Letters to the Editor: July 16, 2003
Ari, a greeting.
This a Thank You message. I believe it was you who reviewed the movie "Equilibrium" on some Objectivist list awhile ago. I had not heard of it before that, so I wrote the movie's name down for future reference. I just found it at Blockbusters. I love it. Truly a great movie... Thanks again for recommending it.
-- Ross Barlow, July 9
Washington vs. DC
Ari--I enjoyed John Thrasher's report from Cato. As you know, I'm not a libertarian, but I have the utmost respect for Cato and could easily see myself working there. However, I need to make one more plea for Colorado libertarian-leaning folks to be a little bit more careful in their DC-bashing. Sure, DC is home to a lot of federal bureaucracy. A lot of people with a vested interest in maintaining or expanding the federal government live in the DC *area*, but the city itself is home to a lot of people who have nothing to do with the federal government, except that they are taxpayers WITH NO congressional representation (wasn't that why we fought the Revolutionary War?). DC is overwhelmingly African-American, and the city itself is home to a lot of poverty that results in affluent folks fleeing to the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
Moreover, any decision of the city government can be (and oftentimes is) overruled by Congress, which maintains complete control over the District. Anyone who is dissatisfied with the arrogance of the federal government should by outraged by the way the feds use copious amounts of local government services in DC, do NOT pay property tax, and make the District government beg and plead for an annual Congressional payment in lieu of taxes. Or what about Congress totally disregarding any local sentiment from DC residents and renaming Washington's National Airport after Ronald Reagan, who hated the city? Then in 2001, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced legislation to impound the annual appropriation to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority until they changed all the subway signs from "National Airport" to "Reagan National Airport." I'm sure your first reaction is why is the federal government funding local transportation systems, which is fair enough, but my point is that anyone who is angry with federal micro managing of states would be downright apoplectic after spending a few months in DC.
I read an editorial once when I was still living in DC that contrasted the two cities: "Washington" (the ornate federal enclave), and "DC" (the real city, poor, crumbling, and lacking respect). Please, bash Washington all you like. But as for DC, it is home to over half a million people who pay taxes to a government that does not represent them -- DC-bashing, it seems to me, is most un-libertarian.
-- Stephen Raher, July 10
Ari Armstrong Replies: I think Thrasher would agree the residents of Washington, D.C. are often terribly abused by Congress.
Regarding the article entitled, "Gay marriage ban brews dissent" (Rocky Mountain News, July 12, 2003):
Stephanie Shearer states that the Constitution is a document "that always has awarded additional rights, not taken rights away."
I challenge Ms. Shearer to enumerate one right granted to her or anyone else by the Constitution. As she quoted from the Declaration of Independence in her July 8 article in the Colorado Freedom Report, "all men... are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." -- endowed by their Creator, not by the authors and signers of the Constitution, who were wise enough to know that, being mere mortals, they had no power or authority to grant their fellow men any so-called rights.
The Constitution is undoubtedly one of the most discussed and least understood documents ever written. But all Americans should memorize and ponder the following statement: The Constitution governs only the public servants who occupy the offices it created.
Period. Amen. The rest of us (including homosexuals) are governed by a different set of rules.
The Ms. Shearers of the world want somebody to tell them it's okay to commit all manner of depraved and immoral acts; and because the rule book that governs them forbids such behavior, they look to the Constitution instead for their "rights" to do whatever they want. What an atrocity against both God and the Constitution!
-- Roxana Campbell, July 13
Ari Armstrong Replies: I agree it's more accurate to say the Constitution recognizes pre-existing rights. The "Creator" cited by Jefferson bore little resemblance to the God of modern right-wing Christianity. Quite obviously the founders of the Constitution did not mean to correlate our rights with the strictures of Christianity, for the First Amendment begins, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." True, the Constitution is to serve as a limit on the power of politicians. The First Amendment guarantees Campell's right to refer to homosexuality as "depraved and immoral," just as it limits her ability to forcibly impose her religious code on others. That article also protects my right to point out that Campell's opinion is rooted in ignorance and bigotry.