At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

The Real Ron Paul on Marriage and Drugs

posted by Jack Kerwick

As of late, Ron Paul has once again been the subject of relentless criticism courtesy of Republican Party pundits. 

It is his positions on marriage, “recreational” drugs, and current American foreign policy that invite, not just his detractors’ objections, but their ridicule and even their wrath.  In all fairness, it is Paul’s statements in the Republican presidential primary debates—a venue, it must be admitted, that is not readily accommodating of the impassioned Texas congressman’s rather unorthodox beliefs—to which his critics speak.  However, given that Paul has authored several reader-friendly books in which he elaborates on his views, if the GOP talking heads were really interested in what he thought, it is reasonable to expect that they would turn to these works.

So, what does Paul think about the aforementioned topics?

Let’s take marriage first. 

When asked during the New Hampshire debate whether he would support a Constitutional amendment explicitly defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, Paul replied in the negative.  He then followed up by insisting that “government” shouldn’t have anything at all to do with this institution.  For this claim, he was excoriated by the likes of Ann Coulter and Michael Medved who exclaimed that Paul’s position would result in an anarchic situation in which property settlements, benefits claims, and the like would be rendered impossible.

The hysteria with which Coulter and Medved responded to Paul is in keeping with the hysteria that we have come to expect from his Republican opponents.  Still, so defective is their reasoning on this score that it is hard to shake the suspicion that it is, at least in part, a function of bad faith.  

Paul is not alone among his colleagues and competitors in the primaries in speaking of “government” interchangeably with the federal government.  In fact, all of the candidates have a tendency to do this.  And considering that they are all running for the presidency, it is to be expected that this should be so.  That it is the federal government’s relationship to the institution of marriage with which Paul is principally concerned is born out by the following considerations.

First, it is the office of the presidency on which he sets his sights.

Second, being the constitutionalist that he is, there can be no doubt that if Paul were president, he would discharge only that narrow set of obligations that the Constitution specifies for holders of office at the federal level.  How the individual states decided to treat marriage or any other issue that falls beyond the federal government’s constitutionally delineated jurisdiction is a matter respecting which a President Paul would be indifferent.

Third, again, the issue under question is an amendment to the Constitution that would supply a formal definition of marriage.  Since it was immediately upon informing us that he would not endorse this amendment that Paul asserted his wish to see government remove itself from the marriage business altogether, anyone with any sensitivity to the context of this exchange should be able to recognize that “the government” to which he refers is the federal government.

In his newly published Liberty Defined, Paul is clear: “Under our system, the federal government was granted no authority over this issue [of marriage].”  As for Coulter’s and Medved’s charge that Paul’s reasoning promises to result in chaos, the much maligned maverick has a reply ready at hand.  He says that not unlike parties to all other “voluntary and consensual agreements,” when marital “disputes” arise, spouses will have recourse to “the courts.”   In other words, whether consenting adults want to call their arrangement “marriage” or not should be beside the point, from the government’s standpoint; when disputes occur, government—its judiciary branch—will adjudicate them. 

As for drugs, while Paul thinks that governments should never coerce citizens when it comes to such self-regarding conduct as drug use, it is the federal government’s “War on Drugs” with which he is primarily interested.  Here, once more, we turn to Paul in his own words as they appear in Liberty Defined.  

First of all, Paul draws heavily from the example of alcohol prohibition and the ill-fated Eighteenth Amendment.  That is, he relies upon the federal government’s utterly disastrous efforts to proscribe a “personal activity.”   Paul writes: “Alcohol prohibition was destined to wreak havoc on the American people.  It bred lawlessness and underworld criminal syndicates,” and because the alcohol, due to its criminalization, was now less safe, it “led to blindness and death.”  When these casualties are added to “the many” whose lives were extinguished in “the violence that occurred in” the alcohol’s “delivery,” the Prohibition Era reveals itself to be a bloody era indeed. 

