Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Real Threat To Traditional Marriage, Part Two: Rethinking Rights

Previously: The Real Threat To Traditional Marriage

Last week's post here ticked some people off.  If I learned one thing, it's that all it takes to be rebarbative across the social spectrum is to articulate a position of principled ambivalence toward the subject of same-sex marriage. That's the quickest way to exasperate your friends on both sides of the issue.

I really don't care about it one way or the other, and neither do a lot of other people.[1]  I explained my reasons in this post last year, but I was dumb enough to bring the subject up again, so I guess I should have expected a reaction.  In at least three Facebook groups as well as the comment section on this blog, some folks were either miffed at me for not recognizing the social dangers inherent in the practice, or lambasting me for being insensitive, uncaring, and bigoted because, they insist, I don't know the first thing about "rights."
[1]See, for just two examples, "We Really Don't Care If You're Gay, Gay People" and "Gays Who Don't Want Gay Marriage."

Let me make it clear why I have chosen to remain detached from the fray.  No, never mind; I'll explain that later.  The important thing to know right now is that I don't give a hang about "gay rights." But I am adamantly in favor of the rights of gay people.

I left a teaser at the end of my last post regarding the question of whether Mormons need permission to be married, but I think we'll move that topic back until next time.  Judging from the reaction in certain quarters to my last post, I think it would be helpful if, before we tackled that discussion, we addressed the underlying question: what exactly are fundamental rights?  Without that basic understanding, it may never occur to ask some basic questions, such as:
If I have a fundamental right to marry, why do I need permission from the government before I can get married?
If I get a marriage license, what does that marriage license give me permission to do that I could not do before I got the marriage license?
Who is giving me that permission?
Where did they get the power to give me that permission?
If I apply for a marriage license, am I giving up any of my fundamental rights?
Where did the first marriage licenses start with in the first place?
And the most important question,
If I get married without a marriage license, is my marriage still lawful?
Let me tell you what happened immediately after posting my last piece. I was raked over the coals in certain quarters for reminding my readers that, like it or not, the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges did indeed recognize the fundamental right of same-sex couples to engage in the civil contract most of us call marriage.  However, I insisted, the ruling was a decidedly narrow one.  The Obergefell decision held that same sex couples may enjoy the same fundamental rights as opposite sex couples.  It did not grant additional rights to same-sex couples that opposite-sex couples do not enjoy. In my piece I was admittedly flippant toward those people, gay or otherwise, who feel themselves entitled to rights that would infringe on the fundamental rights of others.

Several of my online friends took issue with that, pointing out that gay people do indeed have the right to buy cakes, flowers, and even pizza, even if the seller doesn't want to sell.  It soon became apparent that we were talking past each other, because I'm pretty certain that when I addressed that topic here on my blog it was clear I was writing about fundamental rights, which are perceptually distinct from statutory rights, the classification of rights my online friends were insisting on bringing to the table.

The more I attempted to explain the distinction, the more I was dismissed by some who do not know me as just another clueless bigot who hates gay people.  Some writers were sincere in their concern that I was wildly off base, while others were just plain insulting, challenging me to justify views and positions I never advocated and do not hold.  Typical of those challenges was this:
"So you think a store can refuse to allow someone to shop in their store just because they're gay? Do you think that's right?"
Well no. I don't think that would be right. It also wouldn't be kind.  But since when is the law concerned with kindness?

Right about now some of you are silently shouting, "But the law says you can't discriminate!  The store has a legal obligation to serve the customer!"

Maybe so, and I'll get to that. But right now we are discussing fundamental rights, a classification that is distinct from all other rights or grants of privilege, and the only kind of right to which the Obergefell court directed its finding.[2]  "The customer is always right" was a marketing ploy invented by Harry Gordon Selfredge in 1909.  Customers may have certain rights and privileges under the law in certain circumstances, and businesses may have certain obligations to the customer, but Selfredge's Store Operating Manual is not where we go when we seek to ascertain the meaning of law.
 [2] As the U.S. Constitution is a common law document, as a general rule the Supreme Court concerns itself with addressing common law issues.

I got presented with all kinds of hypothetical scenarios from challengers who were unable to distinguish between fundamental rights and moral behavior. But Since I did understand the distinction, and tried my best to articulate it, they concluded I must not be a very nice person.

It happens that I learned kindness, good manners, and respect for others from a very early age from my parents, my grandma, and Miss Frances of the Ding Dong School. My education in natural law and fundamental rights came much later and took a bit of time and effort.  What I learned through patient study was this: although law and morality are often connected, they are not the same thing.

Here is Martin Krygier attempting to explain the problem we're having:
"It would be satisfying, of course, if we could all agree on what we are talking about, when our subject is the rule of law. This, however, is unlikely to happen. The meaning of the concept is so contested that any definition will be stipulative." (Martin Krygier, "The Rule of Law, An Abuser's Guide" from Andras Sajo, editor, The Dark Side of Fundamental Rights (Series 3, Issues in Constitutional law.)
That's a professor of law addressing other legal scholars on the difficulty of nailing down the meaning of the very topic under discussion here.  So you see the importance, in any discussion where law is the topic, to stipulate to the meaning before going off and launching personal diatribes.   None of us are likely to solve the problems of society -or really even begin to understand them- in a heated back-and-forth demand for absolution on a Facebook thread even when we do understand what the other person is saying.

Nor are we likely to come to an agreement because of anything I write here.  But let's dive in anyway and see where this takes us.

The Law of Nature, And Of Nature's God
I didn't know much by the time I got married, but I did know the definition of the word "license."  I understood it to mean permission to do something that would otherwise be illegal or unlawful.  So I was frankly surprised when my bubbly new fiance came from a meeting with her bishop with a list of things we needed to do to prepare for our upcoming wedding.  Connie told me that one of the things on her list was for us to go and get a marriage license.

I was frankly surprised to hear that, because I had always assumed LDS weddings were performed under the jurisdiction of the Church alone.  Marriage licenses, I assumed, were for people getting married before a Justice of the Peace or some other civil authority. What interest, I wondered, did the State have in a church wedding, especially an LDS one?

The whole thing seemed mighty curious, but I didn't give it any more thought than that.  Connie was in charge of our wedding preparations, so I willingly followed her lead. I was controlled at this time by my hormones, so I was willing to pay whatever fees I had to, and jump through any hoops so long is it got me closer to the wedding night.

About four years later, once my libido had calmed down sufficiently to where I could think, I happened to learn that it was indeed strict policy of the LDS Church that no LDS couple could get married, either in church or in the temple, without first getting that permission slip from the State. Again that piqued my curiosity, and resulted in my embarking on a thirty year study focused on common law rights.

Since I had no ambitions to become a lawyer, in at least one respect I had an advantage over those who did.  Law students don't have time to study much more than the mechanics of law and legal procedure; I had the leisure to study the philosophical underpinnings of the law. I wanted to know where rights came from, how they are exercised, and how they can be lost.

So over time I read the actual works of the great philosophers of the Enlightenment, the great thinkers who influenced the men who founded our own government in the late 18th century.  I read modern editions of Paine, Burke, Rousseau, Diderot, Rutherford, Sidney, Coke, Descartes, Hobbes, Milton, Montesquieu, Locke, Bastiat, Kant, and Adam Smith.  I did not read the Durant's entire histories, nor the commentaries of Blackstone, Kent, or Joseph Story, but I owned the sets and became familiar with their contents.

They really knew how to write catchy book titles back then.
This would seem like an impressive boast if I could actually remember any of what I read. But I can't. In the mid nineties I was diagnosed with a disease of the brain and spinal column that left me massively fatigued, and wiped out entire chunks of my memory.[3] So regarding the great minds of The Age of Reason, I no longer can specifically recall which philosopher said what. I couldn't quote from Montesquieu if my life depended on it (for one thing, I don't speak French).
[3]Many of my most interesting personal experiences are missing from my memory.  Connie informs me, for instance, that I once went into the boxing ring with a kangaroo.  I was surprised to hear it, because I've always wanted to to that. (P.S. the kangaroo won.

I mention this only by way of explanation that in spite of not being able to recall particulars, I am solidly grounded in moral and legal philosophy. The details may have slipped, but my soul long ago absorbed the principles I learned, and those teachings infuse my character.  So, when it comes to the rights of man, I do have something of a grasp on the subject. Although I may walk around half the time in a stupor, the other half of the time my cognitive functions remain in play. I'm no dummy.[4] I still have the ability to reason.
[4] So if you meet me on the street, don't try to fool me into giving you my wallet; it won't work. (Plus, there's nothing in it.)

Rights Are FUN-damental!
So where do rights come from, anyway?  Well, the easy answer is "they come from God."  That was the view of Thomas Aquinas, who insisted God gave man reason so that, among other things, he could reason out how to live peacefully with other men.

Lucky for all you atheists, you don't have to believe in God to have the same rights as those who do.  The overall theme about rights as promulgated during The Enlightenment period was that basic human rights are inherent in all mankind precisely because they can be deduced scientifically through the use of reason, logic, and common sense.   Everybody has the same basic rights regardless of belief. Everybody wins.

The best philosophers are those who can scat.

Fundamental rights cannot be separated from Natural Law, but unfortunately many people don't have a clue what that term means. For centuries natural law was the main philosophical legal paradigm.  But just as a growing number of Americans today seem to think that a "right" is something that is granted to them by government, they also think rights are based on laws that people are required to obey. If we are ever going to have an effective conversation about rights, it's imperative we disabuse ourselves of the notion that Natural law is some kind of "law" that must be obeyed, or else you'll be subject to some type of punishment. We Mormons have particular trouble understanding the concept that "law" refers to principles rather than to obedience, because we have been exposed to falsehoods about it all our lives.
"Although it consists of only two words, the term 'Natural Law' has long been a battle field of semantics. The simplest term to grapple with is 'Law'. The word 'Law' is not used in a legal sense: it is not used in the sense of legislation. Rather it refers to a principle, or a governing rule, much as you might speak of the laws of physics, of the sub-law of gravity.
"The second word, 'Natural', has a more complicated history. The first question to ask is, 'Natural as opposed to what?' This particular question has occasioned great debate within the tradition of Natural Law. Some argue that the word is used as a term of distinction from 'supernatural', or the will of God. Others, such as Thomas Aquinas and those in the Thomistic tradition, interpret Natural Law in a somewhat more theistic context. Such great ambiguity exists in the term 'Natural' that long debate has raged over whether there is one tradition or many traditions of Natural Law." (McElroy, The Non-Absurdity of Natural Law, emphasis mine.)
Here is how one Thomist explains natural law in a nutshell:
"If the word "natural' means anything at all, it refers to the nature of a man, and when used with "law," "natural" must refer to an ordering that is manifested in the inclinations of a man's nature and to nothing else. Hence, taken in itself, there is nothing religious or theological in the "Natural Law" of Aquinas." (Quoted in Rothbard, Introduction to Natural Law Part One: Natural Law and Reason, from Rothbard's The Ethics of Liberty; emphasis mine)
Fundamental rights are inherent in natural law, which is generally meant to refer to man in his ideal "natural" state: free, unrestrained, and unencumbered. This is where the debate is often contested.  Natural Law is sometimes confused with The Law of Nature. There is no perennial standard of what is just and what is unjust in nature, as von Mises reminds us. "Nature is alien to the idea of right and wrong. 'Thou shalt not kill' is certainly not part of natural law. The characteristic feature of natural conditions is that one animal is intent upon killing other animals..." (Quoted in McElroy, Supra)

But man's natural state places him above animals because of his ability to reason, and his ability to reason imparts in him the understanding that even though he has the right, if he wishes, to remain alone, aloof, and away from everyone else, learning to live cooperatively with others will provide him with a more fulfilling life.

This revolutionary idea that people who differ from each other in substantial ways can still manage to figure out how to form societies and get along, is what causes me to lament the unnecessary contention between some gays and some straights in this country.  Learning to get along while retaining our individual rights was a position advanced by Baron von Pufendorf, a seminal philosopher in the mid 1600's who influenced later Enlightenment thinkers with his suggestion that a man had a natural right to ownership of himself and to his own property, regardless of the opinions of kings, governments, and other people.[5]  Mankind can all live together in peace, Pufendorf  suggested, without anyone having to sacrifice their fundamental rights to the whim of kings, emperors, or the good of society.
[5] I wanted to name our third child after von Pufendorf but Connie wouldn't let me.

Baron von Pufendorf during his glam rock phase.

The important thing about natural rights is that all persons, by nature of their birth, have the right to stay to themselves and not be bothered; but if they choose to join into a society with others, they still retain their fundamental rights.  The group cannot compel an individual to act against his own self-interest if the individual doesn't want to.

Here are some of the fundamental rights you hold by virtue of your being a human being:

The right to liberty
The right to self-determination
The right to freedom of thought
The right to Freedom of expression
The right to freedom of religion
The right to privacy
The right to marry
The right to travel and move about
The right to peacefully assemble
The right to self defense
The right to freedom of association
The right to due process of law

You'll notice all those rights fit into the encapsulated phrase Jefferson used when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. They all embody the rights to life, liberty, and/or the pursuit of one's own happiness.  They also often overlap. For example, the right to marry is inclusive in the right to privacy, the right of self-determination, the right to free association, and the right of religious freedom.

Hold on, I forgot one:

Your Right To Go To The Movies
So, how can we tell the difference between fundamental rights and rights that are not fundamental?  Simple. You can do whatever the hell you want to with your life, but if a supposed "right" you are attempting to exercise involves the threat of coercion upon another person, that right is not fundamental.  Coercion is commonly associated with the phenomenon of feeling pressure to do something that one does not want to do. (See Robert Nozick in Philosophy, Science, and Method, pg 440, Morganbesser, ed.)  If  the exercise of your "right" involves making the other person do what he does not want to do, you are infringing on his fundamental rights. You do not have a fundamental right to do that.

However, you can often avail yourself of rights that are not fundamental. These rights are conditional, because their enforcement depends upon certain conditions. Conditional rights are not fundamental rights per se, but rather privileges granted by the legislature.  Normally (but not always), the philosophical underpinnings behind conditional rights can be soundly reasoned out, so that when properly exercised they don't intrude on the fundamental rights of others.

About twenty-five years ago I found myself sitting in a hotel lobby having a casual conversation with a man in the chair next to me.  In the course of the conversation I discovered he was the author of a book I happened to own, so it turned out I knew something about him.  He was a rights advocate who had something of a reputation as a rabble-rouser.  Although by this time I was fairly well versed in the concepts of natural law, I was unclear how natural law rights can be extended into the public arena without interfering with the autonomy of others.  In the course of our conversation, I got my basic education in civil rights.

My new friend Des told me about an experience he had the previous week at a movie theater.  He and a friend had set up a table in a shopping mall where they were handing out brochures and soliciting people to sign petitions. After a couple of hours, Des decided to call it a day, stuffed his few remaining brochures in his back pocket, and went across the hall to the Cineplex to catch a movie.  He had some time to kill before the movie started, so he bought himself a tray of cheesy nachos and sat down to eat.

Not long after, he was approached by a uniformed cop who was accompanied by the theater manager. The cop told Des the manager wanted him to leave.


The manager replied, "I don't want you disturbing the other customers."

"How am I disturbing the other customers?"

"I saw you outside handing out those brochures," the manager said, pointing to the brochures jutting out of Des's back pocket. "I don't want you handing them out in here."

"I'm not handing out brochures in here," Des responded. "I'm eating a tray of nacho cheese chips, and then I'm going to watch a movie.  I'm here because you invited me here."

That one surprised the manager. "I never invited you here!" He turned to the cop. "And I want you to make him leave." 

Well, long story short, the cop didn't make Des leave. The cop was the one who left.  Because this cop understood why Des had a right to be there.  As Des patiently explained to the manager, the theater had indeed invited him there by placing a public advertisement in the paper.  Further, the theater held itself out as a place where the public could purchase entertainment.  The venue was open for business at the time Des had arrived, and he had paid for his ticket. So Des had as much right as any other member of the public to be present and to be served in the same manner as any other customer.

Des had not passed out any of his brochures in the theater, nor had he any intention to.  The theater was private property holding itself out for public commerce, and Des understood he did not have a right to sell or promote his personal interests on someone else's property.  (Malls, on the other hand, have been declared by the courts to be public spaces -the modern equivalent of the public square- so Des did have a right to exercise free speech in the pathway of the mall -just not inside any of the stores.)

Des had a right to accommodation in that theater the same as anyone else as long as his behavior was not disruptive.  This statutory right is codified in United States Code 42.21.  The moral underpinning of that right is based on solid legal reasoning.  A public store, hotel, restaurant, or theater has invited the general public to be its customers.  It therefore has an obligation not to turn away a customer based on appearance, characteristics, or beliefs.

That's the difference between public rights and fundamental rights.  Des's decision to go the movies in the first place was motivated by his fundamental right to pursue his own happiness at that moment.  His right to be in the theater, however, was not fundamental; it was conditional.  It was conditioned on such things as the theater being open, and by its nature in commerce being a venue of public accommodation.  If Des had attempted to go to the manager's home, settle in on the couch, and start watching TV there, he would be infringing on that man's rights.  Why? Because the general public isn't invited there.

Which brings us to the question that prompted this whole discussion:  Do gay people have the same rights of accommodation in stores and restaurants as straight people?

Of course they do. This shouldn't even be a controversy.

When The Moon Hits Your Eye Like a Big Pizza Pie, That's A-Painful
There is a myth currently circulating online that a pizza parlor in Indiana has refused to sell pizzas to gay people.  This has a lot of people up in arms. These people hate gays! Let's run 'em out of business!

But that story is not true. A reporter for a local news channel was interviewing businesses for their thoughts on a state referendum that would guarantee to business owners that their rights to freedom of conscience and religion would be protected. In light of that ruling, and in an answer given to the reporter in the context of offering catering services to a gay wedding, one of the owners of Memories Pizza indicated such an invitation would probably be declined.

It was apparent from the interview that the owner had nothing against gay people, and the reporter even ended her report by confirming that the proprietors said if someone who was gay, or a member of another religion, came in to sit down and order pizza, they would be served just like anyone else. (Which makes you wonder why the station reported this non-story in the first place.)

The pertinent section of Title 42 that is concerned with discriminatory practices has to do with the "accommodation" of customers "on the premises." Catering an outside event is a whole different matter.

A "Caterer" is defined as a "purveyor," someone who provides food that is typically prepared off-site and delivered to an outside home or event.  In the middle ages, purveyance was a right claimed by the king to force certain people to provide him with provisions at a fixed price determined by the sovereign. These purveyors were required to have nearby and ready to deliver anything the king or his household might be in the mood for at any time.  They had to pander to the whims of the king, which is why pander is found in the Oxford American Dictionary under the definition of "cater."  Blackstone and Adam Smith both note that by the time of the Enlightenment, purveyance had been done away with in England because it violated an individual's common law rights. 

Today, catering is still not mandatory because it puts the caterer in a position of servility to the person or group that is being catered to. You can certainly volunteer to be a caterer, but you get to decide who you will select as a client. That is your fundamental right. And because catering to a wedding implies a degree of participation in the celebration of that wedding, no one has the right to force you by law to be involved in their celebration.  You can decline the invitation to that wedding if you like. Anyone can still come to the store and buy pizza for their wedding if that's what they want; they just can't make the store come to them.

That was the view of the owner at Memories Pizza. She stated that she had a belief that prevented her from "supporting a gay wedding."  From other statements she made, it would appear she didn't care one whit about whether someone was gay or not, what their personal beliefs permitted them to do, or that she had any desire to prevent them from doing it.  She also made it clear that gay customers were welcome.

