Some Wednesday Links On Free Speech & Ideology, Also Some Cool Photos

Julian Sanchez at CATO@Liberty on the Hobby Lobby reaction:

‘The ruling seems to provoke anger, not because it will result in women having to pay more for birth control (as it won’t), but at least in part because it fails to send the appropriate cultural signal. Or, at any rate, because it allows religious employers to continue sending the wrong cultural signal—disapproval of certain forms of contraception—when sending that signal does not impede the achievement of the government’s ends in any way.’

In lieu of other sources, when the personal becomes political, adherents can derive meaning, identity and purpose from Supreme Court decisions without really even understanding the decisions. This can devolve into a lot of tribal in-group/out-group outrage and identity-marking.

Since the 60’s Left-liberal counter-culture now is the culture in many parts of academia, and higher-ed is larded with a lot of administrative waste, the FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights In Education) is going on the offensive with lawsuits for what it sees as unconstitutional campus speech codes:

They’ve filed four free-speech lawsuits in one day.

From Reason:

‘Lukianoff explained that FIRE would not hesitate to expand the suits until all universities abandon their speech codes, which were ruled unconstitutional decades ago but have endured at more than 50 percent of colleges, according to the foundation’s research.’

If you find yourself sympathetic to religious liberty and/or conservative, limited government principles, broad definitions of free-speech, libertarian definitions of individual liberty and responsibility, or heck, maybe you’re just apolitical but find yourself getting tired of many organizing principles that lead to rather closed, poorer, top-down societies with more incentives for people to often neither think nor act for themselves…this isn’t a bad cause to support, if just with a nod of your head as you sit in front of your screen.

On that note, dear reader. via David Thompson’s excellent blog, here are some photos of the world’s northernmost biggest city, Norilsk, Russia:

It’s like a living game of Tetris.

Julian Sanchez At CATO: ‘Why The NSA Collecting Your Phone Records Is A Problem’

Full post here.

Julian Sanchez has been following these issues for a while, as his beat is national security, tech, law, and government.  I would classify him as libertarian minded, with liberal/liberaltarian tendencies.  He’s worth following.

Addition:  NSA leaker comes forward.  Edward Snowden is interviewed below by Glenn Greenwald, on what he thinks is in the public interest to know about what he saw begun as a narrowly tailored approach becoming broader with regard to data collection and filtration.  Seems like the kind of thing worth kicking back into the public square.  For a man potentially risking his life, and potentially standing on principle to do so, it seems worthwhile to hear him out:

An idealist?  Is there a backstory?

Another addition:  As others have pointed out, Snowden (and Greenwald, to some extent) are likely upset with the current administration and the NSA from the Left, which has joined with the discontent of the Right.  It’s quite an achievement.  All we need now is Noam Chomsky and Pat Buchannan giving a joint press conference.

Occupy! and the Tea Party meet again, to some extent.

Another:  Justin Amash wants to debate Obama on the issue.  If you act irresponsibly online, you can expect some entity to grow out of/contain that behavior.



‘This collection is probably well enough intentioned. The problem is that these records are likely to be retained in databases indefinitely. Which means we don’t just need to worry about whether the government’s motives are pure when they collect the information. Even if they are, someone with access to that data, maybe in five or ten years, may be unable to resist the temptation to use that information for other purposes. That could mean investigating ordinary crimes: If you can data mine for suspicious terrorist activity patterns—which as Jim Harper and Jeff Jonas have pointed out is likely to be extremely difficult—you can plug in “suspicious patterns” that may identify drug dealers and tax cheats as well. Still more disturbing is the possibility that, the intelligence community has repeatedly done historically, those records could be exploited for illegitimate political purposes, or even simple greed. (Imagine probing communications for signs of an impending corporate merger, product launch, or lawsuit.)’

Much of the law hasn’t caught up, and is often behind, the tech revolution, and how people and institutions are using technology in our daily lives.  Genetic information, drones for domestic and theater of war purposes, medical records, search engine history, digital fingerprints etc. are all changing the face of what’s possible.

Maybe libertarian Arnold Kling’s formulation could help illuminate some of the political/philosophical interests, which I’ve copied/pasted from elsewhere:

‘Conservatives use a civilization vs barbarism axis.

Libertarians use a coercion vs freedom axis.

Liberals use an oppression axis to view the world – oppressed vs oppressor.’

