Westboro Supreme Court mis-rule

SUMMARY: This isn’t Free Speech, it’s freedom of politico-(pseudo-)religious gang-persecution organized on a national basis against random mourners (as such) uninvolved in the grievances supposedly being protested by Funeral Invasion.

Mob pseudo-religious persecution of mourners’ Free Exercise of Religion — the Baptists’ “speech” is usually not on-point, but irrelevant to the life and death circumstances of the decedent at funerals they INVADE — is just like the mob persecution of Christians in Turkey, long winked at by a supposedly-secularist State.  It violates the civil rights of decedents and their grieving survivors.  Only an unholy alliance between the Court’s fellow-fundamentalists and its (this time) misguided “liberals” would rule that the civil rights of off-topic, political, media-hog, worship-invaders trump Freedom of Religion.

Yes, all defenses of Westboro defend their protests as political, though they are veiled in religion.  If (Westboro) politics now trumps (everybody else’s) religion, maybe the rest of the Religious Right IS right, that religious freedom is being flushed down the toilet with the politicization of everything — IRONICALLY, BY THEM!

Another way of approaching it is that the Religious Right, a vast well-organized group, may now abuse its “rights” to violate the rights of usually-tiny groups of mourners anywhere in the country — not unlike the invasive, disgusting, terroristic tactics of Operation “Rescue” abortion-clinic protesters and their incited gunmen / bombers / racketeers / conspirators.  If the Bill of Rights is about anything, it’s about protecting the rights of the oppressed — not only those oppressed by governments or officials, but by their fellow human beings in this country generally, especially by groups bigger than them.  Look for other hate groups to go back to the Courts now for vindication against explicit civil rights legislation — the Ku Klux Klan, “sovereign citizens,” (neo?)Nazis, self-appointed “militias” and border guards, “Dot Busters,” ‘crosshairs’ assassins, the whole sorry, scary lot of them.  What will the lawless Scalia/Roberts Court say then?  Cross-burnings and lynchings are OK again?  Literacy tests and poll taxes for voting?  Forced segregation of public schools?  ‘The disabled or mentally ill, gay or “different,” should be neither seen nor heard’?  Torching Catholic churches?  Slavery?  Human females as their males’ property?  State-Established religions again?  Swastikas scrawled on synagogues’ outside walls are OK because they don’t violate the “privacy” of the interior of the building??!!  It seems the Court liberals, including two Jewish women and a “wise Latina,” have been tricked into signing on to the rollback of the whole 20th century, if not worse.  (And Clarence Thomas? Nevermind!!!)

Ironically, this unholy alliance represents the difference between Classical Liberalism, in all its forms, and Classical Conservatism, ie, progressive conservatism … the former represented by the whole near-unanimous Court Westboro majority, the latter represented by most Americans’ gut-reaction to Westboro’s atrocities, and this ruling, more bad law, ie, incorrect law, from the Republican Courts and Party.

Learn about the ascendant hate groups and domestic terrorists from the  Southern Poverty Law Center, and support the SPLC.

And how did this case become merely about “privacy and emotional distress“?  The mourners’ lawyers should be disbarred for incompetence!  Were they law students?!  Was this one of those volunteer, workshop, law school projects they do???

Furthermore, does the ruling consider that funeral “privacy” only applies inside a building-of-worship, funeral parlor, chapel, mausoleum, etc.?  What about processions outdoors, burials, cemeteries, motorcades, even the going TO the funeral by the mourners — Some Protestant services even sacralize this with a “Gathering for Worship” recitation or song.  What about Neopagans, adherents of Indigenous religions, or other “outdoorsy” faiths, which might not often even USE a building with a real “indoors” component?  Obviously outdoor portions of a funeral share the vicinity with the neighbors, if any, of the funeral sites, so that’s presumed within Free Exercise.  I’m not sure being attacked, verbally assaulted, or finding yourselves involuntarily amid a political demonstration, controversy, or riot, especially one featuring offensive language, IS presumed within Free Exercise, except during times of Persecution of your freely-chosen (or -retained) religion … something the Court seems to endorse today, even its Fundies!  (Appropriate, I suppose, since their fellow Repugs drove the President out of the church of his choice, then complained he wasn’t Christian enough!  “I played you a tune but you did not dance, I sang you a dirge but you did not wail….”)

