Minutiae
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"Chuck Norris doesn't read books; he stares them down until he gets the information he wants out of them."
- ChuckNorrisFactsdotcom

Friday, October 29, 2004
John Stuart Mill is probably one of the most influential political thinkers of all time. If you haven't read On Liberty, you should.
"WHAT, then, is the rightful limit to the sovereignty of the individual over himself? Where does the authority of society begin? How much of human life should be assigned to individuality, and how much to society?

Each will receive its proper share, if each has that which more particularly concerns it. To individuality should belong the part of life in which it is chiefly the individual that is interested; to society, the part which chiefly interests society.

Though society is not founded on a contract, and though no good purpose is answered by inventing a contract in order to deduce social obligations from it, every one who receives the protection of society owes a return for the benefit, and the fact of living in society renders it indispensable that each should be bound to observe a certain line of conduct towards the rest. This conduct consists first, in not injuring the interests of one another; or rather certain interests, which, either by express legal provision or by tacit understanding, ought to be considered as rights; and secondly, in each person's bearing his share (to be fixed on some equitable principle) of the labours and sacrifices incurred for defending the society or its members from injury and molestation. These conditions society is justified in enforcing at all costs to those who endeavour to withhold fulfilment. Nor is this all that society may do. The acts of an individual may be hurtful to others, or wanting in due consideration for their welfare, without going the length of violating any of their constituted rights. The offender may then be justly punished by opinion, though not by law. As soon as any part of a person's conduct affects prejudicially the interests of others, society has jurisdiction over it, and the question whether the general welfare will or will not be promoted by interfering with it, becomes open to discussion. But there is no room for entertaining any such question when a person's conduct affects the interests of no persons besides himself, or needs not affect them unless they like (all the persons concerned being of full age, and the ordinary amount of understanding). In all such cases there should be perfect freedom, legal and social, to do the action and stand the consequences.

It would be a great misunderstanding of this doctrine to suppose that it is one of selfish indifference, which pretends that human beings have no business with each other's conduct in life, and that they should not concern themselves about the well-doing or well-being of one another, unless their own interest is involved. Instead of any diminution, there is need of a great increase of disinterested exertion to promote the good of others. But disinterested benevolence can find other instruments to persuade people to their good, than whips and scourges, either of the literal or the metaphorical sort. I am the last person to undervalue the self-regarding virtues; they are only second in importance, if even second, to the social. It is equally the business of education to cultivate both. But even education works by conviction and persuasion as well as by compulsion, and it is by the former only that, when the period of education is past, the self-regarding virtues should be inculcated. Human beings owe to each other help to distinguish the better from the worse, and encouragement to choose the former and avoid the latter. They should be for ever stimulating each other to increased exercise of their higher faculties, and increased direction of their feelings and aims towards wise instead of foolish, elevating instead of degrading, objects and contemplations. But neither one person, nor any number of persons, is warranted in saying to another human creature of ripe years, that he shall not do with his life for his own benefit what he chooses to do with it. He is the person most interested in his own well-being: the interest which any other person, except in cases of strong personal attachment, can have in it, is trifling, compared with that which he himself has; the interest which society has in him individually (except as to his conduct to others) is fractional, and altogether indirect: while, with respect to his own feelings and circumstances, the most ordinary man or woman has means of knowledge immeasurably surpassing those that can be possessed by any one else. The interference of society to overrule his judgment and purposes in what only regards himself, must be grounded on general presumptions; which may be altogether wrong, and even if right, are as likely as not to be misapplied to individual cases, by persons no better acquainted with the circumstances of such cases than those are who look at them merely from without. In this department, therefore, of human affairs, Individuality has its proper field of action. In the conduct of human beings towards one another, it is necessary that general rules should for the most part be observed, in order that people may know what they have to expect; but in each person's own concerns, his individual spontaneity is entitled to free exercise. Considerations to aid his judgment, exhortations to strengthen his will, may be offered to him, even obtruded on him, by others; but he himself is the final judge. All errors which he is likely to commit against advice and warning, are far outweighed by the evil of allowing others to constrain him to what they deem his good.
Read the
whole thing. It's free and probably second only to the founding documents in defining our notions of freedom.

posted by Rachel 10/29/2004
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The other day during the dinner hour I was snoozing on the couch when the doorbell rang. I must not have been fully awake because I foolishly answered it. A man and a woman wanting to do a survey on the election. I was clearly reluctant but the lady said it'd just take a few minutes. First she wanted my name. Oh no. No issue-specific targeted junk mail for me thanks. Then she asked if I was planning to vote. Yes. Have I decided who I'm voting for? Bush.

You could see them both draw back a little. She asked what issues I was voting on. I answered national security. They looked at me like I had just sprouted a second head. She blurted out "Ok thanks. Sorry for waking you up." As they spun on their heels and hurried down the walk.

Yep. I'm your voter base and I'm voting republican for the second time. Get a clue. I'm not at all comfortable with the republican position on abortion or gays or the environment. I hate the patriot act and John Ashcroft's Booby and Drug phobias. But I'm voting for Bush because my alternative is Kerry. I would have voted for Lieberman. I would have voted for an alternative. I won't vote for a poll-driven vacillating screaming nihilism.

Bush is a mediocre to adequate president. Kerry would be
worse.

posted by Rachel 10/29/2004
. . .
Damn I like
Mark Steyn.

posted by Rachel 10/29/2004
. . .
Good grief. You know things have come to a very sorry pass when people basically have to create a version of the ACLU specifically to remind the ivory tower that the US Constitution does exist and does apply.
This is, alas, not a unique incident. They've been involved in 600 cases at 200 schools in the course of 5 years. That is a terrifying number. What effect is this crap having on the political development and deviancy-tolerance of an entire generation of thinkers?

There's a name for this sort of suppression of wrongthink. It's totalitarianism. You see its hallmarks all over academia. People don't have the right to face their accusers. People don't have the right to clear and precise definitions of the terms used in the rules. Hearings are not open, (sometimes not even to the accused.) Unsurprisingly it goes back to Prohibition and Vietnam. In Loco Parentis should have no place in the lives of people over the age of 18. If you can be trusted with an M16 by the military, the argument that some things are too dangerous or important to trust you with is patently ludicrous.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Those principles have been responsible for more improvement in human civilization than any other. This is the perfection that we must ever strive for. Be wary of anyone who wants to mess with any of the Bill of Rights for any reason. Those words are our national treasure and we must guard them as such.

Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose. Otherwise you may sit and swing as wildly as you like. Safety of others is an acceptable excuse for abridging a person's rights. Offense of others is not. An offense is not a trespass on the rights of others. An offense is a trespass on the sensibilities of others. We as Americans have the right to scandalize and offend the neighbors. This includes college students.

If you agree, go give those folks some money.

posted by Rachel 10/29/2004
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