Church vs. State: Religious Freedom vs. Freedom of Speech

Just when we thought the HHS “Contraceptive Kerfuffle” was resolved! So-called “social conservatives” from the religious right are attempting to hijack the issue from the Catholic Bishops to put a two-pronged political and religious spin on it.

  1. The President ordered a change to the HHS ruling so that health insurers automatically provide the coverage at no additional charge to any insuring employer.
  2. Brooks and Shields agree that the Administration pulled us back from the brink of “religious war.”
  3. The Catholic Church, ACLU, women’s groups and Planned Parenthood all seem mollified.
  4. GOP candidate Romney finally announces “that attacks religious liberty and freedom of speech.”
  5. Brooks shows how the Administration’s original ham-fisted proposal for universal access to birth control, and the recent California court overturn of the ban on gay marriage, have emboldened the religious right.
  6. The religious right will step up its long-standing assault on personal choice it opposes.

Well, Catholics having been somewhat mollified, we should have been able to predict this would only prompt the religious right “social conservatives” to step in where Bishops care not to tread. Brooks explained the religious right would be opposed to any aspect of the HHS bill anyway, since the original proposal concretized their claim that the whole “Obamacare” program is an unwarranted government intrusion upon their religious freedom, not to mention the untouchable private sector.

As we’d expect from any religion-driven political movement, this is partly political and partly because in the view of the religious right, reproductive preventative services of any kind are a violation of the word of the Creator who blessed only their interpretation of our founding state papers. We only need a Supreme Court to rubber-stamp doctrinaire edicts from the great pulpit on high. The constitutional separation of church and state is being broken down, piece by piece.

In other words, in the “social conservative” view, religious freedom must trump personal freedom of choice every time. In that view, religious freedom requires an imperative to impose upon others sharia, i.e. religious law, by force of political legislation. Never mind that this is unconstitutional in the United States.

Do you want fries with that? Did you know that the very organization which aggressively defames gays and lesbians has its own anti-defamation league? The irony is that we find freedom of speech and religion being used here as a tool to silence personal liberty. See:

2. Right Wing Watch
3. Christian Anti-Defamation Commission

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Trent Lott

Two down. Dozens to go. Should we not celebrate his fall from power; should we not pass out the party favors and dance in the streets? Some will say he did a lot for their region. Yes, he did; he combined the civilized veneer of Washingtonian doubletalk with the charm of the Old South, ably representing a lot of folks who would like to see us all the way back in time to before the Mason Dixon line.

Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms … they represented the strange new mix of New South and Old Confederacy. They learned not to say “lynchings” and “nigrah”. They adopted instead the cracker codeword rhetoric, the superficial parlance of “freedom”, setting the respectability of laissez-faire and Jefferson’s Rights of Man back a hundred years or more. Poor old Dick Armey; didn’t that boy have SUCH a hard time learning not to say “fag”?

It was as if throwbacks to an earlier time realized that, by adopting the dress and mannerisms of post-World-War-II cultures, they could “pass” … many who weren’t impacted personally by the votes and polemics of men like Lott will say that they weren’t so bad, that they did a lot to advance the cause of business and gun rights, and their power and influence brought factories and the railroad into town.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said it best. The racism and sentiment of Strom Thurmond’s segregationist world of 1948 was just as wrong and reprehensible then as it is now. Saying that these men really “weren’t so bad” is much like prating that Hitler made the trains run on time.

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ACLU & Cross Burning

Maybe you noticed in tonight’s paper that the Supreme Court is hearing a case on whether a law banning cross burning (a la KKK) is a violation of free speech, or a legitimate way to “punish” what the SF Chronicle called “racial intimidation”. No less an entity than the ACLU is helping defend the free speech view.

We found it appalling that, in the early stages of the hearing, the Justices focused mainly on what constitutes free speech and whether it was fair to single out cross burning as the only example of egregious actionable behavior.

