First: Thank you, Joe, for allowing me to post on your blog. The trouble is I have this terrible habit of writing whole essays (but I did get freedom, gun rights and sex into a single issue):
Years ago I had a conversation with a man who considered himself a libertarian– one who had been reading Ayn Rand’s definitive work, “Capitalism”. He persisted in trying to convince me that “state’s rights” might properly involve the right to “allow” slavery if the people of that state so choose. It took some doing before I could get him to admit that just maybe, there can be no right to enslave, because such a “right” involved the blatant violation of rights.
I ran across two examples of this kind of silliness today. One was in a discussion of self protection rights. A state “shall issue” concealed carry law, it was asserted, would take away “local discretion”, or to put it another way, it would deny local governments the “right” to ban the carrying of concealed guns. In another discussion I heard of the practice of removing a girl’s clitoris being described as though it were a right, or as a “traditional cultural practice” that certain peoples had a right to exercise.
In both cases, there is desire to define the protection of Liberty (the right to bear arms, or the right to keep your body parts) as “taking away local discretion” as though local “discretion” (to impose force upon individuals) is the same thing as Liberty. Lets apply that position to some other hallmarks of a free society: Nation-wide Emancipation denies “local discretion” regarding the keeping of slaves. The First Amendment takes away “local discretion” regarding the confiscation of computers and printing machines or the forced shut-down of local radio stations, and it takes away “local discretion” to ban Jews from owning land.
I guess we’re not “free” after all if we don’t have “local discretion” to ban or confiscate anything we want, or to cut various body parts off of anyone we want, so long as it gives us the sort of “Culture” we desire for “Our Community” and what about “democracy” after all? (Is anyone else reminded of Jim Jones at this point?)
Such an attitude is rooted in a fairly complete lack of principles and a total ignorance of the U.S. Constitution and history. Government’s job, in the uniquely American sense, is to protect us from force and fraud, to ensure our right to life and property, and to ensure our right to peaceable, voluntary association and exchange with others.
That’s it. Whether government has “local discretion” or “regional discretion”, or “global discretion” to control us, rob us, allow our neighbors to cut pieces off us, or enslave us, the outcome is going to be very much the same—violation, stagnation, decay, and suffering.
Government, properly, has only responsibilities. We as individuals retain all the discretion, and we as individuals, or as collectives, do not have any “right” to initiate force or fraud upon anyone, no matter how wonderful and “Cultured” it might make us feel. Is that so terribly difficult to understand?