Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Town Hall Vandals III: On Liberty

The Town Hall Vandals – those who are attempting to shut down the democratic process by vandalizing the town hall process by which legislators communicate with their constituents – are claiming to be concerned with the defense of liberty from tyranny.

They have likened the policies of the Obama administration to those of Stalinist Russia and the Nazis – as one in which government is given unprecedented authority over the lives of individual. Whereas the Town Hall Vandals are merely acting to defend liberty from this threat.

There is, of course, the blatant contradiction to be found in the self-professed defenders of liberty vandalizing the democratic process. However, the absurdity goes much deeper then that.

Let us not forget that these are the same people who spent the previous eight years defending an administration that held the Chief Executive had the authority to as he pleases – even to the point of picking up and imprisoning whomever he wants, holding them without trial, and torturing them to the point of death.

This was a President who avoided the courts by assigning the judicial powers of government to its own Judicial Department – a group of people who held their jobs only insofar as they act in a way that pleases the President.

This was a President who effectively bypassed the legislature with the use of signing statements through which he rewrote legislation according to his own will and whim.

These Town Hall Vandals who now want to convince us that they are the great defenders of liberty were the last die-hard supporters of that administration.

It is certain that, if these people returned to power, they would bring their love of torture, rendition, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment without trial, and support for an interpretation of Presidential power that would make any tyrant who has ever ruled sick with envy with them.

These are not people who love liberty.

These are people who love having power.

When they have power, they believe in the morally unrestrained use of that power to do what they please to whomever they please without worrying that others might interfere.

Even when they do not have power, they seem to believe in the unrestrained use of what power they do have to do what they please to whomever they please, and simply bristle more at the restraints that those with power might impose on them.

When others have power they suddenly see liberty as having a virtue whereby they claim the right to tear down those institutions, only to take power for themselves, which puts them right back into the first situation where there are no moral restraints on the use of power.

You can tell when a group of people are truly bound by a set of moral values, because those values do not change as the situation changes. A person who believes that lying is wrong not only protests when others lie to him. He also makes an effort not to lie to others and can experience a sense of shame or guilt when those efforts fall short. A person who believes that tyranny is wrong will not only condemn tyranny in others, but can be counted on to hold power without becoming tyrants themselves.

The fact is, these people . . . these Town Hall Vandals . . . have no moral compass.

If they did, they would not be able to change moral directions so quickly whenever they found it convenient to do so. They would hold a more steady course and travel in a more constant direction. They would not be shifting their view from one moment to the next, doing in one instance exactly what they condemn in another.

Because they have no moral compass they are a threat. They will do whatever harm to democracy (as evidenced by this vandalism of the town hall meetings), to liberty (as evidenced by eight years supporting the principles and practice of tyranny), to the consequent well-being of others, while failing to recognize that there might be some moral objections to be raised against them.

Furthermore, immorality breeds immorality. It teaches by example. We have found no greater teacher of the philosophy of tyranny over the last eight years than the Bush Administration, who taught lessons in the justification (rationalization) of the arbitrary and capricious exercise that we can trust that present and future tyrants will find most valuable.

He did so with the blessings and the encouragement of Town Hall Vandals who now have the audacity to claim that they are to be seen now as those who are vandalizing democracy in the name of freedom.


Hume's Ghost said...

I believe this is the culmination of all the hate that has been preached by the likes of Coulter, Malkin, Hannity, Limbaugh, Savage, etc.

These extremists protesters are conservative supremacists: they believe the only legitimate outcome of an election is theirs.

You see this when you hear Beck shouting about this not being the change we (i.e., he and his followers) voted for. Of course it isn't, because Beck didn't vote for Obama and the Democratic Congress. It's as if all other Americans who disagree with them don't exist. You see the same thing with the protesters showing up to predominantly Democratic districts that elected a Democrat shouting that the representative works for "them" and expecting that to mean the rep. should ignore the rest of the constituents and do precisely what they want.

It is a sad reality there is a core constituency of the Republian party (which overlaps with its Christian nationalist base) which views the election of a Democratic president - under any circumstance - as illigitimate. Hence the polls showing large percentages of Republicans not even believing the President is a US citizen.

Luke said...


I love your posts on applied ethics and current events. They always provide a clearer and fairer picture of the situation than any other source I read.

But, I do hope you return to theory soon. I would like to read your latest replies to Carrier's objections and others.