Saturday, January 15, 2005

Congress Shall Make No Law...

Doc recently brought a pair of articles to my attention, one with the comment, "We provide terrorists with copies of the Quran and prayer rugs and point them to the East, while we deny imprisoned U.S. citizens the right to worship? "

The first article, in
The Wall Street Journal, authored by Vincent Philip Munoz, reminds us that “once an idiot, always an idiot” is true more often than we’d like. Michael Newdow, the atheist lawyer who last year attempted to persuade the Supreme Court to strip the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, has filed a lawsuit seeking to remove all prayer and "Christian religious acts" from the January 20th inauguration of President Bush.

Next up to bat is the idiot running a prison in Pennsylvania who kicked out the priest who had been ministering to death-row inmates, or rather those death-row inmates who wished to assert their First Amendment Right to worship.

But there’s more. It seems all over the United States, there are prisons that step on the religiosity of inmates. And no, I do not believe that prisons or taxpayers should have to pay the cost of some of the foolishness that will parade under the name of religious freedom, but to deny prisoners the wearing of religious articles, or studying the Bible or the Torah – that amazes me, frankly.

I’m not sure who should win the Idiot of the Year award but this would be a hot competition.

Mr. Newdow’s issue is one we’re probably all at least vaguely familiar with. He’s the man who didn’t want his daughter to hear the words “under God”, and sued for the right to stop anyone and everyone from using the words “under God.” The sheer wrong-headedness of that is impressive.

The trials and tribulations in PA may be a different story. The second article, by Chuck Colson, and residing at, gives an overview of the Supreme Court case, soon to be heard, on the Pennsylvania law that protects an inmate’s right to practice religion, and makes a good case for this law being Constitutional, despite its origin being to protect religious practice.

The Constitution, in the First Amendment of that pesky Bill of Rights, discusses the State’s inability to either support or forbid, a particular religion. “Congress shall make no law… ” It seems this phrase is the only one people hear or choose to review. Taken out of context, I will admit that this appears to disallow Congress from making any law of any kind supporting a religion.

Forgive my Clinton-esque digression, but I believe the arguments that are necessary to discuss hinge more on what was meant by “respecting establishing a religion.” And “prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

“Congress shall make no law… ” is clear – just as clear as “Shall not be infringed…” but that’s an argument for another day.

But the other two phrases; “respecting establishing a religion.” and “prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” – well, as any good pirate would say, “Aye, matey, now there’s the rub.”

Neither for, nor against, and that's exactly why there are two clauses. Let’s try paraphrasing the quote for understanding.

“Congress shall make no law [respecting an establishment of] for, or [prohibiting the free exercise thereof] against any particular religion.” No law can be passed, and remain Constitutional, that either supports or forbids, any religious practice on the part of the individual. That’s the way those ten amendments to the Constitution - the Bill of Rights - were conceived, authored and signed into law - as a protection of basic human rights. One turns one’s eye to how this must be interpreted in terms of “this right belongs to each and every one of us.” It is, just as is the Second Amendment, an individual protection against the State.

President Bush is more than entitled to pray if he chooses to make that part of his speech, and he is as entitled to the same Amendment's support of free speech should he ask the audience, or his fellow Americans, or the world, to join him in doing so.

The death penalty is not an issue of religiosity, nor has society suddenly decreed it so. The death penalty is a strictly secular act that allows for the non-reversible removal of someone from society who cannot, and will not, ever be allowed to join society again. For whatever extreme act a Death Row prisoner has been convicted of committing, he or she has forfeited the right to live.

“Thy rod and thy staff comfort me,” exists in all religions I am familiar with, in some form or another. No idiot in the prison system has the right to keep a man or woman, scheduled to die, for any reason, from making his or her peace with God. The Pennsylvania law that is now under fire because it seeks to protect, not the rights of one chosen religion, or even two or three, but all prisoners’ right to worship as they see fit, is nothing more than an “enforcement” backup for the First Amendment on the state level.

The law should stand, and judges who seek to enjoy activism from the bench should wake up and re-think the idea of Constitutional. It is not based on, “does this make someone feel bad,” or “would this offend someone,” it’s based on Law.

