Monday Must-Read

Ken at Popehat has an amazing compilation of ‘The Year in Blasphemy” where he basically lists every documented case he could find of someone being accused of blasphemy or punished for it. It’s a must-read (actually, Popehat is a must-read full stop).

Money quote, which should be tattooed on every apologist for radicals:

There you have it — a year of what Eric Posner might call “other values and the need for order,” a year of what Anthea Butler might call incidents of people being “inflamed,” a year of what Garrett Epps might say are different understandings of freedom and different views of the “essence” of free speech, a year of the competing “international norms” referred to by Professor Peter Spiro. These are the values to which we, as Americans, are invited to yield.

I think not.

As the Posners and Butlers and Eppses and Spiros of the nation have begun to speak in the wake of Benghazi, others have refuted them. Some have pointed out a truth illustrated by this year of blasphemy: anti-blasphemy laws are a tool for religious majorities to suppress religious minorities, and a mechanism for the more powerful to oppress the relatively powerless, and tend to be used in a lawless manner resembling modern witch hunts. That is the norm we are asked to embrace.

The “witch hunt” verbiage is particularly apt. As you read over the list, the thing that jumps out is how arbitrary this is. Basically, these Islamist governments (and, to be fair, a handful of Christian fundamentalists) arbitrarily crack down on anyone who catches their attention. All you have to do to ruin someone’s life if accuse them of slandering Muhammed or defiling or Quran or having a smart look on their face during prayers. And then the full power of the religious state comes down on them, resulting in prison, lashes, ruination and sometimes death.

(A lesser version can be seen in laws in places like the UK which punish people for saying offensive things on the internet. Popehat again, on the case of Michael Woods, now sentenced to three months in jail for making sick comments about a murdered girl. As noted in the link, this law is applied completely arbitrarily. A million bad comments can go by without a trace. But if you hit a celebrity or a high-profile criminal case and your comments happen to get the attention of the media … well, enjoy prison.)

We simply can not waver in our defense of the First Amendment. To falter even for a moment is to invite the fanatics in, to give them the power to single out a citizen and destroy his life; perhaps because of something he said but more likely because he happened to piss them off. While Obama’s speech on this subject to the UN was problematic, there was one passage that was worth quoting:

I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech. Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. Moreover, as President of our country, and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so. Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views – even views that we disagree with.

We do so not because we support hateful speech, but because our Founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views, and practice their own faith, may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities. We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech – the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.

I know that not all countries in this body share this understanding of the protection of free speech. Yet in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete. The question, then, is how we respond. And on this we must agree: there is no speech that justifies mindless violence.

I quoted Salman Rushdie some time ago. Worth quoting him again:

Of the current confrontation, [Rushdie] says, “I think it’s very important that we hold our ground. It’s very important to say, ‘We live like this.’ ” Rushdie made his post-fatwa life in America in part because he reveres the freedoms, including the freedom, not so protected in other Western democracies, to say hateful, racist, blasphemous things.

“Terrible ideas, reprehensible ideas, do not disappear if you ban them,” he told me. “They go underground. They acquire a kind of glamour of taboo. In the harsh light of day, they are out there and, like vampires, they die in the sunlight.”

Bookmark that Popehat post. Read it any time you waver in the defense of free speech. Because if we ever give in, that’s the kind of world we will live in: a world where neighbors can accuse neighbors; a world where the socially and politically powerless can have the power of the state turned on them; a world in which law is even more arbitrary and oppressive than it already is; a world in which women and child can be beaten, lashed, assaulted and even killed with the smiling approval of the state.

Comments are closed.

  1. FPrefect89

    “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
    Evelyn Beatrice Hall

    Words I choose to live by.

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  2. Seattle Outcast

    Technically, don’t you have to be a member of a religion before anything you say about it can be considered blasphemy?

    Of course, free speech doesn’t apply to liberal univerity campuses. LIberals REALLY don’t believe in free speech very much, but they will give it lip service from time to time right after they shove you off into a “free speech zone” or expel you from school for not adhering to right opinions in public.

    As an atheist I am ever so glad to not have to put up with the daily burden of living in a theocracy, though I know many people that would be certainly glad to set one up for us to all live by. We call them “the conservative wing of the GOP” and has been actively trying to replace the constitution with the bible for over 35 years.

