Free Markets, Free People

Religion


Atheists whine about not being included in religious event

I get tired of this sort of nonsense:

Atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other nontheistic Washington, D.C. residents will have no representation at Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray’s first official inaugural event—an ecumenical prayer service entitled “One City … Praying Together” at 8 a.m. Sunday, January 2, 2011.

“We would prefer that a government function such as an inauguration not be entwined with religion,” said Amanda Knief, a Humanist Celebrant and government relations manager for the Secular Coalition for America (SCA). “However, we find it overtly discriminatory when we request to be part of an ecumenical prayer service that is supposed to unite the entire city and are told there is no place for nontheists.”

How can a prayer service unite an entire city if atheists don’t believe in prayer or a deity?  Obviously, the word “prayer” is key to the phrase as it refers to those who both believe in prayer and a deity. Just as obviously, the prayer service is aimed a those in the city who do.  And why would an atheist want to go to a prayer service in the first place?

Oh, I know – “inclusion”.

Well, in reality,  they wouldn’t want to attend – “inclusion” is a false flag.  And they’re not “left out” of anything – atheism is their choice.  With that choice comes consequences – like not being invited to attend prayer meetings.

Instead this is really about banishing such services altogether.  And their assumed leverage here is it is a government event – a city government holding an “ecumenical” service, i.e. not touting a single religion and in perfect conformance with the 1st Amendment (which, btw, doesn’t apply below federal level, but I thought I’d point it out anyway).  But it isn’t “inclusive”.

Love the line, “we would prefer that a government function such a an inauguration not be entwined with religion.”

Cool.  Go out and win an election and then you can run the inauguration any way you wish.   That’s the basic message here.  Freedom is choice – and you can choose to not have such an inauguration if you win.  But if you won’t make the attempt or lose, tough nuts – the winner gets to “choose”, note the word,  how he or she will run the inauguration within the confines of the law.

A prayer meeting isn’t about anything in particular which will effect an atheist that I know of.  It’s a meeting of like minded people to ask for help and guidance of their deity of choice.   How that is “overtly discriminatory” against those who don’t believe in prayer or a deity is beyond me.

Oh, and in case you were wondering:

A Humanist Celebrant is the nonreligious equivalent of a clergyperson. He or she may receive national certification from several organizations, including The Humanist Society, the American Ethical Union, and the Society for Humanistic Judaism; and may conduct marriages, civil unions, memorial services, funerals, and other life ceremonies.

So they were supposed to invite a “nonreligious equivalent” of a “clergyperson” to a religious event?  What is a “nonreligious equivalent” to a clergyperson?   There is no equivalency in terms of belief.  The fact that the Humanist Celebrant can conduct marriages, civil unions, (so can a justice of the peace) etc.  doesn’t make them equivalent where it counts (and no one would argue a JP is the “equivalent” of a priest).

Look whether you believe in a deity or not, this is just nonsense on a stick.  Religion is a personal choice.  And nothing that I know of precludes government officials from conducting “ecumenical” prayer meetings if it is their desire. 

My guess is had the atheists – or Humanist Celebrant – shown up at the meeting he or she would have been graciously included.   Then what?

This is just more whining by the militant atheists of the country.  If you don’t want to participate in religion, don’t.  Don’t demand your “equivalency” be accepted by the religious or that they must include you in something, that in reality, you have no real desire to be included in at all.  The religious are not welcome in your camp and it shouldn’t surprise or upset you that you’re not particularly welcome in theirs. 

Such is life.  Grow up, drop the false “inclusion” argument and quit whining, for goodness sake.

~McQ


Feminized MOH guy is back and wants a little cheese with his whine

[First posted at BlackFive.net – but it is a follow-up to a story I posted here recently.  This is a guy who has been comfortable in his little echo chamber spouting off about his pet theories and, I supposed, mostly getting affirmation.  Then he got outside that little box, his nonsense leaked into the larger blogosphere and he’s gotten absolutely hammered – and deservedly so.  He remains completely clueless as to the reason.– McQ]

You know, some guys ought to figure when to just shut up, fold their tent and take their due. Not our boy. Bryan Fischer, Mr. "Feminized the MOH", is back for more. In a follow up post (not even at the same blog – got to hot there I’d guess), our hero says:

The blowback to my column of two days ago, in which I argued that we seem to have become reluctant to award the Medal of Honor to those who take aggressive action against the enemy and kill bad guys, has been fierce. It has been angry, vituperative, hate-filled, and laced with both profanity and blasphemy.

