Amal Dorai G mischaracterizes my letter from last week. Far from saying that we should accommodate the intolerance of other cultures, I was posing a question — how do we reconcile our liberal society (here I use “liberal” in its classical sense) with respect for multicultural diversity, when some of our own values, such as respect for the rights of homosexuals, conflict with those of other cultures? Do we dare to assert the superiority of civilized Western liberalism over the medieval puritanism which still persists in some parts of the world today? Dorai seems to think so, and his letter suggests that it is ridiculous to think otherwise — he believes it is “ludicrous” to accommodate another culture’s bigotry.
The power of eminent domain permits government to seize your house, land or business for “public use,” the term used in the constitutional clause which limits this authority. Local governments are increasingly abusing this prerogative, transferring seized land to other private parties rather than putting it to a truly public use like roads and other infrastructure. The recipients are usually corporations represented by powerful lobbies. In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled in Kelo v. New London that a confiscatory transfer to another private party is a legitimate “public use” if the resulting economic activity under the new owners benefits the community. However, <i>every</i> piece of land would generate more employment, more goods and more tax revenue for the confiscators as a commercial establishment than as a private residence. <i>Every</i> home in America is now vulnerable to seizure under eminent domain under this expansive new interpretation of “public use,” not just those along roads which need to be widened.