[FoRK] clarifying / exploring Aaron's point

jbone at place.org jbone at place.org
Fri Feb 13 11:03:13 PST 2004


(BTW, I'm not just trolling here, Aaron;  I'd really like to understand 
what you think on this, because I think there might be an interesting 
insight lurking behind what appears to me to be some subtly broken 
rhetoric.  If you don't mind humoring me, I'd like to dig in a little 
more.)

You're basically saying that the Jefferson quote should, given context, 
be read as:

(A)

> "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation 
> of RELIGIOUS opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and 
> tyrannical."

...and that by implication either:

(B)

> "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation 
> of POLITICAL opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is okay."

or

(C)

> "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation 
> of POLITICAL opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, might be okay."

...is consistent with Jefferson's political views.

You also brought up civil rights in your loose translation:

> ...and because our civil rights do not depend on our religious 
> opinions,

Now consider the relationship between religious opinion and political 
opinion in the context of rights:

(1) I might believe that abortion is wrong because it is opposed to the 
will of God.  (Religious opinion.)  OR
(2) I might believe that abortion is wrong because it is the killing of 
a human being.  (Secular opinion.)

To the extent that we buy into the difference between (A) and (B | C), 
then you would claim that Jefferson would say that using tax money from 
someone who agrees with (1) to promote a pro-life agenda is wrong, 
while using tax money from someone who agrees with (2) to promote that 
same agenda is okay.

I'm sorry, but that's just non-sensical.  The issue is opinion, not 
some fuzzy notion of the provenance and nature of the opinion.  
Distinguishing between "religious" and "political" opinions in the 
context of Jefferson's statement doesn't serve any useful purpose.

jb




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