21 July 2009

Rights, Sociability, and Hate

An article linked from Trying to Grok has opened up a whole (long) line of thinking for me. The statement that particularly caught my attention appeared in the author's original op-ed:
I want Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Marxists, Independents and anyone with a halfway decent idea that doesn't incorporate hate.
"That doesn't incorporate hate."

Here's part of my comment at TTG, as a springboard to further thought:
People can have hate, regardless of their political leanings.

But when it comes to ideology, which seems more "hateful":

a) Regardless of your feelings, you may not violate Person X's rights, nor may you join with others to do so in a collective fashion; or

b) Regardless of your feelings or actions, if you have a material or immaterial advantage over Person X, then Person X may individually or collectively violate your rights to eliminate that inequality ?

In this world, there are a number of things we can't force other people to do - eating, sleeping, and potty training among them.

We can't forcibly change someone's opinion, and we can't force others to feel love - or not to feel hate.

We have to figure those things out inside ourselves.

But as a species, that's been hard for us to accept. In our impatience to see a "change," governments throughout history have abused our power and theirs by hastening to "take action," with some actions considered more "civilized" than others. However, government, as an external force, can only address behavior, in a misguided effort to change what's *inside* of us.

Frederic Bastiat had this to say about liberty of thought and association, and forcing social interaction where it has not developed naturally:
Mr. de Lamartine once wrote to me thusly: "Your doctrine is only the half of my program. You have stopped at liberty; I go on to fraternity." I answered him: "The second half of your program will destroy the first."

I cannot possibly understand how fraternity can be legally enforced without liberty being legally destroyed, and thus justice being legally trampled underfoot.
We can't force social interaction - or social action - without violating our more fundamental rights.

I'd add that protecting particular classes of people serves to perpetuate the idea that there *are* particular classes of people.

The most recent example is all the "hate crime" legislation flying around the Senate: S.909, becoming one of five hate-crime-related amendments to the DOD authorization bill. With the latest amendment, military members would become a protected class, as well.

Are all occupations to be equally protected?

Is the nonsense of hate crime legislation evident yet?

We'll just have to wait for people to learn to be nice on their own, and settle for protecting each other equally before the law, in the meantime.

Effecting change will come as we try to be examples of love; and as we THINK, in order to counter the demonic, intellectually-deadening idea that "hate" is the exclusive domain of any particular party.

---Quote source: The Law, by Frederic Bastiat, translated by Dean Russell, of The Foundation for Economic Education, pub. 1977, p. 25. (Also found here.)


Jennifer said...

Thanks for this post. You are a good example to me of effecting change and being an example of love.

Kirk said...

Excellent thinking --

If the God of the universe refuses to *force* us to think a particular way, what on earth makes us think that there is some force that *we* could or should employ - even for the "betterment" of mankind?
Think of the contest between the sun and the wind: they both were trying to "make" the old man take off his coat - the harder the gusts of wind, the tighter the man held his coat. But when the sun just shone, the man removed his coat quite willingly.

Love, Mom

Ann said...

Terrific post. Hate crimes legislation is incredibly deceptive to people. I know many who think that, in order to be a good person, you must support it. If not, you must be a hateful person, right? Wrong. Making laws about how a person thinks or feels is the beginning of the end. It completely destroys liberty at its core. And as much as I shudder at the idea of a "hate crime," I am comforted by the fact that, in this country, we have laws against hurting someone in that way. We're covered. Making laws like this only opens the door to further and further removal of liberty, and you're right...it only separates us more and more.

(BTW, this is the amendment that prompted Sherrod Brown to break with the form letter and make sure to let me know how wrong I was. Among other things, he said: "There has been significant misinformation about this bill. This legislation targets criminal acts; it does not affect Americans' constitutionally protected freedoms of speech or religion...Hate crime measures are intended to ensure all members of our community full protection by the judicial system and law enforcement officials." Hmmmm. I don't know how governing the way a person thinks does NOT affect their constitutionally protected freedoms. Also, RIGHT NOW, "all members" of our community should already be equally and fully protected under the law...is he implying that currently, they are not?)

Chantile said...

My brain is so fried today I have nothing really of value to add to the conversation other than a side note. Have you seen "Equilibrium"? If not, it has an interesting take on the subject. From the movie standpoint, it's felt that the ability to feel and have emotion is what causes so many problems, so much hate in the world, that after another world war, the government, using a drug called Prozium, eliminates from its citizens the ability to feel. I'd highly recommend watching it if you haven't seen it already.

(And it has Christian Bale. I mean, how can you not like it if it has Christian Bale? :) lol)