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July 26, 2010

Comments

Take free speech for corporations: it's always been recognized and political speech has never, until CFR, been subject to prior restraint. Arguing otherwise is simply counter to every decision and the plain language and jurisprudence of the First Amendment.

The dissent makes it clear in the first paragraph that, had they used their pac money, this would not have been an issue. As long as they have a way of speaking that isn't unduly burdened, I don't see the reason for your concern.
I cannot, for example, set up loudspeakers on my house and blast political messages all night. I cannot pay below minimum wage to my workers creating my pamphlets. I cannot violate OSHA rules in making my commercials, or show nudity & swear and then air them during the day on broadcast TV. I cannot broadcast my radio or TV ads myself over the top of existing channels.

But, within all of those constraints, it's still very easy for me to transmit my message. And therefore, my speech isn't really being inhibited by them.

The dissent also discusses several precedents for treating corporate speech differently than the speech of natural persons. And even Kennedy's opinion for the majority says The relevant factors in deciding whether to adhere to stare decisis, beyond workability—the precedent’s antiquity, the reliance interests at stake, and whether the decision was well reasoned—counsel in favor of abandoning Austin... so the position that the CU majority was merely applying existing precedent is not supportable.

You do realize, I'm sure, that the Old Testament calls for many of the same punishments/illiberal policies, right? See, ie, Leviticus.

Also, Sharia does not actually call for women wearing oppressive clothing. That is more cultural than religious.

Honor killings are also cultural, not Sharia required/condoned. Other religious groups engage in the barbaric practice. See, ie, Sikhs and Hindus at times.

As a counter example to SA and Iran, check out Turkey.

And the fatwas are not Sharia.

But, regardless, Islam and Sharia are practiced and interpreted differently in different countries.

See, again, Turkey and Indonesia as counterweights to Iran and SA. Further, the US would not be adopting Sharia, and Muslims have lived in the US for centuries, and had to abide by US laws which they do. Without resistance.

Yes, I am familiar with Leviticus, which is not the public policy of this country and is only believed literally by a handful of lunatics. In fact, Leviticus is my first counter to religious opponents of gay marriage: why aren't you stoning them if the Bible means what it says?

How Islam is currently practiced in the US and how it might be practiced as the Muslim population grows are two different things. Trends in other Western countries are not cause for optimism, but they are only trends and what happens elsewhere doesn't necessarily happen here.

My point, to repeat myself, is simply that there are aspects of Islam that go beyond mere belief and are constitutionally problematical. Muslims migrating to the US, and many who are already here, have not been acculturated to defer to what I referred to upthread as the US social contract. Mainstream protestantism, Catholicism and Judaism pretty much are in sync with the social contract. It remains to be seen whether, as time passes, US Muslims generally will buy into or seek exception from the contact. If it's the latter, the constitution will be implicated in a big way.

Phil, isolated nut cases make for a poor reference point. In poor counterpoint, I give you the US citizen, Muslim extremist who tried to bomb Times Square.

I'm from a town that had, for the longest time, a sign that greeted people coming off the interstate saying 'Jesus is Lord over [town's name]' (someone, nothing the prevalence of meth, suggested that it should be amended to Jesus is Drug lord ')

My point being, even if we assume that everything about the onslaught of Islam in the US is true, it would take a long time for it to reach the levels that the intrusiveness of Christianity has in many parts of the US. So the notion that the US might have some problems in the future should be weighed against the asymmetry of access and the challenge of Islam reaching anywhere near a point that is taken for granted with Christianity.

McKinney,

I have to say, your argument seems to boil down to "Muslims are scary." I can't find much more than that as this discussion progresses.

What is it you're advocating? Should Muslims be treated as some special case with fewer rights and freedoms than other people, or what?

I mean, if you have a concern about Muslims assimilating, maybe none of us can help that. But how should your concern be addressed outside of your own mind? What do you want?

FWIW a piece by an American Muslim on sharia in the US.

Andrew Sullivan links to this about a planned protest against the building of a mosque in a California town. Among other things, the protesters are told to bring their dogs, because Muslims don't like dogs. Words fail.

McKinney, much quoted already:

it's just 'we need to make sure that various people don't break the law in the service of their religion'

Yep, that is my main point, added to which is the notion, not well received here, that Islam and Sharia law present a number of problematical issues for liberal democracy particularly for a constitutional liberal democracy with fundamental rules on the separation of church and state, equality of the sexes, races, etc.

To repeat in response to repetition: how is this different from any other religion? What are we supposed to do proactively in relation to Islam that we don't do proactively in relation to any other religion?

For that matter, how is this different from the way we handle lawbreaking in general? What do "we" do to make sure preemptively that laws don't get broken? Maybe we should start putting everyone in jail ahead of time, just in case.

The idea doesn't even make sense. It's just a way to join in and/or whip up fear of the other, which is admittedly a grand old American tradition: Catholics, Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Amish, etc. etc. etc. (See Liberty of Conscience.)

If "we" are going to spend any resources being on guard against threats to liberal democracy, we would far better spend them keeping an eye on the [expletives suppressed] planning the protest in California, and the Palins and the Cheneys and their ilk. They're a far bigger threat than American Muslims are. And if you don't think they're much of a threat at all, then you now know just how to calibrate the threat level of Muslims.

How Islam is currently practiced in the US and how it might be practiced as the Muslim population grows are two different things. Trends in other Western countries are not cause for optimism, but they are only trends and what happens elsewhere doesn't necessarily happen here.

Yeah, and even those "trends" don't involve stonings. And they don't involve European countries allowing for murders by fatwa out of concern for religious freedom.

Again, if there are problems, law enforcement will handle them. We don't need to change Islam's status from religion to cult to aid that effort.

My point, to repeat myself, is simply that there are aspects of Islam that go beyond mere belief and are constitutionally problematical.

Yes, this is true of every religion.

Muslims migrating to the US, and many who are already here, have not been acculturated to defer to what I referred to upthread as the US social contract.

What is your evidence of this? They seem to be doing fine to me? I have Muslim friends (one is a terrific shortstop and leadoff hitter on my softball team) and sometimes spend time in Muslim areas of Brooklyn.

No stonings. No fatwa-inspired murders. Women with hijab and without.

Mainstream protestantism, Catholicism and Judaism pretty much are in sync with the social contract. It remains to be seen whether, as time passes, US Muslims generally will buy into or seek exception from the contact.

Yes it does, but current trends are promising.

If it's the latter, the constitution will be implicated in a big way.

How?

McK: My point, to repeat myself, is simply that there are aspects of Islam that go beyond mere belief and are constitutionally problematical.

Your point is that you're bigoted against Muslims and are therefore going to seize any excuse to pick on Muslims - and, not at all incidentally, using GLBT people as an excuse to pick on Muslims while having no demonstrable concern for how GLBT people are treated in the US by Christians. Nice.

Incidentally, an Anglican bishop a couple of years ago listened unmoved to an account of how Christians had tortured and raped a lesbian, and said that was justified because they wanted to make her straight. Hell, McKinney! Gene Robinson had to wear a bulletproof jacket when he was made a bishop, because of the death threats he had received from Christians, and you think Islam is the problem?

Trying to fake a concern about "homosexuals" as a justification for your anti-Islamic bigotry is unconvincing, to say the least.

Yes, I am familiar with Leviticus, which is not the public policy of this country and is only believed literally by a handful of lunatics.

Uh, I'm pretty sure that every single Orthodox and Conservative Jew and Evangelical Christian in THE WORLD believes that Leviticus is literally true.

Mainstream protestantism, Catholicism and Judaism pretty much are in sync with the social contract. It remains to be seen whether, as time passes, US Muslims generally will buy into or seek exception from the contact.

As has been stated repeatedly already, in the history of this country Catholicism and Judaism were certainly not always seen to be in sync with the social contract. It does in fact remain to be seen; that has been the case with every group that has ever come here. So what?

And what does "seek exception" mean? The Amish don't have the send their kids to high school (Wisconsin v. Yoder). A Seventh Day Adventist can still get unemployment benefits if she refuses a job that would require her to work on Saturdays (Sherbert v Verner). Etc. We have been trying to strike a balance for a long time; I don't see why Muslims are any more of a threat to that process than all these other groups have been over the centuries.

