A federal judge ruled yesterday that Jim Fouts, the mayor of Warren, Michigan, was wrong to deny resident Douglas Marshall’s request to set up a “reason station” in the atrium of City Hall. Marshall submitted his application in response to a prayer station that Fouts authorized for the same atrium, presumably so that people could file property tax assessments without missing their hourly prayers of intercession. You know—basic city services. I mention this story partly because it’s fun to watch municipal governments fail to close the separation between church and state, but mostly because Fouts’s original letter denying Marshall’s application is a masterpiece of bad reasoning. Excerpt after the jump.
You can’t have a free country just by letting people do whatever they want. “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins,” said Zechariah Chafee, and he makes a good point: how am I to swing my arms if people keep getting their noses in my way? The problem with freedom is that the lower orders will always try to strip it from their betters. Free to have a nice town where I can walk along the river in peace? Nope—some derelict is lying on the bank, spoiling my view. Free to choose my religion and uphold its values? Nope—gay hippies are taking a break from rapping to smoke marijuana out of each other’s buttholes. These people are undermining the country with their laziness and dissipation, and there’s only one way to preserve American liberty: incarcerate them with paramilitary assault teams. Today is Friday, and freedom isn’t free. Won’t you enjoy membership in a class that can still afford it with me?