The Triumph of Unreason

I’ll be honest with you: I haven’t read Reason since Radley Balko left. Does anybody still bother with that dilapidated old libertarish rag? Why? Is it for sterling insights like this one?

[T]he courage of [Judge Roy] Moore’s convictions frequently clash with both the plain language and contemporary interpretation of the Constitution. Such as that time, oh, LAST WEEK when Moore suggested that kneeling during the National Anthem is "against the law" (it’s not, and if such a law were passed, it would surely be declared unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds).

I’d like to direct dopey Matt Welch to 36 USC § 301, which states:

(b) Conduct During Playing.—During a rendition of the national anthem—

  • (1) when the flag is displayed—
    • (A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
    • (B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
    • (C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
  • (2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

Now, I’ll agree that there’s nothing libertarian about requiring anybody to care about the government’s war anthem, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is the law, and has been since 1931. Unless, of course, Welch wishes to take the angle that the U.S. Code is somehow not "the law," which puts him at odds with reality so severely that I expect it would in fact be his defense.

Or there was that famous time in 2003 when, after repeatedly defying court orders to remove a 5,000-pound granite sculpture of the Ten Commandments (which courts had ruled was in violation of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause), Moore was removed as Alabama Chief Justice by the state’s Court of the Judiciary (COJ). Or the sequel, on April 20 of this year, when the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the COJ’s 2016 removal of Moore from the bench (he had won election to chief justice again in 2012), for brazenly disregarding the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage, prohibition of which the high court determined was in violation of the 14th Amendment.

Ah, yes: Judge Moore has certainly routinely been in violation of that great libertarian principle of subjugation to one irresistible power center. What libertarian worth his salt could possibly support the federal government in the Ten Commandments case? Indeed, what constitutionalist? Judge Moore’s statue — which he paid for himself — has nothing whatsoever to do with "respecting an establishment of religion." In what possible reality could one monument in one non-federal courtroom possibly constitute the establishment of an official national religion? The mind boggles.

And since when do libertarians condemn people for standing up against unjust laws? Roy Moore used the power of his office to get in the way of what he believed (correctly) to be a very bad bit of "judicial legislation" handed down from the nine infallible overlords in Washington. Apparently, the "libertarian" thing to do is to submit to government power and attack anybody who resists. I mean, the alternative would be that Welch is the fakest of fake libertarians, and is just selling you an agenda. How could that be, though?

Anyhow, the comedy twist is that the very next post in the Reason blog is a lament that Jeff Flake will not run for reëlection. Jeff Flake! The same Jeff Flake who voted to make the PATRIOT Act permanent, co-sponsored the disastrous executive overreach that is the "line-item veto," voted to declare the "global war on terror" a permanent war, supported every grossly bloated Republican budget, and never met a Republican war he didn’t like? That Jeff Flake?

Yep, that’s the one. Reason has declared him a "libertarian," and is very sad to see him leaving the senate. So, really. What on Earth is the point of reading this ridiculous rag?

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