Mainstream protestantism, Catholicism and Judaism pretty much are in sync with the social contract

Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, facing a new District of Columbia law mandating health coverage for partners of gay employees in agencies that take taxpayer dollars, has decided to drop coverage for all spouses of Catholic Charities employees rather than be forced to insure same-sex couples.

The announcement follows last month's decision by Catholic Charities to end its longstanding foster care and adoption program because the new statute would have compelled the agency to place children with qualified gay applicants.

Catholic Charities is the church's main social welfare agency and it receives $22 million a year from the District to help run a range of programs for the needy in the capital.


The church policy dropping spousal coverage for future hires at Catholic Charities was crafted in response to the District's new gay marriage law, set to go into effect this week. (Currently just 10 percent of Catholic Charities' 850 employees have a spouse on their policy, and they will be grandfathered in.)Catholic Charities did not want to drop or reduce services beyond the adoption and foster care program, so the archdiocese decided that it would drop all spousal coverage for employees so that it could still take government funds for other programs and not risk that it would wind up insuring a gay couple.

We are talking passed each other: my point is that Islam has a number of features that, if practiced in the US (and there are incidences of honor killings, etc. in the US although not numerous), present problematical constitutional issues if the practitioner raises a constitutional defense of his/her right to act.

If it's the latter, the constitution will be implicated in a big way.

How?

For example, if a public school that was majority Muslim were to segregate classes by sex and to forbid serving pork in the school cafeteria and were to teach the Koran as a part of class activities, all of these things, were they to happen, would run afoul of the constitution.

In their time, Christians mandated prayer in public school. That is gone. Rightly so. As the number of Muslims grow, I expect there to be issues outside of the belief side of any religion that will be claimed to be allowed under the rubric of the free exercise clause but which, in fact, go beyond what the free exercise clause allows. At the same time, there will be those within the Christian, Jewish, etc communities who push the envelope.

Here is my original point:raising the question of whether aspects of Islam fall under the "free exercise" clause is fair game.

That was it.

At the same time, there will be those within the Christian, Jewish, etc communities who push the envelope.

Therefore, raising the question of whether aspects of Christianity/Judaism/etc. fall under the "free exercise" clause is fair game.

Therefore, your "original point" is that Islam is just another religion.

Which makes this entire thread not only pointless, but downright bizarre.

my point is that Islam has a number of features that, if practiced in the US (and there are incidences of honor killings, etc. in the US although not numerous), present problematical constitutional issues if the practitioner raises a constitutional defense of his/her right to act.

This is utter nonsense. First of all, it's been pointed out to you repeatedly that honor killings are not an Islam thing, nor are they Sharia; there are non-Islamic Middle Eastern and South Asian immigrants who also commit them. So maybe you should internalize that.

Second, if Scott Roeder couldn't mount a successful defense for killing George Tiller, I can't imagine -- I mean, literally, cannot conceive of under any circumstances whatsoever -- a court that would even allow an attorney to mount a free exercise defense to murder charges. Like, in a zillion years.

Likewise, more and more states are finally coming to their senses and holding people like this to account for essentially murdering their children in the name of religion.

This is just cloud-cuckoo-land. There is no precedent -- NONE -- in the United States for killing people being a Constitutionally-protected activity under the First Amendment or any other. And there never will be.

my point is that Islam has a number of features that, if practiced in the US (and there are incidences of honor killings, etc. in the US although not numerous), present problematical constitutional issues if the practitioner raises a constitutional defense of his/her right to act.

How would that be problematic at all? You can not use "religion" as a defense to murder, regardless of the religion in question.

That is not problematic, but very easy. Slam dunk. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

For example, if a public school that was majority Muslim were to segregate classes by sex and to forbid serving pork in the school cafeteria and were to teach the Koran as a part of class activities, all of these things, were they to happen, would run afoul of the constitution.

I'll take each in turn:

1. Can't segragate classes in public school, because the schools are "public" and that would be imposing a religion in the public square. Well settled Con Law doctrine, not a problem at all.

2. Aside from making the kids healthier ;), this would not fly, again, for the reasons stated in #1. However, just as Kosher alternatives are offered to observant Jewish kids, so to would Halal alternatives be offered to observant Muslim kids.

Not a problem at all.

3. Teaching the Koran, like teaching the Bible, would not be allowed.

Again, not sure I see the problem here?

In other words, Muslims, like Christians and Jews, might try to impose their religion in the public square, but Con Law is quite adept at disallowing such entreaties.

So?

I'm sorry, McKinney, but I don't think we're talking past each other. I think the discussion is going the way it is because your point just isn't much of a point. It's a lesser version of someone saying, "You know, people might do bad things," which would prompt a response of "Yeah? So what?"

Do you think Islam is a cult? Do you think Muslims should be restricted more than other groups in building places of worship (or in other ways)? (And I don't want to hear "if they do this" or "if they do that" because the same applies to any other group that might do this or that.)

Here is my original point:raising the question of whether aspects of Islam fall under the "free exercise" clause is fair game.

And since honor killings are not "an aspect of Islam," there is no point. So, here we are.

Evidence that much of this is cultural and regional and that Islam, like any other religion with a strong cultural aspect, can and will adapt itself to new cultural situations:

German Muslim group: professional soccer players can break fast during Ramadan

This is what happens when groups are allowed to participate in a mixed society and not isolated through social censure. They seek to translate their cultural practices in ways that fit the new context.

UK, Phil, Eric, and HSH have all said what I wanted to say, and better than I'd have said it.

"Here is my original point:raising the question of whether aspects of Islam fall under the "free exercise" clause is fair game.

That was it."

Watch this:

raising the question of whether aspects of RELIGION fall under the "free exercise" clause is fair game.

Has anyone on this board disputed that statement? Why did you feel the need to assert it?

Mainstream protestantism, Catholicism and Judaism pretty much are in sync with the social contract.

I have a friend who lives in a state of the US where gay marriage is illegal, thanks to your "mainstream Protestantism & Catholicism". She's dying of cancer. She wants to marry her partner, legally, before she dies. She's got 18 months, max.

To you, McKinney, she and a hundred thousand like her may be outside the social contract. To me, not.

We are talking passed each other: my point is that Islam has a number of features that, if practiced in the US (and there are incidences of honor killings, etc. in the US although not numerous), present problematical constitutional issues if the practitioner raises a constitutional defense of his/her right to act.

See, I dont think that at all. Honor killings are not protected by the first amendment under almost any interpretation, and certainly any interpretation likely to exist in the near future. I think it's radical of you to contemplate a first amendment that protects honor killing.
We don't need to change the first amendment to address your concerns- it already fails to cover enforcing one's religion on others.

For example, if a public school that was majority Muslim were to segregate classes by sex and to forbid serving pork in the school cafeteria and were to teach the Koran as a part of class activities, all of these things, were they to happen, would run afoul of the constitution.

Not serving pork probably wouldn't run afoul of the Constitution, unless there's a Right To Pork that Im unfamiliar with. Segregating classes by gender is probably also permitted. As you said about blue laws, the state has the power to do some things, and as long as they aren't forcing a religious practice on anyone, there is some deference. Too much IMO, but that's another story.
Teaching the Koran (as a religious exercise) in public school isn't Constitutional, and that's pretty settled law already. But there are plenty of Christians who have tried to get the Bible taught in schools, so if that is an example of Islam violating the social contract, you should also re-examine Evangelicals in this light.

I have a friend who lives in a state of the US where gay marriage is illegal, thanks to your "mainstream Protestantism & Catholicism".

Well, this is another problem with the argument I think- aspects of the mainstream religion and it's impact on social mores become part & parcel of the 'social contract', to the point that- McK- I dont think you see them as being overtly religious. Cant buy beer on Sunday morning? No biggie, the state can decide that everyone should take a morning off from drinking. Public school doesn't serve pork? Violation of the social contract.

I have a UU friend who is surprisingly resentful (given that she is not generally a bitter kind of person) about the fact that in her public school in the midwest, sometime in the 50's or 60's, the cafeteria always served fish on Fridays to accommodate the Catholic kids. It was the old days, and her school wasn't big/rich enough to have multiple entree choices, so it was fish for everyone.