But for as big of a failure as the “War on Booze” undoubtedly was, the War on Drugs is that much worse.  The War on Drugs has cost us “hundreds of billions of dollars,” to say nothing of the costs in “the loss of civil liberties” and a crime rate that “far surpasses the crime related to the fifteen years of alcohol prohibition.” 

Paul anticipates the day when “the country will wake up and suddenly decide, as we did in 1933, that prohibition to improve personal behavior is a lost cause [.]”  He thinks that this day may come sooner rather than later “because of the growing perception that the federal government is inept and that individual states must reassert themselves in order to provide more sensible government to their citizens.”

Paul, you see, has never said that if here were president, he would see to it that drugs are everywhere legalized.  He clarifies this in the very first paragraph his chapter on “Prohibition.”  He writes: “If there are to be any regulations on the use of certain substances in the United States, it was intended that this should be done by the individual states, not by the federal government.”

Because it is Ron Paul’s position on foreign policy that lies at the core of his Republican opponents’ disdain for him, I will address this issue in full in my next article.

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

originally published at The New American

Legislating Morality: An Analysis

posted by Jack Kerwick

For decades, those on the left have clashed swords with those on the right over the issue of “legislating morality.”  The latter believes, not only that it is appropriate for law makers to “legislate morality,” but that it is impossible to avoid doing so.  The former, in contrast, rejects both contentions.

Typically, the leftist will insist that in a free society of the sort that Americans inhabit, a society whose members subscribe to a staggering plurality of distinct and often mutually incompatible understandings of morality, legislators should always refrain from “imposing” a vision of morality upon citizens who do not share it.

Let us first note that his protestations to the contrary aside, no one remotely familiar with either the robustness of the leftist’s moral vision or the relentlessness with which he seeks to advance it could for a second accept his sincerity on this score.  The leftist’s commitment to “legislating morality” is second to none.  When he argues otherwise, it is the other guy’s morality to which he refers. 

But on its face, the leftist’s stated position on this issue is, at least in part, correct.  It is also, however, partially incorrect.  And what is true of the leftist’s view is equally true of his opponent’s perspective.

That both the leftist’s and the rightist’s claims appear to contain some measure of plausibility is due, I think, to the confusion that prevails on both sides of the political aisle with respect to the natures of morality, freedom, and the kind of association we compose as citizens of the United States of America. 

Morality—any morality—presupposes free agency, persons with the capacity and the opportunity to make choices among alternative courses of action, however constrained these options may be.  Morality postulates freedom.

Now, freedom can be and has been defined variously.  Without getting bogged down in this debate, it suffices for our purposes to establish two things. 

First, whether or not the phenomenon of “free will” is a mass illusion, as “determinists” of one sort or another contend, is neither here nor there.  What matters is that outside of a tiny minority of theoreticians, people find it impossible to elude their gut intuition that they are indeed free.  In fact, even the tiny minority of “deep thinkers” who reject this in theory have just as impossible time as everyone else denying it in fact. 

Second, both in regard to morality generally and politics in particular, freedom demands no more than the absence of coercion.  To put it another way, freedom demands that with respect to his own actions, the agent be sovereign.

This last point needs to be qualified.  In his moral philosophy, Thomas Aquinas distinguished “acts of a human being” from “human acts.”  Acts of humans, like breathing, digesting, scratching, etc., are devoid of moral import—i.e. they are neither morally right nor morally wrong—for they preclude choice and, thus, are not uniquely human.  On the other hand, because human acts, having been chosen, are unique to human beings, it is appropriate to praise or blame, reward or condemn them.  Human acts are either morally right or morally wrong (immoral).  So, it is respect to one’s activities in this second, moral sense, with respect to which an agent must have sovereignty.

How do these ideas of freedom and morality relate to our political situation?

The modern state that is America is a certain kind of association.  It is usually thought of as a civil association.  But what is a civil association? 

Since the emergence of the modern state in the post-Renaissance era some four centuries ago, political philosophers have labored mightily to discern the character of the modern state.  Some have conceived it as a civil association.  Others have read it in terms of a very different kind of association, what the conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott called an “enterprise association.”  The differences between the two kinds of association are stark.

