Liberals used to champion individual freedom, including religious liberty. But, argues Family Policy Institute scholar Joseph Backholm, that concern has shifted to a new set of values centered around tolerance, the need to prevent anyone from being discriminated against. To the point that some Democratic lawmakers and the American Civil Liberties Union are now opposing religious liberty laws they themselves wrote! After the jump, read Backholm’s essay Why the Left Abandoned Religious Freedom. [Read more…]
Mollie Hemingway has written a piece in the Wall Street Journal about the impact of gay marriage on religious liberty, which is being construed as applying only to religious institutions and not to individuals. [Read more…]
The same Congressional coalition of Tea Party conservatives and far-left liberals that blocked an attack on Syria also came close to reining in the NSA surveillance program. Washington Post political columnist Greg Sargent sees an on-going alliance coming together. [Read more…]
A Senate committee approved a “media shield” bill designed to protect journalists from having to reveal their sources and giving them protection from government surveillance. In doing so, the bill defines who gets to be a journalist. To get these protections, you have to be a paid, professional employee of a recognized news organization. Bloggers aren’t protected. I might be because of my past work for World Magazine. But not, presumably, Matt Drudge, who has often broken stories from confidential sources, including President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Beyond this particular law is a bigger question. The Constitution guarantees freedom of “the press.” Is that to apply only to professional journalists? Or to those who own printing presses, namely, newspaper companies and publishing houses? At the time of the Constitution, individuals like Ben Franklin–who could hardly be considered a professional news reporter– ran their own printing presses, printing their political opinions and commenting on the news of the day. The internet in effect allows just about everybody to have their own printing press. Shouldn’t freedom of the press extend to what you write on a blog or your FaceBook page?
And might other Constitutional rights be restricted by defining who they apply to? Isn’t this already happening in the way some are construing civil liberties? “You have the right to keep and bear arms. That is, you have the right to join the National Guard and to keep your arms in the local armory.” “You have freedom of religion. No one will stop you from going to church, and we won’t make your church pay for morning after pills. Just don’t act on your religious beliefs in the way you run your business.” “You have freedom of speech, which entitles you to use pornography. But don’t criticize homosexuality in public.” [Read more…]
Citizens of Colorado voted for the right to smoke marijuana, but they have also voted or the right to own firearms. In a recall election, this blue state ousted two state legislators who pushed anti-gun laws. Might this be another example of a leftwing/rightwing alliance for civil liberties? [Read more…]
James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, had been asked in a Congressional committee if the U.S. government was collecting data on millions of Americans. He said, no. But now with news about PRISM and other data mining programs, he is being accused of perjury. But what I want to draw attention to is his defense and a great phrase he has entered into the English lexicon:
“I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner by saying no.”