That's why I had to shake my head and smile when I read the account of a couple of guys who thought they had tricked Memories Pizza by purchasing pizzas which they then served at their own gay wedding reception.  The headline in the Huffington Post trumpeted "Whoops! Pizarria That Refused To Cater Gay Weddings Just Catered A Gay Wedding!"

Whoops, no it did not. What Memories Pizza did was sell their product to some fool who drove eighty miles just to buy a couple of pizzas, put those pizzas in his car, then drive those pizzas eighty miles back to his own wedding reception. I'm willing to bet the folks at Memories Pizza didn't care if their customer was gay, or what he planned to do with those pizzas when he left. Memories Pizza got "tricked" into making $27.00 on the transaction. 

Of Wedding Cakes And Puritanical Collectivism
I borrowed the above subheading from Will Grigg, who has a unique facility for getting to the nub of a controversy. In my last post I openly ridiculed anyone who felt they had a constitutional right to force another person to bake them a cake. This was prompted by an actual incident where a bakery owned by a couple named Klein was fined $135,000 for turning down the opportunity to create a wedding cake for a gay wedding. Here's an excerpt from Will's piece. You can decide for yourself which party in this controversy has been treated unjustly:
"By declining to make a wedding cake for Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman, Aaron Klein and his wife Melissa saved the lesbian couple roughly $350. This is a case in which discrimination on the part of a business materially benefited the supposed victims."
That's right, the "victims" saved a lot of money when the Kleins turned down their business:
"In January 2013, the Kleins, who operated a bakery called “Sweetcakes by Melissa,” turned down the couple’s business proposal. Within a few days, the would-be customers contracted with another bakery called Pastry Girl. The second vendor charged $250 to create the celebratory confection..."

"Had they accepted the job, the Kleins 'would have charged $600 for making and delivering the same cake'...If the Kleins had acted out of mercenary motivations rather than being governed by their religious convictions, Rachel and Laurel most likely would have settled for their first choice, rather than testing the market and quickly finding another vendor who produced the desired cake at less than half the price."
That favor didn't matter to the happy couple. They went crying to the Oregon Board of Labor, which levied a heavy fine against the Kleins.  If the constitution were properly operating in Oregon, and Rachel and Laurel had a complaint that their rights had been violated, the immediate question would be "what injury did Rachel and Laurel suffer when the Kleins refused their business?"

Well, they didn't suffer any injury at all. They gained a benefit.
"By forgoing the transaction, the Kleins paid a fairly sizable “opportunity cost” in the service of their beliefs while inflicting no injury on Rachel and Laurel. In fact, they actually did the couple a considerable favor in light of the fact that they wanted a ceremony “as `big and grand as they could afford,’” according to the BOLI’s account. The hundreds of dollars saved on a cake were thus available to be spent on other facets of the event.
"By declining to participate, however, the Kleins had hurt the couple’s feelings. As members of an officially recognized victim group in the People’s Republic of Oregon, Rachel and Laurel had the ability to summon official retaliation against someone whose opinions offended them."
Ah! Hurt feelings. So this is what we're going to divide the country over.

I would encourage anyone truly concerned about the violation of rights in this country to read Will's entire post on this controversy, and maybe also this one and this one. And "Let 'Them Eat Cake" by Jack Perry. Then come back and explain to me why you feel there is any reason the right to buy cake should even be a thing, let alone be taken seriously as a shining example of a fundamental right. It bothers me that I even feel the need to address this topic, because normally my concerns are occupied with real injustices taking place in the world.

Put On Your Big Boy Pants And Suck It Up
Do you know why so many straight people are getting tired of hearing about gay marriage?  Because so little of the debate is actually about marriage.  Too much of it is focused on imagined slights and niggling offenses.  During the past few years while proposals over gay marriage were being considered in the various state legislatures, some opponents were concerned that gay advocates were not so much lobbying for the right to marry, but to transform society to their liking.  I gotta say that every time I read some foolish comment about how justice was served when one party is put out of business by someone else who can't even claim an injury more serious than hurt feelings, those predictions appear to be coming true.

People instinctively don't like bullies, and whenever someone enlists the heavy hand of the State to bully another, most folks are smart enough to recognize who the little guy is in that scenario. Yes, some straight people bully gay people.  But now we're hearing too often about things going the other way.  That doesn't bring balance, that just rallies the opposition.  Why do you think so many people rushed to the support of  Sweetcakes by Melissa and Memories Pizza? The Kleins have received over 500,000 dollars from well-wishers who wanted to help them stay in business, and Memory Pizza received in excess of $800,000, all completely unsolicited.

This rallying of strangers to the plight of other strangers was a counter to the demands of those who advocated driving these small business owners into the ground as payback for their supposed sins.  Do you think all this support comes because most Americans are hateful bigots?  Surely some are, but think again.  It's mostly because Americans dislike bullies.  How else do you explain the fact that some of those supporters are gay?

I am well aware that many gay people have been the victims of vicious bullying their entire lives. But the only way we will heal this nation is to seek true justice on an individual basis.  Rights belong to individuals, not to groups. There is no such thing as "the gay community" just as there is no such thing as "the straight community" or "the white community" or "the black community."

If you doubt any of that, then try and define "the Mormon community."  I spend time on several Mormon Facebook groups, and the reason there are so many is that Mormons don't all think alike.  Not by a long shot. Even within the various Mormon Facebook groups there is a wide spectrum of diverse opinion.  A definable, uniform "Mormon community" does not exist.

It would help the cause of justice if everyone stopped identifying themselves in groups and stopped to think before blindly rallying to the support of "the group" when they half-hear some complaint or rumor.  Don't let the media lead you around by the nose; if you hear of something that doesn't sound fair, investigate before making assumptions. A little investigation on the part of Justin Trevino might have saved him a one hundred and sixty mile round trip for pizza just to make a point that didn't need making.  Had he bothered to investigate closely, he might have found out that the pizza parlor owner 1)
says he wouldn't turn anyone away from his pizza shop, 2) doesn't have a problem with gay people, and 3) had never actually refused to cater a gay wedding because he had never been asked to. 

A Lot Of Noise About Nothing
We can't get people to change.  Well, actually we can, but that takes love, not lawsuits. And in order to bring unconditional love into play, we're going to have start by changing ourselves. So, raise of hands: who wants to go first?  

As Butler Shaffer  affirms, gays have always been free to marry
"Years before 'gay marriage' became a political issue – at least twenty years ago – I attended three such gay marriages."

Natural law will always triumph, as I demonstrated in
this post regarding the fundamental right of the people to avail themselves of the use of marijuana, in spite of the fact that for almost a century their government has told them they can't. People who know they are free will find a way to pursue their own happiness whether their king grants them permission or withholds it.  

Well, today it's all become political theater and if we don't learn to settle our differences without enlisting the State as our personal bodyguard, it's only going to get worse.  Yes, yes; you have the fundamental right to be married and gay, even if other people don't like it. And you also have the fundamental right to refuse service, even if other people don't like it. The debate will never end as long as some people insist they have the right to coerce others against their will. But it will never change the nature or meaning of fundamental rights, even long after all those rights have been lost.

Adam Smith, in his 1759 classic The Theory of Moral Sentiments, suggested that societal change for
the better will come when people put themselves in the place of others; when they learn to gain true sympathy for the other person's plight.  Two hundred and fifty-six years later, we still haven't gotten it.

But then, Jesus taught much the same thing two thousand years ago, so I don't know what I'm expecting.

Click here for The Real Threat To Traditional Marriage, Part Three, where I finally get to the point of all this -including why even we Mormons have been doing it wrong for close to a hundred years.

Update, October 6, 2015:A reader has brought to my attention this fascinating report by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt which encapsulates the reasons we have such divisive debates, and how we can turn things around.  Don't let the words "social psychologist" scare you away; it's a fascinating and very informative read; plus you can get the gist of it in one page.

Another reader tipped me off to Russ Robert's newly published commentary on Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, pictured above.  I haven't read it (the book won't be available until next week), but it looks to be a fun way to take in Smith's ideas if you don't want to have to wade through Smith's entire book to get at the good stuff.  Applying Adam Smith's principles can heal the problems of society. And  if society isn't interested in changing, well, as the title suggests, Individuals can use those principles to change their own lives. Not a bad place to start.


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jstcommentary said...

Let me be the first to say that Rock might be a better teacher than all the GAs put together. Well done sir.

Nathan Lynes said...

I enjoyed your piece, but I'm trying to follow you here, Rock. What is the difference between serving someone who you disagree with in a theater or restaurant (don't have the right to refuse), and baking a cake for someone you disagree with (do have a right to refuse)? I don't see restaurants and cake shops so differently. Both give you the food you ask for. What gives one the right to refuse, and compels the other to serve without discrimination?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

This involves areas of the law that are currently shaking out. When I go to a movie theater, I am receiving the same product as everyone else. It's an off-the-shelf item, if you will. Same as if I go into a restaurant and order something off the menu.

The questions being raised that would affect a bakery involve creative rights. Suppose a couple came in to purchase a cake that was on the shelf. No problem, the transaction is made, and the customer leaves with the cake. But now suppose the customer is asking for a cake that with writing on it that say "Adam and Steve, Together Forever" and the customer wants two male figures as a cake topper. If that violates the moral code of the baker, does she have to create the cake?

How about a copywriter asked to write and print up a brochure for the Aryan Nations or some white supremacist group. That group has a right to exist, but do they have the right to expect the copywriter to create copy that violates his conscience?

The owners of Sweetcakes by Melissa were asked to create a cake for a gay wedding, which they would have to deliver. Did that constitute catering? Are they coerced into creating something they would not normally stock in their store?

Of course, the salient problem in the Klein's case was that administrative law usurped the common law, so the Kleins were convicted without benefit of any kind of due process, which is fundamental to justice. This is the reason there is little justice anymore. Administrative law circumvents justice for the sake of expediency.

Same-sex marriage is creating all kinds of legal quandaries and conflicts of laws. It will be interesting to see how things shake out.

Interesting to some people, but not to me. I'm sick of the entire adversarial process. It's cutting into my TV time.

Unknown said...

While it is true that gay couples could always marry, I think for some it is the rights the are conferred by the state to married couples that they were seeking: tax benefits, inheritance, etc. Had a law been passed that guaranteed gays these rights separate from marriage I think that a lot of this could have been avoided.

Linda Gale said...

Rock said:
"The details may have slipped, but my soul long ago absorbed the principles I learned, and those teachings infuse my character."

This is the beauty of moral beliefs: they infuse one's character, and we are forever changed by figuring out what is the moral side of any disagreement. No longer tossed to and fro by everyone's opinion, we are then truly free.

Hurrah! for you, Rock, for teaching the moral stance, rather than the 'popular thought of the day' (as the current Supreme Court is want to do).

Frederick said...

Rock, that was absolutely outstanding. Seriously, why is it sooo hard for people to grasp these concepts?

How is it that so many people have a hard time thinking rationally, or critically about this? I think it is because there are a lot of people who like to wield the power of the state. Both straight and gay alike. People love the state. What a shame.

Sam said...

If you haven't seen this already, I would highly recommend it. The author discusses a research paper about the new trend in society of getting the state involved to address hurt feelings. The authors argue this is because we have moved from an honor culture to a dignity culture to a victim culture. It was a fascinating read:

Anonymous said...

"A public store, hotel, restaurant, or theater has invited the general public to be its customers. It therefore has an obligation not to turn away a customer based on appearance, characteristics, or beliefs."

Rock, years ago McDonalds restaurants had a sign on their doors that said, "No shirt, no shoes, no service." Does this mean McDonald's was illegally requiring basic appearance characteristics? Great post, by the way.

Unknown said...

Mr Waterman's salient point to me was: We can't get people to change. Well, actually we can, but that takes love, not lawsuits. And in order to bring unconditional love into play, we're going to have start by changing ourselves. Rights belong to individuals, not to groups [because] A definable, uniform [group] does not exist.

I think this is like a cool corollary to the famous quote from Mahatma Gandhi — 'Be the change that you wish to see in the world.'

I believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is, at it's core, about literal individual transformation rather than reformation or change by external coercion.

(Luke 17:20–21)
The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

It's always been there. The portal to light and truth is engineered into each of us.

Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don't need to be helped any longer. You've always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn't you tell her before?
Glinda: She wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
Scarecrow: What have you learned, Dorothy?

Thanks Mr Waterman for another great thought provoking post. I knew you wouldn't let me down - and you didn't.

Brent Larsen said...

I'm going to have to ponderize this.

Anonymous said...

No, D&C 45:28. No, you did not just say that.

Actually this piece was very good. I think that our understanding of legal and natural rights is also closely related to and defined by our culture. For example, what is the right to marry? What is marriage? Can anyone define marriage for me? Wikipedia has a list as long as my arm of different types of marriage. I don't think we can define the word marriage in a way that can adequately encompass all these different practices and still have any meaning. If anything I think the right of association would be a better term than marriage.

Additionally, I have to disagree with Rock that I believe groups do have rights. Certainly not with the given examples, as in "the Mormon community." But a characteristic element of humanity is our communal nature. A tribe is to humans what a flock is to birds, or what pride is to lions. It is part of our nature to gather into related family tribes. And while social structures have changed since the advent of agriculture, I would argue that our nature has not. And as such a familial tribe has rights as well. These rights would extend to the maintaining of culture within the tribe. Some people may have certain responsibilities within that tribe. For example don't a father and mother have a right to define the conduct expected of their family? I'm many cases children (or tribal members) just have to do things they don't want to do, in order for the group to function.

Because of this I see the defining of these "Natural Rights" as more reflective of individualistic culture than things inherent. I'm curious how these early philosophers viewed cultures outside of their own. Especially those considered by most people to be backward thinking uncivilized brutes.

Now I'm not saying that there are no such things as natural individual rights(actually philosophically speaking I would argue that all rights are arbitrarily defined by man). What I'm saying is that I look at rights as more of a tension. yes we have rights to ourselves and be ourselves but we also a responsibilities to tribe/family/group. Ideally, these would not infringe upon the other. But sometimes they might, and I don't believe there is a simple rule to determine which rights "win out" in any given situation. I just don't think it is as simple as reasoning out a list of individual rights and saying that they trump everything. Reality is much more complex than that.

Nathan Lynes said...

Haha, I hear ya. Just love one another and it will all work out. Thanks for the explanation, I see what you are saying.

Isaiah said...

Rock, your argument gets a little murky when we step into the area of sexuality and procreation. Do gay people have a fundamental right to adopt children? Ultimately, I see that gay people want their sexuality viewed as legitimate as heterosexuality. They want to be viewed as morally right concerning sexuality and sexual intercourse.

Unknown said...

Frederick said:

"Rock, that was absolutely outstanding. Seriously, why is it sooo hard for people to grasp these concepts?

How is it that so many people have a hard time thinking rationally, or critically about this? I think it is because there are a lot of people who like to wield the power of the state. Both straight and gay alike. People love the state. What a shame."

I would agree. Since the time of Joseph Smith The LDS Church has turned to the state and federal government every single time they felt their rights were being enfringed upon.

sfort said...

ZOOB'S LAW----Generally the uninformed can be expected to oppose whatever he does not understand, hiding his own ignorance by a degree of aggressive dissent roughly equal to his ignorance.

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. (Blaise Pascal).

When this nation began taking God out of it, so went inalienable rights. Man's rights are now the inalienable rights. What once were admittedly God given rights are now man's rights under the guise of inalienable. When a new group is formed, they now invent and incorporate their believed rights and tail them with the rights guaranteed in the Consritution. It is having their cake and eating it too. Do any of you know your Constitution or do you believe in a conceived or imaginary Constitution? We realize when marriage became a legal contract during the slave issue.

If one wants to deviate from what was offered in the Constitution originally, go ahead and be my guest...just don't call it a right and seek for tax rights and rights in tort law . I think if we spent less time with contention concerning the negative, much of the malaise would vanish.

Randy and Julie said...


Enjoyed your article. Very well written and researched. I wish you all the best. I am undergoing a crisis of my own now. It's health related. I recently found out that I have cancer. This has changed me so much on the inside. I try to be more forgiving now. I am not always successful. I hope to beat this disease. I can only do it by trying to increase my faith in the Savior and remaining positive. If I am fortunate enough to overcome this, I will try to use that same filter to forgive past mistakes and errors of judgement from LDS Church Leaders. I know their mistakes don't seem quite as important to me now as they did one or two months ago. If anything, I pray we can all be tolerant and forgiving for differences of opinion. I do believe we are brothers and sisters and our Savior expects this respect and love. I appreciate your hard work, your writings and research. You have opened my eyes to many things. So have others who have contributed comments to this blog. I wish only the best for you all. I look forward to reading more from you. Take care of yourself, your wife and especially your health.


lysander said...

Aside from "creative" rights is the important distinction between a movie theater and a cake shop. The former requires payment to enter while the later is free to enter. Free entry into the cake shop does not obligate any party to enter into a deal for a cake. Invitees are merely afforded the opportunity to negotiate a deal for cake. The man in the theater already paid and so the theater was obligated to show him a movie.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Zomarah, right you are that marriage can best be defined as the right of association. Your comment prompted me to go back in and add a clarifying sentence after the list I made of fundamental rights:

"They all embody the rights to life, liberty, and/or the pursuit of one's own happiness. They also often overlap. For example, the right to marry is inclusive in the right to privacy, the right of self-determination, the right to free association, and the right of religious freedom."

I also agree with you where you feel you disagree with me, that marriage is fundamentally familial or tribal in origin. From what little we know of weddings in ancient Israel, they were celebrations primarily involving family. As weddings evolved in America, they retained that feature, but became tribal in the sense that it was a shared religious celebration often involving one's church community.

That's why I think David Dunn, the Greek Orthodox theologian I quoted in part one, came close to the nub of the distinction. He maintains that civil marriages that take place outside the realm of religion, as basically civil contracts, don't affect the sanctity of a religious marriage, because they don't pretend to be the same thing. A church has the right to define the kind of marriage it promotes, and the civil government can do something else entirely. If they want to call that "marriage", well, let them. Doesn't affect marriage as a sacrament. As far as I'm concerned, it's a weak imitation of the real thing.

But again, there was a time twenty years ago, as Butler Shaffer mentions, and I quote above, the controversy did not exist because early on few people were trying to deny others rights that had little to do with marriage.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for that link to the piece on microagressions. I think it's essential reading for anyone interested in how we've let slights and offenses define the debate. I added that link to the end of the piece as an update.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Isaiah, no argument here. The debate does get murky. That's one reason I don't argue for or against; the sociological implications are beyond my ken.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Gregory Helmsley,
I have no quarrel with some instances where the Saints sought justice, such as when they sought restitution for the actual injuries done in Missouri, and were able to document the injustices. That is the legitimate seeking of redress from actual injury involving loss of property and life.

But I do have a problem when the modern Church attempts to use the law to exact special treatment. That's one reason I object to the church being transformed from a church into a corporate entity. A corporation receives special favors, but in the process it stops being church and becomes an agent of the State.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

So sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis, my friend. But I also recognize the moral restructuring you're going through in your attitude toward others. My own disability, as with that of my wifes, has contributed to our being much less concerned with the foibles of others, and more accepting. Wish it didn't hurt so much to learn these basic lessons.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Your point about the difference between a theater and a cake shop is spot on, and I wish I had worded it as simply as that. Entry into the bakery where one hopes to place an order for a creation that has not yet been created is just the first step in the steps of negotiating whether a deal will be struck between the parties. On the other hand, the theater goer has purchased a ticket and has every expectation of getting what he has already paid for.