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  3. Dave D

    SO:

    Did a faux-Christian do your ex or something? Do you even read what you type?

    We are becoming MORE religious and intrusive in this country than in the past? Come on…….

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  4. Seattle Outcast

    Really? I slam both sides of the fence equally for their blatant disregard and overall hatred and attempts to sidestep freedome of speech and I get a down vote?

    Some people really need to understand that the bill of rights is one of the most attacked and hated things in the history of the country. If it isn’t law enforcement trying to do away with it, it’s the politicians and churches. Do yourself a favor and read some history.

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  5. balthazar

    Funny part is RABID ATHEIST is just as much devoted to thier religion as the devout christian/jew/muslim.

    I find it humorous when rabid atheists go all buck wild on people about how can they believe, when the atheist belief is sometimes just as rabid.

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  6. salinger

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  7. Kimpost

    Atheism isn’t a belief, it’s a result of rational thought. Atheism doesn’t negate agnosticism, it’s just an estimation of probabilities. Disregarding religious beliefs, why should anyone believe in a creator, when absolutely nothing except belief points to such? Logically people shouldn’t, yet some do. Faith is powerful with some people.

    Does thinking this make me rabid? I don’t think so, but others might disagree.

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  8. richtaylor365

    Crimeny, Salinger, lately it’s been one step froward/one step back with you. Just when you come off as rational and sensible in one post, you go say something stupid like this. Do you want to go there? Do you really want to be put into a position of defending all the atheist mass murderers in history (by some estimates over 120 million just in the 20th century alone)? It really is a silly argument anyway, to say that religion (by itself) encourages suicide bombers or abortion doctor murders, any more then atheist are prone to mass murder. Come on, you can do better.

    SO, I am guessing that the reason for your down votes was that last declarative (and rather ignorant) statement you made:

    We call them “the conservative wing of the GOP” and has been actively trying to replace the constitution with the bible for over 35 years.

    As a Christian, I don’t want to live in a theocracy either, but you already knew that. Folks can be “conservative” and not wish a theocracy, they can also be Christian and not want a theocracy, but you knew that too.

    The reason I value the First Amendment and my religious freedom is that it protects me from atheists and those not of like mind from cramping my style, from telling me that I can’t worship the way I want. But that accommodation door swings both ways, I am protected from you sticking your nose in my affairs, and you are protected from me foisting my religion onto you. I cherish a secular society because we are all protected, we all have the same rights to be left alone and do our own thing.

    But Hal’s post really wasn’t about religion, it was about blasphemy laws, how some are so thin skinned that they can’t handle a little criticism, and how some governments use the full faith and credit of their judicial system to enforce blasphemy laws. I think I have written enough posts on blasphemy and apostasy laws to lend my voice to the condemnation of both, a free society can’t live under either.

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  9. ilovecress

    RICHTAYLOR365: The reason I value the First Amendment and my religious freedom is that it protects me from atheists and those not of like mind from cramping my style, from telling me that I can’t worship the way I want. But that accommodation door swings both ways, I am protected from you sticking your nose in my affairs, and you are protected from me foisting my religion onto you.

    THIS

    Sounds an awful lot like this:

    BIDEN: My religion defines who I am, and I’ve been a practicing Catholic my whole life. And has particularly informed my social doctrine. The Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who — who can’t take care of themselves, people who need help. With regard to — with regard to abortion, I accept my church’s position on abortion as a — what we call a (inaudible) doctrine. Life begins at conception in the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life.

    But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others

    And not much like this:

    RYAN: I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith.

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  10. salinger

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  11. Xetrov

    I don’t seem to recall anybody shouting “There is no god!” and then blowing themselves up in a crowded market.

    That would be awesome…other than the crowded market thing. Maybe alone, in the back yard ala redneck – “hold my beer and watch this!” *BOOM*

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  12. Hal_10000 *

    The reason I value the First Amendment and my religious freedom is that it protects me from atheists and those not of like mind from cramping my style, from telling me that I can’t worship the way I want. But that accommodation door swings both ways, I am protected from you sticking your nose in my affairs, and you are protected from me foisting my religion onto you.

    Extremely well said, Rich.

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  13. Mississippi Yankee

    The reason I value the First Amendment and my religious freedom is that it protects me from atheists and those not of like mind from cramping my style, from telling me that I can’t worship the way I want.

