[VIDEO] Pat Condell on the attacks against our First Amendment *UPDATED*

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. It was all the way back in June that Servo1969 sent me the link to Pat Condell’s First Amendment video. (Yes, I fell behind on my emails . . . again.)

Anyway, Condell recorded this before the explosive insanity on American campuses after Halloween. It’s more powerful now than it was in June:

UPDATE: Another friend sent me this article about killing free speech and creating mass delusions. It seems like a good pair-up with Condell’s video.

Still, people can break free and can, and do, change their minds.

The Bookworm Beat 12-7-15 — Pearl Harbor edition and open thread

It’s ironic that on the eve of the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, our President announced that the only thing that is infamous is (a) the Constitution (with primary focus on the 1st and 2nd Amendments) and (b) the apparently boundless (but surprisingly never acted upon) racism, Islamophobia, and gun-loving violence of the American people. Honestly, if this were December 7, 1941, he’d be telling us that Pearl Harbor had nothing to do with Japan and that we need to examine our consciences to understand why an unaffiliated group of Japanese people in Japanese military aircraft would attack our arrogant, imperialist military. And on that note, here are the posters:

Pearl Harbor

Loretta Lynch free speech

Loretta Lynch will prosecute anti-Muslim speech

Loretta Lynch and free speech

Loretta Lynch grinch kills free speech

[Read more…]

Thoughts about the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision and an open thread *IMPORTANT UPDATES*

Supreme CourtAs you all know, the Supreme Court this morning issued a 5-4 decision, authored by Anthony Kennedy, finding a hitherto hidden right to same-sex marriage in the American Constitution.  I have not yet read the decision, but nevertheless I have a few points to make regardless of the reasoning that necessitated 103 pages to explain.

This ruling may be the most consequential ruling ever to issue from the Supreme Court. Why? Because the Left will use it to destroy all religions except Islam (which they’re afraid to touch). They’ll use a magical new right to destroy one of the bedrock First Amendment rights.

This is not speculation, incidentally. We’ve already seen the playbook in action with the attack on Christians who politely refuse to provide their services to same-sex weddings. In a free society, the gay patrons would go down the block to find a bakery that will serve them. In the coming totalitarian society, the gays will use the machinery of the state to destroy working class Christian people. The Supreme Court’s ruling will provide the full arsenal they need to stop focusing on an individual here and there and, instead, to wage all-out war on any religious conservatives who get in their way.

More profoundly, this is the weapon gays need to complete their assault on religious institutions (rather than just upon religious people). Up until the Court’s ruling, traditional religious institutions had the First Amendment to protect them: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . .”

Now, however, the Supreme Court has bypassed the prohibition against Congressional action and found buried in the bowels of the 14th Amendment a brand new right to gay marriage. (And who else finds it ironic that, just the other day, the Supreme Court concluded that Congress’s intent trumps everything in interpreting a statute, but today the Supreme Court entirely ignores the fact that the sole intended purpose behind the 14th amendment was to give black people full civil rights?)

What we have now is a terribly dangerous clash of constitutional rights: The explicit right to the free exercise of religion (which reaches right up into every religious institution’s right to follow its core doctrines) versus the magical new right for same-sex couples to marry. In today’s environment, want to bet which right wins? Obama’s “Justice” Department will come down like a ton of bricks on any religious school that preaches traditional marriage or any tax-exempt church that refuses to marry a gay couple.

Again, I know this for a fact because the gays and their fellow travelers on my Facebook feed have already been demanding that the feds repeal the tax exempt status given to religious institutions. (In this new dawn of “freedom,” the faithful will be forced to give up their faith.) What these people fully understand is that the reason religious institutions are tax-exempt is to ensure that the government cannot destroy any or all houses of worship by taxing them out of existence.

Nor is this a situation analogous to abortions, which upset religious conservatives, but didn’t destroy them. Religious institutions and Pro-Life people don’t perform abortions. Religious institutions and traditional marriage people do, however, perform marriages, whether in a church, temple, or mosque, or in a courthouse. They will be attacked and destroyed. (Again, don’t just take my word for it. Look at France.)

The situation also isn’t analogous to the short, ugly interlude in America when Southern states barred interracial marriage. Irrespective of skin color, heterosexual couples of whatever race have the necessary biological equipment to procreate: Tab A inserts into slot B. That is how Mother Nature intended human joining to occur. Not to deny gay couples the pleasures they find in bed, but Nature had nothing to do with Tab A has fun with Tab A or Slot B romps with Slot B. They are not two halves of the same whole. They are the functional equivalent of two Left shoes (pun intended).

Thomas Lifson has the right of it (pun intended, again), when he notes that the decision will also open the door to lots of other things that will be very problematic:

I have not read the entire decision but wonder if there are any grounds in it on which polygamy can be ruled anything other than a fundamental right. And after that, incest and every other marriage taboo. Once marriage becomes a matter of personal gratification, the doors seem wide open.

It will be very expensive once we’re required to recognize polygamy. Living as we do in a welfare state, we’ll find ourselves in the same position as those European countries that recognize all the wives their newly immigrated Muslim citizens bring in. Welfare won’t be limited to a nuclear family. Instead, it will include Ali Baba, his 40 wives, and his 200 children — and in the next generation, those children’s families too.

