The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 18, 2014: Is Stupidity Worth the Price of Religious Freedom?

In an impassioned (if somewhat inaccurate) defense of “speaking the truth,” Senator Ted Cruz (Regressive, NeverNeverLand) completely mischaracterized and fabricated a rationale for a subpoena brought about in a legal dispute over the validity of petition signatures to overturn a Houston, TX, ordinance that hasn’t yet gone into effect, and which could not have been used in the manner he feared even if it did. He’s not the only one doing it. TV personality on his own network and malignant boil on the skin of religious liberty, Pat Robertson, is also making up his own reasons for the subpoenas. The subpoenas in question were intended to find out what instructions were given to signature gatherers organized by five local pastors. Mayoral Spokesperson Janice Evans said, “Neither the mayor nor City Attorney David Feldman were aware the subpoenas had been issued until Tuesday. Both agree the original documents were overly broad. The city will move to narrow the scope during an upcoming court hearing. Attorney Feldman says the focus should be only on communications related to the HERO petition process.” They sought

“all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

Yes. If all they were after were the instructions given to people gathering signatures, then this subpoena was unquestionably too broad. And so the city has refiled the subpoenas with the focus solely on the petition process instructions. And that’s as it should be.

But what about all the diaper-filling crying by the religious right about what these subpoenas were really about? These are allegedly educated men. Did they not understand the issues involved? Does Cruz really believe this issue had anything to do with pastors being “hauled off to jail for a hate crime because they are speaking for traditional marriage”? Does Robertson really believe that Mayor Parker’s “predilections” were exposed by this incident (the filing of the subpoenas), and that it’s the worst demand by a mayor in modern times? (Robertson must have slept through the Civil Rights struggles of the 50’s and 60’s.) According to the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) (emphasis mine)

…bans discrimination based not just on sexual orientation and gender identity but also, as federal laws do, sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, as well as family, marital or military status.

The ordinance applies to businesses that serve the public, private employers, housing, city employment and city contracting. Religious institutions would be exempt. Violators could be fined up to $5,000.

So even if the law were in effect and the sermons sought by the original subpoenas were legally obtained, they still could not be used to prosecute the pastors under the HERO because they’re exempt. It’s hard to believe Cruz and Robertson don’t understand this. But sadly, it’s easy to believe their target audience doesn’t. They’re counting on their target audience not bothering to take the time to learn the facts about the subpoenas, and so they’re describing them in ways that have nothing to do with reality. (But then, when have Marion “Ted” Cruz or Rafael “Pat” Robertson ever been known to have anything to do with reality? No, seriously. When?) And what are they saying? Some of the stupidest stuff being said today as part of the anti-LGBT movement. They’re claiming that suppression of this nonsensical hate mongering (if that were, in fact, the intent of the subpoenas) is a violation of their religious freedom! And therein lies the problem.

No one will dispute there are limits to the rights expressed in the Bill of Rights, including the freedoms of speech and religion. There are certain things you are not allowed to say (whether you mean them or not), and there are certain religious practices in which you cannot always engage any time you wish. Because of the danger to lives that panic can cause, you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater, nor can you do it in a church for the same reason. Which leads to the logical conclusion that there are things you can’t say even in a church. Which leads to the question of the dividing line between speech and religion. When does religious freedom cross into the areas of speech where you are not free to roam? And even if it doesn’t cross the line of constitutional protection, how much stupidity are we expected to withstand in the name of religious freedom? And what about the people too stupid to understand the issue? What if the religious message being given is not an accurate reflection of the official religious doctrine? Is it still protected? What religious conservatives think is “pro-traditional marriage” language is often “anti-homosexuality” language, so is it still protected? More distinctly, is it protected speech or protected religious practice? If your religious beliefs lead you to believe stupid and wildly inaccurate things about your fellow human beings, which in turn cause you to say stupid, harmful things to another person, are you still freely exercising your religion? What if the foundation of one your religious beliefs is provably wrong? Are you still free to claim it’s true and that you are justified in your hatred? Are we so caught up in the idea of religious freedom that we’ll allow stupidity to become the prevailing wisdom?

This is our daily open thread. Talk about whatever you wish. Within reason, of course.

