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Two Completely Unrelated Subjects in One Blog Post

Tim just recently posted about the Justice Department’s war against Oregon voters, but considering how important the Gonzales v. Oregon case is I think it’s worth keeping a steady eye on. An article about this case, as well as a completely unrelated, ancient article regarding freedom of expression follow. Read on if you’re interested. (If not, just click here for a funny picture.)

Reason Magazine Assistant Editor Julian Sanchez recently wrote an article about Gonzales v. Oregon. Here’s the money quote:

When we consider what it is about people that makes them deserving of respect, that makes a murder tragic, we almost never cite the chemical differences that separate our DNA from a chimp’s or the processes that suggest biological “life.” Rather, it’s our plans and perspectives, our ways of seeing the world, that make us each unique and wonderful and irreplaceable. It is, in other words, the thoughts and choices that constitute each distinct person. A notion of “good medicine” that subordinates the will of the person to mere biological life gets things preposterously backwards.

In his article, Sanchez links to and fisks a National Review article by Wesley J. Smith. Smith appears to believe that terminally ill patients should not be able to choose their own fates and the federal government should be the moral authority of America. He wraps his hatred of state’s rights in a disturbing cloak of “federal rights.”

Enter Attorney General John Ashcroft. Yes, he opposed assisted suicide personally, but he also believed that the CSA should be enforced uniformly throughout the country. Thus, after ordering an extensive legal review to determine whether the federal government has the power to regulate medical practice in the states as it relates to the enforcement of federal law, and learning that indeed there is a long history of the federal government acting in this limited way, Ashcroft issued a new “interpretation” reversing Reno’s and finding that assisted suicide is not a legitimate medical use of controlled substances. Oregon sued, and the rest is history in the making.

If Ashcroft acted wrongly, it was in his failure to promulgate a formal federal regulation to cover assisted suicide and the CSA through the normal administrative processes. That could have provided a solid federal rule, consisting of clear and precise terms to be reviewed by the courts, thereby avoiding the arcane issue that also permeates the case, concerning the level of respect courts must give to administrative interpretations.

In other words, Ashcroft morally disagrees with assisted suicide so he declared that it is no longer a legitimate use of controlled substances. Sorry Wes, but the people of Oregon should decide whether or not assisted suicide is a legitimate medical procedure in Oregon, not the federal government. Democracy and state’s rights are good things.


Additionally, an article by Jonathan Rauch that ran in Harpers way back in 1995 was recently brought to my attention. It’s titled “In defense of prejudice: why incendiary speech must be protected” and is most certainly worth a read despite its length. While much of the speech Rauch cites isn’t in the same stratosphere as the most controversial things ever printed in The Commentator, his defense of such speech is applicable to almost anything deemed inappropriate by the “purists”:

What is especially dismaying is that the purists pursue prejudice in the name of protecting minorities. In order to protect people like me (homosexual), they must pursue people like me (dissident). In order to bolster minority self-esteem, they suppress minority opinion. There are, of course, all kinds of practical and legal problems with the purists’ campaign: the incursions against the First Amendment; the inevitable abuses by prosecutors and activists who define as “hateful” or “violent” whatever speech they dislike or can score points off of; the lack of any evidence that repressing prejudice eliminates rather than inflames it. But minorities, of all people, ought to remember that by definition we cannot prevail by numbers, and we generally cannot prevail by force. Against the power of ignorant mass opinion and group prejudice and superstition, we have only our voices.

  1. Danimal says:

    Aww, it’s hard to keep hating Neuheisel. About as hard as cutting butter.

  2. Melissa says:

    He looks like one of those “If Fishman and Fugly Woman had a child” photoshop projects. Cry little fish boy, cry!

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