Quote of the moment: Judge Richard Posner, on tradition and marriage

August 27, 2014

Judge Richard Posner, 7th Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals

Judge Richard Posner, 7th Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals

“It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry — a tradition that got swept away.”

Federal appeals court Judge Richard Posner, balking when Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson repeatedly pointed to “tradition” as the underlying justification for barring gay marriage.

Two states attorneys general argued before a panel of judges on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago yesterday that marriage between members of the same gender should be stopped because of tradition.  AP’s story explains what happened.

While judges often play devil’s advocate during oral arguments, the panel’s often-blistering questions for the defenders of the same-sex marriage bans could be a signal the laws may be in trouble — at least at this step in the legal process.

Richard Posner, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, hit the backers of the ban the hardest. He balked when Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson repeatedly pointed to “tradition” as the underlying justification for barring gay marriage.

“It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry — a tradition that got swept away,” the 75-year-old judge said. Prohibition of same-sex marriage, Posner said, derives from “a tradition of hate … and savage discrimination” of homosexuals.

Posner is one of those guys who gives us hope for the human race, and hope especially for that branch of the human race known as Homo americanus ssp. ordinarius.

Appointed to the bench by Ronald Reagan, Posner is widely recognized as one of the brightest and most engaging judges in the U.S. today.  That’s a sop to all the rest, to call him “one of ” the brightest — to avoid making everybody else give up hope.

But he’s outspoken enough that most legal scholars agree he’d never survive a hearing to take a place on the U.S. Supreme Court.  The late Sen. Roman Hruska’s revenge, that we can’t get the best and the brightest on our highest court.

Posner is not content to sit on the bench and make high pronouncements.  He pushes America, courts and lawyers, to be better.  He teaches at the University of Chicago Law School (in a position not unlike that the young Barack Obama had).  Posner’s high-flying comment-on-anything-important style got cut back in the past few months when his blogging partner died — Nobel-winning economist Gary S. Becker.

It must be agony to be a lawyer defending a pointless, silly and destructive law, to a panel that includes Richard Posner.

Arun With a View captured the reasons Posner strikes fear in conservatives, despite his being a Ronald Reagan conservative.

Sketch of Judge Richard Posner by the late David Levine

Sketch of Judge Richard Posner by the late David Levine

NPR has a delicious interview with Richard Posner. Money quote

“I’ve become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy,” [Posner] said.

And this

“Because if you put [yourself] in [John Roberts'] position … what’s he supposed to think? That he finds his allies to be a bunch of crackpots? Does that help the conservative movement? I mean, what would you do if you were Roberts? All the sudden you find out that the people you thought were your friends have turned against you, they despise you, they mistreat you, they leak to the press. What do you do? Do you become more conservative? Or do you say, ‘What am I doing with this crowd of lunatics?’ Right? Maybe you have to re-examine your position.”

Listen to it here and enjoy.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Texas Freedom Network’s emails — probably on the blog sometime soon.

Yes, I read Posner despite his errors, getting hoaxed by the DDT/Rachel Carson hoaxsters. That just indicates the danger of the hoax and the need to correct it and stamp it out.

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Photographs for which there are no words: Some hurdles to Back-to-School in Gaza

August 18, 2014

Getty images. A young boy at the blackboard of a school in Gaza, August 2014. Via BBC.

Getty images. A young boy at the blackboard of a school in Gaza, August 2014. Via BBC.

Gaza got bombed 97 years ago when the British seized it, in World War I.

In the 21st century, things have not changed enough for the people who live in the area.

It’s even worse in Gaza than it was for the West Bank earlier.

 


Epic political cartoons: Steve Benson on GOP and women’s rights

July 14, 2013

Hard to believe this cartoon was published back in May.

Steve Benson cartoon for the Arizona Republic, May 10, 2013:

Steve Benson cartoon for the Arizona Republic, May 10, 2013: “Speaking of holding women in captivity . . .”

 

Apparently the Texas Lege thought it was a model for action, and not a ridiculing of their ideas.

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Photographs for which there are no words: Going to school in Palestine

February 20, 2013

A picture is worth a thousand words?  For some pictures, no adequate words exist.

