Religion v Speech ~ June 4th

Freedom of Religion versus Freedom of Speech

The tyranny of the Majority versus The Tyranny of the Minority

On this day, June 4, 1738, George III (June 4, 1738 – January 29, 1820) was born in Norfolk House, St. James’s Square, London, England, Kingdom of Great Britain.

In 1791, George begrudgingly assented to the Roman Catholic Relief Act. The Act relieved Roman Catholics of certain political, educational, and economic disabilities. It admitted Catholics to the practice of law, permitted the legal practice of Catholicism, and the existence of Catholic schools. (On the other hand, there were continued restrictions as well: chapels, schools, officiating priests, and school teachers had to be registered with the government. Assemblies with locked doors, as well as steeples and bells to chapels, were forbidden. Catholic priests could not wear clerical robes or offer Mass in the open air; Protestant children could not be admitted to Catholic schools. Monastic orders and endowments for Catholic schools and colleges were prohibited.)

The Tory Leader, William Pitt the Younger, as well as the rival Whig Leader, Charles James Fox, had pledged full Catholic Emancipation. Amazingly, however, King George III argued that full freedom for Catholics would be a violation of his coronation oath.

It wasn’t until 1766 that true Catholic Emancipation did not occur until the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829. To overcome the vehement opposition of both the House of Lords and King George IV, the Duke of Wellington worked tirelessly to ensure passage in the House of Lords and threatened to resign as Prime Minister if the King did not give Royal Assent.

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On June 4, 1870, Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad was born. Hesselblad worked tirelessly at inter-religious dialogue, and against racism. During World War II – and after – she performed many charitable works on behalf of the poor and those that suffered due to racial laws and promoted peace between Christians and non-Christians. The war also saw her save the lives of Jewish people who would have otherwise have perished in the Holocaust had it not been for her direct intervention. Pope John Paul II beatified her on April 9, 2000, and Pope Francis approved her canonization in late 2015. Hesselblad is also recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations due to her efforts in World War II saving the lives of Jewish people during the Holocaust.

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On this day, June 4, 1989, the Tiananmen Square Massacre occurred in response to the pro-democracy demonstrations. At the heart of these demonstrations was the lack of freedom in China… no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, and -certainly on June 4th– no freedom of assembly or petition of grievances.

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And today, June 4, 2018, the US Supreme Court announced its decision in Masterpiece Cake v CCRC. Personally, I’m glad I didn’t have to write that decision. I don’t think it’s as simple as either of the two sides think that it is. I think the decision was basically a loud statement of shut up go to your corners and act like adults

As my friend David Stacy said, its perhaps “one of the most intelligent decisions they’ve written in some time… What I think is so brilliant about it is that it’s allowing for a better conversation. SCOTUS set the standard for how government officials treat religious individuals and cases of religious expression outside of the clergy. The fallout will be interesting, for sure.”

I sure hope Dave is correct. but I am nervous about the fact that there were three different concurring opinions. That kind of tells me that they couldn’t agree among themselves, and that’s why they made a narrow decision, not for their altruistic and brilliant reasons that David is hoping for.

Where is that line between religion and speech?

  • Would we expect a Muslim cakemaker to put an image of the Prophet Mohammed on a cake? Would a Jewish cakemaker have to create a cake with a swastika on it? Would a Catholic cakemaker have to make a cake with the image of a pope or priest as a pedophile or with condoms?
  • On the other hand, would we be comfortable with a cakemaker denying to make a cake for a mixed-race wedding? Or a cake for a marriage between persons of obvious age discrepancy?

What right does a service provider have to limit their services? What right does society have to force services from unwilling service providers? I sure don’t know…

I also think, but I’m not sure how this would be worded in a judicial decision, that there is an issue of access. I’ve heard this issue come up in abortion/women’s reproduction cases. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016), the Court held that if legislation is crafted in such a way that the access to abortion clinics is essentially eliminated, then that is unconstitutional. So, to a degree, as long as there are fair alternatives to Masterpiece Cake, then the Court perhaps should lean toward protecting the religious freedom of the business owner, however, if there was not a fair alternative, then the Court ought to lean toward protecting the rights of the customer.

