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Tag Archives: freedom
Posted: September 22, 2016 at 7:46 pm
Madison’s original proposal for a bill of rights provision concerning religion read: ”The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretence, infringed.” 1 The language was altered in the House to read: ”Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience.” 2 In the Senate, the section adopted read: ”Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith, or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion, . . .” 3 It was in the conference committee of the two bodies, chaired by Madison, that the present language was written with its some what more indefinite ”respecting” phraseology. 4 Debate in Congress lends little assistance in interpreting the religion clauses; Madison’s position, as well as that of Jefferson who influenced him, is fairly clear, 5 but the intent, insofar as there was one, of the others in Congress who voted for the language and those in the States who voted to ratify is subject to speculation.
Scholarly Commentary .–The explication of the religion clauses by the scholars has followed a restrained sense of their meaning. Story, who thought that ”the right of a society or government to interfere in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons, who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state, and indispensable to the administration of civil justice,” 6 looked upon the prohibition simply as an exclusion from the Federal Government of all power to act upon the subject. ”The situation . . . of the different states equally proclaimed the policy, as well as the necessity of such an exclusion. In some of the states, episcopalians constituted the predominant sect; in others presbyterians; in others, congregationalists; in others, quakers; and in others again, there was a close numerical rivalry among contending sects. It was impossible, that there should not arise perpetual strife and perpetual jealousy on the subject of ecclesiastical ascendancy, if the national government were left free to create a religious establishment. The only security was in extirpating the power. But this alone would have been an imperfect security, if it had not been followed up by a declaration of the right of the free exercise of religion, and a prohibition (as we have seen) of all religious tests. Thus, the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the state governments, to be acted upon according to their own sense of justice, and the state constitutions; and the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils, without any inquisition into their faith, or mode of worship.” 7
”Probably,” Story also wrote, ”at the time of the adoption of the constitution and of the amendment to it, now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.” 8 The object, then, of the religion clauses in this view was not to prevent general governmental encouragement of religion, of Christianity, but to prevent religious persecution and to prevent a national establishment. 9
This interpretation has long since been abandoned by the Court, beginning, at least, with Everson v. Board of Education, 10 in which the Court, without dissent on this point, declared that the Establishment Clause forbids not only practices that ”aid one religion” or ”prefer one religion over another,” but as well those that ”aid all religions.” Recently, in reliance on published scholarly research and original sources, Court dissenters have recurred to the argument that what the religion clauses, principally the Establishment Clause, prevent is ”preferential” governmental promotion of some religions, allowing general governmental promotion of all religion in general. 11 The Court has not responded, though Justice Souter in a major concurring opinion did undertake to rebut the argument and to restate the Everson position. 12
Court Tests Applied to Legislation Affecting Religion .–Before considering the development of the two religion clauses by the Supreme Court, one should notice briefly the tests developed by which religion cases are adjudicated by the Court. While later cases rely on a series of rather well-defined, if difficult-to-apply, tests, the language of earlier cases ”may have [contained] too sweeping utterances on aspects of these clauses that seemed clear in relation to the particular cases but have limited meaning as general principles.” 13 It is well to recall that ”the purpose [of the religion clauses] was to state an objective, not to write a statute.” 14
In 1802, President Jefferson wrote a letter to a group of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut, in which he declared that it was the purpose of the First Amendment to build ”a wall of separation between Church and State.” 15 In Reynolds v. United States, 16 Chief Justice Waite for the Court characterized the phrase as ”almost an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment.” In its first encounters with religion-based challenges to state programs, the Court looked to Jefferson’s metaphor for substantial guidance. 17 But a metaphor may obscure as well as illuminate, and the Court soon began to emphasize neutrality and voluntarism as the standard of restraint on governmental action. 18 The concept of neutrality itself is ”a coat of many colors,” 19 and three standards that could be stated in objective fashion emerged as tests of Establishment Clause validity. The first two standards were part of the same formulation. ”The test may be stated as follows: what are the purpose and the primary effect of the enactment? If either is the advancement or inhibition of religion then the enactment exceeds the scope of legislative power as circumscribed by the Constitution. That is to say that to withstand the strictures of the Establishment Clause there must be a secular legislative purpose and a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion.” 20 The third test is whether the governmental program results in ”an excessive government entanglement with religion. The test is inescapably one of degree . . . [T]he questions are whether the involvement is excessive, and whether it is a continuing one calling for official and continuing surveillance leading to an impermissible degree of entanglement.” 21 In 1971 these three tests were combined and restated in Chief Justice Burger’s opinion for the Court in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 22 and are frequently referred to by reference to that case name.
Although at one time accepted in principle by all of the Justices, 23 the tests have sometimes been difficult to apply, 24 have recently come under direct attack by some Justices, 25 and with increasing frequency have not been applied at all by the Court. 26 While continued application is uncertain, the Lemon tests nonetheless have served for twenty years as the standard measure of Establishment Clause validity and explain most of the Court’s decisions in the area. 27 As of the end of the Court’s 1991-92 Term, there was not yet a consensus among Lemon critics as to what substitute test should be favored. 28 Reliance on ”coercion” for that purpose would eliminate a principal distinction between establishment cases and free exercise cases and render the Establishment Clause largely duplicative of the Free Exercise Clause. 29
Justice O’Connor has suggested that it is inappropriate to try to shoehorn all Establishment cases into one test, and has called instead for recognition that different contexts may call for different approaches. Supp.1 For example, the Justice proposes that cases involving government ”speech” on religious topics be judged by an endorsement test that would invalidate government actions only if a reasonable observer would perceive the action as an endorsement or disapproval of religious belief. Supp.2
Government Neutrality in Religious Disputes .–One value that both clauses of the religion section serve is to enforce governmental neutrality in deciding controversies arising out of religious disputes. Schism sometimes develops within churches or between a local church and the general church, resulting in secession or expulsion of one faction or of the local church. A dispute over which body is to have control of the property of the church will then often be taken into the courts. It is now established that both religion clauses prevent governmental inquiry into religious doctrine in settling such disputes, and instead require courts simply to look to the decision-making body or process in the church and to give effect to whatever decision is officially and properly made.
The first such case was Watson v. Jones, 30 which was decided on common-law grounds in a diversity action without explicit reliance on the First Amendment. A constitutionalization of the rule was made in Kedroff v. St. Nicholas Cathedral, 31 in which the Court held unconstitutional a state statute that recognized the autonomy and authority of those North American branches of the Russian Orthodox Church which had declared their independence from the general church. Recognizing that Watson v. Jones had been decided on nonconstitutional grounds, the Court thought nonetheless that the opinion ”radiates . . . a spirit of freedom for religious organizations, and independence from secular control or manipulation–in short, power to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine.” 32 The power of civil courts to resolve church property disputes was severely circumscribed, the Court held, because to permit resolution of doctrinal disputes in court was to jeopardize First Amendment values. What a court must do, it was held, is to look at the church rules: if the church is a hierarchical one which reposes determination of ecclesiastical issues in a certain body, the resolution by that body is determinative, while if the church is a congregational one prescribing action by a majority vote, that determination will prevail. 33 On the other hand, a court confronted with a church property dispute could apply ”neutral principles of law, developed for use in all property disputes,” when to do so would not require resolution of doctrinal issues. 34 In a later case the Court elaborated on the limits of proper inquiry, holding that an argument over a matter of internal church government, the power to reorganize the dioceses of a hierarchical church in this country, was ”at the core of ecclesiastical affairs” and a court could not interpret the church constitution to make an inde pendent determination of the power but must defer to the interpretation of the body authorized to decide. 35
In Jones v. Wolf, 36 however, a divided Court, while formally adhering to these principles, appeared to depart in substance from their application. A schism had developed in a local church which was a member of a hierarchical church, and the majority voted to withdraw from the general church. The proper authority of the general church determined that the minority constituted the ”true congregation” of the local church and awarded them authority over it. The Court approved the approach of the state court in applying neutral principles by examining the deeds to the church property, state statutes, and provisions of the general church’s constitution concerning ownership and control of church property in order to determine that no language of trust in favor of the general church was contained in any of them and that the property thus belonged to the local congregation. 37 Further, the Court held, the First Amendment did not prevent the state court from applying a presumption of majority rule to award control to the majority of the local congregation, provided that it permitted defeasance of the presumption upon a showing that the identity of the local church is to be determined by some other means as expressed perhaps in the general church charter. 38 The dissent argued that to permit a court narrowly to view only the church documents relating to property ownership permitted the ignoring of the fact that the dispute was over ecclesiastical matters and that the general church had decided which faction of the congregation was the local church. 39
Thus, it is unclear where the Court is on this issue. Jones v. Wolf restated the rule that it is improper to review an ecclesiastical dispute and that deference is required in those cases, but by approving a neutral principles inquiry which in effect can filter out the doctrinal issues underlying a church dispute, the Court seems to have approved at least an indirect limitation of the authority of hierarchical churches. 40
[Footnote 1] 1 Annals of Congress 434 (June 8, 1789).
