Tuesday, August 19, 2014
US Navy reverses course, puts Bibles back in hotels during policy review
Bibles began disappearing from Navy lodges over the summer after complaints were made by an atheist group, but that decision has now been reversed while a policy review takes place.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation complained about the religious books earlier in the year, which prompted the Navy Exchange to have managers put Gideons Bibles in lost-and-found locations.
“That decision and our religious accommodation policies with regard to the placement of religious materials are under review,” Navy spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes, the paper reported Friday. “While that review is under way, religious materials removed from Navy Lodge rooms will be returned.”
The atheist group’s attorney Sam Grover said his complaint included military members who had not seen anything other than the Bible in Navy lodges for over 20 years, Stars and Stripes reported. “That demonstrates the Navy’s preference for Christianity over all other religions and nonreligious sects,” he told the paper.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation, which is based in Wisconsin, also suggested that Navy lodges offer patrons the “Born Again Skeptics Guide to the Bible,” Stars and Stripes reported.
While the Navy conducts its review of policies and procedures relating to the Bibles, the Navy Exchange wants all inquiries about the placement of religious materials sent to the “chaplain’s office for the military installation where the lodge is located,” a memo written by Bill Mayhue, the Navy lodge program regional manager, stated Friday, the paper reported.
The Navy said that decision made earlier in the summer to remove the religious books was made without consulting senior leadership, Stars and Stripes said.
Judge Upholds State’s Authority to Define Marriage as Union of Man and Woman
Last week a judge in Tennessee upheld that state’s Constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Though the decision was made a week ago, it has only now been made available electronically.
The case involved a same-sex couple married in Iowa that sought a divorce in Tennessee. Because Tennessee does not recognize same-sex relationships as marriages, it was unable to divorce the couple. Last week, Judge Russell E. Simmons, Jr., cited the Supreme Court’s decision in the federal Defense of Marriage Act case, U.S. v. Windsor, as support that Tennessee has the right to define marriage for itself. Simmons writes: “The Windsor case is concerned with the definition of marriage, only as it applies to federal laws, and does not give an opinion concerning whether one State must accept as valid a same-sex marriage allowed in another State.”
When the Supreme Court struck down the federal law defining marriage last year, Justice Anthony Kennedy explained that states have “the historical and essential authority to define the marital relation.” Simmons takes Kennedy at his word, recognizing the basic equality of state citizens. Just as the citizens of Iowa are free to adopt same-sex marriage (though it was a state court that redefined marriage there), so too the citizens of Tennessee are free to retain the traditional definition.
In the Windsor case the Supreme Court opines that if a state finds same-sex marriage to be valid, the Federal Government cannot trump that State’s law. The Supreme Court does not go the final step and find that a State that defines marriage as the union of one (1) man and one (1) woman is unconstitutional. Further, the Supreme Court does not find that one State’s refusal to accept as valid another State’s valid same-sex marriage to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
What about arguments that claim there is a fundamental right to same-sex marriage? Simmons explains that while “marriage is a fundamental right,” there is no right to redefine marriage. Simmons continued: “neither the Tennessee Supreme Court nor the United States Supreme Court has ever decided that this fundamental right under a state’s laws extends beyond the traditional definition of marriage as a union between (1) one man and (1) one woman.”
What’s really at stake in this debate? Simmons explains: “The battle is not between whether or not marriage is a fundamental right but what unions are included in the definition of marriage.” Yes, the fundamental policy question in this debate is “What Is Marriage?”
The fundamental legal question is who gets to define marriage. Simmons ruled it “should be the prerogative of each State.” The judge continued: “neither the Federal Government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee what has traditionally been a state’s responsibility, which is to provide a framework of laws to govern the safety and wellbeing of its citizens.”
Our federal Constitution is silent on what marriage is. Judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and declare them to be required by the Constitution. The courts should uphold the freedom of the American people and their elected representatives to make marriage policy.
