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Re: Gun Control

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:22 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:
The sheer idea that certain things can never be discussed seems weird to me. Certain idea's should be easily dismissed but

You have listed many reasons (culture, history, stats, feeling of safety) for why Americans are anti-gun control in another debate and given the thread title, I'll use that. Those are fair reasons to use in the debate. Someone going "nope, can't even discuss this, it is against the constitution" (whether it is or not) on the other hand seems a bad thing. If you discuss gun control and decide it won't work or isn't for you guys then there you go. The idea that it might be impossible to discuss, as some seem to deem it, just doesn't seem a good thing.


I think what you're just seeing some folks deal in aboslutes. I think the vast majority, despite their outlandish claims to the contrary, beleive in some forms of gun control. Most self described 'gun-nuts' that I know (as they're pejoratively referred to it seems) still favor gun control in the form of background checks, keeping them out of the hands of criminals and the mentally incompetent. However, when it comes to questions like..'should guns be abolished', you will find near unanimous support for not discussing the matter, including mine. The issue is antithetical to both the spirit and the text of the 2nd amendment (according to many's reading of it). While I'm sure it could happen and I could do it, I see little point in even engaging in a conversation about it. Now I'm fine with having discussions on the particularities of gun control.


Naturally, I'm not speaking for all Brits or Europeans. It justseems like every time there is a controversial debate (gun control, health-care, taxes), someone will use the term unconstitutional.


Well it makes sense. The debate involves what, regardless of where you come down on the textual interpretations, most Americans revere as a timeless and unbroken individual right. That right is safeguarded by the Constitution, and so we champion it. Since we revere the Constitution and think its guiding principles to be good, unconstitutional ideas are of course deemed bad and illegal..almost a betrayal of it.

We have had a long discussion in England about media regulation and responsibility. Would we be even able to have a discussion on how media should be held to account, if we were under the American system? Or would it be dismissed before an inquiry could be launched as it might infringe the First Amendment? Sorry, your example made me wonder.


Actually I think so. Traditionally the media has been at times heavily regulated by government. The First Amendment is sacred, but like most right it is not without limits. I think we could entertain the idea of how an organization handles it public statements, even if we wouldn't forbid them from making such statements altogether.


Why should the right to a trial be contested? Isn't that a normal freedom for men not yet found guilty and presumed innocent until such a time? Will Prisoners of War be returned to freedom, even if not in America, when America pulls out of Afghanistan?


All men are not afforded them rights. The rights I have as an American would be stronger than your rights as a alien here. Both of our rights would be stronger than a POW, and the POWs would be entitled to greater protection that Enemy Combatants. As for your latter questions, I have no idea how are enemies in detention will be handled. I would guess legally it would depend on their individual situations (i.e. how they were captured, what they were doing) to what rights they are afforded. As I said suspected terrorists are afforded at least habeas corpus rights now that we've had our rounds of Supreme Court decisions. But many more of the rights are not afforded to them. As to whether they'll be returned, who knows? Just because America pulls out of Afghanistan doesn't mean they might not be criminally liable for terrorist activities.



Enhanced interrogation Techniques are pretty much considered torture over here, just with fancy words to try and get round it, and it did huge damage to the reputation of our government and secret services when they were accused of hanging people over to face it. Guantanmo and Enhanced Interrogation Techniques was so very damaging to your reputation.


I understand that. I guess I have different sensibilities and I'm also prone to legal jargon. I think you could call a myriad of things torture if you want to distort the definition enough. Either way, I'm more concerned with results than our reputation abroad. If they don't work, they're not worth it though.


and America would perhaps become more mocked then it was under Bush. Even more damaging, after all you survived the mass mocking before :wink:, would be the distrust if America was seen to break agreements with such an excuse and while your super-power status would shield you for a time, it might not forever.


I think if America fell into such a state of despair, yall and the rest of the world would have much more to worry about (at least economically) than whether or not we honored international agreements. But if yall wanted to mock, that'd be fine. It'd be a fundamental misunderstanding of how the government must function. It isn't a 'excuse' that our government wouldn't enforce binding agreements, it is an explanation. Without the Constitution, such authority to enforce no longer exists.

I suppose we could, as did in the beginning, take to the democratic process and elect new laws, since we are the source of the Constitution's power. But we'd have to re-establish everything the Constitution's disappearance would be..which would the entire foundation.


Too bad? I don't see why, bar the ten years bit as that is clearly ridiculous (and now British courts have bailed him) but that we can't send a man off to unfair trial seems a basic principle. I'm far more concerned about the lack of democratic mandate for the EU and it's willingness to force national governments to change but that is a separate debate.


It's too bad a man faced accused of crimes in his native land can't be returned because of international bickering. I don't know much about this court, but international bodies are already suspect with me and with this terrorist hanging out for ten years on taxpayers dime the system doesn't seem to be functioning. Is he a British citizen? If not, I'm not sure why Britain is so concerned, especially if other member countries tend to ignore the court's discretion.