I’m willing to consider that baptisms/circumcisions, funerals, and weddings aren’t the same as routine religious services which might be invaded by hecklers urging you to change your religion.  I’m not sure though!  When I was a Quaker in the 1990s I admired George Fox and his Friends’ doing so in 17th-century Anglican and other Protestants’ “meetinghouses.”  Maybe they would’ve really converted  England if they’d just waited till after services, and stumped outside the buildings as the faithful were leaving!  But IIUC these Baptists aren’t recruiting, merely advocating for their ethical or political positions.  And often their protests seem aimed not at anyone present, except the newsmedia.  That’s just rude … Supremely rude.

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“That’s B.S.!”

Is Prince Charles crazy, or Maclean’s?

A ‘newsmagazine’ I hardly recognized, on the eve of the ‘critically panned’ Fall Homecoming of the Heir to the Throne (including of Canada), published an opinion that he’d taken leave of his senses.  Is it possible that His Royal Highness is just a Classic, ie Progressive, Conservative, such as I’ve tried to be*, rather than the U.S. regressive Republican (GOP) kind?

Is it also possible HRH is “becoming Orthodox“??  Certainly he has opportunity to reflect on the world he sits almost at the top of in terms of wealth, fame, and access to power.  And/Or just chat with our First Among Equals, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople (yes, that’s Istanbul in Turkish), “The Green Patriarch.”

But children must play … instead of providing reportage and analysis that knows what on earth it’s talking about.  Looks like I got out of journalism just in time – ‘My skills, it seems, are no longer required!’

(*–He said humbly!! 😉 )

Metro areas and Countrysides II

…considered in the New York City statehood discussion of 1971Time then concluded on something like my Autonomy idea, or even a semi-federalization ala the Tennessee Valley Authority or the MTA.

More on-point is a Harper’s 1999 piece on discussing — just discussing! — whether the 1787 Constitution is obsolete, inspired by Columbine and the 2nd Amendment rants of recent decades, and its virtual unamendability.  The older Time article concludes,

The new consideration of national cities and city-states is a refreshing move to examine the rationale of the nation’s long-accepted governmental divisions. One of the most important national problems throughout the next 20 years, predicts Bell, will be to decide the most effective social unit to handle each social problem. “What is best left to the neighborhoods?” he asks. “What to townships? What to municipalities? What to metropolitan areas? What to regions and what to the Federal Government?” The questions are simple, the answers elusive—but an imaginative quest for them is essential to the future of the nation.

It’s questionable whether we really looked at those things seriously as a Federation — or whatever — during the predicted ’70s and ’80s.  Maybe now it’s time.

BTW, I know a bit more about the background than the Harper’s writer, and the reality about English village and town “militias” and posses and whether they were “volunteerism” or compulsory.  Also, how even these supposed bulwarks of local freedom could be used to enforce local conformity, oppress next-door neighbors, “different” people, dissenters, gays, immigrants, Catholics, Quakers, church reformers, “liberals” — which would cover both today’s U.S. “liberals” AND “conservatives”! — etc etc etc.  Plus, the main body of our Constitution empowers — Guess who? — CONGRESS!!! — to “regulate” the State’s Militias.  Simply reading the text will sometimes work wonders itself.