Unknown said...

Rock I love the references you posted at the end of your post. I am beginning to read and digest them. It's important that when there is seemingly no middle ground that we take steps to get to know and understand our neigbor. Empathy and compassion will only come from broadening our scope of contacts and inclusiveness.

One of the things about the church is, though they talk about love, and send missionaries off to all parts of the world, it's really an insular institution with service mainly directed inwards and with services and activities monopolizing the time of members so there is little chance to widen the circle. Further, demonizing those who smoke, drink, have different morality (I mean different morals, not immorality based on LDS beliefs)leads to fear of making close asociations which has consequences of judging our neighbors (us vs them). It's really hard to "know" you are in "the one true church" without at the same time believing others....dont. Sometimes I feel if more believed instead of knew, it would lead to more acceptance of those who have different values or who have alternative lifestyles.

I don't know too many people that believe they are immoral. Even the church teaches that all men have the light of Christ in them. I was once told I wasn't qualified to feel the spirit if I was not temple recommend worthy. So any personal inspiration I received was not of God because of sin. This is what I am talking about. Then no one should be able to receive revelation/inspiration. There is only one who didn't sin, correct?

I feel the reason everything is not laid out for us in 100% clarity is, one, we wouldn't need to walk by faith. Secondly, IMO God didn't spell everything out in the finest detail because he wants to see how we will treat each other when differences inevitably arise. It all comes down to love and kindness. Doubt can be a very healthy way to keep us grounded and open our eye to alternative viewpoints.

Colt H. said...

Rock I do sense a flaw in the logic that Freedom of Religion is a fundamental right:

"So, how can we tell the difference between fundamental rights and rights that are not fundamental? Simple. You can do whatever the hell you want to with your life, but if a supposed "right" you are attempting to exercise involves the threat of coercion upon another person, that right is not fundamental. Coercion is commonly associated with the phenomenon of feeling pressure to do something that one does not want to do."

I don't know if your intention was to assign this strictly to the Gay Rights, however this is a double edge sword that seems to cut at what many assume that Religion is a Fundamental Right. Because how often are we coerced to do something that makes us feel uncomfortable from a Church whether it's by paying tithing or when young 18-21 year olds knock on strangers doors and attempt to share the gospel with people? It seems to me that by the very definition and nature of religion alone does that disqualify it from being a Fundamental Right and rather Freedom of Religion is a sanctioned privilege. Freedom from Religion seems to come closer to a fundamental right.

Gregory Hensley I understand the thought that not everything is laid out for us in 100% clarity. Nothing in life is, however the ambiguity of that statement alone that God doesn't intervene because he wants us to have faith are too often a cop out. One can still exercise faith, more so if God spelled it out more clearly for them, because it wouldn't leave any wiggle room for justification to treat anybody as a second class citizen. That doesn't make God a good parent, but an absentee one, as any good parent knows, one doesn't tell their children the rules once and never leave room for clarification. God's absentia and excuses for it slowly erodes any hope that this agnostic being has that there might be a God and pushes that pendulum ever so closer to that of Atheism.

Ayon said...


Thanks for the post. I enjoyed reading about the difference between fundamental rights and conditional rights/privileges. I also really liked the response where you state that a copy writer doesn't have to wite up a brochure for an aryan power group if it violates her/his conscience. I don't know why I didn't turn that around when I responded to your last blog. Blinders on I guess:) And thanks for pointing out that kindness and rightness are not the same as legal obligations. Don't know why I didn't consider that either! Man, there's always some blinder that I need to be mindful of!

Thanks for your reply challenging religious freedom as a fundamental right. Your reply made me look at the idea of religious freedom in another light.


Ayon said...

Oops sorry, the challenge of religion as a fundamental right was made by Colt H. Thanks Colt H!


Alan Rock Waterman said...

I think you may be confusing religious freedom with dogmatism. Freedom of religion is the right to worship God according to the dictates of one's own conscience. Dogma would consist of particulars that a person must adhere to in order to remain in a specific religious order. Gregory Hemsley's comment above gives a perfect example of dogmatism when he states he was told by a church authority that without a temple recommend, it would not be possible for him to feel the spirit of God. It has nothing to do with freedom of religion; it's just one man's dogmatic opinion. It doesn't change God's reality.

Joseph Smith denounced dogma as being inconsistent with the gospel of Christ. Strict religious dogmatism smacked "too much like the Methodists, and not like the Latter-day Saints," the Prophet insisted. "Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please."

Just a few months ago I was expelled from the LDS Church because not all of my religious beliefs matched up with the current dogma that in order for a person to properly worship God, it is necessary to first acknowledge the current leader of the church possesses certain gifts. (I saw no evidence of those gifts, so I could not adhere to that particular belief.)

My religion bumped up against the religion of others in the room. Who's right and who's wrong? Well, that doesn't matter in the question of rights. How one's religion differs from another has nothing to do with the right of religious belief. By expelling me from the corporate Church, no one infringed on my right to believe as I wish. I continue to exercise my freedom of religion as before.

Has the modern LDS Church become excessively dogmatic, as you assert? Without a doubt. I believe we have far surpassed the dogmatism once inherent in 19th century Methodism. We've become the very model of a dogmatic religion. And that's why I write this blog.

Tade said...

I do agree that the theater goer who has already purchased a ticket has entered into a contractual agreement and is entitled to receive the services purchased. If he had been thrown out after having purchased a ticket without being permitted to see the movie, he would be the victim of fraud and would have a legal and moral right to seek redress from the movie theater.
I strongly disagree however, that the owner of the same theater, prior to the customer purchasing a ticket, doesn't have a fundamental right to refuse service. You said, "A public store, hotel, restaurant, or theater has invited the general public to be its customers. It therefore has an obligation not to turn away a customer based on appearance, characteristics, or beliefs."
This is not the case, and I fear that you are falling for the enticing collectivist terminology of "public accommodations." There is no such thing as a public theater, bakery or restaurant in a free society. If all of these businesses are owned by individuals, and not the state through coercive taxation, then they are private. The fact that these businesses advertise does not change the rights of ownership or the legal obligations imposed upon them. Mass marketing does not negate the ability of individuals to discriminate.
For example, say I posted an invitation on the neighborhood mailbox for a free showing of a movie at my home. Do you believe that I would be obligated to allow any person who happened upon this advertisement entry to my home? An answer in the affirmative denies the natural rights of private property and freedom of association. A negative answer raises several questions. First; how is the matter changed in a legal sense, if money were required for entry to the movie? Would I still have the right to refuse service/entry? Does the exchange of money convert an otherwise legal act into something different entirely (like the legal positivists will argue about casual sex vs. prostitution)? Second; does the changing designation of my home to a business alter the rights I have of control over my property? Why? Isn't this an artificial distinction based on twisted legalese written by state loving lawyers, bureaucrats and politicians? Third; what crime has been perpetrated on the refused patron? Has his person, property or liberty been aggressed against? Hurt feelings, do not constitute a crime. Fourth; does one have a natural right to demand service from any private establishment of their choosing, regardless of the wishes of the owners? Wouldn’t this represent a form of involuntary servitude on the part of the coerced business owner?
I believe that the argument I present is consistent with some of the intellectual giants you quote in your post like Rothbard and Mises.
Thanks for your time and especially for your blog which has helped me bolster my faith amidst many of the religious questions I have.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Your points are well taken, but now you are talking natural rights as opposed to statutory rights, which now operate in the public realm. Legislatures have ruled that by holding themselves out as a public venue, a theater, to use the present illustration, has an obligation to serve the public, all else being equal. My mistake was in using the words "appearance, characteristics, or beliefs" to summarize race, religion, et al. Naturally if someone arrives filthy, with the potential to be a public menace, no one has an obligation to let them into a public place no matter what their race or religion.

I also should have made the distinction between someone who has already been sold a ticket, and a person who simply wandered into the lobby and has yet to contract with the owner. As you point out, the ticket represents a contract between the business and the patron. I would agree the merchant would have the right to refuse to contract with a particular patron, but the statutory law requires he not do so merely on the basis of race, religion, or characteristics. (It should be noted that Title 42.21 which I cited does not specify sexual orientation, although I suppose that's coming. Some states may have statutes to that effect already (I don't know; I haven't researched it.) At any rate, if a particular theater did turn customers away for being gay, word would get out and the free market would determine the rightness or wrongness of that decision for that particular business.

Look at how the free market operated a year or two back over the kerfuffle over Chick-Fil-A. Some LGBT activists called for a boycott of the restaurants because the company head had co-sponsored a conference on marriage and family in Pennsylvania. Many people took up the cause and withheld their business. Others, many who had never before set foot in a Chick-Fil-A franchise, began to patronize the establishment as a show of support. That's how the free market works, as I'm sure you know, Tade. Those who like the food walk in and purchase it; those who disagree with the CEO's position on political issues are free to buy their chicken sandwiches someplace else. With the free market, everybody wins. No one is forced to use their money to support a company they don't like, and people who like the food don't find their favorite store shut down because someone else wants to retaliate.

Compare the theater example above with someone who comes into a bakery to negotiate the terms of a cake they wish to order. They are asking the business to create something for them that does not yet exist, for which they will pay a pre-determined sum. I would suggest the bakery has the right to decline to negotiate.

It would appear that the customer still has the statutory privilege to purchase a cake "off the shelf." Fundamentally, the baker has the right to refuse service to anyone she pleases. The nexus that obligates a public business to follow statutory law is the business license. It's my understanding that "Sweetcakes by Melissa" has closed its doors, but Melissa continues to create confections to order from her home. This may be a way they are able to ignore State coercion. They only bake cakes for their friends, reserving themselves the right to freedom of association.

Tade said...

Rock, thanks for the response.
Maybe I am confused about whether you are making your point based on natural rights or on current legal practice in the United States. I do not disagree that current statues set forth punishments for those business owners who would seek to refuse service to some members of a legally protected class.
My contention is that any statute that isn't an extension of natural law is morally void. St Thomas Aquinus said "An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law." Therefore, any legislation, no matter the governing body that promulgated or affirmed it, if in violation of basic natural rights, such as the right of association, is no true law at all. In a free and just society, these laws should not exist and do not hold the moral authority of laws in alignment with natural law. However, laws against murder or theft that are the legal codification of the natural rights to life and property are not unjust and are perfectly proper. Therefore, if men inherently have the right to choose with whom they associate, this is a natural right and any man made laws to the contrary hold no moral standing.
So while I agree that refusing service to someone based on some superficial characteristic such as religion or race is morally wrong, unenlightened and a likely disastrous business move, it is one on which the law should be silent.
All the best,
Trent (Tade)

Jared Livesey said...

So what ought the law to be?

What is the "natural" law?

Is ownership - the claim that I get to kill you if you touch my stuff, and you can't kill me back for it - a natural right?

Jared Livesey said...

And how is morality separate from "natural" law?

Jared Livesey said...

"Natural law is a philosophy that certain rights or values are inherent by virtue of human nature, and universally cognizable through human reason. Historically, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze both social and personal human nature to deduce binding rules of moral behavior. The law of nature, being determined by nature, is universal."

That is, "natural" law is an excuse to point guns at someone for doing stuff that's immoral.

So, what ought the law to be? And why? What problem are you solving? Is your proposed solution going to solve the problem, given humans are the way they are?

Tade said...

Log said "And how is morality separate from "natural" law?

Morality encompasses a code of virtue, while natural law recognizes rights inherent in our humanity. The two, though related, are not synonymous.

For example, the principle of self ownership is part of natural law. I, and I alone own and have a right to my body. It is not subject to ownership by another. How my body is to be taken care of, adorned and fed are wholly my own business and outside the force of others. Anything I do to my own body is within my rights so long as it does not infringe on the life, property or liberty of another. Therefore, though it may be morally wrong to take destructive (legal or illegal) substances into my body, it is not against the natural law. An individual or groups of individuals (often called governments) acting against this natural right to my body would be acting immorally.

Jared Livesey said...


Let us start at the last four questions I asked, if you don't mind. We haven't even established that the concept of "rights" is coherent, much less agreed that we had ought to adopt it and point guns at people over it.

Not trying to be offensive.

Jared Livesey said...

After all, Wikipedia claims natural law is simply enforced morality.

A claim which seems to match what people actually do and say about it.

But that's not so interesting, since people suck.

Jared Livesey said...

Better yet, let us get a coherent definition of "right" and "wrong" and see where we go from there.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Tade, regarding your comment at 3pm: don't misunderstand me. Simply because I recognize the reality of statutory laws that act to coerce a person against his will, does not mean I agree with them. And though some of them can be reasoned to operate on principle, many do not.

So an open invitation to the public to shop does not mean the shopkeeper has no right of refusal. His right to refuse is fundamental, but the legislature does not always recognize that. It may be detrimental to a man's business if he turns away customers, but to do that is his natural right. He may even go out of business by being unreasonably discriminating, but his right to discriminate is fundamental, whether the legislature recognizes his rights or not. His business is, ultimately, his business.

What the small business owner probably doesn't know is that the business license represents the contract wherein he signed away his rights. That is the toe-hold the State takes to prevent him from exercising his rights. It's insidious, because it represents a contract of adhesion; a contract that carries with it all kinds of additional stipulations that stick to him like adhesives and which he likely does not realize he is stipulating to, and to which he is given no alternative if he expects to operate in certain municipalities.

I wish everyone would click on the links I provide, though I realize not everyone does. The one at the end of this piece by Jonathan Haidt is very much worth taking a look at (it was first brought to my attention by reader Sam above), because it shows how we went from a dueling society where minor insults were avenged by killing the offender, to very much the same thing today, except instead of taking revenge personally, people enlist their "Champion" in the form of the State, to "teach a lesson" to the one who caused the social offense. Here is the gist of Haidt's piece:

"I just read the most extraordinary paper by two sociologists — Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning — explaining why concerns about microaggressions have erupted on many American college campuses in just the past few years. In brief: We’re beginning a second transition of moral cultures.

"The first major transition happened in the 18th and 19th centuries when most Western societies moved away from cultures of honor (where people must earn honor and must therefore avenge insults on their own) to cultures of dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They forswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.

"Campbell and Manning describe how this culture of dignity is now giving way to a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized."

Jared Livesey said...


I wrote on a similar topic a ways back:

Combine that with this:

And you have a problem. One that is not solved by appeal to so-called "natural law".

Jared Livesey said...

You might call this the fundamental problem of government.

As I put it to Judge Napolitano, who did not respond:

"Once you have agreed someone may use lethal force against you, the only issue to be settled is where the line is to be drawn on its use – and, naturally, that line shall be drawn by the person using lethal force against you. Anything you do is by his permission, ultimately – that’s a fundamental problem with government by force. But what other kind of government can there possibly be?"

Do you see the problem?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I haven't read the wikipedia entry on Natural Rights, but I'm surprised that some writer there decided natural law is enforced morality. On second thought, I shouldn't be surprised, because as anyone will learn when delving into the topic, the meaning is still debated. Or, as some philosophers would say, some people just don't understand.

I don't think Natural Law can be enforced. It just is. That is not to say that governments have not tried to enforce such things. History is replete with examples of kings and governments trying to punish people for either exercising their fundamental rights, or violating the rights of others. I don't think whippings and putting people in stocks was effective.

I'll need some time to check out your previous pieces, Log, but I'm pretty sure we won't settle the debate about natural law on this forum.

I still favor the meaning I quoted in my piece; that Natural Law represents the natural inclination of a man. As long as his inclinations do not infringe on others, he's free to indulge his whims.

Pufendorf had something to say about man in his truly natural state: dirty, filthy, hungry, and lonely. (Rousseau's Natural Man, in contrast, was one who was happy and free.)

Pufendorf's lowly creature possessed the ability to take from nature in order to feed himself, clothe himself, and shelter himself if he wanted to remove himself from that aspect of the "natural state" that was undesirable. It might not have been easy, but what he did NOT have the right to do was take from others in order to eat. This mythological "natural man" -and he was imaginary, because this is a philosophical construct after all*- made his greatest strides when he learned to cooperate with others for the good of himself and the society or tribe he was a part of.

Whoever this hypothetical "natural man" was, he had to learn to submerge his natural instincts if he wanted to get along with others, just as a child has to learn not to be selfish and mean if he ever wants to have any friends.

*Rousseau said that "the philosophers who have examined the foundations of society have all felt the necessity of going back as far as the state of nature, but none of them has reached it...All of them, continually speaking of need, greed, oppression, desires, and pride transferred to the state of Nature ideas they had taken from society."

The Great Minds didn't have it all figured out, so don't look at me.

Jared Livesey said...

The goal God has got is producing an eternal, free, loving, joyful, dynamic, diverse society without conflict. The solution to this problem is the golden rule.

It's not just the rule, either - the rule itself is but a verbal description of the behavior of love, or charity.

Charity is what God defines as "good," while anything more or less than this is "evil."

You're free to disagree with him, of course; all have that privilege, and can define good or evil along any other lines they wish. This world is, in part, a demonstration of his claim - that nothing other than the golden rule leads to peace and happiness. Everything else ends in death and destruction and hell.

Because anything other than love collapses into fear-based hierarchies vying for control and security. Eternal warfare, where people only cooperate if it is the most efficient way to assure themselves of security; but security is only assured if there is no rival more powerful than one.

So "natural law" is a canard, so long as it is restricted to the concerns of this sphere. When you address the real problem - solving conflict permanently, freely, and peaceably - even joyfully - among a society of eternal, immortal beings - then you see why the law is what it is.

This, by the way, is why I think atheists ought to be excluded from participation in governance. Being deluded in the first place as to the nature of reality, they will tend to seek to exploit power for their short-term advantage, convinced they can avoid the long-term blowback since the universe ends with their death.

And, this is also why I think gays should be excluded. They will typically adopt an "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die" mentality since they typically have no posterity to concern themselves with, and will therefore be profligate with resources in pursuit of personal aggrandizement and pleasure, similar to atheists. John Maynard Keynes, whose economic recommendations the governments have adopted, was gay, and his recommendations follow this principle.

And we are impoverished in no small part because of the adoption of his recommendations.

Also because gays have not got a lot invested in future generations for obvious reasons, they are more inclined to use power to coerce others into conformity with their views and claims to normality / morality. After all, what's the point of power if it isn't to make your life more pleasant? So gays typically are on the side of power - a point perhaps clumsily made in The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, by Scott Lively.

Now, I don't mean to say such should be deprived of governance in a secular - IE, godless - government where the only barrier to entry is popularity. O hells no. Let them eat cake, I say, and force it on others until they've had their fill. That's part of the point of the demonstration of this world, and part of its persuasive power.

Their rule sucks, and must necessarily suck, for they are abusive - they do unto others what they would not that others should do unto them. That's the point of seeking for power in this world: to insulate oneself from abuse, and place oneself in a position to perpetrate it.

All we can do is flee when the opportunity arises.

Jared Livesey said...

Also, and perhaps not coincidentally, one of the points to Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misbehavior is that sexual immorality drives a lot of what we see in our governing classes and intellectuals.

Seems everyone's hell bent on removing God from public discourse so they can pork their neighbor's wife or son and deny the claims of their consciences.

Jared Livesey said...

The natural man is fear, lust, hate, covetousness, malice, envy, enmity, insecurity, and oppositional defiance.

Do you really want a system of coercion based on his whims, advancing his goals?

With him in charge?

