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The Clown Suit Defense

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12/24/2009 12:05:48 PM
Posted: 8 years ago
If I were to break down the door to my neighbor's home, push a gun in the face of the family that lives there, announce that they had offended me, or my masters, for some behavior of theirs which was proscribed by the scrawlings of blind yet dutiful scribes in some mysterious set of holy books that they had neither read nor subscribed to, and then demand that they comply with my instantaneous orders or be subject to the instantaneous power of death which issues from the barrel of my gun — would they or would they not be justified in defending themselves? Would they or would they not be justified in attempting to escape? Would they or would they not act morally by exerting every possible influence, by applying every possible force, to stop me enforcing whatever arbitrary proscription I found in my holy book?

Of course they would. Be it that my presumably holy book contained a proscription against eating rabbit, that it spake ill of cooking and eating meat on the bone, that it condemned the growing and ingestion of cannabis sativa or salvia divinorum or cooking up a bit of methamphetamine in the bathtub, you should rightly denounce me.

I would be a criminal. Perhaps misguided, perhaps insane, perhaps deluded or perhaps only following orders, I would still be a criminal, a violator, a trespasser and completely out of my right.

Oh, but… the objection is raised, "What if I'm wearing a clown suit when I do this?"

"Oh! A clown suit!" all proclaim, prostrating themselves and genuflecting before the one true God. "Why, if he's wearing a clown suit, it must be all right! We know that clowns want only the best things for our children, and of course clowns must go through rigorous training and certification in order to be granted, by the powers that be, that most sacred privilege of wearing the clown suit! Surely, if he's wearing a clown suit, he is in the right, and they are the evil doers, they are the ones who have transgressed, and, indeed, they must be punished."

"What we really ought to ask the liberal, before we even begin addressing his agenda, is this: In what kind of society would he be a conservative?" - Joseph Sobran