None of this is new.

Me: None of this is new.

I forgot to add: Or unique to Islam.

And the notion -- and from a lawyer, too! -- that someone might mount a 1st Amendment defense ("my religion made me do it") in a murder trial, and that fear of this eventuality and the need to guard against it is worth one nanosecond of our time, is so bizarre that I think I need to go to the beach and bask in the blazing sun for a while to regain my sense of proportion.

(Just kidding about the beach.)

CW: Are you sure public schools are allowed to segregate kids based on sex? Maybe so. I'm not an expert by any stretch.

No biggie, the state can decide that everyone should take a morning off from drinking.

Wait one second. The state might be able to tell me I can't buy beer on Sunday, but they sure as hell can't tell me I can't drink it! You trying to throw me into the Tea Party or what, CW?

Word.

Oh, and because making emotional statements like my last one is kind of pointless except for wetting the keyboard (I have tear'd up yet again, dammit): If you live in Washington State, here's how you find your legislator, please write and ask them to have the ban on same-sex marriage lifted. My friend and her love can't even go somewhere else, get married, and come back - State of Washington has decreed that, with the support of DOMA, Article 4 of the US Constitution can just not apply to her, or to thousands like her.

She's dying. She'd like to get married.

CW: Are you sure public schools are allowed to segregate kids based on sex? Maybe so. I'm not an expert by any stretch.

All-girls charter school celebrates 10 years of success

Well there's your answer right there!

Thanks elm.

But then...what would the problem be if the same were implemented again?

Here is the sequence of events:

Ramsey says, "Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of
life, cult whatever you want to call it,"

Then Eric said, "Not to mention that such a blithe disregard to a fundamental Constitutional protection is alarming in its own right."

Then I said, "raising the question of whether aspects of Islam fall under the "free exercise" clause is fair game. Freedom to believe is virtually unlimited, not so freedom to act on those beliefs. Honor killings, the role of women, polygamy, etc. are all within Islam, or subsets thereof."

Which, I agree with HSD, isn't that large a point. Yet, this thread would indicate otherwise.

CW: Are you sure public schools are allowed to segregate kids based on sex? Maybe so. I'm not an expert by any stretch.

Im not sure. Im just saying that segregating by gender isn't necessarily a religious act, like studying the Koran or the Bible, praying, etc. And while I think the courts have given too much leeway to such ostensibly non-religious acts (eg blue laws), that is the existing precedent.
Fortunately, I think we're moving the right direction on those issues as well, so maybe this wouldn't pass muster anymore. And Id be happy with that outcome.

progressives and arch-conservatives, as opposed to the broader group of generic liberal or conservative leaning jurists, tend heavily toward outcome jurisprudence at the expense of precedent, predictability and, ultimately, intellectual coherence.

I think that all jurists do this; it's just that the mainstream jurists are operating within an Overton window of 'accepted interpretation', and we become accustomed to that framework. But those interpretations ought not be privileged as more reasonable just because they are mainstream. Take, for example, Bork's out-of-the-mainstream view that the 9th amendment ought to be treated as an inkblot on the Constitution- similar inkblot-type views have been IMO held by the majority regarding parts of the Constitution (eg Plessy, the Slaugherhouse cases, Korematsu).
In the mainstream, we see all manner of inconsistency from case to case from the same judge, based on what appears to me to be results-oriented jurisprudence: switching between decision-making processes (eg afaict, stare decisis is Latin for "I prefer the earlier decision although I can find no actual justification for it"), putting varying weight on various parts of the decision-making process (eg how much deference to give to legislative or executive opinions/findings, which precedents to apply), how to understand the language being interpreted (eg signing statements, legislative records, only the text itself, which definitions to use, what implications to draw).

When I see a new SC decision, I often think- did any of the jurists here reach a conclusion contrary to (what appears to be) their personal, political views? And it's pretty rare when I can give a strong 'yes' to that.

McK: Yet, this thread would indicate otherwise.

Possibly in your mind. To me what it appears to most-strongly indicate is that you're an Islamophobic bigot who won't listen to anyone who tries to enlighten you of your bigotry with mere facts, and for some reason, most of the rest of us have not yet given up on trying to enlighten you, even though it seems clear that you're really not going to listen to anything that would require you to let go of your bigotry.

Ramsey says, "Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of
life, cult whatever you want to call it,"

The question isn't whether Ramsey personally thinks Islam is a cult or not. It's whether he believes that Islam is deserving of the protections of the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. He certainly calls that into question in the larger context of his quote (which you didn't reproduce).
I mean, I may personally think that Scientology is a cult. But I also believe that it certainly deserves the protection of the First Amendment. If I say "I think Scientology is a cult, not a true religion per se", that is very different on it's own than if it's followed by "...and the Constitution only protects Freedom Of Religion".

Jesurgislac: Now, what did he really mean by that?

Simultaneous bow/chortle.

I'm pretty sure that every single Orthodox and Conservative Jew and Evangelical Christian in THE WORLD believes that Leviticus is literally true.

But that's not the same as believing that it ought to dictate policy in the here-and-now. I can tell you that my church does not believe Leviticus applies to how Christians should live their lives, in the here and now. Has to do with new covenants superceding old; probably not too interesting.

In a larger, more general context, there are people who are of the mind to seize things out of the Bible to support their own particular prejudices. If that had been your point, and it didn't seem to be, I wouldn't argue against it. There may even be sects of Christianity that are hard-over on Leviticus, but you'd have to show me that such people constitute a regardable percentage of the entirety.

The laws in Leviticus applied to Jews (Israelites) only. They didn't apply to people of other religions. We Christians are not, for example, required to submit any mildewed leather goods to our local priest, among a large number of other bits in Leviticus that we do not have to follow.

Take free speech for corporations: it's always been recognized

OT, for which my apologies, but this is factually incorrect.

Please see the Tillman Act (1907), Austin v Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990), McConnell v FEC (2003), for starters.

raising the question of whether aspects of Islam fall under the "free exercise" clause is fair game.

You know what? You're right, it is fair game.

And you've spun that game out for this full thread, without once being able to demonstrate a single aspect of Islam -- not one -- that presents any greater problem to American civil society than any other religion does.

Nobody is saying you can't raise the issue. It does, however, behoove you to present some substance.

Jes: please, with the insults. Oy.

McTex: Ramsay issued those comments in the context of denying Muslims the ability to build a house of worship. And, in reclassifying Islam as a cult, he was looking to circumvent Constitutional prohibitions on such denials.

Your first comment suggested that Ramsay was guilty of bad manners, but...then much followed. Which made it unclear whether you thought there was a basis for stripping Con protection from Islam as a religion.

This was controversial to some.

Also, honor killings are not a part of Islam, or Sharia. They are cultural, and I've made this point to you more than once. At least have the decency to disagree with a counterargument.

Further, a lot of the comments addressed the likelihood that Muslims in the US would threaten the Constitution with their attempts to practice a fundamentalist version that current US Muslims by and large don't attempt.

Anyway.

McTx worries that the number of Muslims in the US might grow.

I have a question: How?

To my knowledge, the number of Muslims, like the number of Baptists or the number of Catholics, can only grow by:
1) Birth
2) Conversion
3) Immigration
Which of these, I ask McKinney, is the basis of his worry?

Birth? Even granting that religion is hereditary (which I am happy to do) is McKinney really worried about a Muslim baby boom?

Conversion? Is McKinney really worried that Islam is persuasive enough to seduce Baptists or Catholics away from their hereditary religions?

Immigration? Even if you dislike Muslim immigrants, you'd have to postulate an awful lot of them, wouldn't you?

But maybe McKinney is worried about some fourth way that I can't imagine. Or maybe numbers are irrelevant to what worries him. I don't have my internet psychologist license yet, so all I can do is ask these questions.

--TP

There may even be sects of Christianity that are hard-over on Leviticus, but you'd have to show me that such people constitute a regardable percentage of the entirety.

If we're going to have to respect archaic priestly cult law, I want the Year of Jubilee reinstated.

Eric: Jes: please, with the insults. Oy.