I'm not sure it has done so during the recent wars. Wasn't there an accusation Obama exceeded his authority in ordering a strike on an American civilian? I assume, as he is still President, that was disproved or ruled a constitutional act? Say, for the sake of argument, President Fuzzogog the III, did break the constitution in some manner, what actually happens?


Yes and no. He was an American in a foreign land engaging in terrorist activities against the US. It wasn't so much a constitutional argument though, but an international law argument. It was forgotten lower federal courts first ruled in favor of Obama administration, and then I think they refused the appeal. Either way, as you see the traitorous schmuck's father was able to bring a suit in federal court on his son's behalf.

As to your latter question, Congress would impeach and remove him and the judiciary would likely and hopefully enjoin future action.

I'm not sure why, in apocalyptic scenario which unfortunately may occur somewhere in Europe, people assume President Tyrant is going to obey the rules once he has got power. Why he would obey the limits of his authority if he can get away with breaching them.


In that scenario I don't see why this conversation is any longer relevant. Your non-constitutionally protected freedoms would be no more than my constitutionally protected freedoms. Authority would only come from force-of-arms. And at that point, it'd been nice to have our 2nd amendment around for so long (as one its purposes would be fulfilled, in arming us against tyrants) so I think it's dying breath would still allow us to arm ourselves.



I get that it was the foundation of your government and your country. Some here will point to similar documents (though not quite so blatant) that are considered the foundation of our democracy. If the Constitution vanished, America would still be seen as America and as long as the President won a fair election, the President of America. It would not be seen as British rebels or illegitimate. Now it might in America but really, should it?


America might be seen that way abroad, but not here. And it couldn't function that was domestically either unless we went back to the drawing board. We couldn't have fair elections because we wouldn't have a Congress with authority to collect taxes to raise money to have the election. There'd be no election because the executive office and its power would cease to exist.


I'm not actually arguing that you should get rid of the Constitution. That would be a lot of work, sad and honestly quite needless. Just wish, like I wish we would on one or two things, some Americans attitude towards it would change.


I understand. And I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree here. Whereas you and Sun Fin seem to find our obsession with the Constitution to be unhealthy, I tend to see as what makes us strong. I guess I can understand why yall might find it so though.
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Re: Gun Control

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:21 pm

Mind not quite working tonight, sorry if answers don't quite make sense.

Shikanosuke wrote:
I think what you're just seeing some folks deal in aboslutes. I think the vast majority, despite their outlandish claims to the contrary, beleive in some forms of gun control. Most self described 'gun-nuts' that I know (as they're pejoratively referred to it seems) still favor gun control in the form of background checks, keeping them out of the hands of criminals and the mentally incompetent. However, when it comes to questions like..'should guns be abolished', you will find near unanimous support for not discussing the matter, including mine. The issue is antithetical to both the spirit and the text of the 2nd amendment (according to many's reading of it). While I'm sure it could happen and I could do it, I see little point in even engaging in a conversation about it. Now I'm fine with having discussions on the particularities of gun control.


Sorry, gun control was just an easy example though of course, it is also easier to see where the unconstitutional argument comes from. I'm sure most Americans don't start throwing out constitution as blocking moves but when someone does, it tends to stick in the mind.

And again, the guns abolished is considered impossible to discuss (just like scrapping the NHS for an alternative system would be akin to a politician declaring he was Satan over here), just feels a problem. Or any issue really.

Well it makes sense. The debate involves what, regardless of where you come down on the textual interpretations, most Americans revere as a timeless and unbroken individual right. That right is safeguarded by the Constitution, and so we champion it. Since we revere the Constitution and think its guiding principles to be good, unconstitutional ideas are of course deemed bad and illegal..almost a betrayal of it.


I see where it comes from but when it is involving the management of a country, holding anything in such reverence (beyond the symbolism) just seems a bad idea to me.

Actually I think so. Traditionally the media has been at times heavily regulated by government. The First Amendment is sacred, but like most right it is not without limits. I think we could entertain the idea of how an organization handles it public statements, even if we wouldn't forbid them from making such statements altogether.


Thanks for answering.

All men are not afforded them rights. The rights I have as an American would be stronger than your rights as a alien here. Both of our rights would be stronger than a POW, and the POWs would be entitled to greater protection that Enemy Combatants. As for your latter questions, I have no idea how are enemies in detention will be handled. I would guess legally it would depend on their individual situations (i.e. how they were captured, what they were doing) to what rights they are afforded. As I said suspected terrorists are afforded at least habeas corpus rights now that we've had our rounds of Supreme Court decisions. But many more of the rights are not afforded to them. As to whether they'll be returned, who knows? Just because America pulls out of Afghanistan doesn't mean they might not be criminally liable for terrorist activities.