[Footnote 2] The committee appointed to consider Madison’s proposals, and on which Madison served, with Vining as chairman, had rewritten the religion section to read: ”No religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed.” After some debate during which Madison suggested that the word ”national” might be inserted before the word ”religion” as ”point[ing] the amendment directly to the object it was intended to prevent,” the House adopted a substitute reading: ”Congress shall make no laws touching religion, or infringing the rights of conscience.” 1 Annals of Congress 729-31 (August 15, 1789). On August 20, on motion of Fisher Ames, the language of the clause as quoted in the text was adopted. Id. at 766. According to Madison’s biographer, ”[t]here can be little doubt that this was written by Madison.” I. Brant, James Madison–Father of the Constitution 1787-1800 at 271 (1950).
[Footnote 3] This text, taken from the Senate Journal of September 9, 1789, appears in 2 B. Schwartz (ed.), The Bill of Rights: A Documentary History 1153 (1971). It was at this point that the religion clauses were joined with the freedom of expression clauses.
[Footnote 4] 1 Annals of Congress 913 (September 24, 1789). The Senate concurred the same day. See I. Brant, James Madison–Father of the Constitution 1787-1800, 271-72 (1950).
[Footnote 5] During House debate, Madison told his fellow Members that ”he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any Manner contrary to their conscience.” 1 Annals of Congress 730 (August 15, 1789). That his conception of ”establishment” was quite broad is revealed in his veto as President in 1811 of a bill which in granting land reserved a parcel for a Baptist Church in Salem, Mississippi; the action, explained President Madison, ”comprises a principle and precedent for the appropriation of funds of the United States for the use and support of religious societies, contrary to the article of the Constitution which declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment.”’ 8 The Writings of James Madison (G. Hunt. ed.) 132-33 (1904). Madison’s views were no doubt influenced by the fight in the Virginia legislature in 1784-1785 in which he successfully led the opposition to a tax to support teachers of religion in Virginia and in the course of which he drafted his ”Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments” setting forth his thoughts. Id. at 183-91; I. Brant, James Madison–The Nationalist 1780-1787, 343-55 (1948). Acting on the momentum of this effort, Madison secured passage of Jefferson’s ”Bill for Religious Liberty”. Id. at 354; D. Malone, Jefferson the Virginian 274-280 (1948). The theme of the writings of both was that it was wrong to offer public support of any religion in particular or of religion in general.
[Footnote 6] 3 J. Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States 1865 (1833).
[Footnote 7] Id. at 1873.
[Footnote 8] Id. at 1868.
[Footnote 9] For a late expounding of this view, see T. Cooley, General Principles of Constitutional Law in the United States 224-25 (3d ed. 1898).
[Footnote 10] 330 U.S. 1, 15 (1947). Establishment Clause jurisprudence since, whatever its twists and turns, maintains this view.
[Footnote 11] Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 91 (1985) (then-Justice Rehnquist dissenting). More recently, dissenters, including now-Chief Justice Rehnquist, have appeared reconciled to a ”constitutional tradition” in which governmental endorsement of religion is out of bounds, even if it is not correct as a matter of history. See Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2678, 2683-84 (1992) (Justice Scalia, joined by the Chief Justice and Justices White and Thomas, dissenting).
[Footnote 12] Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2667 (1992) (Justice Souter, joined by Justices Stevens and O’Connor, concurring).
[Footnote 13] Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 668 (1970).
[Footnote 14] Id.
[Footnote 15] 16 The Writings of Thomas Jefferson 281 (A. Libscomb ed., 1904).
[Footnote 16] 98 U.S. 145, 164 (1879).
[Footnote 17] Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 16 (1947); Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 211 , 212 (1948); cf. Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 317 (1952) (Justice Black dissenting). In Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 614 (1971), Chief Justice Burger remarked that ”the line of separation, far from being a ‘wall,’ is a blurred, indistinct and variable barrier depending on all the circumstances of a particular relationship.” Similar observations were repeated by the Chief Justice in his opinion for the Court in Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 673 (1984) (the metaphor is not ”wholly accurate”; the Constitution does not ”require complete separation of church and state [but] affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any”).
[Footnote 18] Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 314 (1952); Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962); Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963); Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 305 (1963) (Justice Goldberg concurring); Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 694 -97 (1970) (Justice Harlan concurring). In the opinion of the Court in the latter case, Chief Justice Burger wrote: ”The course of constitutional neutrality in this area cannot be an absolutely straight line; rigidity could well defeat the basic purpose of these provisions, which is to insure that no religion be sponsored or favored, none commanded, and none inhibited. The general principle deducible from the First Amendment and all that has been said by the Court is this: that we will not tolerate either governmentally established religion or governmental interference with religion. Short of those expressly proscribed governmental acts there is room for play in the joints productive of a benevolent neutrality which will permit religious exercise to exist without sponsorship and without interference.” Id. at 669.
[Footnote 19] Board of Education v. Allen, 392 U.S. 236, 249 (1968) (Justice Harlan concurring).
[Footnote 20] Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 222 (1963).
[Footnote 21] Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664, 674 -75 (1970).
[Footnote 22] 403 U.S. 602, 612 -13 (1971).
[Footnote 23] E.g., Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Regan, 444 U.S. 646, 653 (1980), and id. at 665 (dissenting opinion); Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39, 40 (1980), and id. at 43 (dissenting opinion).
[Footnote 24] The tests provide ”helpful signposts,” Hunt v. McNair, 413 U.S. 734, 741 (1973), and are at best ”guidelines” rather than a ”constitutional caliper;” they must be used to consider ”the cumulative criteria developed over many years and applying to a wide range of governmental action.” Inevitably, ”no ‘bright line’ guidance is afforded.” Tilton v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 672, 677 -78 (1971). See also Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Nyquist, 413 U.S. 756, 761 & n.5, 773 n.31 (1973); Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Regan, 444 U.S. 646, 662 (1980), and id. at 663 (Justice Blackmun dissenting).
[Footnote 25] See, e.g., Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578, 636 -40 (1987) (Justice Scalia, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist, dissenting) (advocating abandonment of the ”purpose” test); Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 108 -12 (1985) (Justice Rehnquist dissenting); Aguilar v. Felton, 473 U.S. 402, 426 -30 (1985) (Justice O’Connor, dissenting) (addressing difficulties in applying the entanglement prong); Roemer v. Maryland Bd. of Public Works, 426 U.S. 736, 768 -69 (Justice White concurring in judgment) (objecting to entanglement test). Justice Kennedy has also acknowledged criticisms of the Lemon tests, while at the samed time finding no need to reexamine them. See, e.g., Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU, 492 U.S. 573, 655 -56 (1989). At least with respect to public aid to religious schools, Justice Stevens would abandon the tests and simply adopt a ”no-aid” position. Committee for Public Educ. & Religious Liberty v. Regan, 444 U.S. 646, 671 (1980).
[Footnote 26] See Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983) (upholding legislative prayers on the basis of historical practice); Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2655 (1992) (rejecting a request to reconsider Lemon because the practice of invocations at public high school graduations was invalid under established school prayer precedents); Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School Dist., 509 U.S. 1 (1993) (upholding provision of sign-language interpreter to deaf student attending parochial school); Board of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Village v. Grumet, 114 S. Ct. 2481 (1994) (invalidating law creating special school district for village composed exclusively of members of one religious sect). The Court has also held that the tripartite test is not applicable when law grants a denominational preference, distinguishing between religions; rather, the distinction is to be subjected to the strict scrutiny of a suspect classification. Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228, 244 -46 (1982).