Oh, my. Who needs the skirt now? Looks like the reaction may have "feminized" Mr. Fischer a bit. As for blasphemy, let me tell you something sir – I’m on the side of angels on this one.

Of course Fischer still has no clue about the reason for the outrage he spawned (or he’s chosen to ignore it) and falls back on the age old dodge that most that don’t have an argument use when cornered – ignore those who ate your freakin’ lunch in reply to that bad joke of a post and claim, "these people didn’t read what I wrote". No really – that’s his argument:

What is striking here is that readers who have reacted so viscerally to what I wrote apparently didn’t read it, or only read the parts that ticked them off. I’m guessing a fair amount of the reaction has come from those who didn’t actually read the column, but read what others said about the column. It’s been fascinating to watch.

What is really both striking and fascinating is how clueless this bozo is – utterly unaware and truly out-to-lunch. Hey, meat head, the visceral reaction was to the stupidity of your premise. It had to do with you using "feminized" as a pejorative (look that up if that skipped by you skippy) and in conjunction with the Medal of Honor. It had to do with the fact that you were ignorant about the MOHs that have been given in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Yes, that’s right – ignorant.  As in “uninformed”.  Don’t know what you‘re talking about.  Check?

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A Mosque Too Far?

This post, in its original form, was previously posted at the Washington Examiner on Wednesday, August 11, 2010. The following post has been updated for today.

Plans to build an Islamic cultural center right next door to the site of the greatest attack on American soil have generated plenty of controversy. And as plans continue to move forward, more is promised still. Questions as to where the money is coming from to build it, and who exactly its leader, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, really is are likely unresolvable, yet add fuel to the already contentious debate. In fact, today new questions were raised as to the connections of Rauf and his organization (the Cordoba Initiative) to Iran:

Two weeks ago the Cordoba Initiative website featured a photograph of the project’s chairman, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, and Iranian Mohammad Javad Larijani at an event that the Initiative sponsored in Malaysia in 2008. This week, the photograph … has disappeared.

Larijani was the Iranian representative who defended Iran’s abysmal human rights record before the UN Human Rights Council in February and June of this year. Among other things, Larijani told the Council: “Torture is one thing and punishment is another thing. … This is a conceptual dispute. Some forms of these punishments should not be considered torture according to our law.” By which he meant flogging, amputation, stoning, and the criminalization of homosexuality, which are all part of Iranian legal standards. Larijani added: “Iran [has a] firm commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. … The Islamic Republic of Iran … is a democracy,” which would be news to the pro-democracy activists murdered or confined to Iranian prisons since last year’s fraudulent elections.

There may be nothing to these sorts of queries, and it may be that Mr. Rauf and his organization are earnest peace-seekers. Even so, the plan to place a $100 Million structure dedicated to Islam right next to Ground Zero has understandably caused a lot of questions to be asked, although few have elicited answers. Writing for the Ottawa Citizen, Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah think they can settle one of the burning issues, however: why a mosque at Ground Zero?

When we try to understand the reasoning behind building a mosque at the epicentre of the worst-ever attack on the U.S., we wonder why its proponents don’t build a monument to those who died in the attack?

New York currently boasts at least 30 mosques so it’s not as if there is pressing need to find space for worshippers. The fact we Muslims know the idea behind the Ground Zero mosque is meant to be a deliberate provocation to thumb our noses at the infidel. The proposal has been made in bad faith and in Islamic parlance, such an act is referred to as “Fitna,” meaning “mischief-making” that is clearly forbidden in the Koran. [...]

Let’s not forget that a mosque is an exclusive place of worship for Muslims and not an inviting community centre. Most Americans are wary of mosques due to the hard core rhetoric that is used in pulpits. And rightly so. As Muslims we are dismayed that our co-religionists have such little consideration for their fellow citizens and wish to rub salt in their wounds and pretend they are applying a balm to sooth the pain.

The Koran implores Muslims to speak the truth, even if it hurts the one who utters the truth. Today we speak the truth, knowing very well Muslims have forgotten this crucial injunction from Allah.

The article’s writers are both authors about Islamic politics and culture as well as board members of the Muslim Canadian Congress. Now, I don’t know if Raza and Fatah are correct in their assertions, but I have a good reason to believe they may be. Several in fact, two of which I’ve seen personally.

I was once able to visit Istanbul and Jerusalem where I eagerly toured both the Hagia Sophia and the remains of what is believed to be Solomon’s Temple (typically referred to as the Western Wall). Both of these deeply religious sites have been converted to Muslim uses by the building of mosques.