I'm uneasy with that answer, I think certainty is needed but there are many issues where I am not going to see eye to eye with American justice system so let's leave it

I understand that. I guess I have different sensibilities and I'm also prone to legal jargon. I think you could call a myriad of things torture if you want to distort the definition enough. Either way, I'm more concerned with results than our reputation abroad. If they don't work, they're not worth it though.


You can see where part of the Constitution strength or lack of comes in though, from the outside? We see Americans torturing (agree or disagree, that is how it was seen) and wondering why the Constitution isn't stopping America from such acts. We wonder if attitudes in America, due to events, had changed and so allowing government and it's arms to introduce such measures around the Constitution.

I think if America fell into such a state of despair, yall and the rest of the world would have much more to worry about (at least economically) than whether or not we honored international agreements. But if yall wanted to mock, that'd be fine. It'd be a fundamental misunderstanding of how the government must function. It isn't a 'excuse' that our government wouldn't enforce binding agreements, it is an explanation. Without the Constitution, such authority to enforce no longer exists.


Your right, it would perhaps be less mocking and more mixture of anger, despair and mocking ala the fiscal cliff. How dare America endanger the world for what would seem like extreme naval gazing when we wouldn't be able to see why America couldn't just continue like normal.

It's too bad a man faced accused of crimes in his native land can't be returned because of international bickering. I don't know much about this court, but international bodies are already suspect with me and with this terrorist hanging out for ten years on taxpayers dime the system doesn't seem to be functioning. Is he a British citizen? If not, I'm not sure why Britain is so concerned, especially if other member countries tend to ignore the court's discretion.


From Jordan I think, certainly not English.

Less bickering, more distrust over promises not to use torture information and give a fair trial. Britain is trying to deport him but our governments tend to see doing it without legal approval is a symbolic break from international law, a two finger salute to justice and saying to every tyrant regime "hey, you can do it too." Whether ignoring prisoner voting laws will change attitudes, we shall have to see.


Yes and no. He was an American in a foreign land engaging in terrorist activities against the US. It wasn't so much a constitutional argument though, but an international law argument. It was forgotten lower federal courts first ruled in favor of Obama administration, and then I think they refused the appeal. Either way, as you see the traitorous schmuck's father was able to bring a suit in federal court on his son's behalf.

As to your latter question, Congress would impeach and remove him and the judiciary would likely and hopefully enjoin future action.


Thanks.

In that scenario I don't see why this conversation is any longer relevant. Your non-constitutionally protected freedoms would be no more than my constitutionally protected freedoms. Authority would only come from force-of-arms. And at that point, it'd been nice to have our 2nd amendment around for so long (as one its purposes would be fulfilled, in arming us against tyrants) so I think it's dying breath would still allow us to arm ourselves.


Oh, we would be doomed to. I can well see us allowing the next Hitler in with the right circumstances. I don't think there is a magical cure or type of government to save things when things get that bad.

America might be seen that way abroad, but not here. And it couldn't function that was domestically either unless we went back to the drawing board. We couldn't have fair elections because we wouldn't have a Congress with authority to collect taxes to raise money to have the election. There'd be no election because the executive office and its power would cease to exist.


Why not simply do what you guys did when you had a Constitution? Why not follow the same rules and standards to form that election?

I understand. And I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree here. Whereas you and Sun Fin seem to find our obsession with the Constitution to be unhealthy, I tend to see as what makes us strong. I guess I can understand why yall might find it so though.


Thanks. I do see why the Constitution is so important in your history and beloved
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Re: Gun Control

Unread postby Strategist » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:09 am

Another argument I should point out- it is pretty clear that EVERY President for years now has broken their oath to uphold the Constitution. Given that this is at the absolute minimum dishonest before the American people (as none of them say they have), surely this must be given at least minor moral weight?

I might be inclined to give more moral leeway.


It logically follows that you should give it total moral leeway, doesn't it? How can a dictator have moral legitimacy above a vigilante in your system?

How would government work if people were able to go "I'll avoid paying taxes becuase I didn't vote this lot in." How would people be protected if companies don't have to obey the laws? Government's should surely try their best to protect their people from harm and exploitation, to provide them with a decent standard of living and protection? The right for every man to justice, including a fair trial, now matter how much of a mob there is.


So, to clarify- you're being a utiltiarian on this one?

Not much but that is the way things are so we will have to deal with it.

There is always a balance between the majority and protection of the rights of the majority, governments and courts should ensure the majority can't, for example, expel minority for being different and protect the minorities freedoms.

To form their own nation like Scotland is looking at? Unless there are good reasons why not, I have no problem with people making their own state as long as there is a democratic referendum.


O.K- then by that logic, if hypothetically a vote were to somehow occur or it were to somehow be completely frigging obvious a vote of 60% of the world would have to be morally binding in your view on the other 40% of the world, damn the laws and constitutions?

Assuming these aren't all rooted in utiltarianism, your moral system seems to have a lot of principles that not only exist merely for their own sake, but clash with each other.

