Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Commenting on Do Rags, Dresses for Guys and JP's Saying No

Xanthippa Makes It an Open Discussion

I wrote a piece the other day here, that Blazing Cat Fur picked up on, and on his site various of us commented on further. The piece was about tiny Morehouse College making a policy about clothing for its all male students, like no dresses, do rags or pants at your knees. I also wrote about Keith Bardwell the JP in Louisiana who chose not to perform the marriage of a mixed race couple, because of his concern for the children of the marriage and for the marriage itself. The couple were able to be married by another JP, but the wife particularly is furious with Bardwell that he would deny her her rights, and blah, blah, blah. In other words it was all about her, and how dare he.

I still stand on what I said, but Xanthippa particularly raised interesting questions in what became a bit of a debate. Here is much of the thread that followed in the comments:

Xanthippa started the debate part of the show, after the usual fun and frivolity that accompanies some of BCF's postings:
OK - I may not be expressing a popular opinion here - but I do so knowing it will not be banned or dismissed out of hand: and that's a compliment.

Because, I do think this is something we DO need to have a clear and open debate on...

When people - individuals - are acting on behalf of the state, they cannot put their personal opinions or beliefs above the rules of that state.


Because a state can only act THROUGH its agents. And, when acting on behalf of the state, these agents, in a very real sense, ARE the state.

And while it is nobody's business but their own what they do in their private capacity, what principles they choose to uphold and which rules they choose to live by, while they EMBODY the state, they must not represent any positions which are contrary to the state's.

Of course, if the state's rules are contrary to the individual agent's personal principles or beliefs, that person must not be forced to continue to be an agent of the state. They MUST have the freedom to quit!

In this way, if a State has passed laws/established rules which are abhorrent to its populace, it will find that no person is willing to act as its agent - and the State will collapse. THAT is the 'counterweight', the BALANCE, in this process.

If people who are acting as agents of the state were able to arbitrarily choose which laws they agree with - and will therefore enforce - and which they will not...and these people do not (or, cannot) loose their jobs, then there is no consistency in how the law is applied, when it is not...

The result is worse than anarchy!

Well, as it was my original piece that was linked to BCF's blog, I responded:

OK, X. Who said you wouldn't be banned or dismissed out of hand? You think this is so anti-HRC that dissenting opinion is acceptable?

Well, OK. Your points and thoughts are interesting, and logical.

In the case of the JP in Louisiana and also in the case in Saskatchewan where a marriage commissioner refused to marry a gay couple, both because of their beliefs, both couples were able to do the deed with another qualified person. Both JPs were trying to exercise their freedom rights, unalienable in the US and fundamental in Canada.

If the law of the land is contrary to their beliefs in some areas, but most of their work is able to be done within the law, and there are available others capable of doing the odious (in their mind) heavy lifting, that hardly qualifies as anarchy.

Rather, it should be refreshing to us as a society that government employees actually show us that they have a brain of their own, which happens very seldom. Here, and I thought they brought hat racks to work with them.

In both of these cases, somebody's feelings got hurt, because somebody disagreed with them, and in this "I'm for me. Who are you for?" world we live in that is what is not acceptable.

It is time for all of us to question what our governments are telling us is the way, the truth, and the life, and use the brains God gave us to seek the truth out, and then to act upon it.

Now, if only our politicians would stand up for what they claim to believe to be true, instead of what is politically correct under the breezes of the moment, then we might really see something, and it might look like a bit of anarchy along the way.

But, the Phantom snuck one in unannounced, though he had joined the earlier banter, as he had posted on the Morehouse College policy here.

Xanthippa said: "...if a State has passed laws/established rules which are abhorrent to its populace, it will find that no person is willing to act as its agent - and the State will collapse."

Unfortunately Xan, history demonstrates there is no state so abhorrent that it can't find people to work for it. Recent history as well as ancient, and by recent I mean this year. (Have you flown lately? Talk about abhorrent!)

Abhorrent states do not collapse unless pushed from the outside or destroyed from the inside by their own corruption.

