Freedom and the new comment system

Thanks, everybody, for trying out the new World Table comment system.  I can relate to the frustrations some of you are registering.  Thanks also to Jack Donaldson of World Table for commenting on the various threads.  We should rate him as “helpful,” “strongly agree.”  He wrote me an e-mail with the subject “Wow! Loving your community!”  That shows a great attitude, given how many of you were “rating” his system rather poorly, but he is right to be impressed with your thoughtfulness and your high level of discourse.  He said this:  “Great feedback coming in so far. I’ve been in the thread answering people’s questions this morning. So far, most everything mentioned is in the works, but we are feeling the pressure, having heard a ton of feedback from your folks.”  We’ll see what happens with all of this.

Anyway, one larger point was raised that deserves discussion in itself.  Is this attempt to create a climate of civility by means of an algorithm part of the same syndrome that has given us politically correct speech codes, trigger warnings, and the hypersensitivity to being offended that shuts down the freedom of speech?  The syndrome that we have mocked and criticized on this very blog?  Do we have such thin skins that we need to be protected from other commenters, lest our feelings be hurt?

I’d like to hear what you think about this, but I think there is a difference in what this new comment system is trying to do, which I will explain after the jump. [Read more...]

Freedom reconsidered

Now that the truths that were foundational to the American republic–that there is a Creator who is the basis for human equality and rights that transcend the state–are no longer self-evident, we are starting to see a rethinking of everything America used to stand for.  For example, Princeton professor Philip Pettit, in a book entitled Just Freedom, argues that we need to do away with the “libertarian” notion of individual freedom.  Instead, we should pursue “democratic freedom,” based on the liberty of groups not to be dominated by another group.

Liberal think-tanker Danielle Allen explains, after the jump. [Read more...]

Bondage vs. Freedom

Our pastor said that each one of us is a “filthy, rotten, putrid, maggot-infested cesspool of a sinner.”  But he meant it in a nice way.   See his Reformation Sunday sermon, drawn from John 8:31-36, on the bondage of sin and the freedom that Christ gives.  Excerpt after the jump. [Read more...]

Freedom vs. slavery

In church last Sunday, Pastor Douthwaite’s sermon dealt with the question St. Paul raises, Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? (Romans 6:12-23).  In doing so, he explored the paradox that much of what the world calls freedom, the Bible calls slavery. [Read more...]

Corporate assaults on freedom

When we think of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and other civil liberties, we usually think of the way the government has violated or could potentially violate them.  The Bill of Rights limits what the government can do and thus is an important safe guard of its citizens’ freedom.  And yet, the government is not the only institution that can quench civil liberties, as we see in the Duck Dynasty controversy.  Phil Robertson’s freedom of speech and his freedom of religion were punished not by the government but by the Arts & Entertainment Network, along with the corporations that sponsor his show.

Corporations are not restricted by the Bill of Rights.   Nor is the more generalized “social pressure” that comes from cultural disapproval. But individuals who are silenced by corporations–which in some ways have more power than the government–are not free.  Individuals whose religion is persecuted by the society–whether from mobs or cultural sanctions–are not free. [Read more...]

Which friend informed on you?

Another in our series of posts about what it’s like to live without the freedoms that we Americans often take for granted (see also this and this.):

A story on why Germans are so upset about NSA eavesdropping gives some chilling details about what life was like under East German communism, with the secret police (STASI) paying one out of 50 citizens to inform on their friends and relatives, sending them to years of prison for remarks criticizing the government or expressing other forbidden thoughts.  To this day, ex-political prisoners sometimes run into their torturers in the grocery store.  It’s also possible to request your STASI file, which lets you see which friend or relative was reporting on you.

Notice how totalitarianism interferes with and corrupts the most basic human relationships.

[Read more...]


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