Human Rights

Lately everyone has been getting their panties in a bunch about a mosque or community center or whatever it’s called being built by one of the targets of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.  Let’s keep in mind that building a place to worship or a “community center” (whatever that means) is an awful lot different than flying a plane into a building.

Hitler was a formal member of the Catholic Church.  Based on the crazy logic people are using these days, there would be a lot of places in Europe that it would be insensitive to have Catholic churches.  Especially if you are Jewish.

Here’s something else for you to get all radical about.  The Pentagon, which was another target of the September 11th attacks, actually has a mosque in it.  It’s not two blocks away from the site.  It’s actually on the site.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, said the federal government shouldn’t put any pressure on local officials regarding the mosque. There is a mosque in the Pentagon, also a target of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which hasn’t drawn any criticism, Nadler said.

You can check out the whole article here.

I, for one, would be all for working out a compromise.  Like getting rid of all of the churches near Ground Zero regardless of what people worship there.

“Judge Walker’s ruling overturning Prop 8 is an outrageous disrespect for our Constitution and for the majority of people of the United States who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife. In every state of the union from California to Maine to Georgia, where the people have had a chance to vote they’ve affirmed that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Congress now has the responsibility to act immediately to reaffirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman as our national policy.  Today’s notorious decision also underscores the importance of the Senate vote tomorrow on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court because judges who oppose the American people are a growing threat to our society.”

Those are the words of former Speaker of the House and total douche Newt Gingrich.  First off, Gingrich is going on marriage number three.  His infidelity is well documented.  When discussing the union of two people and the sanctity of marriage… what’s that they say about people in glass houses?

The bigoted Gingrich would like to take the basic human right of marriage and deprive homosexuals of that right.

Federal district judge Hon. Vaughn R. Walker recently rejected Proposition 8 as unconstitutional, which more than likely means a trip through the appeals process before leading to a final decision in the Supreme Court.  Walker had a very eloquent rationale for his decision:

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.  Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

Detractors will continue to chirp that California has voted not once, but twice, to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.  People of logic will continue to counter that it doesn’t matter what the majority wants if it denies the civil liberties of but just one American citizen.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was defeated late on the evening of Thursday, July 29th.  The bill would have provided $7.4 billion in aide to those who were made sick by the toxic debris of the September 11th attacks.

Worried about potential GOP amendments to the bill, Democrats decided to suspend the rules before the consideration of the bill, which also changed the required number of votes from a simple majority to a two-thirds majority in order for the bill to pass.  This led to Republicans voting ‘No’ at an overwhelming clip to a bill that would have provided health care to those affected by the 9/11 attacks.  And collectively America sighs.

This procedural faux pas has Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) pissed off.

And he will not yield.

Sources: 1, 2

1. machine politician: a politician who belongs to a small clique that controls a political party for private rather than public ends
2. a mediocre and disdained writer
3. an old or over-worked horse

Tony Perkins is a hack. He’s a bigoted, fear-mongering, hateful hack at that. A former Republican Representative from Louisiana with a degree from the Fundamentalist Christian Liberty University and the current president of the poorly named hate-group the Family Research Council, one might expect that when he writes some blubbering nonsense about the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” undermining religious liberty, it might be laughable. One might not expect that to be on the front page of CNN though.

Yet, I actually applaud CNN for highlighting this man’s completely illogical and ignorant message in their political opinion column. It only proves to show how absolutely out-of-touch and dangerous organizations such as the Family Research Council really are. If they had an ounce of credibility left – they didn’t – it would be far out the window now.

Just take a look at a few of these man’s excuses for an argument:

Some people think allowing open homosexuality in the military means nothing more than opening a door that was previously closed. It means much more than that. It would mean simultaneously ushering out the back door anyone who disapproves of homosexual conduct, whether because of legitimate privacy and health concerns or because of moral or religious convictions.

