May 2013 Archives
May 2, 2013
Religious motivation smoked out
This story evidently got going in February, but I just recently learned of it. New York City, not having anything better to do, is suing various Hasidic stores for posting the following dress code:
No low-cut neckline
Allowed in this store
Reports state that the ground for the suit is that the stores are allegedly discriminating on the grounds of religion! Yes, you got that right. The claim is that they are trying to impose their religious norms on customers, hence, they are discriminating on religious grounds against customers who don't share their religion.
Now, that, to me, is the story. Stupid lawsuit by city is bad enough, but that argument is extremely troubling. As others have pointed out, plenty of stores have for a long time required shirt and shoes to receive service. Moreover, fancy restaurants have highly specific dress codes. Nobody tells any of those places that they are discriminating on the grounds of religion. There are also still on the books public decency statutes that would, for example, prohibit public nudity. So evidently what is motivating this lawsuit is that the alleged motivation for this dress code is religious, which makes this dress code "religious discrimination."
That's a very bad precedent. If you tell your customers to dress in a certain way to be stylish or classy-looking or so as not to drag down the worldly reputation of your restaurant, Bloomberg's minions consider that, shall we say, kosher. But if we happen to know that you are religious and that your motive for your basic and rather minimal modesty-related dress code is religious, then you get sued. What this means is that if you try to apply any code of decent behavior or modesty in your business establishment, even a prima facie reasonable one, you will be allowed to do so only to the extent that your motive for that reasonable standard is not religious. The minute your motive is thought to be religious, then you can't ask anything of your customers.
The claim that this is an enforcement of the store-owner's religious dress norms is false in any event. Actual Hasidic women do a lot more than just not wearing sleeveless dresses, shorts, and low necklines in public! The dress code here falls far short of the Hasidic businessmen's own religious standards.
So what happens next? If public nudity becomes more common and a known-to-be-Christian businessman puts, "No nude customers will be served" on the door, is his motive presumptively religious, and can he therefore be sued for religious discrimination against all those non-Christians who want to shop in the buff? This is now not a merely satiric question.
May 7, 2013
Dearborn settles out of court
This is a cause for rejoicing. Rarely do the good guys have sufficient legal oomph to push and to keep on pushing until the petty powers that be have to give in. This time, they did. Kudos to lawyers Robert Muise and David Yerushalmi.
Long-time readers will remember my coverage (see here for one of my longest posts) of the shocking arrest of missionaries Nabeel Qureshi, David Wood, and Paul Rezkallah in Dearborn, Michigan, several years ago when they were merely standing on a public street discussing the deity of Jesus Christ with a group of Muslims.
Now, three years later, the City of Dearborn has settled a constitutional lawsuit out of court for an undisclosed sum of money and an apology posted on the city's web site. The city has also revoked comments that implied that the missionaries were doing something wrong.
From last year, I already had evidence that David Wood and his companions are now being allowed to speak peacefully with Arab Festival participants. My guess is that the city will have to continue that this year and not arrest Acts 17 missionaries.
The remaining clouds on the horizon are:
--Answering Muslims has reported that there have been proposals to move the Arab Festival indoors. This might make it easier to punish those who come to speak about Christ at the festival.
--The fourth person arrested at the time in 2010, Negeen Mayel, was in fact convicted of the bogus crime of "disobeying an officer." Her "crime" was public videotaping and not instantaneously putting down her video camera when ordered to do so by a policeman. Perhaps in part because of her conviction (the three men were acquitted in their breach of the peace trials) and perhaps in part because she did not wish to pursue the suit, Negeen does not appear to have been a party to the constitutional lawsuit that has just been settled out of court.
--The American Freedom Law Center representing the missionaries is continuing to press a suit against the Arab Festival, which refused to settle out of court. This doesn't bode well for the outcome if the festival is in fact moved indoors.
May 9, 2013
Site Update: Database Migration
Due to the errors this morning, I've migrated the site to a newer database server. There may be some slowdown while everything gets settled into the new platform.
