Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Case For The Constitution: Federalist Four

      Today in my series, "The Case For The Constitution", we are brought to Federalist Four by John Jay. Though I have not contributed to this series in a while - for reasons of school - as this is the summer I will be diligently analyzing the Federalist Papers on this blog. Federalist Four is a continuation of Federalist Three, and brings us Jay's discussion on the necessity of a strong federal government vs.  independant states or confederacies, based upon the threat of international military invasion.

    He starts his discussion of the benefits of a central government, with an analysis of the commercial power that the American States were beginning to develop and how these commercial goals could be disrupted by foreign military invasion or influence. To him, the only way to counteract this potential "national jealousy" of the European nations towards America's commerce, was to band together as a unit and put the full force of American law, military, and society behind its commerce. Each State was a part of a whole, not just an individual entity; and its well being had direct implications for all of the others.

     Only if a national government was formed, so as to provide protection against foreign invasion, would the American States be able to reach their full potential and influence. Jay knows that international relations does not exist in a vacuum, that other nations watch and see how the American States operated with each other. As Jay accurately points out, foreign nations will treat a unified American nation much differently than either a loose confederation of states or independent states. Jay's main concern with an arrangement other than a national union, was that other nations would play the states off of each other, causing divisions among the American people as a whole, and leading to the slow deterioration of the American experiment.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Canada's Pro-Israel Muscles Are Flexed At the G8 Summit

     I cannot be happier with how Prime Minister Harper is dealing with issues regarding Israel and the Middle East at the G8 summit in Deauville, France. From the Harper Governments staunch support of Israel to its tepid support for the fledgling Middle Eastern democracies, the Conservative Government is showing that it cares mightily about security in the region.

     For example, it has been reported by Reuters, the Montreal Gazette, and the Globe and Mail, that Canada was influential in making sure that the statement on the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians was not worded in a way as to give credence to President Obama's recent declaration  urging Israel to go back to its 1967 borders. Though Harper has not come out directly and stated that the Canadian contingent was directly involved in this change, Reuters claims to have seen diplomatic cables indicating otherwise. Thus, if this is the case, bravo to Harper.

     Additionally, I am impressed with the Harper Governments insistence to not give direct aid to the fledgling democracies of Tunisia and Egypt, and instead go through multilateral organizations like the IMF and the World Bank. Contrast this with what France is doing by providing $1 million directly to the region. Why do I find this a good move? Because though we in the West might like to think of any sort of democracy as a good thing, sometimes it fails in its application - example, the terrorist organization Hamas winning elections in the Gaza strip. Egypt and Tunisia need to make sure that they elect governments that are not puppets of radical Islam but instead elect governments that protect minorities, ensure religious freedom, freedom of the press, and respect for the rule of law. That is the only way that these fledgling democracies will succeed in the long run, and hence the international community must hold off on giving aid to these governments until it is certain that freedom is ensured. Thus, I applaud Harper for making it known that Canada will not be giving direct aid to these nations, and instead will be channeling any money through the IMF and WB.

GLAAD, Chris Barron, and Joe Jervis - Todays Blow Up

      The Daily Caller published a piece today, in which it critiqued GLAAD for giving the blog Joe.My.God the best blog of the year award. Everyone should read the article, for it makes some excellent points which I feel are being misrepresented by those defending Joe.My.God.

     As my readers know, I object to any sort of name calling or hatred on any site. I feel that such name calling appeals to our base emotions and has no other purpose in the broad scheme of things than just to make the individual spewing the comments feel good in some superior way. Because of this feeling, I was also surprised at GLAAD's designation of the above blog for the award (considering GLAAD's mission statement), for I am a regular reader of said blog, and am aware of some of the more hateful comments that come from it. That being said, I really didn't feel that at the time it was that big of an issue, and hence didnt give it another thought.

