Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Deciding According to Some Ancient Text - and a Reflection

Interesting item in the New York Times about some recent decision of the American Supreme Court that isn't really important to the rest of us. Something about the right to bear arms. Anyway, the learned author shows how everyone in the debate (the Justices, that is) need to show how their contemporary position fits into the intent of a group of white male gentlemen in the late 18th century.

I'm not poking fun, honestly. On the contrary, I understand that a society needs to have some basic texts to which it relates when making important decisions; no legal system could long function as a legal system without. Nor a religious system, either. Except that most religious systems relate to documents that are far more ancient than 200-some years.

PS - On another subject, or perhaps the same one from a different direction: I'm alway struck by how the internal American discussion of violence gets tied up with the number of guns lying around. In Switzerland and in Israel, both, there are probably significantly more guns in the hands of the citizens (or more accurately, the citizens who are also reserve soldiers) than there are in the US. Yet in neither country are these weapons the cause of a large number of crimes or murders. Sometimes they are, yes, but not often. Violence, you see, is a matter of culture, not of tools. Or - and I apologize for repeating myself endlessly - it's a matter of choice, not of conditions.


Anonymous said...


Basically, for the US Supreme Court to go looking for "ancient-ancient" texts is a silly game Anthony Kennedy plays, with that other supreme court idiot (from another land), Aharon Barak.

Power is really like fart gas. When you think it's coming out of someone's head, you're looking at the wrong end of the animal.

And, yes. American History is repleat with the magic of how we became a nation, in spite of the fact that the Brits had power on their side. AND, Spain signed a secret treaty with Napaoleon, seeding New Orleans.

So we almost didn't end up with the Louisiana Purchase. First? Napoleon had to crap out. And, he did! He sent 60,000 French troops to their slaughter in Santa Domingo. The "slave free" Island in the Caribbean, where the french thought it would be easy to kill the free slaves, and then attack New Orleans from there.

Didn't come to pass.

And, you'll notice that Thomas Jefferson was the 3rd President. And, in office, at this time. When through Jefferson's diplomatic dealings with france, Napoleon laid out a deal to sell the Louisiana territories. (Spain got left in the lerch, when the secret document giving the french New Orleans, came to light.) Wonder of wonders. Secrets will "out."

But you have to consider this: Jefferson was NOT a Federalist! And, he wrote a lot of paper to create the wallpaper necessary for the Presidency to become this whopping FEDERALIST entity! Yes, he did! He went through hoops of logic. Coming to the conclusion that it was "good."

Later? This paperwork enabled Abraham Lincoln to fight the slave states; who lost the Civil War.

Outcomes are not guaranteed.

Maybe, that's why they're like horse races?

While Americans, themselves, adopted the ideas that were presented in Philadelphia, back in 1787. How so? The "Establishment Clause" ... where Congress can't make any laws beneficial to any particular religion; did something unheard of (in its time.) Because? Believe it or not, custom dictated that to have legitimacy, the pope had to bless the outcomes when new heads of state headed for their castles.

The Founding Fathers said "no."

The other thing the Founding Fathers tossed on its head was the Greek belief that to have democracy you could only have "small" ... It wouldn't work over large areas, of land and population growth.

Turns out, the opposite is true! The bigger you are the better it is for democracy. As it takes the foilbles of a few bullies and it spreads this out. Guess who won?

Of course, you can see that people, when they are civilian soldiers, can keep order even better than the (Keystone) cops ... who come equipped more with paperwork. And, fears that everything needs to be "filed." When one man can take a stand and stop a forward propelling bulldozer (front loader) ... from creating mayhem.

Of course, the anti-Semites aren't happy. And, the media is "there's" to control. (That's why it's a dying business. Really.)

But if you think you can learn stuff because guns can be discussed, you have no idea how good it is to realize that today's air traffic also requires a "nuanced" approach to terrorism.

Perhaps you don't know?

But shooting a plane down out of the sky is no longer easy. Because? You can surround the plane with "chaff" ... Metal pieces that keep the radar "confused" ... so you're just as likely to watch a misfire, as the missile flies passed the planes, than anything else.

And, on the Net? You get lots of chaff.

Lots of information flowing in, up and down, anything that's tossed out at ya by the goons who use Lenin as their source for trying to control the minds of others.

So far? We're ahead.

And, so far? The guns of war have not started to roll. Words aren't bullets. And, guess what? They never were! And, pundits who pass off incorrect information?

How different is that from "those ancient texts" that bespoke "a mircle" ... where one man didn't need a real father to be conceived. And, then, when he died, he flew?

Shows ya. Old doesn't mean a thing, either.

But as people become awake, the fraudsters have a harder time telling you BS has the ring of truth. Does not.

Well? For some, it's hard to convince them that there's no accuracy in astrology, either.

See if I care? You really are allowed to believe whatever you want to believe.

"Knowledge" has about it, the ability to suddenly make sense. So that a "light bulb" (rather a modern invention), is used to designate what happens when an idea blossoms. Where there was no "idea" before. And, then? You can no longer fool that individual.

No. The world's not equal. The luckiest people, though, live in First World surroundings.

Per Darwin. To survive you need to adapt BEST to your surroundings.

Lydia McGrew said...

