Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Freedom of religion is not freedom from offense


Jewish date:  27 Tishri 5771 (Parashath Noaḥ).

Today’s holidays:  Tuesday of the Twenty-Seventh Week of Ordinary Time (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Pope Benedict IX (Church of the SubGenius).

Topic 1:  “Are war crimes caused by bad apples or bad barrels?”.  This article deals with the causes of war crimes, specifically whether there is specifically something wrong with the people who commit them (such as psychopathy) or whether the situation of being in a war leads to war crimes.  People often like to trace problems to a single cause (e.g., “Money is the root of all evil”), but guess what:  there is evidence that war crimes are caused by “bad apples” and “bad barrels”.  Humans are frightfully complex beings; there is no reason to assume our behavior is necessarily simple.  This should be kept in mind with dealing with the causes of evil in general:  people do things we consider wrong for all sorts of reasons, ranging from immediate gratification to greed to indifference to curiosity to zeal to jealousy to the noblest intentions.  (That last one is due to not everyone agreeing on what is evil.  What one person considers wickedness, another person may consider completely righteous.)
Jim DeMint headshotImage of Jim DeMint via Wikipedia

Topic 2:  “DeMint: Sexually Active Unmarried Women And Gay Teachers Should Be Barred From 
Classrooms”.  I heard about this one indirectly due to Josh.  Let me quote the start of the article:
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) says that even though "no one" came to his defense in 2004 after he said that gay people and unwed mothers should be banned from teaching, "everyone" quietly told him that he shouldn't back down from his position.
He also implied that not banning gay people and women who have sex before marriage from teaching would be an attack on Christians, and defended his position on banning gay teachers because he holds the same position on women who have sex outside of marriage.
"[When I said those things,] no one came to my defense," he said, the Spartanberg Herald-Journal reported. "But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn't back down. They don't want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion."
Exactly what legal right or aspect of freedom of religion would be violated by being taught by a homosexual or a woman who has non-marital sex?  I freely acknowledge that Christianity (at least certain branches) is fond of neither.  And I can easily understand that a Christian (at least of the DeMintian variety) might consider such a teacher a poor role model for his/her students and thus be offended.  But permitting such people to teach is not an attack on Christianity per se; not all Christians are so opposed to homosexuals or fornicators as DeMint.  Furthermore, while there is a constitutional right in the United States to practice one’s religion, there is no right to impose one’s religion on others.  In fact, since belief in one religion frequently requires belief that something certain other people believe or do is offensive, freedom of religion effectively requires that people be allowed to do things which offend other people.  And freedom of speech, also a constitutional right, includes being able to say and do things which other people do not approve of.  So DeMint does not approve of homosexuals and fornicators teaching others?  That is his prerogative.  But freedom of religion is not a case for a ban on homosexuals and fornicators from teaching.

Topic 3:  Update on yesterday’s post “It was not just the Temple Mount which the Muslims stole”:  “India less tense after court verdict on holy site”.  The court divided the land between the Hindus and the Muslims.  The Muslims get ⅓ of the Ram Janmabhoomi/Babri Mosque site, while the Hindus get ⅔ of the site, including the place where the mosque—and previously a Hindu temple—once stood.  I call this a triumph against Islamic supremacism.  Now we get to wait to see what happens next.


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