The Gosars, Trumps, Greenes, Boeberts, Hannitys, and other flamethrowers are boring me to death. I can predict what will come out of their mouth 90 percent of the time. The other 10 percent is meant to inflame their constituents to violence or issuing threats to those they disagree with. I am not shocked by what they say I am ashamed. What excites me is not their rhetoric but good policy. The fast track for a vaccine was exciting and amazing. And there are a few other accomplishments I could name. But for the most part they are about opposing anything the Democrats do, offering no thought-out policies of their own, and only offering verbal grenades. Majorie Taylor Greene is not even on a committee for God’s sake. Her antics meant to excite no longer amuse me. It is a bad sitcom with a horrible soundtrack. The clowns have been sent in.
The headline read Trump is seeking revenge. For What? To even use the term revenge is a dangerous misnomer. He is threatening dually elected officials because they did not (overturn is not the right word) choose to be part of Trump’s insurrection. This is not revenge this is him continuing his insurrection. He has not given up even though his many attempts to overthrow our democracy have failed. He is still fighting to overthrow our democracy.
This is how it currently stands. Why the media covers every fart that comes from his mouth is unbelievable. They are enabling his efforts. Who cares who he wants as a candidate? At this point what significance is his adolescent rantings about people he dislikes? Why do we care about his unmeasured and unqualified views on subjects he knows nothing about. He knows science because his uncle was a professor? He knows best business practices because he went bankrupt six times? Should we publicize every candidate Putin wants elected? Putin plots our demise from without and Trump is plotting our demise from within. The cries from Trump’s far right cronies are the ’socialist’ are trying to destroy our democracy. Besides the fact that this is either a projection or a red herring according to who is saying it and why they are saying it. These ‘socialists’ were voted into office by the democratic process. Trump is trying to take power by manipulations and force.
These same people who complained about the deep state now have shadow diplomats, did Rudy Guliani (not even on the staff of the White House) make trips to Ukraine with the open approval of the President to dig up dirt on the Bidens? The whole Q Anon theory is about how a shadow government is working toward the overthrow of Biden and the other liberals. I guess it is who is running the deep state that conditions whether it is right or wrong.
Of course, these are the same people who worried about Death panels if Obamacare became the law of the land. Yet they were okay if the expendable elderly and immune compromised folk died while we achieved herd immunity. They also (because they ignored science and mishandled the virus) caused doctors to choose who received medical assistance because the far right practices of no masks or vaccines overloaded the greatest medical healthcare system in the world.
This is beyond boring it is banal. They have nothing but false flags and insurrections to offer. Will I stop being bored that depends on will they surprise me and vote for infrastructure plans, end wars, give us a good healthcare plan, offer solutions to inflation and energy crises that does not enrich the wealthy and make the poor and middle class poorer. If they do any of this I might show some interest. Otherwise they need to find a hobby and stay out of the limelight. Or if they must continue, do we have to give them publicity. They will stop when the money stops coming in and the hits on twitter drop. Most of their followers will find some other person to follow when the fanfare is gone. Maybe then they will vote for their welfare and not the welfare of those who could care less about them. It will be boring but we need to ignore and push through without giving them the attention they apparently are so in need.
I feel no need to tweak Trump or read his insane tweets. Greene can peek through all the mailbox holes she wants she has peaked. Gosar can threaten but without calling his name out he is no threat. It is time we leave the bores behind and move on to an exciting issues of personal leave, a better climate, childcare, jobs and the better things in life. Clickbait be gone.
Having an opinion does not make you smart. In fact, it can if held without humility or respect for other opinions, hamper your intelligence. An opinion can make you feel as though you have nothing to learn from others. Your opinion can cripple your ability to see things from multiple vantage points and is not receptive of new or different information. This tends to lead to the cliche of uninformed opinions or unrepentant notions that people hold despite all evidence. It also makes you seek information only from sources that affirm your opinion. Believing you are smart or have the only way of looking at things can lead to a lack of respect of others. This in the end will hamper you spiritually. The arrogance of holding a certain opinion is when you look at disdain at others. Arrogance or pride is one of the deadly sins.