Insults? Did I say anything insulting? I don't think so. I identified McKinneyTexas's problem in clear language.

Eh. Less mind reading please.

If we're going to have to respect archaic priestly cult law, I want the Year of Jubilee reinstated.

You'd have to have some food/drink put away for that, but I agree with the sentiment.

Or, put another way: Yeah, I'm being as polite as I can be to and about McKinneyTexas, who has, in this thread, clarified that discrimination and denial of civil rights to LGBT people is within the social contract, but that homosexuals are useful as a means of berating Muslims.

When right-wingers who neither believe in nor support women's rights and GLBT rights at home, and ignore completely how many Christian countries treat women and GLBT people, pick up the font of mistreatment of women and mistreatment of GLBT people and use it to justify their Islamophobic bigotry, I not only despise their Islamophobia, I resent their making use of
people whom they do not care about to justify their bigotry.

Which is what McKinneyTexas is doing. And since he has demonstrated he pays no attention to anything anyone says that might enlighten him, I don't doubt he will keep doing that.

You'd have to have some food/drink put away for that, but I agree with the sentiment.

I have two refrigerators and a big pantry.

Bring it.

Jes,

It's a conversation, and he has certainly not "clarified" the things you claim. Yours is the worst possible reading of his comments, and lacks any type of dialectical slack.

Please refrain.

Also, there's a difference to saying that a certain statement or position is bigoted, and the person is. The former is fine. The latter involves a lot of mind reading and is generally not cool in the comments.

Jay Smooth has a great video about how to effectively criticize racist statements/positions (forgive me if I originally found this here and it's all old news):

http://www.illdoctrine.com/2008/07/how_to_tell_people_they_sound.html

Love that video. Was looking for it, but couldn't find it. I first came across it on Balloon Juice fwiw.

And you've spun that game out for this full thread, without once being able to demonstrate a single aspect of Islam -- not one -- that presents any greater problem to American civil society than any other religion does.

Actually, what I've mainly done is reiterate my basic position and when asked to give examples, I've done so. The responses have been generally, well Christians and Jews do things too. As if that disproved my point.

Nor did I ever indicate that Islam in the US poses any greater problem than any other religion.

I happen to think there are aspects of the fundamentalist Christian movement on what is mainly the right that pose a relatively more imminent, but still marginal threat to our social contract. FWIW.

OT, for which my apologies, but this is factually incorrect.

Please see the Tillman Act (1907), Austin v Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990), McConnell v FEC (2003), for starters.

Didn't Austin follow the first round of CFR? What prior restraints did the Tillman Act place of corporations?

McTx worries that the number of Muslims in the US might grow.

I believe I said words to the effect: if it grows (the number, that is). I have not expressed any concern or worry. TP, I think this is one of many cases where more is read into my comments than was actually there.

Which made it unclear whether you thought there was a basis for stripping Con protection from Islam as a religion.

I think my words were and are pretty clear. I think there has been a lot of jumping-to-conclusions. Ramsey was out of bounds, but that does not mean that there is nothing about Islam that doesn't present potential constitutional issues as that religion is practiced. It was neither an exclusive statement limited solely to Islam nor a comparative statement favoring any other religion over Islam. That so many others read so much into it is not of my doing.

The social contract in the US holds, generally, a respect for the right of others to believe as they will and a subordination of personal beliefs to the rule of law. To respond indirectly to some of Jes' hyperventilation: if a law is passed allowing gay marriage (as I would favor), the majority of Americans would abide by that law whether regardless of their religious views. That many Americans--but a number that shrinks every year--oppose gay marriage for religious reasons doesn't mean they don't sign on to the contract. Rather, the contract permits dissenting views, even views that are based on bigotry or ignorance or a combination of the two. A different example would be abortion: most who oppose Roe limit their opposition to the ballot box, a small minority do not, a very small minority are extremists. The contract allows people to disagree with Roe and vote accordingly.

And the notion -- and from a lawyer, too! -- that someone might mount a 1st Amendment defense ("my religion made me do it") in a murder trial, and that fear of this eventuality and the need to guard against it is worth one nanosecond of our time, is so bizarre that I think I need to go to the beach and bask in the blazing sun for a while to regain my sense of proportion.

It is well within reasonable contemplation that witnesses might refuse to give testimony about what they perceive to be a justifiable homicide based on religious views or that a defendant might plead their cultural and religious requirements as mitigating factors in defense to a charge of murder. Whether the issue is holding the witness in contempt or ruling on the legal efficacy of the claimed mitigating factor, the free exercise clause is implicated.

Janie, because I raise the prospect of a defense being raised doesn't mean I expect it to prevail--I mean only that there are foreseeable circumstances under which the free exercise clause will be triggered.

If I've said something substantively beyond that--other than offering a hypothetical example in direct response to request or a challenge--point it out to me and I will try to fix or clarify it.

McTex,

You said:

Ramsey was out of bounds, but that does not mean that there is nothing about Islam that doesn't present potential constitutional issues as that religion is practiced.

Then:

Janie, because I raise the prospect of a defense being raised doesn't mean I expect it to prevail--I mean only that there are foreseeable circumstances under which the free exercise clause will be triggered.

I think the confusion, and the miscommunication, on this thread stems from the fact that the threats to the Constitution, or challenges thereto, seem so mundane that there isn't a lot of there there that is worth exploring.

It's all rather uncontroversial.

Some Muslims might try to impose their religion in the public square in ways that Christians have, and they will meet the same Constitutional barriers.

Some might try to use their religion to justify murder as George Tiller did. Again, they will hit the same wall.

Seems like there isn't much there worth exploring because it's so humdrum. The confusion stems from the apprehension on our part that you were suggesting that there was something more than routine religious tensions with Islam - pointing to Europe, repeatedly, as a harbinger.

In a larger, more general context, there are people who are of the mind to seize things out of the Bible to support their own particular prejudices. If that had been your point, and it didn't seem to be, I wouldn't argue against it.

My point was that the number of people in the world who believe that the events depicted in Leviticus all occurred literally as described, and added to that the number who believe its various commandments apply even today, is far more than a "handful of fringe lunatics." Which is exactly what I said. Where you got lost with that escapes me.

Nor did I ever indicate that Islam in the US poses any greater problem than any other religion.

Then why did you keep bringing up honor killings and stoning homosexuals and whatnot?

The responses have been generally, well Christians and Jews do things too. As if that disproved my point.
Nor did I ever indicate that Islam in the US poses any greater problem than any other religion.

Some significant majority of US citizens are as least casual adherents to a religion. So if this is the case, and Islam poses no greater problem, then why bring it up on this thread, and discuss the specific issues you see with Islam- simultaneously pointing out that Islam might influence our school lunch menu while dismissing concerns that blue laws have already had a similar effect from the Christian side?

It was neither an exclusive statement limited solely to Islam nor a comparative statement favoring any other religion over Islam. That so many others read so much into it is not of my doing.

Well, you didn't really correct anyone until now. That is of your doing.

It is well within reasonable contemplation that witnesses might refuse to give testimony about what they perceive to be a justifiable homicide based on religious views or that a defendant might plead their cultural and religious requirements as mitigating factors in defense to a charge of murder. Whether the issue is holding the witness in contempt or ruling on the legal efficacy of the claimed mitigating factor, the free exercise clause is implicated.

Only insofar as a defendant might *wrongly* assert that their behavior was protected. I just don't see that as "implicated". If I claim that my daily spliff is a weapon and therefore protected under the 2nd amendment, no Constitutional issue is implicated- Im merely mistaken.
Obviously, individuals and their lawyers make claims all of the time without the inference that those claims necessarily have some substance just by virtue of having been made.

I think the confusion, and the miscommunication, on this thread stems from the fact that the threats to the Constitution, or challenges thereto, seem so mundane that there isn't a lot of there there that is worth exploring.
It's all rather uncontroversial.

I went back to McK's first comment, which said That said, raising the question of whether aspects of Islam fall under the "free exercise" clause is fair game.
And yeah, maybe this is a misunderstanding. I interpreted such a statement, following on the original post, as 'there are aspects of Islam which ought not be protected as religious activity, such as the building of Mosques.'
But then I have another problem- McK, if this was your point all along- that some people believe their religion gives them license to act outside of the law & social contract- but that they are mistaken in this belief- it seems like you could've corrected the misinterpretation. It would been very easy to say "Islam deserves exactly the same protections that all other religions receive, and that protection ends when others' rights are infringed upon." If that's a fair summation of your views on the Constitutionality of practicing Islam, then I think we're in agreement.

