The Raj Koothrappali Approach

…to Constitutional law:

I don’t know if you watch Big Bang Theory, but Raj is Indian of course, and he’s lecturing his sister from India on Hindu rules about modesty and sexual propriety, and she just looks at him and says, “You’re talking to me about this, as you’re eating a cheeseburger!” He just looks at her and says, “Some of it makes sense; some of it’s crazy – whatta do?!” And that’s basically the Seidman approach to the Constitution, right? The parts he likes make sense, and the others are crazy – whatta do?

This reminds me of cafeteria Catholics, who want to pick and choose which aspects of the religion they want to accept.

So if we’re going to start ignoring the Constitution, I’m fine with that. The first part I’m going to start ignoring is the part that says, I have to do whatever they say.

Yup. Particularly the part where we’re supposed to pretend along with them that the Second Amendment doesn’t exist, or that it’s about hunting, while they try to disarm us.

[Update a while later]

Whine, whine, whine. OK, here‘s the link.

14 thoughts on “The Raj Koothrappali Approach”

  1. Link is missing

    I always thought religionists on the Christian cafeteria plan always had an easy cop-out though: original sin. They can argue the position that man is a fallen creature of dual natures (body and spirit) at war with one another, inherently sinful, and thus they deem moral perfection unattainable. So for them, they can always say they agree in theory, but not in practice, and can judge themselves not significantly more morally inferior than they are inherently.

    If you set the bar high enough that you can never reach it, who can fault you for failing?

      1. Ya, I know. If the Jesus can’t even clear it, who am I to try? That bar is totally like infinity high. I guess its just wallowing in sin for me. Thanks for the “love”, Deity!

        Gotta appreciate the devilish craftiness of the masterminds that created a system in which no man can live without breaking the rules. Shame and guilt for everyone!

        And for the low price of 10%, (or is that a progressive %…) of your production and your renunciation of absolute rights, we will absolve you of (some of) your guilt!

        Benevolence abounds!

          1. Hard to follow? Perhaps I aimed for too much reciprocating snark to underline Leland’s comment (which effectively proved the point of my prior comment, intentionally or not). I generally like what Leland has to say in other threads, but I couldn’t remember if he is/is not a deist of any kind, and his comment wasn’t serious enough to inspire me to go back and check his past comments to find out. Also, he could have been playing into my prior comment, intending to be ironic, so I didn’t want my response to explicitly assume his viewpoint one way or the other. Concise snarkiness (vs. sober thoroughness) seemed to me the most appropriate response.

            I otherwise could have been more explicit in my argument: Original Sin is an evil concept. It attempts to saddle everyone with an unearned guilt, by virtue of being born human. It is guilt without choice, contradicting the concept of free will, and the ultimate “sins of the father” injustice. Fundamentally it means that it is impossible to exist without guilt.

            I then attempted to concisely compare both religion’s and most government’s use of this “original sin” concept by using phrasing that can equally apply to both systems (you can throw in the environmentalist quasi-religion here too). In practice, they use the concept differently. Religion, unconstrained to reality, can just purport that by virtue of existing you are guilty. Most governments, constrained to operating in reality and dealing with people’s sense (if not explicit understanding) of justice, has to create conditions that mimic original sin. Most governments establish legal conditions that make it impossible to exist without being guilty (I think Glenn Reynolds has a paper on this very topic, and others like Judge Napalitano have written on it extensively as well).

            I then made another religion/government comparison detailing one of the many things they get from those that accept this unearned guilt, i.e. one of the many incentives for hawking this evil concept. People that believe themselves to be guilty feel they have something to atone for, and are thus more easily cowed/controlled/enslaved in whole or in part (i.e. “%”).

            Lastly, the people that support the systems that employ this concept argue they are to our benefit, i.e. that these systems are good for us. I felt irony was the most concise way to point out that it is anything but good. Benevolence does not consist of leashing individuals to unchosen guilt or obligations. The same applies to my loving deity comment (ex. god is love, islam is peace, etc.). It is a twisted vision of love that thinks enslavement, submission, or unearned guilt are consistent with love.

            I took the time to write this because 1) I desire to be understood and I think the point is important and 2) because I sincerely respect you and Leland. You guys have both made many comments in the past that I have very much agreed with and enjoyed, and I prefer that inasmuch as you might think of me, a not entirely faceless commenter, your thoughts are at least not entirely negative.