Today, we have many people who invoke God but have long sense lost any real belief in God. Afterall if you can invoke at will God to enforce your opinion that is not God but a yes man. I believe the attitude of thinking an opinion makes you smart is connected to the lost of belief in God. God for many has taken on a magical incantation of words that either prove you right or give you the right to enforce your belief on others. Notice that none of this requires a belief in God. In fact, to invoke God’s name is to break one of the Ten Commandments Thou shall not use the Lord thy God’s name in vain. You as a human do not have the power to call God forth to empower you. It is more an asking thing you need to do. But nowadays if you have an opinion of what God thinks you can claim special knowledge and do not have to listen to others or the Other.
The things that I know I am intelligent on came to me through hard work. I studied, I listened to different points of view, I continue to think about them, to meditate about them, to read about them, and after years of this I have developed a strong sense of the essence of the issue. And the other essential part is it correlates with some rational world view others can understand. But how have so many become experts on so many things so quickly? I explain it with the sociological phenomenon of the ‘Freshman Effect’. The freshman/woman who has started their first year of college is confronted with many new ideas and experiences they have never had before. The adrenaline rush of new intelligence makes them feel invincible intellectually. They return home to tell their older and more experienced parents every new idea of which they barely have a handle on as if they are the gospel. At first it can be considered sweet naivete’. But it becomes worrisome when they become very cemented in ideas, they have not spent any real time. After a while, it develops into an annoyance and later becomes arrogance. And ultimately, if not careful. It can become authoritarian effecting their attitudes and life.
I think in the society and culture we are now experiencing the Freshman Effect. The internet has brought us new information and experiences and we have an intellectual adrenaline push from so many people of all ages at one time. The internet the land of anyone can say their opinions on any subject rather they know anything about it or not. The information they have is new but the deep thought and long lived with the thought is not yet there. Neither is the further study that Freshman will continue to get. I can hardly wait for broadband to reach all everyone. Our whole country can experience the Freshman effect.
The advent of the internet and the information it has made available is wonderful. The problem is too many have the Freshman Effect They feel that they now must express opinions on everything even those things that do not affect them or they even care that much about. And now they have found a piece of information or person on the internet that agrees with them. Their opinion not only makes them smart but beware they have people who agree with them.
We might make it through this. A minority full of opinions is now threatening to use violence to assert their opinion. This violence is both physical and verbal. And even intellectual. They deny science while claiming they believe in it, they practice racism while becoming angry when accused of racism, they challenge obvious facts while accusing others of this, they twist democratic institutions to their will while asserting they are patriots, and yes they invoke God as on their side while they live lives that do not have any real Godly love for others. We are in trouble. God help us all.
The problem with the world is too many of us want our way. Some of us more than others. We all seem to want to control others. Some of us more than others. We do this probably with an evolutionary need to create order. To move beyond an evolutionary need is difficult at best. But the need to is obvious.
If we are ever to create peace in our world our need to control others will be by necessity ended. For centuries some of us thought it was their divine rule to control the masses. Although America rid itself of kings and dictators these were too often replaced with the elite rich and academia, politicians, and religious leaders. Of course, none of these even ‘God’s Order’ are infallible. We all have our biases, fears mean streaks, power needs and so forth. All of which make our vision of order less clear. You have to be infallible to make right decisions especially when others are concerned. It does not matter if you have an infallible text to proclaim your self right. The text is interpreted by a fallible person. The interpreter, more often than not, is too enmeshed in their culture, family, ethnic, nation, region, and so forth to see entirely clear. What was it Paul said For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; I Corinthians 13:12. In other words are glass is only filled half-way with truth.
Any order we wish to place on others and our selves will only be half measures of what is true. But there are those who claim they have way more of the truth than the rest of us. They believe they can tell us how we should live and order our lives.
