Saturday, March 19, 2005

Oath II -- the sequel

Two different bloggers, True Blue and Precinct 333 have specifically endorsed my own version of the Blogger's Oath. I'm flattered.

Precinct 333 also proposes his own version of the oath:
We are the blogosphere, brothers and sisters, friends and foes, united together in support of freedom. We are diverse voices united in the pursuit of a multiplicity of goals and ideals, based upon our many divergent sets of beliefs and principles. Despite our differences, we together hold firm to this single unifying principle -- freedom of speech is the cornerstone of liberty, and we reject as tyranny efforts by any entity, be it religious, economic, political, or governmental, to regulate or forbid the free exchange of ideas on the internet. We pledge to resist, to the best of our respective abilities, any regulatory scheme which seeks to inhibit or prevent the publication or dissemination of facts and opinions on any matter of public concern, and promise our support to one another in that resistance. We are the blogosphere, and we will not be silenced.
I naturally would like to return the favor and endorse his oath but I'm afraid that I can't do it in good conscience.

The problem is that I don't really think freedom of speech is "the cornerstone of liberty". I think law is the cornerstone of liberty. This is why we should respect the law even when we disagree with it. However, this is also why we should take it seriously when the government, the entity charged with enforcing the law, is itself lawless.

This isn't a mere quibble. I really wouldn't risk prison to defend the mere abstraction of "freedom of speech". And I really wouldn't even think it worth the effort to fight against all restrictions on freedom of speech. I'd have to consider each restriction separately. The reason I'm willing to fight in this case is for the law, not for the abstract right.

Now, although I disagree with the principles expressed in the Chair's oath, I agree with his motivation:
There is not solidarity in either of the two oaths [mine and Patterico's]-- each of us is, in effect, a rugged individual going it alone. Unfortunately, that independence makes us easy to pick off. We need to be banded together for mutual support.
So if the Chair can come up with an oath that dispenses with debatable principles and concentrates on mutual support, I'll be glad to endorse it.

let's not go around calling people sheep

I should note that unlike Patterico, I'm not inclined to think less of Roscoe and Michael Williams for refusing to go along with the pledge. I've been reading Roscoe for a long time and think very highly of him in general and of his reasoning in this case. As for Mr. Williams, his blog is new to me but I'm impressed with his argument.

There are good reasons to obey laws even when you disagree with them. That would even be my position in most cases. What makes this case different is that in my view the law itself is unlawful. Congress has no authority to make the law, the president has no authority to enforce it, and the Supreme Court has no authority to authenticate it as "constitutional". They have all collectively usurped powers that do not properly belong to them.

I see my choice then, not as a choice between following an unjust law vs. rebelling against the authorities, but rather as a choice of whether to submit to a usurper or to resist the usurpation.

UPDATE: Patterico has graciously responded to my nagging by including a second disclaimer that he was only joking. As I said in a comment to this post, it was really something he wrote in the comments that caused my reaction (see comment 6 from Roscoe followed by comment 7 from Patterico). In any case, I'm glad to hear that I was over-reacting.

By the way, this was the first post for which I sent multiple trackbacks. To my surprise, Haloscan handled it well.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

the blogger's oath

Patterico is asking bloggers to pledge not to obey any unconstitutional limits on free speech. This is pretty serious stuff. The government sends people to prison for stuff like that. So I had to think about it for, like three or four seconds. Here's my pledge:
I'll stop blogging when I've got nothing more to say. Or when I move somewhere that I don't have Internet service. Or when I get bored with it. Or if I find something else I like better. Or something like that. But I stand firm on this! I shall not stop blogging just because someone passes a law telling me to. Screw you.
As an aside, it will be interesting to see how many of us pampered Americans actually go through with this, if push comes to shove. I think I will, but I don't have a family to support or any other real obligations.

This could get serious folks.

rational liberals

I finally got around to checking out one of the "rational liberals" (those aren't sneer quotes, they are quotes-of-allegedness) on the Monday Afternoon blog roll.

It turns out that Hugo Schwyzer actually seems to fit the description. He is a self-described socialist, but he is reasonable and rational. He listens to the arguments of the other side and responds to them in a relevant way. I'm going to have to add him to my reading list.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Monday Afternoon has started a blogroll of rational liberals. I've made a few small efforts toward this kind of blogroll on my own site, but have always been discouraged by what I found.

Actually though, now that I think of it, I do have links to lots of (mostly) rational liberals over there. Instapundit, Volokh, Patterico, Soxblog, Dean's World and Xrlq are all arguably liberals and they are all mostly rational. I would even be inclined to qualify Parableman and One Hand Clapping as liberal in many contexts.

But I'm guessing that what Tom is really getting at is that he is listing blogs that 1. mostly support the current Democratic party and 2. do so in a rational way. That would be something to see, all right.

I look forward to checking out the links, but first, I have to read all of these Sage-of-Wales stories.

sports and voodoo

Well, Arizona got a #3 seed in the NCAA tournament. Nuts. One game kept them from getting a #1 seed: their last game against Washington. In that one game they lost the PAC-10 tournament and a 1 seed for the big show. Washington ended up with the 1 seed.

I don't get it. Arizona has a better record than Washington, both over-all and in the PAC-10, so how do they give Washington a seed two higher than Arizona? That means essentially, that they put Washington in the top four teams in the country, while Arizona is considered to be between 9 and 12. Over one game.

I'm aware that if Arizona had won, the situations would be reversed so this isn't actually unfair. But it does strike me as rather arbitrary. Rankings are always too heavily weighted toward the more recent events, even though everyone knows that the most recent outcomes aren't especially good indicators of future success.

Teams have bad nights, bad weeks, two- or three-week slumps. Year's-long curses. But there is no way to know whether a given bad game is the sign of an impending slump or just one bad night.

Team rankings are voodoo. People like me pay far too much attention to them...


Storyblogging Carnival Ex Eye Vee is now playing over at Back of the Envelope.

Donald is concerned about evil influences and I can see his point. One of the evil things is yet another cliff-hanger by Donald. He thinks there's nothing I can do about it. He feels safe over there on the opposite side of the county. Smug and secure. But every fortress has its weaknesses. You may be safe for the moment, Donald but I have plans. Oh, yes. I have plans.

Sheya entered a neat story written by her six-year-old daughter. Sheya's right, it has a great opener. The kid is a natural.

Lot's of other good stuff too, including more from Sheya's "The Child" and Dodgeblogium's Sage of Wales. There are also a couple of very good entries by new contributors.