Jewish World Review Jan. 3, 2014/ 2 Shevat, 5774
Will states' rights go to pot?
By Jonah Goldberg
The 24-year-old Harris drove 20 hours from
"It's such a big day in history," Harris, told the
Well, he's mostly right. Americans are still free -- for now, at least -- to look down on people for whatever reason we want. Simply because an activity is legal doesn't mean I am barred from judging you negatively for engaging in it.
Decorating your room from floor to ceiling with
Whether you find that analogy insulting probably depends on whether you smoke a lot of pot (or if you're a "Belieber").
But that's OK with me. As non-judgmentalism becomes part of the secular catechism, people lose sight of the fact that the freedom to do what you want must include the freedom to form your own opinions about how other people use their freedom.
Which brings us back to Mr. Harris. He and his pal were so jazzed by the ability to buy pot legally, they decided to remain in
"We're staying," he told the
Now, if I were an employer interviewing young Mr. Harris, I might ask him, "What brought you to
But that's me. Others feel differently. And, if I'm going to be honest, I can't swear that if
This is the way it's supposed to work. People who want to live one way vote with their feet and move to places where they can live the way they want to live. It's way too soon to know if
Pot legalization advocates are fond of casting themselves as the avant-garde of a new libertarian revolution sweeping the nation. I generally hope they're right. But I also hope we don't lose sight of the collective right of states and other legally recognized communities and institutions to have the freedom to organize their lives the way they want.
I love America's love of individual liberty. But no good thing comes without a downside. Particularly since the "rights explosion" of the 1960s and 1970s, public-policy debates are too often framed as the individual versus the government. Presented with that choice, Americans are going to err on the side of individual rights. And that's usually a good thing. The problem is that the rights of a community -- a town, a county, a state, a religious organization, etc. -- are left out of that formulation. And they matter.
Man is a social animal and wants to live in a community. Hippies want raw milk, evangelicals want codes of decency, Amish want to reject modern technology, the Sisters of the Poor don't want to pay for birth control under Obamacare. What's wrong with that?
My objection to both the progressive vision of one-size-fits-all government and some extreme notions of individual liberty is that they both lack the imaginative sympathy required to let groups of people organize their lives in the ways that will let the majority live the way they want to live.
Why not let a thousand flowers bloom? If
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