July 2011 Newsletter



Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.

Front Porch Monthly

A Front Porch Republic Newsletter

If Our Editors Sat on the Supreme Court . . . US Supreme Court

Last month, by a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court struck down a California law regulating the sale or rental of violent video games to children.  The decision (summarized here, and discussed in more detail here and here), sparked a lively email conversation among the FPR editors. We thought we’d give you a chance to “evesdrop.”

Patrick Deneen: A pernicious decision.  Seems that the same reasoning should overturn age restrictions on pornography and movies (I realize the two are nearly identical) . . . I’ll defer to more incisive legal minds . . .

Rod Dreher: Scalia said in his majority opinion that our legal tradition has never held violence to be obscene.  Not so for sexuality.  As repulsive as these videogames are — and I would ban them if I could — what would the legal rationale be for banning their sale to minors, but not (to use one of Scalia’s examples) Grimm’s Fairy Tales?

Jeremy Beer: Why does a democratically constituted legislature need a rationale? I’m sure not a lawyer, thank God, but no federally “protected category” of persons is at stake here. Neither is political speech. There is no reason why the First Amendment should apply — certainly not from an originalist or strict-construction perspective.

Thus, if a legislature wants to say that Grimm’s Fairy Tales are OK and not certain video games, they should be allowed to do so. If the people don’t like it, throw em out or cut off their heads.

Plus, I’d imagine that the people of California are probably able to intuit that there is a difference between Grimm’s and Mortal Kombat, or whatever, even if they can’t articulate it. I seem to recall that being good enough for the Supremes before…

Decisions like this are utterly diastrous for localism, and of course illustrate just how hopeless is our cause, probably. Not that it isn’t worth fighting…

Caleb Stegall: Justice Thomas, as is almost always the case, gets this one exactly right.  (For those willing to brave reading a legal document, here’s a link to Thomas’ dissent)

Dirk Sabin: Scalia’s aims, like much of our fretfully idotic government might be accidentally correct, but we’ll take relief where we can get it.  If only the Corporation might someday shoulder their responsibility as a “citizen with the rights of the same” and therefore possess a modicum of morality . . . and conduct themselves upon this fine ark.

Caleb Stegall: In no sense can the decision be attributed to a “conservative” majority.  Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg. . . hardly a conservative murderers row. . . need a better framework if we want to understand this. Further, Alito and Roberts concurred with the result but not scalias rationale.  Their opinion is reasonably “conservative” and Thomas’ dissent is truly conservative and is the right opinion.  Calling Scalia conservative has never been accurate.  This decision illustrates as much.

Russell Fox: I find myself rather disappointed with Alito, whom I thought saw the real stakes in these decisions clearly (as I elaborated here).  He expressed sympathy with the right side in his concurrence, but it wasn’t enough for him to join Thomas and Breyer in getting the decision correct, in my view.

Katherine Boyer: All – This is a small point amidst the larger ones (not adults, not political speech), but the argument that reading about magical violence is at all comparable in emotional effect to seeing realistic humans bloodily blown away on a screen — and pushing the electronic trigger — runs counter to the experience of most of us.  Children and adults both are far more likely to have nightmares after a scary movie than after any fairy tale, because as good as our imaginations are at times at keeping us up, we are far more affected by what we see with our eyes than what we see with our mind’s eye.  That certainly holds for desensitizing too.  Let’s measure a justice’s heart rate as he or she reads Hansel and Gretel, and then again as the justice watches Full Metal Jacket, and see what we find. 

A Joke from the Bar Jester:

Two guys are out playing golf.  One of them marks his ball on the second green and says, “It’s hard to believe that old Charlie dropped dead right here a week ago.”

The other one says, “He did?  Charlie?  You’re kidding me.  I didn’t know that!”

The first one says, “Yeah.  He was marking his ball just like I am.  And in about this same spot too.”

The second one says, “And you were with him?”

First one says, “Yup.  Just the two of us.”

Second one says, “That must have been awful.”

And the first one says, “You’re not kidding.  For the next sixteen holes it was hit the ball, drag Charlie; hit the ball, drag Charlie.”

~Jason Peters

Front Porch Conversations Online:

Mark Mitchell – The Beauty of Tolkein’s Quest: Tolkien understands the deepest of our longings and makes us understand them better than before.

Jerry Salyer – War on Raw Milk: Last Friday in Louisville, Kentucky, the city’s Department of Health and Wellness issued a cease-and-desist order to the Whole Life Buying Club, and then placed the organization’s milk cache under quarantine.

Jason Peters – The Trojan Horse in “Higher” Education: “Deeper” education would be a better moniker—if the education on offer were actually deeper.

Patrick Deneen – My Teacher, My Friend: Some, perhaps many readers here will know that I learned much of what I know of political philosophy – and, much of my understanding of life – from one of the most wonderful men who has trod the earth, Wilson Carey McWilliams.

James Matthew Wilson The Death of Family: In my previous essay, a sort of preface, I mentioned a two-part essay I published in the wake of the 2008 presidential election, called “Sarah Palin, Spectacular Politics, and the Death of the Family.”

Jason Peters – Take the Chevy Volt. I’m Backing the Horse: Soon the news that’s fit to print will be a luxury, like irony or finding yourself or working out your gender identity.

Ketherine Dalton – Yo! Farmer Dude! If there is anything that makes me unhappy about a discipline otherwise dear to my heart, it’s finding it promoted by a corporation chasing sales.

Front Porch Conversations face-to-face

To connect for face-to-face conversations with readers near you visit our Porches page at the FPR website

If you would like to bring an FPR author to speak at your event, please visit our Speakers’ Guild page at the FPR Website

FPR Conference

Mark your calendars! On September 24, 2011 at Mout St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD, FPR will hold its first annual conference, titled “Human Scale and the Human Good: Building Healthy Communities in a Global Age.” Make plans to join some of your favorite FPR authors and other writers and practitioners concerned with Place, Limits, and LIberty.  Confirmed speakers include Allan Carlson, Rod Dreher, Bill Kauffman, Patrick Deneen, Philip Bess, Caleb Stegall, and Jason Peters.  We are looking forward to a great event.

Our Future and Our Need

Will you invest in our mission by supporting us today? Giving is safe and easy through our website. And it’s entirely tax-deductible: Front Porch Republic, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) educational organization. Your donation will be used immediately to help us improve our site, recruit writers, and compensate (just a little) our hard-working technological and editorial assistants. It will also help us sponsor speakers and conferences across the country. Most importantly, your support of FPR is an investment in our vision: place, limits, liberty.

~ Board of Directors, Front Porch Republic

Questions? Feedback?  Contact Ashley Trim, editor of Front Porch Monthly at atrim@frontporchrepublic.com