Cold Feet about the First Amendment…?

Cold Feet about the First Amendment…?

Those who, out of fear, would willingly throw away the right to free speech, our birthright as Americans and the foundation of democratic government, would do well to pay heed to Justice Marshall’s words –

“History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure. The World War II Relocation-camp cases, and the Red Scare and McCarthy-era internal subversion cases, are only the most extreme reminders that when we allow fundamental freedoms to be sacrificed in the name of real or perceived exigency, we invariably come to regret it.”

–Justice Thurgood Marshall’s dissenting opinion in Skinner v. Railway Labor

This is not only what has happened in our country but it is the history of nations. The fear mongerers are at it…right now. Both on the left and the right.

 

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Note to my son…

Note to my son…

Part of the broader paradox that is human existence is this notion, proven true by experience, that it’s the trials and challenges that make us better, stronger, kinder, more refined people. This principle has been stated albeit with differing levels of hopefulness by those on both sides of the theist/anti-theist divide.

This notion as a biblical principle is announced variously by Job…But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. (Job 23:10). And by King David…For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. (Psalm 66:10). And, of course, with a less hopeful more self-reliant tone by the ubermensch anti-theist Nietzsche, who declared…That which does not kill us makes us stronger.

As a young lawyer it was apparent to me that only those who were willing to stand and risk very public failure – and all the attendant embarrassment – would eventually rise above to a more noble place – the place of mastery in the pursuit of that extremely difficult to reach thing called justice. Along the way there were innumerable put downs by those both within and without the camp. Bosses as naysayers and opponents as naysayers. Judges who sought to protect their own ugly agendas. Clients who were unappreciative despite being served above and beyond. I often felt alone. And after enduring all this, justice itself was still too often elusive. And yet all of it was of great value to me. I would change nothing.

Dream bigger son…and reach for the highest things. What else could you do?

…then all things are permissible.

If what’s divine is shuttled in the name of modernity and technology and progress then good and evil are likewise left behind…the irrelevant detritus of a bygone age. And…

“When you pass beyond good and evil, you pass into the realm where might is right, and where anything that reminds you of the old moral values-for instance, a large Jewish community-stands in your way and must be obliterated.”                                                                                                              – NT Wright, Evil and the Justice of God

This is the hopelessness of contemporary life….the false promise of materialism, technology, and science – and their delivery of meaninglessness and the consequent destruction of any notion of human dignity.

As Ivan said,  if God does not exist…then all things are permissible.