Insights du Jour - 2015-05-08

Some things I've found on-target recently…

  • Would the Bill of Rights ever pass today? Find out the sobering answer in Charles C.W. Cooke's NR article, "Why the Bill of Rights Would Never Pass Today".

    If it sometimes feels as if the Bill of Rights is the only thing standing between the little guy and majoritarian tyranny, that’s possibly because it is. Americans may be freer than most, but it is often thanks to Supreme Court decisions and not to public opinion that America remains an outlier. It is because judges have stepped in that it is legal to burn the American flag in protest; that the Westboro Baptist Church may stage its execrable funeral demonstrations without fear of tort liability; that seditious speech may not be punished by the government; that disgusting videos may not be banned; that conservative Christians have been spared the indignities of the Obama administration’s contraception mandate; that collections of citizens may engage in political criticism; that parents caring for their children may not be forced by the state to join a union; that the residents of Washington, D.C., Chicago, and other “blue” cities may buy and own handguns for their protection; that the government is prohibited from searching cell phones without a warrant; and so on and so forth. Looking around the country — and examining the attitudes that prevail in Washington, D.C., on our college campuses, and in our hopelessly excitable media — can we honestly conclude that three-fourths of We the People would vote today to so restrain ourselves? We are living on borrowed wisdom.

    It is sobering, and not in a good way, to realize that way too many citizens no longer respect neither the Constitution/BofR nor the principles that drove its composers. Example number one in my book: the recently-proposed constitutional amendment that would have restricted freedom of speech in the name of "democratic self-government and political equality".

    One of my state's own senators, Jeanne Shaheen, was an eager co-sponsor of this travesty. (Hillary Clinton, unsurprisingly, is also a fan of gutting the First Amendment.)

    And on Election Day 2014, the voters—the voters in the freakin' "Live Free or Die" statekept Shaheen in office, instead of returning her to Madbury.

  • In related news: you may have noticed that, gosh, for some reason, we've been hearing a lot about "hate speech". Sometimes assuming that it is (or should be) something other than a subset of "free speech". Bruce McQuain points out this 2011 article from Jacob Mchangama in the Hoover Institution's Policy Review. Which makes the point: the notion of "hate speech" is fairly recent, and …

    […] the introduction of hate-speech prohibitions into international law was championed in its heyday by the Soviet Union and allies. Their motive was readily apparent. The communist countries sought to exploit such laws to limit free speech.

    To quote Walter Sobchak:

    … but I can't say I'm surprised. The commies were famed for figuring out ways to make the expansion of state power at the expense of liberty seem palatable and even desireable to fellow-travelling dimwits. It's dispiriting that some concepts like "hate speech" live on after their cynical inventors have been discredited.

  • Pun Salad coined the term "Barackrobatics" for President Obama's recurring rhetorical devices, which often served as a flashing warning light of an imminent clash with truth and/or reality. At Reason, A. Barton Hinkle notes a couple more:

    • "There are those who say…" (invariably things that nobody has said):

      For instance, he has observed that “there are those who say we cannot invest in science.” Those people are wrong, by the way: “Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment and our quality of life than it has ever been before.”

      It also has been his observation that “there are those who say high-speed rail is a fantasy.” They’re wrong, too: “Its success around the world says otherwise.”

      And he has noticed “there are those who say the plans in (my) budget are too ambitious”—but . . . well, you know.

    • And it's fair to say that Obama might be overusing "it's fair to say":

      Two years ago, he allowed that it was fair to say the rollout of Obamacare “has been rough so far.” At the same time, “it’s fair to say that . . . we would not have rolled out something knowing very well that it wasn’t going to work.” And that also makes sense when you think about it, because as he pointed out on another occasion, it’s also “fair to say that all governments think they’re doing what’s right, and don’t like criticism.”

      Last summer, the president decided it was “fair to say that the U.S.-New Zealand relationship has never been stronger.” This must have come as a stinging rebuke to all those who have been talking trash about the U.S.-New Zealand relationship.

    Good ear, Hinkle.

  • And Will Antonin demonstrates that you can even fit an insight into a tweet:

    A more expanded version is available from Nick Gillespie, writing at The Daily Beast: "Trigger Warning: College Kids Are Human Veal"

    Every time we seem to have reached peak insanity when it comes to the intellectually constipated and socially stultifying atmosphere on today’s college campuses, some new story manages to reveal vast new and untapped reservoirs of ridiculousness. In a world of trigger warnings, microaggressions, and official apologies featuring misgendered pronouns that start a whole new round of accusations, wonders never cease.

    Readest thou the thing in its entirety.


Last Modified 2015-05-15 9:13 AM EDT