May 11, 2013
The U.S. Military vs. the Great Commission II
Sometimes, one really hates to be right. Two and a half years ago I warned that we are moving, in the United States, toward a state in which Christian witnessing is demonized under the heading of "proselytizing." My impression is that this attitude has long been held by secularists--that it is inherently offensive, even inherently deeply wrong, ever to try in any way to convince someone else to accept a religion that is not presently his religion. And my impression also is that in Europe this idea that all such behavior should be called "proselytizing" and by this means dismissed as unacceptable is more widespread than it has heretofore been in America. But, just as our current administration wants to redefine freedom of religion to mean only freedom of (private) worship, so here: If you want to be a Christian, shut up and get back in the closet, and maybe we'll tolerate you. Only private, even secret, religion is acceptable. That way we can feel proud of our sophistication and not hang our heads with shame over the crudity of religion in our country when we hang out with our British and European secularist buddies.
Now the U.S. military is getting into the act with newly published Air Force regulations designed to discourage "proselytizing" by military personnel.
Before I go any further, a few words about the alleged misrepresentations concerning the role of Mikey Weinstein of the (misnamed) Religious Military Freedom Foundation in all of this.
May 14, 2013
A small measure of justice
Last week, disturbed by the length of time the jury was taking to deliberate in the Gosnell trial, I woke up one morning, sat up, and spontaneously said aloud, "He's gonna walk."
Thank God that pessimistic pseudo-clairvoyance is not a reliable belief-forming mechanism.
Kermit Gosnell, who should have been convicted of even more, has been convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of three infants. He has also been convicted of numerous lesser charges.
Now he should receive the death penalty. (An aside: Someone said on my Facebook wall yesterday that he hoped that Gosnell would repent and be saved instead of being executed. I do not think it should be "instead," though I'm all in favor of repentance and conversion. There is no good argument from, "So-and-so was converted after his conviction for a heinous crime" to "So-and-so should not be executed.")
I'm not really all that interested in debating how many abortionists actively kill born-alive infants a la Gosnell. My own suspicion is that most of them who perform late-term abortions either entirely dismember or else rely on aborting early enough and then simply neglecting to death those infants born alive. (Yes, I know that they inject a drug to stop the heart, but it sometimes doesn't work.) If they abort early enough, neglecting to death should take only a couple of hours, max. It's gruesome and unnecessary to ask how much "better" this is than stabbing them in the back of the neck.
However, here is eyewitness testimony against Shelley Sella, a former co-worker with the infamous George Tiller, that she committed active, post-birth infanticide (stabbing a 35-week living, born baby in the chest). Apparently she has never been prosecuted and is still practicing. Tiller was neater than Gosnell. He cremated all the bodies. There are no doubt some more Gosnells out there.
In any event, abortion consists of direct, fatal, and extreme bodily assault on an unborn child. From a moral and even psychological point of view, nobody who cuts up live babies for a living is likely to boggle at stabbing one after it is born. It would be entirely a matter of fear of prosecution that would prevent post-birth, active, bloody infanticide of infants born alive.
The conviction of Kermit Gosnell is a small measure of earthly justice. May it be only an earnest of justice to come--for Gosnell and for many others, including those who do all their killing within the womb. May the Gosnell case bring more and more people to recognize the evil of abortion.
Tweets from @Mordor
"A just verdict. The jury has rightly convicted #Gosnell for his appalling crimes, ensuring no woman is victimized by him ever again."
@PPact (Planned Parenthood), May 13.
(H/T James Toranto.)
Really, there's not in my lifetime been any bunch of people more dependent for their sustenance upon euphemism and, more than that, upon the thing not said, than the ghouls of the abortion industry and the advocates who serve as their public face. This is also noticeable in the fact that its non-public advocates are such reliable liars and systematic dissemblers.
And to think, the phrase "collateral damage" was so loudly mocked and criticized by the professional high-dudgeon specialists of the American left back in 2001-03.