[Footnote 27] Justice Blackmun, concurring in Lee, contended that Marsh was the only one of 31 Establishment cases between 1971 and 1992 not to be decided on the basis on the Lemon tests. 112 S. Ct. at 2663, n.4.
[Footnote 28] In 1990 Justice Kennedy, joined by Justice Scalia, proposed that ”neutral” accommodations of religion should be permissible so long as they do not establish a state religion, and so long as there is no ”coercion” to participate in religious exercises. Westside Community Bd. of Educ. v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226, 260 -61. The two Justices parted company, however, over the permissiblity of invocations at public high school graduation ceremonies, Justice Scalia in dissent strongly criticizing Justice Kennedy’s approach in the opinion of the Court for its reliance on psychological coercion. Justice Scalia would not ”expand[ ] the concept of coercion beyond acts backed by threat of penalty.” Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2684 (1992). Chief Justice Rehnquist has advocated limiting application to a prohibition on establishing a national (or state) church or favoring one religious group over another. Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 98 , 106 (1985) (dissenting).
[Footnote 29] Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 222 -23 (1963). See also Board of Education v. Allen, 392 U.S. 236, 248 -49 (1968); and Tilton v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 672, 689 (1971); Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649, 2673 (Justice Souter concurring) (”a literal application of the coercion test would render the Establishment Clause a virtual nullity”).
[Footnote 1 (1996 Supplement)] Board of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Village v. Grumet,114 S. Ct. 2481, 2498-99 (1994).
[Footnote 2 (1996 Supplement)] Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 688 (1984) (concurring); Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU, 492 U.S. 573, 625 (1989) (concurring); Board of Educ. of Kiryas Joel Village v. Grumet, 114 S. Ct. 2481, 2500 (1994) (concurring).
[Footnote 30] 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 679 (1872).
[Footnote 31] 344 U.S. 94 (1952). Kedroff was grounded on the Free Exercise Clause. Id. at 116. But the subsequent cases used a collective ”First Amendment” designation.
[Footnote 32] Id. at 116. On remand, the state court adopted the same ruling on the merits but relied on a common-law rule rather than the statute. This too was struck down. Kreshik v. St. Nicholas Cathedral, 363 U.S. 190 (1960).
[Footnote 33] Presbyterian Church v. Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440, 447 , 450-51 (1969); Maryland and Virginia Eldership of the Churches of God v. Church of God at Sharpsburg, 396 U.S. 367 (1970). For a similar rule of neutrality in another context, see United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1944) (denying defendant charged with mail fraud through dissemination of purported religious literature the right to present to the jury evidence of the truthfulness of the religious views he urged).
[Footnote 34] Presbyterian Church v. Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440, 449 (1969); Maryland and Virginia Eldership of the Churches of God v. Church of God of Sharpsburg, 396 U.S. 367, 368 (1970). See also id. at 368-70 (Justice Brennan concurring).
[Footnote 35] The Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese v. Dionisije Milivojevich, 426 U.S. 697, 720 -25 (1976). In Gonzalez v. Archbishop, 280 U.S. 1 (1929), the Court had permitted limited inquiry into the legality of the actions taken under church rules. The Serbian Eastern Court disapproved of this inquiry with respect to concepts of ”arbitrariness,” although it reserved decision on the ”fraud” and ”collusion” exceptions. 426 U.S. at 708 -20.
[Footnote 36] 443 U.S. 595 (1979). In the majority were Justices Blackmun, Brennan, Marshall, Rehnquist, and Stevens. Dissenting were Justices Powell, Stewart, White, and Chief Justice Burger.
[Footnote 37] Id. at 602-06.
[Footnote 38] Id. at 606-10. Because it was unclear whether the state court had applied such a rule and applied it properly, the Court remanded.
[Footnote 39] Id. at 610.
[Footnote 40] The Court indicated that the general church could always expressly provide in its charter or in deeds to property the proper disposition of disputed property. But here the general church had decided which faction was the ”true congregation,” and this would appear to constitute as definitive a ruling as the Court’s suggested alternatives. Id. at 606.
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Annotation 1 – First Amendment – FindLaw
Posted: September 10, 2016 at 5:25 am
What is Freedom?
Freedom. We sing about it in our patriotic songs. We teach it to our children in school. Hollywood and Madison Avenue glorify it. Here in the United States, freedom is the civic religion.
But if freedom is our civic religion, why is the libertarian movement in the U.S. so small? Why is government so big and our jails so full? Is all our talk of freedom mere lip service? Are we a nation of sheeple duped by the powers that be?
To some degree, yes. But these are not the major reasons why the libertarian movement is so small. Pure libertarians lack credibility with the masses because they dont necessarily offer liberty. Abolish the government willy nilly and reduced liberty is the likely result. The power vacuum left by vanished government is likely to be filled by feudal warlords, a military junta and/or invading armies. Anarchy with liberty may be possible but it is not automatic. The People are prudent to refuse the risk.
What about moderate libertarians? What about those who would like to shrink the federal government to its Constitutional bounds? Why havent freedom lovers joined their banners en masse? Well, some did, for Ron Pauls recent run for President, but not nearly enough to win the Republican nomination, much less elect a President. This is supposed to be the Land of the Free. What gives?
It took me years to figure it out, but I believe I have the answer. It is an answer most active libertarians will not like to hear. Pragmatic libertarians do indeed offer liberty, but liberty is not the same thing as freedom!
By liberty I mean what my libertarians friends mean by liberty: liberty is the absence of coercion. It is a state of being where transactions are voluntary, where all constraints are the result of honest contracts. I like liberty. I wish we had more of it, here and in other parts of the world. I even have a series on libertarian strategy in the the hope that libertarians become more successful in increasing liberty. But liberty is not the same thing as freedom. Freedom is something bigger.
So what is freedom?
You can pull out a dictionary for a stilted definition. I will define it simply: freedom is being able to do what you want to do. Free speech and free beer both speak of freedom. Free speech is a freedom that comes directly from liberty. Free beer, however, requires more than mere permission to drink fermented barley. It requires that someone has gone through the trouble to brew the beer and is willing to give it out. If no one is so inclined brew beer and give it away, the ideal of Freedom as in Free Beer contains a conflict. Free beer for you means beer servitude for someone else.
This is why freedom-loving Vulcans stick to promoting liberty. They see the potential conflict inherent in free beer freedoms as a contradiction. Liberty can be granted to all who respect the liberty of others or at least thats the ideal. (In practice we run up against a few conflicts or even contradictions.) So many libertarians would define freedom down to mere liberty, and thus wall off from their minds the messy business of balancing trade-offs.
I say mere liberty because for many people more liberty need not translate into more freedom. A marginal increase in liberty can result is subtantially less freedom, especially in the short run. This, I submit, is why libertarianism has limited popularity here in the Land of the Free. For millions of people liberal and conservative ideas offer more increments freedom than many libertarian ideas.
Consider a single mom who has to put in 50 hour weeks at Dennys to support her children. A cuddly fascist offering government childcare and socialized medicine along with his program of censorship of naughty TV and conquering Bolivia for no good reason offers more freedom to this mother than a smaller government libertarian. This is but one illustration. I give others elsewhere.
Libertarianism has limited popularity for good reason.
This is not a libertarian site. It is a pro-freedom site. Here, we attempt to balance several freedoms, including:
Back when I was a libertarian and active in the Libertarian Party, I spent thousands of dollars and hours promoting the party and the cause. Converts and recruits were few and far between. Today, I am mostly out of the game, playing Candy Land with my young daughter instead of placing signs, dropping leaflets, working booths and attending meetings. Yet I have well over a hundred people lining up to join my nonexistent new political party proposed elsewhere on this site.
Freedom is popular here in the Land of the Free.
What is not popular is knowledge of how to be more free. Many liberals call for mass bureaucracy because they know no other way to achieve freedom from the boss. If that is you, or you wish to persuade such liberals otherwise, see the red titles on the sidebar. Likewise, many environmentalists believe we have to abride economic freedom and/or our prosperous way of life in order to preserve nature. For you I have the green article series. For those of you who desire a safe and moral place to raise your children, there are the blue articles.
