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Old 09-09-2008, 02:40 PM   #31
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Do you protect the Mohammed cartoons?
Yes.

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What of piss-Christ?
Yes.

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How about pornography? Or erotica?
In what contexts?

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Or a nude painting? Or a depiction of human form?
Yes.

Wait, I'm confused. Are you saying that calling this guy out for being an idiot equals not defending his right to say whatever stupid thing comes out of his mouth? I can and do defend his right to say whatever he wants. I think it's wonderful that a socio-political system created on the belief that all men have been endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights -- which carries certain Judeo-Christian influence -- allows for someone to vent his spleen about religion and its place in American culture without threat or fear. As I said before, there are billions of people in the world who don't have that fundamental right.

But that sure as sh*t don't mean he can't stand to be corrected.
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Old 09-09-2008, 10:57 PM   #32
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I think it's wonderful that a socio-political system created on the belief that all men have been endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights -- which carries certain Judeo-Christian influence
And I refute that the concept, which was introduced by the naturalistic deist Thomas Jefferson, is a religious one, it is rooted in secular enlightenment values not revealed truth, free speech is not an innately Christian quality nor does it owe terribly much to religion. Rights and liberties are man made, we formalise them and respect them but they are not justified by any power higher than the state. A right to free speech is only guaranteed by preserving an open society which can tolerate different opinions and principles of freedom.

I explicitly deny that free speech is a Christian virtue, for instance that world view does not respect my right to say I deny the holy spirit, if in fact if it were true then I would experience harm for what I think and say.
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Old 09-10-2008, 09:21 AM   #33
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Rights and liberties are man made, we formalise them and respect them but they are not justified by any power higher than the state.
So the state has the ultimate power and say over human rights? Tell that to those who suffer under totalitarian regimes.

The founding fathers knew the flaw in such a mentality, which is why they explicitly appealed to a power higher than the state in their justification of human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and everything that comes from that -- including speech.
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Old 09-10-2008, 09:29 AM   #34
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So the state has the ultimate power and say over human rights? Tell that to those who suffer under totalitarian regimes.

The founding fathers knew the flaw in such a mentality, which is why they explicitly appealed to a power higher than the state in their justification of human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and everything that comes from that -- including speech.
I agree, for the most part, which is why you've got to love the Republicans then, who complain about the "activist judges" who brought us the civil rights in the 1950s and 60s that the state refused to enact. Had Brown vs. Board of Education (1955) never happened, would the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ever been imagined?
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Old 09-10-2008, 09:36 AM   #35
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I explicitly deny that free speech is a Christian virtue, for instance that world view does not respect my right to say I deny the holy spirit, if in fact if it were true then I would experience harm for what I think and say.
again, you have the right to say that you deny the holy spirit if you want. it doesn't mean that you won't be held accountable for it if you're wrong...but that's something we all discover after the end.

and i suspect that denying the holy spirit is really more of a "how you live your life" kinda thing, as opposed to an "instantaneous smoting" kinda thing.
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Old 09-10-2008, 08:21 PM   #36
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So the state has the ultimate power and say over human rights? Tell that to those who suffer under totalitarian regimes.

The founding fathers knew the flaw in such a mentality, which is why they explicitly appealed to a power higher than the state in their justification of human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and everything that comes from that -- including speech.
I was asserting that the most powerful institution is the modern nation state and through laws and law enforcement peoples rights are either guaranteed or abused. Human rights only exist because governments sometimes recognise and even more rarely respect them. There is no higher power justifying them, they are artificial in the scheme of things.
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Old 09-11-2008, 03:04 PM   #37
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...the most powerful institution is the modern nation state and through laws and law enforcement peoples rights are either guaranteed or abused. Human rights only exist because governments sometimes recognise and even more rarely respect them. There is no higher power justifying them, they are artificial in the scheme of things.
Again, look at the founding fathers. They had to appeal to a power higher because the ruling nation-state was abusing its powers. Their specific appeal to a Creator and the rights He endowed points to the fact that there is a worth to human beings far greater than that bestowed on us by whatever nation or political ideology we happen to be affiliated with.

Just because a totalitarian regime declares its citizens to be unworthy of human rights, does that make it so?
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Old 09-11-2008, 06:18 PM   #38
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They were not referring to a personal God, that type of entity doesn't justify those self-evident truths, it did however justify the divine right of Kings which many of those thinkers took issue with.

Human rights are not universal constants, they are artificial, that doesn't mean that they are not conducive to a civil society or that we should consider violent autocracy on par with liberal democracy, merely that their origin is not from on high but from mutual agreement and respect between human beings.
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Old 09-11-2008, 06:28 PM   #39
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Human rights are not universal constants, they are artificial, that doesn't mean that they are not conducive to a civil society or that we should consider violent autocracy on par with liberal democracy, merely that their origin is not from on high but from mutual agreement and respect between human beings.
And who wins when human beings disagree?

