Thought of the day

Human beings are more important than the abstract ethical principle of liberty.

Same-sex marriage ruled constitutional in Mexico City

One of the things many founding documents and fledgling governments have done is enshrine rights as broad principles, open to slow, steady interpretation. This allows for the biases and prejudices of the majority to be counteracted with a rational basis. This has been a great source of achievement for civil rights because it offers a method to come to a greater internal consistency based upon liberty rather than the capriciousness of the morals of the day. The Mexican Supreme Court is a testament to that fact.

The Mexican Supreme Court has ruled, 8-2, that same-sex marriage in Mexico City is constitutional, dismissing arguments that it violated guarantees to protect the family.

Because same-sex marriage protects families.

Bad news

It looks like outright contempt for civil liberties will be victorious tonight. I cringe at the interviews where these fucking bigots are so proud of their ability to oppress a minority. It’s utterly disgusting. I have seriously run through my mind the likelihood of being able to move out of state to a place where my civil liberties are not so at risk. (This rejection of rights is not merely a rejection of rights for one group; my neighbor’s rights are my rights.) In all objectivity, it’s anger which drives me to this consideration, but that makes it no less real.

The single consolation in the all-but-certain results from tonight is that they are not the end of this. Maine spent roughly a decade fighting to protect sexual orientation in education, housing, employment, and other areas. Voters rejected this fight multiple times until it finally won in 2005. Soon after, another petition was generated to yet again attempt to repeal these protections and it had to be aborted due to lack of support. The exact same thing will happen with same-sex marriage – unless of course someone brings the issue to court. I hope that doesn’t happen for a couple years since it could trigger a constitutional amendment vote; it’s too early for that.

But I think it’s important to start asking certain questions. Those who voted to repeal Maine’s bill on personal liberties as they pertain to marriage have no concept of the gravity of what they have just done. Where does this all end? They have just affirmed that marriage is a religious institution that is to be legally sanctified by the state. Religion is such a dangerous weapon always, but that is especially true here. If marriage is a religious institution, then it is only really valid in the eyes of these bigots if it is done in front of their particular sky fairy. So what group faces the chopping block next? Muslims? Probably not too soon since Lewiston has a large black* Islamic population. Hindus? Not enough of a threat, really. Buddhists? Too amorphous to attack. Atheists? That’s a good target. It’s an unpopular group (even more so than gays), and not only do they not have the right god, they have no god at all. Why not take away their rights to marriage? And really, it isn’t taking away any rights. Marriage is now legally defined as a privilege. It can be taken away by the whim of the majority at any time, principles, rights, and liberties be damned.

*I specifically mention that they are black because a disproportionately high number of blacks in California voted against same-sex marriage. In Lewiston they went 3:1 against it. It’s astounding. This is a group with a still relevant history of oppression and discrimination against them (which specifically includes marital rights), yet they go and pull these tremendous stunts. They should know better. Stupidity knows no racial bonds; it is ubiquitous.

The irony

The atheist sign in Washington state is still causing discussion. Unfortunately, some of that discussion is ironic.

But upon further review, we also feel that some of those protesting the sign make a good point about the message. Rather than just being a statement for atheism or observing the Winter Solstice, it steps over the line and attacks religion. The sign sponsored by the atheistic Freedom from Religion Foundation calls religion “myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

A key aspect of the message being sent out by humanists and atheists is that religion has a privileged position in our society and it is precisely unworthy of that position. To say this group was over the line is to undermine the notion of free and open discussion.

So, while we’ll defend the right of the atheist group to hold its views, we do think the message itself should have been monitored and disapproved. In this holiday season when people of certain religions are celebrating peace, as is their right, a mean-spirited message is out of place on public property.

So if a religious group puts out a message which says something to the effect of “May we defeat the evil that is Satan” then that is a “mean-spirited message [that] is out of place” during this season of celebrating peace, right?

The more pertinent point here, actually, is that certain religions aren’t actually celebrating peace. They’re celebrating their belief in myths and the sense of community these myths tend to harbor. That’s part of the reason the likes of Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers have Christmas trees in their homes during the season. They obviously aren’t celebrating any myths, but they are celebrating their love of family and community.

As I’ve said in the past, religion clearly brings a sense of community with it and that can be a good thing (and may be a contributing reason to its existence in our evolutionary history). What this atheist group is doing is celebrating what brings them together – reason and rationality. That is, a lack of belief in devils and angels are other fabrications of the mind are one common thread which strings these people together. For that, we all, too, should embrace the unharmful, open discourse that threads us together as a nation based upon liberties and freedoms.

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