Category Archives: Human Rights

Pray Your Gods

Did you hear about the Democrats praying for abortion in Iowa?  Usually, when one hears the words “prayer” and “abortion” in the same sentence, it means some horrible, no-good pro-life group is violating a woman’s reproductive rights by showing her hard facts in at least a fleeting manner as she enters an abortion clinic.

ttlife05_dg_1

Not this time.  This was an actual prayer to an actual deity, actually asking for supernatural help to keep those abortion mills grinding.

Byron York explains that the prayer was given by Midge Slater, an organizer for Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans, which is part of the Iowa Federation of Labor and the AFL-CIO.  The full text and video is at the link.  For those that don’t want to chew on the whole blasphemous enchilada, here are some highlights:

“There are some who would . . . perpetuate an ongoing blockade of women’s right to safe reproductive health care.

We want to . . . ask your guidance to keep and protect the goodness that we are capable of. Lord, we gather today to address that violation of justice and to offer prayers for those who have been caught in this political posturing.”

“We give thanks, O Lord, for the doctors, both current and future, who provide quality abortion care. . . .”

“We pray for women who have been made afraid of their own power by their paternalistic religion. . . .

Today, we pray that all women will know that they are created in the image of God — good and holy, moral and wise.”

“Today, we pray for a continuous love to overflow from our spirits, and we give thanks and celebrate that abortion is still safe and legal.

And finally, O Lord, we pray . . . that we never forget the passion and commitment we feel today, inspired by our understanding of Your message: “Dance, dance, wherever you may be, for I am the Lord of the Dance, said she. And I lead you all, wherever you may be, and I lead you all in the dance, said she.” [bolding mine]

Sooper Mexican already picked up on the pagan vibe:  “these are words used in prayer . . . to thank the female goddess for the sacrament of killing babies in the womb.”

But the thing that really stuck out for me was that bravo sierra about the “Lord of the Dance.”  Where did Ms. Slater get that?  Does it have anything to do with Michael Flatley? michaelflatley

Mercifully, it does not.

Turns out, “Lord of the Dance” was a song originally written in 1963 by Sydney Carter as a Christian hymnWhile the lyrics are new-age-y, the references to Bethlehem, the crucifixion, and the resurrection are plain.

But that’s not the end of the story.  Apparently, members of the New Revised Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn (!) adopted the song and adjusted the lyrics.  Given the song’s new-age feel, it’s no surprise that wiccans would like it.

I wonder.  To which version of the song was Ms. Slater referring?  Notice how she referred to the “Lord” as “she.”

First of all, whoops:  the Lord of the Dance is a male, even in the wiccan version.  However, we are all familiar with the way wiccans focus on the feminine–all the Gaia Goddess Earth stuff.  Notice, too, Ms. Slater’s elevation of female and the denigration of male in the bolded portions above.

Obviously, I don’t know what religion Midge Slater practices.  I’m certainly not claiming she participates in pagan rituals, forms a magic circle, or attempts to invoke the power of gods or goddesses.

But even if by accident, doesn’t her prayer sound curiously wiccan?

And about that wiccan Lord of the Dance.  He’s also known as the Horned One.

the horned one

Serious You Guys.

Awfully fitting for this “prayer” to sound as though it is directed to the Devil himself.  What with it being a prayer for millions to die, and all.

UPDATE:  Just Turn Right had a good post on this “abortion prayer” three whole days ago:  “This is either a blatant sacrilege, or one of the most profound misunderstandings of God’s teachings I’ve ever heard.”  Oh dear.  Now I’ll start mulling over the question of whether this is an example of ignorance or calculation.  Mercy!

All In All You’re Just A . . .

As you may already know, homeschooling is with rare exception illegal in Germany, as well as many other countries.  Over the last few years Sweden and Germany have become more tyrannical over the issue, even raiding homes SWAT-style, removing children and putting parents in jail.

Since learning of the Romeikes’ quest for political asylum here in the United States, all I’ve done so far is look up the basic criteria for granting asylum:

“a well-founded fear of persecution based on at least one of five internationally recognized grounds:  race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”

and briefly attempt to debate a commenter over at Tom’s who, unsurprisingly, didn’t stick around for much of my argumentative stylings:

The criteria to which you refer are race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and social group.  I could reasonably argue that social group and political opinion apply, but the most obvious criterion is religion.

Want to take another stab at your argument that their decision to homeschool is not religiously based?

He did not want to take another stab.

The 6th Circuit ruled several weeks ago that the German homeschooling-and-evangelical-Christian family is not eligible for refugee status and should be deported.  The Romeikes appealed for a rehearing en banc. The DOJ responded on the 26th of June.  At this point, the parties are waiting to see if the 6th Circuit will grant the rehearing.  If they do not, the Romeikes’ next step will be to appeal directly to SCOTUS.

