Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – We’re admittedly intolerant but please don’t call us bigots!

happy kittehs!
happy kittehs!

Recently, with the focus on gay marriage, we’ve heard a lot of theists claiming that they shouldn’t be considered bigots because they do not want to allow the same freedoms for everyone. One of these claims is in my local paper, an opinion piece by John Kass of the Chicago Tribune (the original at the Tribune is pay-blocked, the link is to a syndicated copy).   I’d like to look at this claim and see if they are correct.

Merriam-Webster defines a bigot as:  a person who is obstinately (perversely adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion) or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.  Incidentally, this is the dictionary that my 7th grade English teacher touted as the best, so I use it out of habit.

Mr. Kass asks the two questions “Is it possible to be a traditional Christian or Muslim or Orthodox Jew and hold to one’s faith on what constitutes marriage and not be considered a bigot? And is faith now a problem to be overcome, first marginalized by the state and then contained, so as not to get in the way of great changes to come?”

First, we have Mr. Kass using some of the usual TrueChristianTM claims (the same claims can be applied to TrueMuslims, TrueJews, etc).  He wishes to pretend that his version of ”traditional” Christianity (appeal to tradition fallacy in order to claim that something is better because of claimed age) is the only “right” one, that he knows what his god really wants and that he knows what his god really meant in the bible.  However, since we have Christians who have no problems with gay marriage, and who have as much evidence that they are right as he does, we have to wonder which, if any, are right in their claims.

Mr. Kass is a member of the Greek Orthodox variety of Christianity.  He claims it is a “never-changing faith” (which is belied by the constant councils they had to have to hash out what they “really” believed).  Interesting, how he finds that his religion finds homosexuals an abomination but well, that shrimp cocktail is just yummy. Both are equal abominations per the bible. Why oh why aren’t the Westboro Baptists picketing Red Lobster?  And my husband says that shrimp are why Louisiana was hit by Katrina. Seems that the gumbo is truly sinfully delicious!

For his claims that the “liturgy is not a costume drama” and that the laws of his religion are above the state and its laws, he picks and chooses what Mr. Kass likes in the bible and ignore what he doesn’t like.  What he fails to mention is that even “traditional Christian” sects don’t agree (what should be in the bible, the idea of sola scriptura, the virgin mary, icons, saints,  hell, marriage, which calendar to use, how salvation is achieved, etc) .  There is little reason to find one sect better or more valid than the next. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – We’re admittedly intolerant but please don’t call us bigots!”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Mr. Roberts, what do *you* think the SCOTUS is for?

Why does it seem that Chief Justice Roberts has no idea how US government works?  It seems a sudden fit of ignorance brought on by fear.

During the Supreme Court hearings recently about gay marriage, we get this choice quote from Chief Justice Roberts: 

“If he has made a determination that executing the law (DOMA) by enforcing the terms is unconstitutional, I don’t see why he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions,” Roberts said of Obama, “and execute not only the statute, but do it consistent with his view of the Constitution, rather than saying, oh, we’ll wait till the Supreme Court tells us we have no choice.”

The White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, seems to have had to educate Mr. Roberts on how law works. 

“We’ll do that even for laws that we disagree with, including the Defense of Marriage Act.” 

And he’s right.  The US Constitution does say this “He [the President] shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.” 

Tsk, for someone who thinks himself so familiar with the Constitution, I guess Mr. Roberts forgot that part. 

Now, if one knows US law, the Supreme Court was created to do exactly what Mr. Roberts doesn’t think it should do, interpret laws against the Constitution.  All I can see from this is that his sudden ignorance on what his job is no more than him being desperately afraid of having to rule on the subject.  I’m guessing poor ol’ Scalia is in the same boat. They are doing their best to avoid responsibility by saying that the President can enforce or not enforce whatever laws they want. They conveniently seem to forget that the US Constitution gave them this duty, not to the Executive or the Legislative branches.    

Here’s what the Constitution says about the duties of the Supreme Court:

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; to Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of another State; between Citizens of different States; between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects. 

This has been restricted somewhat by the 11th amendment and by Congress. The Court is responsible for cases that impact on the federal government and those cases that concern differences between states: “If the case presents a federal question, meaning that it involves a claim or issue “arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States”.  The wikipedia article on the SCOTUS has all of the detail of US code and law. 

When Mr. Roberts insists that the President has the ability to execute the law anyway he sees fit and seems to imply that Mr. Roberts is just fine with that, that’s just so adorable.  It’s just great to imagine uproar from the Republicans if the President did anything like that for real.  Do you think they could scream “Impeachment!” quick enough?