Unreconstructed No More

I used to be an unreconstructed Southerner. It didn’t last very long, but it wasn’t that long ago. I would never have admitted to being a racist (I’m pretty sure I wasn’t), and I would have argued very strongly that racism and love for the Old South had no necessary connection to one another, but did I read a lot of historical revisionism regarding the Civil War and the Old South, I did regard “the North” as a symbol of “Big Government” and modernity, and I even went to two League of the South Meetings. Among the many things in my life that would surely disqualify me from ever running for president, this brief prior of my life has got to be near the top. But here’s the important thing to know—I was not raised that way and it was never my heritage. Continue reading

Pro-Life Principles- A Prolegomena

The fallout from Proposition 26 has been very revealing.  The measure was defeated by a sizable majority, and there are various theories as to just what was its downfall.  “Overreaching” seems to be the consensus explanation, but I think the problem is more basic.  It was seen as overreaching because it implicated a variety of issues and practices that the average “pro-life” Christian was not prepared to question.  Almost everyone in the great state of Mississippi is “pro-life.”  It’s really quite polite to be so.  But it is a much smaller percentage who are willing to condemn abortifacient birth control, and still fewer of that group are ready to say that certain advances in “reproductive technology” violate the natural law.  Perhaps, and a bit more understandably, legal “personhood” is also too difficult of a concept to apply to entities that do not yet exist within the immediate jurisdiction of the state.

While I supported Prop. 26 and am still convinced that it was a morally justified position, I am willing to have the conversation about each of these issues.  From my own perspective, I am convinced that the ethical questions will always have a singular answer, however, the prudential political questions may vary depending upon our context and ability.  Still, what I saw more than anything else was a failure on the part of the citizenry to articulate clear principles and to explain why they would support one practice yet condemn another.  We did not have our first principles in order, nor did we quite know how the law ought to work in support of those principles.

Because of this, I would like to have an extended conversation about these matters.  I want to examine those principles, as well as ask certain key questions as to why people think and decide as they do.  Continue reading

An Examination of Mississippi’s Proposition 26

This Tuesday, the voters of Mississippi will have the opportunity to vote on Proposition 26 which states: “As used in this Article III of the state constitution, the term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” This is making national headlines as it is rightly seen as a strategic moment in legal history. The implications of Proposition 26 could affect a variety of issues involving the use of fertilized eggs. I do not wish to give a technical legal examination of Prop. 26. Such an examination has already been done quite well here. According to Professor Green, Prop. 26 will not do very much on its face. It certainly will not overturn Roe v. Wade as some have erroneously asserted. However, I do think that Prop. 26 is an important opportunity to examine our own thoughts and reactions about life and the proper role of government.

I have seen a number of very bad arguments against Prop. 26. I will handle them quickly.

  • Prop. 26 pushes private values into the public square. – This is a variant of the old line, “You can’t legislate morality.” In point of fact, you can’t legislate much else besides morality. Take a look at our laws. Nearly all of them are grounded on morality. To the issue of “private values,” however, we can say that Prop. 26 is pretty decidedly public. It is seeking to define “person” in the state constitution. Continue reading