The original Hagia Sophia was a church built by the Emperor Constantine some time in the fourth century, which was subsequently razed on a few different occasions. The Emperor Justinian I erected the current structure in the 530’s, and it still stands as one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture in existence. However, when Constantinople finally became Istanbul for good, the Hagia Sophia saw a dramatic change:

… Hagia Sophia remained a functioning church until May 29, 1453, when Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror entered triumphantly into the city of Constantinople. He was amazed at the beauty of the Hagia Sophia and immediately converted it into his imperial mosque.

Hagia Sophia served as the principal mosque of Istanbul for almost 500 years. It became a model for many of the Ottoman mosques of Istanbul such as the Blue Mosque [ed. - which is within sight of of the Hagia Sophia], the Suleiman Mosque, the Shehzade Mosque and the Rustem Pasha Mosque.

No major structural changes were made at first; the addition of a mihrab (prayer niche), minbar (pulpit) and a wooden minaret made a mosque out of the church. At some early point, all the faces depicted in the church’s mosaics were covered in plaster due to the Islamic prohibition of figurative imagery. Various additions were made over the centuries by successive sultans.

In short, the conquerors replaced a mighty cultural symbol of the vanquished with one of their own. Fairly standard really, but I still found it a bit odd to walk into one of the oldest Christian churches in the world only to be confronted with giant symbols of Islam everywhere.

Visiting Jerusalem was just as puzzling. I knew that the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall) was all that was left of Herod’s expansion of the Temple Mount, but I had not realized that atop it sat not one, but two Islamic holy sites: The Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque. These two religious sites replaced and took over what is considered the holiest of all places on Earth by the Jews, who are forbidden from entering either.

There are, of course, other examples, but it’s not as if this sort of conquering behavior is the sole province of Muslims. Indeed, the al-Aqsa Mosque was itself taken over as a church for a brief time by Crusaders.

Even so, it cannot be denied that erecting mosques and other holy sites upon or near places of great cultural significance to their enemies is something to which Muslims seem historically inclined. And while most Muslims may not consider themselves at war with the West, or Americans as an enemy of Islam, those who took down the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 most certainly did, and still do. That is why I think that Raza and Fatah may be right.

To erect a monument in the form of the Ground Zero Mosque to the nihilistic, death-loving 9/11 terrorists is a slap in the face of everyone they murdered on that day, those who gave up their lives to rescue the survivors, and all of their families and friends. It would be allowing a symbol of enemy victory to desecrate hallowed ground.

Bruce made a great argument as to why, despite whatever intentions the mosque’s benefactors may have, it’s an affront to individual property rights and the rule of law to use the government to prevent the Ground Zero Mosque from being built.

Basically, I think he’s right. But I can’t help thinking that if, say, a group of Japanese decided to by some property right next to Pearl Harbor in order to erect a monument or shrine, we as American citizens might find some peaceful and non-coercive way of stopping that from happening.

As for the Ground Zero Mosque, we’ll just have to wait and see.


Coming down on the side of bigotry

This “Ground Zero” mosque controversy has begun to rankle me. It is my understanding that those who want to build the "ground zero" mosque own the property there.

Secondly, it really isn’t adjacent to the old World Trade Center site, but a few blocks away.

Even if it is adjacent, however, if the first part is true, then it is theirs to build what they wish. I may or may not be happy about it, but they are the property owners and what is built there is their business.

The Anti-Defamation League seems to understand that as well, however, under the guise of "doing what is right" it acknowledges the mosque builder’s rights but then dismisses them in favor of the bigotry of those who oppose them. In a statement they said:

Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right. So the bigotry expressed in this is "unfair, and wrong", but to hell with rights, we’ll side with the arbitrary and subjective "what is right".

An amazing statement coming from a group which was founded to fight bigotry against Jews.

Thankfully not all Jews feel that way.  They also understand how profoundly wrong headed the ADL’s statement is.  From J-Street:

The principle at stake in the Cordoba House controversy goes to the heart of American democracy and the value we place on freedom of religion. Should one religious group in this country be treated differently than another? We believe the answer is no.

As Mayor Bloomberg has said, proposing a church or a synagogue for that site would raise no questions. The Muslim community has an equal right to build a community center wherever it is legal to do so. We would hope the American Jewish community would be at the forefront of standing up for the freedom and equality of a religious minority looking to exercise its legal rights in the United States, rather than casting aspersions on its funders and giving in to the fear-mongerers and pandering politicians urging it to relocate.