     But, now that this issue is being addressed, I feel it necessary to throw my thoughts into the ring. As stated above, I feel that any sort of comments attacking individuals (which I see alot from the gay community) gets us nowhere. In fact, it shows that we are not capable of rational discussion on issues, for instead of actually dealing with the arguments and slander that are thrown against our community, we respond by directing just as vile and hateful comments to those doing us harm. This appeal to ad hominem logical fallacies does not help us in the long run at all, and in fact hurts our overall credibility to engage in rational debate.

     I would have liked to have seen the discussion about civility towards our opponents, as a result of this article, play out without such name calling or ad hominem attacks. But instead, I'm seeing just the opposite. Joe.My.God. for example, in responding to the Daily Caller article states,
GOProud has planted an anti-JMG story on the wingnut site Daily Caller, whose dumb bunny writer manages to spell my name two different ways in consecutive sentences. I'll totally cop to calling GOProud "kapos and Quislings," cuz ya know, they totally are. But Daily Caller also quotes Chris Barron as saying that I regularly post misogynistic comments. (No citation of that bullshit is offered in the article, of course.) This, from the guy who regularly tweets fat jokes about Meghan McCain and who only yesterday said that Rachel Maddow "looks like a dude."
      Really? Does this at all address the issue in the article - namely civility and respect to those with opposing views? Nope. Instead we get a deflection of the issue; for instead of dealing with the actual criticism of the blog and GLADD's award, Joe Jervis instead attacks Chris Barron of GOProud for comments that he has also made. I'm sorry, for though Mr. Barrons comments were not justified, it is equally not a justifiable argument to say "look, he does it, so I can do it too". A legitimate concern and question deserve an equally legitimate response, not a deflected attack.

     Maybe I hope for civility too much, but thats the idealist in me.

Jim Daly's Arguments Just Don't Make Sense Part 2

        The other day, I wrote a piece detailing how the first part of Jim Daly's argument on marriage equality was illogical and misleading. Today, I am going to finish up that critique, by addressing Daly's arguments about religious freedom and gay marriage. He first states,

Those committed to this form of radicalism have systematically broken down the cultural barrier to same sex marriage by desensitizing people on the issue, stigmatizing those who oppose the movement and potentially criminalizing anyone who stands in opposition to them. 
     Actually Jim, the LGBT movement has not made such progress because we have "desensitized" people about the issue. I would say the opposite is true. Desensitization connotes ambivalence toward an unacceptable act. But the opposite is true, in fact, by coming out we have instead shown that the rhetoric that emits from your side is damaging and has real world effects. That is not desensitization, instead that is honesty about our families and our relationships.

        He then states that we stigmatize those who oppose the movement for marriage equality. On the surface things such as boycotts, protests, etc. can be seen as stigmatization, but they are actually an acceptable medium of personal protest and activism. I would actually say that organizations like Focus are the ones doing the stigmatizing through the deliberate lies and "research" that they peddle about our community. But anyway, moving on to criminalization. For Daly to assert criminalization because of a differing viewpoint, shows a lack of understanding of American government. Just this past year, for example, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the religiously motivated speech directed at the LGBT community by the Westboro Baptist Church, was protected by the U.S. Constitution. The Government potentially criminalizing people for their views on marriage equality? Current jurisprudence dictates that this will probably not happen.

      He then states that there are numerous examples of religious liberty being threatened by same sex marriage. He cites a specific case out of New Mexico, and then some vague case of an unnamed "Christian organization". As the latter is not backed up with any evidence or sources, and is instead extremely vague, I will refrain from addressing it; the first case on the other hand, I can address. Specifically Daly states,

Consider the case of a New Mexico couple who own and operate a photography business. When they kindly refused to shoot a lesbian “marriage” ceremony, they were summarily brought up on human rights violations by the New Mexico Human Rights Commission. They were fined for not accepting the job.
        As much as I might sympathize with this photography studio, this organization was not fined because it did not accept the job per say, it was fined because of the reason for not accepting a job. Businesses do not accept jobs all the time, they are finite entities which cannot do everything. But that was not the point. As a business who operates in the public sphere - not the religious sphere - you must offer your services equally to everybody, regardless of race, religion, gender, and in New Mexico - sexual orientation. This company that operated in the public sphere, openly discriminated against a customer based upon sexual orientation; it was not a "business decision" based upon the finite resources of the photography studio, but was instead based purely on a non-business rational. In a secular society, you can hold religious beliefs; but if you choose to operate a public business, said business must be open for all regardless about how you feel about your customers.