In your scenario, the state.

Which, given the state of things in North Korea (to use just one example), is a bit terrifying.
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Old 09-11-2008, 07:14 PM   #40
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You keep trying to frame me as a champion of autocratic communism because I said that the highest power on Earth is the modern nation state, I was only alluding to the fact that it is the police and military that enforce the laws over populations and not a deity, in general I would think people give cops with guns more consideration than God in heaven. The state needs to be checked, it is a necessary evil for civil society and the tendency of it is to expand (quite democratically more often than not).

America was founded upon secular enlightenment ideals, evidenced by Article 11 of the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli
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As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
A rather solid endorsement of American secularism.

Give some thought to what justifies freedom and liberty, right and wrong. You claim that God gives these concepts value but that says nothing about their merits. Deferring to God is a hollow appeal to authority, one might just as well argue that God wants us to mutilate an infant sons penis or stone blasphemers, those actions would be just as valid because it says so in a particular revealed truth and that makes it right. It says nothing of consensuality, harm or benefit for the involved parties only that God says its alright. I reject the idea that freedom of speech is conditional upon a Christian tradition, I think that it is conditional upon (to paraphrase Orwell) having a population that can respect the right of others to tell them what they don't want them to hear.

The argument that God gives human morality and liberty is unsound. It does not agree with the evolutionary origin of altruism and empathy (Children do not need to be taught the golden rule) and it says nothing about how ethical or justified they are. Rights are built by consensus and are conditional upon other people respecting those rights, God has nothing to do with it, especially in the American constitution which is explicitly secular.

To quote another infidel founding father Thomas Paine
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It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter gives rights. It operates by a contrary effect — that of taking rights away. Rights are inherently in all the inhabitants; but charters, by annulling those rights, in the majority, leave the right, by exclusion, in the hands of a few. ... They...consequently are instruments of injustice.

The fact therefore must be that the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a contract with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.
With nary a God to be seen.
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Old 09-11-2008, 07:22 PM   #41
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A rather solid endorsement of American secularism.
Your problem is not with me, but with the founding fathers and the Declaration, and their specific citement of a Creator -- as opposed to a nation or ruler -- as the arbiter of human worth.

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Rights are built by consensus and are conditional upon other people respecting those rights.
The problem, again, is when "consensus" is trumped by louder, stronger voices. You still haven't answered any of my questions having to do with what happens when a totalitarian regime refuses to confer upon its people human rights. Your comment that "human rights are artificial" was rather troubling in this regard.
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Old 09-11-2008, 08:07 PM   #42
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Your problem is not with me, but with the founding fathers and the Declaration, and their specific citement of a Creator -- as opposed to a nation or ruler -- as the arbiter of human worth. That some of the more prominent founding fathers were unbelievers deserves recognition.
No, I have no issue with them as the context is not of an interventionist God, creator may just as well be nature. The explicit rejection of any theistic justification for the American government bolsters the secularists contention over those who claim America was founded on Christian values.
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The problem, again, is when "consensus" is trumped by louder, stronger voices. You still haven't answered any of my questions having to do with what happens when a totalitarian regime refuses to confer upon its people human rights. Your comment that "human rights are artificial" was rather troubling in this regard.
There is no dilemma, when a state has power it will be abused and this is witnessed time and time again. Having God as the justification does not diminish this problem, evidenced by Christian Europe and theocratic Islamic nations. When a state has power it can abuse rights with impunity - which is why it is good to have secular mechanisms to prevent abuses such as separation of the powers, a bill of rights and democracy. God does not say that George W. Bush is wrong to wiretap US citizens or that elected officials shouldn't have a religious test.

God does not make people respect other people or their rights, it is our capacity for empathy that enables this respect and mutual consensus that guarantees it. If God and religious belief were the source of this respect then the faithful should show significantly better behaviour than unbelievers, because studies show unbelievers behave either no different or marginally better than the religious, for instance their underrepresentation in the prison population, this argument doesn't hold up.

I have no dilemma with why there is evil in the world, why bad things happen to good people or human rights get abused. I don't need to invent outside forces that are the root cause of people doing bad things (such as the Devil) to make sense of it. I also have no problem treating other people with respect because I understand most of us obey the golden rule, and we are evolved to feel good about cooperation, and this transcends religion because we are all derived from common stock. If faced with a moral choice I am capable of ethical reasoning, my conviction that liberty is a means of maximising happiness for myself is reasonable without outside justification and it does not owe anything to religion.