An enterprise association is distinguished on account of the end or goal for the sake of which it exists.  This end is a substantive state of affairs toward the realization of which all of the associates are expected to contribute.  Enterprise associations are the stuff of which human life consists, the stuff from which human beings derive a sense of meaning, purpose, and even identity.  It is understandable that the state should be seen as but another instance of this kind of association.  But the state is a compulsory organization. What this means is that when the state is regarded as an enterprise association, the associates—citizens—are compelled to pursue the ends of another, ends that have been imposed upon them.  Only those activities that don’t threaten to impede the realization of the common good are then permitted.

In a civil association, however, there is no common good or end or goal.  Unlike in an enterprise association which is held together by policy, the members of a civil association are related to one another in terms of law.  Laws, in contrast to policies, are not action-specifying; they do not tell us what to do.  Rather, laws prescribe how we must do whatever it is we choose to do.  Laws are nothing more or less than the conditions we are obligated to fulfill in all of our self-chosen engagements.  To put it another way, laws specify, not the enterprises upon which we must embark, but the obligations we must discharge while deciding upon enterprises for ourselves.

It should be obvious that a civil association is a fundamentally different kind of association than an enterprise association.  The goals of an enterprise association are of moral import, but if—as in the case of a state—the associates are conscripted in the service of these goals that are not of their own making, the association can no longer be considered a moral association.  Such is not the case, however, with a civil association.

A civil association is indeed a moral association because the associates are free to pursue their own ends.

There is not now nor has there have ever been a state that has perfectly embodied either of these two kinds of association.  Rather, in reality, states have been mixtures of the two, usually with a tendency toward one kind of association dominating over the other.  The United States, I think most of us would agree, was originally intended to be a civil association. This impulse toward civil association is not altogether dead, but ideologues on both the left and the right have done much to insure that it be eclipsed by the impulse toward enterprise association.

So, there is clearly a case in you “can’t legislate morality.”  Once agents are compelled to devote their resources to fulfilling someone else’s moral vision—Equality, say, or Piety—they are no longer treated as moral agents, subjects deserving of praise and blame; they are, instead, reduced to objects, servants of a purpose from which they are, of necessity, alienated. There is, though, another sense in which it is wholly inaccurate to think of the government of a civil association as being neutral or indifferent to morality, for the state conceived as such is a moral association.

And it is a moral association because of the freedom that it presupposes.  

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

originally published at The New American 

     

“Racism:” The Trial of a Word

posted by Jack Kerwick

In St. John’s gospel, the evangelist says of the wondrous deeds of his Master that so great are they in number that not all of the books in the entire world could contain them. It seems something similar could be said with respect to the virtually infinite claims of “racism” to which we are incessantly exposed.

But what exactly is “racism”? 

It seems to me that while each admits of a multiplicity of variations, there are essentially but four definitions or models of “racism”: (1) “‘Racism’ as ‘Racial Hatred’”; (2) “‘Racism’ as ‘Racial Discrimination’”; (3) “‘Racism’ as ‘Doctrine of Innate Inferiority’”; (4) “‘Racism’ as ‘Institutional Racism’”.  For convenience’s sake, unless otherwise stated, I will refer to each model in terms of the following abbreviations: (1) RH; (2) RD; (3) II; and (4) IR.  However it is specifically understood, in the popular consciousness as well as in the precincts of contemporary politics, the media, and academia, there is something on the order of a consensus that “racism” is something at once pervasive and immoral.

In what follows, while exploring these four accounts of “racism,” I establish two things.  First, they are mutually distinct and irreducible to one another—i.e., “racism” isn’t the unitary phenomenon that the singularity of the term suggests.  Second, and most importantly, each model, beset as it is with perhaps insurmountable difficulties, fails to accommodate the conventional conception of “racism.”  Because of spatial constraints, however, I will have to consider only some of these problems.   