    Daly goes on to state one more thing,

If religious liberty is lost in America, we will cease to be the nation our Founders intended us to be. Our rights will no longer be derived from God but from man, and therefore, dangerously beholden to political despots.
       All I can say is, LGBT individuals do not want a loss of religious liberty in any way shape or form. In fact, we are the first in line to voraciously defend the religious liberty of others. All we want is to be equally protected by law, nothing more nothing less. But for Daly, this equal protection of the law cannot and should not happen, because if it does, the United States will radically restrict religious liberties and will turn into a political despotism. It is a sad day when the head of a major organization like Focus on the Family asserts that they are victims because other people are granted civil equality.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why Jim Daly's Arguments Just Don't Make Sense

     I ask myself sometimes why I even allow myself to read articles written by our opposition, since it only gets me irritated. But, like any person engaged in intellectual pursuits, I recognize that in order to fully understand why I believe the way that I do, I must also understand why my opposition believe what they beleive. This is why I chose to read the latest article by Jim Daly - President of Focus On The Family -  which appeared on FoxNews.com yesterday.


       In this article, he "examines" times when progressives changed fundamental social institutions - such as the introduction of no-fault divorce,e abortion, cohabitation, welfare - and extends the belief that because progressives got these issues "wrong" and because there were "unintended consequences" of these particular ideas that this means that same-sex marriage -will also fail. To him, this attempt at "social engineering" is wrong and will lead to unintended consequences because "However well-meaning the motivation, reengineering what God has designed is not only unwise, but radical and dangerous, too" 


      In this argument, it does not matter that there are fundamental differences between all of these examples and same-sex marriage - the primary being that the government is intentionally excluding a group of its citizens from legitimacy, benefits, and rights because of an inherent trait that they posses. That has nothing in common with no-fault divorce, abortion, welfare, or even cohabitation. You cannot compare things that have no relation towards each other; instead each must be evaluated as individual groups. If no fault divorce has failed, it is a problem with no fault divorce. If welfare failed, it is a fault of bad welfare policy. These things have no bearing on the same-sex marriage debate no matter how we want to spin them.


        But, lets rewind a bit, because Daly makes a very interesting point in the beginning of his article. He asks why should Christians force those who do not believe the way that they do to accept their views? When he said this, I was expecting an answer of depth, but instead he gives us this...
"On the basis of logic, reason, common sense and the fact that preservation of traditional marriage is in the best interest of the common good, as evidenced by any number of factors, including reams of social science data and thousands of years of history."
      Ok, first off, logic and reason are gone in the discussion when God is brought into the discussion - as He was in the first quote provided. Logic and reason cannot exist in an argument when you come into the debate with preconceptions that won't let you objectively evaluate evidence. Additionally, as explained above the rules of logic are fragrantly violated when he infers that because some things that progressives have advocated for have failed, this one will also fail.

     As for common sense, do we see any provided? Not at all, for instead we see a claim that there is abundant evidence from social science data as well as thousands of years of history. Again, the rules of logic are violated, because in this "common sense" approach an appeal to tradition fallacy. Just because something has always been a way in the past (thousands of years of history) does not mean that it is the best or the only way of doing something - women for example were denied the right to vote because that was the way it had always been done historically. Additionally, this argument overlooks the evolving nature of marriage as an institution over those thousands of years. No matter how we might like to spin it, marriage has never been a "static" institution; so even if he wasn't using an appeal to tradition argument, his analysis also fails.