    And once again we have a misinterpretation words and their meaning rich.
    The people you are discribing are NOT atheist, they are in fact anti-theist. SO, Kimpost, salinger, ilovecress… these are the people you’ve mistaken for true atheist.

    I am a former christian, devout catholic btw, that no longer believe there is a God. But as long as those that do believe in a God don’t try and persuade me otherwise then it’s none of my concern what they choose to believe. See the difference? That is a true atheist.

    Atheist= without a deity
    Anti-theist= against all deity.
    And the term “sky pixie” is in my estimation the height of ignorance.

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  14. ilovecress

    I am a former christian, devout catholic btw, that no longer believe there is a God. But as long as those that do believe in a God don’t try and persuade me otherwise then it’s none of my concern what they choose to believe. See the difference? That is a true atheist.

    What if they’re legislating on the basis of Catholic beliefs? It’s not about persuading me to be a Christian/Muslim/Buddhist/Jedi – it’s about using a set of rules that I don';t agree with to shape public policy. It’s all about keeping it out of the public sphere – legislating for religion is the thin end of the wedge that leads to thigns like blasphemy laws.

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  15. richtaylor365

    The people you are discribing are NOT atheist, they are in fact anti-theist. SO, Kimpost, salinger, ilovecress… these are the people you’ve mistaken for true atheist.

    I understand the distinction you are making, but only those folks can decide for themselves what side of the ledger they fall on. Ridiculing believers with terms like “Sky Pixes”, or declaring atheism as the only true rational course since there is no empirical evidence of a deity does not by itself make one an anti-theist , anymore then me being anti science because I’m not an adherent of AGM or don’t believe The Big Bang Theory answers all questions about how “Something” was created from “Nothing”.

    What if they’re legislating on the basis of Catholic beliefs?

    That is quite a large net you just threw out. What about the legislator that is working towards abolishing capital punishment, the one that just voted for expanded welfare, or the guy that voted for austerity measures, where each example his beliefs were based on his religious principles? You may agree with some of these, and some you may not but you would be hard pressed to remove all religious underpinnings in legislation, their set of values may be what you like about them in the first place.

    legislating for religion is the thin end of the wedge that leads to thigns like blasphemy laws.

    A strong argument for not being ruled by a theocracy, but what sets us (Americans) apart and guarantees none of that here is The First Amendment, and the No Religious Test Claus of the Constitution (oh, and throw in the 14th Amendment as well). It doesn’t always work as planned but this country has gone a long way to protect all its citizens and their civil liberties.

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  16. Poosh

    Sounds an awful lot like this:

    Which means he’ll use the violence of the state to enforce his religious beliefs that one should care for one’s neighbour.

    Okay – I’ll bite – how many of these atheist mass murders cite their atheism as the impetus for their acts? I don’t seem to recall anybody shouting “There is no god!” and then blowing themselves up in a crowded market.

    No just slaughtering millions in the name of “progress” and historical materialism which is SCIENCE don’t you know. These people were destined to die, because the science of marx says it is so.

    But let’s… rebite?! How many Christian tyrants are actually applying the New Testament? Not many (it says keep church and state separate in big letters). People are douches, they’ll say and use whatever to be be a douche. It’s less about religion or a “god” for many, and just about power and domination, and trying to feel secure through familiarity – which is just as applicable to the non-religious.

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  17. Poosh

    Sky Pixes

    Yet the exact same people, well perhaps not exact, I don’t want to make any assumptions about the right-wing posters here, but generally speaking, they confabulate (i don’t know if that word’s appropriate, it sounds like it should…) they confabulate mystical facts and concepts such as “morals” and “natural rights” – yet they have no basis in reality and are just as nonsensical (ON STILTS!!!) as a god in the sky.

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  18. Poosh

    I don’t seem to recall anybody shouting “There is no god!” and then blowing themselves up in a crowded market.

    Yet many atrocities committed by men who believed there was no hell waiting for them after they committed such acts… How many Nihilists took to shooting up a school, happy knowing no Hellfire awaiting them when they shot themselves with their last bullet?

    And, yes, works the other way round as well. How many fanatics committed horrors because “God willed it”. But, how many men who would have, all things considered, done evil things, decided not to, for fear of what awaited them in the afterlife, eh?

