A Principle! A Principle! My Kingdom for a Principle!
Here are two items making headlines today, both of them falling into the general category of irrationality, and more specifically into the slot labeled “Lack of a Coherent Principle.”
A dean at Harvard Law School has come under attack by social justice warriors, and finally “relieved of his position” by Harvard University, for offering his skills in the defense of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The poor little flowers are objecting to a Harvard professor participating in the legal defense of a man accused of sexual crimes.
But wait! Isn’t that what defense lawyers do? Isn’t that, in other words, precisely what Harvard Law School is supposed to be teaching its students — the future top lawyers of America — namely that justice in a civil society demands that everyone be entitled to a defense, entitled to have his day in court? Doesn’t the rule of law specifically define the lawyer’s role as representing clients to the best of his abilities, in accordance with the law’s objective procedures, and on the principle that everyone is innocent until proven guilty? Should Harvey Weinstein (or anyone else) be denied legal representation and the presumption of innocence because the crimes of which he is accused are especially revolting. On the contrary, is it not precisely such a case that tests and proves the nobility of a civil society’s principles of justice?
The social justice warriors (read my explanation of that concept here) in both Harvard’s student body and its administration, are demanding that the essential premises of criminal justice in America be suspended in cases that they personally find distasteful or “triggering.” In other words, they are placing their subjective emotional responses above the objective tenets of equality before the law. That is to say, they are thinking and behaving like tyrants.
And these are Harvard Law students, the future movers and shakers of America’s legal system, its future star attorneys, its future constitutional interpreters, its future professors of law, its future supreme court justices.
Alabama passed a very strict abortion ban this week (which I wrote about here), to the delight of those who oppose abortion on principle, and to the consternation of those who believe no one should ever be obliged to accept consequences they don’t happen to like, even when another person’s life is the price of divesting oneself of such consequences.
A celebrity pseudo-conservative of the twentysomething cool kid set, Tomi Lahren — think of her as a right-wing version of David Hogg, I suppose — is publicly objecting to Alabama’s new law, on the following grounds:
“I will be attacked by fellow conservatives for saying this but so be it, this Alabama abortion ban is too restrictive,” Lahren wrote. “It doesn’t save life, it simply forces women into more dangerous methods, other states or countries.”
This is a perfect example of how today’s typical twentysomethings think. Making abortion illegal — that is, making it a crime to perform an abortion — simply “forces” women to abort their children in dangerous ways or in other jurisdictions. (“Dangerous” to whom, by the way? The baby is being killed anyway, so I guess it means dangerous to the person trying to kill her baby. Forgive me for not shedding a tear.)
On this same principle, we could make the following arguments:
Murder should not be outlawed, for this will simply force murderers to attempt riskier murders, such as sneaking over fences or attacking people in the dark, where they are more likely to injure themselves.
The laws against arson are simply forcing people to set fire to buildings in stealthier ways, which increases their risk of getting burned.
Making drunk driving illegal simply forces drunk drivers to drive faster and more carelessly in order to escape police detection, which means they’ll be more likely to ram their cars into telephone poles.
The Newsweek article linked above ends with this:
Lahren concluded her Twitter post with the comment that life shouldn’t be encouraged by way of “blanket government mandate.”
A “blanket government mandate” to live? What would that mean? A blanket government mandate not to kill innocent human beings is already on the books; this Alabama law is merely bringing the case of abortion into line with those general laws against killing. Which part of this principle is Lahren objecting to? Of course, she has no idea, because she is a product of today’s mindless progressive hedonism, and is therefore oblivious to the very concept of principles, not to mention the concepts of rationality and personal responsibility.