Therefore employees of a free state -must- exercise their own judgment and initiative to protect the freedom and dignity of both themselves and their fellow citizens/customers.

Besides, they will anyway Xan. People don't become robotic just because they work for the license bureau. They're pretending. :)

The Phantom also opined, which I subsequently blogged on here:

Xanthippa, case in point: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/politics/Firefight-Over-the-Red-White-and-Blue-64647657.html

Bottom line, managers too dumb to know not to tell firemen to take the American flag off their lockers.

This is really the same thing as the men only college having to ban women's clothing, just the reverse case. People have to use their brains, and they aren't.

Then Revnant chimed in with this. Don't know where that came from in this discussion, but it's still an interesting point:

The only light left is Israel. They may be the only ones to save Western civilization. America is now in the process of handing over its sovereignty to International interests.

Now, Xanthippa is back online with this response for the Phantom here:

@ The Phantom:

I agree with you with much of what you say - but not all.

For example, I don't think there should ever be a school (public or private) which selects its students on the basis of their sex. That is indefensible - both morally and, as I understand fundamental rights, legally. I am one of those people who considers sexual segregation inappropriate, regardless of the situation.

As for the banning male students from wearing female clothing - that is just silly... Yes, I know someone (male)who often wore skirts and dresses to high-school. So what! Nobody cared, nobody made a big deal about it, and he soon got tired of the absence of a reaction and started wearing his 'regular' clothes...

No, I have not flown lately. Nor do I intend to. I am exercising my choice not to subject myself to the airport 'security procedures'.

I agree with you that employees of a free state MUST exercise their own judgment - and the rest of what you said on that. However, I disagree with you in the 'how'.

Yes, I understand that what I am suggesting is highly idealized and not likely to happen in the 'real' world. I get that. What I am talking about is the 'ideal' we ought to espouse and aspire to.

In this - highly idealized and theoretical argument - I am proposing that the most appropriate and most moral WAY in which the civil servants OUGHT TO (cap use is for emphasis, not shouting...) demonstrate the sentiment YOU expressed by refusing to continue to be 'agents of the state'.

In other words, I am (again, we are talking what we ought to aspire to, not what I expect) stating that 'the State's rules' are an indivisible package: either you ARE and agent of said State, or you are NOT. Either you accept that the State has moral authority to enforce its rules - all its rules - or you do not. If you do NOT accept the full package, then it is IMMORAL for you to continue to be an agent of said state.

She then took me to task as follows:


Much of my response overlaps my response to The Phantom... I am arguing a theoretical moral ideal and understand that reality hardly ever lives up to it. Still, recognizing that should not cause us to lower that moral ideal because doing so will only result in slow, but certain, lowering of the 'rung'....so to say.

Yes, as you say, both sides 'feelings got hurt'. However, the two sides are NOT equals and must not be treated as such.

One side - free citizens, who are attempting to officially inform the state of their marriage. That is what 'signing a marriage certificate is for: to notify the state of their status and thus have it legally recognized.

In other words, these are citizens attempting to comply with the State's official rules regarding marriage.

On the other side was an agent of that state, refusing to fulfill his/her duty and permit these citizens to comply with the State's law.


Because this particular agent of the State put some other set of laws above the ones which he/she was supposed to embody and represent.

It is irrelevant whether another agent stepped in, or not. It is unrelated to the argument I am making.

We have a system. If we do not like a law, it is our DUTY to take all the legal means to change it.

But until that law is changed, it is morally indefensible to not abide by that law. Especially for people who are supposed to be the agents of the State.

After all, our laws are an agreement among us, the citizens, about how we will behave and treat each other.

Yes, I support 'breaking the law in order to bring a legal challenge' so that the law will be changed - but there are rules as to how and when that is done, to.... That is clearly not the case here.

Sorry for the length - this is, I think, a very important issue. It is about the balance of rights and freedoms - something we must never stop debating and trying to improve. And, I suspect that I draw the line about what is 'moral' and what is 'immoral' and what factors ought to be considered when balancing the right at a very different place than many of BCFs regular readers do. Thank you.

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