            I am not a troll that goes out of his way to piss on religious people every chance I get. In fact, nearly all of my most loved friends and family identify themselves as Christian, and I don’t beat them up about it (although I’m not unwilling to talk about it, if they are willing). They, like most other religious people, don’t take all their religion seriously on a day-to-day, practical, basis. They pursue their own selfish happiness, generally don’t practice self-denial, and they don’t accept unearned guilt. But they still accept, theoretically concepts like Original Sin.

            On any normal day, for any normal activity, it is just a small, ignorable worm in the back of the mind that doesn’t see the light of day. But in those infrequent instances when profound moral decisions must be made, decisions which can have strong impacts on their daily existence (and ours, like voting or giving support to causes/candidates), this worm (and others like it) becomes a dragon that convinces them to act against their (and our) self-interest, making our lives more difficult and less happy than they otherwise could have been.

          2. I was being ironic and playing into Ryan’s comment. I do like this: “Benevolence does not consist of leashing individuals to unchosen guilt or obligations.” I wasn’t particularly considering original sin. I find people using a comment like I originally wrote as a means of absolving themselves of all sins, since the bar is supposedly so high. And by sins, I’m mostly talking about the secular variety as guilt and obligations determined by secular law.

            If someone cares to record, I consider myself a non-evangelical Christian. I tend to go with Romans 14:7-12. That is, the entity that grades my performance as a Christian is God himself. This does not include ignoring perfidy, which sort of goes back to my original comment. I’ve seen many claim to be good a Christian as a means to absolve themselves of secular guilts or obligations. I’ve even seen members of the church seek to give this absolution, while I read Romans 14:7-12. Keep this in mind if anyone tries to suggest as a Christian, I should oppose the death penalty.

  2. There’s no link back to the PJM piece, so I had to go hunt down the article and now I get the tack of this.

    But initially I thought maybe you meant that they didn’t start worrying about or discussing Constitutional Law UNTIL they had a couple of drinks in them. A little time later they’re knee walking and looking for a karaoke bar and ignoring the Constitution completely!

    Which would TOTALLY explain Ted Kennedy’s decades long drive to stay in Congress.

  3. I found the last part interesting. How one hypothetically has to honor “the social contract” while simultaneously ignoring the Constitution, which as much as anything out there appears to be a physical manifestation of that contract. And I have to agree with Russ Roberts. If we’re ignoring the manifestation of the social contract, then anything goes.

    Of course, when one questions an advocate for the “social contract”, one readily sees that it isn’t a contract, there’s nothing written down and the alleged content of the contract goes wherever the whims of the advocate takes things. Nor has anyone agreed to it voluntarily. You are a member to the contract by being born.

    That’s real convenient rhetoric for those who wish to control the rest of us for our own good.

    1. Glenn’s comments were fantastic.

      To expound on the “social contract” concept, watch this short clip by Yaron Brook. I think he nails it. It is a fraudulent, self-contradictory, concept. A “contract” is a binding voluntary agreement between parties. “Social contract” is an unchosen claim against your rights by the collective, that attempts to concept steal voluntary from “contract” in order to make its legal (legislative) claims seem legitimate.

      What I think is so genius about Glenn’s comment is that he made the voluntary part especially poignant. It was hilarious to listen to Russ try to rebut, because he kept trying to have it both ways – a social contract both voluntary and involuntary, and you could tell Glenn just blew his mind (or at least pulled back the curtain to reveal the gaping hole) by making it plainly obvious he had been holding a contradiction as a central tenet of government. Oops!

  4. Everybody just sit back and relax. Because those folks in Washington D.C. gonna make everything alright. They know how to run your life better than you do. So, everthing just gonna be ALlllRrrrIGHT!

  5. The last thing the Founding Fathers told us in the Constitution, they told us twice, in the 9th and 10th amendments. They tried to muzzle and bind and forever keep that Federal Government beast in a Constitutional box by ensuring all power not specifically enumerated, stayed with the States and the citizens.

    We failed to listen. We’ve let the Supreme Court ignore the 9th and 10th amendments.

    1. It strikes me as odd that the Constitution, as a piece of legislation with its particular genesis and authors, doesn’t contain something nearly all other legislation contains – penalties for non-compliance. The men responsible for it were not unfamiliar with legal theory.

      It seems to me that legal boundaries have only as much strength as the force you utilize to enforce them. You cannot guarantee the good behavior of all who come to power, and the founders well understood that and wrote on the topic. Why then did they not make explicit severe repercussions for straying from the constitution?

      Were they so myopic, in that they understood no government official could be trusted with the reigns of power, but at the same time placed perfect trust in an electorate to enforce the Constitution merely by vote or revolution?

Comments are closed.