Marriage policy should be worked out by the people in the states; this is the beauty of federalism. We do not need a court-imposed 50-state solution. The courts should not force states to abandon caution in the face of a social experiment like the redefinition of marriage.
Dutch Mayor Cancels Anti-ISIS Rally as "Too Provocative"
While Islamic State (IS) jihadists battle their way across Syria and Iraq, beheading soldiers and civilians, training children for jihad, their supporters across Europe demand "death to Jews" and call for the blood of infidels.
Now, it seems, some European leaders are refusing to fight back.
The situation has become especially controversial in the Dutch political capital of The Hague, where pro-IS protests in July involved anti-Jewish chants and a violent attack on a female journalist covering the event. As the Jew-hate worsened and violence intensified, witnesses and Jewish advocacy groups called on the mayor's office to step in. But Mayor Josias van Aartsen was on holiday; and his deputy, left in charge, found no reason to intervene.
Residents of The Hague, however, felt otherwise: on Aug. 10, a group calling itself "Pro-Patria" staged its own "freedom march" through the same largely Muslim neighborhood (the Schilderswijk) where the pro-IS demonstrations had been held,. The aim, according to one organizer, was to show "that this so-called Sharia-triangle is still Dutch land, where Dutch laws and rules prevail." (The Schilderswijk has been referred to as the "Sharia triangle" frequently in the Dutch press.)
It was, perhaps, a naively optimistic notion: no sooner had the demonstration started than pro-IS residents began attacking, throwing stones and starting fistfights. Six people were arrested.
Mayor van Aartsen, still vacationing in France, did nothing.
Operation Tuleta: a warrant to hound the tabloids
In the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, highly publicised trials and subsequent convictions, the public perception of Britain’s tabloid journalists is at an historic nadir. As such, a call to protect those often accused of profiting through the manipulation of the vulnerable will gain short shrift in some quarters - but their protection is of paramount importance for the freedom of the British press.
This week, the first criminal trial played out in what has been dubbed Operation Tuleta – the Met’s name for the low-profile sister project of the probe that put former News of the World editor Andy Coulson in Belmarsh Prison.
A former Sun reporter called Ben Ashford faced criminal charges for downloading information from a ‘stolen’ phone which held ‘saucy pictures’ of an unnamed BBC broadcaster. The photos and texts on the phone seemed like the perfect basis for a classic scandal story; it never made the paper for legal reasons.
In terms of investigative journalism the scoop was hardly a Watergate moment, but this makes no difference. Throughout Operation Tuleta the police have used a series of underhand nuisance tactics to bully a host of tabloid journalists in a way that would never be acceptable if perpetrated against broadsheet reporters.
The basic charges made against Ashford were fairly jumped-up to begin with, as was reflected in the jury’s swift ‘not guilty’ verdict. The phone in question was ‘stolen by finding’ – a nightclub punter picked it up from the floor of a club and, discovering the sordid details it held, took it to the Sun.
The would-be tipster later accepted a caution for this flimsy charge, which gave the police free rein to pursue Ashford as an accessory to this crime, when his only action was looking through a phone found in a nightclub.
The original sequence of events occurred in 2009, but Ashford wasn’t arrested for four years. He even cooperated and returned the phone directly to the police at the time the investigation was launched.
After the incident was all but forgotten, in a bout of grotesque posturing under the auspices of the phone-hacking investigations, the Met sent teams of policemen on dawn raids to the houses of several Sun reporters alleged to have committed similar crimes. Reporters were pulled from their beds and their houses were turned over as if they were gangland drug lords – the most serious charges any of them still faces is handling stolen goods, while most have had all charges dropped. One reporter was kept on bail for 13 months on paper-thin charges that could have been cleared in a week.
In the name of press regulation, the police have continued to bully and harass this group of reporters. Ashford’s counsel described the charges against him as a grotesque act of ‘messianic zeal’ from the Crown Prosecution Service. Many would turn a blind eye and sneer at Ashford’s original motives, but freedom of the press is not the preserve of Guardian journalists leaking state cover-ups alone. It needs to be protected at all levels.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.