These radical Christians cannot get over their absolute obsession with sex. He argues that if what a soldier does in the privacy of his own bedroom is offensive to people of certain religious convictions, then allowing them to serve in the military would be equivalent to giving the boot to those who find it offensive. Christianity also condemns sex outside of marriage and drinking to excess. Since those Christians who are offended by homosexuality should be equally offended by these practices, then by his logic, anyone who openly gets drunk or has sex with his girlfriend (or multiple girls – you know… there are health concerns, right?) outside of marriage, would also be detrimental to the US military.

He goes on to talk about the liberal “myths” surrounding homosexuality:

This means that all 1.4 million members of the U.S. military will be subject to sensitivity training intended to indoctrinate them into the myths of the homosexual movement: that people are born “gay” and cannot change and that homosexual conduct does no harm to the individual or to society.

I’m not going to even get into the issue of how hard he is trying to manipulate the reader into thinking that Richard Simmons is going to lead soldiers through a full college-length semester course intended to brainwash soldiers – hands on, of course – into being accepting of gays (and, oh no, maybe turning into one – ack!) when that is not the case or even close to being such. And while reading this claim that the military will “indoctrinate” soldiers with the “myths of the homosexual movement” should be enough for me to shrug this entire piece off as irrelevant and delusionally one-sided, the reality is that there are millions of people who are on the same page as this wacko – and that’s both sad and frightening.

To Perkins, it doesn’t matter that people who perpetuate the “myths” of homosexuality have decades of science and studies on their side, whereas his arguments are based on nothing of the sort – only 3,000 year old myths themselves. Even if there were no science or studies on homosexuality, the fact that guys like this are so obsessed with what people do in the bedroom because of some verses they pick and choose in the Bible around other verses that they completely ignore to do “times being different” is beyond laughable. Well, laughable if their bigoted agenda weren’t so serious.

These nutjobs are entitled to believe whatever they choose to believe (remember, these are many of the same folks and organizations who fought tooth and nail to keep schools segregated and interracial marriage illegal), but their complete lack of understanding that their bigoted beliefs cannot be apart of government jobs and public programs can only be called two things: stupidity or delusions. If he were to get what he wants, he would only continue to discriminate against thousands and thousands of good standing American citizens who want nothing more than to serve their country honorably and have the same rights and benefits of every other American.

I’ll leave you with this nonsensical gem that he finishes with that only leaves me baffled as to how this guy can be an educated adult (oh yeah, Liberty University) and former elected politician (oh yeah, Louisiana). I can’t even come up with an appropriate response to his complete misunderstanding of American politics and history:

It was religious liberty that drew the Pilgrims to America and it is religious liberty that leads off our Bill of Rights. But overturning the American military’s centuries-old ban on homosexual conduct, codified in a 1993 law, would mean placing sexual libertinism – a destructive left-wing social dogma found nowhere in the Constitution – above religious liberty, our nation’s first freedom.

You can read the entirety of his nonsense right here.

UPDATE: Nice. CNN has posted a response by Harry Knox, Director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program.

Muslims appear to be far more concerned about perceived slights to their religion than about the atrocities committed daily in its name. Our accommodation of this psychopathic skewing of priorities has, more and more, taken the form of craven and blinkered acquiescence. There is an uncanny irony here that many have noticed. The position of the Muslim community in the face of all provocations seems to be: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we will kill you. Of course, the truth is often more nuanced, but this is about as nuanced as it ever gets: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we peaceful Muslims cannot be held responsible for what our less peaceful brothers and sisters do. When they burn your embassies or kidnap and slaughter your journalists, know that we will hold you primarily responsible and will spend the bulk of our energies criticizing you for “racism” and “Islamophobia.”

-Sam Harris, “Losing Our Spines to Save Our Necks”

While the above excerpt can be attributed to most all the major religions of the world, I am taking a break from slamming the insanity of Christianity’s warping of American politics to point this out due to the recent publicized banning of YouTube and Facebook in Pakistan – a move that I admit to finding somewhat surprising, even having known that the county is not merely a Republic but an Islamic Republic. I don’t claim to be well-versed in Pakistani history and politics, although I am knowledgeable and comfortable enough to say that my first thought this morning upon reading this news was that Pakistan has far many more important problems that they should be tending to, not worrying about a few thousand nerds around the world drawing their religious prophet Muhammad (a big no-no in Islam) and posting it on the internet.

