Posts Tagged “supreme court”

Antonin Scalia 2010By now most of my regular readers have heard about Antonin Scalia’s New York Magazine interview. The main news out of it has been that Scalia believes Satan is a “real person.” I hadn’t commented on it, since I don’t find it very remarkable that a famous Christianist believes the Devil is real. I mean, seriously … that’s news to anyone? Come on! I initially regarded that interview as a “water is wet” or “sky is blue” story, unworthy of attention.

With that said, I recently noticed something he said which, after consideration, I find noteworthy. At least, I think the significance of it needs to be pointed out, if for no other reason than that to show that almost anyone can fall into illogic, if s/he isn’t careful — and that large amounts of irrationality and illogic can be expressed within one short statement.

The important part comes in page 4 of the article (WebCite cached version):

[Interviewer Jennifer Senior:] Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?

[Justice Antonin Scalia:] You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.

First, note the sanctimony of Scalia’s response. Sanctimony is the religionist’s stock-in-trade. How dare Ms Senior question belief in the Devil? Scalia’s outrage is palpable. But it also doesn’t mean anything — to anyone.

Next, Scalia cites as evidence of Satan’s existence, that “most of [America] believes in the Devil.” This is a fallacy known formally as argumentum ad populum, and by other names, such as appeal to consensus, the bandwagon fallacy, appeal to popularity, the democratic fallacy, appeal to the masses, etc. The error here should be obvious and summed up in this short statement: Veracity is not up for a vote. People — even many of them! — can be, and often are, very wrong sometimes. Just because something is widely believed, doesn’t make it true. For most of history, nearly all of humanity was utterly convinced the earth was at the center of the universe, with the sun, moon, planets and stars all revolving around it. It turns out, that’s not true at all!

Another piece of evidence Scalia cites as proof that Satan is a real person, is that ‘Jesus Christ believed in the Devil.” Sorry, but this isn’t going to fly, because the reports we have of what Jesus did and didn’t believe come only from the gospels, which Scalia also cites, themselves, as evidence of Satan’s existence. The problem there, of course, is that this just means some late-first-century Christians who wrote those books, believed in the Devil. It’s not actually objective or verifiable evidence of Satan’s existence as “a real person.”

Third, Scalia lambastes his interviewer for being “so removed from mainstream America that” she’d dare imply belief in the Devil as “a real person” is a bad thing. This is his attempt to discredit his interviewer by saying she’s an elitist; and this, too, has been a common Religious Right tactic. Folks on the Right love to rage and fume about “the Elite” (aka “the Bicoastal Elite,” the “Mass Media Elite,” etc.) and how horrible they are for being insolent enough not to think, act and talk in ways unlike all the folks they call “normal Americans” (aka Flyover Country, the Deep South, the Bible Belt, etc.). The cold fact is that Justice Scalia is, himself, a bona fide card-carrying member of the country’s “elite:” He’s university-educated; a professional, no less (i.e. a lawyer and judge); and he’s one of just 9 people who comprise one of the most powerful bodies in the US. Scalia is one of the last people who ought ever to accuse anyone else of being out of touch with America!

After these little tidbits of illogic and irrationality, Scalia swerves back to the old argumentum ad populum, citing the beliefs of “most of mankind” and of people “more intelligent than” himself or his interviewer, as evidence of Satan’s existence as “a real person.” Unfortunately, as I’ve already explained, this is fallacious. What’s more, for Scalia to repeat a fallacy, in the (obvious) hope it will reinforce what he’s saying, is itself a fallacy, called argumentum ad nauseam, or argument by repetition. Saying something that’s not true more than once, can never make it suddenly, magically become true. Nonetheless, fierce religionists like Scalia love to think the universe works that way. They repeat tired old canards like, “Evolution is ‘just’ a theory,” and “It takes more faith to be an atheist than a believer,” and so on. They truly think that repeating these things without cessation will make them so. But it can never work, any more than saying “2 + 2 = 5″ endlessly can never make that equation mathematically valid. It just can’t.