If you are ready to dive in and look at specific proposals, feel free to jump to the relevant article series. On the other hand, if you are a top down thinker, or a libertarian/small government conservative who has a hard time grokking the distinction between liberty and freedom, please continue with this series.
Originally posted here:
Posted: September 3, 2016 at 11:34 pm
Sept 10 One Day Shootout September 11-2016 Greensboro/Carolyn Allen 3 $175.00 Howard Edwards Sept 10-11 Fall Super Bash September 10-11 2016 Salisbury Community Park 4 $225.00 Howard Edwards Sept 10-11 Fall 6 Game Eden High School September 10-11 2016 Eden Freedom Park 6 $250.00 Howard Edwards Sept 10-11 Fall 10U Super Girl September 10-11 2016 Statesville/Saratoma 5 $225.00 Howard Edwards Sept 17-18 College Connection 16U/18U September 17-18 2016 Salisbury Community Park 4 $350.00 Howard Edwards Sept 17-18 Fall Championship 10,12,14 September 17-18 2016 Huntersville/Bradford 4 $225.00 Chuck Laney Sept 17-18 NSA Six Game Super Bash September 17-18 2016 Tyger River Spartanburg 6 $350.00 Howard Edwards Sept 24-25 Fall Cheerwine 10U-12U-14U September 24-25 2016 Salisbury/Mooresville 5 $250.00 Howard Edwards Sept 24-25 Dudley Sports Elite 6GG 14U-HS September 24-25 2016 Rock Hill 6 $325.00 Chuck Laney Oct 1-2 NC/VA Fall Championship October 1-2 2016 Greensboro/Carolyn Allen 5 $300.00 Howard Edwards Oct 1-2 Winthrop Gold Cup 1 October 1-2 2016 Winthrop College Rock Hill 4 $300.00 Jim Allen October 8-9 Winthrop Gold Cup 2 October 1-2 2016 Winthrop College Rock Hill 4 $300.00 Jim Allen Oct 1-2 Think Pink October 1-2 2016 Concord/Frank Lisk 4 $300.00 Colt Butler Oct 8-9 10U Special Weekend October 8-9 2016 Thomasville/East Davidsion complex 4 $250.00 Howard Edwards Oct 8-9 Fall Class B Championship 12U-14U October 8-9 2016 Salisbury Community Park 5 $250.00 Howard Edwards Oct 8-9 NSA Gold Cup 6GG 12U-14U October 8-9 2016 Rock Hill Cherry Park 6 $325.00 Chuck Laney Oct 8-9 Fall Beach Blast Myrtle Beach October 8-9 2016 Myrtle Beach Georgetown 4 $325.00 Howard Edwards Oct 15-16 The Thriller October 15-16 2016 Huntersville-Bradford 4 $250.00 Colt Butler Oct 15 Out of the Park 14U October 15-2016 Reidsville 4 $195.00 Doyle OBryant Oct 15-16 Fall Talent Search October 15-16 2016 Burlington/Springwood 4 $375.00 Howard Edwards
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NC NSA Softball – Tournament
Posted: August 27, 2016 at 7:06 pm
Friends, Have you heard off the 22-day push-up challenge? My good friend Mike La Caze nominated me to do it. Basically, one does 22 push-ups a day for 22 days t…o raise awareness for combat veterans (and we record our pushup experiences and share it). There are approximately 22 vets a day that are committing suicide, and this is a small way to raise awareness for that issue. As a journalist who has been to war zones and seen tragedy, I’m especially interested in making sure our soldiers are happy when they return home. The hope here is that awareness of this tragic issue brings more funding, resources, and support to the vets that need it when they face depression.
Everyday, I’m supposed to nominate somone else to do this too. Today I nominate Transhumanist Party officer and friend Chris T. Armstrong.
The rules are simple: * Once you are nominated your 22 days start the following day. * Every day, you record yourself doing 22 push-ups. Try your best to reach 22. If that means doing assisted (from your knees) push-ups or that you have to stop and take a break that’s fine but try to get them all done in one video. * Every day you must nominate a different person. Try to choose people you think will want to do this and/or have the ability to do it. * And finally, have fun with this. This is a simple and fun way to get the word out about a matter that more people need to be aware about. **These brave men and women put their lives on the line to protect our freedom and it’s sad that so many veterans feel that suicide is the only way out. For more information: http://stopsoldiersuicide.org/about/ #transhumanism #ScienceCandidate #Election2016 #POTUS #22PushupChallenge
Transhumanist Party | Facebook
Posted: August 21, 2016 at 11:16 am
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Posted: August 19, 2016 at 4:14 am
We live in a brave new world in which reproductive technologies are ravaging as well as replenishing families. Increasingly common are variations of the situation in which “baby’s mother is also grandma-and sister.”1 Sometimes extreme measures are necessary in order to have the kind of child we want.
This new eugenics is simply the latest version of the age-old quest to make human beings–in fact, humanity as a whole–the way we want them to be: perfect. It includes our efforts to be rid of unwanted human beings through abortion and euthanasia. It more recently is focusing on our growing ability to understand and manipulate our genetic code, which directs the formation of many aspects of who we are, for better and for worse.
We aspire to complete control over the code, though at this point relatively little is possible. This backdrop can help us understand the great fascination with human cloning today. It promises to give us a substantial measure of power over the genetic makeup of our offspring. We cannot control their code exactly, but the first major step in that direction is hugely appealing: You can have a child whose genetic code is exactly like your own. And you didn’t turn out so badly, did you?
Admittedly, in our most honest moments we would improve a few things about ourselves. So the larger agenda here remains complete genetic control. But human cloning represents one concrete step in that direction, and the forces pushing us from behind to take that step are tremendous. These forces are energized, as we will see, by the very ways we look at life and justify our actions. But before examining such forces, we need a clearer view of human cloning itself.
It was no longer ago than 1997 when the president of the United States first challenged the nation and charged his National Bioethics Advisory Commission2 to give careful thought to how the United States should proceed regarding human cloning. Attention to this issue was spurred by the reported cloning of a large mammal–a sheep–in a new way. The method involved not merely splitting an early-stage embryo to produce identical twins. Rather, it entailed producing a nearly exact genetic replica of an already existing adult.
The technique is called nuclear transfer or nuclear transplantation because it involves transferring the nucleus (and thus most of the genetic material) from a cell of an existing being to an egg cell in order to replace the egg cell’s nucleus. Stimulated to divide by the application of electrical energy, this egg–now embryo–is guided by its new genetic material to develop as a being who is genetically almost identical to the being from which the nucleus was taken. This process was reportedly carried out in a sheep to produce the sheep clone named Dolly3 but attention quickly shifted to the prospects for cloning human beings (by which I will mean here and throughout, cloning by nuclear transfer).
Quickly people began to see opportunities for profit and notoriety. By 1998, for example, scientist Richard Seed had announced intentions to set up a Human Clone Clinic–first in Chicago, then in ten to twenty locations nationally, then in five to six locations internationally.4 While the U.S. federal government was pondering how to respond to such initiatives, some of the states began passing legislation to outlaw human cloning research, and nineteen European nations acted quickly to sign a ban on human cloning itself.5 However, the European ban only blocks the actual implantation, nurture, and birth of human clones, and not also cloning research on human embryos that are never implanted. Such research has been slowed in the United States since the president and then Congress withheld federal government funds from research that subjects embryos to risk for non-therapeutic purposes.6 Moreover, a United Nations declaration co-sponsored by eighty-six countries in late 1998 signaled a broad worldwide opposition to research that would lead to human cloning.7
Yet there are signs of this protection for embryos weakening in the face of the huge benefits promised by stem cell research. Stem cells can treat many illnesses and can have the capacity to develop into badly needed body parts such as tissues and organs. One way to obtain stem cells is to divide an early stage embryo into its component cells–thereby destroying the embryonic human being. Under President Clinton, the National Institutes of Health decided that as long as private sources destroyed the embryos and produced the stem cells, the federal government would fund research on those cells.8 During 2001, President Bush prohibited federally-funded research on embryonic stem cells produced after the date his prohibition was announced. In 2002, his newly-formed Council on Bioethics raised serious questions about even this form of embryonic stem cell research, through the Council was divided on this matter.9 These developments underscore that there are a number of technological developments that are closely interrelated and yet have somewhat different ethical considerations involved. While embryo and stem cell research are very important issues, they are distinct ethically from the question of reproducing human beings through cloning. Reproduction by cloning is the specific focus of this essay.