All the while, people are being provocative in their depictions of Muhammad for the sake of being provocative – and it is only as a direct result to the vocal cries and complaints (and often violent threats, such as what happened in Denmark in 2008) in the first place. The surge of intentionally-offensive drawings of Muhammad has led to probably more offensive photos of him existing now than ever before – and the only ones to blame are the ones who complain and make threats in the first place, putting pressure on spineless companies such as Comedy Central to censor their “offense” as not to offend Muslims, and thus causing the reaction that they have.

If this vocal number of the Muslim population were to only heed international human rights lawyer Arsalan Iftikhar’s advice in which he tweeks an ever-popular evangelical phrase for the purpose of his argument:

If we ask ourselves the simple question ‘What would Mohammed do?’ about this, the even simpler answer would be two words: ‘Absolutely nothing.’

Iftikhar seems flabbergasted by the responses of “irrational threats of violence aimed at the silliness of some sophomoric cartoons” and condemns Pakistan’s reaction saying that they “should focus their political attention and economic resources on educating their women, improving their rule of law system and truly understanding the repercussions that come with ominously naming your country the ‘land of the pure.'”

There is little that is more important than having the freedom to speak one’s mind – and having freedom of speech means understanding that you must support the freedom to offend. Although I am limiting my depiction of the Islamic prophet to the old Persian painting of him speaking to Jesus and Moses and others above, I have no qualms with “Draw Muhammad Day” anymore than I have qualms with someone creating a “Jesus Banged a Prostitute,” “Jews Murdered Jesus,” or “Atheists Eat Babies” group. Especially when the source of the offense is the internet, Muslims can easily choose to ignore what it is that they find so infuriatingly offensive – you know, just as I steer clear of Fox News.

Please, feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

Miranda rights
Law . of, pertaining to, or being upheld by the Supreme Court ruling (Miranda v. Arizona, 1966) requiring law-enforcement officers to warn a person who has been taken into custody of his or her rights to remain silent and to have legal counsel.

Let me just say one thing first:

Faisal Shahzad: Worst. Terrorist. Ever.

Now, for those of you who have been following the story, you are aware that Shahzad is a naturalized United States citizen. Born in Pakistan, he moved over here years ago, got married, had some kids, then went on the make the absolute crappiest bomb of all time, which included firecrackers, nonexplosive fertilizer, and a child’s toy clock. Now, despite his Wile E. Coyote idiocy and the amusing nature of his “bomb,” one must not forget the severity of his intentions: he wanted to kill people, he wanted to strike fear in Americans, and he wanted to destroy. And again, it’s easy to chuckle at it all, because he failed so miserably, but this is an issue that must not be taken lightly.

If you want to know anymore about the investigation, you can go to your favorite news website of choice. My purpose is the dissect the comments made by John McCain this morning, who criticized interrogators for giving Shahzad his Miranda rights, calling it “a serious mistake” and that there are “350 different charges he’s guilty off – attempted acts of terror against the united States, attempted murder. I’m sure there’s a significant number to warrant the death penalty.”

Of course, with Shazad being an American citizen, what McCain is saying is nothing short of going against everything that the American criminal justice system stands for – so much so that even Glenn Beck has come to the defense of genuine American rights, saying that it isn’t “the popular answer,” but the right answer.

“He is a citizen of the United States, so I say we uphold the laws and the Constitution on citizens,” Beck said on Fox News’s Fox and Friends about McCain’s comments. “[Shahzad] has all the rights under the Constitution. We don’t shred the Constitution when it’s popular. We do the right thing.”

