Counterpoint: "Arguments Over The Rightness Of A Group Has No Place Here"Submitted by mdefarge on Tue, 05/15/2012 - 14:22
I agree with much of the original post, especially re how we should treat others, i.e., as individuals. As Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it, we should judge people "by the content of their character." That's a moral issue. In terms of our protection under the law, it's a legal issue. But let's not make "group" a dirty word here - unless it's a gang. In reality, groups of people can and do share ideas, values, or preferences. At times, too, this can even occur according to what was referred to as "labels," otherwise known as demographics. To not acknowledge that is to not acknowledge reality.
And so while I agree with most of the OP's opinion, I also agree with one of the comments: "You would think people who support Ron Paul would be okay with different views and chalk it up to freedom." We DO need to remain united. I just don't think open dialogue is jeopardizing that. Unlike (for example) the progressive left or social conservative right, it's simply a fact that AS a group we don't operate in lockstep over "issues." We are truly a coalition of people with different beliefs who nonetheless share common ground in, as was stated, "preserving individual liberty and free exchange."
It's given that statement that I find the rest of the sentence contradictory, exhorting us to "clean house" and "conform." If by clean house is meant keep it civil, I agree. If it meant stifle expressing opinions that might potentially offend others, I disagree. Having visited two communist countries, I feel so strongly about free speech I wouldn't exempt the cliche example of yelling "fire" in a theater. (I'd also look the other way as to any consequences to the person if it turned out to be a hoax!) Furthermore, when people speak freely, it shows their true colors.
And it's not that I'm a non-conformist. Conformity is just not what motivates me. Indeed, I think that what Jesus Christ (if not necessarily Christianity) was about, as also America's founders, was an attempt to see people not "externally motivated" (e.g., by laws, grades, money, power, peer pressure to conform, etc.), but rather "internally motivated" by such ideals as love; truth, beauty, & justice; courage, duty, honor... I fail, but that's the goal anyway.
I found the exchanges enlightening. To me, the comments (regarding, as it were, sexuality and atheism) only highlight why we ARE together despite our differences: we don't wish the government infringing on our individual liberties. But these are not clear-cut issues! For instance, we all agree on our right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." But we don't necessarily even agree on what the definition of "life" is or, in any event (given the physiological dependence on the mother), the stage of life that would warrant Constitutional protection of "persons." (Conception? Development of a brain and nervous system? As of the first breath?) Educated adults, caring adults, can disagree. I myself could argue the different viewpoints. Until such time as I couldn't, I therefore feel I must remain pro-choice, with the right of the unarguably-protected person taking precedence.
Some people think I'm "wrong." (They think the whole group supporting pro-choice is wrong.) If we do have an opinion, we clearly BELIEVE ours is the "right" one - unless and until we might be convinced otherwise. And like it or not, there are political ramifications to our opinions. As Ron Paul is anti-abortion, I have a difference of opinion there. It's not a problem for me, though, for two reasons: while it's an overriding issue for some, there are other issues more important to me; regardless, RP feels the issue is outside the purview of the federal government, wanting it left to the states. I'm okay with that, I guess, given that I'm secure knowing that 50 states will not be banning abortion any time soon.
It's relevant to note that the spate of forum topics at issue only arose in the first place because of a statement - a calculated statement in an election year - by President Obama expressing support for "gay marriage." It's still front page news at the NY Times as of today. Yesterday's focus was on how the president has been trying to reassure the community of black Christians who fear (and here it is again) that our liberties could be in jeopardy. I can understand the concern. Look at Canada.
I remember when Canada's "hate speech" laws resulted in a pastor being arrested for speaking to his congregation against homosexuality. He didn't advocate violence. The mere expression of his religious conviction was viewed as incendiary - inherently criminal. It's happened in Sweden. It's happened all over, including Pennsylvania. In 2007, not pastors or priests but two 70-year old grandmothers were sentenced to 47 years in prison for "preaching the Gospel" on a sidewalk.
