Matched story sets on freedom of association and recycling

Yes, my friends, it’s matched set time again.  I just love pairing stories (or, here, a prescient video and a current story), for your enjoyment and edification.

I’ll start first with a couple of stories that have their genesis in San Francisco and that have made it to the media this past week.  I’ve already mentioned one at my blog, which is the story about the softball players who lost their championship because some of their team members weren’t “gay enough.”  The problem for the winning team was that the league was, by definition, a “gay” league, and mere bisexuality didn’t cut the mustard.  Aside from the obvious identity politic problems inherent in the story, I was intrigued by the last few paragraphs (emphasis mine):

Beth Allen, an attorney for the alliance, said Wednesday that the suit has no merit and that none of the plaintiffs suffered any discrimination.

She said the San Francisco league’s suggestion to remove the heterosexual limit is problematic.

“Presumably, if that were to occur, teams could be comprised of heterosexual players only,” Allen said.

“This is not a bisexuals vs. gays issue,” she said. “It’s whether a private organization may say who may be a member of their organization. It’s an issue of freedom of association.”

Are you holding that emphasized thought? Good. Because now I have the next story, again arising in San Francisco. This time, it involves a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The question is whether U.C. Hastings, a public law school, can ban a Christian group from campus on the ground that the group excludes active homosexuals.  Mitch McConnell argued that, under the Constitution, Hastings cannot do so (again, emphasis is mine):

On Monday, McConnell argued a case called Christian Legal Society v. Martinez in the United States Supreme Court. His client, a Christian organization at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law, was subject to a law school policy that required it, in order to avail itself of law school facilities, to accept “all comers” as members of the organization–whether they are Christians or not. The CLS believes that this requirement violates its members’ First Amendment right to freedom of association.

McConnell argued that under Supreme Court precedents, a public agency like the University of California can ban discrimination based on status (e.g. race or gender), but not based on belief, since in many cases the whole point of freedom of association is to band together with those who share one’s beliefs. As is often the case in Supreme Court arguments, the justices pelted both lawyers with hypothetical questions, sometimes involving rather far-fetched scenarios. At one point Justice Stevens asked this question:

JUSTICE STEVENS: What if the belief is that African Americans are inferior?

MR. McCONNELL: Again, I think they can discriminate on the basis of belief, but not on the basis of status.

As is often the case with these matched stories, I’ll leave the comparison and analysis to you. After all, put enough dots together and most of us should end up with the same picture.

This next pair isn’t really a matched set of news stories.  Instead, the pairing shows that, no matter how extreme we think a hypothetical is when it comes to environmentalism, someone will make it a reality.

First, enjoy a video of Penn & Teller examining just how far people will go to save the environment. (Since this is Penn & Teller, does the blue language alert go without saying?  Eh, I’ll give it to you anyway:  Blue Language Alert.)


As you can see, what P&T are imposing on people is ridiculous — or is it?  England’s bureaucrats, apparently inspired by Penn & Teller’s manic ideas, are putting a massive recycling regime change in place across Britain:

In a regime set to spread across the country, residents are being forced to juggle an astonishing nine separate bins.

There has already been a storm of protest with warnings that the scheme is too complex and homes simply don’t have the space to deal with the myriad bins, bags and boxes.

The containers include a silver slopbucket for food waste, which is then tipped in to a larger, green outdoor food bin, a pink bag for plastic bottles, a green bag for cardboard, and a white bag for clothing and textiles.

Paper and magazines go in blue bags, garden waste in a wheelie bin with a brown lid, while glass, foil, tins and empty aerosols should go in a blue box, with a grey wheelie bin for non-recyclable waste.


Pressure on councils to enforce recycling schemes includes rising taxes on everything they send to landfill and the threat of European Union fines if they fail to hit EU targets from 2013 onwards.

Compulsory recycling is commonly enforced by bin police who can impose £100 on-the-spot fines for breaches like overfilled wheelie bins, extra rubbish left out, or bins put out at the wrong time.

If people do not pay the fines, they can be taken to court, where they face increased penalties of £1,000 and criminal records.


Under the previous recycling system in the borough, householders had to juggle with the five containers that have become common in compulsory recycling and fortnightly collection schemes throughout the country.

The new system was introduced by the local council to help boost recycling rates from 26 per cent in 2008 to a target of 50 per cent by 2015.

It means only food waste is now taken each week. All other rubbish has to be stored for a fortnight before it is collected.

I won’t add anything here. You’ve got all the information you need.