Thursday April 17, 2014
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First some facts: It's traditional in Kountze, a town of 2,100 in east Texas, for cheerleaders to write Bible verses and religious messages, such as, "If God is with us, who can be against us?" on large sheets of paper that the football players run through when they take the field for home games.
An atheist group went to the school district and claimed the banners were a violation of the First Amendment. The district said the school had to stop. Someone else took the district to court.
A Texas judge ruled that the banners are constitutionally protected free speech and that the tradition will be allowed to continue. The judge's written ruling makes It certain that the case will be appealed in federal court.
Here's the ruling:
State District Judge Steven Thomas wrote in a two-page final ruling that, "[No law] prohibits the cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events."
Having gone out of his way to show that he knew nothing about Constitutional law, the judge went on to state that the messages on the banners "have not created, and will not create, an establishment of religion in the Kountze community."
In the first place, the lawsuit had nothing to do with free speech. The judge ruled under the wrong portion of the 1st Amendment.
The correct portion of the 1st Amendment is, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," in which the term "Congress" means any person of authority, including, of course, the school board, which made a law.
The fact that he didn't realize that, and the fact that he strayed beyond the question he was being asked to rule on when he commented on the "establishment of religion in the Kountze community" clearly show the judge was incompetent. All he had to say was that the school board violated the 1st Amendment when it passed a law prohibiting the banners. That's a slam dunk.
However, because he muddled things up the atheist group will be filing an appeal, leaving us with two questions:
a. What WILL happen?
b. What SHOULD happen?
As I have stated before, it's these types of "incidents" that has caused me to accept that there simply is no possibility of either slowing down or reversing this nation's slide into an "immoral abyss". The "Founders", from everything I've been able to discern, never intended there to be a "separation wall" from one's right to express their religious belief's when connected in any way to a governmental entity. The "establishment" of any religion by Congress is the point. Not free citizen's rights to voice those beliefs regardless of venue .One, or a group simply stating their religious views in a public forum is hardly likened to the "shall not establishment" clause our Founders put in place. I am always amazed at how far some folks will "stretch" a literal interpretation of the Constitution without so much as having read all the written evidence that clearly sheds light on the "original intent" of ever aspect of that document. Federalist Papers anyone?
Tom, I don't see any problems with using the word GOD, it just means infinite potential. What should happen and what will happen is entirely up to the people.
Ronald, We certainly can and will reverse the slide, if WE THE PEOPLE, choose to do so. If we choose not to reverse "it", well then apocalypse is a nice word for what will happen.
Just this morning I returned from The People's Democratic Republic of Kalifornia, where I attended my Brother-in-law's funeral service. He was a retired LA City Firefighter so his memorial service was presented/conducted by members of the LA City Fire Department, along with bagpipes, Fire Truck, members in uniform, etc. Not unlike a military funeral. The service was "officiated" by the LA City Fire Chaplain who provided a very "Christian" service along with intoning the name of Jesus Christ and actual verses from the Holy Bible. Afterwards, I personally thanked each and every one for their service, their honoring my brother in law, and the sheer amazement I had they were even allowed to conduct or be present at such an undertaking. What a breath of fresh air from all the "political correctness" that has come to dominate all aspects of our lives of late.
Tom, One more thing. In case you have not pieced it all together yet, All the battle plans are at the round up. Then we will use science, chi square statistics, the Fibonacci Sequence and systems theory to fix "it." I promise this can be done! Just say his name.
What in the world are you talking about? So YOU have pieced it all together? Battle plans...science...statistics...sequences....theories...and YOUR promise. AGAIN please stay on topic.
Having read about every document I have been able to find on the discussions which led to the original bills of rights in England, in Virginia, and so on I agree wholeheartedly with the intent of the 1st Amendment establishment clause, which is that the government at any and all levels is simply forbidden to make any kind of rule or law which touches upon religion in any way, pro or con. Hands-off is the easiest way to put it. Our forefathers were shocked and disgusted with the abuses of individuals by religious zealots, and they made it plain that they wanted it ended. You should read the arguments over whether or not "no law" should be used, or there should be a list of abuses that were banned. In the end, "no law" won out because they felt that it said it all. If there's room here I'll show you a couple of them.
In a case like this one the general idea is simple. The school board should simple have told the atheist group that they could make no rules, pro or con, regarding what the kids did or said regarding religion. The board should have been educated in school law, or should have had advice from some administrator who had been. After all, it's usually part of a masters in education, and surely someone in the district must have had one.