“‘Racism’ as ‘Racial Hatred’”

 On its face, this seems as obvious a definition of “racism” as there is.  Yet intellectual seriousness demands that we look beyond surface appearances.  When we heed this call, what we discover is a model of “racism” that gives rise to more questions than answers, questions that, I submit, it cannot adequately address.

To my knowledge, in spite of its central importance to the RH model, this question has never been raised by any of its proponents. It is not hard to see why.

In posing this question, the defender of RH is thrown onto the horns of a dilemma from which there is no escape.  If he grabs the first horn and takes the position that racial hatred is immoral because hatred itself is immoral, then the fact that the hatred is racially oriented is incidental and, as far as its moral worth is concerned, irrelevant: it is the hatred, regardless of the reason(s) underlying it, that is immoral. “Racism,” thus, loses the distinctive moral significance that had been attributed to it.

If, on the other hand, our proponent of RH opts for the second horn and denies (what most religious and moral traditions outside of Christianity deny) that hatred itself is not always impermissible, but only racially-oriented hatred, then he risks similarly relegating “racism” to the moral periphery, so to speak. Racial hatred is usually condemned on the grounds that race is as irrelevant a characteristic as eye color or left handedness and, thus, undeserving of hatred.  But if this is what makes racial hatred immoral, then it is not racial hatred itself that is objectionable, but hatred invoked by anything irrelevant.  In keeping with our examples, racial hatred—“racism”—is neither more nor less objectionable than hatred of brown-eyed and left-handed people.

So, regardless of which horn the defender of RH embraces, he inevitably marginalizes the distinctive moral significance typically attributed to “racism.”

“Racism” as “Racial Discrimination”

The first thing to note here is that this model in no way relies upon the forgoing and, in fact, denies the latter: “hatred” is but one motive among many in which a person could engage in racial discrimination, but it is in no wise necessary for it. 

That being said, insofar as the conventional wisdom as well as most of the proponents of this model deny that “racism” is unconditionally unacceptable, the model itself fails, for there is scarcely a person with an iota of intelligence willing to deny that “racial discrimination” can, under some circumstances, at any rate, be permissible. Who objects to the owners of Chinese restaurants employing Asian workers so as to add an air of authenticity to the atmosphere?  Or who would object to Epcot Center at Disney World hiring only people of the related ethnic backgrounds to work at its various “Lands?” In fact, the most zealous of “anti-racists” are especially disposed to favor racially discriminatory practices under what they deem to be the appropriate conditions.

“Affirmative action”—race-based policies favoring non-whites, particularly blacks, over whites—is a legalized form of racial discrimination. Whether this type of racial discrimination is justified or not isn’t a question with which I am currently concerned. The point, rather, is that the “anti-racists” who demand “affirmative action,” asserting not just that it is morally permissible but morally obligatory, acknowledge, then, that racial discrimination can be morally legitimate.  But insofar as they unequivocally condemn “racism,” they concede, however implicitly, that “racism” and “racial discrimination” are two distinct phenomena, the one at all times immoral, the other not at all times immoral.

In response, it could be said that it isn’t always “racist” to discriminate on the basis of race, but only when race is as “irrelevant” as eye color or left handedness.

There are two quick counter-responses to this objection.

First, the notion of “relevance” is anything but self-interpreting.  A white employer may concede that any given black applicant is just as qualified as any given white applicant to do the job that he is searching to fill.  However, he may, reasonably enough, find the races of the respective applicants to be of extreme “relevance” if he is concerned about avoiding the astronomical costs in time, money, and reputation that would accrue to him in the event that the black applicant files a frivolous “discrimination” suit against him.  Or maybe for fear of merely being suspected of being a “racist” by a prospective black employee he may decide to avoid hiring him. On the other hand, a black employer, though aware that the job description in question is race-neutral, may nonetheless prefer a black candidate over a white one because he suspects that the latter will ultimately not be as harmed by being denied this one opportunity because of the more abundant opportunities that he thinks exists for whites. 