The Court must support the right to pray. If it does not, once again, an integral part of the Bill of Rights and our Constitution falters. Badly.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Everybody just calm down and quit overreacting...

In a recent discussion on my web site's forum, I posted Nancy Mathis' page entitled "History Test" and, in no time at all, got back a rather hysterical reaction from an attorney who is a member there. The vast majority of people who are members on the site are Conservative, but somehow, despite his Pro-2A stance and activism in firearms rights, the reaction level to a lot of issues such as this one is way over the top.

His response:

Oh yes . . . we must profile all Muslim men.

And keep that Cat Stevens dude on the terrorist watch list. His songs really suck anyway.

And while we're at it . . . since members of the IRA are all Irish, and mostly Catholic, let's make sure to profile and strip search all Irish, and all Catholics. And throw a buncha folks with names starting in O' and Mc onto our no-fly and terroist profile lists.

Is it wrong to equate Islam with "Muslim" terrorism. If anything, the terrorists are more associated with Palestinian statehood, than with any faith. Muslims of faith and conscience are not the ones we need to worry about; and it is insulting and degrading to them to associate them with terrorists.

One other thing: Question #7 -- IIRC, one of the hijackers was a Chaldean who supported Palestinian freedom from Israel. Not a Muslim. So are we going to include all Christians? Or just Chaldeans?

Now, frankly, as the wife of a Chinese gentleman, the mother of two Caucasian children and one who is biracial (but predominately identified as Black), the grandmother to two young women whose father is Mexican, two more whose mother is Canadian, and the future mother-in-law to a Polish immigrant, I'm a little tired of the implication that I am somehow racist because I share a web page that someone totally overreacts to.

I realise that this is somehow a hot button for you, my friend, but it doesn't change facts. Neither does it help for you to take it all the way over the top, as in "Oh yes . . . we must profile all Muslim men."

The New York Times Magazine, June 18,1999: "profiling means an officer using cumulative knowledge to identify certain indicators criminal activity. Race may be one of those factors but it cannot stand alone. Racial profiling is when race is the only factor. There is no other probable cause."

I am tired of having anyone try to make me feel as though I, or anyone else, is doing anything wrong by attempting to identify criminals by "checking out" individuals that match the characteristics of individuals who are known to have committed crimes. There are quite literally tens of thousands of Middle Eastern men (and women) who want us dead. How on earth can anyone logically expect us, and our law enforcement community, to ignore that?

Profiling is a logical tool for that community and I would find serious fault with any LEO, dept. etc. ignoring that.

For instance, if a black male between 20 and 30 wearing dark clothing shoots a little old lady on the east side of Detroit and for the next 24 hours, police keep an eye out for black males between 20 and 30 wearing dark clothing and take a good, close look at them, and indeed, if any suspicious behavior is visible, the police stop, question, etc. individuals described thusly, too bad if the individuals are offended and want to make it a racial issue.

The posting from the fellow who was so offended by my relatively innocent sharing of another friend's web site referenced Yusuf Islam as Cat Stevens, which is probably quite offensive to him (if he took notice of it, of course) since I am quite sure he would view it as an ethnocentric refusal to recognize his status as both a Muslim and an individual who has opted to change his name and live under a whole new set of beliefs.

If our government has reason to believe that Mr. Islam, or any other non-citizen, is negaged in high risk behaviors that might be dangerous to our citizens, then refusing that individual entry into our country has my complete support.

A spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security, Garrison Courtney, told the AFP news agency that Mr Islam's name "was placed on watch lists because of concerns that the US has about activities that can potentially be related to terrorism".

"More recently, our intelligence community has come into the possession of additional information that further heightens our concerns towards Yusuf Islam," he added.

I refuse to be categorized as racist because I post something from Nancy Mathis ( author) and then watch you go all the way over the edge in this.

Do I think all Muslims males are people such as those that have committed the many atrocities against US citizens?


Do I believe that we can afford to ignore that there is a very large group of Muslim males out there that want our Country destroyed?

No. And I think we'd be fools to do so.