Finally, to all the people on my Facebook page trumpeting ” love wins”: You are morons. Marriage is not about love. It’s about religion, money, parenting, and social structure, all of which are intended to protect society as a whole. Love is just a pleasant byproduct and one can love without the state’s imprimatur.

By the way, you know how you can tell that this is a made-up right? The 103-page opinion. If this were a real right, it wouldn’t take anywhere near that long to explain it. When you’re telling a legal lie, though, you have to add a lot of detail to hide the empty center. That’s why Leftist Supreme Court decisions are invariably longer and more complex than conservative ones: they’re making it up as they go.

For more on the terrible problems with the decision, including a lengthy (and extremely intelligent statement from Roberts’ dissent), go here.

And what do all of you think of the decision?

UPDATE:  Had I read Scalia’s dissent, I would have seen that he too understands that the florid, overwrought, extremely long brief is something that is full of sound and fury in an effort to hide the reality, which is that nothing lies at its heart:

The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic. It is one thing for separate concurring or dissenting opinions to contain extravagances, even silly extravagances, of thought and expression; it is something else for the official opinion of the Court to do so. Of course the opinion’s showy profundities are often profoundly incoherent. “The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality.”23 (Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? . . .

I’ll say it again: Leftist opinions (that is, opinions that advance Leftist causes, rather than just opinions written by Leftist judges) are always excessively long because they are making it up as they go.

UPDATE 2: Ace has a remarkably good riff about the fact that states recognize marriage for pragmatic purposes (mostly raising children), not LOVE. He’s absolutely right, and spells that point out in much more detail than I did.

UPDATE 3:  In April 2015, Trevor Loudon wrote about the Left’s real agenda with gay marriage.  It bears re-reading now:

The Left uses “rights” agendas to wrap itself in the mantle of righteousness and seize the moral high ground, tactically putting us on the defense in the process. But they couldn’t care less about the actual issue except in its ability to facilitate their path to power.

The agenda is never the agenda for the Left. And this is especially true for gay marriage. Homosexual marriage is a Trojan horse tactic. The true agenda is to establish the primacy of homosexual rights over the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion. Our nation was founded on this principle, and the gay marriage movement seeks to destroy it.

Consider that Annise Parker, the lesbian mayor of Houston, Texas, demanded to review pastors’ church sermons before public outrage forced her to back off. We have already seen how small businesses have been singled out and attacked for refusing to provide certain services to gays.

What is less known is that these gay couples are frequently part of the movement. They deliberately seek out businesses known for their Christian owners. They deliberately demand a service they know in advance will be refused. When the inevitable happens they use it as pretext to destroy the business and savage its owners. Doesn’t it amaze you how quickly legal groups immediately materialize to assist in the attack? The fact that they got unexpected push back through a spontaneous crowd sourcing campaign to support one pizza shop will not dissuade them from future efforts. If gay marriage is adopted, their current bullying behavior will look like child’s play compared to what’s coming.

This is a highly organized, nationwide campaign of vilification against Christians. But even Christians are not the ultimate target. If the First Amendment can be challenged this way; if a certain group’s “rights” can trump the U.S. Constitution, and if the Supreme Court can actually issue an edict making it so, then the entire Constitution has become meaningless. This is the Left’s true agenda and it always has been. This is the Cultural Marxists’ endgame. The issue is not the issue. The issue for them has always been destroying our country to impose socialism — with them in charge, of course. In order to do that they have to strip America of its culture, its traditions, and most importantly, the most important law of the land, the U.S. Constitution.

Hobby Lobby reveals how public and private spheres have changed in the last few decades

Church rejects Obama as GodBack in the 1980s, when I was a good ol” liberal Democrat (sort of in the Kennedy mold), I kept hearing those Bible Thumpers in the Moral Majority bandy about a word: “Secularist.”

What the heck was that? Nobody I knew (and everyone I knew was a person of the sort-of Left) called him or herself a “secularist.”

What in the world did those zealots mean by labeling me that way and pretending that I’m doing something damaging to them? I understood what was really going on:  Very religious people were abnormal, and then there were the rest of us who were non-religious, or slightly religious in a genteel, non-obtrusive fashion.  The fact that our “religion”  closely paralleled the Democrat Party platform, meaning that laws were informed by our “religious” values was just a coincidence.

We were not foisting anything on them.  If anything, they were the foisters, especially with their stupid pro-Life values.

I’ve obviously come a long way from then, haven’t I?

One of the things that helped me on my journey to rationality was Stephen Carter’s The Culture of Disbelief. It was he who explained to me that to hold values in opposition to traditional Christianity is itself a value system.

Bingo! Light bulb moment. As of 1994, I finally understood what the Moral Majority was complaining about. I didn’t yet agree with the values they advanced, but I instantly became much more sympathetic to their complaints about Leftist, secular culture encroaching upon them.

The societal change Carter noted — that the absence of religious values (as opposed to religious doctrine) was taking over the public forum — has only accelerated in recent years. I actually hadn’t thought about it in any specific way until I read Megan McArdle’s very thoughtful post about the Left’s hysteria in response to the Supreme Court’s extremely narrow, common-sensical Hobby Lobby ruling.

