Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Illustrating it all 

Another breakfast buddy sends me Daniel Pipes pieces regularly. I missed at first this one but it gets picked up by Joanne Jacobs with usual cogent commentary. But best is the comments at the bottom of the Pipes article. According to one commenter who apparently attended Pipes talk at York University, one of many protestors said, "We are here in the name of academic freedom. We don't like what Pipes has to say and it's our right to try and stop him from speaking." I could link this to a dozen of our articles over the last six weeks. Cold Spring Shops links out to the Daphne Patai piece I mentioned earlier tonight, and adds this comment: "It's really very simple, if one thinks about it. Give John Ashcroft no power you'd fear to see in Janet Reno's hands, and give Catherine MacKinnon no power you'd fear to see in mine."

But it isn't that simple. When you conceive of rights as coming from the state, as does the modern liberal (as opposed to the classical one), then power is relatively constant. You can't create or destroy it, you simply fight over who will possess it. Like Tolkein's Ring, nobody is safe from the lure of power. (It always comes back to Tolkein.) Stephen is right, but he's asking people to think about this in a way they simply cannot fathom.

UPDATE: Cold Spring Shops replies, with a rhetorical touch. Maybe it always comes back to Solzhenitsyn?