Privacy expectations and a 'neighbor' analogy
bobsheridan at earthlink.net
Wed Jul 13 14:16:54 PDT 2005
In discussing privacy in decision-making, i.e. liberty/due process, I
find myself reasoning from the analogy, below, and am requesting to have
it critiqued, please.
The analogy is this: that if you would not wish to have your neighbors
involved in your decisionmaking on such things as how you'd like to
behave in the bedroom with a consenting adult, or with whom, or the
consequences of that behavior, such as pregnancy, then you certainly
don't wish to see government making those decisions for you, because
government is the neighbors writ large.
I understand the obvious limitation on the argument that there comes a
point where the neighbors, acting through government, have a right to an
opinion. Immediately after the moment of birth would be first,
immediately before is the second, over which there is great debate, as
in the so-called 'partial birth abortion' issue. Having said that, I'm
not particularly interested in getting into a discussion of late-term
Roe and progeny, as such. I am interested in knowing where this analogy
which compares government to the neighbors breaks down and becomes
useless, assuming, as I do, that it has some explanatory utility as an
analogy in the first place.
Why do I think it a useful analogy, perhaps even a test? Because if you
don't want the neighbors involved in the decision-making process, you
probably don't feel that their views are more legitimate because they
succeed in having the town board of selectmen, city council, state
legislature, or national congress to enact their views into laws
I haven't seen this "neighbor" analogy/argument and suspect that there's
probably a reason that I haven't tumbled to it yet.
I'm supposing that there exist independent government grounds, such as
public health concerns, where government has, I presume, rights to
regulate that go beyond the views of long-nosed neighbors who may wish
to impose private moralities, such as religious-based. When I was a
kid, the public schools in NYC required, at least I think it was
required (we certainly wanted them), polio vaccinations for all
schoolkids when that disease was such a scourge.
Is the 'neighbors as government' or 'government as the neighbors writ
large' analogy or argument one that has been discussed in such terms?
Analytically, some folks, students, let's say, have a fairly clear
understanding of what they don't want the neighbors poking their noses
into, but may be a lot more deferential when it appears that
"government" is poking its nose into the same or similar areas, such as
abortion and sexual relationships. The former miscegenation laws would
be an example.
Thanks in advance.
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