If a government is elected by the majority, then why should they not have the right to expel minorities? If sovereignty rests with The People, this follows. Effectively, you've started from a First Principle (sovereignty of the people), then rather from inferring from it blocked it with another principle that you've haven't justified (can't expel minorities).

I was more thinking, say, the people agreeing to abolish democracy and establish a monarchy of their own free will. If there were a genuine referendum establishing a hereditary monarch in a nation(unlikely but in some places possible), intended to be sovereign rather than a British-style constitutional monarch, how much moral right to govern would you say he had?

If it is that unpopular, civil disobedience like during the poll taxes of draft dodging will eventually bring the government, or the policy down. The way the current system works, at least here, you elect a package and a party with certain attitudes so don't be surprised if they go through with those attitudes and reforms. If you don't like it, vote them out next time for one more to your taste.


Some policies can't be brought down that way- say, the bailout. In addition, what if a policy is opposed by 55% of the people but they're merely grumpy about it, rather than angry? Logically, if majorities are sovereign such a policy would be illegitimate yet without a formally enforced Constitution you have no way of preventing it.

Popular feeling in most places, definitely including America and to an extent including Australia, is one of helplessness. Ordinary people are often decieved by political parties, and sucessfully- if sovereignty comes from them, shouldn't this be illegitimate? Often unpopular measures are taken and made bipartisan- isn't this a problem?

I'm not in favour of total democracy. Or mob rule, I'm well aware the public can do horrible things. I'm quite happy with a representative democracy, though I would change elements of how ours is run if I was Constitution/Prime Minister.

I would say total democracy would have more legitimacy then ours. Just not sure it would work. One could well argue our House of Lords, a lack of meritocracy, that judges can overturn government laws puts us behind other countries on democratic legitimacy.


Judges can overturn government laws if they find them unconstitutional in almost all so-called democracies.

I'm sorry, but you're clearly being inconsistent here. If The People are sovereign, it implies that they have the right to do whatsoever they will. Without appeal to some sort of higher principle (such as Divine Law or something similiar), you have no way philosophically to justify limitations.

Any restrictions on the people, therefore, are logically illegitimate.

So a democratic government has less legitimacy then a tyrant?


My system of legitimacy is very different from yours. A constitutional government is legitimate, no matter what it does, as long as it obeys the Constitution.

The need for the miliatry to support the government and not overthrow it, the support of Whitehall to obey their political masters is important. If the army decides it can get away with an overthrow, we are in deep danger. Judges are a potential safeguard, though not infallible, and a potential problem. I still don't see how having a Constitution would prevent a tyrant however. All that we have to keep the balance is the attitude, I imagine most US army commanders would be horrified at the day of doing anything other then fighting for the elected government and know the public wouldn't forgive them, that the world would condemn them. If that attitude changes, then the problem is so very real.

I'm not sure why you insist then in apocalypse scenario, that judges, army, civil service and the population are going to be fiercely democratic, not hateful and everyone will ensure the rules are obeyed. A constitution will be useless if things come so dire that it doesn't matter what laws there are, the ruler can simply control things to ensure it gets changed. Because the system has been so broken, becuase the people have suffered so badly that the extremist offers them hope and easy villains to hate, it won't matter what it says in the laws.


If the military enforces judicial rulings on principle, thus only overthrowing the government when they have legitimate cause to (equiviliant to the military overthrowing a government which refuses to have elections), then it isn't a problem. Because they only turn on the government in that specific circumstance, it doesn't even matter what the public think- the Constitution is safe, as is it's safeguards.

You seem to have rocks in your head or something- I've JUST EXPLAINED that if you can manage the three elements I've described, tyranny is impossible.

My system is designed so that if you manage the Three Elements, the Constitution will be safe. I've developed a few ideas about how to enforce them, but that's a different matter. However, even in your apocalpyse scenario, IF all three elements hold then the Army will reconstitute something like a State, get the Judges in a posistion where they can rule on matters, and get things back in Constitutional order.

As for making the Three Elements occur, it would be very, very difficult to fix them in the United States. In a country where the Constitution could be made from scratch:

-Making the army loyal to Democracy has been achieved sucessfully in many countries, as well as the Civil Service. A clause in a Constitution saying that if there be a judicial ruling something is Unconstitutional both the Civil Service and the Army are OBLIGED to enforce it will deal with the problem of public condemnation.

-Ensuring a reasonably democratic culture emerges, as has been achieved in the West

-The second element is the hardest of all. There are a few things that can be done, however:

-Explicitly saying that all clauses in the Constitution are to be interpreted literally, using definitions of words from the time of the Constitution.
-Making it a criminal offence and rendering a ruling void if a judge intentionally interprets the Constitution in a different manner
-Requiring both vetting by Parliament/Congress/equiviliant and a judicial oath making it absolutely clear that they are to use the literal interpretation of any Constitutional matters
-Making it a legitimate defence to murdering a judge that it was 'manifestly obvious' they had broken the judicial oath. Keep the 'reasonable doubt' standard for such accusations.
-(In a federal system) Ensuring judges are appointed by a vote of state Governors rather than the President, giving them a inclination by default towards State's Rights.

