Saturday, December 31, 2011

YTREBIL: That's "Liberty" Backwards

This is the problem I have with the the Libertarian/Conservative viewpoint as evidenced by the newest attention to old revelations about Ron Paul. We apparently see the world differently--frontwards or backwards. And who is to tell what side of Alice's looking glass we are on?

It's a simple difference in perception. Paul and other conservatives, particularly those of a Libertarian bent, or in LDS culture, the followers of Skousen and the ultra-conservatives, are offended by classifications of people by groups that give them "special rights." (Of course, if it is a group under "states rights doctrine," that is somehow OK).

This is the problem some have with the Fourteenth Amendment and the way the laws and the courts have protected certain classifications of people based on race, national origin, gender, and by some courts but not yet generally in statutory law, on sexual orientation.

The problem is in looking at this backwards. The laws and interpretations under the Fourteenth Amendment did not arise out of nowhere because a group of people wanted to start some kind of special club. The classifications were made not by the groups, but by those in the majority--or sometimes more powerful minorities--creating the classifications through law or disparate treatment because of the classification. The most obvious example being racial segregation. Before that, there was slavery of a particular "group" based on the color of their skin, amazingly protected as property rights under our  Constitution.

Even if you say that once we got the Fourteenth (as well as the Thirteenth) Amendments and the Civil Rights Laws of the 1960s and even the societal changes that "racism" is now a bad thing, ignoring this history and that there still exists real and potential problems as evidenced by our history, still causes me some problems. Right now as we speak, classes of people, directly or indirectly, are subject to having rights denied as individual human beings that are assumed by everyone else to be unalienable rights granted by our Creator.

Just a few examples of current concern:
1) Harsh, local enforcement of immigration laws and suspicions tending to fall on people of brown skin, Spanish language, or other indicators of possible Hispanic heritage regardless to whether they are US Citizens whose ancestors have been for generations, or somebody who just came over the border. And it impacts all those of Hispanic identity much differently than those descended from northern Europeans.
2) New restrictions on voting requiring enhanced identification in the very states that disenfranchised African-Americans under law for more than a century. When alternate forms of identification could be used, the restrictions focus on forms of ID that are not common to many who simply don't drive cars--an impact disproportionately falling on racial minorities of less income.
3) The potential profiling (classification) of people of a certain religion because people of that religion flew the planes into the Pentagon and the Twin Towers. We have done these sorts of things before as in the case of the Japanese internment camps of World War II--which wasn't that long ago. After the Oklahoma City Bombing, there was some attention to radical right wing groups in this country, but there was no general sentiment to profile young, white, Christian Army Vets because, of course, the vast majority of them were in no way connected to Tim McVeigh's radicalism--sort of like the vast majority of Muslims and 9-11.
Most Libertarians even agree with these concerns even if the analysis is a little different.

Now, the legal arguments and analysis do get convoluted and confusing in these areas. I don't even follow all the distinctions of "suspect" or "protected" classes under Fourteenth Amendment analysis, but the concepts are able to be learned and discussed. The whole idea that there are people struggling out there to address these concepts. If more work to address these concerns and find the common ground and principles of human freedom we can all respect, we can work it out better than it currently is.

Once again, I am only looking for equal opportunity and a fair playing field for all . I do not demand or expect equal results for every individual under some utopian red-herring of redistributionism. Yet when whole classes of people end up disadvantaged because of some inherent trait or belief system, yeah, that's something we need to address.

What I utterly reject is a return to a past that was only better for those who imagine it so, generally those not of these classes of people who were adversely impacted. So many who disparage these classifications tend to reflect the same attitudes of those who defended slavery before the Civil War and racial segregation until the 1960s as a form of a God-given American freedoms (for the white "group.")

The article about Ron Paul's views conclude with this:
Paul's campaign manager Jesse Benton defended the book [by Paul from the 1980s] and said that the candidate "has been speaking out for decades that rights do not come from belonging to a group."
"Rights come because we are all individuals, endowed by our creator, and Americans must look beyond race or creed and recognize that we all deserving of the same Liberty," Benton told CNN in an email. "This truth is a tenant of natural law and the only way we will achieve a color blind and truly free society."
I agree that "rights do not come from belonging to a group." And "natural law" and "color-blind, free societies" would be great things to believe in if only history and current reality weren't in the way.

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