May 20, 2013
Human cloning now a reality: Scientific obscurantism business as usual
Wesley J. Smith has more or less beaten me to nearly all of the analysis you could want on the recent cloning dystopian “breakthrough” and on the outrageous degree of scientific obfuscation going on in the media about it. See here, here, here, here, and here. But just in case you don't read Human Exceptionalism religiously (and if you are interested in life issues, you should do so), let me give you a quick version. But really, go and read Wesley's articles. They're extremely informative and include more information than I am going to get to here.
If you read some headline that said “Human Cloning is One Step Nearer,” or something like that, it's a lie. Human cloning has now occurred. An article has just been published by scientists working in Oregon describing successful human embryo cloning followed by killing.
If you read an article that said, or that you understood to be saying, “For the first time, scientists have converted human skin cells into embryonic stem cells without killing embryos,” that's a lie. In fact, it's a lie twice. The first lie is that the scientists in the recent cloning event reprogrammed skin cells into embryonic stem cells without killing embryos. Actually, they did create embryos, by cloning. Then they killed them. Then they harvested and studied their embryonic stem cells just as they would with IVF embryos they were killing for ESCR.
The second lie is that this is the “first time” anyone has done anything that could or should be called “making skin cells into embryonic stem cells.” As a matter of fact, that's a pretty darned good description of making iPSCs, which are embryonic-like stem cells that can be made without either creating or killing embryos. It's been done already for quite a while now, but the leftists don't like iPSCs as much as ESCs just because no embryo-killing is required for them and just because cloning is more sexy and is opposed by The Right, so they'd rather mis-describe clone-and-kill and make it sound like clone-and-kill is the first-time ethical breakthrough that was actually accomplished already in the reprogramming of skin cells to iPSCs without any cloning. Are you following?
The above news-story sentence in quotation marks is not taken directly from the Fox news story. It is a combination of the implications of several sentences. The actual sentences go like this. Please notice how incredibly misleading the second one is.
In a major medical breakthrough, researchers at the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) have for the first time ever successfully converted human skin cells into embryonic stem cells – via a technique called nuclear transfer. [snip] Fortunately, the SCNT method bypasses these ethical dilemmas, as the donated eggs are never actually fertilized. [snip] This [keeping the cell in metaphase longer] keeps the process from stalling and encourages the cell to ultimately develop into a stem cell.
Pro-lifers reading quickly might be excused if they think this was some sort of ethical as well as scientific breakthrough. The story is an instance of shameful and deceptive obscurantism.
Well, the stakes might not be as high as they were in late 19th Century France, but that doesn’t mean intellectuals of goodwill shouldn’t be on record in this day and age regarding our own Dreyfus-like affair. Instead of anti-Semitism, however, our elites these days seem to suffer from a different medieval problem (with none of the greatness of the medievals!) – they are hunting for witches and if one pops up (the signs are easy to spot – anyone who professes a belief in the reality of race or the reality of racial differences in IQ) they must be discredited and hounded out of polite society.
May 23, 2013
The jihad marches on
The evil men in London didn't leave people to conjecture as to their identity and motives. They told us outright. They hacked the soldier to death in broad daylight as "an eye for an eye" for what they claim goes on in "their land," which they say is "the same." (Yes, British soldiers hack innocent men to death with meat cleavers all the time in foreign lands.) The terrorist murderers hung around for twenty to thirty minutes, waiting for the police to get there, asking people to take pictures of them, and telling everyone their message:
"We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."
"I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your governments – they don't care about you."
"The only reasons we killed this man ... is because Muslims are dying daily...This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth."
One thing has already happened: Cameron & co. have informed the world that this has nothing to do with Islam. O-kay.
Look for Stockholm Syndrome to start next. "Gee, maybe they're right. Maybe if we worked to reduce collateral damage more in Muslim lands these things wouldn't happen. Maybe it really is our fault." Think I'm kidding? Read Alan Noble (a Baylor graduate student) on the subject of the Boston bombing. But don't say I didn't warn you: Loss of brain cells may ensue.
