Posts Tagged ‘Rights’

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Why We Shouldn’t Stop Rev. Jones’ Quran Burning Party

09.08.10

Rising from the still-smoldering debate over the legitimacy of the Park51 community center is the Rev. Terry Jones’ proposed “Burn A Quran Day,” scheduled for this Saturday, September 11th.  Just like the name implies, from six to nine in the evening, people will gather to set copies of the Islamic holy text ablaze to show their opposition to the faith held by the radicals who attacked New York City nine years ago.

Jones’ plans have been met with considerable opposition of their own by just about everyone in the State Department and even from the military — General Petraeus warned that this very act could harm our efforts to control Afghanistan, even endangering our troops.

This hasn’t deterred Jones and his Dove World Outreach Center church.

Jones, who has about 50 followers, gained some local notoriety last year when he posted signs in front of his small church declaring “Islam is of the Devil.” But his Quran-burning scheme attracted wider attention… The Quran, according to Jones, is “evil” because it espouses something other than biblical truth and incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims.

Religious freedom sure is an odd thing, isn’t it?  People want it when it suits them, but want ways around it when it doesn’t.  It’s part of the freedom’s brilliance and why it’s so vital to our Constitution.  Just like the Muslims have the right to build their mosque near Ground Zero, Jones and his own crew radicals have the right to burn some books.  Freedom of expression, of speech, of religion, however you want to slice it: they have the right to do this.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it an effective, worthwhile use of time.  Combating extremism with more extremism isn’t going to work.  Not to get all squishy, but you can’t beat hate with more hate.  You can’t beat ignorance with more ignorance.  You beat brutality with civility.  You overcome oppression with freedom.  You trump prejudice with acceptance.

What people don’t want to realize is that conflating all Muslims into radical terrorists is the same fallacy as Muslims condemning all Americans as infidels.  So, by blaming the entire religion of Islam for the terror attacks, Rev. Jones and his followers are responding to the mentality with which they disagree by adopting that exact mentality themselves. There’s very little in the way of logic going on here — it’s simply an “I’m right, they’re wrong” line of thinking.  No rationality required.

Another paradox is that these 50-odd people and their inflammatory plans for Saturday really could’ve just come and gone without much notice from anyone, except the media exploded this thing to the point where all levels of government voiced their opinions, it’s all over the news, all over the blogosphere.  It’s everywhere.  We could’ve all ignored Jones and his followers’ sad, unfortunate response to tragedy and they would’ve faded away without much of a whimper — no television stories for people abroad to see and misinterpret.

Although, that’s never going to happen — nor should it necessarily.  It is a news story, after all.  But does it require the amount of national exposure that it’s receiving?

People wonder why others hate Americans and then when snippets of news of Americans burning Qurans flood the airwaves, it’s not hard to see why they might be too fond of us.  Because just like how we only catch glimpses and read certain stories about what kind of people they are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, and Palestine, you have to figure that people in those countries only catch glimpses and read certain stories about us, too.  And who knows what is being passed off to them as representative of Americans as a whole. Odds are that if there’s video footage of a bunch of Floridians burning Qurans gleefully, claiming that the entire faith is of the devil (remind you much of Ahmadinejad calling America the “Great Satan” at all?), that will make it over to those Islamic nations with which we’re firmly entrenched overseas.

While we can’t stop the Dove World Outreach Center from their Quran-burning plans, we can do our part to embrace our diversity and focus on remaining rational in the face of these highly emotional times.  Let them burn their books.  Because when has that ever changed people’s minds?  The beliefs aren’t in the books; they’re in people’s minds and hearts. They won’t accomplish anything good with their pointless, crude event, so why give them a soapbox any bigger than they already have?  Our efforts are best served doing something else, something productive, something positive.

If we continue to do more and more things that promote tolerance, acceptance, rationality, and – ultimately – positivity, we can outshine any blaze by the loud, radical outliers.

Image courtesy of Sydney Lea Steele — All Rights Reserved.  And no, it has nothing to do with this post other than it makes me happy.  And we need more of that in the world, right now especially.

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D.C. Board: No Right To Vote On Same-Sex Marriage

11.19.09

From California to Iowa to Arkansas to New Hampshire, the debate over the legalization of same-sex marriage has crossed the country.  Recently, Washington, D.C. passed a bill recognizing the union of same-sex couples married legally in one of the handful of states where it’s allowed.

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics put a stop to a ballot initiative that would’ve put the matter up to a vote, effectively clearing the way for the bill to be signed into law.  However, Bishop Harry Jackson sued in an effort to reverse the decision by the Board.

Let’s take a look at this current debate, shall we?

The Board’s reasoning:

The board ruled Tuesday that the proposed initiative on whether to define marriage as being between a man and a woman violates the city’s Human Rights Act because it would be discriminatory toward gay men and lesbians.

The opposition:

“The people of D.C. have a right to vote on the definition of marriage,” said Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, the conservative legal group representing Jackson. “The D.C. Charter guarantees the people the right to vote, and the council cannot amend the charter for any reason, much less to deny citizens the right to vote.”

Without knowing the law I’m not really the best person to weigh in on this topic, and I’m clearly biased in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.  Perhaps there’s something to look at in a government entity denying the right to vote to the people, but the Board is an elected group, so they’re representing the people.  Also, there is this:

[D.C] city code prohibits a public vote on a matter protected under the Human Rights Act.

Which makes perfect sense.  I don’t know where people got this sense of entitlement that made them think that they have the right to vote on the definition of marriage.  We live in a republic, not a true democracy; people don’t get to vote on every single issue.  Most importantly, no one should have the right to vote to deny a specifically targeted group of citizens rights that others have.