For conservatives, even non-religious ones, the ruling’s correctness was a no-brainer:  The holding that government cannot compel people to purchase a product inconsistent with core doctrinal beliefs is true both to the Constitution and to the traditional American ethos of keeping the state out of people’s religion.

But what if the state itself is the people’s religion? McArdle believes that this trend, which sees public space co-opted by non-religious beliefs that have been themselves elevated to absolute “values” explains much of the hysteria, not among the professional Left, but among ordinary DemProgs.  The change in attitude McArdle notes explains both why Leftists cannot appreciate the seriousness of the issue for religious people and why they do not view the Obama administration’s actions as coercive.

I’m quoting McArdle at some length here, because the logic underlying her theory is so tightly constructed, it’s difficult for me to quote her without doing damage to her reasoning.  I urge you, though, to read the whole thing:

I think a few things are going on here. The first is that while the religious right views religion as a fundamental, and indeed essential, part of the human experience, the secular left views it as something more like a hobby, so for them it’s as if a major administrative rule was struck down because it unduly burdened model-train enthusiasts. That emotional disconnect makes it hard for the two sides to even debate; the emotional tenor quickly spirals into hysteria as one side says “Sacred!” and the other side says, essentially, “Seriously? Model trains?” That shows in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent, where it seems to me that she takes a very narrow view of what role religious groups play in the lives of believers and society as a whole.

The second, and probably more important, problem is that the long compromise worked out between the state and religious groups — do what you want within very broad limits, but don’t expect the state to promote it — is breaking down in the face of a shift in the way we view rights and the role of the government in public life.

To see what I mean, consider an argument I have now heard hundreds of times — on Facebook, in my e-mail, in comment threads here and elsewhere: “Hobby Lobby’s owners have a right to their own religious views, but they don’t have a right to impose them on others.”As I wrote the day the decision came out, the statement itself is laudable, yet it rings strange when it’s applied to this particular circumstance. How is not buying you something equivalent to “imposing” on you?

I think you can understand this, however, as the clash of principles designed for a world of negative rights, in a society that has come to embrace substantial positive rights — as well as a clash between old and new concepts of what is private and what is public.

All of us learned some version of “You have the right to your beliefs, but not to impose them on others” in civics class. It’s a classic negative right. And negative rights are easy to make reciprocal: You have a right to practice your religion without interference, and I have a right not to have your beliefs imposed on me.

This works very well in situations in which most of the other rights granted by society are negative rights, because negative rights don’t clash very often. Oh, sure, you’re going to get arguments about noise ordinances and other nuisance abatements, but unless your religious practices are extreme indeed, the odds that they will substantively violate someone else’s negative rights are pretty slim.

[snip]

Alongside this development, as Yuval Levin has pointed out, we have seen an ongoing shift, particularly on the left, in the balance between what constitutes the private and the public spheres, and who has powers in which sphere. There’s a reductive tendency in modern political discourse to view public versus private as the state versus the individual.

In the 19th century, the line between the individual and the government was just as firm as it is now, but there was a large public space in between that was nonetheless seen as private in the sense of being mostly outside of government control — which is why we still refer to “public” companies as being part of the “private” sector. Again, in the context of largely negative rights, this makes sense. You have individuals on one end and a small state on the other, and in the middle you have a large variety of private voluntary institutions that exert various forms of social and financial coercion, but not governmental coercion — which, unlike other forms of coercion, is ultimately enforced by the government’s monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.

[snip]

[O]utside of our most intimate relationships, almost everything else is now viewed as public, which is why Brendan Eich’s donation to an anti-gay-marriage group became, in the eyes of many, grounds for firing.

For many people, this massive public territory is all the legitimate province of the state. Institutions within that sphere are subject to close regulation by the government, including regulations that turn those institutions into agents of state goals — for example, by making them buy birth control for anyone they choose to employ. It is not a totalitarian view of government, but it is a totalizing view of government; almost everything we do ends up being shaped by the law and the bureaucrats appointed to enforce it. We resolve the conflict between negative and positive rights by restricting many negative rights to a shrunken private sphere where they cannot get much purchase.

Put another way, once upon time, things not directly within the government purview were neutral territory in which I didn’t impose upon or demand from you, and you didn’t impose upon and demand from me.  We might have thought the other excessively moral or immoral, but we danced together in uneasy harmony.

Beginning in the 1980s, though, the Left co-opted the public space, declaring that it was not neutral territory but was, instead, government territory.  Further, because Leftists deny that their belief in non-Christian values is itself a value, they insist that by doing so they’re not infringing on First Amendment rights.  They insist upon this denial even as they promote and guard their own secular faith with all the vehemence of a true religious zealot.

The Obama healthcare mandate reflects the fact that, for the Left, the distinction between your private religious space and all the other public government faith space has morphed again.  Now, as a person of faith, the only space you have that’s yours is within the four walls of your home.  Everything else is within the public purview, meaning that it’s under government control and government values (which are, by definition, statist, hostile to matters of faith, and identical to the Democrat platform).  With this rejiggered view of public and private, the government is not infringing upon your religion if it imposes obligations on you (even obligations that directly contradict your faith) as long as it is not constraining you within your own home.