Now I’ve had a peek at the two latest briefs.  They aren’t long or complicated.  Basically, the Petitioners said the 6th Circuit panel did not follow precedent for evaluating asylum claims, and further that the panel’s new rule is flawed and the decision erroneous.

The United States responded first with the obligatory standard of proof argument that every party not bearing heightened scrutiny uses in the hopes of winning without getting to the merits of the case.  Then they basically said nuh-uh, they did too decide correctly.

The arguments are mainly legal, but the DOJ also disagrees on a crucial point of fact: whether the German government uses its compulsory attendance law in order to prevent Christians from homeschooling their children for religious reasons.

Appellate courts give deference to trial-level findings of fact.  Since this was an administrative case, the trial level wasn’t in a federal district court, but rather before an administrative judge, who granted the Romeikes’ request for asylum.  In order to rule in their favor, the judge must have made factual findings in favor of the Romeikes.  Yet, the only reference to findings of fact is in a DOJ reference to the “Board.” How that relates to the administrative judge’s decision, I do not know.

Anyhow, in the latest brief the Petitioners used a quote from a high-level German court to demonstrate intent to prevent religiously motivated homeschooling:

Home-schoolers are prosecuted . . . because “[t]he general public has a justified interest in counteracting the development of religious or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ and in integrating minorities in this area.”

Konrad, Bundesver-fassungsgericht [Federal Constitutional Court] April 29, 2003, 1 BvR 436/03 (F.R.G.). A.R. 760.

Got that?  The public is justified in counteracting minority religious groups.  Hilariously, the DOJ expands the very same quote, arguing that the context disproves the quote’s own plain meaning:

Romeike continues to make much of a single line in a German court’s opinion upholding the law here, indicating that the public has an interest in counteracting the development of religious or philosophically motivated “parallel societies.” . . . But one need look no further than the same paragraph from which the “offending” line is drawn to determine that . . . the law has nothing to do with marginalizing Romeike based on any protected status.

The subtle misuse of quotation marks is a nice touch–using them only for the “parallel society,” which should really be a quote within a quote, then coupling it with “offending,” which isn’t a quote at all but a sly way to say yeah right.  The impression is that the “parallel society” phrase might merely be the Petitioners’ over-dramatization, rather than, you know, the actual words used by the German court to describe homeschoolers.

If you are still reading this getting-longer-by-the-minute post, you must be ready to see how the expanded quote shows that counteracting is by no means marginalizing, let alone persecuting:

“The general public has a justified interest in counteracting the development of religiously or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ and in integrating minorities in this area.  Integration does not only require that the majority of the population does not exclude religious or ideological minorities, but, in fact, that these minorities do not segregate themselves and that they do not close themselves off to a dialogue with dissenters and people of other beliefs.  Dialogue with such minorities is an enrichment for an open pluralistic society.  The learning and practicing of this in the sense of the experienced tolerance is an important lesson right from the elementary school stage.  The presence of a broad spectrum of convictions in a classroom can sustainably develop the ability of all pupils in being tolerant and exercising the dialogue that is a basic requirement of democratic decision-making process.”

For anyone whose eyes keep sliding off this formidable bulwark of progressive platitude (dialog with dissenters! experienced tolerance! sustainably develop!), let me rephrase:  we have to be intolerant of you in order to teach your children tolerance.

I can’t help but admire this reasoning.  It’s a perfect example of Orwellian doublespeak–a work of art, assuming you can buy the idea that lying is an art.

Now, I’m no fancy German judge nor United States attorney, but I’m pretty sure that a “religiously motivated ‘parallel society'” is a social group.  You know, one of those little criterion for being granted asylum in the United States if you have a well-grounded fear of being persecuted for membership in it.

Interestingly, social groups to whom the United States has granted asylum in the past include parents of Burmese student dissidents, Mexican men who identify themselves as women and are sexually attracted to other men, and former members of a Salvadoran street gang.  Yet religiously motivated homeschoolers aren’t a social group within the context of asylum?

And threats of jail and loss of your children defo isn’t persecution.

This post has grown too long, the hour has grown too late, and I just used “defoin a sentence.  I need to wrap things up.

You can read more on this case here, and here.  You can sign up for the latest updates on the Romeike case and sign a petition here.  Or you can bang your head in frustration right here, on this handy-dandy visual representation of what children are to those who believe natural rights do not include the right to educate your own kids:

brick wall

UPDATE:  Wow, another Instalanche!  Thank you Glenn Reynolds!

The Tragedy of The Commons, Children’s Edition

The whole “the kids don’t belong to you; they belong to the community” bit is just a less cagey way of saying “it takes a village,” so at least Melissa Harris-Perry gets points for honesty.

My favorite part of the “All Your Children Are Belong To Us” MSNBC Promo comes at the end:

“Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.”

I marvel at the sheer act of willful blindness required in order to believe such a complete load of male bovine manure.  I mean, let’s all apply this to our front yards, shall we, and then hold our breath while we wait for the neighbors to come mow ours?