16 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 18, 2014: Is Stupidity Worth the Price of Religious Freedom?

  1. Ebola vaccine? NO WAY! THEY’RE USING STEM CELLS AND WE’RE PRO-LIFE!

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2014/10/18/pro-life-group-no-ebola-vaccine-if-stem-cells-are-used/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

    Children of God for Life announced today that several Ebola vaccines in development for use worldwide are made using aborted fetal cell lines despite the fact that moral alternatives are reported as equally effective.

    Glaxo SmithKline (GSK) and NIAID are jointly developed their ChAd3 vector for delivering the Ebola virus gene using HEK-293 (human embryonic kidney) cells. Likewise, NewLink Genetics of Iowa used HEK-293 cells for their VSV-EBOV Ebola vaccine in Canada, while Johnson and Johnson/Crucell developed theirs using PER C6 cells, derived from retinal tissue of an 18 week gestation aborted baby…

    “It is completely irresponsible of this Administration to put these problem vaccines on fast-track for approval and ignore the fact that a massive number of people may very well refuse them. Why not fast track a product that everyone can use in good conscience?” asked Vinnedge.

    • IOW: We’re so pro-life that we’d appreciate it very much if you violently shit and vomit yourself to death, and if you survive that, please go forward with bleeding to death from every orifice as your vascular system turns to goo.

      Amen.

    • GlaxoSmithKline(GSK) is headquartered in the UK and if I remember correctly, the vaccine department is also across the pond. Europeans don’t get their knickers in a knot over fetal stem cells. I retired from GSK and I want to say thank you to them for putting funds into developing a vaccine.

  2. Cretins like Cruz and Roberts aren’t interested in silly things like truth, honor, logic, and integrity. They aren’t interested in the people they claim they’re representing and/or defending. Don’t be silly!

    They are only interested in whatever gets them more power, influence, and money. If they have to destroy the lives of the people, and poison the roots of the great American idea, they will happily do so — while wrapped in the flag and carrying a crucifix. They’re just really good at making people believe they actually care about them. And, they’re especially good at diverting people who care about one another, and uphold principles like truth, honor, and integrity, into tearing their hair out over the outrageous, illogical bullshit they spew.

    Assholes like Cruz and Roberts give ZERO fucks about anyone pointing out their astonishing forays into lies, bigger lies, and massive over-the-top humongous lies, because they know their audience: Willfully ignorant, disturbingly religious, submissive authoritarians, who will see any attempt to interfere with their terminal confirmation bias as reason to further entrench themselves in their ludicrous, ill-informed, un-thinking and un-questioning opinions (provided by Cruz, Roberts, et al).

  3. Remember, freedom OF religion doesn’t mean freedom FROM religion — cuz this here’s a Christian nation. It says so in the constitution or maybe the bible.

  4. You have to consider that God is sort of into things like plagues. If the Big Guy sends a plague and American True believers run in fear, does this redefine being a God fearing Christian? After all, only God can make plagues and they are part of his mystery so why should his Children be shitting their pants?

    • I’ve often thought that – if god brings and takes-away who are his followers to get all up-in-arms and question what is happening?
      Many preach/teach god is in charge and to leave things in his hands, all will be well.

      Hooda so glad you pop in from time to time!
      How are the grandkids doing?
      And yourself?

      • I and my family are well, Ebb. Thanks for asking. My elder daughter is married now. The rodents are all healthy and well. Business has been busy, more so than I like but it pays the bills.

        How are things in your world?

    • Amen. But relatively few realize that. In fact, the war on wilderness in this country dates back to well before its founding —

      [When European colonists first arrived in America] “the whole continent was one continued dismal wilderness, the haunt of wolves and bears and more savage men. Now the forests are removed, the land covered with fields of corn, orchards bending with fruit and the magnificent habitations of rational and civilized people.” ~John Adams, 1756 (as quoted by Barry Lopez in Of Wolves and Men)

      — and continues thru the present day, with no end in sight. There ain’t no money in wilderness and land preservation, after all, and these days the effort to simply keep what we have is constantly being challenged by soulless billionaires, corporate interests, and idiots.

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