Rights: "Civil" vs. Individual

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Via Isaac Schrodinger comes this link to a rather lengthy post at Gates of Vienna about something I have noticed before: the gradual subversion of the civil rights movement from just cause, to special treatment for actual racial minorities, and lately, even to preparation of non-Moslems for dhimmitude.

Baron Bodissey makes some very good observations, but he also makes a couple of major errors at the same time. His biggest two errors are related. They are:

First, his use of a graphic to convey the distasteful phrase (i.e., "I hate niggers,") he uses to make his point.

The example I am about to give is so offensive that I will be in hot water for posting it here, even though I don't subscribe to it myself, even though I find its appalling and repugnant, even though I would not willingly share the room with someone who uttered it. The amount of trouble I bring down upon myself will illustrate my point.

I'm displaying it here as an image, so as not to be indexed for the obnoxious phrase by the search engines[.]
Second, Bodissey makes an error in his reasoning in the below chronology:
How did we get to this point? It was a slippery slope downhill from liberty to where we are now, with some notable landmarks on the way:

The civil rights movement.

By statute, one could no longer discriminate on the basis of race. This was a good idea that has since been extended to ludicrous levels in order to serve illiberal purposes.

The definition of discrimination.

To the definition of "discrimination" was added, "speech or actions that tend to exclude a person on the basis of his or her race."

The evidence for exclusion.

That a person of a protected group feels excluded became prima facie evidence that he or she has been excluded, and is therefore a victim of discrimination.

The feelings of protected minorities.

Feeling unwelcome or offended became the same as feeling excluded, so that feeling offended is equivalent to being discriminated against.

Thus has the "hate speech" camel crept under the tent and taken up residence. You don't have to subscribe to IHN to violate the hate speech codes; all you have to do is offend some member of a protected group. At that point the grievance mill starts gearing up to grind exceedingly fine, and you'll be lucky if your only consequence is to undergo twenty or thirty hours of "diversity training".

[Bodissey later notes that Moslems are now being equated with a racial minority. --ed]
Note that Bodissey says that for it to be illegal to discriminate on the basis of race is "a good idea".

I abhor racism, but I must respectfully disagree. Forbidding behavior that is immoral, but does not violate the rights of someone else, is far from being "a good idea". The purpose of government is to protect the rights of individuals from being violated by the initiation of force (or the threat thereof) from other individuals. Nothing more. Nothing less.

At the beginning of the Civil Rights Era, blacks in America faced two major problems. One problem was moral in scope, and that was racism on the part of most whites, particularly in the South. The other problem was legal: Poor treatment of blacks was legally codified into what are known as Jim Crow Laws.

It was the existence of these legal barriers -- these violations of the individual rights of American citizens (and not just blacks, as we will see shortly) by the government which was supposed to be protecting them -- at which the legal and legislative remedies should have been aimed, and which served to make it even more difficult than it should have been for civil rights activists and all sympathetic to their cause to appeal to the best within the white population in order to overcome the moral aspects of racism.

A law from my home state of Mississippi should serve nicely to illustrate my point:
Promotion of Equality. Any person...who shall be guilty of printing, publishing or circulating printed, typewritten or written matter urging or presenting for public acceptance or general information, arguments or suggestions in favor of social equality or of intermarriage between whites and Negroes, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to fine ... not exceeding five hundred (500.00) dollars or imprisonment not exceeding six (6) months or both.
Got that? It was illegal to even argue that blacks should be treated like human beings in Mississippi back in the days of Jim Crow!

Repealing this law -- a proper change completely in line with the purpose of government as guarantor of individual rights -- is not the same thing as making it illegal to say "nigger" -- or "cracker", for that matter. Likewise, properly changing the law in Louisiana that made it a crime to rent to more than one race under the same roof at the same time is not the same thing as forcing someone to sell his own property to blacks or whites if he does no wish to do so. And likewise, repealing the silly law in North Carolina that forbade the use of textbooks by one race after they'd been used by the other is not the same thing as forcing "rich" residents, as Texas does today, to pay for the schoolbooks of poor residents.

(After the repeal of Jim Crow, racists are no longer intellectually unopposed in Mississippi. Landlords who wish to realize more income by not denying rentals to members of one race or another can now do so in Louisiana. In North Carolina, perfectly good used textbooks would not be denied to black children just because whites had once used them. Notice that, while forcing racists to interect with blacks is not the proper role of government, a happy side-effect of all of these legal changes is that those not afflicted with racism can interact with members of other races.)

The moment it became clear, however, that the civil rights movement was introducing to the government a new way to force individuals to change their behavior (rather than simply preventing them from harming others), the panderers began taking over the civil rights movement. In other words, the movement began to change from a noble, pro-freedom cause to an ignoble crusade against freedom as soon as it became clear that the government was going to legislate morality.

No wonder Islamofascists are becoming attracted to the tactics adapted and honed by the now totally corrupt civil rights movement!

This is not to say that Bodissey does not make many valuable points. But the central mistake here (which he does make) is the failure to fully appreciate what the proper role of government is. This started the trouble by introducing bad laws and -- because of the consequences (e.g., hurt feelings) of the immoral behavior of racists, it opened the door for more and more laws aimed at prescribing behavior rather than simply preventing government from serving as an accomplice.

Now, how does this tie in to Bodissey's reluctance to simply type in "I hate niggers," even though he clearly means it no more than I do? Because of the good in Bodissey and in many others who make the same mistake about the proper role of government he does: The good that the "civil rights" leaders of today want to cash in on.

A great triumph of modern times is that most whites regard racism as morally repugnant. Only a tiny, isolated minority would even dream of reimposing Jim Crow. These are good, wonderful things. Unfortunately, too many people think of too many things that the government should not be doing (e.g., hiring quotas, "hate crime" legislation, or proposed slavery reparations) as "good ideas". This desire to treat blacks properly combined with the confusion over the proper role of government causes many whites to give a moral pass too easily sometimes to "civil rights" leaders, and makes many morally uncertain in their opposition, such as it is, to that movement's drive for more bad legislation.

Were we not, as a society, so confused about the proper function of government, we would not have so many bad laws on the books and so many bad legal precedents today.

No group has "rights" as a collective. Only the individual has rights, which are inherent in his nature as a rational being and his need to act upon his best judgement to survive. And it will only be when most of us understand that it is this which the government must protect that we will become safe from the thought police, be they liberal busybodies hunting for out-of-context catch-phrases with which to hang anyone in their way or their brothers-in-spirit, the Moslem fanatics.

And it is only then that good people like Baron Bodissey will find the courage -- the courage of intellectual clarity -- to say "I hate niggers" defiantly, because they do not really mean it, but they only need to use that odious sentiment to make a point.

-- CAV

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