On the lighter side, it’s entirely possible that the 2nd Amendment isn’t about guns at all, but heraldry: “Bearing arms” also means, and meant, publicly presenting yourself as validly possessing a coat of arms, i.e., as armigerous.  “Well-regulated militia”?: Heraldry was invented in order to distinguish fighters on and near a field of battle, i.e., to tell them apart.  It’s still used today by modern armed forces in those logos and patches that distinguish military units and countries’ forces … even countries themselves, hence national flags like the Stars and Stripes, the Royal Colours (aka Union Jack), the Tricolour, etc etc etc.  So it’s possible the Framers weren’t thinking about guns OR militias, but shields and crests, ribbons and supporters!  But AFAIK the USA has never granted individual arms of this kind, leaving that to WWW bucketshop frauds seducing you with “mists of antiquity” and “ancient seats” and hints of … royalty and nobility!!!

Maybe some scribe even switched the two words around, and it’s about arming bears … knowing how crazy we’d always be arguing about guns and militias, coats of arms and “crests” and “mists of antiquity,” etc.!  Maybe we’re not even supposed to bear arms at all, just sic armed bears on our enemies!!!

GOP borrow-and-spend, engineered fiscal crises

The Republicans like to run against Democrats by calling us “tax-and-spend liberals.”  They also pretend to fiscal restraint and conservatism, competence and responsibility, supposedly in contrast to us.  What’s become clearer to more and more Americans in the last 28 years is just how untrue this all is.

Anybody who gets into power in government has political or financial ‘debts’ to pay, support to buy, punishment to mete out, interests of their own to pursue, maybe even once in a while sincere attempts to do the right thing.  We Democrats are supposedly averse to cutting programs – for the rich as well as for the poor – because we’re softies, or usually feel sensitive to cross-aisle criticism with an eye on re-election.  In fact Democrats in Congress are frequently brutalized into cutting programs for the poor, rarely for the rich.  But when we want to do more, we’re generally honest about the cost, and try to “pay as you go.”  It’s cheaper that way: no years of interest piling up.  But it’s politically costly unless it’s a ‘home run,’ and national Democrats haven’t hit many of those since the ’60s and ’70s.

Republicans, OTOH, have figured out a neat way to spend what they want.  They borrow the money, cynically put the government, ie, you and me, into debt to finance their grand schemes usually for the rich and business, stockholders I mean – certainly not workers who do the work!  This may be called BORROW-AND-SPEND.  It ingeniously separates the issue of the proposal from the issue of paying for it, by years.  And their beneficiaries are very grateful, and show it.  Doubt me?  Reagan was a master at it; the fact that Clinton left office with a huge surplus was little short of a miracle.  But just as fast, W. and Co. have put us back into a deep hole with no bottom in sight.

But surely the chickens come home to roost eventually, you say?  So much the better from the Republican perspective.  Fiscal crisis makes it politically easier for them to get away with cutting help for the poor, needy, and workers; they’re definitely not softies.  Also, by the time crisis comes, all that accumulated debt is just a huge dollar sign, and they can make us forget what it was for.  “Certainly we have to pay our debts,” they say, and everybody agrees.  “But if we overtax the rich and businesses, they’ll leave us in the lurch.”*  And so our already-regressive tax system goes into a higher gear, hitting the poor and workers even more, while their rich, powerful friends remain grateful, and keep on showing it.  To add insult to injury, the GOP now gets an undeserved reputation for fiscal restraint and responsibility.  IT’S PURE POLITICS, SMOKE AND MIRRORS, BAIT-AND-SWITCH.  More recently, they “create facts on the ground,” getting us into wars that benefit mostly nobody but their contractor buddies; now it’s, “We can’t leave that country in a mess, can we?”

There’s a place for borrowing by government: needs such as capital construction or repair or purchase, or emergencies.  But Republicans borrow excessively, at least at the federal level.  In effect they SPEND-AND-TAX: They tax future generations!  That means interest on top of the initial (unworthy) cost.

This habit of theirs actually undermines two foundational principles of English/American democratic government: The people may not be taxed without the consent of their legislative representatives, aka, “Taxation without representation is tyranny**;” and, No legislature may bind a future legislatureDebt-abuse taxes future generations unnecessarily without their advance consent.  And it binds future legislatures to tax, to pay for this unnecessary debt.  Historically these principles are on a level with the Magna Carta, and ought to be considered more weightily than they have been in recent decades, especially by the GOP as it claims a “conservative” and “small government / anti-government” mantle … unless these too are just blowing smoke.