I mean, really?

Tade said...

Rock, thanks for helping me understand your position and not attacking me for unwittingly mischaracterizing your position. I believe we were both in agreement about natural rights vs. statutory rights, though looking at the issue from slightly different angles.

I agree wholeheartedly with your comments about business licenses. Every year I have to pay the government and non governmental monopolistic agencies hundreds of dollars for the right to work! Some free country when a man has to pay off his overlords to earn a right to a wage that will put food on the table for him and his family.

Again, thanks for the discussion and keep up the great work you do through this blog.

Dox said...

It is unfortunate that "natural law" and "natural man" both contain the word natural, as it leads to great misunderstanding.

Natural law has nothing to do with "the natural man," as we read in the Book of Mormon.

A portion of a definition that I really like comes from the mises wiki: "Natural law is the view that there exists an absolute and eternal standard of value...Natural law is seen as a form of justice or set of laws which human authority can express, or ought to express, but does not create."

"Natural," in natural man (fear, lust, hate, covetousness, malice, envy, enmity, insecurity, and oppositional defiance), means something totally different than the "natural" in natural law (expressed by, but uncreated by man).

Law is not used as in a physical law of nature, that cannot be broken, but more in the way that you can use it to judge the correctness, the rightness or wrongness, of an action based on a eternal standard.

I reject that coercion is consistent with natural law and a necessary byproduct of it.

Agree with this proposition or not, lets at least attempt to use the same definition of things as we talk back and forth.

Jared Livesey said...

If coercion is inconsistent with natural law, neither then is property consistent with natural law.

After all, what is property except the claim that if you touch what I call my crap, I get to kill you without fear of legal reprisals?

Colt H. said...

Rock, I don't believe I was confusing Freedom of Religion and Dogma at all. The examples I used were more LDS centered and there definitely is a dogmatic force overtaking sincere believers of faith. However I'll use the example of Kim Davis, not once did she mention that she couldn't issue marriage licenses because it violated her church teachings or dogma, but rather her conscience, because she followed God's authority. That seems to indicate that she was exercising her Freedom of Religion which in effect that exercise devolved into coercing not only Homosexual couples but Heterosexual couples, into not being allowed their Constitutional Rights of a Government sanctioned marriage license as ruled by the Supreme Court.

I know how cliché it is to bring up the founders intentions on separation of church and state, but I'm certain that this is what it was intended for to prevent one to use exert unrighteous dominion over somebody due to their prescribed belief.

The term Freedom of Religion is a bit of a misnomer when describing it as a Fundamental Right. Perhaps a better name to describe a Fundamental Right in the context would be "The freedom to believe in the existence of a Higher Power." It is a more correct, albeit longer, turn of phrase.

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Jared Livesey said...

Now, while I may have phrased things non-optimally, the roots of the problem of governance are there, as well as the reasons why certain segments of the population ought to be excluded from governance, given rational purposes of government.

It's interesting - why was adultery, homosexuality, atheism, and so on - suppressed by force in ancient Israel? Could it be because when they get a voice in governance, they implement policies - which are laws applied with sometimes lethal force against others - favoring their short-term interests while destroying the long-term stability of the society?

Rather than assuming Moses or some designing, corrupt, indolent priests were on some power trip, or were primitive arrogant homophobic fundamentalists who fraudulently appealed to a non-existent sky fairy to justify their prejudices, why not go through the records of history and see what happened when those things were permitted to occur?

And you get a pretty interesting picture.

Wouldn't it be interesting if the only consistent "natural law" - one intended to govern a society of natural men and keep them stable and perpetuated into the future - turned out to mirror in all significant respects the Law of Moses?

Jared Livesey said...

And, Ben, I'm not confusing categories. I'm trying to make it clear what rests in the heart of man. What "morality" will natural man derive from the natural world? If all natural men agree on certain propositions, are those propositions "universally true"?

If all natural men agree that we should be able to kill people who touch our stuff, does that make it "universally moral?"

And so on.

Pops said...

Mere Christianity - C. S. Lewis

Jared Livesey said...

And consider this - we require judges to disclose conflicts of interest and recuse themselves if a matter comes before the court in which they have an interest. We recognize that natural men will ofttimes pervert justice by using power to rule in their own favor.

But in writing laws and pointing guns at one another, the natural man has a decided interest in the outcome, for the same reasons.

What is the implication?

"Oh how powerful a reasoner human self-interest is!" - Hugh Nibley, citing Tertullian

Unknown said...

Kohlberg's stages of moral developemnt is a good thing to become familiar with. Kohlberg's research interest focused upon the moral development of children and, in particular, how they develop a sense of right, wrong, and justice. Kohlberg believed that children generate their own moral judgments. Motivated primarily by social relationships including, but not limited to, parents, siblings, peers, friends and secondarily by a variety of emotions including, but no limited to love, respect, empathy, and attachment children develop into moral agents.

Level 1: Punishment and obedience. What could be called a "premoral" stage, what an agent will do is determined by calculating the immediate physical consequences that might ensue not the moral value of an action. By deferring to power, the agent's overarching goal is to avoid physical punishment. Thus, at stage one, obedience not moral sentiments or compunction characterizes decision making.

Level 2: Personal reward punishment. An individual does what is necessary and makes concessions to superiors but only as required to satisfy one's self-interest.

Level 3: Interpersonal conformity. A moral agent acts not from any personal moral sensibility but in order to gain approval from valued others because what is good and right is defined as conformity with the behavioral expectations of one's society or peer group. The moral worth of conduct is irrelevant. What counts, morally speaking, is that one's conduct gratify or help others or simply that Everybody is doing it because the moral agent's goal is to earn approval from these others. A sin or "bad" conduct is a breach of the conventional expectations of the social order. Retribution at this stage is collective for example, the group will shun an individual and punishment is intended to deter other members of the group from engaging in similar conduct. A failure to punish is believed to be unfair, the rationale being, If she can get away with it, why can't I?

Level 4: Law and order orientation. Most people never attain past level 4, which indicates respecting rules, laws and duly constituted authority as well as defense of a given social and institutional order, for it's own sake. Upholding the status quo is of primary importance.

Level 5 Moral agents act out of a sense of mutual obligation and the public good and right conduct tends to be defined in terms of general individual rights and in terms of standards critically examined and agreed upon by the whole society (e.g., the U.S. Constitution).

Level 6 An individual who reaches this stage acts out of universal principles based upon the equality and intrinsic worth of all human beings who are never means to an end, but are ends in themselves. Possessing inalienable rights means more than individual liberty; it means that every individual is due consideration of his interests in every situation, those interests being of equal importance with one's own.

Kohler states that most people never mature past stage 4 and many people never reach that stage. As far as religion and leadership, I would propose that if you take the chain of command all the way to the top in any religion, if that God promotes "means to an end" philosophy and carries out his will through the use of coercion, shaming, withdrawal of love and excommunications (out of the church and out of your family), that is the picture of a morally lower level functioning God who is himself developmentally stunted in levels 4.

Jared Livesey said...

The more I think on this, the more clear the Lord's purposes in Israel, and even the Church, become.

In particular, removing the ruling of the people from the clutches of ambitious and campaigning men, who offer to reduce or eliminate the restrictions of the law for some, and maybe to impose new sanctions on others, in exchange for power. In ancient Israel, you were born a priest, or you weren't a priest.

Jared Livesey said...

It's coming.

The same problem in a different context.

So, suppose you want a free society - where there is no enforcement.

You can therefore only admit the self-disciplined.

Whatever the law is, it must be inviolable and unchangeable, because it is, after all, THE solution to a free society.

So whoever seeks to change it must be killed or cast out or the society ends when they succeed in altering it, thus destroying the formerly harmonious whole for the benefit of a small part.

The law must be opted into - you have to be taught the law, fully, and competently agree to abide by it.

You must demonstrate, under duress, you will freely keep the law - under any and all circumstances. Then you can be trusted and admitted.

That's heaven. The law is the golden rule.

Down here, you have many, if not most, who are not self-disciplined.

So if you want a stable society, you have to have an involate law that at a minimum implements tit-for-tat, or justice. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.

And you have to remove vengeance from the hands of the injured; we're trying to train them to forgo hatred.

And you have to prevent alteration of the law by death or banishment, because it is THE solution to preserving a functional, tolerable society including the non-self disciplined. This will also help prevent electioneering.

And again, this system must be opted-into, thus the penalties are just for they were agreed to.

And you have to enforce enforcement - the rulers must suffer the penalties they sought to avoid inflicting, and they must suffer the penalties they sought to impose, for if they were successful in perverting the application of the law, it would destroy the society over the longer term while they benefit in the shorter term. And you depose them, at a minimum.

And you have to penalize ambition - a hereditary ruling caste, maybe we could call them priests, mandated to a subsistence standard of living might work. I like casting lots, myself, but in no case shall a man seeking rule have it. Because the ambitious seek to trade short-term gain for the long-term pain of the society of the whole. Remember, the law has a purpose, and whatever it is, it is the solution to creating a tolerable society comprised of individuals of all maturity types.

And so on.

It kinda writes itself.

Jared Livesey said...

In fact, we can build a case against tolerance of homosexuality based on normal economics - the relative costs of orgasms between men and men vs. men and women - and reproductive biology in light of long-term survival of a society. There is no practical upside that I can see to tolerance, but I can see a lot of upside in power-seeking for appearing tolerant and facilitating the collapse of sexual discipline. Again, it's a short-term gain in exchange for a long-term pain - death, even, for the society involved.

Consider that for a woman to have sex in absence of birth control, she runs a high risk of pregnancy, which consumes a lot of resources and may even cost her life. If the man declines to support and sustain his reproductive partner and child, then she takes upon herself all the risks. Clearly, a woman's best sexual strategy would be to not put out unless the man were willing to commit his resources to her and his progeny through her. So she waits for marriage.

On the other hand, the guy has very little incentive to marry for orgasms, if homosexuality is openly practiced. He can go get his rocks off whenever he wants without impregnating his partners. Between the local "John" and sweet Marsha, John gives all the fun and none of the financial drawbacks, whereas Marsha will almost certainly incur a life-altering cost.

So he picks John over Marsha.

Marsha, on the other hand, seeing her biological clock ticking down, and wanting children as normal women are wont to do, lowers her price to compete in the sexual marketplace. She stops waiting for marriage and instead hopes to cuckold some sucker by claiming her child is his. (This problem is why paternity tests rather than marriages take place in certain populations.) But most guys won't take the chance there either. She's not loose enough to guarantee the chicken won't come home to roost.

Jane, on the other hand, sees guys just wanna have fun, and most of them prefer women; they just don't want kids. So she sees an avenue to financial gain by offering her pillar of fire to whatever pointed prophet pays to spew the word of life in her. And they do pay, and whatever children she has or would have are either raised without a father or killed in utero or shortly after birth. Since she's a known slut, she can't stick anyone with the bill for her kids. Everyone's got plausible deniability.

And thus we see that open homosexuality breaks the long-term stable heterogamous reproductive strategy, opens up war between the sexes, encourages prostitution, destroys self-discipline, and kills the society in question.

And that's before we even get to talking about the venereal diseases, psychological problems, loss of love or never loving at all, and the increased incidences of rapes which would likely transpire when men are trained, or have trained themselves, to see everything on two legs as a receptacle for semen.

There is no upside that I can see. And the same analysis holds for bestiality, as well.

I grant this is a rough draft.

Jared Livesey said...

Indeed, a similar analysis holds for adultery and fornication. Hmm.

Jared Livesey said...

If you're interested in "natural" law as it relates to marriage, this really seems to me to be a "must-read."

PNW_DPer said...

Some interesting comments and links. I still wonder how much of this "moral breakdown" of society stems from all the human penchant for war and violence that was so prominent in the "Great Wars" (and the occasionally hot "Cold Wars")of the 20th Century, continuing on into the 21th century in the middle east, Africa, Ukraine, etc.

Once you devalue the human lives of the "enemy", in order to justify killing and "vengeance", you start on the slippery slope of devaluing all human life, and the moral structures that support human life and civilization in regard to all of these other issues of sexuality and morality.

I have personally witnessed among my own family and loved ones, many issues that relate back to the wars that the US has been involved in during the 20th Century, issues that include abortion, depression, suicide, murder, and same-sex attraction as some of the most tragic results. Yes, these have happened to dear loved ones, and yes, they do relate, directly or indirectly, to the dehumanization of society from the US experience in war.

Jared Livesey said...

That probably contributed.

On another related topic, why do we discuss "rights"?

I can imagine a governance where "rights" do not exist, but only duties.

Why should a society predicated upon "rights" be the default position?

What problem does "rights" solve?

What problems do "rights" cause?

Can there be a stable society predicated on "rights"?

Which set of problems is more important to be solved?

Brother Wayne said...

This whole discussion I find nearly laughable. Years ago I embraced Mormon Fundamentalism as the way I believe I must live to please our Father in Heaven. I am married to three women, all consensual and no, none of them were below the age of consent. No, none of us are on "welfare" and no, I don't abuse my wives in the usual Hollywood stereotype of beastly polygamous men who high on their own testosterone. But when you speak of "discrimination" and the "laws against you", I can safely say we've lost jobs, been denied housing, been told to "leave" and so forth when Church members have found out how we live. Appeals to the Courts or to "establish our rights" go unheard and ignored. A number of years ago, Royston Potter who was a Murray Police Officer, having been FIRED for his belief in plural marriage and his actual practice of this religious principle (he married four wives) appealed his firing to the Federal Courts of Utah, then the Appeals Court in Denver and then cert denied to the US Supreme Court. What's more he could not even get a job in Utah thanks to the strong influence of the "Strengthening the Church Committee". George P. Lee who sat on that committee at that time later apologized to Brother Potter for his part in that abuse. Of course the secret recording made of that interview was "lost" by the FBI when Brother Potter sought to sue the Church for that bit of indiscretion.

The bottom line is this: For years and years and even now, if you have contracted with more than ONE wife (a principle well established in our tradition and by scripture) to be part of your family, you can expect "discrimination" and "abuse" at the hands of the society in general with some happy exceptions. Ah, but if you're "gay" well, now you'll get your own set of "non-discrimination" laws courtesy of the Utah Legislature at the behest of LDS General Authorities. I find the dichotomy laughable, disengenous hypocritical.

Jared Livesey said...

Should have made more than one copy of the interview, I guess.

I'm going to suggest "Nephi's" experience, and attitude, illustrates a fundamental problem with the concept of "rights."

When "rights" come into conflict - "Nephi" is clearly unhappy with others exercising their "right" of free association to disassociate with him and his economically - then the conflict can only be resolved arbitrarily. It's really a coin flip; who knows what the ideology of the judge will be?

But this means that the law (based on "rights") cannot be relied upon to predict what the courts will in fact do.

So we all become whiny little children appealing to our parents to get our way, and if they don't give us what we want, we're going to scream and cry and make their life unpleasant until they do - like how the Jews threatened Pontius Pilate to crucify Jesus.

But we can't all get what we want. So eventually, the whole unstable system must collapse into death and destruction. Because everybody's "right" and that's clearly wrong. And the only way to settle it, since the courts are a crapshoot, is by force of arms.

I wonder why people don't recognize passing laws as an admission of philosophical contradiction with reality. Each additional law means the previous set was incomplete or contradictory - that is, the lawgivers didn't have the answers, and they're adding epicycles to try to shore up a false model of reality, or law.

That's assuming they mean well. They may not:

Jared Livesey said...

Oh, sorry, left something out - the system must collapse because we don't have a non-arbitrary reason to impress upon people as to why they should peaceably accept that they lost the coin flip.

After all, YOLO, and everyone's an induhvidual. So if you don't get yours here and now, you never will. You gonna let some dude in a black robe, or some clown wearing a badge, stop you?

So goeth "rights."

Julene Humes said...

Rock, What do you think of the scriptural statement, "The natural man is an enemy to God," in the context of natural law as you are defining it?

Andrew Teasdale said...


So, in the post before this one, you ended it with a teaser on why your bishop will require you to get a license. And then wrote, "I've wondered why that is for over thirty years, and only recently figured out why. "

I think you haven't shared the "why" with us yet, correct?

Well, because it's fun, and I'd love to scoop you on this : ), I think the reason has to do with polygamy. I think the Church is using the state to ensure none of those pesky polygamists get in to a temple and get sealed. That's my #1 hypothesis. #2 is that the Church wants to be seen as a strong supporter of the state and not requiring licenses would be perceived as odd and not supportive.

Andrés De Ávila said...

I invite you to share you history and experience with ponderize

Justin Francom said...

Great post Rock

Regarding the use of the state to settle petty slights and hurt feelings I remembered an article I read recently about victim culture. It is directly looking at it from a perspective of manhood but it is very relevant to your analysis of rights.

I don't have a problem with someone being gay, but I do tend to find that many gay organizations and supporters (oddly more so than actual gay individuals) fall into this victim culture. And I do have a problem with his victim culture.

R. Metz said...

It seems that neither Mormonism nor dissenting from it is broadening people's minds these days. While millions of people are fleeing the Middle East right now (172.000 refugees reached the borders of Germany during last september alone) you guys are discussing gay marriage in Mormon culture.
There was a time that this forum showed a better perspective on world issues.

R. Metz said...

And of course I agree with Nephi Efraïm whose comment was made a few days earlier.
Though not having fundamentalist ideas myself, I also feel that this gay promoting is the world upside down, certainly from a Mormon point of view.

Jared Livesey said...

Here's the proper attitude towards "world issues": Think local, act local. Nobody likes Mr. Butt-insky.

You do realize that the Gospel is the immigration program of the kingdom of Heaven, right?

And the entry requirements are so strict that I can only name 3 people who have credibly claimed to be members of that kingdom, able to come and go as they wish, one of which was Joseph Smith?

So why don't we take the gospel for our model immigration policy?

1. You have to be taught the law.
2. You have to covenant to keep it.
3. You have to demonstrate that you will freely keep it.
4. You have to show under duress, possibly even death, that you will keep it.
5. Having demonstrated you will freely honor the law to the furthest extreme, you are granted citizenship.

Anyone who comes in any other way is a thief and a robber.

"A better perspective."

Accepting the invitation of a whore of a country spreading her legs and offering to pay you to come does not a refugee make.

In general, seeking a country with more liberal welfare offerings - that is, who's willing to give you more of other's stolen stuff - does not a refugee make.

Thieves and robbers and rapists.

Jared Livesey said...

And, think well on this - these are people who have demonstrably failed at conflict resolution in their home states, where people shared their culture and spoke their language and shared their morals and laws.

How much better at conflict resolution do you think they'll be in foreign states, where people don't share their culture, don't speak their language, and have different morals and laws?

Or do you suspect that maybe - just maybe - they will be the source of conflicts in the states to which they've "fled" seeking to take economic advantage of native populations?

I mean, if you're going to "think globally" and chide others for not measuring up to your level of "global social enlightenment" shouldn't you be accounting for these probabilities and solving these problems?

Jared Livesey said...

Oh, and by the by, since almost all (im)migration is economic in nature - you really don't want to accept people who are on the outs with their home country's military or political caste unless you're looking to stir shit up towards that other country (this was a common ploy of Nephite dissenters; the Lamanites never seemed to learn and kept welcoming them; happened during the 'Murican push to war with Iraq, too) - that's why it is common to distrust people with foreign accents.

Jared Livesey said...

Indeed, now it occurs to me that there is a lesson in immigration policy from the Book of Mormon.