Once again, Justice Scalia has provided me with evidence that anyone, at any time, can engage in fallacious thinking, and probably not even be aware of it. It’s something we must all be on guard against, at all times.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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And the Lord said, 'Duck your head!' / 'Prophet' Cindy Jacobs / from RWW videoThe Supreme Court’s decision declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional is a few weeks old. Even so, lots of Christianists continue to rage and fume about it. I’ve already blogged about some of their reactions, but they keep pitching fits. The latest example of this, as reported by Right Wing Watch, is a “prophet” who uses disaster theology to call catastrophe down onto the country (WebCite cached article):

Self-proclaimed prophet Cindy Jacobs delivered an ominous warning to America while speaking with fellow televangelist Jim Bakker, describing a message she received from God that the country will face divine punishment over the Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage equality. “Recently in the United States we’ve had these Supreme Court decisions that are against biblical marriage, and the Lord said to me, ‘duck your head, duck your head.’ I said, ‘oh God, duck my head?’”

RWW provides video of her idiotic blather via Youtube:

Sounds like a nightmarish prediction, doesn’t it? But believers like the Prophet Ms Jacobs need not worry. Just as he did prior to the Exodus, the Almighty plans to “mark” all his faithful so his divine wrath won’t wipe them out:

Jacobs asserted that God plans to “put a mark upon” believers — “as long as you’re tithing” — and bless them because “there’s a whole lot of shaking getting ready to happen.”

(Gee, I love how being a believer is all about “the tithing.”)

The Prophet Ms Jacobs claims she’d predicted Hurricane Sandy as a sign of the Almighty’s fury, hence, she insists she’ll be right this time, too.

Well, she will be! I have no doubt a hurricane will hit somewhere in the US this year. I also have no doubt there will be wildfires in the coming months. There might even be an earthquake. Or a bombing. Or a school shooting. Terrible events absolutely will happen.

And you know how I know this? Because … quite obviously! … they just naturally happen! I’m sure the Prophet Ms Jacobs knows this just as well as I do. Which is why she makes pronouncements like this … it gives her the (false) appearance of being an accurate “prophet” foretelling future events!

Photo credit: PsiCop original, based on still from RWW video via Youtube.

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Cry BabyIn my last post I listed some catalogs of the juvenile whining of the Religious Right over the Supreme Court decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. As one would expect, they haven’t stopped pitching fits over it. Their crybaby antics took a new turn when, as WHYY-TV in Philadelphia reports, an openly-gay representative House was forbidden to speak on the Pennsylvania House floor about the decision (WebCite cached article):

Openly gay Pa. Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, was blocked from talking about the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday on the floor of the Pennsylvania House.

His comments to his colleagues were ended by a procedural maneuver.

In a part of the house session where members can speak on wide-ranging topics, Sims had just begun his remarks when he was shut down.…

It takes just one legislator to end the impromptu remarks. Rep. Daryl Metcalfe was one of the House Republicans who objected.

“I did not believe that as a member of that body that I should allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God’s law,” said Metcalfe, R-Butler.

Efforts to uncover the names of other legislators who objected to Sims speaking were rebuffed by the House Speaker.

So there you have it, folks. Gay rights can’t be mentioned on the floor of the Pennsylvania House, because it’s against “God’s law” to do so.

Keep it up, guys. Please. I’m begging you. Keep it up. Keep showing your true colors to the world. Keep proving how childish you really are. Keep carrying on like spoiled little children who’ve lost their favorite toy. Keep up the sanctimonious raging and the immature bellyaching.

You couldn’t possibly do a better job of demonstrating what’s wrong with fierce, unthinking religionism, than I could. And I thank you for it! Honestly, I do.

Hat tip: Talking Points Memo.

Photo credit: Chalky Lives, via Flickr.

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Portrait of crying baby girlBy now you already know about the US Supreme Court having declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. You also know the Religious Right is going out of its collective mind over it. Their sanctimonious rage is predictable and entertaining.