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  19. Mississippi Yankee

    Perhaps I didn’t explain myself as well as I might have. The expression ‘sky pixie’ systematically ridicules a belief in a deity. And although not precisely the same it’s not that far removed from equating the words ‘apartment’ or Chicago with racism and ‘dog whistle’. It’s all just a thinly veiled Alinsky #5 move.

    And one of you commie lovers whose comments have been “hidden due to…” asked when has an atheist ever committed mass murder. Three names come to mind; Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. All communist to the core. Communism having one of it’s tenets a pronounced anti religious theme.
    History will never know how may people just these three monsters killed. But we do know they made Hitler look like a rank amateur.

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  20. Biggie G

    it’s about using a set of rules that I don’;t agree with to shape public policy.

    Isn’t that the idea behind a multi-party system? What makes Rich’s religion any less valid than your progressivism?

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  21. Kimpost

    There’s no anti-theism in me. If people chose to believe in no god, one god or even ten gods, it’s generally no business of mine. I merely stated that a belief in (a) gods requires faith, while atheism doesn’t.

    I just don’t agree with the sentiment that atheists (rabid or not) are just as much believers as religious people are.

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  22. Kimpost

    Surely if you don’t have faith in no God then you’re an agnostic?

    Depends on the definition of faith. I’d rather just study the evidence. If there is none, then there’s no god. I think that’s a reasonable position on most matters. I don’t actually know that, at any given minute, there aren’t monsters in my closet (there are skeletons though), but would you consider me an rabid atheist for rejecting the possibility?

    In general I think that people call themselves agnostic because they think that term is the only one that absolutely rules out the existence of a god/creator. It just doesn’t. Based on the evidence at hand, the existence of a god just seems far fetched. I’d personally question why one should bother, seeing that you actually have to faith one up. But to each his own, and as long as it doesn’t harm I’m fine with it.

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  23. balthazar

    Sorry MY, but with some of the stuff you posted about religion in general, I’d say you are leaning closer to the anti-theist than atheist.

    Salinger is definitely in the anti-theist category.

    And for the record I am agnostic, or at least that is what i feel im closest to, as I really dont care enough to bother. Its only when rabid fucktards like Salinger say the stupid shit he does and are not self aware enough to realize how fucking stupid they are, that i comment.

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  24. AlexInCT

    As a Christian, I don’t want to live in a theocracy either, but you already knew that. Folks can be “conservative” and not wish a theocracy, they can also be Christian and not want a theocracy, but you knew that too.

    I find it hilarious that so many people believe that anyone that follows a religion – other than Islam I should add – automatically wants a theocracy because they also want people to take responsibility for the outcome of their actions and choices. I am agnostic. I absolutely dislike man made religious institutions and their oft time crazy rules, but I respect the people that need these institutions and their choice. I can not dismiss the idea of a supernatural being(s), even one(s) that is a or are creator(s) working within the very framework of the laws of nature – and anyone telling you we understand anything other than at a superficial level this incredibly complex mechanism as a whole is full of it – without absolute and undeniable proof. And the truth is that I am disassociated enough to admit that I do not have, regardless of all the prattle by people that say unless such a being manifests itself to them, personally, it therefore does not exist, incontrovertible proof either way. BTW, I also tend to believe that if such a being existed, it would hold as much interest in us as a kid with a magnifying glass would for a bunch of ants. However, I find the worshipers of the all powerful state to be, by far, the worst of the lot, practically always fanatical in their belief and support for their god-figure.

    As was pointed out, the collectivist state religions of the left – communism and fascism – have murdered and enslaved far more people than any religion and most likely more than all of them combined. Islam seems to be hell bent on breaking that record, but it will take them a long time to get the brutality and evil up to the level of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, the Ils of NK that have graced us with the communist version of a monarchy, the Castro brothers and their new go-to goat in Venezuela, and many other such “heroes” of the leftist cult of government worship. And yet, leftist morons continue to pretend all religions, other than Islam for some ungodly reason, are a bigger problem.