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Regardless, and as I said to David Stacy earlier today is that, personally, I’m glad I didn’t have to write that decision. I also don’t think it’s as simple as it might seem prima facie. Personally, I think the decision was basically a loud statement of shut up go to your corners and act like adults…

NFL Kneelers, 4,645 Dead Puerto Ricans, and Native American Citizenship

Citizenship

On this day, June 2, 1924, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship Act into law, granting citizenship to all Native Americans born within the territorial limits of the United States.

It was enacted partially in recognition of the thousands of Indians who served in the armed forces during World War I. The Fourteenth Amendment already defined as citizens any person born in the U.S., but only if “subject to the jurisdiction thereof”; this latter clause excluded anyone who already had citizenship in a foreign power such as a tribal nation.

So what do Native Americans, Puerto Ricans, the District of Columbia, African-Americans, and the NFL kneelers have in common?

 

Two Nazis and a Military Analyst Walk into a Bar… (May11th)

~May 11~

On this day, May 11, 1960, four Israeli Mossad agents, with the help of Simon Wiesenthal/the Nazi Hunter, captured fugitive Nazi Adolf Eichmann who was living under the alias of Ricardo Klement in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

After his trial in Israel and the denial of his appeal, Eichmann was scheduled for execution. He refused a last meal, instead, Eichmann requested a bottle of wine, and he also refused the traditional black execution hood.  His last words were:

“Long live Germany.  Long live Argentina.  Long live Austria.  These are the three countries with which I have been most connected and which I will not forget.  I greet my wife, my family, and my friends.  I am ready.  We’ll meet again soon, as is the fate of all men.  I die believing in God.”

He was executed shortly after midnight on June 1, 1962; his body was cremated at a secret location, and his ashes were scattered in the Mediterranean Sea, outside of Israeli territorial waters by an Israeli Navy patrol boat…

And, I guess, that’s the end of the story, right?

Well, no, in my opinion, there’s more. How did Eichmann get to Argentina, how was he able to hide for so long, how was he found, and perhaps, most importantly, why was he not extradited, why was he kidnapped by one nation-state from inside another nation-state. Could you imagine the outcry if the Russian’s kidnapped an American in the US, and snuck him to Russia for trial?  Look at the situation in the UK, where Russians have assassinated and attempted to assassinate British residents twice in the past several years… if its outrageous for Russian operatives to work inside the UK, isn’t it somewhat outrageous that the Israeli Mossad operated within Argentina? Or are international norms only for the bad guys to follow? It seems, at times, that we have Double Standard in terms of expected international norms by state actors, and, additionally we don’t even always know what our government is doing.

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Take this other example: On this day, May 11, 1973, the charges against Daniel Ellsberg, for his involvement in releasing the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times, were dismissed. Daniel Ellsberg, who had worked on the Pentagon Papers, officially titled Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force, had leaked/released the report to the Times. The report was a history of the United States’ political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967 and had demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration “systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress”. More specifically, the papers revealed that the U.S. had secretly enlarged the scope of its actions in the Vietnam War with the bombings of nearby Cambodia and Laos, coastal raids on North Vietnam, none of which were reported in the mainstream media.

The Pentagon Papers were announced and described on the front page of The New York Times in 1971. Ellsberg was initially charged with conspiracy, espionage, and theft of government property, because of the leaks… but on May 11, 1973, the charges were dismissed after the Watergate prosecutors discovered evidence that the Nixon White House had ordered the so-called White House Plumbers to engage in unlawful efforts to discredit Ellsberg.

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Finally, on this day, May 11, 1987, Klaus Barbie went on trial in Lyon, France, for war crimes committed during World War II. Known as the “Butcher of Lyon,” Barbie personally tortured French prisoners of the Gestapo while stationed in Lyon. After the war, United States intelligence agencies used Barbie for their anti-Marxist efforts and also helped Barbie and others escape to South America. Later, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (the West German intelligence agency) recruited Barbie. Barbie is even rumored to have helped the CIA capture Che Guevara in 1967, as well as assisting in the Bolivian coup d’état orchestrated by Luis García Meza Tejada in 1980 [I mentioned that coup briefly on the May 5th podcast of This Day Today]. After the fall of that dictatorship, Barbie no longer had the protection of the Bolivian government. In 1983, Barbie was extradited to France, not kidnapped by French intelligence agents, and he was ultimately convicted of crimes against humanity. He died of cancer in prison on September 23, 1991.