Yet the truth is more complicated than that. We do need some order in the world. The question is how much and about what. We need some rules to create order. The founding fathers and mothers put in the Constitution several safeguards to prevent the wrong kind of order being placed on us. The first was a system of check and balances. This never left one particular group, even those who might be elected, take total control. The legislature may legislate and the President may veto but his veto may be overturned with a two third majority. And even if the legislature overrules the veto of the president he is the enforcer of the law and could choose how stringent the law would be enforced. If both President and the legislators agree the Supreme Court has the right to decide if it goes afoul of the Constitution. They could say the law is unconstitutional and thereby nullify the law. Now if the legislature dislikes the Supreme Court decision they could legislate something closer to the Constitution or they could add an amendment to the constitution. A proposed amendment must be passed by two-thirds of both houses of Congress, then ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. So now the three branches are no longer the lone decision makers but a fourth group who have various needs are brought into the process. On top of all these checks and balances do not forget that the populace votes for all legislators and the President on both the federal and state levels. Wow the forefathers were deeply concerned about its future citizens forcing order unduly unto others.
Yet many today are convinced they know the way. And know what you should or should not be doing. Maybe a little humility is needed when we feel a need to impose order on others. What would be the guidelines for creating order. Here are a few suggestions.
The first borrows from the Hippocratic Oath ‘Do no harm’. You should never intervene (offer treatment) in another’s life to enforce your beliefs.
Another would be respect the dignity and inherent worth of all. No one is to be valued less. Everyone is to be valued and accepted not merely tolerated. Toleration leads to the openness to order someone else’s life.
Order that puts restrictions on others must only be applied if you are directly feeling harm from others. You are not to do harm and they are not allowed to do harm.
If you have Rights for any they are for all not some. There is no privilege class. Certainly, if you have advanced training you may be able to do some things others can not but that training must be available to all.
To those who wish to add order to others remember two things: First, before you control another take the beam out of your own lives before you try to remove the speck from someone’s life. Secondly, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Democracy is threatened by a filibuster not by allowing the majority vote make the decision. Under the filibuster you need a supermajority to carry the day in the Senate. Over what issues you may ask? Any issue you do not like is the answer. Unless of course you can convince the parliamentarian that it is a financial/budget issue in which case the majority can win by the most votes. Let me just say I like to make decisions by consensus.
But I had to learn the hard way you cannot do consensus with people who are of the disagreeing kind. In consensus decision-making people can support the decision or they can choose to step aside and support the decision of the group or step aside and offer no assistance with the implementation with the decision. On rare occasions when the decision was against your personal morality or thought to be a horrible decision you can refused to let a decision proceed. The problem was some folks had personal morality problems with everything. They apparently had bigger consciences than the rest of us. They would choose to hold up the process with anything that did not appeal to them. Whether it be office equipment or taking a stand on a moral issue. They were not interested in consensus but interested in the power consensus gave them.
Consensus offers many good things. One is everyone is on the same page and has been heard. It also offers a way to oppose without being unnecessarily oppositional. There is an understanding where everyone stands. It also allows the group not to have obstructionists.
The problem with consensus most do not have the concept of stepping aside or a spirit of cooperation with those whom they disagree. They assume that if a decision does not go their way they are almost responsible to become an obstructionist to the decision. Instead of believing that to allow a different opinion to proceed, despite negative feelings about it is a sign of strength; they view it as a weakness. Other people believe they should have a voice even in things that do not concern them. They also choose to believe that everything is of a moral concern to them. The combination of these two attitudes conceding is a weakness, everything is something of which to be concerned, and there is nothing that is not of moral concern to them leads to an obstructionist who feels justified in any action they may take.
This is the problem with the filibuster. The other side is not currently exhibiting a willingness or spirit of cooperation. Their leader (Mitch McConnell) has stated his agenda is to defeat the other’s agenda (President Biden). But it should be remembered the Republicans did not adopt a new platform in 2020 at their last convention. RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda; RESOVLVED, That the 2020 Republican National Convention will adjourn without adopting a new platform until the 2024 Republican National Convention. This was an unusual step and a total abdication of their responsibility to then President Trump. But Trump is the former guy now and we have no idea of what the Republican Party can say they in general stand united on. But we do know they want a voice on every issue. And that voice is to just say no to the other side’s agenda.
