Showing posts with label liberals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label liberals. Show all posts

Friday, August 12, 2022

Politics and Me, Introduction

 So, I don’t know how you spend your free time, but I like to spend my commute and my running time listening to various audiobooks. I used to listen to podcasts, but I’ve found that I live too close to the office and it’d take several days to get through just one podcast. So, I’ve switched to audiobooks and I’ve added them to my fitness time. I just finished an interesting book on politics and I have another on my docket for next. This book, The Right; The Hundred-Year War for American Conservatism, really made me think about politics/political theory and my views. One of the main things it highlighted for me is that I don’t feel like I fit within any political party and that my political views are not party-focused or in support of any one party or candidate, but rather that I care much more about political philosophy and theory. Another thing that came to mind was how a Christian ought to approach politics. And, more specifically, how a pastor ought to approach politics (if at all).

I struggle with the very idea of being a politician. First, I don’t think anyone would really support me to the extent that I could be an elected official. However, I think such a person would be a good person to support. That is, the person who wants power and political influence is probably not the kind of person who would lead with his/her constituent’s best interests in mind. Another thought about being a politician that makes me fairly sure that I don’t want to be one is my distaste for red-tape/bureaucracy. I deal with just a taste of bureaucratic nonsense in my current job, and I hate it. I am certain that for the politician bureaucracy is a way of life. Maybe they like it, I don’t know nor do I understand such a view. I don’t know if it’s true, but based on my dad’s experience of bureaucracy even in the tiny town he lives and serves as a city councilman in, it must be terrible. I have always seen myself as a servant-leader. I don’t sit on high and tell my subordinates to “get to work.” I get out there with my subordinates and do the work with them. We’re in this together! Yes, when a decision is to be made, I’m the one who has to make it (sometimes), but that’s my burden and I bear the brunt of failed decisions. If I make a bad decision I own it and eat the humble pie. That’s my basic philosophy of leadership. Unfortunately, it seems like that’s not the way politics works! I think maybe this book, The Dictator’s Handbook, and the YouTube video based on that book, have made me jaded when it comes to politicians. To summarize the book and video in just a line or two, all politicians, everywhere really only have one goal in mind, staying in and increasing their power and influence. Servant leadership doesn’t fit with that idea of politics. How do we balance the idea that one ought to serve those they’re meant to lead with trying to maintain and grow one’s power at all cost. This is just one way in which my views don’t really fit with any particular political party.

Politics is such a huge topic I’m going to have to break this topic up into a series. In order to tackle everything I can, I’ve found a long list of political issues from which I can draw topics.

In order that they appear on that link and the order that I’ll try to write about them, here are the topics:

