Saturday, November 13, 2004

We All Have the Right To Ellen Goodman's Opinion

Boston-based columnist Ellen Goodman is steamed about sex education in Texas public schools.
The big news is the state's successful demand that textbook publishers change the description of marriage between "two people" to marriage between "a man and a woman." They also ordered that marriage be defined as "a lifelong union between a husband and a wife." . . .

Texas has now officially gone to abstinence-only textbooks. The students are learning the ABCs of sex education without the C. And as Texas, the second-largest book buyer in the country, goes, so may go the nation.
Goodman cites studies suggesting that detailed and condom-oriented sex education can reduce teen-age pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Goodman prefers the Massachusetts public school curriculum, which--though she doesn't amplify--I presume is condom-, teen sex-, gay-, and polyandry-friendly:
Frankly, I found the "lifelong" description charming considering that the Lone Star State has one of the highest divorce rates in the country. Massachusetts, by the way, has the lowest divorce rate in the country. We are so fond of marriage that we want everyone to do it.
Naturally, Goodman blames the religious right: "this Texas story is proof of how the abstinence-only lobby is flexing its muscle."

I have no idea what statistics, if any, are "accurate." What annoyed me was Goodman's condensation toward Texans (well expressed by Jib-Jab ("I'm an intellectual; you're a stupid dumb-ass.") and her contradictory assumption that the new Texas policy doesn't reflect the views of its citizens.

American liberals once were dedicated to democracy. The ultimate ambition of the left used to be "one man, one vote." This was a worthy goal, achieved thanks to bipartisan support--consisting of virtually all Republicans against an opposition largely composed of Democrats.

But, beginning forty years ago, liberalism morphed into a devotion to group rights. "One man, one vote" became unfashionable: women, blacks, gays, etc., suddenly deserved special consideration. Suddenly, distrust of the democratic process became a lefty article of faith--hence their reliance on un-elected judges to dictate, from Olympian heights, results Democrats were unwilling to put to a vote. Viz, abortion, affirmative action, school bussing and, now, gay marriage.

Ellen Goodman is entitled to prefer whatever miracle she believes Massachusetts sex education provides. She's entitled to implement that view by voting for liberal candidates--from Senator to school board--on Election Day. What's noxious is her assumption that she has the only path to truth; that she knows what's best for us and thus is entitled to bypass democracy to impose her will on others. It's what Peter Wallison said is shared among today's liberal opinion-makers:
an essential ignorance that others can reasonably hold views different from theirs — an unwillingness, in effect, to accept differing views as legitimate. . . .The fact that Christian fundamentalists hold different views from their own means that, in their eyes, the fundamentalists are divisive and intolerant.
The United States Constitution embodies a federal system of government. The Constitution specifically enumerates the powers devolved to Congress, to the President, and to the Federal Courts. The Tenth Amendment covers everything else:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The Constitution says nothing about abortion, school buses, sex education or marriage, gay or otherwise. (It does address affirmative action--and prohibits it.) Each state, therefore, is sovereign over these choices.

Yet, Democrats never bothered to seek voter or legislative majorities on such maters. They push ever-expanding list of issues too important for debate, instead relying on judicial decrees imposed without regard to the will of the people. Ironically, therefore, the Democratic Party's notion of democracy is anything but democratic.

Texas has a Commissioner of Education, who oversees a state Education Agency, and an elected state Board of Education. Texas voters, and their representatives, thus can decide whether to provide sex education in public schools and may select the appropriate curriculum.

Unless she's recently moved to Dallas, Ellen Goodman, a citizen of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, simply has no say in the matter. But Goodman knows she's right and is too impatient for discussion, debate and democracy.

The Bill of Rights guarantees our essential freedoms. Some rights are familiar: speech and press, contracts and due process, speedy and fair trials. Yet, lefties long ago declared war on a more complex, less understood liberty embodied in our Constitution: the limitations on Federal power that devolve decisionmaking to the lowest possible unit of government, such as states or municipalities. This tends to ensure that citizens have the maximum possible ability to monitor and participate in policy determinations, making law and regulation the responsibility of legislative and executive bodies most closely connected to those directly affected.

America's founders didn't presume they possessed all truth. So they created a process whereby each state and its citizens could ponder and pick the policy they preferred. Even if others disagree; no one state's policy is cumpulsory for any other. Even if misguided; a democracy is flexible, and can always change its mind.

Today's self-righteous liberal Democrats purport to have a monopoly on solutions without the necessity of persuading 50.1 percent of the voters. Despite their professed preference for the people's will and ever-expanding concept of civil rights, they've devoted nearly half a century to short-circuiting the electorate and eradicating the Tenth Amendment.

According to Ellen Goodman, we're entitled to her opinion. Nonsense. The Constitution does not enshrine the viewpoint of coastal elites. The Tenth Amendment means much more than that--it gives Americans the right to be wrong. And that's a civil right worth defending.


Ryan Sager in TechCentral says the left may already be coalessing around Tenth Amendment rights :
[P]rogressives are beginning to realize that it's extraordinarily difficult to foist your values on other people -- and maybe they should just stop trying. Now, this isn't quite as good as recognizing that it's wrong to try to force your values on other people. But it's a start. . .

[So,] a large number of disenfranchised Democrats seem willing to form a leave-me-alone coalition. . . With an open-ended, complicated and potentially catastrophic War on Terrorism to occupy the federal government for the foreseeable future, might this not be the perfect political coalition to start exploring: people on the right and left who just want people on the other side to leave them alone.
(via Instapundit)

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