The skewed perspective of a conservative Catholic employee-side employment lawyer living in the most exciting city in the Milky Way, Las Vegas, Nevada USA, who listens to a lot of really strange music and who, for some reason, lives and dies St. Louis Cardinal baseball

3/20/2005

Fair and balanced from John Leo

John Leo is consistently one f the most readable, even-handed and independent-thinking opinion columnists working in the mainstream media. He has excellent column in the March 28, 2005, US News & World Report, pointing out the double standards, a.k.a. hypocrisy, of both the right and left on a host of major issues.

The Left thinks we should look to evolving standards of international law to interpret our Constitution ... except when the international community is way to our right (e.g., abortion). (And, of course, to the multicultural left, "international community" generally means "western Europe").

The Right thinks that power should devolve to the states and we should return to the pre-Earl Warren concept of federalism ... except when the Right wants to impose its agenda on recalcitrant states that may be moving quickly to the Left, such as the gay marriage or euthanasia.

Of course, the Left fares a little worse in the balanced portrait, mainly because the Left engages in such blatant hypocrisy while being so militantly and hysterically anti-hypocrisy. Those of us on the Right don't have as severe a problem with hypocrisy. We recognize that man is imperfect and incapable of perfection, and thus will always fall short of stated ideals. And, we also recognize that "hypocrisy," a.k.a. "little white lies" are sometimes the lubricant that greases the tracks of civilization. So it's not as big of a deal when a conservative engages in hypocrisy as when a leftist spouts off in favor of a blatant double standard.

The two best examples, or "worst," depending on your perspective of left-wing hypocrisy are on the issue of the first amendment right to free speech and the current debate of the filibuster.

The filibuster debate is a mild, and historically uninteresting, bit of hypocrisy. Yeah, when it was Republicans using the filibuster to defeat the will of the Democrat (or progressive) majority, filibustering was evil and the Senate rules had to be changed. Duke Law Professor Edward Chemerinsky comes off as particularly craven in this debate, authoring a paper in the 1990s about how the filibuster must be abolished, when it was being wielded by the R's, but now declaring it to be "unconstitutional" for the R's to rewrite the Senate rules to take this weapon out of the hands of the D's. Giving Chemerinsky the benefit of the doubt and assuming that he is intellectually consistent rather than a craven fraud, his apparent position is: the constitution requires that the Democrats get their way. Either that or he is a weasel. Take your pick.

The free speech debate is more important. Lefty-liberals love to cry about how the Patriot Act in John AshKKKRoft's AmeriKKKa is destroying the first amendment, or how Michael Powell's FCC is squelching free expression, or how denying government money to an "arts" project is destroying the first amendment, yet the Dems not only have no problem with direct assaults on free speech rights, but they demand it.

Campaign finance reform is one issue. I personally think that Justice Clarence Thomas is correct (and right) when he writes that the first amendment does not recognize the distinction between "political speech" and "commercial speech." Both are worthy of constitutional protections. It's precisely that "common sense" interpretation of the plain meaning of the constitution is a big reason I'm such a Clarence Thomas fan. Reasonable people can disagree. And I understand how the commercial speech doctrine developed that it is entitled to a lesser level of protection (kind of "strict scrutiny" versus mere "heightened scrutiny"). But McCain-Feingold jurisprudence turns this on its head: political speech is entitled to significantly less protection. They're not saying it, but any court that refuses to strike down the evil McCain-Feingold bill basically is applying the old "rational basis" test to political speech. And just about nothing gets struck down under a rational basis inquiry. And, somehow, that is viewed as the "progressive" position: hostility to free political speech. Contrast that with the fact that in the worldview of the current Supreme Court majority, as proclaimed by the callow David Souter, the free speech activity of exotic dancing gets full first amendment protections. I guess Justice Souter thinks we're free to attack politicians and urge votes against them only if we're naked. And moving. Preferably to a rhythm track.

Of course, the "speech codes" on many college campuses are the worst affront to free speech currently tolerated. (I am outraged by free speech restrictions on public campuses only: you have no first amendment rights at private, religious, or other non-governmental educational institutions. The first amendment protects against state action only. Sorry.) Yet restricting disagreeable speech that makes leftists "uncomfortable" is the norm on college campuses. It is the "progressive" view. Fighting terrorism, a la the Patriot Act, is not.

That's when leftie hypocrisy can get deadly.
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