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May 11th: An Israeli operation, quite illegal from an objective point of view, to capture a Nazi; the arrest of an American who leaked to the public the truth of what the government was hiding from the American people, and the doll-faced Nazi named Barbie, who was recruited to work for the US Government as well as West Germany, even though both agencies knew him to be a war criminal.

Certainly, politics makes strange bedfellows. Yes, the enemy of my enemy, maybe my friend, but shouldn’t we have some standards? If its ok for the US to lie to the American people, to hire known war criminals, and to look the other way as Israel violates the national sovereignty of other nation-states… then, are we any better than those we criticize in the world community? Are we really the beacon on the hill, the New Jerusalem? …Or are we just another rogue state ourselves?

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And that’s what happened This Day in Today…

Remember,

Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.

Thank you for listening!

April 26th, Red for Ed, and Political Postering

Welcome to This Day in Today,
My name is Tom Keefe, and I’m the Babbling Professor!

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Here we are, JeffCo day at the Capitol in Denver, Colorado. Red for Ed is the mantra of the teachers, jail those teachers is the battle cry of Senator Bob Gardner and Representative Paul Lundeen, both from El Paso County. The two have sponsored Senate Bill 18-264. The bill prohibits school districts from paying teachers by stating, and I quote, “Public school employers are prohibited from consenting to or condoning a strike and from paying a public school teacher for any day during which the public school teacher participates in a strike.” Really? Because JeffCo teachers are using their earned vacation days for today’s trips to the Capital. Where are the defenders of the First Amendment’s rights to grievance and assembly, and the freedom of speech? If a teacher is using earned vacation time to do, well, anything, how is that a strike? How is that the business of the illustrious legislative representatives of El Paso County?

But at least Senator Bob Gardner and Representative Paul Lundeen are obvious about where they stand. Look at former state senator Mike Johnston, running for the Democratic nomination for governor. Today he says he stands with teachers, but it was as a former school principal and state representative that he pushed through the unfunded mandate of SB 10-191. And then there is the Superintendent of Jefferson County, Jason Glass. After being backed into a corner by the usage of vacation and sick requests, Jeffco canceled classes on Thursday, April 26th, but then reiterated that it is a work day for anyone using vacation and legitimate sick time. Ok, that’s probably fair. But then the superintendent post on social media about how serious the education issues are in Colorado and listed a vanilla list of bullet points:

• Colorado currently ranks 42nd in the nation in per pupil funding.
• In Colorado, we fund our students at an average of $2,500 per student less than the national average – not the upper end of the scale – average.
• Only two states, Oklahoma and Arizona, spend less than Colorado on services for students with special needs.
• Despite constitutional protections designed to protect public school funding in Colorado, public schools have been underfunded by billions of dollars since 2008.
• Colorado ranked 50th of all states and the District of Columbia in how teacher pay compares to that of other college-educated workers.
• 95 percent of teacher salaries are below the standard of living in rural Colorado.
• Colorado is experiencing a significant teacher shortage. This is compounded in that close to 20% of teachers leave the profession within the first five years, citing low pay and low public regard as two leading reasons for leaving the profession.
• It is estimated that there is close to $18 billion dollars in school construction needs across the state.

Guess what? Many of those issues are issues which he, as the Superintendent and working with the School Board, controls. And guess what? That’s not what the teacher action today is about.

Thursday, April 26, is a “day of action” to talk to lawmakers about support of state pensions in the PERA program which replaces social security for CO teachers. Let me say that again, CO teachers do not receive Social Security, and now the state wants to change teachers PERA retirement benefits. “We are asking people, if they can take a personal day, to go downtown and talk to legislators,” Scott Kwasny, spokesman for the Jeffco Education Association said recently. Yes, Colorado teachers are asking lawmakers to devote some of the state budget surpluses to education, the primary issue of the day is PERA. And yet, Dr. Glass made a warm and fuzzy pro-education statement about other issues. Hostility from the rights, co-opting political maneuvering from the supposed left. How about we just fix the problem. How about we just pay our teachers, and ensure promises to their retirement at the time of enrollment are honored? Do we change the rules of a baseball game in the 5th Inning? Let’s be fair.

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That’s all for today’s segment of This Day in Today, and remember,
Today’s Tomorrow’s yesterday.

Thank you for listening!

https://www.denverpost.com/2018/04/23/republican-bill-ban-teacher-protests-colorado/