While no scientifically verifiable birth of a human clone has yet been reported, the technology and scientific understanding are already in place to make such an event plausible at any time now. There is an urgent need to think through the relevant ethical issues. To begin with, is it acceptable to refer to human beings produced by cloning technology as “clones”? It would seem so, as long as there does not become a stigma attached to that term that is not attached to more cumbersome expressions like “a person who is the result of cloning” or “someone created through the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer.” We call someone from Italy an Italian, no disrespect intended. So it can be that a person “from cloning” is a clone. We must be ready to abandon this term, however, if it becomes a label that no longer meets certain ethical criteria.10
In order to address the ethics of human cloning itself, we need to understand why people would want to do it in the first place. People often respond to the prospect of human cloning in two ways. They are squeamish about the idea–a squeamishness Leon Kass has argued we should take very seriously.11 They also find something alluring about the idea. Such fascination is captured in a variety of films, including “The Boys from Brazil” (portraying the attempt to clone Adolf Hitler), “Bladerunner” (questioning whether a clone would be more like a person or a machine), and “Multiplicity” (presenting a man’s attempt to have enough time for his family, job, and other pursuits by producing several live adult replicas of himself). Popular discussions center on the wonderful prospects of creating multiple Mother Teresas, Michael Jordans, or other notable figures.
The greatest problem with creative media-driven discussions like this is that they often reflect a misunderstanding of the science and people involved. The film “Multiplicity” presents human replicas, not clones in the form that we are discussing them here. When an adult is cloned (e.g., the adult sheep from which Dolly was cloned), an embryo is created, not another adult. Although the embryo’s cells contain the same genetic code as the cells of the adult being cloned, the embryo must go through many years of development in an environment that is significantly different from that in which the adult developed. Because both our environment and our genetics substantially influence who we are, the embryo will not become the same person as the adult. In fact, because we also have a spiritual capacity to evaluate and alter either or both our environment and our genetics, human clones are bound to be quite different from the adults who provide their genetic code.
If this popular fascination with hero-duplication is not well founded, are there any more thoughtful ethical justifications for human cloning? Many have been put forward, and they cluster into three types: utility justifications, autonomy justifications, and destiny justifications. The first two types reflect ways of looking at the world that are highly influential in the United States and elsewhere today, so we must examine them carefully. They can readily be critiqued on their own terms. The third, while also influential, helpfully opens the door to theological reflection as well. I will begin by explaining the first two justifications. In the following sections I will then assess the first two justifications and carefully examine the third.
Utility justifications defend a practice based on its usefulness, or benefit. As long as it will produce a net increase in human well-being, it is warranted. People are well acquainted with the notion of assessing costs and benefits, and it is common to hear the argument that something will produce so much benefit that efforts to block it must surely be misguided.
Utility justifications are common in discussions of human cloning. Typical examples include:
The second type of justification appeals to the idea of autonomy, an increasingly popular appeal in this postmodern age, in which people’s personal experiences and values play a most important role in determining what is right and true for them. According to this justification, we ought to respect people’s autonomy as a matter of principle. People’s beliefs and values are too diverse to adopt any particular set of them as normative for everyone. Society should do everything possible to enhance the ability of individuals and groups to pursue what they deem most important.
Again, there are many forms that autonomy justifications can take. However, three stand out as particularly influential in discussions of human cloning:
Utility and autonomy are important ethical justifications. However, they do not provide a sufficient ethical basis for human cloning. We will examine them here carefully in turn.
While the concern for utility is admirable, there are many serious problems with this type of justification. Most significantly, it is “unworkable” and it is “dangerous.” It is unworkable because knowing how much utility cloning or any other practice has, with a reasonable level of precision, is simply impossible. We cannot know all of the ways that a practice will affect all people in the world infinitely into the future. For example, it is impossible to quantify accurately the satisfaction of every parent in future centuries who will choose cloning rather than traditional sexual reproduction in order to spare their children from newly discovered genetic problems that are now unknown. In fact, as sheep cloner Ian Wilmut was widely quoted as observing, shortly after announcing his cloning of Dolly, “Most of the things cloning will be used for have yet to be imagined.” The difficulty of comparing the significance of every foreseeable consequence on the same scale of value–including comparing each person’s subjective experiences with everyone else’s–only adds to the unworkability.
What happens in real life is that decision makers intuitively compare only those consequences they are most aware of and concerned about. Such an approach is an open invitation to bias and discrimination, intended and unintended. Even more dangerous is the absence of limits to what can be justified. There are no built-in protections for weak individuals or minority groups, including clones. People can be subjected to anything, the worst possible oppression or even death, if it is beneficial to the majority. Situations such as Nazi Germany and American slavery can be justified using this way of thinking.
When utility is our basis for justifying what is allowed in society, people are used, fundamentally, as mere means to achieve the ends of society or of particular people. It may be appropriate to use plants and animals in this way, within limits. Accordingly, most people do not find it objectionable to clone animals and plants to achieve products that will fulfill a purpose–better milk, better grain, and so forth. However, it is demeaning to “use” people in this way.
This demeaning is what bothers us about the prospect of producing a large group of human clones with low intelligence so that society can have a source of cheap menial labor. It is also what is problematic about producing clones to provide spare parts, such as vital transplantable organs for other people. Both actions fail to respect the equal and great dignity of all people by making some, in effect, the slaves of others. Even cloning a child who dies to remove the parents grief forces the clone to have a certain genetic makeup in order to be the parents’ child, thereby permanently subjecting the clone to the parents’ will. The irony of this last situation, though, is that the clone will not become the same child as was lost–both the child and the clone being the product of far more than their genetics. The clone will be demeaned by not being fully respected and accepted as a unique person, and the parents will fail to regain their lost child in the process.
To summarize: The utility justification is a substantially inadequate basis for defending a practice like cloning. In other words, showing that a good benefit, even a great benefit, will result is not a sufficient argument to justify an action. Although it is easy to forget this basic point when enticed by the promise of a wonderful benefit, we intuitively know it is true. We recognize that we could, for example, cut up one person, take her or his various organs for transplant, and save many lives as a result. But we do not go around doing that. We realize that if the action we take to achieve the benefit is itself horrendous, beneficial results are not enough to justify it.
As significant a critique as this is of a utility justification for human cloning, there is more to say. For even if it were an adequate type of justification, which it is not, it is far from clear that it would justify human cloning. To justify human cloning on the basis of utility, all the consequences of allowing this practice have to be considered, not only the benefits generated by the exceptional situations commonly cited in its defense. What are some of the consequences we need to be concerned about? There is only space here to note two of the many that weigh heavily against human cloning.
First, as suggested earlier, to allow cloning is to open the door to a much more frightening enterprise: genetically engineering people without their consent, not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of particular people or society at large. Cloning entails producing a person with a certain genetic code because of the attractiveness or usefulness of a person with that code. In this sense, cloning is just the tip of a much larger genetic iceberg. We are developing the genetic understanding and capability to shape the human genetic code in many ways. If we allow cloning, we legitimize in principle the entire enterprise of designing children to suit parental or social purposes. As one researcher at the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations has commented, Dolly is best understood as a drop in a towering wave (of genetic research) that is about to crash over us. The personal and social destructiveness of large-scale eugenic efforts (including but by no means limited to Nazi Germany’s) has been substantial, but at least it has been restricted to date by our limited genetic understanding and technology.12 Today the stakes are much higher.
The second of the many additional considerations that must be included in any honest utilitarian calculus involves the allocation of limited resources. To spend resources on the development and practice of human cloning is to not spend them on other endeavors that would be more beneficial to society. For many years now there have been extensive discussions about the expense of health care and the large number of people (tens of millions), even in the United States, that do not have health insurance.13 It has also long been established that such lack of insurance means that a significant number of people are going without necessary health care and are suffering or dying as a result.14 Another way of observing similar pressing needs in health care is to survey the specific areas that could most benefit from additional funds.15 In most of these areas, inadequate funding yields serious health consequences because there is no alternative way to produce the basic health result at issue.