Better be careful, Yaacov, or you'll sound like an NRA member: Guns don't shoot people, people shoot people. :-)

Seriously, it is very strongly the liberal position in the United States that the guns are the cause of violence. No evidence will shake them from this. Lots of strands go into this confusion. As you are pointing out, determinism goes into it--the idea that people are made to do things by their physical setting. (An example of this is the liberal response to a wave of knifings in London: They are telling parents to frisk their kids to make sure they are not carrying knives. Yet it isn't the knives that are killing people, it's the sort of bad kids who carry them. And the parents who are likely to obey this advice are probably parents of kids who would carry a knife only for self-defense anyway, which will leave them only that much more defenseless when they are attacked by armed thugs.)

Another strand is the elimination of the distinction between innocence and guilt: To an anti-gun activist, it's all "violence," or "gun violence," whether we're talking about a gangland shootout, an ordinary person getting gunned down by thugs for what's in his wallet, or a homeowner defending himself against an invasion.

I'm curious: What are the gun laws like in Israel? Do I have it right from your statement that ordinary citizens are not allowed to carry unless they are also reservists, or is it just somewhat more difficult for those who are not reservists?

Anonymous said...


Oh, for what it's worth: Scalia wrote the MAJORITY OPINION in Heller. This means that the Supreme Court of the United States has RULED that individuals can own guns in America.

Did Israel have a similar situation on its hands? Well, a farmer named Dromi (I think that's his name). Shot a burgler. And, then got arrested. And, then? The Knesset just passed a law that you can defend your property. And, not just by screaming at a burgler "to go away." You can shoot, too.

I don't know why there are some people who really believe that "harmony of opinions" is right around the corner. WHen, no. It's not.

And Liberals aren't facists. Hitler wasn't a liberal. And, neither was Stalin!


Don't get confused that because there are debates; that people who old views not like yours, are somehow evil.

Instead? You get these word games.

A new one that just got kicked out of court was "Intelligent Design." Has nothing to do with science. Only the very religious attempt to bring Christianity into American biology classrooms. And, it failed.

Again, by using the US Constititution, a judge (appointed by Bush, no less), found that because of the "anti-Establishment clause, whereby Congress cannot enact any laws forcing religious views ... just bounced out the most recent attempt to downgrade Darwin. Where science is taught.

The Scopes Trial, back around 1924 didn't bounce this out hard enough. So we just got another case, in Dover, Pennsylvania; where CREATIONISTS, this time, claimed that life's too complicated ... and that it "took a miracle."

Actually, the miracle is that these cases get bounced.

And, yes. There was once a time a lot of people who were paying lip-service to religion, wouldn't dare do so openly. So the word "Liberal" got born. It meant you were a free-thinker. And, you weren't afraid to state that there was a lack of proof for religious claims.

You wanted this done through allegory? You got the Wizard of Oz.

People do keep pulling back those curtains.

And, there never will be a time when there can be found a yellow-brick road we're all willing to walk.

It just amounts to INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS. Something despots and dictators HATE, because they can't demand you listen to them. And, obey.

Ya'acov, as to "white men of the 18th Century," let me point out to you what Winston Churchill said: He said "from a small Island of White Men, has come philosophies that have ruled the world.

Okay. SO in some places the White Men got tossed out. Rhodisia comes to mind. Mugabe's only claim is that he's black. And, he changed the country's name to Zimbabwe. You also can't vote him out. And, now? the Blacks STARVE.

I guess when you're free to choose, and people get stupid enough to choose by their own genitalia or skin color, the outcomes get very dark. Indeed.

Until something better comes along, the American Founding Fathers created a synergy with the U.S. Constitution. It serves the needs of generations of Americans, beyond skin colors. No, not everybody. But the percentages you need to keep the institutions going.

As to word games and labels, I happen to like the word 'liberal.' And, was aghast at Intelligent Design. Which could just as easily be "intelligent FLAP-DOODLE." But to each his own.

It's nice to see the American courts working wonders. (It's more than you get from the Pope!)

Yaacov said...

Gun laws in Israel: You need a license to purchase a handgun, and it's not easy to get the license: you have to explain who you are, why you feel you need it, and bring a note from the police that tells they've never caught you doing anything wrong. The whole procedure takes a week or three, I don't quite know because I last did it 30 years ago. Maybe it goes faster now that they've invented computers. I don't know how many people have them (licenses and handguns), but since you see people with them all the time, perhaps more in Jerusalem than in Tel Aviv, there must be lots.
You can't purchase the gun till you've got the license. And I doubt you can buy anything larger than a handgun. Or perhaps a hunting gun - I've seen people who have those. But not assault rifles or RPG anti-tank weapons.
What makes the whole thing a bit of a sham, however, is the fact that every soldier and reservist is given the assault rifle and the RPG anti-tank weapon. And they take it home when they go on leave, and in some units, they have the rifle the whole year round, so that when they get called in they're already armed.
Soldiers plus reservists still means a very large chunk of society, even if less than it used to. Which means that unless you live in a few specific pockets of society, most men you know and some women know how to use assault rifles, and many have access to them.
In recent years the army has grown much more careful in allowing us all to wander the streets armed to the teeth. But the change has not been the result of too much violence. Not at all. The change has been the result of too many weapons being stolen from people's homes and making their way either to the underworld or to the Palestinian freedom fighters via the underworld.

Lydia McGrew said...

It sounds like _maybe_ the handgun ownership is actually easier than in some states of the U.S. For example, in some parts of the U.S., you not only need a license, but you need it from the police, and the police can deny the license pretty much at whim. They don't need a reason, and in some localities they do routinely deny licensing requests for handguns for anyone who doesn't have a job as a bona fide security guard or something like that. Hence the NRA push for what are called "must issue" laws in the states, according to which you must be given a license to own a handgun if you meet certain criteria--don't have a criminal record, etc.