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Posts Tagged ‘culture wars’

The Catholic Church, feeling that its rights have been violated, is organizing mass lawsuits and calling for civil disobedience against the Obama administration:

“Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that disobeying the laws may be justified,” the bishops state in a document developed to be inserted into church bulletins in Catholic parishes around the country in June.

And some organizations impose such injustices on individuals and groups that ignoring them may be justified. Given the Church’s refusal to recognize the basic human dignity of its homosexual members (and non-members) this newfound focus on injustice strikes me as opportunistic partisan crap, rather than actual principled disagreement, at least as far as church leadership is concerned.

Perhaps they’ll change their tune, and look towards the injustices within their own organization as well. And at that time I’ll be willing to take this a little more seriously.

But I’m not holding my breath.

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Nebraska has recently been passing some city-wide ordinances that outlaw discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation. The governor now says that those ordinances should be subject to a public vote. Ari Kohen gets it exactly right on this issue in particular, and on holding minority rights to a majority vote generally, here:

Governor Heineman claims that he’s just repeating an opinion from the AG’s office … but in reality what he’s doing is disguising his own position against extending anti-discrimination protection to gays and lesbians. That position, ultimately, is that questions about whether it’s acceptable to discriminate should be decided by a majority of the populace.

I understand that some people don’t like lgbtq individuals; they don’t want them to get married, adopt children, live near them, work in their offices, or look at them on the street. They think they’re icky. They might not feel the same way about Latinos, or African-Americans, or Asians, or Jews, or Mormons, or Catholics, or whomever … but they also might.

And the position of Nebraska’s governor is that a) this is perfectly fine and b) if enough people feel this way, then discrimination against minorities groups is not only acceptable but also the right course of action.

In other words, he seems content to say that whether or not it’s acceptable to discriminate against some group or other should be determined by 51% of the people who turn up to vote. But, frankly, I find it hard to believe that Governor Heineman would agree to this statement if we were talking about discrimination toward any other group of people.

Nobody’s rights should be subject to popular vote. Equal protection under the law.

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Kevin Drum has a post up today in which he describes the origins of the culture war, stating that liberals started it by pushing for things like marriage and gender equality. He thinks that liberals really ought to own it:

Every time I hear some liberal complaining about the way that conservatives keep turning everything into a new front in the culture war, I feel a twinge of chagrin. Why are we complaining? We’re the ones who really own the culture war, and we should be proud of it. It was a war worth starting and a war worth winning.

While I agree with the larger thesis here, I have to quibble with the point above. I think the complaint about things being turned into a culture war is entirely valid when discussing things entirely unrelated to culture.

Take, for example, climate change. At issue here are scientific questions (is the climate changing? If so, why?) and policy questions (what are the implications? What, if anything, should be done?). The scientific questions are largely settled within the scientific community. The policy questions are entirely unsettled, and a vigorous debate on them is very reasonable. But what is not reasonable is the attempt to twist a scientific issue and a policy debate into a biblical narrative or some kind of weird  us vs socialists nationalism.

Take for another example this post, describing the culture-war-ification of the Chevy Volt. Why should a car be debated along  “conservatives should buy SUVs” and “liberals are smelly hippies” lines?

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