Another gem from our friend Dr. Thomas Krannawitter. In response to the smug “comedy” of Larry Wilmore and the Daily Show.
We live in an age when jokers on Comedy Central are viewed by many of our fellow citizens as deep thinkers and thought leaders. Case in point, below.
Now, I am certainly not opposed to comedy. Going through life with a sense of humor makes life much better. I spend a good deal of my days laughing, and I often find that the most amusing among us are those who take themselves most seriously.
I also admit readily that an intelligent joke can contain within it elements of philosophic insight. A joke can be enlightening. That is how many on Comedy Central present themselves: They appear to be offering thoughtful commentary about important subjects through the medium of humor. But when or if they are called on the carpet, they backpedal and duck for cover by dismissing themselves as “mere” comedians or entertainers. That self-dismissal, however, does not stop many others from continuing to take them seriously.
But this gaffe is too important to let pass. More, it’s not merely being repeated by jokers: The same criticisms regarding Justice Clarence Thomas’s recent dissenting opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges are being leveled in sober tones by Slate, MSNBC, and the Huffington Post among others. Even “Sulu” from Star Trek, also known as lefty activist George Takei, got in on the action by calling Justice Thomas “a clown in blackface.”
The lack of decorum being displayed is exceeded only by the sheer ignorance of those on display. The rub centers around this passage, found on pages 16-17 of Justice Thomas’s dissent:
>> Human dignity has long been understood in this country to be innate….The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. <<
Justice Thomas is spot on correct. But for those who disagree, such as the humorously erudite Larry Wilmore and many others, let them consider the following scenario, one that was all too common in the days of slavery:
A black man is held as a slave by a white slave owner, in full COMPLIANCE with the LAW, in Alabama in 1855. The black slave was found talking with other slaves about planning an escape. As punishment and as a deterrent against future attempts to escape, the white slave owner has tied the black slave to a tree and is tearing the flesh of the slave’s back with a whip, repeatedly.
INTERPRETATION A: The law has stripped all dignity and all rights from the slave. The law has even taken away the slave’s humanity: he is no longer human. Therefore, as a non-human, it is NOT WRONG for the white slave owner to claim the slave as nothing but property to buy, sell, or otherwise dispense with as he pleases.
INTERPRETATION B: The law states that the slave possesses no dignity and no rights. The law, in many regards, even denies the slave’s humanity. The law treats the slave as nothing but property to be bought, sold, or otherwise dispensed with, however the owner chooses. By nature, however, the slave is a man, a human being. By nature, the slave possesses the same equal natural rights and the same equal innate dignity as does every other human being. And THEREFORE the laws propping up slavery are WRONG and slavery itself is WRONG.
With which interpretation do the smarts folks at Comedy Central, Slate, MSNBC, and the Huffington Post agree: A or B? With which interpretation does Mr. Sulu agree?
Justice Thomas agrees with B. So did Abraham Lincoln. And for that agreement, rooted in a deeply philosophical understanding of the nature of moral right, Justice Thomas is mocked and scorned is his day just as Lincoln was mocked and scorned in his. Shame on those people doing the mocking and scorning.
Perhaps the reason such people clamor constantly for more and more government power is because they are too dim to understand why or how government policies can be grossly, inhumanely, cruelly, disgustingly and immorally WRONG. My recommendation for such people: Try learning something and thinking before you go in public to influence how others think. You’re not only an embarrassment, you’re doing positive harm.
Krannawitter continues with another post:
Simply stated: A law that calls a man a cow is wrong, because a man by nature is no cow. The law — and government in general — cannot change the nature of a thing. That is why laws allowing slavery are wrong. That is why slavery is wrong.
I am sure few if any liberals would agree with A. But they also would be reluctant to agree with B. Why? Because thinking through B leads to the idea that our human freedom, or natural “rights,” are innate, woven right into the human nature we all share. This leads to the proposition that the only legitimate purpose of government is to protect the freedoms and rights we already have by nature. This is a very limited purpose for government. And a government of limited purpose should be a government of limited power. This is the foundation for the very concept of limited, constitutional government — something leftists tend to reject.
It also leads to the idea that government and law should offer EQUAL protection for all who live under the law because each and every person possess the same human nature, and therefore the same, equal natural freedoms and rights. The idea of true equal protection of the laws is something else the modern progressive left rejects.
So leftists often are find themselves in this odd position where they denounce the evils of slavery, but they never explain WHY slavery is wrong. And usually, they never have to explain why because most decent people today agree that slavery is wrong. But if we don’t know WHY slavery is wrong, how are we supposed to prevent the same unjust principles from creeping back into our laws and policies?
If you ask typical conservatives, or typical elected Republicans, what they think about A and B, I honestly don’t know what they’d say. Probably a mixed reaction. The vast majority of conservative intellectuals over the last seven decades have dismissed or attacked the principles of the Founding, including the ideas of natural human equality and equal natural rights. And in terms of typical elected Republicans, I don’t think they even know what these ideas mean because they tend to know little about the history of their own country and the history of their own Party.