Re: Letter to the Editor

Ed Brayton (
Mon, 08 Jun 1998 12:40:07 -0400

Jeffrey Lee wrote:
> On 6/5/98 20:05, Ed Brayton said:
> >This is stunning even for an apologist for
> >government control like Bork. This is the one that my 4th grade son was
> >able to poke a hole in. Even he was able to grasp the obvious difference
> >between these two "rights" to be "indulged" - one was the right to
> >determine one's own actions, and the other was the right to control
> >someone else's actions. These two are clearly not equal, not even to a
> >ten year old.
> I haven't read any of Mr. Bork's works, nor do I have much of an opinion
> about him one way or the other, but I have to challenge your last
> statement. The inequality of the two rights you propose is predicated on
> a self-determination world view. That the rights of any individual
> outweigh the rights of the society in which they live.

Actually, this is not the case. Bork did not say a word about the
"rights of the society" as a whole. He juxtaposed one person wanting to
do something, and another person wanting to stop them from doing it. He
even goes so far as to say that the second person based their desire to
stop the action only on the fact that they are morally bothered by it.
No one is going to argue that self-determination is absolute, or that
any action is allowed no matter how much damage it causes to others or
to society, but in the remarkably simply dichotomy he draws up, can
anyone argue that the two "rights" are equal in nature? In Bork's
formulation, the second person wishes to stop the first person from
acting as they see fit, not because he is harmed by it, but because he
disapproves of the choice. This clearly flies in the face of the
principles behind our constitution and the bill of rights, which is the
subject upon which Bork is allegedly basing his decision. Thank god he
didn't make it on the court.