Thursday, July 26, 2012

In Your Heart, You Know He's Trite

Really, I'm trying very hard not to go tit-for-tat in this presidential election season. I could go on for days on the Olympics diplomacy (or lack thereof) alone. But there is a recent comment of Governor Romney's that really bothers me. You've already seen my recent posts on guns, here and here. As reported by the New York Times, Governor Romney's response to crazy people using assault weapons in a crowded theater was:
Americans “sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away,” Mr. Romney said. “It won’t. Changing the heart of the American people may well be what’s essential, to improve the lots of the American people.”
What really bothers me is that this is exactly the same argument given in the mid-60's by many opponents of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and many other laws and measures to desegregate American society. The idea being that you can't legislate desegregation - you can't "force" segregationists to like African-Americans and associate with them - you have to wait for people's hearts to change.

Well, maybe so. Yet the laws of the land under the Fourteenth Amendment of our Constitution, based on principles of our Founders in the Declaration of Independence (that "ALL created equal" business - thank you, President Lincoln), have clearly made a difference at least in providing a more equal playing field. Racism is now viewed as so deplorable that nobody will admit to it, even as accusations fly on the race card both left and right, black and white, and back around again.

So here's the thing. I keep finding this linkage between opposition to Civil Rights for minorities and other conservative political positions. Now there's this excuse, again, that it's the heart we have to change instead of laws to force people to give up assault weapons, or at least not buy them anymore. I don't dispute the need to change hearts. That's part of my motivation for this blog - but that's going to take a while. And in the meantime, there should be nothing wrong with the expectation that we can go to a movie theater without getting blown away by legal assault weapons. The right to peaceably assemble, even to see a Batman movie, should trump any imaginary right to unregulated arms.

Romney's dad, George Romney, was one of the last Republican champions of Civil Rights. He walked out of Goldwater's convention in 1964. I really wonder what he would think of his boy, Mitt.


  1. (Anonymous/M) OK. You can't legislate goodness and tolerance, it has to come from the heart. But it's interesting how much faster hearts change when legislation provides a little more urgency.

  2. Romney's dad, George Romney, was one of the last Republican champions of Civil Rights. He walked out of Goldwater's convention in 1964. I really wonder what he would think of his boy, Mitt.


    I'm sympathetic to your larger point, but ouch. I have no doubt Mitt's father would be proud of him, as he should be. Look at what's he's done...remember, despite the fact that Mitt is running against President Obama, he was the first governor, Republican or Democrat, to provide universal healthcare. He legitimately saved the SLC Olympic games. He created an incredibly successful business. And, most importantly, he's raised a beautiful family and has been admirably committed in his faith throughout his life. Finally, to be fair, Mitt was talking about his position on an assault weapons ban, not Civil Rights (a ban which I favor, by the way).

    It can be easy to lose perspective during a Presidential election.

    1. Now, if I was President, someone would be quoting me as wanting to ban Civil Rights...oops

    2. I understood you in context, Curt.

      And I admit I was rather hard on Mitt & George. But I've been so frustrated with Romney because I pretty much agree with your list of all he has accomplished in life. He even signed an assault weapon ban in Mass. (you have to cut and paste url).

      I think he has the potential to be a good president. But he's blowing his potential so much worse than Obama has blown his.

  3. The gist of the article seems to be that you can't legislate morality (but what else can you legislate?). The 'changing' hearts argument doesn't hold water against all laws, that's for sure. If that *were* the case we wouldn't need *any* laws! "Just teach them not to kill, steal, etc." - then we won't need any ban on murder or theft! Ridiculous of course, just as is the "change the hearts" concept!


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