Saturday, October 10, 2009

Portland Catholics raise $86,000 to fight same-sex marriage in Maine

No doubt, the baby Jesus is beaming with pride in regard to his acolyte, the bishop of Portland, and his minions for doing their part so the fairies can’t marry. Throughout the month of September, the diocese took “special” collections to ensure that people who are fond of people with similar genitalia are denied inheritances, health insurance, and the other benefits most of us take for granted. And to buy air time

Every time I turn on the radio, there is another commercial warning us of the evils of same-sex marriage. One of the supposed “mandates” of the law is our children in the public schools would be indoctrinated with the idea that two people who love one another should be allowed to marry regardless of their orientation.

Huh? The next thing you will know, they will be letting colored folks sit next to us on the bus!

I would like to reassure the opponents of same-sex marriage they need not worry. I’ve met plenty of the recent graduates of the public schools and if their grasp of history, literature, biology and mathematics is any indication of their ability to retain knowledge – the Gay and Lesbian community should be in for a real disappointment.

(For the fact-based community: there are no plans to teach about same-sex marriage in the schools.)

But the part of the commercial that catches my attention is the ominous warning: “this law could possibly do away with the church’s tax-exempt status”. Now, we are getting down to the meat and potatoes of the issue – the Benjamins!

Personally, I think tax-exempt status for churches is an egregious violation of the constitution and should be ended immediately. Tax-exempt status should be reserved to those organizations that can be shown to provide a public good. I’ll be damned if I can see the public good in buggering children and helping the perpetrators escape justice. But, that’s just me.

It seems the threat to the holy gravy train lies in the fact that by treating evil homosexuals like citizens, the churches won’t be able to discriminate against them any more in matters of employment, adoption, etc. and still be able to suck on the public teat. It seems the state isn’t really interested in the Bishop’s (and others of his ilk’s) hate-filled, homophobic rants, and what really hurts; it doesn’t want to pay for them anymore.

I can’t help but wonder what the baby Jesus would have done with the 86 G’s? Maybe help the poor, or feed the hungry – you know – that whole “sermon on the mount” thing. Maybe, just maybe show a little compassion too.

Barney F. McClelland 10/10/09

US hypocrisy on free speech at United Nations

Found this disturbing article at the "Index on Censorship" website:

08 Oct 2009

The UN Human Rights Council has passed a resolution condemning “stereotyping of religion”. It’s a move that flouts freedom of expression – and it was sponsored by the United States. Roy W Brown reportsThe United States has backed a new UN resolution on free expression which would be considered unconstitutional under its First Amendment — which protects freedom of expression and bans sanctioning of religions.

The UN Human Rights Council on 2 October adopted the resolution, which the US had co-sponsored with Egypt. The US had finally joined the Human Rights Council in June, and its support for the measure reflected the Obama administration’s stated aim to “re-engage” with the UN.

While the new resolution focuses on freedom of expression, it also condemns “negative stereotyping of religion”. Billed as a historic compromise between Western and Muslim nations, in the wake of controversies such the Danish Muhammed cartoons, the resolution caused concern among European members.

“The language of stereotyping only applies to stereotyping of individuals, I stress individuals, and must not protect ideologies, religions or abstract values,” said France’s representative, Jean-Baptiste Mattéi, speaking for the EU. “The EU rejects the concept of defamation of religion.”

France emphasised that international human rights law protects individual believers, not systems of belief. But European members, eager not be seen as compromise wreckers, reluctantly supported the measure.

On the other side of the fault line stood the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which lobbied for a measure against “religious defamation”.

“We firmly believe that the exercise of freedom of expression carries with it special responsibilities,” said Pakistan’s delegate, speaking for the OIC. The “defamation” of religion, he said, “results in negative stereotyping of the followers of this religion and belief and leads to incitement, discrimination, hatred and violence against them, therefore directly affecting their human rights.”

Following the OIC’s logic, one could equally apply the language of the resolution to Islamism, a political form which is arguably a “contemporary manifestation of religious hatred, discrimination and xenophobia. It results in negative stereotyping of the followers of other religions and beliefs and leads to incitement, discrimination, hatred and violence against them, therefore directly affecting their human rights.”

The EU also had other worries. European members felt that the provision in the resolution on “the moral and social responsibility of the press” was objectionable in that it went beyond the limited restrictions set out in article 19, the provision on free expression in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

Finally, the EU encouraged the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank LaRue, to continue his work. This was an indirect reference to the attacks made against LaRue by several OIC members at the June session of the Human Rights Council. (Read more here)
The Council stopped short of repeating the OIC’s criticisms of the Special Rapporteur but encouraged him to stick to his mandate. That indicates that he should continue to focus on violations of free expression, rather than purported “abuses” of that right.

While this new resolution reflects new efforts by the US to broker compromises between Western and Muslim nations, it also represents an ominous crack in the defences of free expression.