Not only are the benefits of human cloning less significant than those that could be achieved by expending the same funds on other health care initiatives, but there are alternative ways of bringing children into the world that can yield at least one major benefit of cloning children themselves. If there were enough resources available to fund every technology needed or wanted by anyone, the situation would be different. But researching and practicing human cloning will result in serious suffering and even loss of life because other pressing health care needs cannot be met.
An open door to unethical genetic engineering technologies and a misallocation of limited resources, then, are among the numerous consequences of human cloning that would likely more than outweigh the benefits the practice would achieve. As previously argued, we would do better to avoid attempting to justify human cloning simply based on its consequences. But if we are tempted to do so, we must be honest and include all the consequences and not be swayed by exceptional cases that seem so appealing because of the special benefits they would achieve.
Many people today are less persuaded by utility justifications than they are by appeals to autonomy. While the concern for freedom and responsibility for one’s own life in this way of thinking is admirable, autonomy justifications are as deeply flawed as utility justifications. More specifically, they are selfish and they are dangerous.
The very term by which this type of justification is named underscores its selfishness. The word autonomy comes from two Greek words, auto (meaning “self”) and nomos (meaning “law”). In the context of ethics, appeals to autonomy literally signify that the self is its own ethical law that it generates its own standards of right and wrong. There is no encouragement in this way of looking at the world to consider the well-being of others, for that is irrelevant as long as it does not matter to me. Although in theory I should respect the autonomy of others as I live out my own autonomy, in practice an autonomous mindset predisposes me to be unconcerned about how my actions will affect others.
As long as the people making autonomous choices happen to have good moral character that predisposes them to be concerned about the well-being of everyone else, there will not be serious problems. In the United States to date, the substantial influence of Christianity–with its mandate to love others sacrificially–has prompted people to use their autonomous choices to further the interests of others alongside of their own. As Christian influences in public life, from public policy to public education, continue to be eradicated in the name of separation of church and state, the self-centeredness of an autonomy outlook will become increasingly evident. Consciously or unconsciously, selfish and other base motives arise within us continually, and without countervailing influences, there is nothing in an autonomy outlook to ensure that the well-being of others will be protected.
When autonomy rules, then, scientists, family members, and others are predisposed to act on the basis of their own autonomous perspectives, and the risk to others is real. Herein lies the danger of autonomy-based thinking, a danger that is similar to that attending a utility-oriented outlook. Protecting people’s choices is fine as long as all people are in a comparable position to make those choices. But if some people are in a very weak position economically or socially or physically, they may not be able to avail themselves of the same opportunities, even if under more equitable circumstances they would surely want to do so. In an autonomy-based approach, there is no commitment to justice, caring, or any other ethical standards that would safeguard those least able to stand up for themselves.
An autonomy justification is simply an insufficient basis for justifying a practice like human cloning. In other words, showing that a freedom would otherwise be curtailed is not a sufficient argument to justify an action. We have learned this lesson the hard way, by allowing scientific inquiry to proceed unfettered. The Nuremberg Code resulted from research atrocities that were allowed to occur because it was not recognized that there are other ethical considerations that can be more important than scientific and personal freedom (autonomy).16
While the autonomy justification itself is flawed, there is more to say about it as a basis for defending human cloning. For even if it were an adequate type of ethical justification–which it is not–it is far from clear that it would actually justify the practice. An honest, complete autonomy-based evaluation of human cloning would have to consider the autonomy of all persons involved, including the people produced through cloning, and not just the autonomy of researchers and people desiring to have clones. Of the many considerations that would need to be taken into account if the autonomy of the clones were taken seriously, space will only permit the examination of two here.
First, human cloning involves a grave risk to the clone’s life. There is no plausible way to undertake human cloning at this point without a major loss of human life. In the process of cloning the sheep Dolly, 276 failed attempts occurred, including the death of several so-called “defective” clones. An alternative process used to clone monkeys added the necessary destruction of embryonic life to these other risks. It involved transferring the genetic material from each of the cells in an eight-celled embryo to other egg cells in order to attempt to produce eight so-called clones (or, more properly, identical siblings). Subsequent mammal cloning has continued the large-scale fatalities and deformities that unavoidably accompany cloning research. Were these experimental technologies to be applied to human beings, the evidence and procedures themselves show that many human embryos, fetuses, and infants would be lost–and many others deformed–whatever the process. This tragedy would be compounded by the fact that it is unlikely human cloning research would be limited to a single location. Rather, similar mistakes and loss of human life would be occurring almost simultaneously at various private and public research sites.
Normally, experimentation on human beings is allowed only with their explicit consent. (Needless to say, it is impossible to obtain a clone’s consent to be brought into existence through cloning.) An exception is sometimes granted in the case of a child, including one still in the womb, who has a verifiable medical problem which experimental treatment may be able to cure or help. However, human cloning is not covered by this exception for two reasons. First, there is no existing human being with a medical problem in the situation in which a human cloning experiment would be attempted. Second, even if that were not an obstacle, there is typically no significant therapeutic benefit to the clone in the many scenarios for which cloning has been proposed. For the experiment to be ethical, there would need to be therapeutic benefit to the clone so huge as to outweigh the substantial likelihood of the death or deformity that occurred in the Dolly experiment. To proceed with human cloning at this time, then, would involve a massive assault on the autonomy of all clones produced, whether they lived or died.
There is also a second way that human cloning would conflict with the autonomy of the people most intimately involved in the practice, that is, the clones themselves. Human cloning would radically weaken the family structure and relationships of the clone and therefore be fundamentally at odds with their most basic interests. Consider the confusion that arises over even the most basic relationships involved. Are the children who result from cloning really the siblings or the children of their “parents”–really the children or the grandchildren of their “grandparents”? Genetics suggests one answer and age the other. Regardless of any future legal resolutions of such matters, child clones (not to mention others inside and outside the family) will almost certainly experience confusion. Such confusion will impair their psychological and social well being–in fact, their very sense of identity. A host of legal entanglements, including inheritance issues, will also result.
This situation is problematic enough where a clearly identified family is involved. But during the experimental phase in particular, identifying the parents of clones produced in a laboratory may be even more troublesome. Is the donor of the genetic material automatically the parent? What about the donor of the egg into which the genetic material is inserted? If the genetic material and egg are simply donated anonymously for experimental purposes, does the scientist who manipulates them and produces a child from them become the parent? Who will provide the necessary love and care for the damaged embryo, fetus, or child that results when mistakes are made and it is so much easier just to discard them?
As the U.S. National Bioethics Advisory Commission’s report has observed (echoed more recently by the report of the President’s Council on Bioethics), human cloning “invokes images of manufacturing children according to specification. The lack of acceptance this implies for children who fail to develop according to expectations, and the dominance it introduces into the parent-child relationship, is viewed by many as fundamentally at odds with the acceptance, unconditional love, and openness characteristic of good parenting.”17 “It just doesn’t make sense,” to quote Ian Wilmut, who objected strenuously to the notion of cloning humans after he succeeded in producing the sheep clone Dolly.18 He was joined by U.S. President Clinton, who quickly banned the use of federal funds for human cloning research, and by the World Health Organization, who summarily labeled human cloning ethically unacceptable.19 Their reaction resonates with many, who typically might want to “have” a clone, but would not want to “be” one. What is the difference? It is the intuitive recognition that while the option of cloning may expand the autonomy of the person producing the clone, it undermines the autonomy of the clone.
So the autonomy justification, like the utility justification, is much more problematic than it might at first appear to be. We would do better not even to attempt to justify human cloning by appealing to this type of justification because of its inherent shortcomings. But if we are to invoke it, we must be honest and pay special attention to the autonomy of the person most intimately involved in the cloning, the clone. Particular appeals to “freedom” or “choice” may seem persuasive. But if only the autonomy of people other than clones is in view, or only one limited aspect of a clone’s autonomy, then such appeals must be rejected.
