to have been hijacked by a very radical minority of progressives that somehow believe that everyone can be free to express themselves, and yet also everyone can be free from being offended by somebody else. The two cannot co-exist. Being offended every now and again is the risk you accept when you want to live in a free society. It's an easy risk to accept when you look back in history at the alternatives.
 

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To be honest A&E can do what it wants.  they own the show and they can choose to do whatever is in the best interest of their company.  If they don't want a person spouting their opinion that reflects badly on their network.

He wouldn't be the first person to be suspended/fired/contract ended by companies, people who choose to no longer affiliate themselves with people expressing their freedom of expression.  He's free to express his opinion and A&E is free to end their relationship with him.
 

ballz

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Crantor said:
To be honest A&E can do what it wants.  they own the show and they can choose to do whatever is in the best interest of their company.  If they don't want a person spouting their opinion that reflects badly on their network.

He wouldn't be the first person to be suspended/fired/contract ended by companies, people who choose to no longer affiliate themselves with people expressing their freedom of expression.  He's free to express his opinion and A&E is free to end their relationship with him.

I 100% realize A&E is free to do this and they ought to be. However, they are not free from criticism either, and I think they have taken a stance that contradicts liberalism.

Imagine, a major media, that is against TRUE "freedom of expression." Seems kinda back asswards doesn't it?
 

FJAG

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Crantor said:
To be honest A&E can do what it wants.  they own the show and they can choose to do whatever is in the best interest of their company.  If they don't want a person spouting their opinion that reflects badly on their network.

He wouldn't be the first person to be suspended/fired/contract ended by companies, people who choose to no longer affiliate themselves with people expressing their freedom of expression.  He's free to express his opinion and A&E is free to end their relationship with him.

The interesting thing here is that this show is A&E's biggest moneymaker (and in fact I understand it may be US cable TV's biggest money maker) and the Robertson family is wealthy enough in their own right so that they need A&E and the show much less than A&E needs them.

There is undoubtedly anguish in the executive halls right now and I'll lay you any money that there will be a deal made to get things back on track as my guess is that if the network doesn't resolve this the family may walk.

I'm with Jon Stewart on this:

"Stewart deadpanned. "But I also have an inclination to support a world where saying ignorant shit on television doesn't get you kicked off that medium," he said while adopting a sheepish look, implying that he would have been kicked off years ago had he been held to the same standard."

Robertson's comments ran from naive to ill advised and on to stupid but were far from inciting hatred.

:subbies:
 

Journeyman

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FJAG said:
Robertson's comments ran from naive to ill advised and on to stupid
I felt that they kinda started at stupid, then just settled in there to enjoy the scenery.

But they were indeed far from inciting hatred; if anything, they incited mocking.  As such, a more suitable response might be to change the channel and show your outrage by refraining from buying that precious Duck Dynasty hat for your dopey kid to wear sideways. 

But there's no need impose sanctimonious scorn onto the dentally-challenged Wal-Mart dwellers who love the show.


What the hell was Phil doing giving an interview in GQ anyway?!  GQ?  Really?!  WTF!  :stars:
 
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