Put another way, the DemProg interpretation of the First Amendment’s promise that the government cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion boils down to this:  I can’t force you to pay for or perform an abortion on your own daughter (provided she lives in your house), but I am not impinging on your faith if I force you to pay for or perform an abortion on your neighbor’s daughter.   Under this definition, your objection to paying for or performing that abortion on the neighbor’s child constitutes an unreasonable attempt to enforce religious values in the public arena.

OMG! When it comes to the Islamic faith and the First Amendment, am I prescient or what?

Earlier today, I put together a post saying that the Bill of Rights trumps the Civil Rights Act.  It is so because the Rights are inherent in individuals, meaning that Congress has no power to pass a law abrogating those rights (at least not without a very good reason).  I even prepared a nice little chart to walk people through my thinking in this regard.  As part of the chart, I noted that, in theory, Muslims can use the Bill of Rights to justify subordinating women.  Just a few hours later, a friend sent me a link to this news story out of Canada (which does not have a First Amendment):

Barbers in Toronto who refused to cut a woman’s hair have become the target of a human rights complaint, in a case that pits religious freedom against gender equality.

When Faith McGregor went into the Terminal Barber Shop requesting a short haircut, she was told the shop only grooms men.

The reason, co-owner Omar Mahrouk said, was that as a Muslim he could not cut the hair of a woman who was not related to him.

But for McGregor, the rejection of her patronage amounted to sexism.

“Fundamentally, my hair is the same as their male clients, so why would they have a problem with that,” she told CTV News.

“I felt like a second class citizen, like it was hard to hear that they refused and there was no discussion.”

So the 35-year-old filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Read the rest here.

One can make a very good argument that the reason the First Amendment had such a good run for a couple of hundred years was because, while Americans might have had doctrinal differences, they shared the same values about core issues:  marriage, sexual orientation, self-reliance, etc.  Now, though, with Leftism ascendent and an increasingly large Muslim population, the tensions being placed upon the Bill of Rights have become unsustainable.  Something’s got to give — and the Left is well-situated to make sure that it’s the Judeo-Christian tradition that cries “Uncle” first.

Bill of Rights versus Civil Rights Act 1

When it comes to same-sex marriage, the Civil Rights Act cannot trump the First Amendment *UPDATED*

Gay-flowerI find irritating gay marriage supporters’ reliance on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to justify their contention that religious individuals cannot opt out of actively participating in gay marriage ceremonies.  They contend that the Act mandates that (1) a Christian baker, who welcomes gays seeking all other baked goods, must bake a gay-themed wedding cake; (2) a Christian photographer, who would happily take pictures of a gay birthday party, must photograph a gay wedding; (3) a Muslim florist, who would be delighted to sell bouquets to a gay couple, must bedeck a church with flower arrangements for a gay wedding; and (4) an orthodox Jew who owns a small hotel, and who doesn’t quibble at all when same-sex couples check into a room where they have privacy, must host a gay wedding in his reception hall.

I contend that these activists are dead wrong about the scope of the Civil Rights Act.  While, the Civil Rights Act s a virtuous law, it cannot trump the First Amendment.  I’ve made a handy-dandy chart outlining why I believe this to be the case (click on image to enlarge):

Bill of Rights versus Civil Rights Act 1

My usual disclaimer about my views regarding same-sex unions:  It is not semantic quibbling to say that I support civil unions but do not support same-sex marriage. While a religious organization can perform a marriage, it cannot perform a civil union. Civil unions are solely the state’s provenance. Leaving civil unions to the state and marriage to religion perfectly preserves the separation of church and state. (And as always, irony abounds here, because it is the Left that routinely sets up a hullabaloo about even the most minute intersection between church and state.)

If I had my way, I would remove marriage from the government’s vocabulary and make all unions — whether they are heterosexual or same-sex relationships — “civil unions.” States can then promote whatever unions they deem most beneficial for individuals, for children, and for society as a whole, while religious individuals and institutions need not worry that they will be targeted because they hew to the traditional definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman (or women).

People running the entire gamut of the gender-orientation spectrum — as recently defined by Facebook — manifestly believe that it’s important to get the state’s imprimatur on their relationships.  (This makes sense, since most of them are Left-leaning statists, who worship at the Big Government shrine.)  Civil unions joining together various sexual identity configurations (opposite sex, same sex, etc.) would give every American equal access to the benefits and burdens (economic, legal, and social) of a state-sanctioned relationship.  What civil unions would not do is force a direct confrontation between church and state.

The recent Obamacare abortion kerfuffle should warn people that a Progressive government won’t have second thoughts about forcing such a confrontation.  In 2008, when California had its Prop. 8 gay marriage referendum, I first raised my concern that gay marriage would result in a head-on collision between church and state.  A Progressive scoffed at this, telling me that, even though abortions are legal, the government has never gone toe-to-toe with the Catholic Church.  He was taken aback, and had no response, when I pointed out that the Catholic Church doesn’t provide, or withhold, abortions; it simply speaks against them doctrinally.  The Church does, however, marry people, and that leaves open the possibility that a gay couple will sue the church for refusing to perform a marriage service.