The social contract in the US holds, generally, a respect for the right of others to believe as they will and a subordination of personal beliefs to the rule of law. . . . A different example would be abortion: most who oppose Roe limit their opposition to the ballot box, a small minority do not, a very small minority are extremists. The contract allows people to disagree with Roe and vote accordingly.

Not to get into this yet again, but the idea that people's rights should be up for a vote is itself inimical to the rule of law. And given that there are no real nonreligious objections to safe, legal abortion . . . well, you put it together.

If that's a fair summation of your views on the Constitutionality of practicing Islam, then I think we're in agreement.

Much ado about nothing. Now if feel really guilty about blog-reading and commenting while I should have been working. If only there had been a point to all of this.

Nor did I ever indicate that Islam in the US poses any greater problem than any other religion.

Thanks for clarifying that.

What prior restraints did the Tillman Act place of corporations?

You asserted that corporate free speech has "always been recognized".

Tillman prohibited corporations from making contributions to political campaigns.

In Austin v Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan Finance Act, which likewise prohibited corporations from using corporate treasury funds to support or oppose political candidates, was held to specifically not violate the 1st or 14th Amendments.

Net/net, the right of corporations to free speech under the 1st has most definitely not "always been recognized". It has, in fact, most typically been *not* recognized.

McKinney: Nor did I ever indicate that Islam in the US poses any greater problem than any other religion.

Yes, you did. In this thread there are actual comments in which you claimed this.

You may now have changed your mind, but it would be courteous to admit it, rather than just doing a "Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia" shift in the same thread.

And speaking of the fallout from Citizens United, Target Corp. has decided to be the first into the fray.

Phil, Target's contribution makes perfect sense.

The Republican candidate they are contributing to hates taxes and gays.

Target hates taxes but supports gays.

The candidate will reduce or eliminate taxes so that Target can hire more people, including gays, at subsistence wages. They might even secure a bonus in the deal, by having Obamacare repealed.

If the Minnesota Republican in question was also in favor of stoning women to death, Target would not withdraw their support, given their commonality on the tax issue.

Target's tax burden would then be reduced, permitting them to lower the price of stones.

We saw how this worked in Germany 75 years ago. Railroads were relieved of pesky taxes and regulation and, as a result, were able to provide free transportation for select customers.

My point was that the number of people in the world who believe that the events depicted in Leviticus all occurred literally as described, and added to that the number who believe its various commandments apply even today, is far more than a "handful of fringe lunatics." Which is exactly what I said

Yes, I got that. To clarify my response: I don't have any issue with the claim that a goodly chunk of Judeo-Christianity believes that the events depicted in Leviticus all occurred literally as described. What I question is that you have any basis at all for the notion that there's any significant portion of Judeo-Christianity that believes that its various commandments apply even today. You can't add (or otherwise conflate) those populations, because one is, for the most part, a (small, I say) subset of the other.

OTOH if you're pointing out that lots of people believe funny things, that is uncontroversial, but not nearly as scary. Which I've already said, in so many words.

A Target spokesman, from Phil's link:

"Let me be very clear," he said, "Target's support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company."

In the Target lexicon, "unwavering" can also mean "for sale".

I actually don't have that big of a problem with businesses acting like making money is their first priority. The world might be a somewhat better place if that took second place to, perhaps, providing value to their customers, but it's a tough world out there and if you don't make your nut, you go away.

But giving corporations, with the enormous financial and other resources they bring to the table, access to the political process is going to do nothing but fnck it up for the actual human beings who live here.

Corporations do not have the same priorities as people do. OK, maybe they have the same priorities as twisted greedy people, but not the same as normal people.

There's nothing wrong with that. Corporations have a purpose for existing, and that purpose requires them to have the priorities they have.

But they're not people. They're not even a proxy for the people who own them and work for them. They're a legal structure for encouraging the formation of capital by limiting the liability of the investors.

Citizens United is going to be remembered as one of the truly crappy SCOTUS decisions of all time, and its practical effect is going to be to radically distort public policy in this country in ways we can only dream of.

We're stuck with this freaking court for another generation.

Slartibartfast: What I question is that you have any basis at all for the notion that there's any significant portion of Judeo-Christianity that believes that its various commandments apply even today.

Many Jews get really offended at having Judaism, the oldest of the three Abrahamic religions, get muddled in with Christianity by the phrase "Judeo-Christianity".

And yes, it is basically kind of the point of being Jewish that you do believe that the mitzvot commanded in Vayikra apply even today - though rabbi may differ as to how to interpret them.

For Christians, the commandments of Leviticus are primarily used as a stick to beat people Christians don't like - you never see the religious right demonstrating outside McDonalds because they sell milk and meat in the same cheeseburger, for example.

And that different is one good reason why muddling the two faiths together is a silly thing to do.

You rarely do see Jews stoning each other, though, so the degree to which Leviticus is taken literally is, well, limited.

My apologies to any Jews that were offended by my usage.

Everybody must get stoned.

You rarely do see Jews stoning each other, though, so the degree to which Leviticus is taken literally is, well, limited.

Well, that's a rather different statement from what you originally said, which was that Jews and Christians do not believe "that [Leviticus/Vayikra]'s various commandments apply even today" - which Christians certainly don't but Jews certainly do.

The idea that Jews can only be said to think the mitzvot of Vayikra apply if they actually have Adolf Eichmann stoned to death seems... just plain wrong.

Islamo-Christian countries are far more likely to apply the death penalty to their own citizens than Israel is to Israeli citizens, though of course Israel does indiscriminately kill non-citizens as a form of collective punishment.

For Christians, the commandments of Leviticus are primarily used as a stick to beat people Christians don't like

This. Precisely.

I'm pretty sure I haven't heard very many recent cases of Jewish people stoning other people for adultery or homosexuality. So it isn't very accurate to suggest that those particular portions of Leviticus are understood to be in force.

Well, that's a rather different statement from what you originally said, which was that Jews and Christians do not believe "that [Leviticus/Vayikra]'s various commandments apply even today" - which Christians certainly don't but Jews certainly do.

No, I'm afraid you're wrong, here. Leviticus prescribes stoning for various offenses. But you already knew that.

Noting that Jews don't heed Leviticus in this regard is perfectly consistent with my earlier statements.

This. Precisely.

This, precisely, is how actions taken by some Muslims get attached to all of Islam.

I'm pretty sure I haven't heard very many recent cases of Jewish people stoning other people for adultery or homosexuality.

I'm pretty sure Jes hasn't either, Sebastian.

So it isn't very accurate to suggest that those particular portions of Leviticus are understood to be in force.

Sigh.

I took Jes to be making the rather obvious observation that even if Leviticus isn't "understood to be in force," it still gets used as a rhetorical gay-bashing stick on a regular basis. A cursory glance at just about any "faith-based" argument against equality for LGBT folk would bear this out.

However, not wishing to get into a 200-comment discussion with Sebastian on the precise meanings of the words "rhetorical," "gay," "bashing," "stick," "on," "a," "regular," and "basis," I'll step away now.

I'm pretty sure I haven't heard very many recent cases of Jewish people stoning other people for adultery or homosexuality.

Because the appropriate Rabbinical courts and the Temple no longer exist, not because they don't believe those particular commandments are no longer in effect.

They also don't currently keep the commandments related to the operation of the Temple, or those that had to be carried out within the Temple, for obvious reasons. That doesn't mean that those commandments are not in effect.

Although I'm not saying that if the Sanhedrin reconvened that Jews would start stoning gays and adulterers and Sabbath violators. The circumstances under which those punishments were, in the rabbinical tradition, to take place were almost impossible to meet anyway; and I believe there is later Talmudic commentary recommending against them.

"I took Jes to be making the rather obvious observation that even if Leviticus isn't "understood to be in force," it still gets used as a rhetorical gay-bashing stick on a regular basis. A cursory glance at just about any "faith-based" argument against equality for LGBT folk would bear this out."