As a result, judges will in fear of criminal sanctions and in fear of their lives if they use anything but a literal interpretation. Constitutional issues will be very rare indeed (as a literal interpretation is being used), and when they do occur the judges are likely to rule properly.

In the United States, it would be a matter of Rollback. If I were President, I would do the following things to start things off (note that it would be harder for a President with less time- making it even harder. This is merely the easiest route I can think of to such sucess- it's not as easy as it sounds, and I admit that):

-First, get support of some sort of third party organisation (ideally one without apparent links) that can popularly act for my cause. This will require significant amounts of funding.

-Begin having said Organisation launch acts of civil disobedience, strictly against Unconstitutional Laws. Without apparent links, I can act as President as a Straw Man argument, giving posistive publicity to their cause and thus building popular support for the idea of a Constitutional state. The organisation would launch ad campaigns to their advantage as well.

-After arguing badly against such laws, I can appear to have 'no choice' but to repeal Unconstitutional laws, giving in to pressure from this organisation. This may look weak, but I have no intention of getting reelected so it isn't a problem. I would have to make concessions only one stage at a time- this would get people more used to the idea of a Constitutional state rather than it happening all at once.

-Eventually, an informal 'Constitutional Party' (analagous to the Tea Party) attacks the Republicans (easier to subvert than the Democrats) from within, including getting the required Congressional seats. Since I'm a Straw Man argument personified, I make sure to be defeated by the Constitutional Party (running against a sitting President may seem hard, but in this case it won't be). If they're truely on my side, they can then pass law after law scrapping the Constitution.

-My Constitutional Party sucessor has a popular mandate for Constitutional laws. Therefore, they will threaten the Congressmen that anybody who opposes their legislation will be disendorsed and thus have Republicans running against them next election. They also threaten their Party that if they don't go along with it, the President and the force of the Constitutional Party will devote themselves to sabotaging the Republican Party, including a resignation from the President on such grounds. Given how unprecedented a President going around making speeches against their own Party is, this could ruin them for years...

-In addition to scrapping Unconstitutional legislation in stages (thus moving towards a de facto literal interpretation of the Tenth Amendment and Second Amendment etc), they will deliberately attempt to manuvere the Supreme Court into making a ruling that seems (from a common-sense perspective) so utterly stupid as to allow them to ressurect Jackson's doctrine that a President is obliged to follow the Constitution as THEY interpret it.

-The Constitutional Party may have to pass a few Amendments to the Constitution to make things easier. An amendment altering the Second Amendment to make nuclear weapons illegal, for example, would not be so hard to pass once they're actually in power and they tell the public the alternative is nuclear weapons becoming legal. This will also make the interpretation of the Second Amendment so clear that the Court can't alter it as a side effect. (And it would play into our hands if the Court tried to rule that we were OBLIGED to make certain weapons illegal. We'd ignore it and go with the Jacksonian Plan)

-With services such as Health Care etc being cut, the States will almost certainly take over the Federal taxes (we're letting them) in order to provide said services themselves. This will prevent utter chaos in most matters.

-Ultimately, exploiting our rules making the Second Amendment clearer the Constitutional Party could pass laws attacking the State's remaining rules against gun ownership and abolishing them in Court. The Court would have to choose between striking down a plain, commonsense interpretation with the passers of said amendment explicitly telling them what it meant, or accepting this.

It would be difficult to maintain this system for the future, of course- but with an established body already making sure of it plus people seeing that a Constitutional interpretation isn't the end of the world (plus the end of the association of State's Rights with Racism) by this point there would be a good shot.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My final argument is that your so-called 'democracy' is anything but. Let me use an analogy here.

Say we have a Monarch, King People. Everybody claims King People is sovereign over the State. However, he has to choose between two Chancellors, who have very similiar policies, who often break their word on policies, and often agree on policies giving the King no choice at all. If they don't like the Chancellor's policies they can't override them- they just have to accept it. They only get to change Chancellors every three years.

Worse, whichever Chancellor they choose completely dominates their lives, has the right to work them like a slave, send them to wars, and so on. The King has to live by regulations impacting on every last bit of their lives- from the food they eat to the clothes they wear to the cars they drive.

Surely this 'King' cannot be considered sovereign?

Mod Edit (James): See your PM inbox; please express your position without insulting other members.
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Re: Gun Control

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:38 am

Dong Zhou wrote:Sorry, gun control was just an easy example though of course, it is also easier to see where the unconstitutional argument comes from. I'm sure most Americans don't start throwing out constitution as blocking moves but when someone does, it tends to stick in the mind.

And again, the guns abolished is considered impossible to discuss (just like scrapping the NHS for an alternative system would be akin to a politician declaring he was Satan over here), just feels a problem. Or any issue really.


