Thursday, February 3, 2011

Precedence for the new health care law

Sigh. Another United Methodist Church trial over a lesbian pastor. This one will be held in April in Appleton, Wisconsin. The committee that investigated the pastor and forwarded the bill of charges noted a conflict between the denomination's Social Principles and the Book of Discipline (church law). The law says a practicing homosexual cannot be a pastor. The Social Principles say to treat all pastors equally. The church law is unjust.

Tea Party types complaining about socialized medicine and the government requiring citizens to buy insurance? Too late. It's been done. Back in 1798. By the Founding Fathers, no less. The act authorized the creation of government run hospitals at all the major ports. Sailors of private ships had to pay a tax (of 1%) to the ship's owner. The ship could not enter or leave port until the owner paid the government. If the sailor needed medical attention the government would verify he had paid the tax, then give him a voucher for treatment at one of the hospitals.

Swimmer magazine published an article about a gay athlete. A reader sent a letter objecting to the promotion of a deviant lifestyle. The magazine published it along with several others praising them for the article. Many readers objected to the offensive letter, noting that such a letter about blacks wouldn't get published. The magazine apologized, saying "we should have used better judgment."

Ari Ezra Waldman, constitutional scholar, poses this question: What role should the law play here?

The answer: None. As the First Amendment requires.

The law is incapable of definitively deciding what letters are offensive. Market forces are adequate in resolving the situation -- either the magazine wants to stay in business and will avoid such letters in the future, or it will expand its editorial policies to adequately debate the issue, or it will redefine its business plan to cater to such discriminatory viewpoints.

Matt Osborne of the blog Crooks and Liars wrote (several weeks ago) after the Arizona shooting that he sees hope ahead. Last May he began to see progressive action to counter the Tea Party. Progressives are stepping up their own protests, this time against real concerns (like BP, general environmental damage, and war) with signs spelled correctly. Even better, these protests have featured civil disobedience and actual arrests. It appears the tide has turned.

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