Second, if we accept that racial discrimination is immoral when race is as “irrelevant” as eye-color or left-handedness, then, as is the case when “racism” is equated with “racial hatred,” “racism” loses its distinctive moral significance, to say nothing of its special awfulness, for it is the “irrelevance” of the characteristic being exploited for discriminatory purposes and not the characteristic itself that assumes moral import. 

“Racism” as “Doctrine of Innate Inferiority”

The belief that the members of one or other races are innately inferior to one’s own need not be accompanied by either hatred for those people nor even a willingness to “discriminate” against them. Similarly, hatred for others and a disposition to discriminate against them need not be attended by the belief that they are innately inferior.

So, if the belief in the innate inferiority of races other than one’s own need not translate into bitterness and cruelty toward their members, then how or why can the mere possession of this belief be immoral?

Now is neither the time nor place to explore the complex relationship between belief and action, but suffice it to note that it is to our actions primarily that we ascribe the properties of “moral” and “immoral.” Our beliefs, we ordinarily think, may be “true” or “false,” “correct” or “incorrect,” but not “moral” or “immoral.”

Take, for example, the belief in “equality.” As the (black) author, Thomas Sowell, noted in his book, Black Rednecks, White Liberals, this belief has been enlisted in the service of such just and noble causes as the abolition of slavery, but it has also been used to justify the worst sorts of abuses in societies throughout the world.  Whether the belief in something like (moral, not arithmetical) equality can be said to be true or false depending on whether it has produced good or bad is a separate question; what seems more clear is that there is no way to ascribe any moral weight  to the belief on the basis of what has been done in its name.

As I said, the relation between belief and conduct is a vexed question, and I am not sure whether I am altogether convinced that beliefs in themselves are devoid of moral value. However, one powerful consideration in favor of the view discussed here is the phenomenon with which mostly all of us are all too familiar. As we grow older, most of us realize that much of what we previously took for granted is false. In fact, in looking back over the history of our nation and the world, we realize (or at least believe) that much of what whole peoples in past eras and other places have thought is simply false. If the possession of just one false belief, to say nothing of many such beliefs, is sufficient to convict one of immorality, then there is not one among us who can escape condemnation. Ptolemy was no less immoral for having held that the Earth was at the center of the universe than was Hitler for believing that the Jews were the ruin of Germany.

The proponent of the II model of “racism” is in a dilemma. If he concedes that beliefs are of no moral import, then he must admit that “racism,” contrary to conventional wisdom, is not a moral phenomenon. If, on the other hand, he maintains that false beliefs are immoral by virtue of their falsity, then like his counterparts, the proponents of the RH and RD models of “racism,” he robs “racism” of its distinctive and particularly dreadful character.

From this dilemma I foresee no escape. 

“Institutional Racism”

In order to sustain their charge, in the face of an ever shrinking number of instances of overt racial hostility toward blacks, that “racism” remains a nearly insurmountable obstacle to black success, the proponents of the IR model have shifted their focus off of individual white “racists” and onto something more abstract, less visible, but potentially much more formidable: society’s fundamental institutions.

The reasoning here is basically as follows.  While individual whites may be (at least) consciously filled with nothing but good will toward blacks (and other minorities), the very institutions of which American life is constituted and within the framework of which its citizens’ worldview(s) have been formed are profoundly “racist.”

So, “racism,” then, requires neither hatred nor a willingness to discriminate nor a conscious belief in the innate inferiority of other races.  In ways of which the best of intentioned whites are utterly unaware, their society’s institutions, like the Devil in some imaginings of the Christian narrative, determine their every wicked thought, word, and deed. The comic Flip Wilson used to say when he succumbed to temptation: “The Devil made me do it.”  Apparently, whites can say when others accuse them of “racism”: “Social institutions made me do it.” 