Well, fair enough. I guess it may seem insane to you, and I can't speak for all Americans, but to me the idea of guns being abolished is antithetical to the American way of life and culture. I don't engage in serious conversations on the subject either, its nonsensical to me. I get that that may appear silly to those without the same attachments though.


I see where it comes from but when it is involving the management of a country, holding anything in such reverence (beyond the symbolism) just seems a bad idea to me.


Hm. Well I guess its just different points of view. To me it is us holding such reverence to be what enables to manage our country so effectively for so long.



I'm uneasy with that answer, I think certainty is needed but there are many issues where I am not going to see eye to eye with American justice system so let's leave it


Oh definitely. I didn't expect you or even many Americans here on this board to accept and agree with my reply. Even here there are those with your desires to see certain rights universally applied across the board. I'm just not one among them.

You can see where part of the Constitution strength or lack of comes in though, from the outside? We see Americans torturing (agree or disagree, that is how it was seen) and wondering why the Constitution isn't stopping America from such acts. We wonder if attitudes in America, due to events, had changed and so allowing government and it's arms to introduce such measures around the Constitution.


I'm aware of the way its perceived by outsiders, but its a vague area whether or not the Constitution even speaks to the people in question here. Some, such as Americans caught in terrorist activities have a stronger case even though the circumstances change certain things. The Constitution doesn't stop America from engaging in such activities because it doesn't really afford safeguards against what we're doing. It enables Congress to do so, by either passing legislation or by entering into international agreements, but then the legal questions really become about the specific legislation and legal frameworks and not the Constitution itself. Many of the semi-successful (I say this because they haven't secured themselves that much relief) cases brought by Gitmo prisoners were by American citizens who can directly apply to the Constitution for due process rights. However, none of these cases have dealt with torture and the Constitution.


Your right, it would perhaps be less mocking and more mixture of anger, despair and mocking ala the fiscal cliff. How dare America endanger the world for what would seem like extreme naval gazing when we wouldn't be able to see why America couldn't just continue like normal.


True. In such a case, maybe our Constitution is there significantly important by extension to the rest of the world?

I don't think there is a magical cure or type of government to save things when things get that bad.


Agreed.


Why not simply do what you guys did when you had a Constitution? Why not follow the same rules and standards to form that election?


We could certainly follow the same format, but like I said under what authority do we do this? Who is to pay for this? The federal government would no longer have authority to levy taxes or collect them. If our social contract is eliminated, the office doesn't exist. For that matter, without the social contract are we even a United States, or once again just 50 independent states?
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Re: Gun Control

Unread postby laojim » Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:54 am

Strategist wrote:...
-The second element is the hardest of all. There are a few things that can be done, however:

-Explicitly saying that all clauses in the Constitution are to be interpreted literally, using definitions of words from the time of the Constitution. ...


One of the problems with that is that no dictionary of American usage was published until somr forty years after the constitution was written. A dictionary was available in England but usage would not necessarily have been the same. According to H. L. Menken in American Laanguage, published in four volumes, the English had been complaining about American speech since 1620 when the second ship arrived at Jamestown and they found the colonist using such outlandish terms as "bluff," meaning a sort of hill. It is, therefore, difficult to hang your hat on the definition of words.

Using what we do know there are some interesting problems. The constitution says that the president will report on the state of the union from time to time. If you insist on what the term "from time to time,: meant at the time it appears that nobody has fulfilled this duty in at least the last hundred years. Such a report or speech would describe the state of the union since the last such report. Now the prase suggests that the report should be made occasionally. I have heard no state of the union speech that described the actual state of the union in any way. It has become something more akin to the Queen's speech to parliament, a tidy set piece or more likely a campaign speec for the party in power.
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Re: Gun Control

Unread postby Strategist » Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:58 am

That was what I'd do if making a Constitution from scratch in modern times- I specifically said in a country where the Constitution could be made from scratch. What I'd do about the U.S's problems, which are significantly different, is a bit further down.
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Re: Gun Control

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:37 pm

Shikanosuke first as that will be quicker as it has come mostly to the point where we seem to have amicably agreed to disagree.
True. In such a case, maybe our Constitution is there significantly important by extension to the rest of the world?


In and by itself? No, bar symbolism.

How you would react if the Constitution just turned into a normal series of laws is important as America not collapsing is important. Your too powerful for it to happen without plunging a lot of the world into problems. It would be treated with the same anger as flunking the fiscal cliff though.

We could certainly follow the same format, but like I said under what authority do we do this? Who is to pay for this? The federal government would no longer have authority to levy taxes or collect them. If our social contract is eliminated, the office doesn't exist. For that matter, without the social contract are we even a United States, or once again just 50 independent states?


The authority of history (government raises taxes, has nearly always raised taxes) to an extent, the need not to descend into chaos and the legitimacy of being an elected government? The government of the day, in this scenario, was elected, is in that elected term and remains as such with or without the Constitution. It could do exactly what it was doing the day, or week, or year before.

