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Today's Show » God says I can have a gun?

marnesdad
2 years, 1 month ago
I believe in God, but I'm not giving Him credit for what rights I have as an American citizen. Those were determined by actual people. We decided what rights we would have as citizens of the United States, just as the citizens of the UK determined their rights, and the (few) Chinese people determined theirs. What WE think God would want for all people likely differs across the God-fearing world. As the caller that Wilkow wiggled out of pointed out today -- who actually believes that WE get to speak for God? What if God doesn't want people to kill other people (I think I read that somewhere) for any reason? Yet, we decided that we could kill in order to protect ourselves and others... Ours are not God-given rights, they're rights we believe God wants for us. Let's not get too high on ourselves.
marnesdad
2 years, 1 month ago
Also, doesn't the criticism of government for Nativity scenes and giant Menorahs fall right into line with what Wilkow talks about every day? These aren't free. The government is spending tax payer money on religious activities. They are stealing from one class (atheists?) and giving to another. Isn't this EXACTLY what Wilkow preaches every day? Like he always says, your freedom to be a "religious" you includes my freedom to be freefrom paying for your religious activities.... Right? Or, is it just another block of truth that Wilkow only appreciates the government that does what he wants.....?
nav68
2 years, 1 month ago
As to Wilkow's caller, I guess the answer would be that God doesn't want anyone to kill. That would include killing ourselves. Which is what happens when you let crazies like Hitler, Stalin, Islamic radicals, etc. roam the world to kill those they don't like - us, for instance.
marnesdad
2 years, 1 month ago
Wilkow's caller had asked him where he got the right to speak for God. He challenged Wilkow's on his statement that rights are not given to people by people, which, of course, is wrong. We give ourselves rights. God may be the inspiration for the rights, but we decided for ourselves what rights we have. As for the "crazies", I believe God's intent is to deal with them himself - at least that is what He said...
crossofcrimson
2 years, 1 month ago
As always, I didn't listen to the show/segment in question so I'm not going to throw down as if to really defend anything Wilkow says. But I think this is one of many situations where semantics come into play. You don't have to believe in a god to believe in "God-given" rights in the traditional since. That terminology has become a shorthand reference to a composite of post-Enlightenment conceptions of "Natural rights". Although, to be fair, the most dominant version of the argument (at least in America) was certainly couched in several appeals to our natural equality before "God" (you'll have to resurrect Locke to figure out how specifically tied to that notion he might might have been). In any case, it was a large part of the inspiration for modern governments in the Western world for the last few-hundred years...and it speaks quite vociferously in contrast to the idea that rights come from government, or that we decide them in a deliberative sense. The whole notion, in fact, is that rights preclude both governance and consensus. Obviously there are weak and strong versions of this argument, and even Locke himself famously capitulates to a surrendering of some rights he believes to be "natural" in the name of good governance. And, of course, there is always the sense in which many refer to rights in the legal (positive law) context, a case in which any ideal notion of rights will never match what has actually been instituted and protected through positive law. But it doesn't sound like he's making that kind of appeal. It sounds like he's using it in a normative concept. And you're not going ot derail a normative argument about "law" with an observation about positive law. In short, if Wilkow was trying to walk the line of some justification in which he literally said that God himself (Allah, whatever) literally drew up such a social construct and handed it to us to be executed in some specific fashion, then he's obviously going to find himself walled in fairly quickly. But there is a sense in which people (including those very well-versed in politics or philosophy) use the term "God-given rights" in a very secular, and justifiable sense to describe a particular normative conception of justice.
marnesdad
2 years, 1 month ago
I'm criticising Wilkow's handling of the caller, who he called a pseudo-intellectual before giving him his patented 'thank you for the call' face-preserving exit... Wilkow had no argument. He said that government doesn't give people their rights, God does. That's nonsense. What Wilkow is saying is that it is God that says I have the freedom to say what I want, where I want, and to whom I want... except when it puts others' lives in danger, and except when it could be considered threatening, or abusive...? No. WE decided what rights Americans have as citizens and what limitations there are on those rights... Again, these 'natural rights' could be inspired by God, or your goldfish -- doesn't matter... The outcome is that WE decide what rights we have as citizens.
crossofcrimson
2 years, 1 month ago
OK - well, I certainly disagree with about half of his claim then. I certainly don't believe "God" (whatever that may be) literally "gives" people rights in any tangible sense. But I'll back up the normative claim that government does not give people rights. Rights precede government. I think part of the issue is that we're conflating normative and positive arguments perhaps. For instance, if there was a completely procedural, above-the-table, move to give adults the "right" to stab all children under ten, I suppose you could make the argument that _that_ (now) is a "right"...in the positive sense (the law itself). But that's quite distinct from philosophical/ethical conceptions of virtue, obligation, and justice that generally inform positive law. If I told you that you, in fact, had absolutely no "right" to kill a child like that, you wouldn't get too far with me or others by waving a copy of the legislation in my face claiming, "See? We got together and agreed on this - it's a right now!" Fortunately for us, the argument isn't as simple as that.
marnesdad
2 years, 1 month ago
I'm only talking about the tangible sense. The caller was talking about the tangible sense. When the caller made his inarguable point (the rights belonging to American citizens were decided upon and protected by American citizens) Wilkow needed to call him a pseudo-intellectual and hang up on him in order to save himself. ......Now, on to your point.... Governments are people (as Romneyesque as I can put it) -- people assigned the task of serving the collective needs of other people. While governments (people) don't 'give' people rights, they certainly confirm them, and, in most cases, set rules to protect them. In the context I'm addressing, our government decided that rights, even though guaranteed, are to be somewhat limited. Speech, arms, privacy, protection -- all defined in their actual scope by actual people... not God.
crossofcrimson
2 years, 1 month ago
Yeah - I won't delve in too deeply on what Wilkow actually said; as even when I do reach the same conclusions (which is rare enough) it's often resulting from a vastly different reasoning. In any case, as far as governments are concerned, I'll certainly concede that a large part of their supposed task is to try to "protect" rights. But I'm not willing to give them much more credit than that. And while they certainly distort, ignore, or otherwise directly limit such rights (depending upon your own conception of them, of course), they certainly do not define the contours of the actual rights themselves. If you divorce the positive and normative arguments, it's a little easier to see the context of a phrase like "God-given rights." His invocation of it might have been poorly executed. But your rebuttal about constructing rights through consensus and governance also misses the mark by a bit too. Or at least it would certainly be enough to make an awful lot of philosophers raise their brows. There's plenty of issues out there to shoot Wilkow on, but I think the referencing of rights as if they aren't constructed in any deliberative sense isn't one of them.

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