This theory of “racism” is immune to refutation.  This isn’t because it is true, though. It is immune to refutation for the same reason that Solipsism, the theory that only one’s own mind is real and everything else but figments of it is impervious to refutation: it is designed to absorb all criticisms. There are, however, damaging claims that can be made against it.

First, institutions, though human, are nevertheless impersonal entities.  The three branches of government, the family, and boxing, are alike institutions. To impersonal entities it is improper to ascribe moral characteristics, whether positive or negative.  The persons who engage in those institutions may be “just” or “unjust,” “virtuous” or “vicious,” “right” or “wrong,” “racist” or not, but the institutions themselves are “useful” or “useless,” “efficient” or “inefficient,” “antiquated” or “novel,” “necessary” or “gratuitous,” etc.

In other words, this model of “racism” involves a fundamental confusion of categories. It makes no more sense to speak of an impersonal institution as being “just” or “racist” as it does to speak of an impersonal knife in these terms.

Second, the IR model relies on persistent statistical disparities between blacks and whites with respect to a number of social indicia—rates of crime, illegitimacy, unemployment, education, incarceration, etc.—where the former is at a disadvantage relative to the latter. 

Analyzes of this data are in no short supply, so I won’t bother reiterating in detail what has been said already.  But plenty of respectable thinkers, black, white, and other, have shown that the categories “black” and “white” are fictional monoliths that obscure crucial intra-racial differences that, when taken into account, produce a dramatically different picture from that painted by the proponents of the IR model. For instance, when blacks and whites of the same description—e.g., married, college-educated, etc.—are compared, such statistical disparities nearly vanish completely, and in some instances, blacks fare better than whites.  Economist and nationally syndicated columnist Walter E. Williams, for example—a black man—showed over ten years ago that for every $1.00 earned by college educated white females, their black counterparts earned $1.25!

The IR model of “racism,” like the others, flounders.

Conclusion

The aforementioned models or accounts of “racism” I contend are comprehensive. Every notion of “racism” is some variation or other of one or more of these four models. I argued that each is distinct from and irreducible to the others, and none of them are adequate. Where does this leave the concept of “racism?”

It is undeniable that racially-oriented injustice is a real and dreadful phenomenon that has plagued our world for as long as there have been distinct racial groups.  Yet the term “racism”—understood as denoting a phenomenon that is at once pervasive and immoral—is a word whose time has expired.  It should be retired, for it possesses no clear meaning and it is much more often than not employed as a rhetorical device whereby whites are bullied and intimidated into making concessions of various sorts to the uncompromising demands of our “politically correct” orthodoxy.                   

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

Why I Defend Ron Paul

posted by Jack Kerwick

Although I have defended him on numerous occasions, it may surprise some readers of this column to discover that not unlike his legions of detractors within the Republican Party, I too have some problems with Ron Paul.  But for at least two reasons, the impulse to come to his defense I have found difficult to resist.

First, in distinguishing themselves from their opponents, Republicans invoke “the conservative principles” for which they stand.  These principles, they assure us, are also America’s “founding principles”: “limited government,” “liberty,” “individualism,” and the like.  Thus, in the spirit of these eternal verities, Republicans—during election season, at any rate—incessantly call for reductions in the size and scope of government.

Now, Ron Paul’s vision for America is as close an approximation of that of the Founders as any on the scene today.  For all of the criticism to which Paul’s Republican rivals have subjected him, not one of them dares to put into question his commitment to limited—dramatically limited—government. 

So, when a Republican politician comes along who is passionately, unequivocally committed to restoring the Constitutional Republic that our Founders crafted for their posterity, a Republican who enthusiastically embraces the very “founding principles” that the GOP claims to affirm, and that Republican isn’t just criticized—this is bad enough—but resoundingly ridiculed as a “crackpot” by his fellow Republicans, it is hard for a Republican voter not to get more than a bit perturbed.

