Sunday, July 04, 2004

Quick takes 

Quick Take #1

It is good to see one of my family's favorite websites come back from a five month hiatus. My wife and I usually enjoyed the commentary on Razormouth.com, a Reformed Christian website that was originally dedicated to commenting on culture and Christianity. According to the publishers of the site, they failed in their task because of petty differences and squabbles.

I can't say that I blame them for coming back with more focus and with a more consistent message than before. It is hard enough to comment on Christianity and politics, much less a whole culture. The squabbles did get out of hand at times and if this is a way to maintain order, then they have done the right thing. Still, I will miss some of the commentary that tends to go unnoticed on "political" websites. It's good to see the guys back and approaching politics from a Christian libertarian point of veiw. I am not entirely ready to embrace libertarianism as they define it just yet, but there are many areas of agreement between them and myself.

Not-So-Quick Take

One of the regular contributors to
Razormouth is John Whitehead, the president of the Rutherford Institute. He is an individual who has fought tenaciously for true religious freedom (not this "if-you-keep-it-private-you-can-believe-whatever-you-want" kind of religious freedom) and individual civil liberties. There are areas where we agree wholeheartedly (namely on fighting to maintain religious freedom). But there is one area in which we will disagree on quite strongly: the PATRIOT Act. He has written AGAIN about the potential dangers the act poses to everyone's freedoms and liberties. I agree that the definition of terrorism in the act probably could be tightened up, I think that any act that is hundreds of pages in length ought to be reviewed for balancing effectiveness, abuse or potential harm to our future liberties. I have two complaints about Mr. Whitehead's stance, though:

1. I realize that it is fine and dandy to be critical of laws that Congress has or hasn't passed. I can see raising alarm about POTENTIAL abuses that could come about from law enforcement agencies now that they have many more tools and powers that were off limits before Sept. 11. I get all of that schtick. But Mr. Whitehead has conviently ducked three key questions in regard to this act:

1. Before powers were expanded and granted with the signing of the act into law, what tools would Mr. Whitehead use to proactively apprehend those who would do us harm?

2. What specific changes would Mr. Whitehead make to the Patriot Act to achieve a balance between freedom for the masses and security from those who would do us harm? In other words, how does he plan to balance freedoms with security concerns?

3. You mean to tell me that in an act HUNDREDS of pages long that there isn't a SINGLE feature he might find attractive or worthy of endorsement? If there are objections to the act from "all across the political spectrum", then there are features that are praiseworthy as well. Why haven't I seen him feature these?

back to my original point...

The second objection I have really isn't an objection per se, it's just an observation of mine. In the article linked above, Mr. Whitehead sounds the usual omenious warnings about the spread of the "police state". While I agree that the state has taken too many freedoms away from people, I think Mr. Whitehead needs to think through what he is writing about when he says tobacco smoking should be illegal. If he thinks the state has too much power now, just let it try to catch cigarette runners and tobacco growers in this country. If he thinks the spectre of terrorism has expanded the state's powers, just wait till the state tries to eliminate smoking.....

wait a minute....it already IS trying that through monstrously high cigarette taxes and advertising regulations and the like. The effect of sudden massive increases in cigarette taxes has been an increase in dangerous and illegal behavior as documented by Jacob Sullum and others who have written on the subject. Mr. Whitehead needs to think more seriously about what he writes. He might find a few more allies and friends along the way.

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?