In light of this decision, I’ll crib a little from one of my first posts on this blog, addressing some of their misconceptions and lies about marriage:

The R.R. rages and fumes about “Biblical marriage” being solely between one man and one woman, but because they don’t read their own Bibles, they have no fucking clue that this just isn’t the case. The Bible actually presents several different forms of marriage. These forms include polygamy and even concubinage:

These are not the only Biblical figures whose God-approved marriages were decidedly not of the “one man, one woman” variety.

Lest one think polygamy was solely an Old Testament-era phenomenon, the author of 1 Timothy makes a point of declaring that deacons and bishops had to be men married to only one woman (1 Tim 3:2, 12). That this had to be specified, indicates that polygamy wasn’t unheard of in the Greco-Roman world, nor even among Christians. And note, the injunction was only against polygamous men becoming deacons or bishops. They could be, and some of them presumably did, otherwise remain Christians in good standing within their churches.

The “marriage is for procreation only!” claim is belied by the fact that there’s nothing that forces heterosexual couples to have children if they choose not to, nor any way to prevent an infertile heterosexual couple from marrying, if they want to.

The idea that letting gays marry will lead to people marrying their pets, is bullshit of the highest order. A marriage is a contract. Animals can’t enter into contracts. Hence, people can’t “marry” animals. It’s legally impossible.

I particularly love the hypocritical whining and bellyaching over the supposed loss of “religious freedom” for people and churches whose dogma teaches that gays and lesbians are second-class citizens who must be marginalized and ostracized — without acknowledging there are also religions that welcome gays and lesbians and which wish to treat them equally … including marrying them. According to the R.R., it’s OK to deprive those churches of their “religious freedom” to marry gays. Only they — that is, members of gay-hating churches — should have “religious freedom.”

I could continue addressing the R.R.’s claims about marriage, but it would be pointless. They aren’t interested in facts. They’re only interested in being angry about DOMA being invalidated and in venting their pointless, juvenile rage about it. The following Web pages provide useful catalogs of their collective insanity over this:

Keep stamping and fuming, little crybabies. Keep yelling and screaming that you’re not going to stand for it any more. Keep carrying on as though the world just ended when you know damn well it didn’t. Honestly, I find your outrage funny. And the best part is: Your anger over gay marriage no longer matters one iota. You aren’t going to be able to unravel the Supreme Court’s action — your only option is a Constitutional amendment, which everyone knows will never be enacted. So, boo fucking hoo hoo, little babies! Holler and rage all you like over it; I’m laughing at all of you.

Photo credit: Fiery-Phoenix, via Flickr.

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God hates Westboro Baptists (they're fags!)By now you’ve probably heard that the US Supreme Court has decided that the Westboro Baptist Church … which is, essentially, just the family of ordained Baptist preacher Fred Phelps … can protest at military funerals. CNN reported on this decision in Snyder v. Phelps (WebCite cached article):

A Kansas church that attracted nationwide attention for its angry, anti-gay protests at the funerals of U.S. military members has won its appeal at the Supreme Court, an issue testing the competing constitutional rights of free speech and privacy.

The justices, by an 8-1 vote, said Wednesday that members of Westboro Baptist Church had a right to promote what they call a broad-based message on public matters such as wars. The father of a fallen Marine had sued the small church, saying those protests amounted to targeted harassment and an intentional infliction of emotional distress.

While I’m not in favor of hyperreligious lunatics broadcasting hatred wherever they can, I can’t disagree that the Phelps clan has the right to say what it wants to, in a public place.

The real issue here … which is (conveniently) being dodged by a lot of folks, is: What is it about religion that gives sanctuary to hateful people like the Phelpses, so that they can justify their horrific “message”?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is just about the Phelpses. Religiously-inspired bigotry and hate is nothing new. Through most of its history, Christianity has worked to foster a certain amount of anti-Semitism; even now, hatred of Jews still exists among Christians, and is even more pronounced in the Islamic world. White supremacy also has a Christian orientation.

I understand most Christians are not hateful pricks like Fred Phelps, Hutton Gibson, and Wesley Swift, to name just a few. I get that. The problem is, if Christianity means something … and if that meaning is both plain and not the hateful one that people like the Westboro Baptists claim … then it should not be possible for anyone to use Christianity as a “safe harbor” to justify their hatred. That Christianity — or any other religion — can be used as a rationale for hatred, is not to its credit.

