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( Mar. 16th, 2006 10:28 pm)
[livejournal.com profile] pecunium discloses another reason to avoid South Dakota like the plague.

Can an entire state go completely batshit crazy?
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( Mar. 1st, 2006 11:41 pm)
I was going to go to bed early, but then a breaking political story came up and I'm so angry I don't when I'll be able to sleep.

No, it's not the Katrina videotape. I mean, really, is anyone surprised by that?

No. It's that in the most recent immigration bill passed by the House, churches are required to check immigration status before granting aid.

Rat bastards.

The H of R, not the churches. Mahoney in L.A. came out lambasting it today in his Ash Wednesday sermon.

Repeat after me: These people ARE NOT CHRISTIANS.

From the news stories I've read churches -- a few SBC churches, RC churches are the ones I've heard mentioned, but I'd be really surprised if ECUSA didn't come out against it as well -- are basically indicating that they are going to ignore it even if it does get passed by the Senate and signed into law.
Before everyone starts screaming about the SCOTUS decision this morning in Scheidler v. National Organization for Women (04-1244), claiming that the court has said that it's okay for anti-abortion protesters to engage in threats or acts of violence, let's step back and take a deep breath.

What the Court is doing is statutory interpretation. NOW's claims rested on alleged violations of the Hobbs Act, which prohibits violence of threats of violence for purposes of extortion or robbery. This question had sort of been presented to the Court before, in 2003. Then, the Court had ruled that the violence or threat of violence had to be in furtherance of an attempt to obtain property from the victims in order to be extortion and thus fall under the Hobbs Act. At that time, the Court found that preventing access to clinics did not constitute an effort "to obtain property" and therefore was not extortion thus invalidating Hobbs Act claims (as well as state anti-extortion law claims). They then sent it back down to the District Court to find for the protesters.

At the District Court, NOW argued that there were acts of violence and threats of violence that were not extortion related but that did affect interstate commerce, and that these were likewise prohibited by the Hobbs Act, through a somewhat ambiguous reading of one part of the Act. The District Court said, hmm, makes sense to us, and found for NOW.

SCOTUS basically said that the Hobbs Act was clearly and on its face aimed at preventing extortion. And so found against NOW. (There is also the "We already decided this case, doofuses, why didn't you do what we told you?" aspect to the decision.)

It's a good decision. To get to the decision NOW wanted required distorting a reasonable reading of the statute. Personally, I don't want a Court that engages in expansive readings of legislation, even when the outcome is one I would otherwise want, especially under this administration. Even if one were to argue that the Court is quite willing to read legislation expansively where it suits its purpose, I don't think "everyone does it" makes sound legal reasoning.

Three things worth noting:

It was a unanimous decision (Alito did not take part since he was not there for oral argument), which means that even the "liberal" wing agreed that NOW's position was wrong.

In 1994, Congress passed the "Freedom to Access to Clinic Entrances" (FACE) Act, prohibiting violent and obstructive behavior by anti-abortion groups. Yes, Congress could always repeal the FACE Act, but they could always amend the Hobbs Act to provide that it does not cover the sort of activity NOW wants it to, as well, so that argument doesn't wash.

One of groups filing an amicus brief in support of the protesters was PETA. Doesn't surprise me at all.
[ N. B. All typographical errors are from the original source and therefore have not been corrected ]

"We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.

.....

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that an men are created equal ..." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we viii be. We we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime---the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jeans Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."


Martin Luther King, Letter from Birmingham Jail.


Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] jmhm for the link.
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My love affair with show tunes began in Mrs. North's fourth grade class. She taught us all the songs from The Sound of Music and Oliver! and "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha (rather an odd choice for fourth graders).

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (part of the Department of Health and Human Services) has a website which provides "sing-along" music and lyrics for educational purposes. They have a section which includes songs from musicals and movies.

It pleases me to think that somewhere out there is Mrs. North's successor teaching a bunch of fourth graders to sing the song below, which was included on the website. I just hope somehow the message gets through.

Sing a song.... )
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