As noted near the outset of the chapter, there is a third type of proposed justification for human cloning which moves us more explicitly into the realm of theological reflection: the destiny justification. While other theological arguments against cloning have been advanced in the literature to date,20 many of them are somehow related to the matter of destiny. According to this justification, it is part of our God-given destiny to exercise complete control over our reproductive process. In fact, Richard Seed, in one of his first in-depth interviews after announcing his intentions to clone human beings commercially, made this very argument.21 No less a theologian, President Clinton offered the opposite view when he issued the ban on human cloning. Rather than seeing cloning as human destiny, he rejected it as “playing God.”22 Whether or not we think it wise to take our theological cues from either of these individuals, what are we to make of the proposed destiny justification itself? Is human cloning in line with God’s purposes for us?
To begin with, there are indeed problems with playing God the way that proponents of human cloning would have us do. For example, God can take utility and autonomy considerations into account in ways that people cannot. God knows the future, including every consequence of every consequence of all our actions, people do not. God loves all persons equally, without bias, and is committed and able to understand and protect the freedom of everyone, people are not. Moreover, there are other ways that the pursuit of utility and autonomy are troubling from a theological perspective.
The utility of human cloning, first of all, is that we can gain some benefit by producing clones. But using other people without their consent for our ends is a violation of their status as beings created in the image of God. People have a God-given dignity that prevents us from using them as mere means to achieve our purposes. Knowing that people are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), biblical writers in both the Old and New Testaments periodically invoke this truth to argue that human beings should not be demeaned in various ways (e.g., Gen. 9:6; James 3:9). Since plants and animals are never said to be created in God’s image, it is not surprising that they can be treated in ways (including killing) that would never be acceptable if people were in view (cf. Gen. 9:3 with 9:6).
An autonomy-based justification of human cloning is no more acceptable than a utility-based justification from a theological perspective. Some Christian writers, such as Allen Verhey, have helpfully observed that autonomy, understood in a particular way, is a legitimate biblical notion. As he explains, under the sovereignty of God, acknowledging the autonomy of the person can help ensure respect for and proper treatment of people made in God’s image.23 There is a risk here, however, because the popular ethics of autonomy has no place for God in it. It is autonomy “over” God, not autonomy “under” God. The challenge is to affirm the critical importance of respect for human beings, and for their freedom and responsibility to make decisions that profoundly affect their lives, but to recognize that such freedom requires God. More specifically, such freedom requires the framework in which autonomy is under God, not over God, a framework in which respecting freedom is not just wishful or convenient thinking that gives way as soon as individuals or society as a whole have more to gain by disregarding it. It must be rooted in something that unavoidably and unchangeably ‘is.” In other words, it must be rooted in God, in the creation of human beings in the image of God.
God is the creator, and we worship God as such. Of course, people are creative as well, being the images of God that they are. So what is the difference between God’s creation of human beings, as portrayed in the book of Genesis, and human procreation as happens daily all over the world (also mandated by God in Genesis)? Creation is “ex nihilo,” out of nothing. That means, in the first sense, that God did not just rearrange already existing materials. God actually brought into being a material universe where nothing even existed before. However, God’s creation “ex nihilo” suggests something more. It suggests that there was no agenda outside of God that God was following–nothing outside of God that directed what were acceptable options. When it came to the human portion of creation, God created us to be the way God deemed best.
It is no accident that we call what we do when we have babies “procreation.” “Pro” means “for” or “forth.” To be sure, we do bring babies “forth.” But the deeper meaning here is “for.” We bring new human beings into the world “for” someone or something. To be specific, we continue the line of human beings for God, in accordance with God’s mandate to humanity at the beginning to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). We also create for the people whom we help bring into being. We help give them life, and they are the ones most affected by our actions. What is particularly significant about this “procreation,” this “creation for,” is that by its very nature it is subject to an outside agenda, to God’s agenda primarily, and secondarily to the needs of the child being created.
In this light, the human cloning mindset is hugely problematic. With unmitigated pride it claims the right to create rather than procreate. It looks neither to God for the way that he has intended human beings to be procreated and raised by fathers and mothers who are the secondary, that is, genetic source of their life; nor does it look primarily to the needs of the one being procreated. As we have seen, it looks primarily to the cloner’s own preferences or to whatever value system one chooses to prioritize (perhaps the “good of society,” etc.). In other words, those operating out of the human cloning mindset see themselves as Creator rather than procreator. This is the kind of aspiring to be God for which God has consistently chastised people, and for which God has ultimately wreaked havoc on many a society and civilization.
Leon Kass has observed that we have traditionally used the word “procreation” for having children because we have viewed the world, and human life in particular, as created by God. We have understood our creative involvement in terms of and in relation to God’s creation.24 Today we increasingly orient more to the material world than to God. We are more impressed with the gross national product than with the original creation. So we more commonly talk in terms of re”production” rather than pro”creation.” In the process, we associate people more closely with things, with products, than with the God of creation. No wonder our respect for human life is deteriorating. We become more like that with which we associate. If we continue on this path, if our destiny is to clone ourselves, then our destiny is also, ultimately, to lose all respect for ourselves, to our peril.
Claims about utility, autonomy, or destiny, then, are woefully inadequate to justify human cloning. In fact, a careful look at any of these types of justification shows that they provide compelling reasons instead to reject human cloning. To stand up and say so may become more and more difficult in our “brave new world.” As the culture increasingly promotes production and self-assertion, it will take courage to insist in the new context of cloning that there is something more important. But such a brave new word, echoing the Word of old, is one that we must be bold to speak.
Posted: August 12, 2016 at 2:34 pm
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by John Wesley Hall Criminal Defense Lawyer and Search and seizure law consultant Little Rock, Arkansas Contact / The Book http://www.johnwesleyhall.com
2003-16, online since Feb. 24, 2003
Fourth Amendment cases, citations, and links
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“If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It isn’t, and they don’t.” Me
I still learn something new every day. Pete Townshend, The Who 50th Anniversary Tour, “The Who Live at Hyde Park” (Showtime 2015)
“I can’t talk about my singing. I’m inside it. How can you describe something you’re inside of?” Janis Joplin
“Love work; hate mastery over others; and avoid intimacy with the government.” Shemaya, in the Thalmud
“A system of law that not only makes certain conduct criminal, but also lays down rules for the conduct of the authorities, often becomes complex in its application to individual cases, and will from time to time produce imperfect results, especially if one’s attention is confined to the particular case at bar. Some criminals do go free because of the necessity of keeping government and its servants in their place. That is one of the costs of having and enforcing a Bill of Rights. This country is built on the assumption that the cost is worth paying, and that in the long run we are all both freer and safer if the Constitution is strictly enforced.” Williams v. Nix, 700 F. 2d 1164, 1173 (8th Cir. 1983) (Richard Sheppard Arnold, J.), rev’d Nix v. Williams, 467 US. 431 (1984).
“The criminal goes free, if he must, but it is the law that sets him free. Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence.” Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 659 (1961).
“Any costs the exclusionary rule are costs imposed directly by the Fourth Amendment.” Yale Kamisar, 86 Mich.L.Rev. 1, 36 n. 151 (1987).
“There have been powerful hydraulic pressures throughout our history that bear heavily on the Court to water down constitutional guarantees and give the police the upper hand. That hydraulic pressure has probably never been greater than it is today.” Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 39 (1968) (Douglas, J., dissenting).
“The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their property.” Entick v. Carrington, 19 How.St.Tr. 1029, 1066, 95 Eng. Rep. 807 (C.P. 1765)
“It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people. And so, while we are concerned here with a shabby defrauder, we must deal with his case in the context of what are really the great themes expressed by the Fourth Amendment.” United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56, 69 (1950) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting)
“The course of true law pertaining to searches and seizures, as enunciated here, has notto put it mildlyrun smooth.” Chapman v. United States, 365 U.S. 610, 618 (1961) (Frankfurter, J., concurring).