The filibuster is meant to bring the two sides to engage in a compromise that each could live with. Policymaking depends on each side entering in the process with mutual openness to the process. Yet one side’s leader has stated as their agenda to just say no. Others feel their way must win at all cost. Therefore, compromise is not the goal only forcing their will on the other is. They also act as though their side alone is patriotic, moral, or reasonable. Now both sides can have people that hold these attitudes but the Republicans hold these beliefs in much greater numbers than the Democrats. Also most Republicans hold these beliefs in a steroid high strung manner.
So, the question becomes can Democrats operate with Republicans when you hold a one vote majority. The power in the filibuster in this case grants the minority not only power but all power to obstruct the process. They are only going to agree to a policy that they view is heavily weighted to their side. This is demonstrated by their two proposals on the infrastructure bill. They offer Biden no new or little new money for infrastructure. They object to his way of paying for the bill and offer no starters for their way for paying for their bill. They do this despite Biden Administration’s suggestions being desired by a vast majority of Americans polled. They do this despite the Biden Administration’s winning the electoral college and popular vote. The arguments they offer for doing this are arcane. Biden did not win the election. Which he did according to the States election officials, courts, and even Congress which they are apart of. Although the Democrats won the Senate from the Republicans they won more seats from the Democrats in the House. They Republicans did win more seats but they did not take the majority in the House. And the fact is there were more Democratic seats up for reelection than Republicans. The more extreme Republicans accuse the Democrats are baby eaters and how could you compromise with that.
A super majority is ideal but an impossibility on issues such as infrastructure and voting rights something traditionally they would have no trouble agreeing on. But the era of Trump, QAnon, Limbaugh, McConnell does not make this possible. I do believe this era will pass but the filibuster allows too much power to obstructionists in the meantime. For now a simple majority will have to do.
Maybe it is my ego but I have never understood the white supremacist replacement theory. I mean are they that threaten by the competition of other races that they always create an environment where they have a leg up. Do not bring those non-white immigrants from other countries because they may bring ideas that everyone will like more than our white America. Call me a proud white boy but I am confident that my white culture can stand alongside those of other cultures.
Tucker Carlson recently complained about immigrants using the replacement theory, But the truth is he will be replaced because he has a one note song to sing and pounds the keyboard with it over and over again. He came from privilege and married into wealth he has not had to compete. Everything was handed to him. When he did compete the CIA rejected his application and MSNBC let him go. He has finally found a home for his one note show on Fox News. He apparently does not want to compete on a level playing field. He knows he might lose if he competes in a field with a lot of different opinions and abilities exist.
It reminds me as a military brat I would go to the nice gym that was on the military base. I would try to play in pickup games. Most all of the soldiers on the basketball court were black. They would not choose me. I was white and not a soldier so therefore they would always make me call down and wait for the next game to start. One day a 5’2 man who could not dribble or shoot and run the court very fast so there was no defense coming from him was chosen. I gave them my best are you kidding me look and called the next game. But I was determined when it was my time to play, I would stay on the court by continuing to win. I would show them my value. Now I was probably on those courts an above average to good player, but I made myself indispensable by hustling, rebounding, and playing solid defense. And because I spent a lot of time on the sidelines watching everyone play I began to know who to choose to create a winning team. Eventually, they would choose me to keep me from selecting a team that could not be beaten. I found a way to compete, win, and belong.
But these less than proud boys (maybe I should call them the unsure boys) insist that the scales continue to be tilted in their favor. You may replace me but I will make sure it is a poor choice for you. Now this may be considered arrogance but I enjoy other cultures and love to experience them but to be honest I am never threatened by them. I do notice the pros and cons of various cultures and try to learn from them. I think my life would be less rich and boring with out the many cultures I have been able to experience.