Strategist wrote:Another argument I should point out- it is pretty clear that EVERY President for years now has broken their oath to uphold the Constitution. Given that this is at the absolute minimum dishonest before the American people (as none of them say they have), surely this must be given at least minor moral weight?


I just wonder at what point the public would demand the impeachment for breaking the Constitution. Where is the line they draw?

It logically follows that you should give it total moral leeway, doesn't it? How can a dictator have moral legitimacy above a vigilante in your system?


Depends on the two people involved. Why would I give total moral leeway to anyone?

So, to clarify- you're being a utiltiarian on this one?


No idea. Others are better placed to answer where I fit on the philosophical titles

O.K- then by that logic, if hypothetically a vote were to somehow occur or it were to somehow be completely frigging obvious a vote of 60% of the world would have to be morally binding in your view on the other 40% of the world, damn the laws and constitutions?


Nope. Not unless the 40% agreed to give up it's sovereignty to one gigantic world organization in the first place and the new law isn't a policy that is going to violate the rights of the minority.

Assuming these aren't all rooted in utiltarianism, your moral system seems to have a lot of principles that not only exist merely for their own sake, but clash with each other.


How nice to be insulted by a man who has only known me, in any shape or form, for few months and where we have hardly had much philosophical debate.

Of course my principles and views will clash at times. An honest government minister will admit their duties sometimes clash. Such is life.

If a government is elected by the majority, then why should they not have the right to expel minorities? If sovereignty rests with The People, this follows. Effectively, you've started from a First Principle (sovereignty of the people), then rather from inferring from it blocked it with another principle that you've haven't justified (can't expel minorities).


Because I would rather not live in times were we massacred and expelled people who were not us? Because we have seen where that leads, we still see where that leads and it is not a good place. I also suspect it would be illegal under the Human Rights Act. If the majority elect a government whose policy is to expel Catholics, Jews, Muslims, those with glasses, those they deem foreign, anyone with more then five toes, they will change of ignore said rules. The majority will have forced their will so it is still possible to override protections against the mob.

I was more thinking, say, the people agreeing to abolish democracy and establish a monarchy of their own free will. If there were a genuine referendum establishing a hereditary monarch in a nation(unlikely but in some places possible), intended to be sovereign rather than a British-style constitutional monarch, how much moral right to govern would you say he had?


He would have the right to govern, he has the legitimacy required. The people chose but there would likely be a point where the question of the monarchy's legitimacy comes up again during the next 1,000 years.

Some policies can't be brought down that way- say, the bailout. In addition, what if a policy is opposed by 55% of the people but they're merely grumpy about it, rather than angry? Logically, if majorities are sovereign such a policy would be illegitimate yet without a formally enforced Constitution you have no way of preventing it.


We have a system of representative democracy, if people want to change it to one where each and every measure gets put to a referendum then they should camapign for it, enter the political process and so on.

Popular feeling in most places, definitely including America and to an extent including Australia, is one of helplessness. Ordinary people are often decieved by political parties, and sucessfully- if sovereignty comes from them, shouldn't this be illegitimate? Often unpopular measures are taken and made bipartisan- isn't this a problem?


I can't speak about those countries. Over here, we do get the complaining. Oh the complaining. Not the bi-partisan bit.

Complaints by people who don't vote for change (a new voting system? Nah. Devolved powers? Only if your Scottish, London plus one or two cities or Welsh otherwise screw it and even then, in with apathy.) or look beyond the main three parties. Who somehow think Ken Clark and Liam Fox are the same (let alone Liam Fox and Dennis Skinners). If they want things to change, they can vote for it. There are plenty of political parties, they can seek to run themselves if enough friends and can afford to lose a bit of cash (there is an issue there, I agree) and if enough people who complained actually did something, things would change. When a chance for a constitutional or more democratic change comes along, use it rather then the usual apathy.

Judges can overturn government laws if they find them unconstitutional in almost all so-called democracies.


Yeah, I am uneasy about that. It can mean human rights gets protected, it can mean injustice gets protected.

I'm sorry, but you're clearly being inconsistent here. If The People are sovereign, it implies that they have the right to do whatsoever they will. Without appeal to some sort of higher principle (such as Divine Law or something similiar), you have no way philosophically to justify limitations.


Eh. I believe in democracy but not total democracy, I believe a government gains legitimacy by whether is is fairly elected and seeking election within the allowed time-frame. I certainly don't believe in giving freedom to the majority to destroy other humans.

My system of legitimacy is very different from yours. A constitutional government is legitimate, no matter what it does, as long as it obeys the Constitution.


So the British government is illegitimate because it hasn't written down a constitution? :?

If the military enforces judicial rulings on principle, thus only overthrowing the government when they have legitimate cause to (equiviliant to the military overthrowing a government which refuses to have elections), then it isn't a problem. Because they only turn on the government in that specific circumstance, it doesn't even matter what the public think- the Constitution is safe, as is it's safeguards.


