Sunday, November 30, 2008

Clearing the Pile

Stuff has been accumulating since Thanksgiving. Time to dump it on you.

The myth that Blacks were responsible for the passage of Prop. 8 has been debunked. But the need to engage that community remains as strong as ever. My friend Lauren sent me an interesting article trying to break down why Blacks (and specifically, Black women) voted overwhelmingly against gay marriage.

The breadth and scope of the Mumbai terrorist attacks made it feel churlish to focus on the specific attack on Jews. But as this Z-Word comment points out, the decision to devote resources towards Chabad House was actually remarkably inefficient for the terrorists. In other words, they went out of their way to kill Jews. Particularly given PG's explication of patterns of Indian terrorism (see comments), this is disturbing.

Echidne has the story of a woman, convicted of running errands for her cousin's cocaine ring, who was originally sentenced to four life terms. It got reduced to 12 years, but the government appealed and bumped it back up to 27 years. This is for a first time non-violent offender, mind you. As Echidne says, there are first degree murderers who get out faster than that.

Chicago Law Professor Geoffrey Stone argues that the passage of Prop. 8 implicates Establishment Clause values, because at root it "enact[s] into law a particular religious belief." Rick Garnett dissents, and I think he has the better of the argument.

Following up on my previous posts, The Gaucho Politico sent me another link on the obstacles former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele is facing to become RNC chief.

Saudi Girls love to rock. Or at least four of them do.


The Gaucho Politico said...

After reading the exchange on prop 8 between stone and garnett i think there were some serious holes for both. Stone tries to make his case based on voting patterns of religious people but he failed, imo, to make the solid connection required between the origin of the "traditional definition" argument and the fact that the traditional definition comes from the church.

for what is worth my own debates around prop 8 have lead me to conclude that the idea behind it stems from religious teachings. The prop 8 supporters i talked to freely admitted that they based the traditional marriage argument in religion. So while stone fails to hammer this point out fully, for garnett to take the position that the ideas governing are not religious ones is disingenuous.

The problem stems from the idea that religious people take what they consider to be morality from religion. Any action concerning what is moral is going to be linked to religious teachings because that is where the morality comes from. So garnett's points about (a) what counts as an "imposition", and (b) what counts as a distinctly "religious" view are very valid.

In the case of prop 8 the massive action by both the mormon and catholic churches should tell a reasonable person that the driving force was religion. However, i think the stronger, cleaner, case is still through equal protection.

PG said...

I think Stone's point works only for laws that have no justification other than a religious one. For example, if California passed by referendum a labor regulation mandating that one of workers' days off had to be a Sunday while leaving the other day completely random, that reasonably could be challenged as implicating the Establishment Clause. (A regulation that mandated the standard weekend could be justified on the basis of standardization -- it's best for workers to be free on the same days that children are out of schools.)

Opposition to SSM easily can be made without reference to religion. I know people who don't support SSM who are not religious. The one common, uniting feature I have found among all SSM opponents is sex essentialism; they all believe there is something inherent to being a man that makes one different from a woman in a way that is relevant to marriage and parenting. That is, such people believe that a husband inherently must be or do something different than a wife, and a mother different from a father. Therefore, a marriage or parenting unit that doesn't include one member of each sex is missing something important.

While religious beliefs may tie into one's ideas about sex and gender, religiosity isn't necesary to being a sex essentialist. Plenty of people who have read rather shallowly in biology and psychology, for example, are sex essentialists. The same is also true of abortion, another issue whether some scholars have futilely attempted to argue that a ban necessarily would put religious beliefs into law. Again, not so; Communist Romania banned contraception and abortion, not out of religious beliefs but in order to achieve the secular goal of an increased birth rate. An atheist can believe that women have no right to control their reproduction, just as easily as a religious person can.