"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

A question on the proper role

On his website Butch Otter, the Republican nominee for governor of Idaho, has an intriguing internal link which raises at least one question, maybe two, for this notably philosophical candidate.

The link is to an essay on “The Proper Role of Government,” which as it turns out is not written by Otter – which would be worth his writing and our reading – but by Ezra Taft Benson, former leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The web site notes that it was reposted “In response to popular demand,” though it may have been intended as well to build bridges to Mormon eastern Idaho. Its positioning in the site suggests that Otter endorses its views, though the site doesn’t specifically say so. (Note that we don’t ordinarily get into matters of church doctrine – the subject comes up here because Otter’s campaign has injected it so prominently.)

In re-reading the piece (it has circulated widely since 1968), we were struck by one passage especially, in which Benson quotes a church document, the Doctrine and Covenants:

“(I) believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, which protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.” (D&C 134: 1-2,5)

So, a question of the candidate: A couple, actually. Was the American Revolution – a revolt against the established government of English – wrong? And were Iraqis who cooperated with Americans in the overthrow and defeat of Saddam Hussein wrong to do so?

Just wondering.

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