November 22, 2012

FROM THE THANKSGIVING ARCHIVES: WHAT DOES LOGIC HAVE TO DO WITH A DECENT SOCIETY?:

Got the Puritan blues (Jeff Jacoby, November 23, 2005, Boston Globe)

Ah, yes, the blue laws -- those rules and regulations imposed by New England's 17th-century Puritan theocrats to govern moral conduct and ensure proper observance of the Sabbath. The product of an era when ''witches" were hanged, blue laws dictated what people could wear, forbade travel on Sunday, and made it an offense to miss church. The Puritans ''carried their efforts to control private activities in the Massachusetts Bay Colony to extremes unknown elsewhere," notes the Family Encyclopedia of American History. For example, church doors were bolted during Sunday services to prevent restless congregants from leaving early.

It is hard to imagine how these laws could have survived the ratification of the Bill of Rights. But survive they did, some of them for centuries. In Massachusetts, Chapter 136 long barred most commercial activity on Sundays and legal holidays. Not even Cotton Mather would have been able to make sense of the anachronistic crazy quilt of definitions and loopholes that the law turned into over time. The same statute that barred shops and businesses from operating on ''common days of rest" also listed dozens of exceptions to the rule, including the sale of nitrogen, the operation of garden centers and public bathhouses, and the transportation of ice, bees, or Irish moss. Supermarkets weren't allowed to sell groceries, but convenience stores were. Buying a painting at an art gallery was OK. Buying paint at Home Depot was forbidden.

In 1994 Massachusetts voters finally made it lawful for all stores to open on Sunday and the summer holidays -- Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the Fourth of July. But the old restrictions, as illogical as ever, still apply on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

''Thanksgiving is not like any other day," Reilly insists. ''It's been the one day when people didn't have to work. People should be allowed to be off that one day, to have a day to spend with their family. This is one of those issues where tradition wins over for me."

Tradition is a fine thing, and Thanksgiving is suffused with it. But what Reilly is defending is not tradition but coercion. Americans are able to decide for themselves how to spend Thanksgiving. Given a choice, some will opt for family and turkey. Others will grab the chance to go to work for double pay. It isn't for the attorney general of Massachusetts, or any other state official, to make that choice for them.

The blue laws are and always have been obnoxious deprivations of liberty.


Not only is this the most anti-consrvative thing ever written by a putative conservative, but it betrays a moronic understanding of liberty. MA should return to stricter Blue Laws, not relax what little good is left.


(originally posted: 11/23/05)

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Posted by at November 22, 2012 12:01 AM
  

Hear ye, hear ye. There shall be no blogging after 6 pm, till 6 am.

That should reeeealllly help our society.

Posted by: AllenS at November 23, 2005 9:22 AM

OJ is morphing into a "communitarian."

Nice ideas, but does that lead to "community" or "commune".

I see little value in blue laws, but I'll read the links to see if I can be persuaded.

Posted by: Bruno at November 23, 2005 9:53 AM

Not morphing, I am a communitarian, but a Judeo-Christian one.

Posted by: oj at November 23, 2005 10:01 AM

A Juddeo-Christian one, more like.

Posted by: Brit at November 23, 2005 10:25 AM

Being a leftist is forgiveable. Being a communitarian is not. Good thing you're a leftist and not a communitarian.

In what is admittedly a pretty stupid column, these words stand out:

It is hard to imagine how these laws could have survived the ratification of the Bill of Rights. But survive they did, some of them for centuries.

The entire point of the Establishment Clause was to protect the established churches and laws, like the Blue Laws, forcing obedience to the mores of the state's favored church.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 23, 2005 10:41 AM

All conservatives are communitarian, they just base the community on Judeo-Christian morality while communitarians seem stumped about what to base it on.

Posted by: oj at November 23, 2005 10:47 AM

David: That first sentence you highlight shows the bizarre warping of our knowledge of American history that has taken place in the last few decades that can only have disastrous consequences...

Posted by: b at November 23, 2005 11:25 AM

So now we can place the same weight on oj's notions of liberty as we do on the libertarians' notions of community. That sounds just about right.

Posted by: joe shropshire at November 23, 2005 11:30 AM

joe:

Not mine, the Founders'. You want freedom, not liberty. It's the classic characteristic of those who believe only in the self, not the community.

Posted by: oj at November 23, 2005 11:34 AM

Bottom line: when you read the Bible literally all you have is an evil god.

http://www.brothersjudd.com/blog/archives/2005/11/we_already_know.html

[Editor's Note: The rest is gloss.]

Posted by: Anon at November 23, 2005 11:49 AM

The mall down here in Odessa just put a copy of the Ten Comandments outside its main entrance. But Chick-fil-A is still the only store inside that doesn't open on Sunday.

Posted by: John at November 23, 2005 12:10 PM

Damn that Chick-fil-A! Whoever owns that place should be killed! What an outrage!

Posted by: b at November 23, 2005 12:12 PM

Hey Anon, I thought there was no such thing as good and evil. I thought it was all just "shades of gray, man!"
You can presume to judge God, but you can't presume to judge Saddam Hussein. That's some kind of screwed ethical system you have there. Good luck with it.

Posted by: Bryan at November 23, 2005 1:44 PM

Bryan,

Hey Anon, I thought there was no such thing as good and evil. I thought it was all just "shades of gray, man!"

I've never said that. Of course there is good and evil.

You can presume to judge God, but you can't presume to judge Saddam Hussein.

Of course we can judge SH, I have always been in favor of the invasion to depose him.

That's some kind of screwed ethical system you have there. Good luck with it.

Let's talk about screwed ethical systems shall we Bryan? If your daughter is ever raped will you force her to marry her rapist as commanded by God in Deuteronomy 22:28-29.

I know its egotistical and presumptuous of me to judge, and I lack God's cosmic perspective, but that just doesn't seem something a good God would command.

OTOH the rapist is required to pay you, her father, 50 sheckels of silver. As the father of the bride I'm sure you'll be happy to use this cash to pay for the wedding and reception.

Posted by: Anon at November 23, 2005 2:24 PM

Bryan:

Come now, Anon's been perfectly clear: God is evil and His commandments to us impose an obligation for us to do evil.

Posted by: oj at November 23, 2005 2:32 PM

As long as the blue laws contain sensible exceptions, like the ones for bees and Irish moss, what's there to complain about?

I'm sympathetic to OJ's position, but it is difficult for me to take the argument that requiring everyone to take a certain holiday promotes community seriously from someone who argues a common language is unimportant.

Posted by: carter at November 23, 2005 2:33 PM

Who says a common language isn't important?

Posted by: oj at November 23, 2005 2:41 PM

Yes, once they come here they learn English too. Language is incidental to the culture--it doesn't create it.

Posted by: oj at November 23, 2005 3:20 PM

OJ:

I really would prefer to decide for myself if the rest of Anon's post was "gloss."

Just like I get to decide whether you are evading the point at hand.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 23, 2005 4:22 PM

Jeff:

There's nothing left to be said after you declare God to be evil. Not here anyway. There are plenty of internet outlets for such bile. Don't you even have a blog?

Posted by: oj at November 23, 2005 4:27 PM

I'm just as happy not to read another thread full of Daniel's hysteria. At the risk of getting deleted, I'll repeat a comment of mine that was collateral damage. Daniel had said something about being "stubborn about the truth." The obvious rejoinder is that what he's really stubborn about is attention-seeking (and yes, that's an occupational hazard around here.) Give him attention and he'll just want more, and he'll obviously say whatever it takes to get some.

Posted by: joe shropshire at November 23, 2005 4:45 PM
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