Mine was a good argument then, and it’s a better argument now.  With Obamacare, our Progressive-run federal government is forcing religious institutions and organizations be actively complicit in abortion by mandating that they fund abortifacients (and birth control) through “health” insurance.  (It’s “health” insurance, of course, only if the very act of becoming pregnant is a disease — which is funny when you think about it, because feminists in the 1960s and 1970s were outraged at a male patriarchy that treated pregnant women as if they were fragile and sick.)

I welcome your comments regarding this post.

UPDATE:  A lawyer I know commented that the Commerce Clause gives the federal government the power to legislate any type of commerce related activities.  (Sounds like a familiar argument, right?)  My response was a simple one:  The Commerce Clause represents a power that the People granted to the federal government.  The First Amendment represents an right inherent in each individual that the federal government (in theory) may not touch.  It seems to me that, especially when a law is narrowly drawn, the First Amendment, which states the People’s inherent rights, must trump the Commerce Clause, which merely reflects a power the People granted the government under contract.

 

Friday morning round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesRoger Simon is a little wrong when he talks about A&E’s decision to fire Phil Robertson violating the First Amendment.  Only government can violate the First Amendment.  Having said that, Simon is right about everything else, insofar as it boils down to this:  What we are seeing is the ascendency of the thought police who, through coercion, lies, threats, and economic pressure are stifling speech, thought, and religion in America.  Just because it’s not the government doing it doesn’t mean it’s not a bad, a very bad, thing, and that’s true whether or not you agree with Robertson’s statements.

Funnily enough, the media wasn’t bent out of shape at all back in the day when Al Sharpton called someone “a faggot” on air.  It’s not just the stifling political correctness, it’s the hypocrisy.

Incidentally, just as an aside here, Robertson was mostly quoting from the Bible.  Are the PC brigade, aided and abetted by the American media, now saying that all Biblical references are homophobic and must be banned.

A surprising source supports Robertson:  Harvey Levin, a gay, Jewish editor at TMZ who, to his great credit, fully understands what’s going on and is honest enough to admit it.  I doubt Levin and I are on the same page about many things, but today I admire him.

Claudia Rosett talks about the incredible dislocation that comes with being thrown off her insurance, including the problem of finding a new doctor.  What I haven’t seen anyone talk about is the disastrous burden being placed on doctors as they lose their old patients and, in one fell swoop, have to deal with dozens to hundreds of new patients.  The office work on new patients is overwhelming:  collecting medical history, doing the first (always long) exam, creating brand new files, dealing with new insurance claims, etc.  This is going to bury doctors and it’s going to lead to wait times that make Cuba and Britain look good.

Two on Obamacare:  Obama is no longer even hiding the fact that his illegal ukases are intended to help Democrats hide before the next election.  There is some humor to be derived from his desperate flailing.  His latest illegal directive is that the people who got kicked off of insurance they like are now allowed to purchase “catastrophic insurance,” which gives them less coverage for more money.  That’s bad enough, but there’s a funny part to it:  Obama claims he has the right to issue this rule because the law gives him power to issue emergency rules for man-caused disasters — and in this case, the man-caused disaster is Obamacare itself!

 

Demolishing one of the more ridiculous arguments regarding the Second Amendment

My fellow Watcher’s Council member, Greg, who blogs at Rhymes with Right, has put together the ultimate smack-down for those (especially those journalists) who argue that the Second Amendment extends only to muskets and other weapons in use when Congress enacted the Bill of Rights:

The First and Second amendments in context

Carrying this irrefutable logic over to the First Amendment means that the modern media has utterly forfeited its Freedom of Press protections. Unless those Democrat cheerleaders are willing to go back to hand-operated printing presses, they are fair game for government censorship and journalist imprisonment.

Please spread this poster around to those who need a few more weapons in their rhetorical arsenal supporting the Second Amendment.

American embassy in Cairo appears to embrace sharia speech codes *UPDATED*

Yes, I understand that the embassy in Cairo is besieged but it does strike me as cowardly to abandon core principles as this juncture (emphasis mine):

U.S. Embassy Condemns Religious Incitement

September 11, 2012

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

You’d think that you wouldn’t have to provide basic constitutional lessons for U.S. Embassy employees but I guess they need a little review:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

If we Americans want to say Islam is an incitement to violence, we can. If we want to put Jesus in a vat full of urine, we can. If we want to say Jews are greedy, we can. If we want to say Hindus worship cows, we can. If we want to say Mormons wear funny underwear, we can.  We are allowed to hurt the religious feelings of religious people.  It’s our right as Americans to be rude.  Neither tact, nor forbearance, nor non-mutual respect, nor polite lies are required under our Constitution.

Last thought:  It is possible that the language from embassy — that it’s bad “to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims” — is as foolish as it is because the embassy people meant them ironically. Perhaps the White House said “say something that won’t hurt Muslim feelings,” and some P.O.’d embassy official came back with this nonsensical, unconstitutional PC fecal matter. I mean, the statement is too close to parody to be real. Isn’t it?  Come on, someone.  Please agree with me right about now.