Alma 50

7 And it came to pass that Moroni caused that his armies should go forth into the east wilderness; yea, and they went forth and drove all the Lamanites who were in the east wilderness into their own lands, which were south of the land of Zarahemla.

8 And the land of Nephi did run in a straight course from the east sea to the west.

9 And it came to pass that when Moroni had driven all the Lamanites out of the east wilderness, which was north of the lands of their own possessions, he caused that the inhabitants who were in the land of Zarahemla and in the land round about should go forth into the east wilderness, even to the borders by the seashore, and possess the land.

10 And he also placed armies on the south, in the borders of their possessions, and caused them to erect fortifications that they might secure their armies and their people from the hands of their enemies.

Such was the response of the honored Nephite captain, working by the voice of the people and the laws of God, towards "refugees."

On the other hand, when a people would petition for entrance, this is the response.

Alma 27

21 And it came to pass that the chief judge sent a proclamation throughout all the land, desiring the voice of the people concerning the admitting their brethren, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi.

22 And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: Behold, we will give up the land of Jershon, which is on the east by the sea, which joins the land Bountiful, which is on the south of the land Bountiful; and this land Jershon is the land which we will give unto our brethren for an inheritance.

23 And behold, we will set our armies between the land Jershon and the land Nephi, that we may protect our brethren in the land Jershon; and this we do for our brethren, on account of their fear to take up arms against their brethren lest they should commit sin; and this their great fear came because of their sore repentance which they had, on account of their many murders and their awful wickedness.

24 And now behold, this will we do unto our brethren, that they may inherit the land Jershon; and we will guard them from their enemies with our armies, on condition that they will give us a portion of their substance to assist us that we may maintain our armies.

Note well the mutual benefit in the arrangement, and the people agreeing to it, instead of it being the will of a chancellor.

Which example does the current situation in Europe most resemble?

Jared Livesey said...

Oh, hah, yes, that bit about stirring up shit against other countries by accepting those on the outs with the political or military caste shows up in the example of the Zoramite outcasts.

Alma 35

8 Now the people of the Zoramites were angry with the people of Ammon who were in Jershon, and the chief ruler of the Zoramites, being a very wicked man, sent over unto the people of Ammon desiring them that they should cast out of their land all those who came over from them into their land.

9 And he breathed out many threatenings against them. And now the people of Ammon did not fear their words; therefore they did not cast them out, but they did receive all the poor of the Zoramites that came over unto them; and they did nourish them, and did clothe them, and did give unto them lands for their inheritance; and they did administer unto them according to their wants.

10 Now this did stir up the Zoramites to anger against the people of Ammon, and they began to mix with the Lamanites and to stir them up also to anger against them.

11 And thus the Zoramites and the Lamanites began to make preparations for war against the people of Ammon, and also against the Nephites.

12 And thus ended the seventeenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi.

Again, which situation seems to be closest to what's happening in Europe right now?

My money's on #1 - where Moroni tossed the uninvited refugee squatters off Nephite lands.

But maybe more broadminded Mormons can tell me what wisdom is.

Unknown said...

Rock, at your suggestion I read The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt. I'm still looking at some other sources that deal with with these throny issues.

I can wholeheartedly endorse the above book. It should be required reading before commenting on blogs or any social media. Excellent read!

Jared Livesey said...

As requirements for commenting on blogs or social media, I would settle for

1. Observational skills
2. Reading comprehension
3. Critical thinking skills
4. Internal ideological consistency
5. Absence of social hierarchical posturing

Rock does pretty good on these metrics.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I was contacted recently by someone who wondered where the heck I've been the past week. She hasn't seen me contribute anything anywhere online as I often do, and wondered why.

Health issues have kept me offline, and yes, I see it's been nine days since I have so much as read my own blog's comments. It's one thing when Connie's health issues flare up; only gets worse when I'm having problems. It may yet be another two weeks before I blog again, but I'll try to keep up with reading the comments here.

Anyway, I just caught up with the comments on this page. Log and I are personal friends offline and have phone discussions frequently, so I won't comment on his contributions except to say they are always thought provoking. Log, when I'm feeling better, I'll call for another chat.

I a moment I will address a couple of comments or questions that were directed at me, but I don't really feel like typing too much, so I will leave the conversational back and forth to the rest of you. Getting old, I guess.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Julene Humes asks,
"Rock, What do you think of the scriptural statement, "The natural man is an enemy to God," in the context of natural law as you are defining it?"

That's the crux of the great philosophical debate that took place during the enlightenment, Julene, and I think Ben's comment above encapsulated the difference between natural law and the natural man.

Let me elaborate further, to summarize the dichotomy observed by the philosophers. Here we had Mankind, God's perfect creation, who, instead of acting benevolently toward his fellows, immediately reverted to Human Nature, which was inherently selfish.

The philosophers recognized that all persons possessed, by virtue of being God's children, the right to exist. So he had the right to feed himself, and shelter himself. But no sooner did the "natural man" emerge from his isolated habitat, than Human Nature took over -the "Natural Man"- and it's human nature for some people to take the easy way to get what they want, by taking from others, and even killing others when they feel like it.

This led to tribal chieftains, and eventually to the idea of "The Divine Right of Kings", which stated that the king was ordained by God to be the boss of everyone else. Some of the Great Thinkers of the Enlightenment like John Locke and Samuel Rutherford observed that this idea was hogwash, that a king was subject to God's law same as everyone else; no one, not even a king, was above the natural law, which stated that everyone had fundamental rights that could not be abrogated.

Trouble was, it was the human nature of kings which "permitted" them to abrogate the rights of others all the time. So the founders of our country implemented a government designed specifically to RESTRAIN human nature. Government's role was not to lord it over the people, but only to protect the people's fundamental rights. Therefore, when someone violated another's right by stealing from him, or murdering him, that's when the government stepped in. The government was then required to prove the crime before the government could punish the criminal.

Most importantly, government agents were held to the same limits under the law as anyone else. Unlike a king, who could do as he wished, the president must obey the law just like everyone else.


Alan Rock Waterman said...

Julene Humes, (Continued)

So the natural man has to be restrained. Restrained by what? By the natural law which says that no man can violate the rights of any other.

So the natural man is an enemy to God because he is an enemy to his fellow humans. Mosiah 3:19 tells us he will remain an enemy forever and ever until he listens to the enticings of the holy spirit.

That's why government is not sufficient to create a society of people who respect one another. The great flaw in government is that it must by necessity govern by force in order to restrain human nature. That is not the ideal. John Adams said if men were angels, we would not need a constitution, for we would all respect the right of others to go about their own business unmolested.

Adams also said that the constitution was made for a moral and religious people; it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

We can readily see the truth of those words. It's the same reason we don't yet see Zion among us. Until we can learn to WANT to respect others, and come to really live the golden rule, governments will always stand ready to force compliance. And that's the fastest way for governments to become corrupted.

It is the Holy Ghost that inspires us to restrain our natural tendencies to mold others to our standards. If we can't allow the Holy Ghost to influence us as individuals, we will be the enemy forever and ever.

Because most of the people who make up government today are motivated not by morality or religious altruism, but by their own human nature. Human nature is what makes everyone inclined to impose their rule on others. That's the natural man, and he is indeed the enemy to God. The Holy Spirit overcomes the natural man. Nothing else will do it, no matter how many laws are passed, and how many armies are gathered. We cannot impose a loving, Zion society by force.

And that's why America doesn't work. Because the constitution only works if the people are moral, i.e. living by the Golden Rule.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Gregory Hemsley,
I also obtained an audio copy of The Righteous Mind, and I fully agree with you. What a fascinating read!

I'm with you. I wholeheartedly endorse the book, and agree that online discussions would be SO MUCH more happy and productive if everyone took a look at that book. Some Facebook threads would be a lot shorter, too, as there would be a lot less quarreling and a lot more learning taking place. I'm only about a half hour into it and already I think it's the best listen I've had in a LONG time.

So again folks, here's the Amazon link. The Amazon price is quite inexpensive.

Again, a tip of the hat to alert reader Sam for putting me on to this author.

PNW_DPer said...
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PNW_DPer said...

"So the natural man is an enemy to God because he is an enemy to his fellow humans."

Wow, Rock. Once in a while, you manage to encapsulate a profound truth in a single, simple expression.

Speaking of the Holy Ghost, we're really in trouble when he stops even trying to entice us, as he did respectively with the Jaradites and Nephites before their destruction.

I also find that I have to follow Mormon's counsel in Moroni 7 and 8 to pray constantly for charity while driving in order not to succumb to road rage, or provoke it in the other drivers.

Tade said...

Rock, May god bless you to a speedy recovery.

I agree wholeheartedly that a moral people living the Golden Rule is a prerequisite to a harmonious society. And while a return to a smaller Constitutional government would be a thousand times better than the current incarnation festering on the shores of the Potomac, government by its very nature, in any form-whether a constitutional republic or a dictatorship, relies on coercion and theft and is antithetical to the Golden Rule.

A moral person would never think of robbing his neighbor directly to pay for something he wants or desperately needs, i.e, education, health care, retirement income, protection from foreign boogeymen-but these same moral people will send intermediaries dressed in government costumes to extract a tax and suddenly the whole process has been magically transformed into a moral enterprise for "the common good." All governmental action requires wealth to be confiscated from people by force, which is exactly counter to God's plan which is based on voluntary association and action motivated by love. God never forces us, even when doing so would be for our own good.
Until moral people see eternal principles as immutable and universally applicable-meaning no person, organization or government is exempted, and take personal responsibility for the role they play in coercing their fellow man, whether directly or indirectly, we will fall short of a more peaceful and harmonious society.

Jared Livesey said...

Anytime we have private property, we have sown the seeds of war. Property is the claim that I get to kill you for touching my stuff, and you cannot legally kill me back for it. And if I can claim ownership of the earth, then in process of time, due to population expansion and corresponding increases in land prices, the (increasingly) few landowners can drive the non-landowners into virtual (actual) slavery. And that will not be tolerated for long.

So property (and rights, generally) guarantee the eventual collapse of any society into a very unpleasant state.

Tade said...

Log said "Property is the claim that I get to kill you for touching my stuff, and you cannot legally kill me back for it."

You have stated this position several times now, though clearly it is a straw man. Property rights advocates do not make the argument you are trying to counter. If you wish to have a fruitful discussion about these issues, it is important to accurately define terms and understand the counter argument rather than misconstruing the argument in a way that leads to easy refutation.

If you have interest in a further exchange of ideas on this topic, I would ask that you clarify your position on the principle of self ownership, because all rights, including property rights, derive from that.

Do you believe that each of us has a right to life? Do we own ourselves? Does the individual get to decide what interests he will pursue in life, i.e, career choice, marriage, whether or how to worship God, etc? If each of us does not possess the sole claim to his life and body, who does and why?

I look forward to your response.

Unknown said...

When your fallback position, either leading with, or when all else fails, is: my God said so and your God is a fantasy, the conversation is over, feelings are hurt, nobody wins.

Mormons are taught to say "I know" so often that they forget we are here to walk by faith. If not so where are the plates? Why the problems with the Book of Abraham? Why is there not a shred of physical evidence for the historical Book of Mormon, along with dozens of anachronisms and what appear to be flat out errors? Why does God appear to change his mind repeatedly, manifested in changing scripture (not just words but the entire meanings of the verses)? The church has changed its stance on on race, priesthood and the temple. Why has the endowment been changed numerous times? Even with Noah, God repented that he flooded the earth. That means God does change his mind. We should be a little more humble in speaking of absolutes and religion, especially in regards with Mormonism.

Billions of people on earth historically up to present times, claim a divine personal witness, testifying the absolute truth of their religion. But the problem lies in that Mormons are a tiny fraction of those who have ever walked the earth. If it's based on inspiration or personal witness, Mormons lose on the popular vote. So do all Christians.

What I'm saying is we each ought to be more humble in engaging ourselves and others. If God wanted us to walk in absolutes we wouldn't be here on earth. I mean, really, what's the point? It really does all fall back on the first two commandments and how we are to respect and treat each other. Everything else really does not matter much when taken out of context of the first two.

Jared Livesey said...

I believe no man has any rights at all. That is the implication of the golden rule.

Individual rights are a preemptive declaration of war - particularly property rights (in particular, if you touch my shit, i'm gonna kill you, sucka).

This is a value proposition. You can disagree, but in disagreeing, you are at variance with the collected history of humanity. No variant of private property which incorporates claims to the earth have failed to bring forth war.

Dox said...

If you don't have property rights, you don't have sacrifice. If you can't control your life, your property, there is no such thing as consecration. This principles don't make any sense.

This is agency, the ability to act instead of being acted upon. You would destroy the agency of man.

Jared Livesey said...

PS: Taking the final step in enforcement as the only step is not a straw man; it's a caricature, at worst. You are, in declaring property rights, announcing when you will kill others.

If you do not acknowledge your position as being a de facto declaration of when you will kill someone, then you are not fully admitting the nature of government or "rights". Government is not persuasion, it is force - lethal, if need be - it is fire.

Jared Livesey said...
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Jared Livesey said...

The only kind of "ownership" which is consistent with the golden rule that I have been able to discover is this: "that only is your own which obeys your voice."

Anything else is covetousness masquerading as a virtue. Which of course is typified by the stalwart Latter-day Saint with his finger on the trigger of an AK-47 standing over his wife and children and year's supply of food.

Sacrifice, forgiveness, they both involve relinquishing one's claims on the earth and one's fellow man; this was formalized in the Law of Moses by resetting the land ownership game every 49 years.

In this world, we are taught we have RIGHTS to the earth, and thereby to the labors of our fellow man. We don't. It's a lie, and one calculated to ensure those who buy into it cannot inherit the kingdom of God. But it's such an attractive lie, isn't it? It says we're entitled to live off others' efforts, to seek rent.

It ain't yours. It doesn't obey when you speak.

Jared Livesey said...

So, to discover who actually does own the earth, find the people whose word the earth obeys.

And to discover who owns people, find the one whose word they obey. You'll find it's usually money.

And to discover who owns you, well, that's an interesting game. Whose word do you obey?

Do you give unto every man that asketh, or do you judge the beggar in his petition?

Dox said...

"Do you give unto every man that asketh, or do you judge the beggar in his petition?"

Give what? If I do not own anything, I have nothing to give, at all.

"Sacrifice, forgiveness, they both involve relinquishing one's claims"

If there is no property at all, we have not claims to relinquish. Sacrifice and forgiveness in that case to not exist.

I'm convinced we aren't talking about the same things. You can't even couch your arguments without assuming the natural rights you are denying. I think we're talking past one another. I really am trying to decide what you mean.

"In this world, we are taught we have RIGHTS to the earth, and thereby to the labors of our fellow man."

No, we don't have rights to the labors of our fellow man, but we do have rights to our own labors. Statements like this just have to show we're talking about different things.

You act as though our discussion of "natural rights" means that if my neighbor does as much as rest his hand on my car, I am perfectly justified in blowing him away. That's ridiculous, and no one here is claiming to be justified in any such thing. My neighbor has a right to life that cannot be so easily dismissed as you claim.

Natural rights aren't the be-all and end-all, they are the baseline. If I don't have a "right" to control my own property, then I have no ability to sacrifice it, or consecrate it, or give it to another who asks for it. If I don't have a right to my own property, then Jesus' admonition to give to any man who asks is meaningless. That man need not ask for anything, because I don't own anything, they can just take it. There is no virtue in this.

Jared Livesey said...

I'm explaining that "natural rights" are a philosopher's canard, a fiction by which everyone seeks to live at everyone else's expense, laying claims to the earth and the fruits thereof, whereby we may extort our fellow man for the privilege of touching our shit.

If you do not understand that the (hopefully) last step in enforcement is to kill an offender, then you do not understand that property is the claim that, ultimately, I get to kill you for touching my shit. Or call the cops to do it for me. Or, for the libertarian-minded, my private security firm.

It's just that simple.

Inasmuch as you withhold from your fellow man that which does not belong to you, but to God, you are an enemy both to God and your fellow man.

16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.

21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.

Jared Livesey said...

The earth and the substance thereof our not ours; we claim that it is, though. We have devised a legal fiction amongst ourselves whereby we lay claim to the earth and are able to call men with guns to kill, ultimately, those who do not honor our borders, demands for rent, or demands for payment for that which we have not power to make, which does not obey our voice.

Any attempt to claim a right to the substance of the earth and that which grows thereon is a lie; it is covetousness disguised as a virtue.

"Now is the great day of my power. I reign from the rivers to the ends of the earth. There are none who dares to molest or make afraid."

Zion will not be populated by those who still hold to this lie, who still hope to extort their fellow man and make merchandise of his needs, who will withhold except on exchange, and ultimately kill those who won't give them money for the privilege.

Acts 4:32
32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

I have explained, with sufficient clarity, exactly how private property - in particular, claims to ownership of the earth - must inevitably lead to any society exploding over the long term.

And the scripture says it isn't yours anyways, legal fictions to the contrary notwithstanding - it doesn't obey your voice, even if electioneering politicians or hired mercenaries, like cops, do. They, too, are following the almighty dollar.

So either you give to all who ask, in accordance with the Savior's teachings, and qualify for the society of those who do likewise, or you self-select for some other society.

Dox said...

"If you do not understand that the (hopefully) last step in enforcement is to kill an offender, then you do not understand that property is the claim that, ultimately, I get to kill you for touching my shit."

I guess then, fundamentally, I do disagree with this definition of property. I don't think I get to kill you just because you touched my shit. If you come to me and threaten to kill me and mine so that you can obtain my shit, well, that's a different story. And that is a very different thing that the petition of a beggar.

I don't think that bad consequence deriving from a violation of a law or right or principle automatically makes that right or law or principle wrong or flawed. Agency brings a whole host of negative consequences on the human race as the result of its misuse by evil and designing men, yet that does not mean agency itself is wrong or flawed.

I'm likely ignorant of larger philosophical debate, but when when I speak and think about these natural rights, what I am thinking of is that no other person is justified in using force (threat of violence, etc.) to deprive me of my life, my liberty or my property. Is that just a philosophical canard?

Dox said...

And please don't give up on me, I've needed to think through this.

Jared Livesey said...


The problem with private property, in particular claims to ownership of the earth, is that even when everything works as it's supposed to, it fails, with failure being defined as regime change.

(Because war has but a single goal, does it not? Regime change. One way or another.)

But let us ask a few preliminary questions about rights.

As law is a human construct, a tool which serves a purpose, what ought to be the purpose of law?

(My answer would be to produce a stable human society and perpetuate it intact into the indefinite future.)

Is the concept of individual rights consistent with this purpose?

(My answer would be clearly not, since individual rights weaponize the individual against the body of society, and we see this all around us.)

But what do you think?

Jared Livesey said...

In fact, right now I'm chewing on a logical demonstration that even if we assign individuals exactly one "right," that of life, it leads to societal collapse - irreconcilable conflict.

Dox said...

If you replace "right to life" with agency, does not the demonstration end inn the same societal collapse? Does this prove agency is just a philosophical canard?

Can't post much now, but I'm enjoying the thought experiments, more later.

Jared Livesey said...

Without agency, individuals don't exist.

Jared Livesey said...

On a small rock we see two agents, each armed with the "right" to life and no others. Agent 1 has found a cache of apples which will sustain his life to its natural end, and no more. Agent 2 has nothing, but stumbles upon Agent 1's secret.

Since both have a "right" to life, the other agent represents therefore an existential threat; only one can live with the resources on hand.

So, there is no way to resolve this conflict such that Katniss and Peeta survive to the end of their natural life.