“A search is a search, even if it happens to disclose nothing but the bottom of a turntable.” Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321, 325 (1987)
“For the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection. … But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected.” Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 351 (1967)
Experience should teach us to be most on guard to protect liberty when the Governments purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding. United States v. Olmstead, 277 U.S. 438, 479 (1925) (Brandeis, J., dissenting)
Libertythe freedom from unwarranted intrusion by governmentis as easily lost through insistent nibbles by government officials who seek to do their jobs too well as by those whose purpose it is to oppress; the piranha can be as deadly as the shark. United States v. $124,570, 873 F.2d 1240, 1246 (9th Cir. 1989)
“You can’t always get what you want / But if you try sometimes / You just might find / You get what you need.” Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
“In Germany, they first came for the communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Catholic. Then they came for meand by that time there was nobody left to speak up.” Martin Niemller (1945) [he served seven years in a concentration camp]
You know, most men would get discouraged by now. Fortunately for you, I am not most men! —Pep Le Pew
Posted: July 31, 2016 at 5:50 am
TimeMagazine’s recent cover story “The Childfree Life” has generated a good deal of controversy and commentary. The photo that graces the cover of the edition pretty much sums up the argument: a young, fit couple lounge languidly on a beach and gaze up at the camera with blissful smilesand no child anywhere in sight.
What the editors want us to accept is that this scenario is not just increasingly a fact in our country, but that it is morally acceptable as well, a lifestyle choice that some people legitimately make. Whereas in one phase of the feminist movement, “having it all” meant that a woman should be able to both pursue a career and raise a family, now it apparently means a relationship and a career without the crushing encumbrance of annoying, expensive, and demanding children.
There is no question that childlessness is on the rise in theUnited States. Our birthrate is the lowest in recorded history, surpassing even the crash in reproduction that followed the economic crash of the 1930’s. We have not yet reached the drastic levels found in Europe (inItaly, for example, one in four women never give birth), but childlessness has risen in our country across all ethnic and racial groups, even those that have traditionally put a particular premium on large families.
What is behind this phenomenon? The article’s author spoke to a variety of women who had decided not to have children and found a number of different reasons for their decision. Some said that they simply never experienced the desire for children; others said that their careers were so satisfying to them that they couldn’t imagine taking on the responsibility of raising children; still others argued that in an era when bringing up a child costs upward of $250,000, they simply couldn’t afford to have even one baby; and the comedian Margaret Cho admitted, bluntly enough, “Babies scare me more than anything.” A researcher at the London School of Economics weighed in to say that there is a tight correlation between intelligence and childlessness: the smarter you are, it appears, the less likely you are to have children!
In accord with the tenor of our time, those who have opted out of the children game paint themselves, of course, as victims. They are persecuted, they say, by a culture that remains relentlessly baby-obsessed and, in the words of one of the interviewees, “oppressively family-centric.” Patricia O’Laughlin, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist, specializes in helping women cope with the crushing expectations of a society that expects them to reproduce. As an act of resistance, many childless couples have banded together for mutual support. One such group in Nashville comes together for activities such as “zip-lining, canoeing, and a monthly dinner the foodie couple in the group organizes.” One of their members, Andrea Reynolds, was quoted as saying, “We can do anything we want, so why wouldn’t we?”
What particularly struck me in this article was that none of the people interviewed ever moved outside of the ambit of his or her private desire. Some people, it seems, are into children, and others aren’t, just as some people like baseball and others prefer football. No childless couple would insist that every couple remain childless, and they would expect the same tolerance to be accorded to them from the other side. But never, in these discussions, was reference made to values that present themselves in their sheer objectivity to the subject, values that make a demand on freedom. Rather, the individual will was consistently construed as sovereign and self-disposing.
And this represents a sea change in cultural orientation. Up until very recent times, the decision whether or not to have children would never have been simply “up to the individual.” Rather, the individual choice would have been situated in the context of a whole series of values that properly condition and shape the will: family, neighborhood, society, culture, the human race, nature, and ultimately, God. We can see this so clearly in the initiation rituals of primal peoples and in the formation of young people in practically every culture on the planet until the modern period. Having children was about carrying on the family name and tradition; it was about contributing to the strength and integrity of one’s society; it was about perpetuating the great adventure of the human race; it was a participation in the dynamisms of nature itself. And finally, it was about cooperating with God’s desire that life flourish: “And you, be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it” (Gen. 9:7).
None of this is meant to be crushing to the will, but liberating. When these great values present themselves to our freedom, we are drawn out beyond ourselves and integrated into great realities that expand us and make us more alive.
It is finally with relief and a burst of joy that we realize that our lives are not about us. Traditionally, having children was one of the primary means by which this shift in consciousness took place. That increasingly this liberation is forestalled and that people are finding themselves locked in the cold space of what they sovereignly choose, I find rather sad. Originally posted at Real Clear Religion. Used with author’s permission. (Image credit: TIME Magazine)
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Posted: July 29, 2016 at 3:17 am
List of Physical Micronations
This page documents micronational entities which are reliably known to have projected one or more aspects of their operations into the corporeal world. This might involve any of the following:
claiming, but not holding legal title to or occupying a defined physical territory on Earth, or on other planets or asteroids.
claiming and holding legal title to but not occupying, a defined physical territory on Earth.
claiming, holding legal title to and physically occupying a defined physical territory on Earth.
producing original stamps, coins, banknotes, flags, medals, regalia etc in commercial quantities, via commercial processes, either for commercial sale or for specific publicly-documented internal purposes.
creating and maintaining group-specific monuments, buildings and structures.
conducting publicly-documented, group-specific activities (such as inaugurations, commemorations, media briefings, meetings of principals and social gatherings) – in person.
Name (short form)
Name (long form)
Rural property near Cooma + private residence in Sydney suburb of Narrabeen + various other properties in New South Wales.
+61 2 4871 2483
(also known as Kingdom of Lindisfaras)
Joseph “Little Joe” Rigoli
Rua Sacadura Cabral,
Rio de JaneiroRJ CEP 20.221-160
State of Freedom
To be included in this list, a micronation must be able to demonstrate that it has been in existence for a minimum of 12 months. Micronations whose members publicly advocate the prosecution of acts of criminality will not be listed.
If the micronation is active or inactive, a link to its website is provided.
If the micronation is defunct, a link is provided to the following: (i) an archived version of the micronation’s website – or if that does not exist, (ii) the relevant Wikipedia article about the micronation – or if that does not exist, (iii) a report about the micronation published by a reliable print media source.
If the micronation lists an email address on its website, it is linked with an .
If the micronation has no published email address, and only allows form-based communication via its website, no email address is listed.
For active micronations, the primary contact is the founder or current leader – whichever is most relevant.
For inactive or defunct micronations, the primary contact is the founder or last known leader.
The name of the primary contact is their actual legal name; false names, pseudonymous identities and assumed styles and titularies are not listed.
If the primary contact has a known publicly-listed telephone number, it is listed below their name.
If the primary contact is known to be deceased, the entry is marked with a
Where information is uncertain or unknown, it is marked with a ?
The contact location is the primary contact’s most recent known primary place of residence.
Where information is uncertain or unknown, it is marked with a ?
Physical territory claimed:
If the micronation maintains claims over one or more pieces of physical geography on Earth or on planets, planetoids, natural satellites, asteroids or other heavenly bodies elsewhere in the universe, the entry is marked with a .
If the micronation does not maintain any such claim, the entry is marked with a .
Physical territory owned / occupied / controlled:
If the micronation maintains claims over one or more pieces of physical geography on Earth or on planets, planetoids, natural satellites, asteroids or other heavenly bodies elsewhere in the universe and shows credible evidence that it, or one or more of its members physically owns, occupies and otherwise exercises control over the territory in question, the entry is marked with a .
If the micronation does not physically own, occupy and otherwise exercise control over the territory which it claims, the entry is marked with a .
If the micronation physically owns, occupies and controls part of the territory it claims, the entry is marked with a if the area under its control is less than or equal to 50% of the claim, and if it is 51% or greater of the claim.
Active = the micronation’s website has been updated within the previous 12 months, or offline activity is credibly known to have occurred.
Inactive = there is no credible evidence of online or offline activity by the micronation in the previous 12 months, but its domain and website remain registered and publicly accessible, and there is a credible reason to believe that this indicates a willingness or intent on the part of those involved to revive the project at some future juncture.
Defunct = the micronation has entirely ceased to exist. There is no credible evidence of online or offline activity of any sort in the previous 12 months, and no credible reason to assume this is likely to change. Alternatively, those involved in creating or maintaining it have announced the termination of the project, are credibly known to be no longer involved, or are no longer contactable. If the micronation possessed a website, that site may still be publicly accessible by default (ie without the need for human intervention) – but it is more likely than not to now only be accessible via third party archives, or not at all.
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