Is it enough?

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Is it enough?

Post  VicarJoe on Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:56 am

Anyone see this story: " Two Adopt-a-Highway signs on a Missouri road acknowledge a neo-Nazi group's participation in the state's litter prevention program. But if Gov. Jay Nixon signs a large transportation bill, that half-mile section of road will be renamed "Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel Memorial Highway" in honor of a rabbi who narrowly escaped the Nazis in World War II."

The idea was, the state can't use its judgment and deny neo-nazis the right to be celebrated for their civic virtue with official state recognition, but it CAN get a little dig in by naming the neo-nazi highway after a rabbi.

At first, I appreciated the wit and irony of the state's response. But it still bothered me that the state was helpless in the first place to say No to the neo-nazis. I understand the premise: how could the state possibly be expected to distinguish between good groups and bad? Though that IS a bit of a cop-out. And are we really to buy the slippery slope argument that the state, if it says neo-nazis can't be lauded with official plaques, will eventually deny Catholics or Unitarians or some other group their rights down the road someday? That is, must we believe that if the state shows good judgment, someday it will show bad judgment, so it's better that it express no judgment?

Is it enough to rename the highway? Or should the state have said, No, we won't partner with racist organizations in the first place?

Just one quick thought: this problem is the fruit of an idealization of tolerance and multiculturalism that makes any judgment impossible. As Pilate asked, "What is truth?" Our current cultural ideal is to say there's no such thing, objectively. So any judgment is judgmental.
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VicarJoe

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Two quick thoughts:

Post  cradlerc on Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:44 am

One is that I agree with you that the state does make judgements--for example, it's unlikely that the state would accept the sponsorship of the Crips, for example.

But my second thouhgt is that I think things need to stay the way they are, for this reason: as Catholics, the "group" we're identified with is rapidly becoming, in the eyes of many, a "bigoted" and "homophobic" organization. There are those who make no distinction between the racisim of Aryan groups and religious groups who defend traditional marriage. So having the state make distinctions on anything other than legal status as an organization would fill me with unease.

So I don't think the state's judgement of a group should be based on the views a group holds. I may find the neo-Nazis abhorrent, but they've a right to be racist, a right to assemble, and a right to try to persuade others to their view with overt or covert acts.

Perhaps if I truested the judgement of the electorate more, I might feel differently. But I don't.
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The Constitution is not a suicide pact...

Post  stihl on Mon Jun 22, 2009 12:42 pm

...Cradle I appreciate your concern with the notion that it may be the Catholics next.

I for one would rather battle the State then allow a group whose avowed ideology runs contrary to the ideals of Human Freedom. I'd rather look at trash on the side of the road then a sign commending neo-Nazis for their civic contribution.

It is similar to our discussion on forgiveness, there are limits to how and when you should forgive. The notion that we must be so pure in our defence of free expression so as to allow a voice to those who would end it is not rationale.
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I agree with both of you

Post  VicarJoe on Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:10 pm

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Re: Is it enough?

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