Wednesday, August 06, 2008

No duty to defend the indefensible

John Mark Reynolds is a very hit-and-miss pundit. Sometimes he’s insightful. At other times his blind spots come to the fore. For a case of the latter, see

Here he commits three basic blunders:

1. He fails to distinguish between opposition and support. As a rule, it would be wrong of me to oppose Myers’ Constitutional freedom of speech. But from this it doesn’t follow that I’m obliged to support his Constitutional freedom of speech. Let him defend his own freedom of speech.

There are people who think that unless everyone has a right, no one has a right. Therefore, they think it’s incumbent on us to defend everyone’s right if we’re to defend anyone’s right.

But that’s very Pollyannaish. Don’t assume the person you defend will return the favor. Indeed, Myers is a case in point. He is using his right to deny the same right to others. Myers is trying to ban ID-theory from the curriculum. He’s trying to censor free speech. He’s using his freedom to abridge the freedom of others.

I’m not going to defend that behavior. To the contrary, I’m going to oppose that behavior. He’s set up a dilemma in which it’s impossible for me to defend him and defend his opponents at the same time. He’s an enemy of free speech, except when it comes to his own free speech.

Let’s also remember that the First Amendment does not impose an obligation on private citizens. Rather, it’s a restraint on public officials.

2. JMR also fails to distinguish between free speech and paid speech. Taxpayers are under no obligation to subsidize Myer’s free speech.

The fact you have a Constitutional right to bear arms doesn’t mean that I’m obliged to buy you a gun.

3. There’s no reason to assume that Myers doesn’t know what he’s doing. And even if he were “invincibly ignorant,” the verse that Reynolds is alluding to (Lk 23:34) is of dubious textual authenticity.


  1. I did not know that verse was of "dubious authenticity".

  2. It's discussed in standard commentaries on Luke (e.g. J. Fitzmyer, C. F. Evans) as well as Metzger's Textual Commentary on the NT.