1. Abortion 2. Gay Marriage 3. LGBT Adoption Rights 4. Planned Parenthood Funding 5. Gender Identity 6. Government Mandates (healthcare related) 7. Gun Buybacks 8. Gender Transitioning 9. Marital Rape 10. Transgender Athletes 11. Religious Freedom Act (business denying service based on religious views) 12 Racial Sensitivity Training 13. Confederate Flag 14. Hate Speech 15. First Amendment (particularly the separation of Church and State) 16. Death Penalty 17. Gender Workplace Diversity 18. Safe Spaces (on university campuses) 19. Women in Combat 20. Niqab (face veil) 21. Euthanasia 22. Gun Control (generally) 23. Armed Teachers 24. Supreme Court Reform (more seats, term limits) 25. Term Limits (for Congress) 26. Drug Policy 27. Muslim Surveillance 28. Gun Liability (firearms dealers culpable for gun violence) 29. Social Media Regulation 30. Congressmen/women permitted to trade stocks while in office 31. No-Fly List Gun Control (people on no-fly lists also be denied gun permits) 32. NSA Domestic Surveillance 33. Patriot Act 34. Affirmative Action 35. Gerrymandering 36. Eminent Domain 37. Net Neutrality 38. Flag Burning 39. Whistleblower Protections 40. Juneteenth Holiday 41. Edward Snowden (immunity) 42. Political Ads on Social Media 43. Social Security 44. Air Force One (upgrade) 45. Critical Race Theory in K-12 Education 45. Student Loans 46. Free College for All 47. Universal Pre-K (government funded) 48. School Vouchers 49. Common Core 50. Charter Schools 51. Government Financial Aid to Families affected by COVID school closures 52. School Truancy 53. Equal Pay (gender-based) 54. Minimum Wage 55. Taxes (general and higher on the rich) 56. Corporate Taxes 57. Paid Sick Leave (mandatory) 58. Government Spending 59. Corporate Mega Mergers (monopoly laws) 60. Labor Unions 61. Universal Basic Income 62. Welfare 63. Overtime Pay 64. Free Tax Filing 65. Capital Gains Taxes 66. Economic Stimulus 67. Welfare Drug Testing 68. Estate Taxes 69. NAFTA 70. Four-Day Workweek 71. Gasoline Tax 72. Offshore Banking 73. Tech Monopolies 74. Domestic Jobs 75. Pension Reforms 76. Tariffs 77. Farm Subsidies 78. State Ownership of Companies Bailed Out 79. Federal Reserve (audit) 80. China Tariffs 81. Property Taxes 82. Gig Workers (classified as employees) 82. Online Sales Tax 83. Decentralized Finance 84. Cryptocurrency 85. Government Pensions 86. Trans-Pacific Partnerships 87. Drug Price Regulation 88. Single-Payer Healthcare 89. Mental Health 90. Pre-Existing Conditions (regulate) 91. COVID Employment Health Pass (vaccine requirements) 92. Marijuana 93. Medicaid 94. Obamacare 95. Medicare Drug Prices 96. Medicaid Work Requirement 97. Drug Safe Havens 98. VA Privatization 99. World Health Organization 100. Climate Change 101. Oil Drilling 102. Fracking 103. Alaska Wildlife Refuge 104. Paris Climate Agreement 105. Alternative Energy 106. Dakota Access Pipeline 107. Plastic Products Ban 108. Animal Testing 109. Corporate Subsidies 110. Foreign Lobbying 111. Electoral College 112. Voter Fraud 113. Campaign Finance (reform) 114. Right of Foreigners to Vote 115. Lobbyists 116. Minimum Voting Age (lower/raise) 117. Candidate Transparency 118. Criminality Among Politicians 119. Police Body Cameras 120. Defund the Police 121. Qualified Immunity for Police 122. Demilitarize the Police 123. Privatized Prisons 124. Mandatory Minimum Prison Sentencing 125. Solitary Confinement (particularly for juveniles) 125. Police Collective Bargaining 126. Criminals’ Voting Rights 127. Drug Trafficking Penalties 128. Prison Overcrowding 129. Immigration (general) 130. Border Wall(s) 131. Immigration Healthcare 132. Illegal Immigrant Detainment 133. Immigration Bans 134. Muslim Immigrant Bans 135. Border Security (general) 136. Sanctuary Cities 137. Deportation of Criminal Immigrants 138. Immigrant Laborers 139. Citizenship Testing 140. Skilled Immigrants 141. In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrants 142. Immigrant Assimilation (learn English 143. Dual Citizenship 144. Mandatory Vaccinations 145. Nuclear Energy 146. GMO Labeling 147. Space Exploration 148. Public Transportation 149. NATO/US Defend Ukraine 150. Mandatory Military Service 151. NATO (stay/leave) 152. Israel (support) 153. United Nations (stay/leave) 154. Foreign Election Influence 155. Military Spending 156. Iran (war) 157. Foreign Aid (increase/decrease) 158. Torture 159. Ukraine Join NATO 160. World Bank/IMF Aid Taliban Government 161. Drones/Drone Strikes 162. Syrian Refugees 163. Terrorism (terrorists’ rights) 164. India Armed by US 165. NATO (US defend other NATO members) 166. Cuba 167. Jerusalem Capitol of Israel 168. North Korea Military Strikes 169. F-35 170. Homeless Encampments 171. Military Action Without Congressional Approval 172. Foreign Assassinations 173. 2016 Election 174. 2020 Election

Whew! That’s a lot of topics! To be honest I didn’t read through the whole list before copying it here. I want to actually write about everything on the list. Of course, some will be shorter answers than others. Most of these will require a lot of thought and more than simple one-word, yes/no answers. That’s part of what I see as wrong with American politics. Politicians are skilled at and are expected to give short, pithy responses to essentially all of these topics at any moment. However, some of them are way too complicated to be boiled down to a one-liner answer. I do look forward to so many options for so much content!

Bike at night in American Village, Okinawa, Japan; Hand-held 150 ISO Film

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Freedom of Speech

Before I get started let me say "I'm sorry."  I know I probably don't really have regular readers, but if I do, I know I haven't posted regularly since December!  I've had writer's block and then I went on a business trip in January and started classes.  Now my classes are over and I'm going to try to get back into blogging more.

It may seem odd to you, what with a title like "Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness," that I don't often blog about political ideas.  I know, sometimes I think I ought to change the name of my blog to reflect my thoughts, but in a sense I feel that regardless of my specific topic, it always falls under those liberties.  However, today I want to talk about something I've been thinking about for a couple days now, the freedom of speech.

As with all rights, I feel that this right also ends when it infringes on someone else's rights.  Some may claim that my position on abortion doesn't make sense in light of my position on the death penalty, but in the sense that one's right to life ends when it infringes on someone else's right to life it makes perfect sense (at least to me).  The freedom of speech though is a bit tougher concept though.  In a literal sense one's speech cannot ever really infringe on someone's right to life/speech/etc., unless you count someone simply yelling so loud that no one else is able to speak at all.  In the light of the Charlie Hebdo incident, this debate about the freedom of speech including the right to offend, and this debate about liberals stifling intellectual diversity on campus; I've had to rethink what it means to infringe on one's freedom of speech.  First, is hate speech a thing?  Does it exist and what does it look like?  Second, how can one infringe on another's right to speech with speech?  Can that ever happen? And third, are there other ways to infringe on freedom of speech and expression?  Can and does that happen?