Exactly right.  Another way of saying all of this is “grow up”.  You either have religious freedom and ownership rights or you don’t.  It isn’t a “right” if it can be selectively applied under the arbitrary rubric of “what is right” fueled by bigotry.

And, as inevitable as the rising sun, you can count on politicians gearing up for a run for office to grab the populist opportunity to chime in and side with the bigots because it is the popular thing to do.  Newt Gingrich issued this statement:

Throughout its nearly 100 year history, the cause of religious tolerance has had no better friend than the Anti-Defamation League.  The organization’s stand today in opposition to the proposed 13-story Islamic Center near Ground Zero is entirely in keeping with that tradition.  They recognize the provocative nature of the proposal, that its construction will only result in more pain for the families of 9/11 victims and fan the flames of inter-religious strife.  Abe Foxman and the leaders of the Anti-Defamation League deserve praise for taking such a careful look at this issue and arriving at the right conclusion. 

And Gingrich’s spokesman had this to say:

Newt Ginrich’s spokesman told Salon in a phone interview today that building a mosque at Ground Zero "would be like putting a statue of Mussolini or Marx at Arlington National Cemetery."

That’s pure crap unless you want to make the same comparison to, oh I don’t know, a Catholic church in Spain following the Inquisition.

Look, this is manufactured “outrage” and pure and simple bigotry.  We are either a nation of religious tolerance and property rights or we’re not.  There’s no in-between.  It’s like every other right – you may not like all of what it brings, but that’s just the price of freedom.

~McQ

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Why Turkey’s change of attitude toward Israel is important and could be ominous

Someone apparently had an extra bowl of Cheerios this morning:

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Israel’s attack on the Gaza aid flotilla has increased the chances of war in the Middle East, in a BBC interview on Wednesday. Assad said that Syria was working to prevent a regional war but he added that there was no chance of a peace deal with the current Israeli administration, which he called a “pyromaniac government”.

The rhetoric keeps ratcheting up as if various Arab factions are trying to talk themselves into testing Israel again. It’s been a while, but the in the past the results have been uniformly bad for the Arab nations.

But there has been a recent change. Turkey is now talking tough as well. And, add in Iran’s attempt to ingratiate itself with the Arab world and suddenly it’s a little different ballgame.

Turkey’s inclusion against Israel in the rhetorical wars now being waged has encouraged many Arab pundits to hail the Turks and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan as the much awaited “leader” of the movement against Israel. One writer hailed him as “more Arab than the Arabs” while criticizing Arab leaders as too passive.

There have been huge pro-Turkey rallies in Gaza, Beruit and Damascus. Recently, text messages from viewers displayed on Al-Jazeera TV during a June 4th Erdogan speech in Konya, some of which said: “Erdogan, you are king of the Arabs,” and “Son of the sultans, you have restored the glory of the Ottomans.”

Hizbullah considers Erdogan the new rock star of anti-Israeli leadership, and some Gazans are naming their children after him.

What Turkey and Erdogan have apparently managed to do, according to one writer, is bring those who have rejected Hamas and Hizbullah because of their Iranian ties on board in a unified “Islamic” effort to confront Israel:

“Unlike the Palestinians and many Arabs who support Nasrallah, large groups had yearned for a leadership unconnected to Iran or the new jihadi Shi’a… They rejected Hamas and accused the Palestinian jihad movement of being an instrument of Shi’ite Iran. Now Turkey has emerged to compensate for the incapacity of the leaders of the Arab regimes.

“Erdogan [has emerged as a figure] whose portrait can be displayed in homes, on billboards, and on cars. When all is said and done, the integration into the resistance movement of those who [had] hesitated is now being achieved through the gate of Islam.

Turkey seems to have finally rejected the west and put to rest its desire to be a part of it. Although it retains NATO membership, it appears to have no further interest in the EU. Turkey also appears to be again casting its eyes in the direction of its past glory – the Ottoman Empire. Certainly it isn’t pretending it would again rule over all of its former territories, but Turkey seems to feel it could be a major if not the major influence in the area of the Middle East. One sure way to work toward that goal is to take on Israel.

While it publicly claims it is still a secular nation ruled by secular institutions, this latest situation with Israel and Turkey’s reaction are all Islamic and designed to appeal to the Islamic world in general and the people of the Middle East specifically.

This is one of the conflicts that is brewing on the horizon. It is a new twist in a very old situation. But it promises real trouble if not addressed and defused quickly.