I didn't take it that way. I took it as a point suggesting strong similarity between how Christian-influenced governments, Jewish-influenced governments and Muslim-influenced governments operate. But the actual killing of homosexuals is done in relatively advanced Muslim-influenced governments like Iran. I'm not aware of that in Israel. Which seems like somewhat of a difference. (Unless you want to say that Iran is more like Somalia than it is like Israel. But normally Iran is held out as a relatively advanced and modern Muslim government.)

But the actual killing of homosexuals is done in relatively advanced Muslim-influenced governments like Iran.

Seven countries in the world still have the death penalty for homosexuality: Iran, Nigeria, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

Those countries voted against an UN resolution to decriminalize homosexuality last year. As did the Vatican.

The Vatican representative justified their vote by arguing that in many countries where homosexuality is not a crime, this eventually leads to gay marriage. So the actual killing of homosexuals is well accepted by the Catholic Church, while decriminalizing consensual sex might lead to legal recognition of same-sex relationships and even gay parents. Much better to kill them young than to let them marry...

Phil: Although I'm not saying that if the Sanhedrin reconvened that Jews would start stoning gays and adulterers and Sabbath violators. The circumstances under which those punishments were, in the rabbinical tradition, to take place were almost impossible to meet anyway; and I believe there is later Talmudic commentary recommending against them.

Indeed.

Basically, if we just want to measure the world by rights-of-LGBT-people-and-all-women, Christo-Islamic (or Islamo-Christian) is the anti-rights bloc, and Judaeo-secular is the pro-rights bloc.

Hooray for secular Judaism! (As the son of a secular Jew, I highly recommend it.)

But the actual killing of homosexuals is done in relatively advanced Muslim-influenced governments like Iran.

It was very close to being done in Uganda very recently, with the active involvement of Christian clergy.

Then there are Christian-dominant places like the British Caribbean -- particularly Jamaica -- where people believed to be gay have been subject to mob violence in broad daylight, in the name of Christian morality.

None of which mitigates the utter horror of a case like Iran. But you're apparently one more conservative who insists that the difference between Christianity and Islam in this regard is fundamental, when it's actually just a question of degree.

For Christians, the commandments of Leviticus are primarily used as a stick to beat people Christians don't like

I put it to everyone here: isn't this a very broad and possibly bigoted over-generalization? Stumped by this one? I'll rewrite the quote, For Muslims, the commandments of the Koran are primarily used as a stick to beat people Muslims don't like.


I mean, if we were to review this thread objectively, didn't I spend about half of it being chastized/questioned/called a bigot for raising questions about Islam and the free exercise clause?

Haven't, on other threads, I been fairly thoroughly slammed for using the expression jihadist in place of Islamic extremist?

Actually, while Jes probably is a bit prejudiced against Christians, or at least subsets thereof, she has her reasons. I am simply noting a bit of a double standard. In fact, it's one I noted in my original comment: (not that bad manners keeps any number of progressives from saying substantively about Christianity what Ramsey said about Islam)

where people believed to be gay have been subject to mob violence in broad daylight, in the name of Christian morality.

And this was at the instance of the Jamaican gov't? Mob violence and gov't action are usually two different things.

I have not read specifics, stats, or depositions about the antigay violence in Jamaica, but: Sometimes mob violence is tacitly condoned by the government. There's a spectrum between the two poles of mob violence and government violence.

Mob violence and gov't action are usually two different things.

And yet the end result is the same.

In recent years, Human Rights Watch has documented extensive violence faced by LGBT people across Jamaica. This includes mob attacks in which gay men have been seriously wounded. In January 2008, for example, a mob attacked four men in Mandeville, surrounding their home and demanding they leave the community because they were gay. The mob slashed the inhabitants with sticks, stones, knives, and machetes.

That attack echoed another in the same town on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007, when a crowd of about 100 men gathered outside a church where 150 people were attending the funeral of a gay man. The crowd broke the windows with bottles and threatened to kill the mourners. Police were called to the scene, but refused to intervene. Officers stopped gay men from leaving and searched their vehicles, but did not restrain or detain members of the mob who threatened mourners with sticks, stones, and batons as they tried to escape.

Earlier that week, on April 2, 2007, a crowd in Montego Bay attacked three men alleged to be gay who were attending a carnival. Witnesses said the crowd chased the men down the street, slashed one man with knives and beat him with a manhole cover. According to local press reports, at least 30-40 people beat another man as he sought refuge in a bar, tearing his clothes from him and striking him as he bled severely from a head wound.

On February 14, 2007, a mob of at least 200 in Kingston surrounded and attacked four men, including J-FLAG's co-chair, calling for the men to be beaten to death because they were gay. When police arrived, instead of protecting the victims, the officers verbally abused them and struck one in the face, head, and stomach.

Source

The island, which is often said to have the most churches per square mile in the world, is dense with tiny congregations. About two-thirds of Jamaicans describe themselves as Protestant, according to government census figures. Among the leading denominations are Church of God, Seventh Day Adventist, Baptist and Pentecostal. Historically, the Church of England had a strong historic influence, but American streams of Christianity have swept the country since its independence. Less than 4 percent of Jamaicans are Roman Catholic. A leading religion is, of course, Rastafarianism, which has Christian roots and an Afro-centric worldview. Ministers here regularly condemn homosexuality as a mortal sin, citing the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and God’s destruction of these cities because of the immoral behavior of their gay inhabitants. They also frequently quote verse 20:13 of Leviticus, which declares: "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.”

“Ministers here are endorsing violent acts, calls for murder, to incite riots,” Griffin said. “I hear it being done here, I read it in the papers here, I have even heard it myself. They tell me: ‘We don’t believe in homosexuality and homosexuals should be killed because that’s what the scripture says.’”

Source

Sexual acts between men are punishable with up to ten years jail.[1] Jamaica has been called by human-rights groups as the most homophobic place on earth.[2]

Social leaders in Jamaica accuse international groups of meddling in domestic affairs. They defend laws against homosexuality as upholding Christian values.

[...]

In April 2006, the Sunday Herald ran a front page headline "No homos!" in which then opposition leader and current Prime Minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding vowed that "homosexuals would find no solace in any cabinet formed by him".[5] The statement was supported by several clergymen and a trade union leader.

[...]

Human Rights Watch also reports that police helped a suspect evade identification, and consistently refused to consider the possibility of a homophobic motive for the killing, with the senior officer responsible for the investigation claiming “most of the violence against homosexuals is internal. We never have cases of gay men being beaten up [by heterosexuals].”

[...]

Many Jamaicans are devoutly Christian and claim that their anti-gay stance is based on religious grounds.[26] In February 2006, a coalition of church leaders and members of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship declared their opposition to the privacy provisions of a proposed Charter of Rights that would form the basis of an amended Jamaican Constitution.

Source

I mean, if we were to review this thread objectively, didn't I spend about half of it being chastized/questioned/called a bigot for raising questions about Islam and the free exercise clause?

No, you spent about half of it being chastised for insinuating repeatedly that there was something unique about Islam in this regard, then pretending at the last minute that you weren't doing that.

Horrible things are done to LGBT people, up to and including state-sanctioned murder, in the name of Islam.

Horrible things are done to LGBT people, up to and including state-sanctioned murder, in the name of Christianity.

In both cases, people draw on the holy writings of the religion in question as a pretext.

There are differences of scope and degree, but the above facts seem pretty banal to me.

And yet Sebastian and McKinney simply will not let go of the idea that there is some qualitative distinction at work here -- a difference of kind, not of degree -- such that Islam comes out fundamentally "worse" than Christianity. And as the thread goes on, the contortions get ever more extreme, bordering on grotesque: Being put to death by the state in Iran somehow has to be "worse" than being beaten to death by a mob in Jamaica while the police stand by and do nothing.

And I still don't know what the ultimate point of it all is. I do know that I need to follow my own advice and move on from this little discussion, because it's starting to really bum me out.

For Christians, the commandments of Leviticus are primarily used as a stick to beat people Christians don't like

This. Precisely.

THEN

I do know that I need to follow my own advice and move on from this little discussion, because it's starting to really bum me out.

