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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Polygamists charged

Polygamy charges have finally been laid against Mormon fundamentalists from Bountiful. And if you read the article you’ll see that these misogynist will be making the exact same arguments that socons elsewhere: that religion trumps everything. One example would be the contraception mandate cases in the US.

And yet these socons’ hypocrisy is revealed by the fact that they do not support polygamists. If they truly, truly, truly thought religion should trump everything else, they be supporting polygamists. The fact that they don’t shows that their “concerns” about religion is really just a pretext.

Additionally, that slippery slope actually isn’t. The polygamists explicitly argued that marriage equality meant they had to be allowed to marry multiple people. However, the court upheld the law against polygamy. It rejected the very argument bigots make against marriage.

As for myself, I think we give too many privileges to religion already. It ought to be illegal to oppress women, and that women’s rights ought to overrule religion every time. And therefore my opposition to polygamy follows, whether you’re a Mormon fundamentalist, radical Islamist, or any other theomisogynist.

Shut up because the views must be the same

A guest blogger at the Volokh Conspiracy is doing a series of posts about treaties and the United States’ Congress’ powers and the ability to enforce them.

Rather than offer my own views on that subject (which is way beyond my expertise, in part because IANAL), I’ll instead draw attention to a curious contradiction among many in the religious right wrong. In concerns the United States’ Constitution’s Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2), which reads as follows:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

The people in the religious right wrong use this section to argue that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, if ratified by the US Senate, will somehow threaten “parental rights” or homeschooling or other such stuff. (As every other country [except Somalia, which hasn’t signed] shows, such claims are nonsense, but showing why is beyond the scope of this post). In other words, they are required to believe that any international treaty overrules whatever laws are in force in the US, even if Congress legislating in that area would be ultra vires (beyond its powers).

The religious right wrong also believe that the US is founded as a Christian nation. This is in spite of the Treaty of Tripoli, which the US Senate unanimously ratified over two centuries ago. The relevant section is Article 12, which reads as follows (spelling and wording in original):

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

In other words, the religious right wrong believes that treaties overrule law when they provide rights to children, but not when they refute the Christian nation myth.

Those two positions are contradictory. One cannot rationally believe both. If they truly believe that the US was founded as a Christian nation and that the Treaty of Tripoli does not apply, then they can forever shut up about the UNCRC overruling any other law and threatening parental rights. If, by contrast, they believe that the UNCRC does overrule other laws, they then can shut the fuck up about the US being founded as a Christian nation.

At least someone’s bringing the hammer down for public health

A hospital in Indiana has fired eight employees because they refused flu shots (via). Good. It’s about time someone grew a spine and stood up to religious extremists who put the health and lives of the public at risk. And can we start doing this in BC, now? Update: My apologies, I didn’t read the date carefully enough. This is from a year ago. But still, the principle behind it still holds.

And to those who want religious exemptions from doing the job the voluntarily signed up for, be careful what you wish for. (Indeed, I think that it is pretty likely that the same people who support the people in Indiana would object to this second group, even though both are using the same justifications for not doing what is necessary for their job).

You go girl!

I can’t say I endorse her methods, but still this is full of win.

International human rights groups ought to defend this woman, as she is likely to face heavy jail time for standing up for her rights.

Update 201209–22: According to information I found at Muslimah Media Watch, attacks against such clerics are not rare, and that the particular cleric that was beaten did not file charges, although the local judiciary might still do so.

Hmm….

Let’s juxtapose this (via) and this.

Why a carbon tax is the way to go

An editorial in the New York Times got me thinking about why a carbon tax is a better way to fight global warming and climate change than either cap–and–trade or efficiency regulations.

Here are several reasons I can think of:

  • Carbon taxes always provide an incentive to pollute less and use less energy. Even if you cut carbon emissions by half, you still are paying taxes for the carbon you do emit, and therefore still have an incentive to eliminate it. Compare this with efficiency regulations, where someone has no incentive to reduce energy use once the regulation is met. In addition, all too often regulations are designed by businesses themselves, so as to prevent competition (rent seeking). Also compare this with cap–and–trade, where a source of carbon credits may well allow heavy polluters to continue, just because they have deep pockets. A lot of money will not allow someone to avoid paying a carbon tax.
  • Carbon taxes drive both individuals and companies to use less energy. Cap–and–trade is usually done by businesses, and efficiency regulations only impact new products (unless old ones are mandated to be destroyed).
  • According to the editorial, a carbon tax is far cheaper than efficiency standards once a global view of costs is taken into account.
  • Carbon taxes (especially those on fuel) make people drive less and live in denser environments. On a per capita basis, cities are more energy–efficient than suburbs. For example, recycling and public transit are more feasible in densely–populated areas. And people who drive less are less sedentary and therefore healthier.
  • It is possible that cap–and–trade and efficiency standards alone will not do enough to mitigate climate change.
  • A carbon tax is easier to offset as part of a green tax shift than other methods. It can even lead to lower tax levels overall, such as here in British Columbia (cite).
  • Efficiency improvements are subject to the rebound effect, where the decreased cost of using a resource partially offsets gains from using it more efficiently. A carbon tax does not generate perverse incentives.
  • A carbon tax is easier to adjust. If too many pollution permits are issued, cap–and–trade will not have much of an effect since it is harder to eliminate privately–owned pollution permits.
  • Many countries that export oil are rentier states, which means that they earn most of their revenue from natural resource royalties. Those royalties pay for oppressive paramilitary forces that enforce authoritarianism in those countries. A carbon tax will eventually reduce revenues received by those countries, improving freedom there and those countries’ human rights situations.

Hence, for all of the above reasons, a carbon tax is the way to go. My preferred offset is to payroll taxes. But such has virtually no chance of being enacted in the United States (a better chance in Canada [I hope]), due to the extreme polarization and total irrationality (and far worse!) of a number of politicians there. And since climate change is a major danger, Christian conservatism’s climate change denialism makes it, in the long run, the world’s most dangerous ideology.

Now this creeps out

I heard about this disturbing stuff at Butterflies and Wheels (in all cases, my emphasis):

Nearly 7,000 Virginia children whose families have opted to keep them out of public school for religious reasons are not required to get an education, the only children in the country who do not have to prove they are being home-schooled or otherwise educated, according to a study.

Virginia is the only state that allows families to avoid government intrusion once they are given permission to opt out of public school, according to a report from the University of Virginia’s School of Law. It’s a law that is defended for promoting religious freedom and criticized for leaving open the possibility that some children will not be educated.

[…]

I have no problem with homeschooling in itself, but I don’t see how a situation like this will ever end well.

Once parents in Virginia are granted a religious exemption, they’re no longer legally obligated to educate their children.

The statute does not allow exemptions for political or philosophical beliefs “or a merely personal moral code,” but the beliefs do not have to be part of a mainstream religion….

Yet again we have perverse privileging of religious belief over secular belief.

Now, I have no absolute proof, but it is virtually inevitable that girls will be the ones who will be denied a or deprived of an adequate education under this scheme of legalizing child abuse. How do I realize that? How many religions mandate the oppression/subordination of men? None (that matter). How many mandate the oppression/subordination of women? Most (that matter).

Denying education and choices to girls is child abuse. Here’s why (after the jump):

(more…)

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