The internet’s not broken.
So then why are there so many attempts to regulate it? Under the guises of piracy, privacy, pornography, predators, indecency, and security, not to mention censorship, tyranny, and civilization, governments from the U.S. to France to Germany to China to Iran to Canada — as well as the European Union and the United Nations — are trying to exert control over the internet.
Why? Is it not working? Is it presenting some new danger to society? Is it fundamentally operating any differently today than it was five or ten years ago? No, no, and no.
So why are governments so eager to claim authority over it? Why would legacy corporations, industries, and institutions egg them on? Because the net is working better than ever. Because they finally recognize how powerful it is and how disruptive it is to their power.” —Jeff Jarvis (via wilwheaton)
” ‘I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,’ Santorum said … on ABC’s This Week. ‘The idea that the church should have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical of the objectives and vision of our country.’ “
So, we’ve heard this before, right? I mean, this is a very common refrain among conservatives - that America is, at its core and from the moment of its foundation, a religious nation founded on religious principles. Is there any truth to it?
Any American who has read their constitution lately is probably familiar with the first few clauses of the bill of rights - the so-called “religion clauses”. Let’s take a look at them.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
In 18th-Century parlance, an “establishment” of religion meant more or less what you would expect, and the establishment clause - that first sentence up there - was written both as a reaction to the overwhelming Enlightenment fervor that many of the founders espoused, and also to the at the time incestuous relationship between the English monarchy and the Anglican Church. Here’s James Madison in 1833, in a correspondence to Daniel Dreisbach (emphasis mine):
Until Holland ventured on the experiment of combining a liberal toleration, with the establishment of a particular creed, it was taken for granted that an exclusive and intolerant establishment was essential, and notwithstanding the light thrown on the subject by the experiment, the prevailing opinion in Europe, England not excepted, has been that Religion could not be preserved without the support of Government, nor Government be supported witht. an established Religion, that there must be at least an alliance of some sort between them. It remained for North America to bring the great & interesting subject to a fair, & finally, to a decisive test.
In other words, America was a test subject for the idea that government and religion would remain separate in their spheres of influence - that there would not, unlike in many of the European states at the time, be an established state religion.
You see, the whole question of religion at the time had to do with a phrase known as “liberty of conscience”. Let’s take a look first at the words of another founder, John Adams:
And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping GOD in the manner most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship.
And James Madison again:
The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.
“Liberty of conscience” had much to do with the idea both that everyone should be free to worship in the manner of their choosing, and cannot be persecuted for their religious choices. And this was huge at the time. 95% of the original drafts of the religion clauses of the First Amendment included the phrase somewhere, and the religion clauses codify the concept of liberty of conscience in a manner that the government can act upon. First, no establishment of religion. Second, no interfering with the rights of the citizens to practice religion.
The phrase “separation of church and state” doesn’t crop up until some 30 years later, in a letter from Thomas Jefferson (you may have heard of him) to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1803.
… I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
He’s talking about the First Amendment here. The First Amendment firmly disestablished religion in America. But hey, let’s not just rely on TJ here. Thomas Paine also had some words to say about it (again, emphasis mine):
All religions are in their nature mild and benign, and united with the principles of morality. They could not have made proselytes at first, by professing anything that was vicious, cruel, persecuting, or immoral… Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all law-religions, or religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion reassumes its original benignity.
And James Madison:
[Establishment of religion] implies either that the Civil Magistrate is a competent judge of religious truth; or that he may employ religion as an engine of civil policy. The first is an arrogant pretension falsified by the contradictory opinions of rules in all ages, and throughout the world, the second an unhallowed perversion of the means of salvation.
So, in closing: Rick Santorum has no idea what he’s talking about. Even a cursory glance at the writings of the founding fathers reveals that although they supported the idea of religion in the abstract, they were vehemently opposed to the notion that church and state should intermingle. The United States was never meant to be a Christian nation - what it is is a nation where people from all sects could worship without fear of persecution.
And anyone who says different is lying.
I am a test post.
whatever, I’m a blog post, not a cop.
That’s the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, saying the U.S. intelligence community will be wrong until it decides Iran is building a nuclear bomb.
A classic case of confirmation bias blinding analysis.