Of course, that will take leadership, not apology tours. I’m not sure that the US is up to the job. And I think the reason we’re hearing all this from Turkey now is they sense that is the case.

~McQ


Quote of the day – Helen Thomas edition

As it turns out the quote isn’t from Helen Thomas, it’s about Helen Thomas:

Helen Thomas is as fair and open minded as she is good looking.

Usually I’m not one to attack an almost 90 year old woman, but then this particular 90 year old woman doesn’t at all mind attacking others, so it seems a wash.

And usually I’m not one to dwell on superficial things like physical appearance, but let’s face it (or not), she’s ugly. But what she said was very ugly as well. Another wash.

So now that I’ve totally rationalized it (hey, at least I’m honest about it), I found Jeff Dunetz line above to be hilarious. What more perfect a sentence to describe her?

Helen Thomas has now issued an “apology”. The scare quotes are to denote yet another in a long line of non-apology apologies. See if you agree:

“I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.”

Apparently that “heart-felt belief” about respect wasn’t very deep when she made the statements below in Billy’s post, was it?

~McQ


Arab-American Miss USA

I note this for a single reason:

Fakih, an Arab-American from Dearborn, Mich., told pageant organizers her family celebrates both Muslim and Christian faiths. She moved to the United States as a baby and was raised in New York, where she attended a Catholic school. Her family moved to Michigan in 2003.

Pageant officials said historical pageant records were not detailed enough to show whether Fakih was the first Arab American, Muslim or immigrant to win the Miss USA title. The pageant started in 1952 as a local bathing suit competition in Long Beach, Calif.

How will the Arab nations accept Ms. Fakih’s win given she was seen “strutting confidently in an orange and gold bikini” during the contest?

Just curious.

~McQ


Smearing The Religious

This is a favorite pastime of many on the left, and libertarians of all stripes. When in it’s the nature of busting biblethumpers’ chops, I get it. I mean, The Great Flying Spaghetti Monster? That’s just funny. As for those who simply question religion, well there is certainly a lot to question. I’m Catholic, a religion with plenty of black marks in its history, some of which rival (if not surpass) the Nazis in sheer disregard for human life and dignity. So, again, I get it. But sometimes the criticism and ribbing is nothing more than outright bigotry, designed to stoke popular hate against those who are religious.

The Huffington Post offers one of those latter critiques in a post entitled “American Family Association: Stone To Death Killer Whale Who Killed Trainer” about the tragedy at SeaWorld:

The American Family Association, a religious right group, is urging that Tillikum (Tilly), the killer whale that killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando, be put down, preferably by stoning. Citing Tilly’s history of violent altercations, the group is slamming SeaWorld for not listening to Scripture in how to deal with the animal:

Says the ancient civil code of Israel, “When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable.” (Exodus 21:28)

However, the group is going further and laying the blame for the trainer’s death directly at the feet of Chuck Thompson, the curator in charge of animal behavior, because, according to Scripture,

But, the Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn’t kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal. To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, “the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death.” (Exodus 21:29)

SeaWorld has no plans to execute Tilly.

If you read nothing else other than the HuffPo piece, then the post’s title and implications make perfect sense. However, if you read the actual post being ridiculed by HuffPo, you may have a different opinion:

Now there are all kinds of theories as to why the “killer whale” did what it did, to include one which says it was just playing.

That could be, but whatever the reason it was an animal acting like it should. It kills things and eats them. It doesn’t moralize about what is or isn’t “good” or “evil”. It does what it is hard wired to do without thinking about it and certainly without concerning itself with the consequences. It certainly isn’t unreasonable to expect such an animal to act like it should.

Hmmm … actually, no. That wasn’t from The American Family Association, but instead from our very own Bruce McQuain. Here’s the AFA:

According to the Orlando Sentinel, “SeaWorld Orlando has always know that Tillikum…could be a particularly dangerous killer whale…because of his ominous history.”

The Sentinel then recounts that Tilly, as he was affectionately known, had killed a trainer back in 1991 in front of spectators at a now defunct aquarium in Victoria, British Columbia.

Then in 1999 he killed a man who sneaked into SeaWorld to swim with the whales and was found the next morning draped dead across Tilly’s back. His body had been bit and the killer whale had torn off his swimming trunks after he had died.

What about the term “killer whale” do SeaWorld officials not understand?

