Friday, April 05, 2013

What’s More Reactionary than Defense of Marriage? A State Bill for Defense of Religion.

By Gary Berg-Cross

The idea that States are Laboratories of democracy is a phrase popularized by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis to describe how a "state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."   It’s a popular conservative thought with their dislike of Federal experiments such as run (successfully?) by FDR.

And there is something good to a federated approach to governmental experimentation at ALL levels.  Which means that “experiments” can go wrong at any of the levels. The Defense of Marriage Act, enacted in 1996 with reactive insecurity, still allows the federal Government to recognize only opposite-sex marriages. But here there have been correctives at the state level & the 8 federal courts have argued that Section 3 of DOMA marriage is only between a man and a woman) is unconstitutional. According to a poll by the Washington Post/ABC News, the % of Americans opposeing marriage equality is down to 36%. Still many Religion's official position is to oppose gay marriage (The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life).

Unfortunately at the state level we are seeing what seems like bone headed, defiant experiments less a lab than a bazaar of oddities. Gun security is one of them that offers special silliness. Consider this from Ralph Shortey (R-Oklahoma City) who argued that everyone should carry a gun everywhere at all times. In response the state legislature moved to address the danger posed to unarmed civilians from... poultry. Here is Ralph Shortey (R-Oklahoma City) arguing in support of the measure during committee discussions. Shortey started by arguing that he shouldn't be required to pay fees and get a license to carry a weapon. How he justified that knocks me out: 


 "I was in oil and gas," Shortey said. "I was out on a lease at one time and I got attacked by a turkey. Wait until you get attacked by a turkey. You will know the fear that a turkey can invoke in a person. And so I beat it with a club. That was all I could do...I wish that I had a gun with me. And I started carrying a gun in my truck after that without a license because I didn't want to get attacked by a mountain lion. Turkeys are bad enough."     This Week in the Laboratories of Democracy By Charles P. Pierce

Actually this has nothing on small town Nelson Georgia whose City Council, perhaps frightened by the mere possibility of falling under proposed gun safety rules, defiantly & reactively passed a new law that says residents must own a gun. If you want to hear some of the mind numbing reasoning on this you can hare Nelson, Georgia Residents Debate their New Law Mandating Forced Ownership of Firearms.

Fundamentalist religion usually finds a way to come up with some dandy local experiments, often minus the democratic lab mentality and with reactionary fervor. As the Huffington Post reported Republican North Carolina state legislators recently proposed allowing an official state religion in a measure that would declare the state exempt from the Constitution and court rulings. It’s all the ACLU’s fault. These NC pols have a habit of praying to Jesus Christ before meetings so the ACLU sued them.   You know it’s that bleeding-heart liberal (Federal) law about separation of church and state. So 2  North Carolina Republican legislators, Carl Ford and Harry Warren  aided by nine others, introduced what they called a Defense of Religion resolution.

They arguing the state is sovereign & can make its own laws regarding the establishment of religion, and the federal government and courts have no authority to decide what is constitutional.   Yes birth control in legal, one may regulate guns and there is a separation of church and state….But to some you can nullify any of these.  So much for a federated government when your are exempted from the establishment clause under the First Amendment.

Happily the Republican NC House speaker, Thom Tillis, killed the bill and ended this chapter of Frankenstein monster experiments in another purple state. States are more laboratories for emotional, reactionary assaults on intellect than exercises in critical thinking. It's part of the defiance of people with some ignorant degree of surety and energized by parading their bazaar of the weird in front of their fans.

NC Religion:


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