But it was not because of my whiteness that I won the basketball games. It was perseverance, a little skill, and a lot of watching and thinking. The idea of white culture unaffected or improved by other cultures does not exist. We started by learning from the Native Americans what foods to grow here. Since then Africans taught us how to grow rice and other crops and without their labor and ingenuity the South would never have risen in the first place to only fall later. The Chinese used their expertise in explosives to help build a railroad through the Rocky Mountains to bring to us the transcontinental railroad. Latinos have contributed to the culture of the Southwest enormously.
Our music is influenced by both black and Hispanic culture. Asian culture has taught us the art of meritocracy. Native American tribes influenced our confederations and according to Benjamin Franklin our views on democracy itself. And as the world becomes smaller through advances in travel and communication we will literally be left behind if we do not let other cultures inform us.
We admit this when we talk about corporate cultures. We look at other businesses and companies to determine what is it in their cultures that might inform or improve our companies that we are not currently doing.
It is possible in some future world that my culture may be asked to sit on the sidelines. But surely we can eventually prove that we have something to offer or they will be less than because of your exclusion. If not I guess we will have to result to rigging the system or staying on the sidelines as the other cultures pass us by.
There have been two Republican Presidents presiding over two different pandemics at the beginning of their terms. Ronald Reagan (HIV/AIDS pandemic) and Donald Trump (Covid-19) both have similarities and their way of handling the pandemics. Reagan for the most part refused to even say the words AIDS as a nod to the Moral Majority who helped him get elected and Trump would raise racial enmity with the term Chinese Flu and other things to appease his far right followers.
Reagan would not dispute the Moral Majority when they said AIDS was a curse on the ‘Gays’. Reagan would oppose the dispensing of needles to prevent AIDS and Trump would mock the use of face masks to prevent Covid-!9. Trump because he did not know how to address the pandemic spreading across the United States would use a herd mentality as his ultimate plan. This was let enough people die and the population will eventually develop immunity. Reagan would not be influenced to address AIDS especially as long as the misinformed ideal that gays were the only ones being affected by the disease. Both of these approaches belie the often Republican proclamation of the value of life.
The apologists for Trump will bring up the fact that he closed the borders tot eh Chinese population although this policy conveniently bled into his anti-immigrant policies anyway. Reagan’s apologists will boast of his placing good Cabinet members such as Surgeon General Everett Koop to handle the crisis even though Koop would experience blowback from the White House Staff for his press conferences on AIDS. This was much the same thing that happened to Dr. Fauci in the Trump administration.
Another thing the Trump apologists will talk about was the implementation of the Warp Speed Vaccine Program administered during tenure as President. Yet Trump while asking schools to open did not offer money to help them open all the while refusing to encourage mask wearing mandates. Reagan apologist love to mention his funding of AIDS research but failing to mention that the Democrat Congress would continually have to more than double the amount he required to make it substantial enough. Each seemed willing to spend enough to say they were spending money on the pandemics but neither seemed too willing to supply the funds needed.
Both presidents would show an uncaring attitude toward the fatality numbers that both pandemics would cause. Trump seemed unmoved as the number pushed past 500,000. Reagan seemed unmoved even as the number increased to 89,343 deaths during his administration. It took Reagan three years before he would make his first significant remarks on the subject. And many speculate that his Hollywood friend Rock Hudson dying of AIDS was at least one of the reasons he finally would come out on the subject of AIDS.
Of course, there were differences such as Reagan was able to perform the empathy task of the job, while Trump was a total disaster at empathy. Trump spent most of his presidency attacking in hateful ways his opinion of his opponents, Reagan by contrast was able to reach across the aisle and even make friends with people such the Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill. It is interesting that both came to us in part through the entertainment world. Reagan an actor and Trump a television reality star.
My point is that Republicans have a history of mishandling pandemics because of their concerns to make a culture war issue out of the pandemics. They have never been the right to life party when it comes to things that they disagree. They can only be said to be interested in fetuses. They also should have no real credibility when it comes to issues such as healthcare. Their prejudices, inability to administer a government, and their unwillingness to fund health issues will hamper them in providing the care we need.
