An overwhelming number of conservatives proclaim support for the constitution, and even liberals rally behind the rights they believe the Constitution protects. But is it possible for either side to truly be interested in constitutionalism?
If one considers that our bill of rights guarantees freedom of speech in very broad terms, it is only fair to ask what speech is. To list just a few examples, speech includes giving away military secrets and weapons blueprints, lying under oath, sexually harassing female coworkers (without hands, of course), phoning a bomb threat, engaging in insider trading, threatening to kill one’s neighbors, and conspiring to assassinate people. None of these, at the current moment, are legal, and common sense requires that many of them remain so. (more…)
The other day, I greatly offended an Arabic associate of mine. During a conversation about the social contract, I tried to use an example of a group forming themselves into a nation, and I had begun the example with the statement, “suppose that a group of people like you were to get together, and decide to build your own country, with your own laws.”
His objection to my statement was that Christians and conservatives oftentimes enjoy separating themselves from everyone else, that we believe that people like him are not part of our group, that we in essence discriminate. In this particular instance, I referred to him as people like you, leading toward an idea and an effect which I had not intended. Why, he asked, could we not just all be considered human, and on the same team? (more…)
The other day, I had the privilege of watching the television while a smarmy Muslim condescendingly downplayed the significance of the 9/11 mosque controversy. His argument consisted of something along the lines of “Is this what our national dialogue has been reduced to?” As though almost to say that Americans were too culturally insensitive and bigoted to allow the building of a mosque which would overlook Ground Zero. And to be sure, most people who support the building of the mosque adopt this pompous position, pretending that if we truly are tolerant and accepting of other cultures, we should be able to accept the building of an Islamic temple over a building ruined by an Islamically-motivated mass-murder. Surely, they argue, we are beyond squabblings and sensitivities, and we should be able to just accept cohabitation with other cultures.
It is this attitude which precisely highlights the problem with the doctrine of tolerance. While those who accept a multicultural postmodern perspective agree that acceptance must hypothetically occur amongst all in a racially diverse and religiously pluralistic society, the logical mechanics of tolerance suggest that the direction of tolerance can only exist toward one group in any clash of cultures. (more…)