Ammar Awad/Reuters girl going to school in Palestine, with combat troops looking on

Photo by Ammar Awad, Reuters; caption from L’Express: De l’audace! – 17/03/2010 Afin de se rendre à l’école, une enfant traverse les lieux des affrontements entre les troupes israéliennes et les Palestiniens, dans le camp de réfugiés de Shuafat, près de Jérusalem.

L’Express caption in English:

The audacity! – 17/03/2010

To go to school, a child crosses the scene of clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians in the refugee camp Shuafat, near Jerusalem.

Rather puts into a different perspective the whines of students about “having to go to school,” not bringing pencils or paper, and not making it to class on time, doesn’t it?  What value does this girl and her family place on education?

To those who think the U.S. should in no case offer aid to Palestinians to build or operate schools, I ask:  Who do you want to pay for this child’s schooling, and direct the curriculum?

Teachers, is this photo useful for studying human rights?  Education?  Middle Eastern human geography (AP), geography, or other issues?  Contrast this girl’s path to school with that of Linda Brown in Topeka, Kansas, in 1951 (Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education).

Is education a civil right? Is education a basic human right?

Tip of the old scrub brush to James Kessler, who posted a slightly profanely-captioned version of this on Facebook.

Update:  Amusing Planet has this photo (with a nice shout out) and several others, showing kids risking their lives to get to school in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia – it’s awe-inspiring, scary and encouraging at the same time.

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Especially on his birthday, don’t call Darwin racist — he wasn’t

February 12, 2013

Creationists, Intelligent Design proponents, and several other anti-science and historical revisionist groups come unglued every February about this time — February 12 is Charles Darwin’s birthday.  He was born in 1809, on the exact same day as Abraham Lincoln.

Part of creationists’ coming unglued revolves around that fact that the science behind evolution grows stronger year by year, and at this point no argument exists that creationists can make against evolution that has not been soundly, roundly and thoroughly.  This makes creationists nervous in a discussion, because even they recognize when they lose arguments.   Creationists don’t like to lose arguments about how well Darwin’s theories work, because they erroneously believe that if Darwin is right, God and Jesus are wrong.

God and Jesus cannot be wrong, in their view, but intellectually they see they are losing the argument, and they grow desperate.  In their desperation they grasp for claims that shock uneducated or unfamiliar viewers.  Since about 1970, among the more shocking arguments one can make is to claim one’s opponent is racist.

Claiming Darwin, and hence evolution, boost racism, slaps history with irony.  Creationism’s roots were in denying that Europeans and Africans are evolutionarily equal, a claim necessary to allow slave holders to enslave Africans and go to church on Sundays.  The Civil War is 150 years away, the Emancipation Proclamation 148 years old, and even die-hard creationists generally have forgotten their own history.

Creationists accuse Darwin of being a racist, they claim evolution theory is racist, and they claim, therefore, it cannot be scientifically accurate.  There are a lot of holes in that chain of logic.

This is Darwin’s birthday.  Let me deal with major wrong premise, and give creationists room to correct their views with accurate history, so we don’t have a shouting match.

Way back in 2008, nominally-liberal evangelical preacher Tony Campolo got suckered in by a conservative evangelicals claim to him that evolution and Darwin are racist.  Below is my answer to him then — I think Campolo learned his lesson — but this builds on the claims Campolo made which are really copied from creationists.

In short, Darwin is not racist, and here are some explanations why, with a few updated links and minor edits for Darwin’s birthday, and Lincoln’s birthday, in 2013:

Tony Campolo is an evangelical Christian, a sociology professor and preacher who for the past 15 years or so has been a thorn in the side of political conservatives and other evangelicals, for taking generally more liberal stands, against poverty, for tolerance in culture and politics, and so on. His trademark sermon is an upbeat call to action and one of the more plagiarized works in Christendom, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming” (listen to it here).

Tony Campolo, from his website

Tony Campolo, in a publicity still from his website. He should be more gray by now (this photo is no later than 2008, and probably earlier).

Since he’s so close to the mainstream of American political thought, Campolo is marginalized by many of the more conservative evangelists in the U.S. Campolo is not a frequent guest on the Trinity Broadcast Network, on Pat Robertson’s “700 Club,” nor on the white, nominally-Christian, low-budget knock-off of “Sabado Gigante!,” “Praise the Lord” (with purple hair and everything).

Campolo came closest to real national fame when he counseled President Bill Clinton on moral and spiritual issues during the Lewinsky scandal.