What part do you find so depressing--the glass house part? Generalizing, stigmatizing, blanket statements without qualification or nuance? Phil, you there? Carleton? Anybody?

Not a problem. We'll pass this way again.

Would you like me to answer for Uncle Kvetch or Jesurgislac? Because that's who you're quoting while calling me out. Sorry, but I'm neither authorized nor qualified to speak for them.

As I said, my problem is your repeated insinuation that Islam is somehow unique in having tenets that might run afoul of the First Amendment somehow -- even though your apparent bugbear, honor killings, are not a tenet of Islam or Sharia law at all, as was repeatedly explained to you and which you never acknowledged.

Then, when called on it enough times, you coyly fall back on, "Oh, I never meant to imply that Islam was somehow unique." Even though that was pretty clearly your intent.

I'm not here to defend Islam, any more than I am any other belief system I don't practice. But I know unreasonable bigotry when I see it.

I am calling you out for hypocrisy. For reading into my statement what you want to see and ignoring the same if its directed toward Christians.

Honor killings, persecution and execution of homosexuals, stoning of "adulterous women", relegation of women to chattel status, these aren't small things. Whether they fall under the rubric of Sharia or the more general practice and tradition of Islam, they are government policy in many Islamic countries. Not mob practice, not private thuggery, but governmental policy.

Historically, Christianity has inflicted the same class and degree of horror (and is doing so now in parts of Africa which are as abhorrent as anything Iran et al do). If Islam (or Christianity as it is now being practiced in Uganda, for example) were to be practiced here as it is elsewhere, it would raise significant free exercise questions. I addressed Islam because that was the subject of Eric's post. That was my first point. It is neither bigoted nor inaccurate. My second point was that comments like Ramsey's get great play in progressive quarters if they are about Islam. If it is a progressive slamming Christianity, the silence is deafening. Jes proves my point and so do you.

I put it to everyone here: isn't this a very broad and possibly bigoted over-generalization? Stumped by this one? I'll rewrite the quote, For Muslims, the commandments of the Koran are primarily used as a stick to beat people Muslims don't like.

Yes it is overly broad, and as such, it is bigoted. There are, in fact, many Christians that do not have backwards, retrograde attitudes about homesexuality, and that should be acknowledged.

Simply put, the statement should have been caveated. Admittedly, people say things that aren't properly caveated all the time. But the proper response to having this pointed out is to, then, clarify and caveat.

Point made.

Honor killings, persecution and execution of homosexuals, stoning of "adulterous women", relegation of women to chattel status, these aren't small things. Whether they fall under the rubric of Sharia or the more general practice and tradition of Islam, they are government policy in many Islamic countries. Not mob practice, not private thuggery, but governmental policy.

Ugh!!!

McTex, honor killings are NOT a part of Islam. And NOT a part of Sharia.

Please, please, please stop repeating this unless you have actual evidence to the contrary.

As pointed out, other religions practice this barbarism, and it is cultural in origin, not religious.

Also, what do you mean chattel status? This is actually not true. By Sharia law, women have very clearly delineated property and inheritance rights and are NOT considered chattel.

Ironically, in the US, women WERE legally considered chattel until around the turn of the century.

Otherwise, in which Muslim country are honor killings government policy?

Honor killings . . . aren't small things. Whether they fall under the rubric of Sharia or the more general practice and tradition of Islam

Once again, they are neither, as Eric points out above me. You need to either acknowledge this, or present evidence to the contrary, or I'm going to assume from this point forward that you are acting in bad faith.

If Islam (or Christianity as it is now being practiced in Uganda, for example) were to be practiced here as it is elsewhere, it would raise significant free exercise questions.

But it wouldn't, because none of the things you've brought up have ever been protected expressions of religious freedom and never will be. They haven't been when done by Christians, Jews or anyone else, and they won't be when done by Muslims. You're inventing, in your head, a crisis that's never going to happen. Unless you honestly believe our courts will suddenly be deferential to Islam in a way they never have been towards other religions.

My second point was that comments like Ramsey's get great play in progressive quarters if they are about Islam. If it is a progressive slamming Christianity, the silence is deafening. Jes proves my point and so do you.

Wow, bigoted remarks towards minorities get more attention and opprobrium than those directed at the dominant cultural paradigm. Color me shocked. Next you're going to tell me that rich people have more money than poor people.

I mean, is it really shocking that bigoted remarks by a candidate for high office* in which he discusses stripping First Amendment protections from a group which currently comprises less than 2% of the US population get more condemnation then some faceless people on the intertubes making bigoted remarks about a religion practiced by 76% of Americans? Context matters.

I can't argue with the assertion that some progressives have at various points made bigotted statements about Christianity. But, so what?

What I would point out is that commenters on this thread are describing the bad behavior of both Jews and Christians, among others, in the names of said adherents' religions, specifically in reaction to your characterizations of Muslims that those commenters have taken to be meant as being somehow special or unique to Muslims, McKinney. There is no hypocricy in demonstrating that Muslims are not unique in their bad, religiously justified behavior by showing similar instances among other faiths. The point isn't "You can't say anything bad about Muslims, but I can say whatever I like about Christians." The point is "You're wrong that Muslims are somehow different in this respect than members of other religions, because members of other faiths have done the same things."

You've said, McKinney, that your point wasn't that there was something special about Islam or Muslims with regard to our constitutional protections of freedom of religion, but it certainly could have been taken that way. The most obvious reason to bring up Muslims in particular when the protections apply to all religions is to point out that there is something special or different or unique about Muslims with regard to constitutional protections.

Let's say we're at a party and everyone is wearing red. If I start going on about how much nerve it takes for Eric Martin to be wearing red (Eric the Red, heh), despite that fact that everyone is wearing red, wouldn't you think I might have something against Eric that I don't have against everyone else. And if you pointed out that everyone else was also wearing red, would that then make you a hypocrite (because, supposedly, you were acting just like I was)?

Context matters.

I put it to everyone here: isn't this a very broad and possibly bigoted over-generalization?

I'd say it's overly broad.

What part do you find so depressing--the glass house part?

I don't wish to speak for Uncle K, so I won't.

I don't mind speaking for many other gay people I know, for whom the "depressing part" is confronting the reality that lots of their neighbors and fellow citizens believe that, due to their being gay, they are going to burn in hell for all time and, in this life, are fair game for a beating and/or any number of other forms of abuse.

If any of the forms of Islam-inspired bad behavior that you refer to throughout this thread were, in fact, at all common in this country, I might feel toward Muslims and the Koran some of the same sentiments that Uncle K has expressed toward Christians and the Bible. I hope not, but I might.

Beating the crap out of gays is quite common here, receives a disturbing level of acceptance, and is quite often justified by citing proof texts from, among other places, the archaic Jewish priestly temple cult handbook know to us as Leviticus.

And I speak as someone who is quite fond of the book. I'm just not blind to the harmful ways it's used, and on a daily basis.

Not saying the Koran isn't also misused in similar ways, it's just vanishingly uncommon here, and shows no particular sign of becoming more common. Thankfully.

My asterisk above was supposed to point to a footnote in which it is noted that he is white (62% of the US population), male (49% of the US population), Christian (85% of the US population) and Methodist (3rd largest Christian denomination in the US). This man, who is a member of so many demographic majorities or near-majorities, wants to govern his state, and is discussing whether he might be able to remove First Amendment protections from Muslims.

Muslims, by the way, are about 1% of the population of Tennessee.

So, yeah, I'm more condemning of the potential governor of the state of Tennessee wanting to punish 1% of his population for no good reason than I am of two homosexual posters at ObWi having a bone to pick with Christianity.

My bad. I guess?

I really agree with the last sentence in Phil's 10:16 comment. (Obviously, I didn't write my 10:18 comment in two short minutes after reading Phil's. Plate of shrimp.)

McKinneyTexas: If it is a progressive slamming Christianity, the silence is deafening. Jes proves my point and so do you.

Ah-huh. Right now a post I wrote a couple of years ago seems appropriate to cite: What I Like About Christianity.

You are slamming Islam based on ignorance. Based on no personal experience and minimal acquired knowledge.