And since both have a "right" to life, neither has a duty to accept they lost the coin toss of who found the apples first, nor does either have a duty to shorten their own life for the benefit of the other.

So both are justified, in this moral schema, in killing the other.

That is the fundamental self-contradiction of the concept of rights.

Any ad hoc solution deployed to resolve this situation constitutes an admission that rights, as a concept, are inherently contradictory and / or don't solve the problem for which they were devised, which is conflict resolution.

So what's the alternative?

A system without rights, only duties and obligations. Instead of you having a right to life, I have an obligation to not kill you, with certain well-defined exceptions. I have a duty to help you live, even, possibly at my own expense.

And if you take this train of thought far enough, incorporating insights from Austrian economics and the facts of human reproductive strategies, you end up with the Law of Moses.

Jared Livesey said...

Ah yes, and also insights from the prisoner's dilemma. You know, it would take a book to flesh this all out, and a computer simulation of what happens when you have a planet of heterogenous self-directed agents applying different conflict resolution strategies, with each conflict altering the probability the agents apply different rules in future conflicts.

Or, one could simply watch the news. We're living the simulation right now.

Jared Livesey said...

What do you know? Someone else sees what I see:

Yay rights!

Jared Livesey said...
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Jared Livesey said...

To be clear, I'm not making a value judgement, while it is clear Roberts is. I'm simply pointing out the economic behavior of the sexual marketplace and its necessary consequences to human societal survival in light of individual rights.

Jared Livesey said...

So, to recap: without lethal enforcement, rights don't exist, "natural" or otherwise.

Rights are self-negating, as I point out, being demonstrably unable to perform the function for which they were devised - resolve conflicts such that the rights of all are preserved, and this occurs with as few as ONE right assigned to individuals, and the same right at that. Instead, in such situations, we reach for another rule for conflict resolution - those provided in religions or philosophies. Reaching for alternative methods of conflict resolution is an implicit admission rights, as a concept, fail. (In fact, the true, so-called "natural," law, is the Golden Rule, which cannot be enforced. The law of Moses had to be opted into, and it did a good job for millennia while eschewing any notion of rights. The Nephite system was apparently similar to the Jewish, but admitted of changes.)

Altering laws, or adding to them to account for conflicts not handled by the previous set, is an admission that the present law is not the solution to the problem of conflict resolution, but is instead based on a false theory of conflict resolution. This includes adjustments to the concept, type, or number of "rights."

Power-seeking, or electioneering, occurs when a politician offers to increase burdens on one population and / or lighten them on another. That is to say, they offer to change the law, or enforce it with partiality, or not enforce it at all, to curry favor with an empowering constituency. If the law happens to be the solution to perpetuating a stable human society into the indefinite future, then electioneering is an offer to kill us all later so that some few can party today while others are disadvantaged legally. That's why the Law of Moses had at least two provisions declaring that the law shall not be added to nor taken away from - no secondary books, no "binding" interpretations, no CHI, no oral tradition to override the stuff people just didn't want to honor while reaping the benefits of a stable society. And rights are particularly amenable to accretion. The so-called "right to the pursuit of happiness" can easily be recast as a right to not be offended. Or discriminated against. Etc. And it has been.

So it's not that rights haven't been tried hard enough, or that if we keep adding epicycles rights will somehow become coherent or non-self-contradictory; it's that what is functionally happening is like giving each cell in your body a sword and releasing them from their duties to perform their functions. The sword represents rights, and we can't dictate functions, can we, because RIGHTS. So of course you'd collapse into a pool of bloody goo were that to happen, because rights weaponize the individual against the corporate society. Rights, remember, just means that when you conflict with my rights, I get to kill you and you cannot legally kill me back. Again, without lethal enforcement, rights are nothing but air. And, with lethal enforcement, rights are a preemptive declaration of war against both individuals and society.

There have been many upon many regime changes in governments based on rights, haven't there? And each regime change represents a failure of the concept.

Rights, therefore, is simply another failed model of conflict resolution, one that, like the Church, ought to be dropped as a topic except as an object lesson in how NOT to do things.

Jared Livesey said...

PS: I should also have mentioned there have been many regime changes imposed by governments based on rights... and, again, each regime change is a demonstrated failure of the concept. Because rights lead to war, and war has but one objective: regime change.

Jared Livesey said...

And when in the Declaration of Independence it says we have the right to abolish abusive government, well, that's not really accurate, is it? People don't actually feel that way, or they'd be doing it - you know, regime change - which indicates to me that that statement does not reflect the "natural" law written upon the heart.

It's a lie, in other words, but a grand-sounding one.

Similar to how atheists do not feel what their ideology logically entails and therefore thankfully typically don't act upon it, we undertstand deep within that "rights" are wrong. Unless we feel like perpetrating a cash-grab upon our neighbor or ex-spouse through the courts. Then, of course, it's all a matter of "principle," which in my experience always follows the money. But even when they win, instead of exhibiting peace, such characters seem to get more paranoid and defensive... as though they'd done something wrong.


Liberty Ghost said...

Log - If you truly accepted the premise of rights (which by the way, include responsibilities), your two agents would starve to death, although not necessarily at the same time. You assume that they would use violence to acquire that which they need, but why do you always assert that this is so?

Under a system of natural rights, neither agent has the right to use force to acquire property, so with limited resources, if one person has nothing to offer the other, then the one with all the apples could, if he chose, let the other starve. It would not be moral to do so, but you cannot assume that only a system of duties and responsibilities can produce agents capable of moral action. There are many ways out of the predicament which do not include violence. One agent could perform services for the other in exchange for food. One agent, recognizing his moral obligation, could provide charity to the other.

What wouldn't be allowed is for the agent without food to use force to take the other person's food. He doesn't have that right. In the simple example, you make it seem that the starting conditions required no effort, other than luck, but suppose that in order to get that food, the first agent worked very hard, while the second agent merely watched in the shade. How does the Mosaic principle of 'the idler shall not eat the workman's bread' apply then? How is this treated under your proposed system of duties and responsibilities? The answer is that it doesn't unless both parties attempt to meet their responsibility to provide for themselves, only then does compassion trump circumstance. Under either system, if you purposely put yourself in a disadvantage by refusing to work, you have no legal or moral claim on the fruits of anyone else's labor.

In your series of tirades, you claim that having property, or even living, must inevitably lead to violence, but you never have shown how this is so when all parties refuse to violate the other's rights.

Ok, so now let's examine the case of someone who doesn't follow societal rules. Suppose you have the lazy man who refuses to work, preferring to take his bread by force from those who do. Under either system, what are the rights of the victim of aggression? If there is no property, but one can refuse to work and still access all goods, do those workers have the right to enforce the duties and responsibilities which are being neglected? Under your proposed system, all others would have the duty to enforce the law. Under either system, you have force, unless all are angels and obey all the rules.

Essentially, I think your paradigm of duties and responsibilities is simply a restatement of natural rights, approached from a different direction. In either case, the rules for moral behavior can only be dictated by God. And when God has dictated rules of behavior we are aligning ourselves with Satan when we try to abrogate those rights or shirk those responsibilities to gain an advantage for ourselves. Neither system truly works unless the principles of Christianity are applied, which has only rarely happened in history.

I cannot follow your argument that rights are 'self-negating'. If you are saying, which apparently you are, that the mere fact of being, will eventually lead to overcrowding and will eventually result in the inability of people to coexist, then you are essentially telling God that His plan 'could never work'. In such a world as you propose, (finite resources and infinite consumers) a system of duties and responsibilities will be just as impotent. Fortunately, the world that God created has the ability to supply all that man requires, so that is just a straw-man. I don't see anything in your arguments that is superior to that of natural rights, no matter how smugly you present them. You can, as the Founding Fathers did, extract the rules of natural rights from the scriptures, if you will just apply yourself.

Dale B.

Jared Livesey said...


I find myself perplexed at reading your response, which was almost fully answered in the comment which begins 'So, to recap: without lethal enforcement, rights don't exist, "natural" or otherwise.'

There is no provision in the Mosaic law that the idler shall not eat the bread of the laborer that I can find. What I can find are variations on this:

Deuteronomy 15:11
11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

I find myself frustrated to observe that you do not understand you are contradicting yourself by appealing to "morality" or "principles of Christianity" while championing the idea of "rights." You're appealing to the incorporation of a system outside of "rights" to make "rights" work - but this is to admit "rights" don't work. Therefore, they are not only superfluous, but actually, well, worse than useless.

Either you obey the principles of Christianity - which does not incorporate the concept of rights, being based solely upon the Golden Rule, from which rights do not spring - or you make up some other system that must inevitably fail.

And if you do not observe land ownership (including the resources thereof) in conjunction with the pressure of population increases as being THE conditions sufficient to produce war and crime throughout history, then I'm curious: what do you think the cause has been? People just like killing each other for no reason? In other words, if history and scripture substantiates my claim, on what grounds do you claim I'm creating a strawman? And if you do not agree that resources, to all appearances, are limited and that arable land, in particular, is a fixed resource, then please demonstrate - that is, show me in reality, don't simply quote scripture - otherwise. I suspect you, personally, do not have actual power to multiply loaves and fishes.

I fully agree that in God's society, resources are potentially limitless. I am nearly perfectly skeptical that God's society can feature any variant of rights. After all, the Golden Rule is the end-all, be-all law of God, and rights do not flow therefrom - only duties and obligations.

Jared Livesey said...

You see, Dale, my claim is rights, as a model of conflict resolution, don't work - they produce conflict on a priori, logical grounds.

Therefore the rights model of conflict resolution is false.

There is another way, but one must be born of God to see it: the golden rule.

And that is what people ultimately, ironically, appeal to (as you have) in order to salvage, as they suppose, the rights model of conflict resolution.

But that is to admit the rights model of conflict resolution doesn't work, and that we already have the solution in hand - the golden rule.

Jared Livesey said...

One of the interesting things about the Sermon on the Mount is that at every point we are being asked to lay down *all* of what we would otherwise consider to be our "rights."

Nobody seems to be taking the hint.

Jared Livesey said...

And by so doing, we become part of the society of God, and have access to unlimited resources.

Apparently not, otherwise.

Hence, this.

10 He who is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in the least, is also unjust in much.

11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon [ie, according to the sermon on the mount], who will commit to your trust the true riches [ie, the unlimited resources of the powers of heaven]?

12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give unto you that which is your own?

13 No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Liberty Ghost said...

Log - I guess I am not as enlightened as you, or born of God; I still don't see that natural rights don't work. How exactly do natural rights 'produce conflict on a priori, logical grounds'? Which natural right 'produces' conflict? You've asserted that it is the right to life, but I think you are incorrect, and have pointed out why I believe so. You have asserted that the right to property leads to evil, but have failed to demonstrate - within a system of natural rights, why that is necessarily so. In what material sense is there a difference between how natural rights and the golden rule work?

Are you saying that considering something that I have labored to make as 'my property' is itself wrong? How so? I will concede that how I value that property may lead to evil, but I don't think the idea of ownership is necessarily evil on it's face.

The Lord himself seems to believe in property rights, as He 'gave' Israel all the land that he could see. He frequently speaks of 'the works of his hands', an acknowledgment that all things are His; thus declaring His ownership, so it is hard to see this as an evil principle on it's face, although it is clear that he wants us to recognize that we are guests on His property.

I'm not sure that rights are intended to be 'a model for conflict resolution', merely behavioral boundaries. Saying that if everyone obeyed the golden rule we'd all be happy is basically saying that if everyone obeyed natural laws, there wouldn't be any conflict. Natural laws aren't a recipe for violence, as you assert, but innately based, invisible fences which allow us to be good neighbors.

If someone violates those fences and does us harm, it asserts that we have the right to defend ourselves and yes, our property (which includes our family), but that is only in the instance of defense, not as an act of aggression. In this case, I suppose, it becomes a model for conflict resolution - that of self-defense, but even then it is a social compact, subject to the judgment of our neighbors. Where natural rights enters into conflict resolution is that it gives a basis for claim. I can say this was my property and it was damaged by your actions. That claim can be adjudicated, whether between two individuals or by my neighbors, but that adjudication and remuneration process is an extension of the notion of natural rights, not the rights themselves.

Even under the program of having all things in common, we understand that we are given a stewardship, which is essentially a responsibility akin to ownership. It is not the same as an idea that there is no ownership at all, that everyone possesses everything.

Where the concept of natural rights is murky is regarding the extent of ownership. Is there a limit to the things I can own? Israel was given claim to a very large inheritance, far more than he could himself work and improve. There is no clear line that I'm aware of under the system of natural rights that limits the extent of ownership. I think it was assumed at the time these rights were first written about that there was a practical limit to what could be controlled, but today, technology recognizes no such limit. If you're going to try to poke holes in the theory of property rights, that might be a more worthwhile place to begin, rather than to repudiate that which you do not fully comprehend.

Dale B.

Jared Livesey said...


Let us focus on property ownership.

Leviticus 25:23
23 ¶The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.

The land was never Israel's, but the Lord's. On what grounds? There is, in fact, an implicit theory of ownership compatible with the Golden Rule, and it is this: if it obeys your voice then it is yours. Thus, the earth and everything on it - except men - are the Lord's, for it all obeys his voice; inasmuch as men obey his voice, they are his, also, and he, the Lord, obeys them as well. See Helaman 10 for an example.

You are his whom you list to obey.

You ask: "Are you saying that considering something that I have labored to make as 'my property' is itself wrong? How so?"

The literal meaning of the word "covetous" is "desiring to possess," which also covers the meaning "desiring to continue to possess." But that's the entire point of the concept of private property. You claim possession over something, and can enforce your claims by arms. It is to say you are covetous.

The reason this is wrong - as the Lord defines "right" and "wrong" - is because property is the claim that I get to kill you if you touch my shit. That is the ultimate meaning of property rights. And that kind of claim is incompatible with an eternally existing, loving, joyful society what will freely and willingly last forever and ever, worlds without end, without conflict. Producing that society is the purpose for which God has devised charity, or perfect love, whose behavior is defined by the Golden Rule, and is the definition of what he calls "right;" that which is more or less than this he calls "wrong." Just as you would not kill your wife nor children for touching your shit - because you love them (see how love solves the problem of conflict?) - and doing so would render your lives brutal, miserable, and short - so also you must not kill others for touching your shit, but rather impart that which you consider your own freely to them that ask, if you intend to live a conflict-free existence with them forever and ever. Indeed, this ultimately entails not considering anything your own, but rather having all things in common.

4 Nephi 1:3
3 And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.

Otherwise, well, I'm not sure people would want to be around you forever and ever, worlds without end. A system with grabby, violent, possessive people would, to me, obviously collapse into something quite a bit like hell. Maybe exactly like it, in fact.

"Now is the great day of my power. I reign from the rivers to the ends of the earth. There is none who dare to molest or make afraid." - the originator of property rights.

Robin Hood said...

I just dropped in to see what the latest happenings were in the Waterman world, and I read your last post.
I have to say it is one of the best posts I have ever read anywhere since I have been dabbling online.
It has given me much to think about and I concur with your thoughts wholeheartedly.
Credit where credit's due Log.
Thank you.

Jared Livesey said...

It is by keeping the sayings of Jesus and praying always that we break free from the chains of darkness by which we are bound, laying down all earthly things.

The entry point to the gospel is to believe Jesus, and call upon him in mighty prayer for the salvation of our souls, forgiving all claims against everyone else, ceasing from all abuse of our fellow man, and pursuing this prayer until he answers.

Charity means we love everyone, even our enemies. Not merely with our lips, but in our hearts and in very deed.

Charity never faileth. And charity is what defines the Gods - for God is charity (1 John 4:16 - pretty much all of 1 John).

Jared Livesey said...


You are kind to say so.

Dox said...

"property is the claim that I get to kill you if you touch my shit. That is the ultimate meaning of property rights."

This is certainly the definition you continue to harp on. And no, I don't believe it is the only, or even the most useful definition.

But you refuse to think beyond it because to do so would weaken your argument. Dale has done a better job than I of articulating the issues.

I continue to be convinced that while we're using the same words, we aren't using the same meanings. Communication on this, therefore, is impossible.

Jared Livesey said...

Interesting. Let us assume I cannot kill you if you touch my shit (that is to say there is no way to enforce my claims on others). Then you come and take my shit. I have no recourse except to take it back, since (presumably) you also cannot enforce your claims on others. But then you come take it back, then I come take it back, and this game continues forever and ever.

The end.

Dox said...

Or, maybe I just use a lock? Or other security? Or maybe, because you are seeking to deprive me of my property, I get my friend and only need to threaten the use of violence to get you to leave me alone. Or maybe I build a wall to protect what you seek to deprive me of by violence (therefore violating my right to my own property) so that you cannot deprive me of it.

Or maybe, since the right to my property means I get to control and make decisions about its use and/or disposal, I decide that if you really want it that badly, I am happy to give it to you.

Jared Livesey said...


You have already conceded you consider yourself to have the right to threaten, and therefore execute, potentially lethal violence upon my person to stop me from depriving you of what you consider to be your own. But that is exactly what I mean when I say "property is the claim that I get to kill you if you touch my shit."

Dox said...

I actually think that a exception (I'm not sure I'd necessarily consider it a right unto itself) to use violence is more closely tied to the right to defend oneself than it is property.

And it only comes into play when one threatens force to violate my right.

That's why I don't like that definition of property, it is only effective in the violation of that right, not a statement of the right itself.

I am not a philosopher, and I'm sure there are better definitions out there, but as a back-of-the-napkin attempt, what about a right to property being something along the lines of: the ability/right to use and control my property. Period.

I actually think your assumption in this exercise: "rights, as a model of conflict resolution," is the basic assumption we're disagreeing on. I grant that rights fail as a model of conflict resolution, because they aren't a model of conflict resolution.

Dox said...
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Dox said...

And given the above, simple, basic definition of property rights, this tired old friend: "property is the claim that I get to kill you if you touch my shit."

Would be better cast as "the right to use reasonable force to defend myself (in SOME circumstances, but not all, this includes deadly force)."

That might get us closer to the same page.

Jared Livesey said...


My intent in casting it as "if you touch my shit I get to kill you" is to be perfectly clear what we're talking about.

The lightest unambiguous, clearly defined infringement - if you touch my shit - being married to the ultimate, and unambiguously, clearly defined penalty - then I get to kill you, renders the concept of property in the starkest possible terms.

Because that is what property is. It is the claim that if you touch my shit, I get to kill you, and you cannot kill me back.

Or, if you like, I can call upon my public / private security force to kill you without you having legal recourse, just as I am able to kill you, if you touch my shit.

That is all property is. It is nothing more, and it is nothing less, than a threat to kill whoever touches your shit.

If you don't have the ability to kill someone to assert a right, you don't have that right.

Dox said...

And I'm rejecting that definition because it is incomplete, misleading, and inflammatory.

The right to property as I defined it above exists EVEN IF no one else is attempting to violate that right by attempting to "touch my shit."

And we can reason about what that right looks like, again, even if no one is threatening me to take it away. It is what makes sacrifice, consecration, and even the ability to live by the golden rule even possible. If I don't have the ability to control/use my own property then none of the things I mentioned before even exist (in relation to property/substance).

I have that a right to my property (and as mentioned before, my life) even if I don't have to threaten to kill someone to keep it. If you can't see that, then we really are talking about different things and this is all futile.

Jared Livesey said...

Conflict resolution means to resolve conflicts between individuals. The purpose of law is to resolve conflicts.

"Individual rights," or "natural law," are legal theories intended to resolve conflicting claims between individuals.