You see the difference? McQ honed in with that laser-like focus that only Army Rangers possess on the most salient fact of the matter, i.e. that this was a wild animal known as a killer whale, while the AFA chose the lesser fact of … oh right, the same thing. So, now you know: McQ is a biblethumpin’ m’OH-ron.

To be fair to HuffPo, the AFA did cite scriptures as guidance for how people should live their lives when everybody knows they’re just for displaying on placards at football games. How silly to think that religious people who believe in the same things as the AFA would look to the word of God as having some wisdom that might imparted.

But it’s worse than that. Whether or not you agree with the religious aspect of the advice offered by the AFA, the actual Bible quotes cited in the ridiculed post weren’t referenced as literal commands to action, contrary to what HuffPo would have you believe. Instead, they were cited as guidance (there’s that word again) in how people should live their lives:

If the counsel of the Judeo-Christian tradition had been followed, Tillikum would have been put out of everyone’s misery back in 1991 and would not have had the opportunity to claim two more human lives.

Says the ancient civil code of Israel, “When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable.” (Exodus 21:28)

So, your animal kills somebody, your moral responsibility is to put that animal to death. You have no moral culpability in the death, because you didn’t know the animal was going to go postal on somebody.

But, the Scripture soberly warns, if one of your animals kills a second time because you didn’t kill it after it claimed its first human victim, this time you die right along with your animal. To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, “the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death.” (Exodus 21:29)

If I were the family of Dawn Brancheau, I’d sue the pants off SeaWorld for allowing this killer whale to kill again after they were well aware of its violent history.

I’ve highlighted that last sentence because, in complete contrast to what HuffPo would have you believe, the AFA author never demanded, nor even suggested, that the killer whale or anyone else should be stoned. Instead, he suggested that the aggrieved party should sue through the civil system — and he’s right. There’s a doctrine known as the “one bite rule” which, while not exactly what people think it is, does pertain to domesticated wild animals in certain situations. And, in fact, the legal underpinnings hue quite closely to what the Bible scriptures say as far as assigning guilt is concerned:

Restatement [of Torts] § 519 states the general principle for liability, and § 520 provides several evaluative factors. Section 519 provides for strict liability for one “who carries on an abnormally dangerous activity” causing harm to persons or property even if he “has exercised the utmost care to prevent the harm.” Section 520 suggests evaluative factors to assist in determining if an activity should be termed abnormally dangerous, and includes (1) the degree of risk of harm; (2) the magnitude of that harm; (3) the inevitability of some risk irrespective of precautionary measures that might be taken; (4) the ordinary or unusual nature of the activity; and (5) the activity’s value to the community in comparison to the risk of harm created by its presence.

In short, when a known dangerous animal is mixed with humans in that animal’s natural environment, there is a pretty good chance that the owner of that animal will bear blame for any harm that befalls another party, without any excuse (that is, with “strict liability”).

Of course, I don’t mean to say that the tragic death of the animal trainer was unequivocally the fault of SeaWorld or anyone else. There are plenty of legal doctrines (“assumption of risk” comes to mind) that could exonerate the owners of Tilly, despite the Restatement of Torts passage above. The point is that what the AFA suggests — that the animal should have been put down after it demonstrated it was not entirely domesticable — using scriptures as its guidance, shouldn’t strike anyone as particularly strange or outlandish. The common law quite agrees with that verdict. Indeed, if evidence were produced that the slain trainer was never made aware of Tilly’s violent tendencies, then the common law might very well find that SeaWorld is legally culpable for the death to the tune of several millions of dollars.

Getting back to the point, what the AFA argues is not that anyone (other than the killer whale) should be put to death, but that Biblical scriptures provide common-sense guidance (again with that word!) as to how to peaceably conduct ourselves as a community of mankind; the emphasis being on “common sense.” No one other than HuffPo claims that stoning is the appropriate penalty, or that the owners of Tilly should be killed, contrary to what HuffPo would have you believe. At most, the AFA author contends that SeaWorld should have used the Bible’s counsel when it comes to protecting human life from wild animal aggression, and that the victim’s family should avail itself of the civil court system for SeaWorld’s failure to do so. One can disagree with that presumption, but it’s pretty difficult to argue that anyone other than SeaWorld (or whomever) would have been better off for not disposing of the killer whale after the first death. Whether anyone is guilty in the eyes of God for that failure is not for us to decide, but it’s certainly not delusional to think that a mortal judge may arrive at such a decision.

