Friday, August 28, 2009

Two Wrongs Make a Right

As many of you are probably well-aware, in political debates I will sometimes find myself siding more with conservatives than liberals (and particularly when it comes to constitutional issues). And for that reason I think I often get lumped in with Republicans or the religious right when I'm engaged with people who disagree with me. As someone who considers himself very libertarian, it can be fairly disheartening and frustrating to hear a rebuttal preceded with the words "Well Bush..." when the argument comes to a head. But I want some of my more liberal family members and friends to know that conservatives can drive me just as crazy sometimes. And often it's the case that even though I might agree on a certain point of policy, I think the reasoning in support for it on the right can be just as fallacious as the support against it on the left.

I'm provided with a few good examples of this on a daily basis just taking my lunch break. I'll often tune into Andrew Wilkow's show on XM-165 and I continue to be amazed by some of the things that are touted by both him and callers. Now, truth be told, I agree with his policy views about 70% of the time. But his reasoning is often totally off track or just completely illogical and irrelevant. And if his reasoning happens to have some level of good measure, his supportive callers never fail in offering their horrible logic in the debate.

Today, Wilkow was discussing how people were using Ted Kennedy's death to push one of the health care bills that's floating around in Congress. They began to discuss the constitutional application and the idea of health care being a right. A caller called in and claimed that A.) health care is not a right and B.) this was because we wouldn't be allowed to monitor health care consumers' BMI to determine if they deserved it or not.....WHAT?!? Health care isn't a right because we don't/can't monitor BMI of recipients? What the hell does that even have to do with whether something is a right or not?

Not only is that line of logic ridiculous, even the people who hold the correct position frame the argument incorrectly by claiming we don't have a right to health care. No...WE DO HAVE A RIGHT TO HEALTH CARE. We have a right to any and all activities not specifically prohibited by or usurped by federal, state, and local governments. And for people who don't understand what I'm talking about, please refer to my previous post about Hamilton and the 9th amendment. You have a right to a TV. You have the right to a car. You have the right to a pencil. I really think people don't realize the nature of rights to a large extent because the stigma created by the Bill of Rights in our federal constitution tends to come between people and a genuinely rational view of natural rights. But I digress as I already discussed that in the previous post. Let's go ahead and assume that you're one of these people who think that rights actually come from the Bill of Rights.

Let's examine a couple of propositions. Is your right to free speech and free press protected by the first amendment? Yes. Does this mean that individuals or companies must let you use private assembly halls, billboards, TV stations, or printing presses to express that right? Absolutely not! Does the second amendment protect your right to own firearms? Yes. Does that right mean that other people can be forced to purchase those firearms for you? NO! That's because forcing someone to give you such things would violate THEIR PROPERTY RIGHTS. What rights do you hold that you believe should usurp my rights? The difference between holding a right to have something or do something and a holding a right to obligatory servitude of others to service that right is a difference between a rational view of liberty and a flawed self-conflicting bastardization of the term.

But this isn't the rationale that most conservatives use. Most conservatives will give you some rubbage about how health care isn't in the Bill of Rights...or even worse they will give you something like this particular talk-show caller offered. And there's certainly no shortage of callers like that to right-wing radio shows. In fact, no more than fifteen minutes later another caller wanted to discuss how liberals will often use religion (and Christianity specifically) to guilt people into supporting health care programs. At first I thought he was going to make a pretty cogent point, but he destroyed that hope when he came out of the box explaining that Jesus wouldn't have supported something like that because....and I quote...."Jesus didn't heal EVERYONE."

Really? That's the best point you could come up with? Are you kidding me? I realize a religious argument is largely going to be subjective in nature, but if I was going to bring up Jesus in relation to the idea of public health care coverage being compassionate, I most certainly would have started with the obvious fact that Jesus certainly never advocated stealing, coercion, and violence to help those in need but rather he called his followers to sacrifice of themselves. In fact, growing up in a Catholic family and going to Catholic schools most of my life, I'm pretty sure the very implication of purpose regarding God sending his only son to die was the virtue of HIS SACRIFICE to mankind. He most certainly called us to serve those in need, but I don't recall ever reading any part of the New Testament where he advocated violently forcing others to do so. Couldn't a caller to a talk show think of something that obvious on their own?

I can tell you with certainty, liberals and conservatives both have huge blind spots and inconsistencies in their beliefs, but sometimes the most frustrating people are those closest to your beliefs who misrepresent the reasoning for your stances. I can't promise to not continue to get upset when I get lumped in with a lot of these idiots...but given some of the ways they go about explaining their ideology, it's honestly not all that surprising that liberals will latch onto the weak reasoning of my misguided brethren when they want to make a point.

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