Camera Lucida

February 17, 2007

Promoting ignorance

Filed under: Religion and law — CL @ 3:14 pm

“Rather than risk teaching a lie why teach anything?”

Believe it or not, this is an actual quote attributed to Ben Bridges, a Georgia state representative, in talking about a proposal to ban the teaching of evolution in Georgia’s public schools. Not to require teaching of an alternative, but a ban on teaching evolution.

This needs to be on a T-shirt.


July 26, 2006

Atheism in OK

Filed under: Religion and law, Uncategorized — CL @ 6:49 am

The web site of American Atheists has posted an article about a jury verdict of acquittal in a case brought against an atheist who was charged by an Oklahoma high school principal with assault and battery. The altercation in front of the principal’s home arose out of a dispute about the propriety of the practice on the part of the public high school’s basketball team of reciting the Lord’s Prayer before games. The defendant’s daughter had objected, based on her beliefs.

The article ends with this:

    The night of the verdict, tornados of unusual violence descended on the panhandle of Oklahoma. The home of the Principal who had brought the false charges against Chuck Smalkowski was severely damaged.
    This fact has no relationship whatsoever to the verdict.

March 25, 2006

L’affaire Rahman

Filed under: Religion and law — CL @ 5:34 pm

If you read nothing else about the prosecution of Abdul Rahman, the Afghani who is threatened with execution for converting to Christianity, read Eugene Volokh's It's Not Islamophobia When There Really Is Something To Fear. A key point:

This is telling evidence, it seems to me, that there is something very wrong in Islam today, and not just in some lunatic terrorist fringe. Doubtless many, I would hope most, Muslims would not endorse executing converts. But a strand of the religion, and a strand that is not far from the levers of political power in at least some countries, does seem to endorse such a position. This is deeply dangerous, most obviously to residents of countries in which radical Islamism has broad support, but also to residents of Western countries as well.

There are some who are not yet ready to be admitted to the community of civilized nations.

March 8, 2006

South Dakota’s effort at a challenge

Filed under: Constitutional law, Religion and law — CL @ 10:23 pm

Jack Balkin has this to say about the new law in South Dakota:

Many are now wringing their hands over South Dakota’s new abortion law, fearing that it means the end for abortion rights in this country. But the people who should really be cowering in fear are Republican political candidates. For South Dakota has begun the process of undermining the Republican Party nationally. . .

Most Americans may want abortions more difficult to obtain (as they imagine current circumstances) but they don’t want almost all abortions criminalized. If Republican presidential candidates announce their support for criminalizing abortions in the primaries in order to win the votes of the pro-life faithful, their Democratic opponents will be more than happy to remind the public of that position when the general election comes round. That, I predict, will help split the Republican coalition that has governed the country for years. . . By making it important for Republican politicians to take a stand — not on the relatively popular issues of partial birth abortion bans and parental notification requirements, but on the far less popular question of criminalizing abortion — South Dakota has managed to do what years of Democratic politics could not — create a wedge issue that will destroy the Republican party’s winning coalition nationally. 

    It seems to me that most Republican presidential candidates have consistently declared opposition to abortion. It also seems that it would be fairly easy for presidential candidates to dodge this particular issue – passing state legislation is, they would say, a matter for the states, and whether that legislation will stand is a matter for the courts to decide. And as Eugene Volokh has noted, the predicted trajectory for this legislation will be: invalidated by the District Court, affirmance by the Circuit Court, and certiorari denied by the U.S. Supreme Court. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

    March 6, 2006

    An answer to the “Were you there?” challenge

    Filed under: Religion and law — CL @ 10:58 pm

    A twelve-year-old, acting on a suggestion by his minister, decides to challenge his 6th-grade science teacher after she describes the development and then the demise of saurian creatures. She has a comeback:  

    Q    How do you know that occurred? Were you there?

    A    No, but we know it happened. If we had to limit our knowledge to things that we ourselves saw, we would be a stupid race indeed. The advancement of our knowledge as a people has been built upon the collection, recordation, transmission, and learning of stored knowledge accumulated by others.

       You weren’t there to see Jesus Christ, were you? Yet you know that he existed and you know a lot about him. You know what he did and you know what he said. That was because others told you about him, and you are willing to accept what they said.

    Of course, it would be a cold day in hell before the School Board would let her actually say this.

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