Of course, if that statement is a heartfelt expression from America’s representative on Egypt’s soil, God help us all, because our government is in the hands of dhimmis.

UPDATE:  For more on embassy awfulness (proving that this is no joke, but is their real thinking) just check their twitter feed:


Is it possible that these government representatives do not understand that the essence of free speech is the ability to criticize religion?  No, it may not be very nice, but in a normal, non-sharia, world, this type of criticism leads to a debate that enriches the marketplace of ideas — and may the best idea win.  We do America a profound and lasting disservice if we abandon this core principle to pander to a 7th century mentality, the practitioners of which are deathly afraid to subject their beliefs to an intellectual airing and analysis.

President Obama’s church is the Chapel of (Progressive) Democracy

Best of the Web posts a 2004 interview with Cathleen Falsani of the Chicago Sun-Times in which Obama defines sin, not along traditional Christian or Muslim lines, but along self-referential lines:

Falsani: Do you believe in sin?

Obama: Yes.

Falsani: What is sin?

Obama: Being out of alignment with my values.

The President, when he made that statement about the measure of sin being his own values, might have had in the back of his head the unspoken qualifier that his values are “Christian.” I doubt it, though, because I have found the definitive doctrine of Obama’s faith. Joan Allen, in the 2000 movie The Contender, recites the doctrinal beliefs of what she calls a church based in “this very chapel of democracy.”  I think her church could be more accurately described as The Church of Progressive Political Belief, and it’s clear that President Obama is a devout member.

Here’s the video, followed by a transcript with my interlineations:

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentleman of the Committee.  Remarkably enough, it seems that I have some explaining to do.  So, let me be absolutely clear.

I stand for a woman’s right to choose.

[So does the President, and he stands for making everyone in America, including religious institutions and religious worshippers that are doctrinally opposed to that “right,” pay for women’s choices.]

I stand for the elimination of the death penalty.

[This has not been an issue for our president, although he does seem uncommonly fond of drones.]

I stand for a strong and growing armed forces because we must stamp out genocide on this planet, and I believe that that is a cause worth dying for.

[Here we have an early articulation of R2P — responsibility to protect.  In the Progressive canon, our country is not worth fighting for and dying for.  Genocide — provided that those on the receiving end of genocide are neither Christians nor Jews — is the real reason a Progressive United States should have a military.  In this regard, it’s ironic that president Obama not only presided over two wars, but started a third.]

I stand for seeing every gun taken out of every home.  Period.

[Three words:  Fast and Furious.]

I stand for making the selling cigarettes to our youth a federal offense.

[Because, really, who needs education, the marketplace of ideas, and free will?]

I stand for term limits and campaign reform.

[Obama hasn’t said much about term limits, but he’s made it clear that his idea of campaign reform is to stifle corporate speech, despite the fact that corporations are aggregations of citizens and pay taxes; and that his personal contribution to campaign reform is to campaign more than all the other presidents since Nixon put together.]

And, Mr. Chairman, I stand for the separation of Church and State, and the reason that I stand for that is the same reason that I believe our forefathers did. It is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government but to protect our government from the grasp of religious fanaticism.

[The Founders could not have made it more clear that Freedom of Religion, which is contained in the First Amendment, protects religion from government, not vice versa.  The Amendment’s language is unequivocal:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” There’s nothing in there mandating that no religious person can serve in Congress or have a say in America’s government.]

Now, I may be an atheist, but that does not mean I do not go to church. I do go to church. The church I go to is the one that emancipated the slaves [that would be the Republican sect of the church], that gave women the right to vote, that gave us every freedom that we hold dear. My church is this very Chapel of Democracy that we sit in together, and I do not need God to tell me what are my moral absolutes. I need my heart, my brain, and this church.  [And there you have it — President Obama’s creed writ large:  “I do not need God to tell me what are my moral absolutes.  I need my heart, my brain, and this (Progressive) church.]

#BillMaher gives a lovely example of the way the Left uses itself as the template for what’s fair

I always love it when Leftist idiocy highlights some sort of life lesson I just imparted to young people.  Today’s life lesson is that fairness should be a reasonably objective standard, rather than one that, as Bill Maher would have it, depends on whether you, personally, are benefiting from the standard imposed.

Back in 2008, all the Marin children with whom I had contact were claiming that they “would vote” for Obama “because he’s black.”  They were taken aback when I said, “That’s racist.”  To them, racism means negative treatment based upon race.  It never occurred to them that racism includes any treatment that sees one so dehumanize a person that the person becomes nothing more than the color of his or her skin.  I suggested that, if they were indeed interested in the election, they should consider Obama’s history, statements, and ideas, rather than his skin color, in determining whether he was fit for office.  I wish the opportunity had arisen (which it did not) to make the same point to their parents.

Yesterday, I again had the opportunity to help a couple of kids understand that things are not always as they seem.  We were talking about good and bad teachers.  Good teachers, obviously, were the ones who communicated well and, even better, made the material seem meaningful and sometimes exciting.  Bad teachers were poor communicators and managed to make every subject boring.