Here’s hoping Jackson’s lawsuit gets dismissed by the Supreme Court, that D.C. passes this bill into law, and that legally married same-sex couples from across the country will at least be recognized in our nation’s capital.

It’ll be another step closer to equality.

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Mr. T(ea) Party

04.16.09

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I respect the right to protest.  But like so many other freedoms, just because you’re allowed to do something, doesn’t mean you’re even in the vicinity of being right or smart.

Had I not been on tour and maybe even had a few dollars to my name, I would’ve loved to have printed out a little pamphlet called “Socialism and You: A Fact Guide for the Uneducated (Yes, This Means You)” and gone to the nearest tea party and passed them out free of charge.  Or maybe I could’ve just rented a bus and packed them all in for a quick little field trip to the nearest high school for a brief lesson in civics from one of our many underpaid teachers.

Being totally against taxes is one thing; but, it’s a ridiculous notion that pretty much makes no sense at all if you want to live in a civilized society with government.  And then to claim that taxes equals socialism just adds ignorance onto stupidity.   What a wonderful mix.  Then again, you’re entitled to what you want to believe.

For those who think that Obama is the next Chairman Mao, remember that he has done more to help protect the freedoms that allow you to oppose and protest his policies than our last president (whom you most likely voted for).  There’s more to a government and an administration than simply increasing the tax rate for the top 1% by less than four percentage points (and this was going to happen anyway once Bush’s tax cuts expire in 2011).

I understand having a cause to get behind and fight for, but I pity the countless fools who truly think that our country is slipping into a communist state.  I pity them because they are so uneducated and closed-minded to their own idiocy that they can’t even accept that they don’t understand these basic political terms and types.

There may not be a better example of why we need more funding for our public school system than this.

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68-Year-Old Woman Upholds the Sanctity of (Heterosexual) Marriage

02.19.09

Linda Lou Taylor is 68 years old.  She lives in Anderson, Indiana.  And she has been married 23 times.

Twenty-three times!

And this is the article that we have about it.  A standard, little NBC Chicago slice-of-life piece.  Taylor is a Guinness World Record holder, after all.

I really could care less about Taylor and her nearly two-dozen (failed) marriages.  It doesn’t affect my life in the least.  Nothing has changed for me since having read about her numerous nuptial exploits.

And it shouldn’t matter to anyone else, either.  Other than some bored journalist who thought it’d be interesting to hear Taylor say that she’d get married again because “it gets lonely,” there’s really nothing of interest in this piece any more than there would be of the Guinness record holder of longest fingernails (you remember that picture of that Indian guy – I wonder if he’s still holds the record.) cutting his fingernails and growing them back again.

One of her marriages lasted seven years (the longest) and another less than two days.  Taylor admits that her last marriage wasn’t even done out of love;  it happened because he was the most-married man and she was the most-married woman.  Match made in Guinness heaven!

Granted, this is an anomaly.  Most people don’t marry 23 times in their lives.  But the fact that heterosexuals legally can do this without any uproar from any Evangelical or Mormon groups while homosexuals can’t even legally go into their partner’s hospital deathbed without a fight means that there is something seriously wrong here.

I’m glad that Mormons spent millions of dollars preventing gays from getting married yet seemingly have no problem with Linda Lou Taylor.  She has really upheld that “divine” sanctity of marriage.  All 23 times.

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With Gay Marriage Comes Gay Divorce

02.08.09

Hillary and Julie Goodridge, one of the first gay couples legally married in Massachusetts back in 2004, have gotten divorced.

And the anti-gay rights groups rejoice!

The writers at WorldNetDaily must love hearing this kind of news because it gives them the opportunity to fill an article full of inappropriate quotes around words.  It’s odd that in the first sentence, writer Chelsea Schilling opted to put quotes around the word “marriage,” implying that the lesbian couple was never really married in her definition of the word, yet left the word “divorce” untouched.  So it was a real divorce to a sham marriage?  How does that work exactly?  I suppose all divorces are equally sinful in her world, no matter how unnatural the nature of the marriage.

Schilling goes on to demean the Goodridge’s union by explaining that they lasted half as long as the “average straight marriages that end in divorce.”  I didn’t realize that if you divorce after a long time together that it somehow adds more justification to the marriage than if you divorce quickly.  I suppose this is meant to be rationale for not allowing gays to marry: they divorce even more quickly than us normal straight people do!

Naturally, Schilling got a solid anti-gay marriage quote to back up her one-sided shoddy journalism:

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, a public policy group that fought to repeal the legalization of “gay” unions, said their separation is confusing.

“Divorce is a very painful issue, but I also can’t help but reflect on the pain this couple has caused on the commonwealth and the nation to redefine marriage. And now they’re getting divorced? It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Mineau said.

“Obviously, they don’t hold the institution in very high esteem.”

Give me a break.  This is just a nice way to deflect the high and rising rate of straight marriage divorces.  If divorce is a reason for a population of people to lose their right to marriage, straight people should’ve lost it years ago.  This isn’t a privilege like your driver’s license where if you get too many infractions you get it revoked, and the so-called protectors of marriage should be careful to not mistake the difference.  Although, clearly they already have.

Schilling never bothered to interview anyone on the side of marriage equality.  Perhaps no one bothered to speak to her and her biased publication masquerading as news.  Seems that she should’ve mentioned that no calls were returned.

She does, however, end with a quote from Boston divorce attorney Gerald Nissenbaum:

“And what a surprise: Gay people are like everyone else.”

It’s sad that it’s considered a surprise.