Sometimes, I hate to admit, I appreciate my “detractors” here more than I do my supporters. It’s because of the odd way my brain works. (Well, one of the odd ways.) Often, I get my best thoughts when I’m challenged.
And hoo boy, do they challenge me.
Last week, I discussed the “Ground Zero Mosque” (or whatever they’re calling it now). Well, “jim x” didn’t care for what I wrote:
“It’s not illegal” isn’t a defense, it’s a confession.”
Think about it. When do you hear that phrase, or some variant?
When do I hear that? When I hear people like:
– Gun owners
– People using free speech to discuss controversial matters.
– People wanting to assemble in a public place.
Basically, ANY TIME someone wants to do something in America that makes some other people uncomfortable.
Freedom ISN’T JUST FOR PEOPLE YOU LIKE.
Freedom is for anyone who hasn’t committed a crime, because in addition to freedom of religion it’s about **innocent until proven guilty**.
If you don’t like it, maybe you should leave.
That hit me right between the eyes. Hard. Because I remembered once writing this piece, where I outlined what I called “the BIFFLI principle” — a right is something that you can freely exercise with absolutely no explanation or rationale or justification whatsoever other than “Because I Frakking Felt Like It!”
I had to think about this for a while. I firmly believe in both principles, and here’s jim x attacking one by using a form of the other.
But I think I found a way to recognize it.
Most of the time, when someone is using the BIFFLI principle, they’re doing it precisely to assert that right. I know I have — I think it’s useful, every now and then, to remind the Powers That Be that we, the people, have certain inalienable rights, and we know how to exercise them. It’s an exercise in civil rights, in giving the PTB a mild poke to remind them just where their power ends, and ours begins.
I’m reminded of certain demonstrations, like when gun owners in New Hampshire decided to clean up certain streets in Manchster. They all got together and picked up all the trash and garbage on the streets of Manchester’s inner city, all the while carrying their firearms. It was a demonstration of both the generally peaceable nature and civic-mindedness of gun owners — and not once did one of those guns leave its holster.
And when it’s not the sole motive, that’s usually the first line of defense when the move is challenged.
In the case of the Mosque/not-Mosque, it was the latter case — the “exercise of our rights” argument — was the fallback position. The first answer was that the building was intended to promote unity and harmony and understanding and tolerance and peace.
It was only after those allegedly being “reached out to” by the building backers said “you know, we’re not exactly getting the warm fuzzies from this whole project. In fact, it’s having just the opposite effect. It’s causing a lot of pain and anger and resentment, because of its proximity to what has become hallowed ground, among other factors.” That’s when the “BIFFLI” defense came up, translating the whole thing into “we’re going to build this monument to unity and harmony and understanding and tolerance and peace, and ram it right down your throats, and you don’t have any legal way of stopping us.”
And that brings up the second point: I have never called for making this move illegal. Others have discussed using existing laws and regulations and principles to challenge the plan, as well as using other, legal means to slow or stop it — such as calling upon contractors to refuse to do the work. The overall theme is “we can’t stop you, but there’s no way in hell we’re going to help you.”
Again, I stand by my conclusion: this mosque/not-mosque project is serving a tremendously valuable purpose: it’s showing us — all of us — the true face of the Islamic backers: that understanding and tolerance is purely a one-way street. Those are things we owe them, not things that they have to show us.
Thanks for the lesson, folks. Many of us will be sure to remember it.