Sunday, March 27, 2005

Links!

A while back I wrote contrary opinion to a famous pro choice essay by Judith Jarvis Thomson. At Right Reason, Francis Beckwith gives us a vivid counter example to Thompson's: The Baby on the Porch. An amazing French woman has successfully paddled across the Pacific Ocean. It seems she was looking for a challenge after doing the same on the Atlantic. Is there anyone in Canada who speaks for us specifically and not "world opinion" as clearly as Robert Bork does in this essay?
What is really alarming about Roper and other cases citing foreign law (six justices now engage in that practice) is that the Court, in tacit coordination with foreign courts, is moving toward a global bill of rights. Neither our courts nor the foreign courts are bound by actual constitutions. Prof. Lino Graglia was quite right when he said that “the first and most important thing to know about American constitutional law is that it has virtually nothing to do with the Constitution.” That is certainly the case with the Bill of Rights. From abortion to homosexual sodomy, from religion to political speech and pornography, from capital punishment to discrimination on the basis of race and sex, the Court is steadily remaking American political, social, and cultural life. As Justice Antonin Scalia once said in dissent, “Day by day, case by case, [the Court] is busy designing a Constitution for a country I do not recognize.” The courts of the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, and almost all Western countries are doing the same thing, replacing the meaning of their charters with their own preferences. Nor are these judicial alterations random. The culture war evident in the United States is being waged internationally, both within individual nations and in international institutions and tribunals. It is a war for dominance between two moral visions of the future. One is the liberal-elite preference for radical personal autonomy and the other is the general public’s desire for some greater degree of community and social authority. Elite views are fairly uniform across national boundaries, and since American and foreign judges belong to elites and respond to elite views, judge-made constitutions tend to converge. It hardly matters what particular constitutions say or were understood to mean by those who adopted them. Judges are not, of course, the only forces for a new elite global morality. Governments and non-governmental organizations are actively promoting treaties, conventions, and new institutions (the International Criminal Court, for example) that embody their view that sovereignty and nation-states are outmoded and that we must move toward regional or even global governance. American self-government and sovereignty would be submerged in a web of international regulations. The Supreme Court, in decisions like Roper, adds constitutional law to the web. That is the one strand, given our current acceptance of judicial supremacy, that cannot be rejected democratically. What is clear is that foreign elites understand the importance of having the Supreme Court on their side, which is precisely why their human-rights organizations have begun filing amicus briefs urging our Supreme Court to adopt the foreign, elite view of the American Constitution.
It seems that the trend for constitutional government is beginning to wane. One can have a country without a written constitution, of course, but that might be the hard way to do it. Without a respected constitution or a monarchy, what will put the brakes on the machinations of the most powerful people and classes? The historical record on this is not very good and the Bible gives us no shortage of warnings about the predations of the powerful. They're doing this "for the people"? Please. We don't want or need the pity of people who do not understand us. How to respond to accusations that the Nazi's where "right wing extremists":
National Socialism is often classified as a “right-wing” political philosophy. The reason for this has less to do with an honest and careful analysis of the content of Nazi ideology than with a desire to smear conservatives by associating them with Hitler and company. In fact there was nothing remotely conservative about Nazism, in any usual sense of “conservative.” Hating capitalism and bourgeois civilization as they did, the Nazis were as far as one could possibly be from the Whiggish conservatism of Burke; despising traditional Christianity and desirous of substituting the F├╝hrerprinzip for conventional sources of political authority, they were equally far from the Throne and Altar conservatism of de Maistre. Nor were the Nazis interested in conserving traditional institutions of any sort. Their aim was to impose a radically modern pseudoscientific ideology based on a vulgarized Darwinism. They were, in this respect, as “progressive” as their equally pseudoscientific and vulgar Marxist rivals, two peas on opposite sides of the socialist pod. That the one side preferred crackpot race theory to crackpot economics does not show that it was any less a child of the “Enlightenment.” In both cases we have what are by themselves ordinary and decent human feelings – a sense of fellowship with one’s countrymen, compassion for the poor – warped beyond all recognition and transformed into the sort of thing Burke called “armed doctrines,” cold and inhuman rationalistic abstractions that flatten out the complexity of real human life, implemented by equally cold and inhuman ideologues who are utterly contemptuous of that complexity.
Here is a look at Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, one year later:
As in-your-face as Passion was in portraying the offend-everyone truth about Jesus' crucifixion, it didn't explain the movie's impact on friend and foe alike; nor the ruckus; nor the peculiarly venomous hissings about violence and pornography with which the movie was greeted by critics not otherwise noted for taking offense at violence and pornography. No, as the dust settled over the course of the last year, and especially after the damning-with-faint-praise Oscar nominations, I became convinced that what, above all, the militant seculars in the arts and entertainment industry cannot abide about this religiously orthodox movie is that it is original, that it is bold, and that it is art. "When people have told me that because I am a Catholic, I cannot be an artist," Flannery O'Connor once wrote, addressing the vexing problem that the Christian novelist of our time is writing for a largely hostile audience, "I have had to reply, ruefully, that because I am a Catholic, I cannot afford to be less than an artist." Let's be honest here: much, perhaps most of what we Christian writers, artists, and filmmakers have produced in the last few decades has been, at best, workmanlike but conventional, and at worst, confectioned piety laid on with a trowel. With such comfortingly treacly examples to hand, we needn't be surprised that enemies of Christianity, heretofore confident of their cutting-edge sensibilities and artistic superiority, felt suddenly threatened by this independently produced box-office behemoth.
Here is an idependent film that looks promising: Unscrewed. This is something quite different for NWW, but which I am passing along because it is so useful. Cartest! is an excellent guide to car buying and shopping, and it's Canadian too! It has lots of content, including links to sites where you can get estimates for the price of any car you wish to buy or sell.

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