That they not only fail to resolve conflict but also are sources of conflict is being demonstrated right now all around us.

Jared Livesey said...

Ben, if you do not understand that your shit is not actually yours, that you've only laid a claim to legalized violence upon any who violate what you consider your boundaries, then yes, we cannot profitably speak on the subject of rights. You are unable to conceive of a social order without that order being predicated upon individual rights, whereas I am taking the literally radical position that such social orders necessarily explode because of individual rights, not despite them.

To you, I must literally seem to be speaking in pure gibberish.

Dox said...

No, they are principles that can be used to theorize about conflict resolution. There is a difference and the fact that agency and the violation of those rights allows conflict should neither be a surprise, nor a reason to dismiss those fundamental principles.

At least, this is the case if you define rights narrowly as I've done above.

Dox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dox said...

"To you, I must literally seem to be speaking in pure gibberish."

I must likewise be speaking pure gibberish to you.

We finally agree.

Dox said...

I guess my only other comment is that I believe you are purposely redefining what most of use are meaning by "property rights" to something that we don't actually mean, and then using that different definition to dismiss any and all conclusions. That is what folks above pointed out as your straw man.

If I accept your definition of "touch my shit and I can blow you way with unreasonable use of force and violence." then, yes that will inevitably lead to societal collapse. (Though, I would ague that agency virtually guarantees that societal collapse is inevitable in all "natural" circumstances, that's exactly why we have the atonement and why zion must be something added to a natural laws/rights as either of us is defining them).

But don't take that definition out of your framework and expect to dump it in wherever someone else uses the words "rights of life/property/defense" and expect them to accept it.

Jared Livesey said...

Ben, "unreasonable," "reasonable," and other like words are matters of whim or taste. Their definition rests solely in the mind of the adjudicator and are purely arbitrary therefore. By taking the extremes, about which there are no possible disagreements, we get clarity.

Clarity, bro. Without it, you get irreconcilable conflicts.

Jared Livesey said...

I repeat: if you don't have the legal ability to execute potentially lethal force to assert a right, you don't have that right.

The "right to life" is meaningless if you are unable to legally kill those who would violate it. Thus the "right to life" means "I get to legally kill you if you try to illegally kill me."

And so on.

As Washington said, government is not persuasion, it is force, it is fire.

Dox said...

But I thought it was you that said within contradictions it is where you find truth. I don't find contradictions in this case all that troubling, or to be a sign that we have necessarily found something false.

Although we won't really ever be able to talk about this productively, I thank you for helping me clarify (even if it is with arbitrary measures) thinking in this area. I'll noodle it on it some more and figure out if I can stick my head into your framework. It wouldn't be the first time that I've had my mind changed by your comments.

Peace, Log.

Dox said...

"As Washington said, government is not persuasion, it is force, it is fire."

Now THAT I agree with.

Dox said...

Ok, you can drag me along for a bit longer.

The "right to life" is meaningless if you are unable to legally kill those who would violate it. Thus the "right to life" means "I get to legally kill you if you try to illegally kill me."

I can agree with this. I think right to life includes other things as well, but the right to defend myself with deadly force against illegal attempts on my life is a a definition I can accept.

Ok, lets leave the nuances of government and property out of it for now, narrow it down to this. What is the next step?

Jared Livesey said...

I'm not sure what you mean by "next step."

Steak Presedent said...

The fact that the government can use force isn't, of itself, a bad thing. How would they stop criminals without using force? Politely ask them to stop?

However, I don't think we need a government, an elitist motley crew, to enforce laws. At least not in an ideal society. In such a society, we could have individuals and communities do that. I'm basically talking about anarchy here. You can look up others who have explained it more thoroughly.

Unknown said...

So since God owns everything, anyone that touches his shit is going to get killed? We've seen this played out numerous times in the BoM and Old Testament and countless times in the name of Christianity and Mormonism.

Interesting. So if we do it in God's name: moral. If we do it in man's name immoral.

Why wouldn't everyone on the planet claim what's theirs is given them by their God? Oh wait. That happened.

Actually I have no idea what you are promoting becuase you are repeatedly driving a nail in the same hole, dozens and dozens of times over. That doesn't increase understanding, repeating your mantra over and over. From what I can digest I think you are promoting an immoral God. I would love to understand if you have something further to talk about than property rights.

Jared Livesey said...


I think it would be more honest of you to simply post "TL;DR LOLz" whenever you feel to comment.

If you have any genuine questions, which have not been answered by my previous comments, feel free to ask.

Steak Presedent said...

By "ideal", I'm not talking about Zion, 4th Nephi type society. Everyone has to be a disciple of Christ for that. There's no evidence in the scriptures that there was anyone in these utopias who weren't and it is written that they achieved such societies through Jesus Christ. So when I said "ideal", I mean taking what we have now, with people of different faiths and levels of righteousness and significantly improving it. The level of improvement may not be entirely realistic, but then again, it's hard to say. There are communities in the world that are trying to work together and provide for each other.

Also, by "anarchy" I just mean "having no rulers"; not legions of Mad-Max style gangs causing mayhem everywhere. Usually this happens in deserts. Why do so many problems in the world happen because of what people are doing in deserts?

Jared Livesey said...


Anything short of the golden rule will require government - tie-breakers, conflict resolvers, whatever you want to call them - people who dictate a solution - because the next step down from the golden rule, the so-called "silver rule," doesn't resolve conflict.

So the so-called "silver rule" gives way to the next step down, which is quid pro quo, which is what we have now, more or less.

It is downright unpleasant. Everyone's trying to take advantage of everyone else, so we call into existence an enforcement corps, to punish wrongdoing and impose on our neighbors.

And the next step down from quid pro quo... well, we're getting there soon.

It looks like this.

Ether 14:2
2 Wherefore every man did cleave unto that which was his own, with his hands, and would not borrow neither would he lend; and every man kept the hilt of his sword in his right hand, in the defence of his property and his own life and of his wives and children.

Jared Livesey said...

What I'm referring to as the "silver rule" is: do not unto others what you hate.

Irven said...

"Now is the great day of my power. I reign from the rivers to the ends of the earth. There is none who dare to molest or make afraid." - the originator of property rights."-Log

That is insane Log. Lucifer could not be the originator of property rights. Our bodies are a gift from God, not Lucifer. You cannot give that which you do not have.

The only way that the Devil could be the originator of property rights is if he were God himself. That is what you are unknowingly implying. It is a Luciferian belief.

Your definition: "property is the claim that I get to kill you if you touch my shit" is ridiculous. Why does it have to be that? It can just as easily mean: I can stop you from raping or pillaging me if you attempt to do so.

God is the originator of property rights. It is His gift to us. We have stewardship of that gift to choose good or evil with what he has given us. It is our choice whether we make conflict of property or use it to bless others; the golden rule.

Jared Livesey said...

If we were in the middle east, property rights would demonstrably be "if you touch my shit I will cut off your damn hand." I'm simply taking it to the reductio ad absurdum.

And that is not absurd to the covetous - they agree they ultimately can kill people for trespassing or whatever. Property rights are covetousness disguised as a virtue, and enshrined above the so-called right to life. That's why we get to kill trespassers, thieves, and whatnot. War is nothing but contests over who controls property, right?

If you are unable to acknowledge that property rights entail lethal enforcement thereof, or else the so-called right doesn't exist, then either you have a fundamental confusion as to what law actually is, or you are unbelievably - and I am being literal there - naive.

That only is your own which obeys your voice; you only possess what does not. That's how it is in reality. What you have in property rights is a legal fiction based on a model of ownership which is a lie.

You can accuse me of having luciferian beliefs, but I know who the father of lies is, and I know whence came the first murder over property.

Those who do not learn from history are, quite simply, doomed.

Jared Livesey said...

"Ah, you have looked over MY kingdom and MY greatness and glory. Now you want to take possession of the whole of it." - the originator of property rights

Jared Livesey said...

Moses 5:31
31 And Cain said: Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan, and he gloried in his wickedness.
- The first disciple of the originator of property rights.

Irven said...

I didn't accuse you having Luciferian beliefs. To believe that Lucifer is the originator of property is to believe that he can give that which he doesn't have. God cannot give us what He doesn't have, if He cannot, certainly Lucifer couldn't. To believe otherwise is to believe a Luciferian doctrine, that he is god.

Without property, there could be no agency. Without agency, there would be no good or evil, only good. That was Lucifers plan, presented to the Father and all of us. That plan was rejected. I know who the father of lies is. He is here on this earth, attempting to get us to adopt his plan during our probationary state.

Those who do not learn to recognize Lucifers doctrines and practices in all of their various forms are, quite simply, doomed.

Jared Livesey said...

So, Irven, explain this statement to me.

"Without having the legal right to legally kill people who transgress upon what is legally called property, nobody has the ability to choose between serving God and serving the devil."

That is what you have said when you said: "Without property, there could be no agency."

I don't think you will be able to make your case convincingly. It's a non-sequitur on its face.

Jared Livesey said...

4 Nephi 1:3
3 And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.

No property, no agency. The kingdom of the devil, of course.

Dox said...

Irven, it does no good to try to engage with log on this issue. Anyone who disagrees, or offers a different understanding of what property is is automatically shouted down as a servant of Lucifer. It is impossible to discuss this productively under those conditions.

Dox said...

And I only find that very unfortunate, because I think we could really discover some interesting things about this topic.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that the only way these rights are being examined is in the violation of them.

So, lets say a society is perfectly living the golden rule. All things are in common and whatever is asked of any of them is freely given. Now comes in one that is not a member of that society, with mischief in his heart. All he must do is ask each member of that society, or the society as the whole, that they turn over all material goods to him. Under such conditions, that society must collapse. All but this one man will be left destitute, without means for food, shelter, etc.

But those people had no right to resist him, so anyone not willing to live that golden rule immediately becomes the tyrant of the city.

I'm only applying reductio ad absurdum, and by your own measure the fact that the golden rule is unable to resolve this conflict and results in societal collapse shows that it is only a tool of Satan to bring us all into subjection.

Please, show me where I've misunderstood the society, the golden rule, etc. I'm anxious to learn what is wrong with my above illustration.

Jared Livesey said...


I don't recall saying anyone was a servant of Lucifer, though I could make a scriptural case that almost all of humanity are, indeed, children of the devil.

There're only so many ways I can think of to say "rights are a preemptive declaration of war." Rights without corresponding ability to visit potentially lethal enforcement upon violators do not exist. One may call other things "rights" but in those cases, those "rights" do not exist. I apologize. Maybe it's my limited grasp of the English language that prevents me from saying this in some form or fashion that is comprehensible to others.

Now, you ask a perfectly good question about a society based on the golden rule. Luckily, that case is demonstrated in the scriptures - Mosiah chapters 23 - 24.

As to how the future society based on the golden rule will handle that kind of situation, see D&C 64:34-36.

34 Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.

35 And the rebellious shall be cut off out of the land of Zion, and shall be sent away, and shall not inherit the land.

36 For, verily I say that the rebellious are not of the blood of Ephraim, wherefore they shall be plucked out.


D&C 45

67 And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.

68 And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.

69 And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.

70 And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.

71 And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy.

And as to the celestial kingdom, which is based on the golden rule, well, funny thing about that. You have to demonstrate you will keep the law in all circumstances and to every extreme before you are admitted. So far, there have only been (by my count) 3 credible claimants for membership in that kingdom in the last 200 years that I know of.

It is covetousness and a horror of poverty generally that stops people.

Jared Livesey said...

For another scriptural example of the golden rule society, Ben, I point you towards Alma 24.

"Perfect love casteth out all fear."

"All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them, for this is the law and the prophets."

"For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

"Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life."

"Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am."

"Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness."

"And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity. And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee[.]"

"For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted."

Jared Livesey said...

To me, there is a deep irony that the golden rule should be considered controversial on a blog called "Pure Mormonism."

And at the root of the controversy is covetousness, just as it was in the days of the Savior.

And as it was for the Nephites.

4 Nephi 1:24-26
24 And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world.

25 And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them.

26 And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ.

Thus ends Zion. Their love for one another died, and, lacking trust, became status-conscious, therefore they started bartering and trading.

And they denied the true church of Christ - that is, they revolted from the body of Christ, being no more his body.

And, rather than being liberated by revolting against the law of God, they were captivated.

27 And it came to pass that when two hundred and ten years had passed away there were many churches in the land; yea, there were many churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the more parts of his gospel, insomuch that they did receive all manner of wickedness, and did administer that which was sacred unto him to whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness.

28 And this church did multiply exceedingly because of iniquity, and because of the power of Satan who did get hold upon their hearts.

"[T]he golden rule is unable to resolve this conflict and results in societal collapse shows that it is only a tool of Satan to bring us all into subjection."

Apparently, exactly the opposite is the case: rejection of the golden rule creates conflict.

But I think Satan might have made such an argument in the council against God.

Dox said...

I need to read and consider further, but just a couple clarifications. You misunderstand my meaning with my illustration. I am not condemning or saying the golden rule isn't what we should be living. I agree with you that it is.

My point was that your methods and criteria you've been using to criticize property rights can just as easily show the "faultiness" of the golden rule. Since neither of us consider the golden rule faulty, there must be something amiss with the methods and criteria.

Also, with your first answer, you say that one who came into a society living the golden rule would be cast out. By what principle would the society do this? That is not the way the people there would want to be treated if they made a request, so that is out of character for the to cast out a requestor.

Jared Livesey said...

1. Did you read Mosiah chapters 23 and 24?

2. Do you now understand that your criticism is simply a value judgement on your part, one not shared by such a society? That is illustrated in Mosiah chapters 23 and 24, as well as Alma 24.

I need to point out this kind of internal emotional incentive structure - willingness to endure slavery or death rather than break the law - is the result of repentance, faith, receipt of the Spirit, and faithfulness / diligence in keeping the sayings of Jesus.

So, go read Mosiah 23-24, then get back to me, please.

Jared Livesey said...

In particular, note that the society in question did NOT collapse.

Dox said...

So, my main point in continuing this is actually well illustrated in those chapters. All I'm arguing for (and attempting to discover) is that principle that allowed the people to take THEIR flocks, THEIR grain and THEIR tents with them as God forced their captors into a deep sleep.

Dox said...

And just to clarify, I don't feel this is the be-all, end-all principle, or the most important thing I need to pull from Mosiah. I'll need more time to fully read and absorb.

Thanks for your patience, Log.

Jared Livesey said...

Whatever God says to take, they take. It's all his anyways. Your point, however, was being enslaved would necessarily lead to the destruction of the society, which did not occur.

Jared Livesey said...

And this was the original state of the society.

32 But behold, it came to pass that the king, having discovered a movement among the people, sent his servants to watch them. Therefore on the day that they were assembling themselves together to hear the word of the Lord they were discovered unto the king.

33 And now the king said that Alma was stirring up the people to rebellion against him; therefore he sent his army to destroy them.

34 And it came to pass that Alma and the people of the Lord were apprised of the coming of the king’s army; therefore they took their tents and their families and departed into the wilderness.

35 And they were in number about four hundred and fifty souls.

Tents and families.

Now, there seems to be a huge difference between these, and others.

Mosiah 23:31
31 And behold, [the Lamanites] had found those priests of king Noah, in a place which they called Amulon; and they had begun to possess the land of Amulon and had begun to till the ground.


Mosiah 23:19-20
19 And it came to pass that [Alma's people] began to prosper exceedingly in the land; and they called the land Helam.

20 And it came to pass that they did multiply and prosper exceedingly in the land of Helam; and they built a city, which they called the city of Helam.

Roughly the same timeframe. Golden rule vs. not.

Dox said...

Your answer to my question, "God said to" just as effectively shuts down the conversation on principle here as Minority of One's "God told me" replies did over on Tim's site.

Jared Livesey said...

The conversation was over whether enslavement would lead to the destruction of such a society.

At least, that was your original position.

Are you now addressing a different topic, or modifying your claim?

Jared Livesey said...

After all, it is yours if it obeys your voice; you merely possess it otherwise.

And if God says you may possess something, you may possess it, right?

And we may still use "their" as a possessive pronoun in such a circumstance without loss of information, right? Is there any other, more efficient way to speak or write - given we're engraving on metal plates?

If you are claiming they "owned" the stuff, with the same meaning as what we mean to day as "property rights," you will find it impossible to establish that claim, I believe. But hey, I've been wrong before.

Dox said...

My 10pm was addressing a different topic.

I do feel you've changed the goal posts a bit here. I set up a scenario which is a bit different than the one here in Mosiah. I made it more straight forward and simple as you did with the 2 people on an island with apples so that we could reduce the problem to its simplest components

And without outside help, that society in Mosiah would have collapsed by living the golden rule. Thank Heaven for God's mercy in intervening on their behalf, but golden rule didn't arbitrate that conflict, the Government of Heaven did.

"Rights are self-negating, as I point out, being demonstrably unable to perform the function for which they were devised - resolve conflicts such that the rights of all are preserved, and this occurs with as few as ONE right assigned to individuals, and the same right at that. Instead, in such situations, we reach for another rule for conflict resolution - those provided in religions or philosophies. Reaching for alternative methods of conflict resolution is an implicit admission rights, as a concept, fail. (In fact, the true, so-called "natural," law, is the Golden Rule, which cannot be enforced..."


"The purpose of law is to resolve conflicts."

Again, the golden rule didn't resolve the conflict, God did. The only point I'm trying to make with this is that I believe your analysis of this according to your conflict resolution framework is flawed, as the framework also shows the golden rule as a failure.

I don't believe the golden rule is a failure, and neither do you, so if the conflict resolution framework shows it to be so, the framework must be wrong.

Dox said...

"If you are claiming they "owned" the stuff, with the same meaning as what we mean to day as "property rights," you will find it impossible to establish that claim, I believe. But hey, I've been wrong before."

Maybe we can get somewhere. I'd be happy to dispense with "property rights" as a description, maybe something like "agency relating to property." That's probably at the heart of most of the objections coming up. It is as I attempted to define it above: the ability/agency to choose how to use or dispose of one's possessions. While that is a more limited principle, and goes nowhere toward any kind of conflict resolution, I think that kind of principle demonstrates better the ability to sacrifice, consecrate or give away possessions.

I think it is this basic agency over property that these folks fleeing the Lamanites had. Maybe you can build a (modern) legal right out of that bit of agency, but I think you've well showed how quickly that is overrun by Satan and turned into escalating violence.

I only hope some day to be able to use that bit of agency over my possessions to choose the golden approach. I'm not there yet.

Jared Livesey said...

You are misunderstanding, Ben.

The society in question is not Alma's people + the Lamanites, it is solely Alma's people.

Their society did not collapse. They were not in conflict with each other, and neither - and this is the hard part to understand - were they in conflict with the Lamanites.

That right there negates your assertion that enslavement by one (or, in the case under examination, multiple) would destroy the society.

Even if they were killed - and I pointed you to Alma 24 to try to help you to understand - their society does not collapse.

I don't know how to make this more clear. Help me to help you.

Dox said...

I guess I wrongly assumed that every person in a society dying would constitute a collapse.

All king Laman had to do was take all of Alma's people's goods, all of them, and the whole of them would have starved. ( by your absurdium argument, I should be able to use this even if it didn't actually happen this way)

I would consider this a collapse of Alma's society, even though exhalation would be awaiting them in the hereafter.

Dox said...

Sometimes I'm amazed any communication of understanding happens at all.

I feel we are close or getting close to agreeing, if we could only figure out what each other means.

Craig Morris said...

