Unenumerated extensions

Here's a wonderful quote with which I wholeheartedly agree:

GUNS AND GAYS: It's often struck me that opposition to gay rights, and opposition to gun ownership, have a lot in common.
So says Glenn Reynolds, whose remark that he'd be "delighted to live in a country where happily married gay couples had closets full of assault weapons" made this blogger happily spill his coffee!

The strange logic at the root of both gun control and penis control was a major reason I started blogging. Gun control and penis control are extensions of the same, um, uh....

I didn't mean for it to come out that way, but I think readers will understand!

It just so happens that in our Bill of Rights, guns were enumerated and penises were not. That does not diminish freedom, nor does it in any way justify those who'd take it away.

My blogfather Jeff weighed in on the enumerated rights issue:

.......common sense is not enumerated in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights and judges do not have to invoke it to support or deny rights based on current beliefs or mores.

This is why there was such an outcry about the Supreme Court decision overturning the sodomy statutes in Texas. I'm glad it happened but I can understand why many were disturbed by it. The natural defense is that the law there violated the right to privacy. I agree with that. The natural opposition to the ruling was that it violated home rule. I almost agree with that.

All too often, people think freedom should be limited according to their own tastes. A friend once told me, "I don't like guns, so I don't think they should be allowed!" Many people feel the same way about gay sex. But freedom isn't about merely doing what you like or allowing others do what you like; it's acknowledging that just as others shouldn't stop you from doing what you like, so should you not stop them, as long as they don't mess with you.

Of course, many people are threatened by the concept of freedom.

As an afterthought, I guess we should count ourselves lucky that at least some rights were enumerated, because with the restrictive view some have of freedom, what would there be left?

In Federalist Number 84, Alexander Hamilton scoffed at the idea that this could happen:

.....bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed?
States alone had most of the power in those days. I am not a states rights fanatic, but it is naive to imagine that the police power once held by the states would just disappear once the kindly and magnanimous federal government took over. It always struck me as safer to see power diffused. Even tyranny, if spotty and localized, is less totalitarian in nature than federal power decreed from above. Drug laws are a perfect example. There is no drug amendment, so under Hamilton's reasoning the federal government is without power to regulate drugs. Which should mean that New York could in theory prohibit marijuana and New Jersey allow it. (Just try that today!) A federal government which bestows freedom in one setting can take it away in another.

(This issue is of course far from settled, even if I'm settling for sleep now.)

posted by Eric on 10.04.04 at 11:04 PM


Come see all the fun on my blog. The moral majority has crawled out of the woodwork. As Robert Heinlein would have said, Mrs. Grundy is alive and well, peering over your fence right now.

Eric   ·  October 5, 2004 2:33 PM

Thanks for coming! I like your blog as well as the idea. (And, of course, the title!)

Hope Mrs. Grundy can stand what she sees....

Eric Scheie   ·  October 5, 2004 11:02 PM

That's a pretty catchy title! Good name too.

Check this post if you're interested in more on this topic. A christian blogger used my post to write one of his own, which led me to respond.


Eric   ·  October 6, 2004 2:37 AM

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