His opposite-editorial piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer back in 2008, “The real danger in Darwin is not evolution, but racism,” is out of character for Campolo as a non-conservative evangelistic thinker — far from what most Christians expect from Campolo either from the pulpit or in the college classroom. The piece looks as though it was lifted wholesale from Jerry Falwell or D. James Kennedy, showing little familiarity with the science or history of evolution, and repeating canards that careful Christians shouldn’t repeat.

Campolo’s piece is inaccurate in several places, and grossly misleading where it’s not just wrong. He pulls out several old creationist hoaxes, cites junk science as if it were golden, and generally gets the issue exactly wrong.

Evolution science is a block to racism. It has always stood against racism, in the science that undergirds the theory and in its applications by those scientists and policy makers who were not racists prior to their discovery of evolution theory. Darwin himself was anti-racist. One of the chief reasons the theory has been so despised throughout the American south is its scientific basis for saying whites and blacks are so closely related. This history should not be ignored, or distorted.

Shame on you, Tony Campolo.

Read the rest of this entry »


Writing down the history: NAACP wants your story about Dr. King

January 20, 2013

I get earnest, interesting e-mail, too.  Ben Jealous from the NAACP wrote today:

NAACP

Ed,

Tomorrow, we pay homage to one of America’s most righteous defenders and promoters of civil and human rights: the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King was an incredible man who changed the course of American history. He inspired millions to stand up in peaceful protest against discriminatory laws and fought for the greater good of all humanity.

Dr. King’s spirit lives on. After his assassination, millions of people picked up the torch and continued to fight for a better future, carrying our shared movement for social justice into the present day.

To celebrate his life and legacy, we’d like to hear from you. Tell us how Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. impacted your life and your work.

Did you take part in marches, rallies, and activist work in the 1950s and 1960s? Tell us about it. Have you heard stories about friends or family members who marched with or met Dr. King? We want to hear them.

And if, like me, you weren’t yet born in the 1960s, we want to hear from you, too. Tell us how Dr. King’s work and message has inspired you to fight for civil and human rights today.

Together, we can build a portrait of the impact Dr. King has had on NAACP supporters and America at large. I hope you’ll help us by sharing your story today:

http://action.naacp.org/Impact-of-MLK

Thank you,

Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO
NAACP

Crowd-sourcing history.  Great idea.  I hope they get a great product.  Why don’t you contribute?

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English: Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Mar...

Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King jr. (ca. 1955) Mrs. Rosa Parks altered the negro progress in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, by the bus boycott she unwillingly began. Photo from the U.S. National Archives record ID: 306-PSD-65-1882 (Box 93). Source: Ebony Magazine, via Wikipedia


Historical view: Nothing new under the Sun, with regard to gay rights

October 22, 2012

Rev. Phil Snider, Brentwood Christian Church, Missouri - Jonathan Turley image

Rev. Phil Snider, Brentwood Christian Church, Missouri – Jonathan Turley image

We’ve heard it all before.  Truly, “there is nothing new under the Sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1.9)

Debates on policy, in and before legislative bodies, would run much better if the people involved truly had a sense of history, of what had been said before, by whom, and what the outcomes of those speeches were.  When we hear a speech, is it the flowery oratory of Cicero, or the exhortatory commands of Demosthenes?  (You recall Plutarch’s comparison of the famous Roman orator, and the famous Greek orator, of course.)

Just a word of caution:  Before your bile rises, before you find the comments box, be sure you listen all the way to the end of this short speech.

According to Advocate.com:

When the Springfield, Mo., City Council was considering an LGBT rights ordinance this summer, the Reverend Phil Snider of the Brentwood Christian Church delivered a surprising message to council members.

That was August 2012.  The ordinance was tabled for “further study.”  Rev. Snider blogs, as it turns out; you may want to read more of his thinking there.  One of my correspondents wanted a transcript; I haven’t found that, but it turns out the speech in the video was based on a two-part sermon series he did earlier, “What does the Bible say about homosexuality?”  You can see both sermons on his Facebook site, Part I, and Part II.  Much of the quoted historical material appears in Part II.

The text of the proposed ordinance (amendments to the city’s human rights resolution) found here.

What sort of evidence would one use to contradict the long view of history?  Please discuss in comments.

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