So, apparently (I’m not linking to it) Editor-at-large Ben Shapiro had this Twitter reaction to the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act:

“This is the greatest destruction of individual liberty since Dred Scott. This is the end of America as we know it. No exaggeration.”

I do try to keep the perspective that everyone’s problems are big to them, and current problems seem larger than the ones we faced in the past, but this is a good example of the reason why I don’t read many of the bigger partisan political sites and ignore 90% of what I see on the ones I do. And that reason would be Idiots.

But let us let tell us more about why this particular statement is flawed:

Now, we didn’t attend Harvard Law (well, one of us did, but he’s a Stanford man at heart), and so we have no fancy book-larnin in the law, but we were motivated to learn by Shapiro’s subsequent challenge to find a case more awful than yesterday’s. Was National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius the greatest destruction of individual liberty (presumably at the hands of the United States Supreme Court, which allowed us to disregard extrajudicial and foreign tragedies such as the Great Leap Forward and GULAG) since Dred Scott?

And in our many seconds of study, we could only name six:

Korematsu v. United States, in which the Supreme Court affirmed the deportation of every Japanese American from California to a concentration camp;

Plessy v. Ferguson, in which the Supreme Court affirmed that states could segregate Dred Scott’s descendants, now American citizens, into separate facilities such as schools and buses, facilities which turned out not to be quite equal to those provided the descendants of Dred Scott’s master;

Schenck v. United States and its progeny Debs v. United States, which had something to do with imprisoning people and stripping their citizenship for expressing unpopular political opinions;

Herrera v. Collins, in which the Court held that executing prisoners whom post-trial evidence shows to be actually innocent of any crime is not a “cruel” or “unusual” punishment;

Bowers v. Hardwick, in which the Court held that it’s constitutional to jail two consenting, unrelated adults for the physical act of love; and

Kelo v. City of New London, in which the Court held that government may seize valuable private property for the purpose of giving it away to government cronies who intend nothing more than to flush it down the toilet.

I’d add to this that, if you’re crying now about ACA being upheld, but weren’t crying last week about:

  • The Patriot Act
  • Guantanamo
  • The lack of federal prosecutions for torture
  • Bush lying to America to start a war and kill thousands
  • Free Speech Zones
  • The criminalization of ever-larger percentages of our population (due to the drug wars)
  • RICO and other law-enforcement property seizures (no trial needed, as long as someone says the Magic Word: “Drugs”)
  • The militarization of police
  • Lack of accountability for prosecutors who hide evidence
  • Domestic surveillance programs
  • Executive power to start wars without Congressional approval
  • Assassination lists
  • Classification of anyone standing near an enemy combatant as a combatant (for instance, at a wedding)
  • The combination of the previous two with the pinpoint precision of air-to-ground missile warheads
  • The increasing need to carry identification at all times
  • Over-classification of government information, by a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
  • Secret national security trials, if you are lucky enough to get one in the first place.
  • Our own knee-jerk reactions to anyone who exercises their freedoms in a way in which we do not personally agree

then you need to sit down, read some history for perspective, ponder what you think America is all about…and, quite frankly, how much you care about freedom as a universal ideal, rather than just caring about how government affects you directly. We’ve got ~99 problems, clauses in the ACA aren’t anywhere near the top of the list right now, and the two major parties aren’t offering any answers.

If you were already concerned about that sort of thing, however, then, as Ali G would say, “Respek.” 🙂

Update: I almost forgot. A special shout-out to the executive director of the Democratic National Committee, who tweeted after the Supreme Court decision: “it’s constitutional. Bitches.” Hahahaha…it’s so funny that he decided to be all hip and current by using a derogatory term normally used for women in serious political discourse. Wow, Patrick Gaspard, you are certainly a man to admire. (Really? REALLY?!? Mr. Gaspard, you’re the head of the DNC. Time to grow up.)

Update II: Added in the bit about over-classification and secret trials. We’re at a point right now where even the most innocuous information is often classified…not for security reasons, but because government action can’t be judged if we don’t know what to judge.