I anger for Paul, it is true, but also for the millions of Americans who regularly vote Republican (including myself), for the readiness with which Paul’s rivals insult him over his positions has, ironically, exposed their own insincerity.  You see, when push comes to shove, what we invariably discover after they are elected is that the vast majority of Paul’s embittered brethren are almost as committed to maintaining the Welfare State as their leftist counterparts in the Democratic Party.  And they are more resolved to maintain, and grow, the Warfare State—a point that Rick Santorum made all too clear when, during the New Hampshire primary, he declared that far from bringing our soldiers home from the proverbial four corners of the Earth, the dangers posed by Islamic terrorists insured that we would probably have to increase our troop’s global presence.

There is another reason why I defend Ron Paul.

For the activity of bullying, I have zero tolerance.  Being weak and cowardly, bullies delude themselves into thinking that they’re strong and brave by fusing their individual identities with that of a collectivity, a gang or a mob.  This, regrettably, is what appears to have happened to Paul’s Republican abusers: they have acquired a “mob mentality.” 

That a mob mentality has taken over establishment Republican commentators when it comes to Ron Paul can be seen from both the swiftness with which one after the other piles upon him as well as the shoddy quality of their criticisms.  Distortions, insults, and outright lies abound.   

Take nationally syndicated talk radio show host and film critic Michael Medved for example.  If Paul’s Republican critics constitute a mob, then Medved is its ringleader, for no one more savagely and routinely—even obsessively—attacks the Texas congressman.

Medved is not beyond imparting insights; as one who regularly listens to his show, I can attest to this.  Yet his criticisms of Paul, almost to an argument, are worthless. 

When he isn’t referring to Paul as a “crackpot” and a “disgrace,” Medved is guilty of completely misrepresenting his positions.  Because Paul rejects a Constitutional amendment explicitly defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and because he thinks that consenting adult citizens shouldn’t be coerced into endorsing another’s understanding of marriage, Medved insists that Paul favors a literally anarchic situation with respect to marriage. 

In reality, only one who thought that government itself should be abolished—an anarchist—could adopt the position on the issue of marriage or any other issue that Medved attributes to Paul.  Clearly, Paul is no anarchist, for no anarchist would seek to hold an office in the government, let alone the office of the presidency

Ron Paul is very clear about his position on this issue (as well as every other, for that matter) in his Liberty Defined.  “In a free society,” he writes, “all voluntary and consensual agreements would be recognized,” and when “disputes arose, the courts could be involved as in any other dispute” (emphases mine).  There are two things here of which we must take note.  First, in maintaining that such “voluntary and consensual” arrangements as marriage deserve recognition, Paul maintains that the government must recognize them.  Second, the government provides this recognition by way of its judicial branch, by adjudicating disputes, issuing settlements, and the like.

Bullies are unfair.  That Medved and the mob that he signifies act like bullies when it comes to Paul becomes obvious once we grasp that Paul’s position isn’t as remotely as extreme as his detractors make it out to be.  In fact, it isn’t extreme at all.  As Paul observes, common-law marriage requires no license and is “recognized as a legal entity” in twelve states.  Does this practice portend the kind of mass chaos that Medved and company charge Paul of championing? 

When Paul insists that marriage is a matter regarding which “the government” should refrain from interjecting itself, what he is saying is that the federal government has no role at all to play here.  Yet he is also saying that neither should state governments embark upon the enterprise of defining marriage—not that they should literally stay out of the whole business of marriage.

Paul’s positions, whether on marriage or anything else, may or may not be rationally preferable to their competitors.  In order to determine this, however, his critics must be willing to first understand what Paul’s views actually are.  Through either a lack of ability or a lack of will, so far they haven’t come close to doing this.

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

originally published at The New American

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Walter Jones vs. the Neocons: Is the Tide of GOP Politics Shifting?
On Tuesday, the overwhelmingly outspent ten-term North Carolina Republican Congressman Walter Jones defeated his neoconservative, establishment-backed opponent and former Bush II official, Taylor Griffin. Griffin was endorsed by Sarah Palin and heavily subsidized by Sheldon Adelson—but to no av

posted 9:43:23pm May. 08, 2014 | read full post »


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