If the board had done its job the group would have been in the legally impossible position of having to take a group of high school kids to court for expressing their beliefs. They would have walked way, knowing that they could not win. There would have been no case.
But no, the school board failed to do its duty, which is to know what the laws are, or to find out as necessary, and so the board, having passed a Constitutionally impermissible rule, got taken to court by citizens who HAD done their homework. Chances are, one of them was a lawyer, or at least someone who knew a little bit about the Constitution.
And then what do we get? A judge who doesn't know his job. Here he is, trying a case on the "free exercise" clause and he decides it on the "freedom of speech" clause. And then he defends what the kids are doing by saying that there is no Constitutionally illegal law against doing what they are doing, thereby prying the door open for an appeal.
In federal court the kids may win, but now it's going to take an FBI investigation into how the program in the school is run. As long as the idea springs from the kids, and there is no pressure on them of any kind. If there is the program is history.
What a mess!
I'll put a couple of the arguments about the Bill of Rights in a separate post.
Here are a couple of the arguments from the days of, and before, the passage of the Bill of Rights. James Madison, who scratched out a list of what he thought should be included said this regarding how the Constitution might address religion:
"The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience by in any manner, or on any pretext infringed."
On the other hand, Alexander Hamilton argued that since the Constitution granted the government no power to regulate religion (or other natural rights) it was better to say nothing because it might imply that government had powers except for those that the bill of rights denied. Here's one thing he had to say:
"I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?"
By the way, it's interesting to note that if Madison's original wording of the free speech portion of the First Amendment had been adopted we might not have all the problems we have regarding just what is, and is not, free speech. Here it is:
"The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable."
See? He made it plain: "to speak, to write, or to publish." Not a word about dropping your drawers.
By the way, the words "to publish" go beyond the right to simply write down what you have to say; they mean that you can print it or speak it in public.
I agree with Alexander Hamilton's position. I feel that laws should be aimed at supporting morality and correctness. The idea of making law to NOT do something, is somewhat vague, and invites controversy. The idea of "shall not establishment" is an example of the point. The law should read "the laws of the state shall be free of all religious opinion, however, there will be free practice of religion which will be exempt from any law for or against it. Or, would you word it differently?
I'm inclined to agree that parts of our Constitution were written in an attempt to set down broad, general principles, but failed because they were cut too short by people who were trying to make them sound good. Too bad. Now we have to fill the cracks.
And there are always extremists who are absolutely thrilled to turn a good law into a mockery of its original purpose.
Go back to the first 10 Laws and we will be fine.
What some people do not seem to understand is that this is an imperfect world, and we are just as imperfect, but if we at least try to be fair and honest, to help the next guy along, to reward hard work and live within our means, it will all turn out okay.
Not only that, it is isn't hard to understand the Constitution. It's just the written expression of what we all feel is right and fair. Those who try to push the meaning of some parts of it beyond what they were ever meant to mean--the progressives--may twist words to mean things they were never meant to mean, and they may fool a portion of the people into believing what they say, but in the end, when people begin to realize what a mess they have made of this nation, there will come a course correction.
I'll see if I can come back and see how it all worked out.
You know what bothers me?
I'm a scientist. I know what is coming. It is written in the rocks as plain as can be.
Humans have been on this planet, so we estimate, for a million or more years. Although many bad things happened to many people during those years of which we have no record, that doesn't mean that they didn't happen, or won't keep on happening. Take it from me, they will.
You think humankind has lived through disasters? We've only been keeping records for about twenty-five seconds of the day the Earth has existed. Hasn't been time to see much.
In a predictable period of time San Francisco and Anchorage will be sister cities because the Pacific Plate will have moved San Francisco that far north, and in the process will have caused earthquakes the likes of which we cannot even imagine.
In a much shorter, but equally predictable, period of time, the entire Yellowstone area will be blown into orbit, taking a lot of people with it.
In an even shorter, but even more predictable, period of time, almost every major coastal city on the planet, and the seas will will be lapping at the edges of mountains that haven't seen seawater in hundreds of thousands of years.
It IS going to happen.
And yet here we sit like a pack of dogs squabbling over the good bits of the kill while Fate sits quietly aside and eyes the avalanche sweeping down on us.
We don't have to go through all that misery. We can get together and forestall most of the suffering. But will we? I wonder?
If we can't even figure out whether or not a group of kids can use magic markers on a run-through poster for a football game without having to spend time and money in court, it doesn't say much for us.
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