It means its message is — by definition — less than clear, and easily muddled by external considerations. It means that religion can be twisted into something it had never been intended to be, and say things it had never been intended to say. It means that, in the name of doing good, people of that religion can — ironically — promote a lot of evil.

If there are any Christians out there who truly think their religion has a definite meaning which is not what the disgusting Phelps clan trumpets all over the place, I must ask you: What are you doing about them? How, exactly, do you plan to prevent them from absconding with your religion? If you aren’t willing to do anything, then how is any objective, outside observer of Christianity supposed to know that Christianity’s message is not what the Phelpses say it is?

Think about the message you send to others, about your own religion, in your dealings with Fred Phelps and his clan.

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Christian and Gay Equals OKIn a change from its usual dutiful, obedient, lock-step march behind the vast hosts of the Religious Right, the US Supreme Court dealt a blow to a Christian group at a law school in California. The AP via Google News reports on this decision (WebCite cached article):

An ideologically split Supreme Court ruled Monday that a law school can legally deny recognition to a Christian student group that won’t let gays join, with one justice saying that the First Amendment does not require a public university to validate or support the group’s “discriminatory practices.”

The court turned away an appeal from the Christian Legal Society, which sued to get funding and recognition from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law. The CLS requires that voting members sign a statement of faith and regards “unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle” as being inconsistent with that faith.

But Hastings, which is in San Francisco, said no recognized campus groups may exclude people due to religious belief or sexual orientation.

Isn’t it amazing that fundamentalist Christians believe themselves to be above the rules everyone else must obey? They get to do whatever they want, ’cause of Jesus … I guess. This group thought they could have it both ways … they could gain recognition by the school — and the funding that goes along with it — without actually having to abide by the rules required of recognized groups.

(I’m not sure that aspiring lawyers ought to be looking for ways to excuse themselves from having to obey rules … I mean, that kind of runs counter to the entire field of law … but hey, I’m just a cold-hearted, cynical, skeptical, God-hating agnostic heathen, so what do I know?)

The Court’s theocrat-in-chief made just the sort of doomsday prediction one would expect from any mindless religiofascist:

Justice Samuel Alito wrote a strong dissent for the court’s conservatives, saying the opinion was “a serious setback for freedom of expression in this country.”

What Alito doesn’t get is that a lack of school recognition doesn’t prevent the members of the Christian Legal Society from believing in whatever reprehensible notions they feel like … all it means is they can’t get any funding from the school. And isn’t that what this was all about … extracting money from the Hastings College of the Law? I wonder what Jesus would say about the Christian Legal Society’s obvious greed.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk.

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Salvation CrossThe Mojave Cross, which I blogged about just a short time ago, which the US Supreme Court ruled must remain on federal land — because if it’s taken down or moved to private land, all fallen veterans will instantly be forgotten* — has been stolen! Here’s the report from CNN (WebCite cached article):

A war memorial shaped like a cross that has been at the center of a Supreme Court fight has been torn down by vandals from its remote perch in a California desert.

The 6-foot-tall metal structure was removed Sunday night from Sunrise Rock in a lonely stretch of the Mojave National Preserve, said government officials and veterans groups that have been fighting for years to keep the cross on national park land.

The National Park Service said it is investigating the incident; no arrests had been made as of Tuesday morning.

The only thing I can say about this is: Put it back!!!

Sure, I get that a religious-activist Supreme Court thinks all Americans must bow and scrape before a massive cross in the desert. I get that their attempt at creating a theocracy is not appropriate. I get all that.

But that cross does not belong to whoever stole it, and theft is not an appropriate response, not even to governmental proselytizing for Christianity.

So, whoever stole it … put it back and turn yourselves in. Take whatever punishment is coming to you, and have done with it.

* No, I still haven’t figured out the mechanism by which this is supposed to happen. I’ll let you know, just as soon as someone delusional enough to understand this kind of reasoning, figures it out for me.

Photo credit: watch4u.

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