Let it be said that we have seen two pandemics in recent times (AIDS and Covid-19) and both times Republican presidents and their administrations mishandled or ignored the situations causing the deaths of many. The party of pro-life turns out is not so much. They are quite capable of finding groups to be expendable. Gay, elderly, poorer communities and so forth were found suffering under the pandemic policies of these two presidents. And as for their most devoted followers they took the road of moral superiority to justify their support. No masks or vaccines become a cause under Trump. Under Reagan hatred for gays, bisexuals, and junkies became cause celebre. Hopefully the next pandemic will have a President who values all lives.
*Ronald Reagan Presided Over 89,343 Deaths to AIDS and Did NothingWalt Odets on the First Years of the AIDS Epidemic and the Stigmatization of Gay MenBy Walt Odets July 22, 2019 In Literary Hub
Our dog Suki is psychotic. At least when it comes to me. She constantly growls at me not in a I am going to bite you way but in a your presence gets on my nerves way. I do not fear the dog she is small compared to me and her teeth are unhealthy. She also feels a need to avoid me at all cost. She scampers away whenever I am near. She will not even go out the back door if I am sitting between her and the door. She will even do this when her prime motivators of food and I gotta pee are at stake. I have fed her special snacks, discipline her when she has growled at me, spent long times petting her as she trembled under my strokes until she stopped. But she still does not like me and growls away. I have learned to live with it. She is a pound dog and I do not know what has come before.
I have a rocking chair. It was my favorite Father’s Day gift ever. It is ergonomically perfect for me spiritually and physically. I sit in it and I feel better. It is the only thing that I own that makes me feel this way. Of course, in the narrative of this story Suki chews the wood on the chair permanently scarring it. When my wife told me this I was sadden and angry. After sitting in another chair assessing the damage I got up quietly and walked away to catch myself. Suki was in the room where I usually sit and she panicked when she saw me and started her frantic bouncing and pacing from the other side of the dining room table from end to end anxiously waiting what am I going to do. Sometimes she will growl to let me know she is not pleased. I usually ignore it. But today the psychotic dog was doing her psychotic thing and I lost it I threw a book at her and hit her. Not a big book, definitely not an expensive book. I am a bibliophile after all. For a period of about an hour I raged at her not to scare her but to make my wife know I was not pleased at her dog.
My friends always expect more from me than I can give them. Sometimes I do not take charge in that manly way which would make my life and theirs easier. I am too much about consensus to do this. Sometimes I do not believe in a philosophical ideal or social practice as they so want me to do. Sometimes I am not good enough to pull off the things they expect me to do professionally or spiritually. Sometimes I let the other side win because the fight does not seem worth it to me. Climb your ladders control your little fiefdom it is such a small matter to me. And for the most part this I have learned to accept will be the eventual end of their expectations and sometimes the closeness of our friendship. But there our times when I am by myself I will weep and tears will fall deep in my soul that I was not good enough to make the things I knew to be the right come into being. I am no Mother Theresa or Martin Luther King Jr. That is not an excuse it just is.
The night after Suki chewed my rocking chair I had a dream. I process a lot in my dreams so I try to be aware of them. In the dream I am playing football and we are playing a team of Nazis in a holocaust camp. I want to beat them so bad. I take the ball (of course I am the quarterback) and get the defense to come to me and I toss the ball at the last minute. The awaiting teammate has the field clear for them. It is the perfect option play. The runner is free I chase after them to block anyone that might tackle them. I am pull my hamstring but I push ahead to ensure a touchdown. The runner starts calling out to the crowd for friends who are always there cheering them on. But today they are not around. I am shouting for them to not be distracted but to keep running and score the touchdown. This is all happening in slow motion replay in my dream. The runner suddenly without warning runs out of bounds to his friend’s house to check on them. I am angry at him and chase him into the courtyard where he has finally found his friends. His friends welcome him even though he has obviously interrupted a ceremony. The ceremony is the unveiling of a statue of a mutual friend of all of us who has died while doing the right thing. I wake up.