Within these good and bad divisions, though, something interesting cropped up:  One of the hallmarks of the bad teachers was that they treated students differently within the class.  This didn’t just mean picking on some students, which the kids easily classified as “unfair.”  It also included playing favorites, something that the kids didn’t like, but didn’t recognize as equally “unfair.”  To them, “fair” is good treatment, “unfair” is bad treatment.  A teacher who is too good to some students therefore cannot be considered “unfair.”  They were quite taken aback when I suggested to them that any equal treatment is unfair.  Sometimes the lack of fairness can be justified, but it’s still not “fair.”

I thought of this inability to comprehend that it’s just as unfair to treat people too well as it is to treat them too badly when I read about Bill Maher’s defense when Jake Tapper queried him about the truly vile statements he’s routinely made regarding conservative women:

Bill Maher: The bit I did about Palin using the word c—, one of the biggest laughs in my act, I did it all over the country, not one person ever registered disapproval, and believe me, audiences are not afraid to let you know.  Because it was a routine where that word came in at just the right moment. Context is very important, and it’s also important to remember that stand-up comedy is the final frontier of free speech. Still, I stopped doing that routine, but I would like someone to replace that word if it’s so awful with another one that has the same meaning for a person – not just women, it’s a word you can and lots do (all the British, for example) use for both sexes. It has a very specific meaning.

Jake Tapper: And that’s not comparable to what Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke?

Bill Maher:  To compare that to Rush is ridiculous – he went after a civilian about very specific behavior, that was a lie, speaking for a party that has systematically gone after women’s rights all year, on the public airwaves. I used a rude word about a public figure who gives as good as she gets, who’s called people “terrorist” and “unAmerican.” Sarah Barracuda. The First Amendment was specifically designed for citizens to insult politicians. Libel laws were written to protect law students speaking out on political issues from getting called whores by Oxycontin addicts.

John Nolte nails down precisely what is wrong with Maher’s self-serving analysis:

Bill Maher is a comedian and commentator. Rush Limbaugh is a commentator. But for some reason, Maher is apparently under the absurd impression that there’s some kind of caveat in the First Amendment that gives him super, secret, double free speech rights over the rest of us.

Well, I’ve read the First Amendment and no such caveat exists.

If there’s a difference between what’s happening to Maher and what’s happening to Limbaugh, it is that Maher is under fire from private citizens and Limbaugh is under fire from a stealth campaign led by the government — specifically, the President of the United States.

Private citizens exercising their free speech rights to protest Bill Maher is the purest form of democracy there is.

The government, however, joining a crusade to silence one of their critics is the very definition of censorship.

(Nolte has much more to say, which you can read here.)

What’s pretty apparent is that, when it comes to fairness, Maher’s understanding of the word is stuck in the middle school years.  For all his sophisticated patina, he’s still a little boy who thinks that his emotional reaction to something determines whether something is fair or not.  If it works in his favor, it’s fair; if it doesn’t, it’s unfair.  Easy-peasy analysis for the small, immature mind, right?

Fisking three dishonest Democrat senators on the subject of ObamaCare’s birth control mandate

The last two times I fisked, I was attacking solo acts.  This time, I get a triumvirate, as the three most liberal women in the United States Senate, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray, and Jeanne Shaheen, have joined together to write an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, justifying ObamaCare’s intrusion into the realm of religion.  I cannot resist the fisk.

It was a historic victory for women’s health when the Obama administration changed the law to require private health plans to provide preventive services including breast exams, HIV screening and contraception for free. This new policy will help millions of women get the affordable care they need.

[This is simply ideology blah-blah.  Women get free stuff.  Men don’t.  It hardly seems fair to me.]

Now, sadly, there is an aggressive and misleading campaign to deny this benefit to women. It is being waged in the name of religious liberty. But the real forces behind it are the same ones that sought to shut down the federal government last year over funding for women’s health care. They are the same forces that just tried to pressure the Susan G. Komen Foundation into cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood for breast-cancer screenings. Once again, they are trying to force their politics on women’s personal health-care decisions.

[The above is an impressively misleading paragraph, conflating core constitutional rights with marketplace pressures.  The ObamaCare fight is a war of religious liberty, insofar as the Obama administration, contrary to the limitation that the First Amendment imposes upon the federal government, is trying to force religious organizations to engage in practices that directly contradict core doctrinal matters.  The other fight arose from the fact that a privately funded charity wanted to stop providing money to an organization that (a) is being investigated for corruption; (b) receives massive amounts of federal dollars; (c) is one of the largest abortion providers in the country; and (d) does almost no “breast-cancer screenings” but, instead, simply refers women to other providers.  Having the facts kind of makes a mockery out the triumvirate’s claim that those opposed to the ObamaCare mandate “are trying to force their politics on women’s personal health-care decisions.”]

We are very glad that the president has stood up to these forces while protecting religious freedom on all sides. His administration should be commended, not criticized.

[There’s that new-speak again — the president “protects” religious freedom by imposing doctrinal mandates on religious organizations.]

