Saturday March 8, 2014
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You know me, right? Am I a harsh person? Do I do a lot of rabble rousing? Do I jump right in the middle of someone's life because he said something really dumb?
I don't think so. I may get a little irritated once in a while, and my patience may wear thin on some subjects after a time, but that's human, isn't it? Nobody's perfect.
But on this subject...?
Look. If you work in a profession, and have been to school for several years to learn about that profession, is it unreasonable for people to expect you KNOW something about the most basic, the most fundamental, the most critically important part of that profession?
Is that asking too much?
Then how is that Phoenix attorney Dianne Post says she was "utterly shocked" when a Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting opened with a prayer?
How is it that she even went so far as to say, "I don't understand these people. That lawyer knows that there is a separation of church and state and this is prohibited, so why aren't they advising these county authorities that they can't do this? This is just basic constitutional law."
By "that lawyer" I presume she must be speaking of a lawyer who sits in on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meetings.
Examine what she said:
She said that saying a prayer is "prohibited."
She said, "...why aren't they [sic]** advising these county authorities that they can't do this?"
** I didn't misquote her; she changed tense in the middle of sentence.
She said, "This is just basic constitutional law."
I know that anyone reading this who has a sixth grade education knows what is wrong with those statements, but just in case a third grader has logged on, I'll explain why she is wrong.
The First Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
It has been tested in the courts, including the Supreme Court, that what that says is that there can be no law which is either pro or anti religion, and that the government at all levels has to maintain a healthy neutrality.
So how can there be a law somewhere that "prohibits" prayer?
No can do. "no law" means just that, NO law, none.
And how can someone advise "these county authorities that they can't do this?" That would be advising them that they can't do something they have every right to do.
And if it is just "basic constitutional law," how come someone who calls herself a lawyer doesn't know all that?
I know it. You know it. Everyone knows it. How can someone who is supposed to be an expert on the law not know it?
That's like being a carpenter, but not knowing what wood is, or how you cut it.
(Don't worry, you haven't heard the worst part yet.)
That's bad enough, but as I read on in the AZ Central article I came across a comment made by someone who TEACHES constitutional law at the university level. And you know what he said?
"When you start an official government meeting with a prayer, you are saying, I think, that religion is going to play a part..."
The implication was, of course, that there is something wrong with that. In other words, that when a official starts a meeting off with a prayer it implies that religion is going to play a part in the meeting, and that there is something wrong with that.
Is there something wrong with someone implying that?
Suppose that instead of just implying it, an official were to stand up and say, "I believe that God will guide our hands and minds today, and bring us to the right conclusions to our problems."
Would that be prohibited?
You know where the answer to that question is?
Uh-huh! First Amendment, and not even in the part that covers freedom of religion.
"[Congress shall make no law] abridging the freedom of speech..."
In other words, no one can stop you from expressing your opinion either.
Think about what you have just read: A practicing lawyer, and someone who teaches Constitutional Law at the university level, and who is therefore presumably a lawyer, each weigh in, not on some esoteric piece of legislation, but on the very FIRST part of the Bill of Rights, and neither one of them has a clue what the hell it means.
I have a suggestion. Change the First Amendment. Don't take anything out. Just add a little something in.
"Congress shall make no law...yers."
Am I some kind of super-religionist? No. I'm just an ordinary American who believes--and very strongly--that the government should not get involved in telling people what they can or can't believe, or what they can or can't say.
I wouldn't even try to stop Phoenix attorney Dianne Post, from saying what she said. I'd just make her take the bar exam and the sixth grade math and English AIMS tests again.
Once every year for the next 20 years.
Gotta give people a fair chance to learn.
After all, this might be someone you hire to defend you in court.
I ask you, how can people who are supposed to be versed in the law be so bone ignorant?
Tom; They can be so ignorant because those of that ilk believe that normal standards do not apply to them. They are Lawyers, after all. In law schools the concepts of ethics and modesty seem to be relegated to the trash heap. "Relativity" becomes the ethical standard and narcissism becomes the norm. I do realize that there must be lawyers who are not of that strain, but I have met more jerk lawyers than I care to remember (and some pleasant ones, too).
I hadn't really thought about that, but you make a good point.
Lawyers are, of course, trained to argue a point of view. It is, in fact, the essence of what they do; if they couldn't do that it would be hard, perhaps even impossible, to defend someone who is obvious guilty of a crime.
But that should not spill over into something where personal values are concerned. That is not ethical conduct. To fly in the face of the obvious--namely in this instance to falsely claim that it is not correct and appropriate for anyone to say a prayer at any time--and make statements that you MUST know are incorrect and inflammatory should be grounds for disbarment.
What astounds me is this direct quote from AZC:
"Paul Bender, who teaches constitutional law at Arizona State University, and who spoke on the topic Wednesday, said a prayer is unconstitutional, even if it's non-denominational."
If that is the kind of person we have teaching a whole generation of college kids the meaning of the Constitution, what chance do we have of having them understand the truth? NO prayer is unconstitutional. What IS unconstitutional is either requiring prayer or prohibiting it.
He is also the person who said (and here I am quoting HIM, not the report), "Religion is not supposed to play a part in government," Bender said. "When you start an official government meeting with a prayer, you are saying, I think, that religion is going to play a part, even if it's non-denominational. Government should be religiously neutral."
Think of the level of misunderstanding, or perhaps even downright lack of brains it takes to make such a statement. Let me show you why his statement is so wrong.
First sentence, true. Last sentence, which repeats the first sentence, true.
But in between two sentences which speak of "government," a teacher of law changed the focus from the "government" to an individual action when he said, "When YOU start..." (Emphasis mine.)
The first two sentences do not support the critical middle sentence. The middle sentence speaks of an INDIVIDUAL right, protected under the First Amendment.
Making a statement like that, one which uses unrelated facts to support an incorrect conclusion is the worst kind of poor--or deliberately devious--reasoning. Yes, the government has to remain neutral. It cannot either require or prohibit prayer. But the individual right to say a prayer is not in any way affected by the requirement.
And what the woman lawyer is saying--that prayer IS prohibited--is beyond belief.
I would disbar both of them and fire the teacher.
And I repeat: I am not a particularly religious person--just an honest one who thinks our Constitution got it just right.
I'm still thinking about what John said.
Consider that carefully. What he said was, "...those of that ilk believe that normal standards do not apply to them. They are Lawyers, after all. In law schools the concepts of ethics and modesty seem to be relegated to the trash heap."
I wonder? Never having been there, I wonder what they teach in law school? Do they teach the law? The concepts? The moral principles on which the nation is supposed to run?
Or do they teach what are commonly known as "lawyers tricks."
I don't know. Does anyone have any idea?
Some lawyers are bad but judges are worse and they have the last word.
I know nothing about our judges up here, or about judges in general. Except for one thing: Each time I read something in the roundup about a judgment made by Dorothy Little, our Justice Court magistrate it makes good sense to me. I suppose there are good ones and bad ones.
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