You know, corporations are a kind of microcosm of the larger society.  Corporate-y type folks who make their living ensuring that a corporation “makes better investments” have noticed that the truth is exactly inverse to Ms. Harris-Perry’s statement:

When everyone is responsible, no one is responsible.

And haven’t the sociological/psychological types done study after study and pretty much come up with the same truth regarding human nature?

I wonder if Ms. Harris-Perry, being a good collectivist and all, would respect Garrett Hardin‘s belief that human overpopulation is a serious global threat?  If so, maybe she could also put some merit into his concept of The Tragedy of the Commons:

“In 1974 the general public got a graphic illustration of the “tragedy of the commons” in satellite photos of the earth. Pictures of northern Africa showed an irregular dark patch 390 square miles in area. Ground-level investigation revealed a fenced area inside of which there was plenty of grass. Outside, the ground cover had been devastated.

The explanation was simple. The fenced area was private property . . . .”

Yeah.  Let’s all ignore a truth so obvious that even a Malthusian human ecologist with totalitarian tendencies can see it, and let’s “break through” the private idea that kids belong to their parents.  Let’s engage in an experiment called The Tragedy of the Commonly Cared-for Children, because Miss MSNBC Lady says things’ll turn out just peachy.

Good grief.

I haven’t seen a more sure sign of the decline of our society since I first saw somebody pushing one of those dog strollers through the park.

Yeah, that's right.  I'm hating on the cute dog's stroller.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m hating on the cute dog’s stroller.

When ‘Yes’ ‘No’ or ‘Maybe’ Won’t Work: Mosaic!

Glenn Beck’s cohorts were joking about this on the radio, and it did make me laugh.

I’ll admit that I had not yet considered whether waterboarding helped us to find Osama Bin Laden.

Well, other people had.

And . . . other people hadn’t.

It seems that waterboarding had something to do with locating Bin Laden.

At the time of this Lawrence O’Donnell interview, perhaps Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough had not yet been briefed on the definitive narrative.

Without the definitive narrative, he had no idea whether the correct answer was “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.”  Poor fella.  He tried for all three:

Lawrence O’Donnell:  “Candidate Obama spoke strongly against waterboarding, and Director Panetta has now confirmed . . . that some of the detainees who provided some of the information that created the chain of information that eventually led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden had been ‘waterboarded.'”

Denis McDonough:  “No, I don’t think that–I don’t think that’s right.  I just took a look at the transcript; I think that’s uh an overstatement.”

O’Donnell:  “Well clarify for us what you think Director Panetta has said.”

McDonough:  “Ah, I leave that to you, but uh, what I just looked at, he did not say that.”

O’Donnell:  “Alright lemme ask you one thing:  did any useful information, any usable information, that led to this mission, come from waterboarding?”

McDonough:  “I’d say a couple different things.  First of all it’s very uh clear that this is the result of an intense and very complex, very effective intelligence operation over the course of many, many years.  I’m not gonna stand here, uh, and tell you definitively or categorically what every piece of that information was, uh, that’s just not credible, of course, uh, because I just don’t have access to each of those pieces of information.  But what I do know is this:

is that, uh, this is a mosaic put together over the course of uh considerable amount of time, drawing on all sources of intelligence:  human intelligence of the sort that you are talking about, uh but also other pieces of intelligence.

This was a very effective interagency intelligence team, individuals from each of the sixteen intelligence agencies, and they drew on a whole big, uh, a whole collection of uh, intelligence capabilities and uh, intelligence itself, so, uh, I can’t rule anything out in terms of whether, uh, categorically, no such information exists, but what I can tell you is that this information was drawn uh from uh a series of efforts that started frankly before KSM uh was even arrested, so I think some of the reports that have been out there have been frankly a distraction from the bigger story, which is this is a very effective intelligence operation about which the President is very proud and frankly for which he is very thankful.”

Bolding was mine.  In case you didn’t pick up on the significance:  “human intelligence of the sort that you are talking about” = waterboarding.

Ha ha ha.

I’m not laughing about waterboarding.  I’m sure it stinks, if you are the recipent.

I’m laughing at the total narrative fail.

Guys.  Is it so hard to admit that sometimes a “Jack Bauer” gets sh^t done?

The Zombie On Life And Death

I know:  what the heck does that mean?

Other blogging nerds probably know this is a reference to blogger Zombie.

Zombie’s latest Pajamas Media article is a must-read.  It is very touching, and also very illuminating.  With this personal story, Zombie is able to explain why it’s not paranoid or extreme to be wary of Living Wills and End-of-Life Counselling.   

If you feel pressured to have a “Living Will,” but you don’t feel comfortable with the language within it, then don’t sign one.  Or create your own “Will To Live” from the National Right To Life’s template

Instead of saying the usual “In the event that my quality of life stinks because I’m hooked up to wires and tubes, unplug ‘em and let me die,” it says something more along the lines of, “Don’t unplug me!  Don’t starve me!”

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