    Secondly,  I'm not sure what social science data he is referring to, since most social science data actually does not back him up, and that virtually all reputable organizations from psychologists to anthropologists to sociologists disagree with his assessment. Yes there are outliers in these fields, but outliers do not dictate policy, and an appeal to them shows a lack of respect for social science research at large. Thankfully, our society is starting to realize what studies and data are bearing out; that there is no legitimate reason for denying same sex couples the institution of marriage.

    He then discusses the rights of religious organizations and religious freedom, but my discussion on this can be found here.

Excellent Minnesota Marriage Video

      This video was brought to my attention by Thomas Scott Jonas on twitter the other day. A compilation of the statements made in the MN legislature during the debate on the bill, it shows the reality and the illogicality of the proposed marriage amendment. Make sure to watch it in its entirety as it is quite powerful! In related news, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton today symbolically vetoed the marriage amendment legislation. Though it was only a symbolic move, I am thankful that Minnesota has a Governor like him.

Tennessee Rep. Mark White's Comments Just Don't Cut It

        Tennessee State Representative Mark White - who represents portions of East Memphis - told Memphis News Channel 3 yesterday that he voted for HB600 - the bill that nullifies Metro-Nashvilles non-discrimination ordinance because he believes two things. First,

"I look at it as local government interfering with a person's right to have equal access to all business." Representative Mark White voted in favor of the bill. He believes Nashville's ordinance was biased and says the new law doesn't discriminate but allows all companies to do business in the state.
     and second,

"Everybody has equal protection under the law. We don't need to be out defining law based upon everybody's preference of what they are or what they are not"
     I already addressed his first issue with the bill in yesterdays post, but it was his second statement that really gave me rise. "Everybody has equal protection under the law". Oh really, Representative White, everybody? Do you mean that in Tennessee someone cannot be fired for being gay, lesbian, or transgender? You must know Mr. White, that regardless of the quality of work that an individual does, he or she can be legally fired because the boss might have a problem with their "lifestyle". Thats equal protection? I think not.

      Additionally, the fact that he even stated that "we don't need to be out defining law based upon everybody's preference of what they are or what they are not" really shows his lack of understanding of human sexuality. I would encourage Representative White to think and do some research on the issues before he makes such statements.

    I would encourage everyone who reads this to send a  respectful note to Representative White, telling him how we as the LGBT community feels about these statements. He can be reached at rep.mark.white@capitol.tn.gov

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tennessee: A Lesson In Political Expediency

     As many of you know, Governor Bill Haslam of my home state of Tennessee signed HB600 into law this past Sunday. This law, effectively nullified Metro Nashville's anti-discrimination ordinance that stated that anyone doing business with the city must not discriminate against LGBT individuals. The Wall Street Journal gives us Haslam's reason for decision.

"We just don't think local governments should set HR [human resources] policies for businesses"
       All I can say to this is...yea right. The local government of Metro Nashville was not setting any HR policies of businesses; all that it did was say to businesses that if they wanted to do business with the city, they had to abide by a few rules. This is nothing new at all, for cities and businesses do it all the time. The city was not imposing anything upon the businesses, instead these were companies that could voluntarily contract with the Metro Government.

       It in reality comes down to whether or not local government, whether it be in the state/federal relationship or the state/municipal relationship, is the best suited to know how to use the money collected from that entities residents. For representatives from Memphis to Knoxville to tell the Metro Council of Nashville-Davidson County how and with whom they can't spend Nashville taxpayers money, shows outright that the Republican representatives pay only lip service to the ideal of small, local, and representative government. The Republicans in the State Legislature could care less about the decision of an elected municipal government, and further extrapolated, the feelings of that local community. Instead, in my opinion, the animosity that their base feels towards LGBT people, was the main factor in their decision to support the bill. They sacrificed a fundamental principle of the Republican party, to political expediency, a decision which will be an overall detriment to the Tennessee Republican party.      
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