Whatever problems one might have with religion, I just don’t see the utility in deriding people of faith for suggesting that their tenets have practical advice to offer. That goes double for harangues that have no basis in reality. With just a little bit of investigation, one would find that most religious texts offer an enormous amount of practical advice of the type that even the non-religious take for granted. There’s lots of goofy stuff in there as well, including prescriptions that shouldn’t be taken literally in this day and age, but that doesn’t mean the principles aren’t sound. When someone of a religious persuasion offers advice pertaining to those common-sense principles, and counsels adherence to those principles, then no fair critic would claim that such person is instead calling for a literal interpretation of ancient penalties. But then, HuffPo isn’t striving for fairness, but for bigotry.


Ft. Hood, Hasan And Some On The Left’s Tone Deafness

You can’t beat the left for not getting the message or understanding the problem, can you:

[Montel Williams, on his Air America program] suggested on Monday that the Fort Hood backlash against Muslims could be so great we would put Muslims in internment camps like the Japanese under Franklin Roosevelt:

WILLIAMS: We pulled something like this back in World War II when we decided to round up all Japanese Americans and put them in internment camps. This is something that I think before we can blink, the [anti-Muslim] rhetoric, Doc, could get out of hand. What do you think?

FRANK FARLEY, psychologist, Temple University: I agree totally. I mean, the possibilities of prejudice and racism and so on are incredible here. You know, we should be treating this as a unique incident and look at the factors involved in this very unique and specific incident, and not overgeneralize. Unfortunately, we tend to overgeneralize all the time. The idea that all Muslims are the same is ridiculous….

Everybody’s got their own personal qualities and individual differences and let’s just treat this as a very specific incident and try to figure out why this particular person did this particular thing.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely. No matter what it comes out to, at the end of the day, even if it comes out in the last five months and all his anxiety around his impending deployment, he decided his frame of reference was his religion and that was what was giving him, you know, the power within himself to make his stand, that doesn’t mean that the religion is to blame.

FARLEY: Absolutely, it’s his interpretation of everything, and his interpretation [of Islam] may vary dramatically from his fellow Muslims.

Wow. As much as I cautioned people to give the facts a chance to come out before coming to conclusions about Hasan, this is just an example of some incredible denial going on here. We now have facts – lots of facts – and informed conclusions can be drawn.

And let’s deal with the internment camp nonsense. That happened because a liberal Democratic president signed an Executive Order (Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942) which enabled US citizens of a particular national background to be interned (a total violation of their civil rights). Is he really suggesting that because we have a liberal Democrat president again in the White House that history may repeat itself. Or is he as ignorant of history as most and assuming it was done by mean, nasty right-wing types?

Something else that sort of hits me here – if there was no “backlash” against muslims after 9/11, why do these yahoos think there will be one now? Who is it who will be involved in this backlash and why is this incident so different from 9/11 that it will spark the backlash 9/11 didn’t?  I don’t know.  But I would think that the American people, who sorted that out the last time, will sort it out this time as well.

Are there prudent steps to be taken in light of what has happened at Ft. Hood as concerns muslim soldiers? Yes. Given Ft. Hood, the Little Rock incident and the fragging incident in Iraq, all involving muslim soldiers or muslims attacking soldiers, I’d say that it would be prudent to screen the reported 3,500 muslim military members (discretely and unobtrusively as possible) given the deadly action of two (as I recall, the left was all for a purge of the military to look for neo-nazis and white supremacists) . And yes that means, given the unique situation our military is in (fighting in two muslim countries) and the possible conflict that may bring to the minds of some who are of the dominant religion of those two countries – that we’re “profiling”. But then, while it is the antithesis of political correctness, it is the smart thing to do.  Show me a compelling reason to screen the rest of the military for those who might be in a similar situation and I’d be for that as well.

Should there be procedures put in place that would encourage the reporting of language or actions that appear to support a radicalized person – be it through religion or ideology? Yes, there should. And the chain of command must be made to take such reports seriously, investigate them thoroughly and act if necessary. Or said another way, political correctness and the fear of being censured if you do report such utterances or actions, must be banned from the military.

Finally, people like Williams and Farley must be pointed out and ridiculed because it is their sort of denial which leads to incidents like Ft. Hood. We all need to grow up a bit, quit taking everything as an insult and understand that your feelings don’t take precedence over someone else’s life. Yes, we’re diverse. Yes, we’re an amalgamation of peoples.

However, if you are consistently being bitten on the leg by dogs, you don’t go looking for cats or chickens. We have to learn to honestly and forthrightly address the threat.  Radical Islam has been attacking us since the embassy takeover in Iran 30 years ago.  They are the ones we should be looking for right now – and you’re not going to find them among Christian, atheist or Jewish military personnel.

