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Founding fathers - Arvind Narayanan's journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

Founding fathers [Oct. 8th, 2007|03:43 am]
Arvind Narayanan
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A long time ago in some forgotten forum I found the perfect refutation of a fallacious argument involving the founding fathers:
Remember that these were men who supported slavery. And worse, they wore tights and powdered their hair.
The point being that while they were clearly brilliant visionaries and got a lot of things right, they lived in a very different time, and we'd be fools to follow their word literally.

The reason I'm posting this is that I whole-heartedly support Ron Paul for 2008. He's the libertarian's dream candidate -- his views are almost completely libertarian, but he's running for the Republican nomination instead of being a fringe candidate and so has managed to raise a lot of money and some media attention. In particular, he's extremely popular on the Internet and especially on the toob (try giving that a click, you might be surprised.) By many Internet polls, he's the most popular candidate.

If you listen to the guy, he immediately comes across as the only candidate who speaks with complete sincerity, and asserts what he believes, whether or not you agree with him (except for maybe Mike Gravel.) It takes balls the size of watermelons to declare that you want to abolish both the DHS and the IRS when you're trying to be a serious candidate for President. He's never wishy-washy even when the audience is cheering his detractors in the debates.

Anyway, I just wish the guy would avoid saying "constitution" every 30 seconds. For instance, the bill of rights apparently says you have a right to a jury trial for any dispute involving property worth $20 or more. Two centuries ago that was probably worth your life savings. Attaching any significance to that number today is kinda like taking the Bible literally.

Another example - you often hear that there's no constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy. Which is obvious if you think about it - back in the day, the right to your own private piece of land was much synonymous with the right to privacy. There simply wasn't the technology to spy on people from afar or compile huge databases of everybody's personal information. That's why privacy is not in there; nevertheless, we need as much as we need the right to bear arms. Commonsense trumps constitution every time when it comes down to it.
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[User Picture]From: iliada
2007-10-08 09:26 pm (UTC)
From where he is starting, it takes cojones to stick to a reasonable, balanced position. That's the only chance for him to get noticed by the general public (and it's not happening yet). He should try bandana next time around, who knows, it might just work.
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[User Picture]From: haran
2007-10-09 03:05 am (UTC)
Commonsense trumps constitution every time when it comes down to it.

Here's the problem:
By good fortune or whatever, the constitution resulted from the work of people who were intelligent, had a clue and aspired to create a system that was fair.
The whole thing was carefully considered with checks and balances put in to try and future-proof any of the problems they were trying to solve.

Obviously, it worked to a great extent, but also obviously, they couldn't have forseen all that has happened since.
Yes, you are correct that common sense will trump the constitution and that the world we are living in is not the same world that existed when it was drafted, but I'm perfectly happy to live with it, warts and all, rather than letting some clumsy goofs try and modify it.

IOW, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Do you trust anyone in position today to re-architect the constitution to modern needs? I don't. Its not so much that their intent is bad, but I just don't think they are smart enough to get it right.


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