Friday, December 12, 2003

Leviticus and the Law

Jim Davila fisks David Klinghoffer's Beliefnet article on Leviticus and homosexuality.

What bothers me is his arguing for a political goal on the basis of assumptions many citizens of the polity don't share...

He seems to be saying that, not the whole Mosaic law, but specific parts of it that he has seized on (using poor and inconsistent exegesis even on his own terms - see above) are so important to God that if we don't follow them we can expect the downfall of our civilization: God will "disgorge" us. The implication is that Americans must make - or refrain from making - their laws on the basis of Klinghoffer's version of biblical morality and his beliefs about biblical authority or else they're doomed. The argument isn't internally consistent in the first place and it doesn't work for anyone who doesn't share his religious presuppositions. It amounts to wanting the state to make political decisions on the basis of a narrow interpretation of a particular scripture, which strikes me as a very bad idea.

Mr. Klinghoffer, if you want to convince anyone who doesn't share your starting assumptions, you need to try again.

One might wonder if Davila would make the same argument against Marxists or Republicans who base their political arguments on premises most people don't share or indeed anyone else. Aren't all arguments made from presuppositions everyone in the polity doesn't share or else there would be no argument.

As for the application of parts of Mosaic law and not others (no on sodomy, yes on eating unclean animals) this is long established Christian Theology. See for example Article 7 of the Anglican 39 Articles of Religion:
VII. Of the Old Testament.
THE Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore there are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.

Pretty standard stuff. As is Klinghoffer's belief that chunks of Jewish Ceremonial and Civil Law is in suspense pending the rebuilding of the temple. One cannot offer sacrifices in a building that doesn't exist.

Religious believers are just like everyone else. They get to use their beliefs for political arguments just like communists, environmentalists, or others.

And unless one spends a lot of time attacking almost everyone for making stupid arguments based on personal assumptions, to concentrate on religious believers suggests unwarranted discrimination. There is a thread of belief on the Left (which I don't know if Davila shares) holding that religious beliefs have little or no place in politics or governance. But they should actually be treated like any other beliefs.

Monday, December 08, 2003

"Historically driver's license prove(s) citizenship"

U.S. may have to rethink ID cards

By Shaun Waterman
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor
Published 12/1/2003 5:37 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- A senior homeland security official said Monday that if states continue to issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, the country will have to re-think the way licenses are used as de facto identity cards by government and the private sector.

"Historically, we've looked at it that (applicants for a driver's license) ought to be able to prove citizenship, because we've relied upon those driver's licenses," Homeland Security Administration Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Asa Hutchinson told reporters. "If the states are going to change the historical context and say they don't need citizenship ... then we have to change our whole reliance upon them."

I don't know what history Asa grew up in.  I remember a history in which licenses were issued in many states by AAA offices without proof of anything.  In which they were merely a form of taxation of drivers.  Then ID started to be required to prove age.  Citizenship was never an issue.  Then they started testing drivers for driving skills -- again, citizenship was not an issue.  Finally they started to require ID to get ID and some states required citizenship or legal residence.  I know for a fact that as recently as 20 years ago California didn't require citizenship for DLs since I helped an Iranian tourist get a license.  They wanted proof of age and identity.  Her passport worked fine.

The citizenship requirement (which has never been universal) is a recent innovation.  One cannot use tradition to justify it.  It is not a tradition.  It's merely another example (as with the SS#) of a system devised for one purpose (paying for highways) being mangled to serve another purpose (security).  And all because our rulers lack the courage to advocate internal passports.  They should be chicken of course because internal passports would be resisted.