The idea that God gives meaning to life and actions is a lie, people are just as capable for good without retaining belief in an unlikely creator, the founding fathers knew that the state had to be justified and held to account by the governed and not an eternal higher power and crafted a secular constitution. A creator does not imply the Christian God and it may just as well be processes in the universe.
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Old 09-11-2008, 08:38 PM   #43
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creator may just as well be nature.
The Founders and Framers specifically referenced a Creator who endowed men with certain inalienable rights. They reference both Nature and "Nature's God" as the assigners of each man to his station. They specifically referenced a "Supreme Judge" who would evaluate the "rectitude of their attitudes". They specifically looked to the hand of "Divine Providence" to protect them.

The Declaration is not a secular reading of humanity's worth and value; rather, the Founders and Framers explicitly referenced a higher Authority for the rights of man, and used that spiritual and moral justification to passionately argue for the rights of self-governance, and they closed the document by specifically referencing Him as the ultimate Judge and Providence by whom they would govern. It was this spiritual and moral justification which compelled them both to A) assert their rights, and B) justify their actions.

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There is no dilemma
There is a huge dilemma. You yourself referred to human rights as "artificial", and that the state should be the ultimate arbiter of human rights. You're working from an ideal situation, but time and again the state has corrupted, controlled, denied, or persecuted such rights. Clearly the state can and should not be the ultimate arbiter of the rights of man.

Bringing this back to my initial point, it's one thing to say that America has these systems in place. (Again, what I find interesting again is that America was founded on principles extending at least in part from the Judeo-Christian tradition, which allow for such systems.) Many other countries don't. In that situation, what else are the oppressed to appeal to if not the state? Saying that secular mechanisms should be in place to prevent abuses is well and good, but most of the rest of the world does not live in our system. Such abuses are rampant. When presented with an ideology that the state is all there is, people aren't exactly left with many options. Clearly the Founding Fathers saw a higher, greater Authority than that of the state.
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Old 09-11-2008, 08:41 PM   #44
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Your problem is not with me, but with the founding fathers and the Declaration, and their specific citement of a Creator -- as opposed to a nation or ruler -- as the arbiter of human worth.
The problem with this argument is that the Founding Fathers made a secular appeal to "the Creator" when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, as the concept itself arose out of the secular Enlightenment and secular Enlightenment religion, which we refer to as "deism" today. Do take notice that they did not use "God," but "the Creator," which was a deist-specific term in the 18th century. Deists sharply differed from traditional Christians in that they generally did not believe in either the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, miracles, or the inerrancy of scriptures, but who did believe in one god. Thus, when they make the ambiguous appeal to "the Creator," they likely did not refer to the Christian God or any deity, in particular. It was an appeal to whomever or whatever created us, and that our dignity is innate, rather than granted by fellow mankind.

Deism largely fell out of favor in the late 19th century, due to the writings of David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and Charles Darwin, which cast doubt on the philosophical notions of "first cause" and "argument from design" (not to be confused with the Christianist "intelligent design"), thus shoving most potential deists into modern agnosticism or atheism. Thus, we have the polarized religious climate we see today since the time of Darwin, which means that it is expected that you must be either a fundamentalist conservative Evangelical Christian that thinks Jesus rode a dinosaur, or a fervent atheist that hates all mention of religion in society.

Going back to the idea that we have inherent and inalienable human rights that transcend government, that, in itself, is a secular idea, as conventional Christianity, at that time, had a strong authoritarian and imperialist streak behind it. Instead, we can credit the philosophy of John Locke, who had a pronounced influence on the Enlightenment and our Founding Fathers, thus leaving an indelible mark all over the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Our nation would not exist at all, in its current state, without John Locke, and we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to him.
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Old 09-11-2008, 08:49 PM   #45
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Do take notice that they did not use "God," but "the Creator," which was a deist-specific term in the 18th century. Deists sharply differed from traditional Christians in that they generally did not believe in either the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, miracles, or the inerrancy of scriptures, but who did believe in one God.
Please note that I am not making the argument that the Declaration is a theological document. It isn't. My point is simply that the Declaration points to a higher, deeper justification for the inalienable rights of man than simply our common humanity, and it is this perspective that our rights are specifically Divinely-derived -- and thus trump the state's attempt to remove them -- that has informed our democracy for more than 200 years.

And if we're going to credit John Locke for the philosophy that "we have inherent and inalienable human rights that transcend government" (which according to the Declaration is specifically cited as coming from the hands of the Creator), then we would do well to remember Locke's thoughts in "Two Treatises on Government": "the Law of Nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men's actions must . . . be conformable to the Law of Nature, i.e., to the will of God. [L]aws human must be made according to the general laws of Nature, and without contradiction to any positive law of Scripture, otherwise they are ill made."

ETA - I realize this all has very little to do with the posted topic at this point.
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