On the Kling model, I’m with conservatives insofar as they are most able to recognize that we are in a frontless war with the practitioners of a global, pan-Arab religious ideology.  No, not everyone outside the gates is a barbarian, but some of our current enemies are acting enough like it.  They thrive on violence and push for a totalitarian, impossibly ideal, narrow, anti-modern, anti-Western Islamic resurgence. Some people are planning to kill us as I type this, despite their diffuse nature and the low probability/high consequences of an attack.  Our response has required varying levels of conflict, intelligence, and engagement in order to protect ourselves so far.  Some basic trust is necessary for those in power given to discharge their duties on the people’s behalf to conduct our business.

Addition:  It’s not just the narrow focus of Islamic terrorism, but a global network of espionage, State and non-State cyberwarfare and security following Moore’s law.  What still separates us from most other governments is a government working for the people, even if that may compromise us in the data race.  These are deep and complex issues.

I’m with libertarians insofar as we do not want to cede too much power and authority to our government in order to prosecute this war, because yesterday’s rules become today’s furniture and incentives of governance.  Power really can and does corrupt, and we’ve got to get the incentives right for our own leaders and for our own selves as citizens, especially with the big data race going on.  I think most Americans are more psychologically able to handle this reality since 9/11, but it’s questionable as to how well our security complexes are handling our business.

I can find common ground with liberals on civil liberties issues, but I’m generally against Leftism, progressivism and its discontents.  Such ideologies bend our institutions to impossible ideals, and get our security, human nature and the incentives very wrong in my opinion.  I don’t want to see multiculturalism, nor the ‘isms’ of the Left have too much direct political influence because I think they’ve led to many of the failure of European immigration/governance, for starters.

Given our President’s ideological interests and political bedfellows, do you trust him with this power?  What about the next guy who comes along, and the one after that?:


Related On This SiteFrom CATO@Liberty: Julian Sanchez On ‘Wikileads And Economies Of Repression’

Big Data And Filthy Lucre: Neil Irwin At WonkBlog-’Here’s What The Bloomberg Data Scandal Reveals About How The Media Really Makes Money’

Repost: Trevor Butterworth At Forbes Via The A & L Daily: ‘Beware The Internet As Liberation Theology’

Martha Nussbaum wants to steer the moral thinking behind the laws away from religion, and was influenced by John Rawls:  From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.

From George Will on Stephen Colbert:  “What conservatives say is that we will protect you against idealism.” Originalism vs. The living constitution: George Will Via The Jewish World Review: ‘True Self-Government’.

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

From CATO@Liberty: Julian Sanchez On ‘Wikileads And Economies Of Repression’

Full post here.

Sanchez makes a good point:

“Whatever you think of Wikileaks, the idea that a controversial speaker can be so effectively attacked quite outside the bounds of any direct legal process, thanks to the enormous leverage our government exerts on global telecommunications and finance firms, ought to provoke immense concern for the future of free expression online.”

Addition:  Hitchens at Slate on Assange.  Assange speaks for himself.

Another Addition: Often what unites libertarians in my experience is:  anti-government tendencies and the desire of freedom from violence and control (especially from the government, which includes nanny-stating, authoritarian, idealistic, tax and spend, big gov’t and big business in bed together leftists ((and of course the total control socialists and communists of the far left))….against what many libertarians see as the socially conservative, potentially authoritarian, big gov’t right).

LIbertarians may rise in opposition to a leftist government and are often more socially liberal than many conservatives, and I’ve heard it argued that we are drifting away from more socially conservative, religiously conservative, traditional values as part of a longer trend.  Maybe, maybe not.

Also On This Site:  Repost: Trevor Butterworth At Forbes Via The A & L Daily: ‘Beware The Internet As Liberation Theology’

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From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

Full interview here.

Nussbaum elaborates on her argument a bit.

Below, would this be a fair outline of Nussbaum’s argument, which I wrote in the comments section of the previous Nussbaum post:  From The Nation Via A & L Daily-’Back Talk: Martha Nussbaum’?:

“Disgust should not be used to make laws. It is an emotion that is potentially irrational and a cowardly withdrawal from our obligations to maintain and free and equitable society. It is also a way to project our own irrationality regarding the body, weakness and mortality onto others. In so doing, often we maintain unjust laws, or inequitable legal, social, and political structures.”

Mill’s harm principle is a better tool to maintain freedom and equality than the moral doctrines of Christianity…not only, but especially when, disgust is used to interefere into the lives of others through the laws (Gays and Lesbians in America, Outcasts in India…Bahai, for example, in Iran perhaps).

Also On This Site:  Martha Nussbaum On Eliot Spitzer At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Repost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder

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