Wow. I’m left dumbfounded. I find myself in agreement with Glenn Beck. I need a beer. Granted, he rarely agrees with McCain and he may just see it as an opportunity to make a stance, but hey, this is still a rare, rare rational word from the nutjob. As for McCain, it’s frightening to know that he was so close to the presidency, but I can’t say that his comments are surprising. Republicans so often point to the Constitution when making their arguments, yet they only want to use it when it is convenient for them.

You can watch the video over at Huffington Post.

I like how True Slant summed up the situation muchmore eloquently than I ever could, so I will leave you with this:

Everyone ‘gets’ that getting as much information from accused terrorists is important. And the FBI did, in fact, utilize the public safety exception to Miranda to do some preliminary questioning of the alleged bomber, no doubt being careful not to exceed the exception and risk losing the admissibility of Mr. Shahzad’s statements in a court of law.

But both conservatives and progressives alike grasp that there are lines that are not to be crossed if we are to remain the kind of society intended by our Constitution. They also grasp that you cannot swear an oath to defend the Constitution and then turn your back on it when it is convenient – or popular with voters – to do so.

In Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436 (ironic), the United States Supreme Court ruled that statements made in response to interrogation by a defendant in police custody will be admissible at trial only if the prosecution can show that the defendant was informed of the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning and of the right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police, and that the defendant not only understood these rights, but voluntarily waived them.

We can argue over whether or not these protections should be extended to a foreign national who commits a crime or terrorist act on American soil. We can argue over whether the ‘underpants bomber’ should be entitled to these protections when attempting a terrorist crime in U.S.. airspace. These are all credible questions open to debate and, someday, Supreme Court rulings.

But – like it or not – we granted the accused Times Square bomber citizenship. He’s an American. If he is proven guilty, he’s an American we can be ashamed of and one who should suffer the maximum penalty available, but he’s an American just the same.

If Senator McCain doesn’t like law, he can certainly begin the process of amending the law, either via legislation or a constitutional amendment.

Until then, Miranda remains the law of the land and having a United States Senator- who came within a few votes of being President – argue that we should ignore the law, is truly an upsetting spectacle.

My NBA team is out of the playoffs and I’ve been struggling with deciding on who to root for… but a struggle it is no longer. I will be rooting for the Phoenix Suns.

In an extremely bold move, the Phoenix Suns as an organization made a strong political statement in opposition to the recent Arizona immigration bill.

Discussions on taking action began last week after the bill passed, with an idea that came from Robert Sarver, Managing Partner of the Phoenix Suns.

According to Steve Kerr, the team discussed it internally before going to the league for approval to both wear the ‘Los Suns’ jerseys, but also to come out publicly in this way.

Kerr said both the NBA and the San Antonio Spurs were fully supportive of the Suns move.

Ultimately, the decision was left up to the players, but in a locker room led by Steve Nash, it is no surprise how that turned out.

“I think the law is very misguided. I think it is unfortunately to the detriment of our society and our civil liberties and I think it is very important for us to stand up for things we believe in,” Nash said of the bill. “I think the law obviously can target opportunities for racial profiling. Things we don’t want to see and don’t need to see in 2010.”

Amare Stoudemire and Alvin Gentry also expressed their support for the decision with more of a focus on supporting their neighbors. “It’s going to be great to wear Los Suns to let the Latin community know we’re behind them 100%,” Stoudemire said.

There’s no question that this public move will receive considerable backlash in this state and likely among many Suns fans and perhaps even sponsors.

Steve Kerr tried to walk the line between the political implications by talking about the move as a way for an organization that is in the public eye to push the discussion.

“We want to celebrate the diversity that exists in our state and exists in the NBA. We know what’s going on and we don’t agree with the law itself,” Kerr said.

You guys rock. It takes a lot of balls for a business organization that is located in the center of a metropolis that is dealing with the controversy to make such a move. It will definitely alienate many [bigoted] fans, which could result in a loss of sales, although we can only hope that the backlash will not be too severe for them.

So… go Suns!

Source: 1

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