I am a religious anarchist. Religion is only good when it offers improvement of the lot of humanity and myself. If we put most of religion on a scale of justice it would fail this assessment; especially Western Christianity. Those churches who are neutral in the damage they are doing or harmful should die out and leave humanity alone. Jesus spewed out of his mouth the lukewarm church of Laodecia and judges harshly the church of Ephesus for losing its first love in the book of Revelation. I believe you must live your convictions, even when they hurt or make no sense to anyone else as long as they are not harmful. If you do not live your convictions you are not living at all.
I owe Suki an apology, she was disciplined and that should have been enough. I owe my wife an apology by wanting her to feel the pain her dog had caused me, And I owe my daughter an apology for setting an example of how not to be in this world. I have to plan out these apologies because I am no Mother Theresa. My faith must make me act and be useful to me and humanity or it should die.
A recent Supreme Court decision in which the conservative judges decided in favor of religious groups who want to continue to meet in groups over ten or more despite Covid 19 restrictions is dangerous. The decision said this right is protected under the religious freedom article of the constitution. Regretfully, this shows the dumbing down of the Supreme Court.
Anyone should understand that just as freedom of speech, another right protected under the Constitution, is limited so is religious freedom limited. Oliver Wendell Holmes said in one of his momentous decisions about freedom of speech ‘you do not have the right to yell fire in a crowded theater’ there are also various limitations on religious freedom. The court would decide later in a more defining ruling that speech cannot create a ‘clear and present danger’. This phrase is used to define between an innocuous inflammatory speech and a seditious or inciting to violence speech.
The limitations that the Justices overruled in the religious freedom case center around the health and endangerment of the congregants and their communities. It is illegal in most states to have snake handling services because of the threat of harm to the participants. It should be noted is applicable even when the congregant is agreeable to the service.
The court decided against whether religious faith could be used by parents to deny their children various treatment. They used the standard based on the severity of the medical problem, the likelihood of success of the proposed treatment and the limited potential harm of the treatment. It was “well-settled that the state may order medical treatment for a nonlife threatening condition, notwithstanding the objection of the parents on religious grounds, if the treatment will, in all likelihood, temporarily or permanently solve a substantial medical problem” The court recognized that the state could not order treatment over religious objection of the parents if the treatment was “risky, extremely invasive, toxic with many side effects, and/or offers a low chance of success”.
This is the consistent ruling by state and federal courts in favor of the state over the religious practitioners when a child is endangered and can receive medical assistance that has a strong chance of mitigating the child’s health in a beneficial manner.
Cults that involve the sexual or physical abuse of their children or parents can and are prosecuted. Even when the practices are religious. Religious groups are not able to practice polygamy in all but one state and the stated purpose for allowing polygamy in that state is to remove a barrier in the reporting of abuse in polygamous relationships.
Again and again in various cases we find that religious freedom is restricted when it endangers the congregants. So what does it mean when the conservative justices decide that despite prevailing medical opinion that religious groups (or any group for that matter) of ten or more is medically dangerous.
The recent decision from the Court says that religious groups are allowed to endanger their congregants as long as they fly their religious freedom flag. Even if one is willing to accept the harm they can potentially do to themselves; what about the people who are not in their religious community. They too can be infected because the congregants are allowed to meet in potential super spreader groups. While your group may find it funny to yell fire in a crowded theater it is not allowed because of the harm of a stampede it might create thus creating a clear and present danger to the persons in the theater.
The meeting of religious groups of ten or more (usually not masked) fits the definition of a clear and present danger to not only the congregants and those they may interact with later. The only way that you can deny this is to reject the science involved in these prohibitions. Our conservative judges seem quite willing to do this. Sotomeyer implies this is the conservative judges unintended consequence in her dissenting remarks.