The threat appears to be a segment of Islam that becomes violently radicalized and strikes out at those it considers “infidels”. In the case of Hasan that was obviously anyone within reach.  And, as experts say, self-generated jihadis are not unusual and are, as we’ve found out, more dangerous than those with organized connections (those with organized connections are easier to find and track). Given all I’ve read about Hasan – and it has been a lot – that’s what I believe he is. A self-generated jihadi who became increasingly radicalized over the years to the point that he finally decided he must act.

I understand and appreciate the attempts to warn us off of using too broad a brush.  That was one of the points of my previous post that generated so much discussion. But it is no longer a secret that there are radicals among the religion of Islam who find it to be their duty to do similar acts to those of Hasan. Pretending Hasan wasn’t one of those stretches credulity to the max. The first day of the shootings – yes, a perfectly acceptable argument. We had few facts and much of what was reported we subsequently found out was wrong.  However now, given the veritable avalanche of information which has been provided about this man and verified, it is more than a little lame to pretend he might have been something our experience and the facts tell us he’s not.

Willams and Farley do a disservice to us all by claiming those who have concluded his religion radicalized him and was the reason he did what he did are “overgeneralizing”. Not anymore. Sure it was a “specific incident” as Farley claims, but so was 9/11. And after we learned about each of the radicals who committed that atrocity we found men not unlike Nadal Malik Hasan, didn’t we?

~McQ


Pontiff Pontificates On Economics … Badly

When it comes to economics, the Pope should stick to poping. While it’s not uncommon for the papacy to issue decrees and opinions vaguely in line with common socialist principles (e.g. love thy neighbor, etc.), it is somewhat rare for the Pope to outright call for one-world government:

Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday called for a radical rethinking of the global economy, criticizing a growing divide between rich and poor and urging the establishment of a “world political authority” to oversee the economy and work for the “common good.”

He criticized the current economic system, “where the pernicious effects of sin are evident,” and urged financiers in particular to “rediscover the genuinely ethical foundation of their activity.”

He also called for “greater social responsibility” on the part of business. “Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty,” Benedict wrote in his new encyclical, which the Vatican released on Tuesday.

I wonder what happened to leave to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s? Or how about that whole concept of “free will”; you know the very basis and foundation of our religious “faith” (which, of course, can only come from choice and not from force)? That seems to be under indictment with Pope Benedict’s latest encyclical.

Leaving aside world governance for the moment, the Pope really goes off the rails when he gets into economic policy. For example, at one point he decries “globalization” and “outsourcing” as little more than the rich preying on the poor:

Indeed, sometimes Benedict sounds like an old-school European socialist, lamenting the decline of the social welfare state and praising the “importance” of labor unions to protect workers. Without stable work, he notes, people lose hope and tend not to get married and have children.

But he also wrote that “The so-called outsourcing of production can weaken the company’s sense of responsibility towards the stakeholders — namely the workers, the suppliers, the consumers, the natural environment and broader society — in favor of the shareholders.”

In short, managers should run their companies for the benefit of those who whine about the common good rather than for those who actually paid for the company (i.e. the shareholders). I’m guessing this is the “squeaky wheel” part of the sermon.

Yet, while outsourcing is deemed “bad”, the Pope also laments that poor countries aren’t better taken care of by richer ones. Towards that end

Benedict also called for a reform of the United Nations so that there could be a unified “global political body” that allowed the less powerful of the earth to have a voice, and he called on rich nations to help less fortunate ones.

“In the search for solutions to the current economic crisis, development aid for poor countries must be considered a valid means of creating wealth for all,” he wrote.

Except for the fact that “development aid” is not wealth. Wealth is created through productivity, not handouts. Indeed, the surest and simplest way to aid development in poor countries to give them jobs … a.k.a “outsourcing.” Doesn’t that whole give a man a fish/teach a man to fish thing ring any bells, your Holiness? Moreover, the more things like outsourcing happen, then the greater wealth there is in the world, and the more work/wealth/happiness there is for everyone to enjoy. Again, I’m pretty sure that was something about loaves and fishes in the Bible that would help illustrate this point.

So much for Papal infallibility.

Just to be clear, I say all of this as a practicing Catholic who is raising his own children in the same tradition. I have great respect for the Pontif when it comes to matters of the spirit. I just wish he’d leave the day-to-day management to the rest of us.