Mosiah 4:27, 28

26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

27 And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

This seems to presuppose ownership of property. Benjamin doesn't suggest they renounce ownership but that they give freely of what they own. In fact he seems to suggest that they don't give so much that they undermine their ability to continue to give in the future (at least that is my reading of it).

4 Nephi 2,3

2 And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.

3 And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.

It doesn't say they had all things in common but that they had all things common among them. To have all things in common means you can wear the clothes in my closet but to have all things common among us means we all have clothes in our closet to wear, a big difference.

Mosiah 4:16

16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish

I try to live by this but it was recently impressed upon me that not everyone who asks for my money is actually a beggar. Where I live asking for money at on ramps is an industry. The men and women that do this are sometimes beggars but other times con men and I try to discern between the two. I see no virtue in succoring con men.

Jared Livesey said...


Mosiah 4:22
22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

So (pardon the glibness) it's not that there is virtue in succoring con men, it's that there is no virtue in one who refuses to do so when the con man puts up his petition.


Do you suppose God would not protect and succor you if you, with full sincerity of heart, started doling out your possessions to all who ask, according to his commandments? Do you suppose he would not deliver you from your trials and temptations and afflictions if you, with an eye single to his glory, sought to keep all of his commandments from your heart?

As I said, it is covetousness and a horror of poverty which stops people from keeping the sayings of Jesus.

That's not a value judgement on my part. It's just an observation.

Covetousness, remember, simply means "desiring to possess." Keeping the sayings of Jesus breaks that chain of darkness from our hearts.

Jared Livesey said...

Indeed, Ben, to set your heart at ease, here's some of what happens if you strive in all things to keep the commandments.

Helaman 12:2
2 Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.

That includes potentially stopping your hypothetical bad man from enslaving an entire society. God actively intervenes to defend his people.

On the other hand, sometimes, he lets them die - Alma 14:10-11.

Now, if we don't believe in an intervening God, if we instead believe God is a hypothetical concept, a sky fairy an ancient priesthood appealed to in order to justify their sexually-repressive regimes and glut themselves on the labors of an ignorant people, then all of this is really rather beside the point.

Jared Livesey said...

So, to get back here: "I guess I wrongly assumed that every person in a society dying would constitute a collapse."

No, collapse would entail such things as fighting amongst themselves, which didn't happen, or fighting against others, which again didn't happen. So there were no competing claims to adjudicate since there was no competition among them, therefore no conflict to resolve by appeal to legal enforcers. Each man was at peace with all others - and himself - and God.

That is where conflict is resolved - in the heart.

And, as I pointed out from D&C 45, the future golden rule society, Zion, will be the only people under heaven not at war with each other, nor anyone else. Again, conflict resolved.

I acknowledge that this is nonsense to someone who is unbelieving, fears death, and is therefore covetous. The only way to secure property, and thus our nice, comfortable standard of living, is through superior force or credible claims thereto; the only way to make sure one isn't taken advantage of is through the device of money, whereby we may try to assure ourselves that any transaction leaves our relative social status relatively unchanged (the ideal, of course, is to enhance it, so everyone tries to take advantage of everyone else, both by sales tactics and by cheating and lying). This golden rule talk is simply idealistic absurdity because the world doesn't work this way. In fact, it might even be dangerous, since if anyone takes it seriously, and acts on it, then they will be severely disadvantaged in a world that will happily enslave them, take all their stuff, and cast them out onto the street, and let them live as a beggar or die (the ultimate point Ben is making). The best outcome one can hope for in this world is to live high on the hog and hope you're dead before the party stops - eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. "It's about coming up, and staying on top."

And if there is no God, all of that is quite possibly true.

But here we are on a blog called "Pure Mormonism." The default assumption I have is that the readership that would seem to be attracted to such a blog, at a minimum, believe in God, Christ, angels, and miracles - the straight dope, as it were - and who would eschew the philosophies of men. But we see atheists and agnostics coming to laud Rock for his lectures on "rights." That ought to give pause, since it is written that friendship with the world is enmity with God. Something is wrong, there. Could it be that - as I have been saying - "rights" are "philosophies of men," based on a lie - the concept of private property - that conveniently justifies covetousness and the device of money, with the completely unfortunate and totally unforeseen yet inevitable side effect of producing conflict, societal decay, collapse, and warfare?

Naw, that's crazy talk. Let's go bomb Iraq in defense of Israel. Let's tell Putin if he does this, we'll do that. Let's rattle our sabers in China's general direction. Let's elect The Donald and make 'Murica great again. Let's wave our flags on Dec. 7th. Let's go refi our houses at 3% on a 30-year mortgage, and get that new Tesla we've had our eye on. Let's pass up those losers on the street who just weren't good enough at managing themselves to win at the game of economics. They deserve what they get - should have stayed in school and off drugs, kids. And definitely we should silence those nutters who have begun to cry that destruction is coming unless we lay down our rights and become equal with the beggars. Someone might take them seriously, and, in any event, we don't want anyone disturbing our party, nor our conscience.

Irven said...

Fine. Explain this then Log.

"Lucifer is the originator of property rights, since original property that all men have is their body, Lucifer is the originator of that body, although he himself does not have one".

That is what you--Log--have said when you say that he--Lucifer--is the "the originator of property rights".

Have fun with that one Log.

It was not Lucifer that commanded people to defend their liberties and even their families unto bloodshed. It was God. Without property--BODIES--we have no liberty or family to defend to bloodshed. God Himself is the originator of property rights. Lucifer is an impostor, only appearing--at least to you--to be the originator of property rights.

Your view of property rights seems to leave out the fact that our bodies are first property, taking only account what tangible property we have after that. That is why you obsess over defining property in the manner you do.

If I am mistaken, then you would have to necessarily--logically--believe that one doesn't have the right to protect themselves from rape or molestation because that is "covetousness" over property.

You arrogantly come up with strawman arguments believing that you have taken every step to its logical conclusion. If you are going to do that, you aught to be sure that you have done so.

Drawing on past experience, you will ignore what I have said, state my statements in another way and demand that I answer your framing of the argument; most likely placing three or four posts to do so.

One last thing Log. Property rights don't supersede the right to life as you assert. They cannot, because the right to life is a property right.

Jared Livesey said...


Lucifer is the originator of property rights, the claim that I get to kill you if you touch my shit. Covetousness taken to the logical conclusion.

God can ask me to defend HIS stuff with force if he likes, and if I care about pleasing God, I will do so, and not because I desire to possess it, neither because I fear losing it.

Notice the subtle difference between these two. On your, and Lucifer's, model of property rights, it is my own dear self I am serving when I kill you for touching my shit. Or sue you. Or whatever you like, it really doesn't matter - you can execute violence, threaten it, defer it in lieu of a monetary judgement, cut off someone's hand, whatever. You serve you. Your will be done.

On God's model, it is God and his people, his body, I am serving, not my own dear self through covetousness and fear. His will be done, not mine.

You do believe in God, right?

You wish to describe your body as "property," and claim the "right" to defend it by slaying others, and you wish to extend this "right" to other tangible "property," more shit you claim the "right" to kill others for touching, and thus you commit the fallacy of petitio principii. You are simply assuming the controversial point of the existence of "property" and "rights" while accusing me of leaving "this fact" out.

Now, you ask a cogent question about rape or molestation, though curiously leave murder out (I think it's because you already know the answer, and it undermines your position; truth isn't your goal; winning is). In fact, we may resist rape and molestation, for we are commanded to not fornicate nor commit adultery, and if we care about pleasing God, we therefore will not permit our bodies to be used in such a fashion, according to his request.

If not, then not.


Jared Livesey said...

And God gets to defend his body because we, if we are members of his body, the church of Christ, ask him to deliver us from our enemies - it's not like we like getting killed or forced off the land the Lord our God has given us to possess or enslaved. So God's not covetous either.

Roles, duties, and obligations, not rights.

That's post #2. I'll try to think of how to make this more complicated so you can win.

Jared Livesey said...

Post #3: The Origin of Property Rights

Moses 5:29-33
29 And Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it, they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it; and this day I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands.

30 And Satan sware unto Cain that he would do according to his commands. And all these things were done in secret.

31 And Cain said: Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan, and he gloried in his wickedness.

32 And Cain went into the field, and Cain talked with Abel, his brother. And it came to pass that while they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and slew him.

33 And Cain gloried in that which he had done, saying: I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands.

Note well - the secret is stated as murder in order to get gain. That sure sounds an awful lot like killing people to get shit, doesn't it? And if you kill people to get it in the first place, why would you scruple to kill people to keep it?

Jared Livesey said...

Post #4: The Clincher and Fourth Post So I Lose!

Mosiah 4:22
22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

We own nothing. Not even our lives.

Mosiah 2:21
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

God is continually and actively intervening on the order of things from moment to moment to keep us alive and able to do as we will with the time he has given us.

So when God asks us to give unto every man that asks, he's asking us to do with his stuff - for it obeys his voice - as he asks, so we can be his stuff too. If we are his, he is ours, for he will do as we ask as well.

Or, we can go with the other guy, who tells us we can buy anything in this world with money - even armies and navies, false priests who oppress, and tyrants who destroy and reign with blood and horror on the earth.

Historically, his offer has been the one most people go with. I mean, really, who wants to be poor and at the mercy of others? God may not even exist, or may be a liar, so doing what Jesus taught is a sucker's play. Amirite?

Irven said...

How does God own everything if the "originator of property rights" is Lucifer?

In the beginning God created man and gave man dominion--control, sovereign authority--over the earth and the things on the earth. That's just me considering land and the things that occupy it to be property. Kind of like my craziness of considering a body to be property. If a body and things on the earth aren't considered property, what are we to consider them? If they aren't property, what was Lucifer--as you assert--creating property rights for?

As I recall, it is said that God created the earth and man in his image. I don't recall Lucifer creating anything. He does all of his work vicariously, through people who have a physical body(property) unlike himself. Everything he does, he does by influence because of his lack of a tangible, physical body.

God himself is the originator of all physical elements. Man has dominion and can take from those elements and expand on them. Man cannot create them. He can only take and expand on them. Lucifer, because of his lack of a physical body cannot even expand on those elements himself. He must influence others to do so in his behalf.

Lucifer does not exist in the physical. Property by its very nature is physical. Property was withheld from Lucifer and a third of the hosts of heaven. That is why he seeks to influence everyone to do his bidding for him. That's as close as he can get to property. If he were the initiator of property and its inherent rights, he would not have withheld that power from himself.

Its funny that you accuse me of being worried more about winning than being right. I'm not the one cherry picking scriptures--sometimes generally unrelated to property--in defense of my position on the origination of property rights. I'm simply going back to the beginning--at least that we know of--first property(body)and taking it from there. You are demanding that we don't consider bodies property. Why? Because it destroys your whole thesis. Your whole theory is predicated on the idea that Lucifer was originator of property rights. The only way for him to be originator of property rights, would be for him to be the originator of property itself. There can be no rights of property without there first being property.

I'm sure this is a fruitless endeavor with you. You could still possibly be hung up wondering if I believe in God, as per your question a few posts ago.

Jared Livesey said...

How does God own everything if the "originator of property rights" is Lucifer?

I explained this already, which means you cannot be troubled to read what I've written, OR you cannot understand it.

Either way, there is no merit to repeating what you can discover by troubling yourself to read my comments, in their entirety, on this thread.

When you can be troubled to read the answer, which I stated explicitly, then maybe we can continue.

Jared Livesey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jared Livesey said...

1. "God himself is the originator of all physical elements."

A: D&C 93:33

2. "As I recall, it is said that God created the earth and man in his image. I don't recall Lucifer creating anything."

A: WoJS - George Laub Journal, April the 6th, 1843, search string "sined"

3. "If they aren't property, what was Lucifer--as you assert--creating property rights for?"

A: He introduced the concept of property rights for the purposes outlined in Moses 4:6.

4. "Property was withheld from Lucifer and a third of the hosts of heaven. That is why he seeks to influence everyone to do his bidding for him."

A: This statement, like many others you make, requires one first buy into your notion that bodies constitute private property. In other words, you are assuming the very point at issue. Have you stopped beating your mother yet?

5. "If he were the initiator of property and its inherent rights, he would not have withheld that power from himself."

A: This is a garbled and confused mismash of what you think I said. I said he originated the concept of property rights - at least, he is the one who introduced the concept to this world.

6. "You are demanding that we don't consider bodies property."

A: I am making no demands. I am saying the concept of private property is not from God.

7. "I'm not the one cherry picking scriptures--sometimes generally unrelated to property--in defense of my position on the origination of property rights."

A: I agree your comments have been remarkably untainted by scripture.

8. "Your whole theory is predicated on the idea that Lucifer was originator of property rights. The only way for him to be originator of property rights, would be for him to be the originator of property itself."

A: This statement illustrates, again, you confuse physical stuff, which exists, with property rights, which is an ideology. You are committing a category error.

Now, I do have to clarify. I do not know that Satan invented property rights, but from Moses 5, he is the one who introduced the idea to Cain, who went on to found the first city, and apparently the first government, which also was the first to kill someone to shut them up - copyright law taken to the logical end.

Jared Livesey said...

That's the entire point people got lost at - #8.

Physical stuff is not properly identified with ideologies; to conflate the two is to commit a category error.

But this kind of error can only be committed, in my judgement, when people cannot conceive of an alternative ideology.

That is, the concept of rights, in particular, property rights, is so deeply ingrained that for those who hold to this ideology there is no conceivable alternative.

So it's possible Irven read my explanation of how everything is God's (with some exceptions) and yet entirely missed the significance since it doesn't intersect in any significant way with how he conceives men and God ought to relate to each other in the presence of stuff.

And when I say that property rights is simply covetousness given legal justification and lethal enforcement, that is taken by those who cannot conceive of an alternative to property rights as me trying to arrogantly take a non-existent moral high ground.

Folks: stuff exists and always has. According to the scriptures, God can neither create nor destroy stuff, nor intelligence, even if he can coax and persuade stuff to take shape out of chaos. He is not a conquistador, planting his flag and threatening all who trespass on his land with death or taxes or rent, he is a parent and a teacher and a mentor and a servant. Stuff obeys him - honors him - because he doesn't abuse others. That which obeys him thereby belongs to him, and remains his so long as it obeys him. That is how everything is God's, except man. Man is being tested and sifted to see if they will obey him, or if they will obey the other guy. Men belong to whom they willingly obey.

That's it.

The other guy has introduced a different system, one based on covetousness and lethal enforcement of claims - the conquistador model, if you like.

Jared Livesey said...

God's model:

Acts 4:32
32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

Satan's model:

Ether 14:2
2 Wherefore every man did cleave unto that which was his own, with his hands, and would not borrow neither would he lend; and every man kept the hilt of his sword in his right hand, in the defence of his property and his own life and of his wives and children.

Unknown said...

What is man then? What is God then? You would have humans reduced to a child like state, living in their parent's house with their parent's things until they die. And then commanded to play nice with each other and share everything because none of the things are theirs.

And you have to assume God knew we would not play fair. But assuming everyone did play fairly and shared everything and lived in peaceful harmony, what would be the point? What would be the purpose of mortality in a society of 100% peace? Couldn't we have had that in heaven?

And why would God promise eternal kingdoms, planets and everlasting dominions for people who had never had the right or privilege to own anything? And why wouldn't that eventual transfer of property (planets kingdoms, dominions) be a Satanic/evil principal in your scenario? Are you proposing we live in a child like state of subservience and submission, sharing all of God's toys, property, food, until we die, and then someday we will have transferred into our posession unknown sums of power and property and possessions? What kind of nonsense is that?

If earth life is preparation to Godhood (owner of all we can imagine anyway, since we believe that all of what is on the earth and planets are "his") then how do prepare for godhood? How does a life playing in the nursery prepare anyone for adulthood? Godhood?

Many of the scriptures are not meant to be taken literally. We are to live in thankfullness and gratitude, faith and love. We are hear to learn and trial and live with each other and all who disagree with us. We are to learn to not be self-righteous and unkind. Some could start with behavior on this blog.

Jared Livesey said...

Man is a potential God in training.

God is an omnicompetent servant who loves everyone; a master of every art. He literally is one of us, as the Joan Osborne song goes. The difference between him and us is merely knowledge and experience.

The point is to see who will willingly and freely adopt the ideology of God, and not because of who and what is in heaven. Because if you're going to be doing it forever and ever, worlds without end, it has to be who and what you are, otherwise you will fail; nobody wants to be an eternal babysitter or referee.

Those who love each other rejoice in each other's company, and want to be around each other - isn't the pleasure of your loved ones' company reason enough for a society of peace?

And no, we couldn't have that in heaven without experiencing the complete opposite down here. That's part of the point of this little experiment.

If you will agree to relate to things as God does, you will have the same power God has - things will willingly obey you, thus they will belong to you. If you relate instead to things as the devil bids, well, you can go party in his kingdom. There is no "transfer of property." One of us is all of us. The power of God is love and truth. The power of the devil is fear and lies.

You prepare for Godhood by experiencing the power of love and truth, as well as fear and lies. Having experienced the power of love and truth, as well as fear and lies, you are rendered presumptively competent to select the society and rules you wish to abide. If you choose love and truth, you go with the society that likewise chooses love and truth. If you choose fear and lies, well, because you've been down here and experienced their effects and seen their consequences, you know what you're asking for, so it is just to give it to you.

When you say the scriptures are not meant to be taken literally, you are only saying that you do not believe them.

And when you say I am self-righteous, you are simply telling me that you assume I know just as little as you, and also that you do not believe me.

Well, we choose whom to believe based on our values - what we really want. It's possible I am being self-righteous. But if you don't know I'm wrong, then to be consistent, you have to grant the possibility that I might be right and that I may know what I'm talking about.

And if you grant that possibility - in full view of the knowledge that you are going to die - why not perform an experiment upon the words of Christ? See what happens when you try doing things his way.

Jared Livesey said...

And here I am going to speculate - what purpose is served by a society of Gods?

I think we'll be Star Trekking.

No joke.

If there are other powers out there, they will be founded upon the Golden Rule and we will join with them. If we find systems of hierarchies, we will try to invite as many as will to join us.

Jared Livesey said...

3 Nephi 9:22
22 Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved.

D&C 121
45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

Jared Livesey said...

To become as a little child might be best understood as uncritically believing what God has said, and doing what he has asked without stubbornness of heart.

31 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.

32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.

33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.

34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.

35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.

37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.

38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.

40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

41 Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.

Jared Livesey said...

1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily, I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

3 Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Jared Livesey said...

But I have to admit, except as an extended demonstration that the law of God preserves peace among mortal humanity in the absence of the power of the devil, I can't think of another purpose for the millennial reign of Christ. It seems clear to me that their opportunities for advancement in understanding and development in conflict resolution would be necessarily limited without suffering the abuse that comes from the reign of the devil, even if they do grow up without sin unto salvation, and are eventually presented to the Lord (JST Matt 21:55).

Something, I guess, to research.

Dox said...

After thinking much this weekend, I think I finally understand what you're coming from, Log. I've thought for years that the Austrian economic school and libertarianism is the closest to the gospel of any political philosophy. I still think it is better than most, and allow the greatest agency of the major philosophies, but I did not understand how badly they were lacking.

I love Nibley's book Approaching Zion, but I've had a dissonance between what he talks about in that book, and how "the real world" works. I couldn't see how Zion could possibly work without prices, competition, wages, etc. I knew they weren't compatible, but I had no way to resolve it. I think you've finally given me some tools to finally understand what Nibley was saying.

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