Contraception was included as a required preventive service on the recommendation of the independent, nonprofit Institute of Medicine and other medical experts because it is essential to the health of women and families. Access to birth control is directly linked to declines in maternal and infant mortality, can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, and is linked to overall good health outcomes. Nationwide, 1.5 million women use contraceptives only as treatment for serious medical conditions. Most importantly, broadening access to birth control will help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions, a goal we all should share.

[Been here, done that.  This is the big lie at the heart of the Obama administration’s attack on traditional religious institutions.  These harpies constantly conflate the availability of birth control with funding for birth control.  They are not the same.  Women in America can get birth control.  The government can fund organizations — indeed, it already does with the monies that go to Planned Parenthood — that provide all these birth control options.  Forcing religious organizations to pay for birth control, sterilization and abortifacients, however, both exceeds the government’s power and contravenes the limitations the Bill of Rights imposes on government.  This is not about whether women should have birth control; it’s about with the government can force churches to pay for it.]

Proper family planning through birth control results in healthier mothers and children, which benefits all of us. It saves us money too: The National Business Group on Health—a nonprofit whose members are primarily Fortune 500 companies and large public-sector employers—estimated that it costs 15% to 17% more for employers to exclude birth-control coverage, both because other medical costs rise and because of lost productivity.

[See above.  Apples and oranges.  Even accepting as true every single statement in the above paragraph, that still doesn’t give the administration the right or power to force churches to fund birth control, sterilization and abortifacients.]

Contraception is not a controversial issue for the vast majority of Americans. Some 99% of women in the U.S. who are or have been sexually active at some point in their lives have used birth control, including 98% of Catholic women, according to the Guttmacher Institute. A recent survey by Hart Research shows 71% of American voters, including 77% of Catholic women voters, supported this provision broadening access to birth control.

[Ditto.]

Consistent with other federal policies, churches and other groups dedicated to teaching religious doctrine are exempted from providing this coverage under a “conscience clause.” But the law does include institutions that have historic religious ties but also have a broader mission, such as hospitals and universities. That’s also consistent with federal policy—and with laws that already exist in many states.

[Boot strapping argument here.  The second sentence assumes that the law is allowed to include institutions that aren’t dedicated solely to religious activity, and staffed solely by core religious employees, and then says that, because the law includes them, therefore the inclusion is consistent with federal policy.  And, as did Sebelius, these gals wrongly look to state law, as if the states’ acts give the federal government powers denied it under the Constitution.]

Those now attacking the new health-coverage requirement claim it is an assault on religious liberty, but the opposite is true. Religious freedom means that Catholic women who want to follow their church’s doctrine can do so, avoiding the use of contraception in any form. But the millions of American women who choose to use contraception should not be forced to follow religious doctrine, whether Catholic or non-Catholic.

[Nothing now prevents church employees from buying and using contraception.  They’ve been able to do so freely, in all 50 states, since the Griswold case in 1965.  What does exist now is a Big Rule saying that the government cannot force religious organizations to engage in acts that violate doctrine.  The First Amendment is explicit:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”  Right now, there are no laws prohibiting Catholic women from doing whatever the heck they please regarding their health care and contraceptive choices.  The only difference now is that never before has the federal government had the temerity to make laws, rules, and regulations that directly implicate an establishment of religion, prohibiting it from freely exercising its faith.]

Catholic hospitals and charities are woven into the fabric of our broader society. They serve the public, receive government funds, and get special tax benefits. We have a long history of asking these institutions to play by the same rules as all our other public institutions.

[Rhetorical sleight of hand.  When it comes to playing by workplace rules, the previous rules didn’t attack doctrine.  This here is a different type of rule.]

So let’s remember who this controversy is really about—the women of America. Already too many women struggle to pay for birth control. According to the Hart Research survey cited above, more than one-third of women have reported having difficulty affording birth control. It can cost $600 a year for prescription contraceptives. That’s a lot of money for a mother working as a medical technician in a Catholic hospital, or a teacher in a private religious school.

[And we’re right back to the cost-shifting argument.  See my discussion, above.]

Improving access to birth control is good health policy and good economic policy. It will mean healthier women, healthier children and healthier families. It will save money for businesses and consumers. We should hold to the promise we made women and provide this access broadly. Our nation will be better for it.

[Ditto.]

I was going to wrap this up by saying I’ve seldom seen a more ignorant and dishonest piece of advocacy writing. I’ve decided, though, that it’s not ignorant. These gals know what they’re doing and what game they are playing. This is simply dishonest.  It is, however, a fine piece of writing coming from acolytes of the Constitutional law professor who now discovers, seemly for the first time in his intellectual life, that the Founders wisely wanted to limit a nascent dictator’s power:

[T]his week Barack Obama proved himself once again the perfect epigone of Woodrow Wilson—the first president to criticize the Constitution and the principles of the American Founding—with his remarks to NBC’s Matt Lauer that one reason he hasn’t succeeded in fulfilling his campaign promises to transform the world is that “it turns out our Founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change than I would like sometimes.”  It turns out?  He’s just discovering this now?  (Well, one thing that “turns out” is that the only constitutional law Obama actually taught at the University of Chicago was the equal protection clause.  Apparently he skipped over that whole “separation of powers” stuff.)