    I often worry that we already live in theocracies in most of the west’s nations where the religion of choice is the almighty state. And it is proving to be as, if not more, destructive than any other form of organized religion in the long run. The left, under the guise of doing good for the disenfranchised, has screwed over the largest amount of people possible, making them serfs of the new feudal state. Pretending that we are not as fucked up as the poor subjects of North Korea and the USSR, as the world unravels around us and we run out of other people’s money, is by far the dumbest thing possible. That the revolutionaries of yore have given up on violent revolution, death & reeducation camps, and all the other trappins of the collectivist revolution and replaced it all with a gradual approach that leads to the elite in government owning the people in the end anyway, should remind us of the proverbial parable of throwing the frog into boiling water vs. putting him in lukewarm water and gradually turning up the heat: either way we are getting cooked.

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  25. AlexInCT

    I don’t seem to recall anybody shouting “There is no god!” and then blowing themselves up in a crowded market.

    That’s usually because this type prefers to kill others without harming themselves. Read some of the fun quotes from such illustrious priests of the leftist religion likeStalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and so on for more clarification on how to deal with the unfaitful.

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  26. ilovecress

    Yippee – a religious debate…!

    What about the legislator that is working towards abolishing capital punishment, the one that just voted for expanded welfare, or the guy that voted for austerity measures, where each example his beliefs were based on his religious principles? You may agree with some of these, and some you may not but you would be hard pressed to remove all religious underpinnings in legislation, their set of values may be what you like about them in the first place.

    Hey – I didn’t say it would be easy!! My view is that religious beliefs cannot be the basis for public policy – in fact public policy shouldn’t be based on belief at all. When making the decision to curb freedom (which is basically what legislation is) you should have sound logical reasoning as to why it is necessary for the good of the State. Belief is a personal thing – that’s what defines it. If I believe that Lord Xenu commands us to provide universal healthcare – it shouldn’t come into the debate. But I can argue for it in terms of creating a better society, and more economic freedom (but not now, okay?).

    My problem with the Ryan quote was his assertion that he simply couldn’t remove his private beliefs from the public sphere. I’m not expecting religion to stay 100% out of politics – we are Christian nations after all – just that it’s at least on the methodology of decision making.

    A strong argument for not being ruled by a theocracy, but what sets us (Americans) apart and guarantees none of that here is The First Amendment, and the No Religious Test Claus of the Constitution

    Hey, don’t get me wrong – I actually think that on the free speech and religion side of things, the US has got it right – definitely compared to the rest of the world. Despite the differences, one of the things that I respect the most about this site is the absolute unwavering support of free speech.

    Isn’t that the idea behind a multi-party system? What makes Rich’s religion any less valid than your progressivism?

    Perhaps I should have been more clear. The multi party system isn’t a set of rules. Again, it’s about at least attempting to use a set of reason and logic to come up with solutions. Now you might think that the far left treats progressivism like a religion – but at least you can argue with them, without being thwarted by a quote from the communist manifesto. The ‘beliefs’ I have as a ‘progressive’ aren’t absolute, and most importantly, I don’t believe they are infallible. I’m happy to change my mind on any topic at any time.

    Now I’m not actually saying Rich’s religious beliefs are any less valid than my beliefs in, well, anything at all. What I’m actually saying is that our individual beliefs should only act as the starting point for decisions that affect the lives of others. Your religion might inform you that homosexuality is immoral and wrong, and my beliefs might disagree. But both beliefs should be equally irrelevant in deciding whether or not Lt Dan Chopi should be allowed to work to defend his country.

    In the end it’s not the belief that’s the problem – it’s the belief that those beliefs are infallible which removes the ability to debate, and therefore to problem solve.

    Ps – anyone watch ‘Through the Wormhole’ about ‘is there a God?’

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  27. Mississippi Yankee

    Sorry MY, but with some of the stuff you posted about religion in general, I’d say you are leaning closer to the anti-theist than atheist.


    balthazar
    , Are you sure you don’t have me confused with another commentor at this den of inequity? I’ve held these beliefs ever since I got over feeling betrayal by Roman Catholism and that was in the very early 70’s. But I’d be real interested to see what gave you that thought.

    Unless you take my views on Islam as anti-theist, then yeah. But then the discussion become whither Islam is a religion or a political movement. Sort of like the difference between Nazism and Communism.

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  28. richtaylor365

    Yippee – a religious debate…!

