We shouldn't be afraid of questions

BY SCOTT LONGAKER | Guest Contributor | With the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, much has been said about his brand of jurisprudence. The pundits have bemoaned the perceived benefits and deficiencies of the court missing his voice.

The vacant seat has become a bit in the sideshow that is the 2016 presidential election—a bit that has already fallen aside in favor of Mussolini quotes, spray tans and sealing wax.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court continues on and caused a furor when Justice Clarence Thomas posed questions from the bench. This is the first time he has done so in ten years.

Many voices are suggesting that Justice Thomas has broken his silence in support of allowing known domestic abusers an unfettered access to the A-Team’s arsenal. The truth is he did no such thing.

The question he posed the state’s advocate was to the fact that in the original case the crime was a misdemeanor, which carried a charge of lifetime prohibition of owning fireway. He then asked if there were any other instances where a misdemeanor conviction suspends a constitutional right.

It is a legitimate and important question. The right in question could just as easily be the right to free speech or press. The second amendment still protects one's right to bear arms. Whether or not you think that it should or should not still be in place does not factor in. The amendment will remain a protected right until the Constitution states otherwise.

The case is attempting to determine if someone convicted of behavior deemed to be reckless (behavior without knowingly causing offense) is liable to be convicted later under the federal statute that prohibits ownership of ammunition by anyone previously convicted in a domestic violence case.

The constitutionality of the federal statute is not currently under review. It appears by his line of questioning, Justice Thomas thinks that it should be. They are hard questions, yet questions that should be asked.

The culture that is rising in this nation of the loudest voice being the only voice is becoming more precarious by the day. It is leading to the possible presidential nomination of a megalomaniac huckster (though that could be used to describe all the potential nominees, regardless of party).

The dogmatic march of both the left and the right in this country has led us to a place where questions are now deemed offensive and, even more ludicrously, as violent. The idea that challenging a belief or viewpoint is somehow an assault on par with a fist in the face should be laughable, yet it has become commonplace.

We hear of assaults on values from the right and micro-aggressions from the left. Both sides wanting to use the apparatus of the state and its monopoly on the use of force not to protect their right to hold a particular view, but to suppress the view and rights of those that disagree—behavior that is far from the protection of liberty.

Thomas’ question in particular is so very important. The question he is asking is not one that suggests he supports handing a loaded gun to a violent abuser, but is one vital to the protection of our basic freedoms, the freedoms that are guarded by the constitution.

If we allow the suspension of a protected right in this case, what is to stop the state from suspending more rights for other misdemeanors? We currently have more people in prison and jail than any other nation on the planet. They already have had particular rights stripped and/or suspended, do we want to add to that list?

We need to ask ourselves, does the loudest voice win or do we welcome discourse and criticism of our own ideas? Can dialogue be had, or must it be drowned out with accusatory tones? Is liberty for all or only for those in particular groups? The extremes must be tolerated as well as the majority, that is the bedrock of a free society. When ideologues attempt to suppress this open discussion through name-calling and guilt, we all suffer and liberty slowly erodes.

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