Words are, in fact, inadequate to express what is going on right now. The jihadis are merciless, and the response of the West is pathetic. Apparently there was a bit of a kerfuffle in the UK about some reporter who tweeted that the murderers were "of Muslim appearance." He has since apologized.
May 24, 2013
You do not have the right to remain silent
It's another Thomas More moment.
Cromwell: Now, Sir Thomas, you stand on your silence.
Sir Thomas More: I do.
Cromwell: But, gentlemen of the jury, there are many kinds of silence. Consider first the silence of a man who is dead. Let us suppose we go into the room where he is laid out, and we listen: what do we hear? Silence. What does it betoken, this silence? Nothing; this is silence pure and simple. But let us take another case. Suppose I were to take a dagger from my sleeve and make to kill the prisoner with it; and my lordships there, instead of crying out for me to stop, maintained their silence. That would betoken! It would betoken a willingness that I should do it, and under the law, they will be guilty with me. So silence can, according to the circumstances, speak! Let us consider now the circumstances of the prisoner's silence. The oath was put to loyal subjects up and down the country, and they all declared His Grace's title to be just and good. But when it came to the prisoner, he refused! He calls this silence. Yet is there a man in this court - is there a man in this country! - who does not know Sir
Thomas More's opinion of this title?
Crowd in court gallery: No!
Cromwell: Yet how can this be? Because this silence betokened, nay, this silence was, not silence at all, but most eloquent denial!
Sir Thomas More: Not so. Not so, Master Secretary. The maxim is "Qui tacet consentire": the maxim of the law is "Silence gives consent". If therefore you wish to construe what my silence betokened, you must construe that I consented, not that I denied.
Cromwell: Is that in fact what the world construes from it? Do you pretend that is what you wish the world to construe from it?
Sir Thomas More: The world must construe according to its wits; this court must construe according to the law.
May 25, 2013
Politics as Usual?
What did I do this past weekend? I sat in and watched the Republican Party in my state hold a convention to nominate its state-wide ticket for November’s election: Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General. About 8,000 delegates were there, plus sundry speakers, media, protestors, etc.
Things that were not a surprise: (1) the word “conservative” was used almost as frequently as “Republican.” Here in this state, the GOP party faithful are not in the least bit afraid of being tarred with the C word. It was, actually, a significant conservative success to hold a convention rather than a primary, as the primary tends (around here) to allow the conservative vote be split between 4 good conservatives, and the plurality vote ends up going to the “moderate” RINO who can garner 30% of the vote in a primary (in part because the primary does not require voters to be Republican to weigh in on the Republican candidate – you can weigh in on either party’s candidates).
May 28, 2013
Test Acts for Kids
Scott W. (who seems to be getting a lot of hat tips lately--you can pay me later, Scott) has repeatedly hinted (though as he says, half joking) that the leftist overlords are working towards a modern revival of the Test Acts. The Test Acts, if you recall, were English anti-Catholic laws that required people fulfilling civil or military office to take various oaths, including an oath rejecting belief in the doctrine of Transubstantiation.
But I bet you never would have guessed that one of the most explicit examples of a test act in the United States would be for school children.
May 31, 2013
Obama DOJ vs. the First Amendment
Those Euro-style and Canadian-style laws against "hate speech" that threaten those who criticize Islam could never happen here. We have the First Amendment. Right?
Not necessarily. See here. (Emphasis added.)
A special meeting has been scheduled for the stated purpose of increasing awareness and understanding that American Muslims are not the terrorists some have made them out to be in social media and other circles.
“Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society” will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4, at the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center, 147 Hospitality Blvd.
Special speakers for the event will be Bill Killian, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Kenneth Moore, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Knoxville Division.
Killian and Moore will provide input on how civil rights can be violated by those who post inflammatory documents targeted at Muslims on social media.
“This is an educational effort with civil rights laws as they play into freedom of religion and exercising freedom of religion,” Killian told The News Monday. “This is also to inform the public what federal laws are in effect and what the consequences are.”
Does that sound a mite threatening? It's obviously supposed to.