    You aren’t going to find too many of those here, I usually steer clear of them by design. Most regulars are atheists as was the guy that started the blog years ago. I had a few respectful go rounds with Lee regarding the topic but by and large this was and still remains a political blog.

    Hey – I didn’t say it would be easy!!

    Damn near impossible. Laws have always been religiously based, designed primarily for members of the society to co exist, but always with the imprimatur of the head religious official, whether it is a witch doctor, priest, or prophet. Most people use their own belief system to navigate life, removing or isolating any religious underpinnings of that belief system can’t be done.

    When making the decision to curb freedom (which is basically what legislation is) you should have sound logical reasoning as to why it is necessary for the good of the State

    And that sound logical reasoning will probably be religiously based. Stuff like don’t steal, don’t murder, be honest (don’t commit fraud) in your dealings with others (including the state), be a good citizen (pull your own weight and be a benefit to the community, not a detriment) all these ideas were for the survival of the clan/village/society, but they all have a religious foundation. And don’t forget that these limitations on freedom you speak of are given freely by its citizens; their assent is provided in the form of who they choose to represent them in government.

    My problem with the Ryan quote was his assertion that he simply couldn’t remove his private beliefs from the public sphere.

    That would be a bad thing only if we lived in either a theocracy or a dictatorship, but Ryan and his actions are accountable to the folks. He may find homosexuality distasteful and wish it banned from the public sphere (a hypothetical, I assume he thinks it is a sin but have no idea what his legislative take on it would be) but any bills he puts forth better be in line with the public sentiment of his constituents or he gets tossed out in the next election. And that bill better be line with the sentiments of the majority of his fellow law makers, or they will summarily reject it. We already have checks and balance in place for beliefs that go too far off the reservation.

    In the end it’s not the belief that’s the problem – it’s the belief that those beliefs are infallible which removes the ability to debate, and therefore to problem solve.

    We certainly don’t have that problem here, nobody gets a free pass on stuff they write, nobody has a monopoly on the truth, and everybody gets put in the cross-hairs from time to time.

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  29. CM

    Woohoo! To start, I’m going to need 90% of your income wired to my paypal account…

    No problem. In return I’ll need to invoke your name repeatedly (and claim you’re on my side) when I run for office. So if you could provide signed receipts, that would be great. I’ll also be able to show how incredibly charitable I was even before I entered public life. Sounds like a win-win to me!
    Just pass along your account details and passwords and we can get going!

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  30. ilovecress

    Laws have always been religiously based, designed primarily for members of the society to co exist,

    I think this is where our disagreement stems from. If a law is indeed religiously based, then surely it isn’t designed? I see religion as the (historic) enforcer of rules that early societies put in place for adaptive reasons.

    And again, I go back to the point that I don’t mind if there is a religious background to public policy – I’d be shouting at the moon to try and claim otherwise – but I think we (as a species) have evolved culturally to be able to look at those issues through the prism of cold logic. Hence there being no blasphemy laws, and adultery being legal.

    Most people use their own belief system to navigate life, removing or isolating any religious underpinnings of that belief system can’t be done

    Absolutely. Again, I have absolutely no problem with you navigating your life based on whatever beliefs you have. But it’s the job of the legislator to actively disassociate those feelings (for that’s what beliefs are) from the matter in hand in order to make the right decisions. Sometimes his beliefs will be upheld, and sometimes not – but if the reasoning is tested and passed, then we can be sure we have a just decision.

    And that sound logical reasoning will probably be religiously based.

    Based in your cultural experience of living in a religious society. Hence an Christian Americans logical reasoning will be different to a Muslim Egyptian, to a 18th Century Puritan. But not based on faith – because that’s not possible.

    By the way, I’m heading off topic here, but it can be argued that the ‘morals’ that you refer to (not murdering, stealing and being productive) are just as present in the animal kingdom as they are in human society. Again, I’d argue that religion came from them, rather than the other way around.

    That would be a bad thing only if we lived in either a theocracy or a dictatorship, but Ryan and his actions are accountable to the folks.

    Accountable to the majority. Governing should be about coming up with the best solutions, not coming up with the most popular solutions (in a representative democracy anyway) Legislating based on religious reasoning shouldn’t be ok just because that religion is popular. You need to be able to make decisions completely divorced from the Word of God to be able to govern in a secular society. Because that’s how you get rid of blasphemy laws in the first place.

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