I pointed out that Christianity has been used, in the US, to justify killings, beatings, bullying, denial of civil rights, denial of human rights, etc. I've argued with Christians who claim their faith requires them to deny lesbian and gay people health insurance, seriously.

Thanks to the US invasion of Iraq, letting the Islamic equivalent loose there, LGBT Iraqis are being hunted down and murdered, and the US occupation neither interferes nor even speaks out against this. Nor has the US reached out any helpful hand to let LGBT Iraqis seek asylum from the Islamic killers the US loosed on them. What, after all, would the powerful Christians in high places in the US say about preferentially letting queer Muslims into the US?

Not seeing you speak out against that either, McKinney. Just using people of my sexual orientation as an excuse to slam Islam, without actually wanting to do a thing about any specific evils named.

"It was very close to being done in Uganda very recently, with the active involvement of Christian clergy."

But you're comparing Iran (which is generally considered to be a very advanced, fairly modern country) to Uganda, which is barely a functioning country at all.

"But you're apparently one more conservative who insists that the difference between Christianity and Islam in this regard is fundamental, when it's actually just a question of degree."

Of course it is just a question of degree. But when the question of degree is getting yelled at by religious a-holes, which btw I have been for being gay, or being chased down the street by a gang, which btw I have been for being gay, or being taken up by the government of your allegedly modern country and executed, which thankfully I have not been subjected to for being gay, the *degree* is rather important.

Iran is supposed to be a pretty good model of how Islam works in a modern country. In Iran it was not only legal for the government to kill you just for being gay, but they actually did it as recently as this year.

And before we get too excited about the degrees of religious behaviour, we should note that gays haven't fared too well in the recent explicitly anti-religious countries either. Gays were persecuted in the USSR and most of the Communist bloc European countries including being beaten to death in the great purge and sent to the gulags upon discovery after that. Government castration of gays was also permitted. Government persecution of gays became very pronounced immediately after Castro took over Cuba, and it continues to this day.

Homophobia can and does exist without religion. It even exists in anti-religion.

But you're comparing Iran (which is generally considered to be a very advanced, fairly modern country) to Uganda, which is barely a functioning country at all.

Right -- No True Scotsman and all that.

Holy Freaking God. Just listen to yourself.

Pathetic.

Iran is supposed to be a pretty good model of how Islam works in a modern country.

According to who? In what way "works"?

Culturally, and religiously, Iran is "a" model, but not a good one from a Western/liberal points of view.

I'd prefer Turkey. Or Indonesia. Or Morrocco.

I'd take Iran over Saudi Arabia, mind you, but Iran is far from good - on this issue in particular.

Sebastian: But when the question of degree is getting yelled at by religious a-holes, which btw I have been for being gay, or being chased down the street by a gang, which btw I have been for being gay,

Or having the political party you support use denying you civil rights as an electoral tactic.

Or having the leader of a world religion declare you and others of your sexual orientation be as big a threat to the world as global warming.

or being taken up by the government of your allegedly modern country and executed, which thankfully I have not been subjected to for being gay, the *degree* is rather important.

True. If you're dead, it doesn't really matter that the Pope or the President have decided to use you as a metaphorical chew-toy, or that the local homophobes inspired by the Pope or the President have decided to beat you up. But I'm curious to know why, since the Pope and the POTUS have had much more direct effect on your daily life than has the government of Iran, you've never - not once - uttered one word of complaint about Catholic homophobia or Republican homophobia?

Incidentally, if Turkey ever gets to join the EU, one of the conditions of entrance is providing legal recognition to same-sex couples. The US couldn't join the EU, so long as DOMA is on the books...

"Right -- No True Scotsman and all that."

Come on, you're invoking the true scotsman fallacy over the barely functioning state of Uganda, but won't give me Iran?

And the anti-religious countries? You aren't giving me them either?

I would say that Cuba is at least as relevant as Uganda. Both have nasty practices right this second. And certainly the USSR is more so. (Or China).

"Culturally, and religiously, Iran is "a" model, but not a good one from a Western/liberal points of view."

That isn't really the question. The question is whether or not it is considered a good model from the Islamic point of view. And it gets lots of praise outside of Iran for being an Islamic republic. And much of the ire it draws is along the Sunni/Shiite split not for its treatment of homosexuals.

I'm not so sure that Indonesia is as comforting as you think. The Aceh province (considered to be the most militantly Islamic) just last year changed the punishment for homosexuality to 100 lashes or 8 years in prison. Now Indonesia operates under an interesting Republic system (that is really a massive oversimplification) so it shouldn't be judged just on the Aceh province. But its Islamic character tolerates the "100 lashes for homosexuality" punishment in a way that say Texas would not be allowed to.

Turkey is an interesting case that we can't really judge yet. Until this decade it had effectively an anti-Islamic state structure which it kept in place by being very anti-democratic. Now that the explicitly Islamic parties are coming to power, there has been a growing schizophrenia on social issues like gay rights, and it isn't obvious at all how that is going to play out. And for whatever anecdotes are worth, I have two gay friends who used to visit Turkey every 5 years (for about 30) who are afraid to go back now and whose gay friends in country have all left for Europe.

So I would say on balance, if you're gay and want to live even marginally out of the closet, living in one of the modern Christian countries is likely much safer than living in the modern Islamic ones. And living in the modern Christian countries is safer than living in the modern anti-religious countries (China, Cuba).

Well, this thread seems to have gone off the rails. I thought the point (well, one point, anyway) was that here in the good, ol' US of A, Christianity is the primary justification for anti-gay policies and practices, and that pointing to Islam as a scary anti-gay influence here in US was 1 - just silly in the face of vastly more influential Christian anti-gay forces and 2 - hypocritical in the face of the Christian anti-gay bigotry advocated or tolerated by the very same people decrying scary Muslim anti-gay bigotry.

Sebastian, I'd no idea you wanted to live out of the closet. You've never said anything to indicate you objected to being classed with global warming by the Pope, or regarded as suitable material for an electoral hate-campaign by the Republican party. Seriously. Not one word. So I figured you liked being abused and used and mistreated for your sexual orientation. It's news to me that you don't. What are your views on the Republican Party's systematic denial of your civil rights? On the Christian Right's campaigning against your civil rights? No negative thoughts there?

But more seriously: the safest place for am LGBT person to live, across cultural standards, is usually going to be a country with a secular government. The more religious influence on a government, the less likely it is to acknowledge that LGBT people have the same human rights as straight people.

The US is a bad country to live in for LGBT people for the strong influence of Christians against equal civil rights for all: the Vatican's views against human rights for LGBT people carry a lot of weight with the Italian government (the majority of Italian city-states now recognize same-sex domestic partnerships: no one knows when the national government will stand up to the Vatican and formalize this). One reason for the support for gay marriage in Spain is that the Catholic Church was such an enthusiastic supporter of Franco's government that many Spaniards feel that if the Catholic Church doesn't like gay marriage, it must be a good thing...

Organized Islamo-Christian religion is bad for LGBT people. I'd say Abrahamic, but while the one thing Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Jerusalem could get together to do was oppose Jerusalem Pride, practically speaking the only example of a Judaic country is good for LGBT people.

Come on, you're invoking the true scotsman fallacy over the barely functioning state of Uganda, but won't give me Iran?

See, "modern" and "functioning" suddenly popped up out of nowhere, Sebastian, because you had to swat down the inconvenient counterexample of Uganda, and because there was nothing --literally nothing -- you wouldn't do to accomplish that little feat of goalpost-shifting.

And before we get too excited about the degrees of religious behaviour, we should note that gays haven't fared too well in the recent explicitly anti-religious countries either.

Oooh, look over there! Something irrelevant, but shiny!

"Tenacious and loyal," that's our boy.

I suspected you were going to either ignore my arguments (not a word about Jamaica, then?) or wriggle around them, but I never expected anything quite so transparently feeble as "Uganda doesn't count -- it's not a real country." I mean, really -- I'm gobsmacked.

I was wrong to attribute any good faith to you, Sebastian -- you're just a compulsive contrarian and nothing more.

And in the grand scheme of things, there's nothing really wrong with that. The joke's on me -- I'm just another sucker who got played.

You win. Congratulations.

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