(*–What an undermining of our sovereignty!!  That’s treason!)

(**–Although there are certainly worse forms of tyranny!)

Morgentaler honour?

Yes, those words will be meaningless to most Americans, but Canada’s highest civilian honour, the Order of Canada – similar to a knighthood – has been given to, among several dozen honorees this month on the occasion of Dominion Day (as it used to be called more meaningfully), July 1, the Auschwitz survivor who got abortion legalized in Canada by performing tons of them illegally, even in front of documentary cameras, and even going to jail for it, before getting the Supreme Court of Canada to outlaw outlawing it in 1988: Dr. Henry Morgentaler.

Whatever one thinks about abortion, it’s inappropriate to give a national honour in Canada to someone who is not only politically controversial – lots of good people are politically controversial – but considered by millions of good, sincere, law-abiding, even progressive,* Canadians – leaving to one side the hate-spewing anti-abortion extremists – to be a butcher of innocent, viable human beings, and at their most defenceless: in the womb, by their own mothers.  Morgentaler is officially cited “For his commitment to increased health care options for women” and for his services to humanism and civil liberties.  I’m not aware of what he may have done for the latter two areas, but throughout Canada his name means one thing, legalized abortion – just like “Jane Roe” in the States.  Can you imagine “Roe” (of Roe v. Wade fame, the appellant being kept officially anonymous at the time) getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom – again, whatever you think of abortion?  Not even the most “liberal” US President would think of doing so, even if s/he wanted to; it’d tear the country apart.

Furthermore, using the Order of Canada to enshrine the abortion euphemism “health care options for women” in the national Honours system is not only offensive, it just demeans Honours; it sounds Nazi or Bolshevik, like something out of 1984.  OK, that opinion may depend on what you make of abortion in the first place.  And clearly I oppose the liberalization of abortion since the 1960s in the US and Canada and elsewhere.  But drawing back to the matter of the honour itself, millions of good, sincere, law-abiding, even progressive, Canadians – leaving to one side the hate-spewing anti-abortion extremists – might consider instead that he worked for decreased health care options for children!  Should someone get an award for that?!

As the newspaper article describes, Canadian Honours are supposed to be apolitical, non-ideological.  (So anti-abortion activists lamenting that it happened under a “Conservative” Party government don’t get it.)  Her Majesty’s Canadian Ministry, aka the government of the day, is supposedly not involved, and neither is The Queen herself AFAIK.  I don’t even know how much discretion the Governor General herself has in the face of the recommendations of the Advisory Committee, before the fact anyway.  Honours are supposed to reflect Canada as a diverse yet unified nation.  This kind of thing just divides.  George W. Bush is ‘a divider, not a uniter;’ and so is this honour, for Canada.

That said, I’m not sure that, bestowed, it can or should be revoked just on account of the firestorm of criticism – for the very same, apolitical, reasons.  But it does raise a question, for good or for ill, about the people and/or the process that chooses honorees.  Britain’s recent cash-for-honours scandal was nothing new there,** and Canadians designed their Honours system in the 1960s explicitly to try to avoid scandal and the taint of politics, corruption, etc.  Furthermore, not only are honours in a Monarchy a national feel-good exercise; the Sovereign is fons honorum, the Fount of Honours, so in theory they reflect on her.  Scandal in honours dishonors The Crown itself, and thus symbolically the whole nation.

However you feel about abortion, this bestowal of an honour is dishonorable.

(*–I don’t know what George Parkin Grant thought of Dr. Morgentaler personally, but he bitterly opposed the idea of legalizing abortion, as a signal turn from ‘progressive conservative’ ideals.)

(**–It’s not frequent there, but not exceedingly rare either.)