Obama does stand to lose some black support. As the Times article states, "That is a calculation the White House is counting on. The president’s strategists hope that any loss of support among black and independent moderates will be more than made up by proponents of gay marriage." More than made up by = a net gain of VOTES. That's what we're talking about here - political strategy. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/14/us/politics/on-marriage-ob...)
While some would prefer to stifle discussion, I say bring it on. In this case, it's highlighted a group of people now in search of a home (presidentially speaking). African-Americans are overwhelmingly Christian and, on average, more religious than the population as a whole. Ron Paul may not be on their radar thanks to the general media blackout, but given their concern, his message should resonate with them.
A little background. This issue regards so-called "hate crime" legislation enacted federally in the 1960's - an expanded version signed by Obama in 2009. It was apparently legislation pending in Congress (H.R.254) that served as the model for Pennsylvania's own laws that got the grandmas arrested. Check Wikipedia for "hate speech" for a quick rundown of laws by country and note that, oh, no, here in the USA, we don't have that. WE have "free speech."
Here, we only have hate CRIME laws - thought written ambiguously enough to be open to interpretation, obviously. As they say, it's a slippery slope. Yes, words can hurt. It's what we teach children (hopefully). But that's a moral issue. We must remain FREE to speak as we wish. That doesn't grant us a platform from which to speak, nor "equal time." It doesn't mean that people have to accept what we say or should necessarily like us regardless of what we say; we can be shunned, lose our jobs, be boycotted, be booted from a website! Bottom line, it means that, unlike in China or the former U.S.S.R., we can't be dragged away by someone with a gun and thrown into prison or put to death for what we say.
In any event, the Pennsylvania hate crime laws were eventually ruled unconstitutional by some court; if under appeal I'm not aware of it. For more on the subject of hate crime legislation (including how women are negatively affected, such as re domestic violence), I recommend Tammy Bruce's, The New Thought Police. Ironically, given the lobbying groups for hate crime laws, as she herself points out, she is a lesbian and former head of the LA (largest) chapter of NOW.
Okay, back to politics and the election. Here are some key differences between Barack Obama and Ron Paul on the issue of gay marriage. Obama endorses gay marriage. Ron Paul doesn't, per se. While he views it as a moral, not legal, issue, he's said he personally feels marriage is between a man and woman. Either way, like Paul, Obama says he intends to leave it up to the states. So it might seem as if their personal opinions don't matter anyway. Except...
Obama does not support the "Defense of Marriage Act," defining marriage as a legal union between a man and woman; he wants it repealed, claiming it's unconstitutional. (Boy, but doesn't that outdated Constitution come in handy at times!) It's my understanding that Ron Paul does support a marriage protection act - not to dictate the traditional definition of marriage on anyone, but to protect states' rights, ensuring that one state would not be forced to honor licences of another, in effect, nullifying state laws. I view that as more than a minor difference, one that might be of interest to more than just the part of the black community whose support the president doesn't care he's losing as of changing his position on the issue.
When issues are left to the state, if we feel strongly about them, it would be up to us to convince those within our own areas to take legislative action (or not). If the majority opposed our values, well, if we felt strongly enough about it, we'd always be free to move. Have to re-locate? Leave extended family? Find new jobs? Yeah, that would be a drag. But I'm sure it would be easier than for the separatist Christians who first relocated from England to Holland and then eventually sailed to the wilderness of the New World (many who died along the way, the rest blown off course, landing in Massachusetts, in November) in order to practice their faith according to their own understanding - making a pact among themselves, the Mayflower Compact, before disembarking the ship. http://www.ushistory.org/documents/mayflower.htm
Until I read the forum topic - which got me to thinking - I, for one, wasn't even aware of the distinctions between the president's and Ron Paul's views on gay marriage, let alone had I considered the political ramifications. I learned something. I'm better able to explain it now should it come up. That only came about because of the sometimes impassioned, sometimes even rude, but nonetheless free exchange of ideas here at the Daily Paul.