The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):


  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”


Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Friday, October 08, 2010

When people's rights collide

One would think that it would be a First Amendment right for a church to picket people they consider to be sinful, involving both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. And even though their message may be bigoted, anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, and anti-gay, that does not change things. But what if the people being picketed are grieving widows, orphans, and other relatives of a dead soldier, at the funeral which is supposed to give them some little comfort in their grief? Certainly society has an obligation to them to protect them from harassment, doesn't it?

This is the issue that just came before the Supreme Court, as Snyder v. Phelps.

This is a very difficult case. It is clear, from the questions asked by the Justices, that they are likely to rule against the church (which apparently consists entirely of Phelps' relatives). And it is very hard to fault either side. I strongly believe in the First Amendment, but as I have said in the principles that rule this blog: "Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms." Now, Phelps has not exactly been causing Snyder physical injury, though the emotional injury has certainly been grave. And it does appear that Phelps has been depriving Snyder of his freedoms in a sense, though the Constitution does not speak of a right to grieve one's dead (unless it's considered, like the right to privacy, a corollary of the Ninth Amendment). So this is very hard for me to call. Both sides have a case.

No matter how the Supreme Court rules, there will be people who will bitterly protest the decision. And no matter which way the decision is, these protestors will have a valid point.

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