Ah, thanks for clarifying.

You seem to have rocks in your head or something- I've JUST EXPLAINED that if you can manage the three elements I've described, tyranny is impossible.

My system is designed so that if you manage the Three Elements, the Constitution will be safe. I've developed a few ideas about how to enforce them, but that's a different matter. However, even in your apocalpyse scenario, IF all three elements hold then the Army will reconstitute something like a State, get the Judges in a posistion where they can rule on matters, and get things back in Constitutional order.


Is there any need for you to be insulting?

I still don't get where you going to get these men saints to insert in the darkest times? If the attitudes are right, then tyranny will not happen, I have said that before I believe. Attitude is more important to democratic survival then a piece of paper. The problem is, I don't think those attitudes would survive into apocalypse land.

Now if we were forming a new nation, I would agree writing a constitution seems a very good starting point. I would go a difference route to you and my hope would be that one day, the Constitution would just be a piece of history. That it won't be needed anymore, that the government I left behind would be able to run and adapt to events. Still, I'm impressed by how much you have thought things through.

Say we have a Monarch, King People. Everybody claims King People is sovereign over the State. However, he has to choose between two Chancellors, who have very similiar policies, who often break their word on policies, and often agree on policies giving the King no choice at all. If they don't like the Chancellor's policies they can't override them- they just have to accept it. They only get to change Chancellors every three years.

Worse, whichever Chancellor they choose completely dominates their lives, has the right to work them like a slave, send them to wars, and so on. The King has to live by regulations impacting on every last bit of their lives- from the food they eat to the clothes they wear to the cars they drive.

Surely this 'King' cannot be considered sovereign?


Depends if we mean sovereign like our current Queen, when she has extremely limited powers but is head of state, or who is actually in charge. If the second, the King you describe is mostly just a head of state, a puppet. Quite how he got himself into the situation and why the monarch doesn't abdicate or seek to get around it, I don't know.
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Re: Gun Control

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:06 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:
In and by itself? No, bar symbolism.

How you would react if the Constitution just turned into a normal series of laws is important as America not collapsing is important. Your too powerful for it to happen without plunging a lot of the world into problems. It would be treated with the same anger as flunking the fiscal cliff though.


Well that was my suggestion. If the Constitution is part of what keeps us going, and we're part of what keeps the world from plunging I was wondering if it therefore by extension is important to be maintained.



The authority of history (government raises taxes, has nearly always raised taxes) to an extent, the need not to descend into chaos and the legitimacy of being an elected government? The government of the day, in this scenario, was elected, is in that elected term and remains as such with or without the Constitution. It could do exactly what it was doing the day, or week, or year before.


I don't think we believe power derives arbitrarily or from history. The only reason we have a government of today, or yesterday or tomorrow, is because we serve at the will of the Constitution (which is the will of the people). I don't think we could do anything exactly as we do now, without reenacting a Constitution. Does your country, while not possessing a Constitution, not have documents and concepts from which the government derives power and authority to rule?

I just know I wouldn't be bowing to the government if it wasn't for the Constitution. If it disappeared, I'd want to create a new one.
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Re: Gun Control

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:31 pm

The Magna Carta has huge symbolism but if it suddenly vanished (with the laws in it in the system by magic) would mean adapting a few speeches. The principles of Magna Carts does get referenced but as part of a speech or a hard criticism, usually involving laws about courts. The government would go on but there are ways I can see a major problem, just not between Commons and people.

If the monarch withdrew his/her support for the government, that would represent a major constitutional crises since the monarch invites the elector victory to form a government. Or the monarch was caught blatantly interfering. It probably would not end well for that monarch, or even perhaps the monarchy. The Lords is a possible second route to constitutional crises though government's have means of ramming something through if the Lords is being difficult. But I don't think either is quite what you mean?
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Re: Gun Control

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:26 am

Dong Zhou wrote:The Magna Carta has huge symbolism but if it suddenly vanished (with the laws in it in the system by magic) would mean adapting a few speeches. The principles of Magna Carts does get referenced but as part of a speech or a hard criticism, usually involving laws about courts. The government would go on but there are ways I can see a major problem, just not between Commons and people.

If the monarch withdrew his/her support for the government, that would represent a major constitutional crises since the monarch invites the elector victory to form a government. Or the monarch was caught blatantly interfering. It probably would not end well for that monarch, or even perhaps the monarchy. The Lords is a possible second route to constitutional crises though government's have means of ramming something through if the Lords is being difficult. But I don't think either is quite what you mean?



Those are some interesting concepts but I was asking (as my high school history is fading farther and farther away) is the Magna Carta and other documents where your government draws its authority to govern? Is it he Monarch, and if so where does its authority derive from? I just find it hard to conceive, not in a historical way, but in todays context that power to rule just manifests itself as a historical fact.
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