But to me the clincher is religious practice does not have to involve meeting in large groups. It might be a preferred practice but no self-respecting theologian or religious practitioner believes that it is necessary to meet in person for groups to practice their religious belief. I believe Jesus said 'where two or three gather I am there'. Many churches are proving this by the creativity they are exhibiting in zooming and you tubing their church services. Meeting in a group is a desirous but not necessary practice. So to limit this particular practice during a deadly pandemic is not to end religious freedom but to put a temporary hold on a religious practice that is a health threat to the members of a congregation and to the general public.
Slippery slope is not an argument, denial of science is not an acceptable argument, whining about the inconvenience of a pandemic is not an argument, saving lives and not allowing harm is the argument. You would think religious groups would prioritize this over a temporary halt of a religious practice. It is curious to me that conservative churches have allowed politics to enter the doors of their church even if it leads to the harming of their members.
The conservative justices in their decision have not only gone down a slippery path but have also opened the door for many other harmful practices. These practices will all be cloaked under the guise of religious freedom. Be forewarned the legal prohibitions against conversion therapy of gays by religious groups is being challenged in courts and is making its way up to the Supreme Court. Unless the court decides to return to deciding in favor of religious freedom being prohibited if there is harm to its congregants; we are opening a Pandora’s box of anything goes in Churches.
I hate when people begin to celebrate the Christmas holidays before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday unto itself. In some ways it is more Christian than Christmas. Thanksgiving is a time when we gather to have good food and breathe an air of appreciation of all the people in your life. You celebrate all the accomplishments of the last year. You even celebrate that you were given one more year to enjoy this world. It does not need to be impeded with the glitz of Christmas. Which is a total other kind of holiday. Christmas in part is when we like to show our love through giving or regifting. And we want to be there to see their reaction or fake reaction as may be the case. We want to experience our reward of giving a thoughtful gift instead of like Thanksgiving when the focus is to celebrate being together (and yes we want to gorge on the food also).
This year Thanksgiving is coming in the year of the Covid-19. If we are wise are celebrations will be smaller. Sometimes giving thanks is by showing what you are willing to give up for others. This kind of thanks is not the easiest to do. We can be selfish about how we want to celebrate our holidays. We can be selfish with who we want to celebrate. To have to disrupt our traditions and gatherings is hard. But there is a cliché’ that fits here ‘If you love something set it free if it returns it was and always will be yours if it does not then it was never yours to begin with ,’ Maybe for this one year we may have to give Thanksgiving as we have known it away. The problem is we are not a letting go people. We hold onto junk, grudges, leftovers forever.
So when conservatives decide that they will move up their War on Christmas to include a War on Thanksgiving it pisses me off. Conservatives ever sensitive to science and their imaginary conspiracies have decided that the liberal cabal is trying to take away Thanksgiving. We cannot have large groups in small spaces unmasked gathering from all sorts of different places they hear. That is all they apparently needed to set them off fighting a War on Thanksgiving.
They will now defiantly gather from all over unmasked in their homes to show how loyal they are to Thanksgiving but not necessarily to the people they will celebrate. The people will take a back seat to their new-found war. Instead of thankfulness being the center defiance will be the order of the day. Now of course not everyone who chooses to gather will become infected with Covid-19. This will of course in their minds justify their actions.
Thanksgiving is being robbed as a holiday as a time to rejoice in the good things of life such as friends, family, health, and other blessings. Thanksgiving is if the conservative right has their way to be a weaponize political tool to promote their philosophy. We have the right as individuals to do what we want. I thought Thanksgiving was about celebrating our togetherness not ourselves. I mean the idealistic first Thanksgiving was Native Americans and the Pilgrims who had many differences coming together to hopefully creating a union of friendship (of course we know what eventually happened to the Native Americans). They did the same thing to Christmas. You must declare Merry Christmas and not Happy Holidays because we rule you drool.
My optimistic side says oh the war will be over after the vaccines come and we can all celebrate without guilt any way we want to. But my realistic side knows America likes perpetual wars so this war will not be going anywhere soon. So what are we to do? Be thankful in whatever way we want. Life is good and my friends and family probably could use a break from me. And maybe next Thanksgiving we will be surprised at how many people will return.