So, hate speech, what is it?  Should the government regulate/restrict it?  What about decency?  Should the government regulate that?  Wikipedia has two definitions that are quite significantly different: "[O]utside the law, speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as gender, ethnic origin, religion, race, disability, or sexual orientation."  That definition is way too broad, it's basically saying, hate speech is any bigoted communication.  Is saying that you dislike someone because of X characteristic wrong?  That seems clearly covered in free speech.  If you want free speech you have to be willing to sometimes be offended.  Offensive speech is not and should not be defined and enforced by law.  It's a slippery slope to over-censorship.  The second definition is better: "In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by certain characteristics." (emphasis added)  If I say, "So-and-So (S&S) is a jerk."  I'm not using hate speech!  That, by itself is not hate speech.  If I say, "S&S is a jerk and you ought to hate S&S too, S&S did this, that, and the other (all true), so you need to get on board with hating S&S.  If you don't hate S&S you're wrong.  S&S is evil incarnate, etc. etc."  That seems pretty clear cut to me, that is hate speech.  I'm encouraging and even shaming you into hating or treating S&S in a particularly bad way.  Notice what I didn't include there.  If I say S&S is doing some sin, like homosexuality or stealing etc.  That is not hate speech.  Perhaps it borders on indecent speech, as in, I don't walk up to people every day and confront them in their sin.  In fact if you do, you're not following the Bible's guidelines on that, as Christians are supposed to confront other Christians on their sins, not non-Christians.  That's not to say that sermons and evangelists ought not talk about the doctrines around sin, it's just that evangelism in a sense doesn't really need to tell people that they're sinners.  Romans 1:18, 19 makes it clear that people, really, deep down know when they sin.  It may be offensive to some of you, but really think about what you've done in your life and I'm sure you'll see that every time you've done something that is wrong, deep down you knew it was so and felt remorse for doing it.  (This does not necessarily include psychopaths, that's an issue for another discuss/time.)

So, hate speech is when someone incites or tries to incite hatred and mistreatment of a person or group of people.  Saying someone has sinned is not hatred.  Indeed if you think about the message of the Gospel, it's one of the most loving things a person can do.  But I digress.  The next (and arguably more important) question is, "Should the government regulate/enforce hate speech laws?"  Before I get started on this, don't say, "you can't legislate morality."  That's complete crap.  All legislation, even seemingly unrelated legislative acts, are a form of legislating morality.  So, in a sense I'd be perfectly happy with legislated speech, but in another sense that scares me quite a bit.  If you listen to second debate I mentioned above, about liberals stifling intellectual freedom on campus, you'll hear arguments that on campuses all around the U.S. liberals are trampling on the freedom of speech.  That's one of my fears on this issue.  I know that rights, once given up to the government, will never be gotten back.  And, if the government is going to restrict free speech, it will most likely err on the side of liberal ideals.  There should be at least some limitation on speech, hate speech should certainly be treated as different than free speech.  I certainly don't have a problem with the right to free speech including a certain amount of offensive speech, but there should be a limit.  I don't want the government to draw that line though.  If people would have more self restraint, we wouldn't need government intervention.

Let's look at infringements on free speech.  As I often repeat, one's rights end where they infringe on another's rights, but that's much more nuanced when it comes to speech.  In a very literal sense there's not really a way to use one's speech to restrict someone else's free speech (excluding the already mentioned possibility of using a super megaphone).  However, there is a way of using one's speech to minimize or marginalize someone to the point that they are not able to speak freely.  Say for example, people call me a bigot or intolerant so much that I'm no longer respected (not that I'm really all that respected).  Those people can use their freedom to speak their mind (even in an offensive way), to the extreme point that restricts my freedom to express my opinions.  This is obviously more nebulous than murder, assault, etc., but the point is still there you can use free speech to limit someone else's freedom of speech.  However, the same comments all apply with regards to litigation.  It would be a terrible idea for the government to try to limit free speech in order to limit this type of abuse of the freedom.  It is too nuanced to be dealt with by legislation, and the right to free speech includes some amount of the right to offend.  No matter what position one takes, we must all be prepared to accept the idea that someone will probably say something that will offend us.  Offense is a regular part of freedom to express oneself.

There are other, more obvious ways people, especially those in positions of power, can limit other's freedom of speech.  As the debate mentioned above and some of the research conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education indicates, liberal administrators on college campuses all around the U.S. are doing just that.  They are using their positions of influence to restrict or limit various groups' freedom of speech.  The vast majority of academics are decidedly liberal, and in many cases they are using their positions of authority to limit conservatives' freedom of speech.  That's a scary thought.  If free speech is restricted, it will be on the side of liberals, and against conservatives.  I am a conservative, well, sort of.  Regardless, I hope the government keeps its nose out of free speech.  However, with free speech, comes a price tag ... be prepared to be offended, and that's okay.  Free speech, will mean that someone will eventually step on your toes, and that's okay.

Image source here.