It took the only black man currently sitting on the Court, Clarence Thomas, to point out that historically, cross burning is far more than symbolic speech or even intimidation. It’s an unmistakable physical threat. Thomas didn’t speak out until halfway through the hearing. The other Justices listened. This changed the course and tone of the debate.

I attended a gun show at the San Mateo County fairground facilities in the early 1990’s. Much of the offerings were garbage exhibited by low-lifers peddling cheap imported ammunition, war surplus castoffs and fake Nazi memorabilia. One exhibitor was hawking paper targets with the circle-and-diagonal “ban the …” symbol, a pink triangle, and telescopic sight crosshairs superimposed over a crude drawing of a face that was represented as “gay”. The shooting target had the word “Kill fags” printed prominently on it.

I asked the exhibitor if the target was his. When he responded “yes”, I turned him in to the expo officials. They made him take it down. Five minutes later, it was up again. If that’s “symbolic speech”, then I would surely have a similar right to “symbolically” publish his name and address with detailed instructions on how to locate and detonate his gas main.

However else one may size up the individual justices, these men are intellectually acquisitive. What can it mean when eight white Justices get mired on “symbolic speech” that overtly and unmistakably threatens violence and death to innocent, targeted individuals?

I very recently read a pundit’s observation that the ACLU was the only organization in America that could go to court to defend an individual’s right to burn down the ACLU Headquarters. Sorry, ACLU. You need to get off the dime on this one.

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The Tinky Winky Conspiracy

A Jerry Falwell Fairy Tale

A stunned world learned earlier this week that: Jerry Falwell’s National Liberty Journal had published “Parents Alert: Tinky Winky Comes Out of the Closet,” alleging that the Teletubby Tinky Winky is intentionally being presented as a gay role model.

The “Alert” included such brazenly obvious “gay clues” as:

  • “He is purple – the gay-pride color”
  • “his antenna is shaped like a triangle – the gay-pride symbol”
  • Tinky Winky, who is played by a male with a male voice, carries a red bag described by Falwell as a “purse”

In our household, we were both absolutely floored at Falwell’s latest. In my wildest dreams, I would never have dared hope for such a huge PR gaffe on Falwell’s part. Continue reading

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Matt Fong: Traditional Values Candidate?

Lou Sheldon’s Stealth Moderate In Washington

So I was, like, walkin’ downtown with these guys, OK? and this one dude, he goes, “Hey man you know that Matt Fong dude? I know sumpin’ on him.”And I’m, like, “Yeah man, I been watchin’ him, but he ain’t sayin’ anything you know where he’s at, or nothin’. He one of them Moderates, know what I mean?”And can you believe it, he actually goes to me, “No, man, he ain’t. He’s one of them Christian Coalition type dudes, I seen it in the paper.”And I go, “No man, you don’t read no papers, you been rollin’ and smokin’ them papers you know what I mean?”

And he’s, like “No man I seen it! He’s one of them, man, I seen it in the San freakin’ Francisco Examiner, too. It was, like, all over the place. I swear to you dude!”

And I’m like freaked, and he’s going “Ha ha ha ha ha …”

The above conversion is fictitious, but the subject and the news source are not.
Continue reading

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“The Ad”

The Christian Coalition’s strategic insertion of their 1998 convert-a-queer ad

The great masses of the people … will more easily fall victims to a great lie than to a small one. – Adolf Hitler

 Why does this keep happening? What happens next? How do we reconcile this story with another one? Where’s the consistency? Who’s the constituency? Who’s getting hurt? Who benefits? What happens if this policy gets implemented consistently? And, most of all, is it right? 

“There is a very old mathematician’s and logician’s paradox concerning the logical analysis of the following statement: “I’m a Talking Crow, said the talking crow”. If the crow did indeed say that, then the statement is true. But if the crow did not say that, or if the crow lied, then the logical truth or falsehood of the statement may be argued forever.”
Continue reading

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