Monday, May 22, 2006

Beware the inquisition

The always erudite Wretchard quotes Andrew Sullivan and then goes on to note something interesting. First, Sullivan:
a follower of Opus Dei, Ruth Kelly, is now the Equality Minister in the Blair cabinet, bringing calls for removal from some gay groups. I think those groups are mistaken. Kelly has every right to her religious faith; and she has also publicly insisted that as a public servant, her first loyalty is to uphold the laws as they stand. That's exactly the right position; and exactly the right distinction between faith and politics.
Writes Wretchard:
One indicator of how much the early 21st century has come to resemble the era of religious wars is the revival in various guises of the concept of cuius regio, eius religio "a phrase in Latin that means 'whose rule, his religion'." The Free Dictionary notes that cuius regio eius religio forms the basis for state sponsored religions, and once granted that Political Correctness constitutes a religion in all but name it becomes apparent that all candidates for high or official positions will become subject to a doctrinal test. The Inquisition returns in its modern form, asking after Blasphemy and Witchcraft - put differently of course.
It is perfectly understandable that a democratic populace would want to be sure that members of its government will uphold the laws as they stand. That is what the Rule of Law is all about, after all. Yet surely this cannot be legitimately extended to mean that government members cannot argue for appealing or even repealing current laws. Nether can it be argued that some "sensitive issues" are simply beyond the reach of public debate. To do so would impoverish our democratic institutions and our understanding of the issue at hand. Such Democratic ghettos can't be the solution; this is the step to the unnamed state religion Wretchard notes above.
The only thing beyond debate is the Rule of Law itself - and, I argue, the inherent dignity of every human being. Bringing either of those into question is a recipe for disaster. Thankfully in Canada, no one is seriously questioning the rule of law. The Conservatives fiscal starving of the gun registry might be creative use of federal power, but the budget is fully within the legitimate powers of the government. The opposition could have failed to pass the budget but were unwilling to pay that price. That is their choice. As far as electoral abuses go, this is probably on shakier moral ground. Unless those involved stop hiding who they are by claiming to be "everyman".
If you're "everyman", who is your opposition? Power. This is delegitimization, pure and simple. Opposition to MP Emerson's crossing the floor will have to use legal means to bring about the changes it seeks, and that means any amendments will be too late to affect Emerson himself.
Of course, we still have a long way to go as regards the dignity of every human being.

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