Quotulatiousness

July 31, 2014

We’ve been reading it all wrong, it appears

Filed under: Humour, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:28

Tim Worstall posted this, saying it “seems legit”:

Leviticus suddenly makes more sense

June 29, 2014

Gay journalist decries same-sex marriage

Filed under: Law, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:19

Okay, I over-state in the headline (does that make it “clickbait”?). But in the Guardian, Hugh Ryan recognizes that the fight for same sex marriage has not gone quite the way many activists thought it would:

We didn’t queer the institution of marriage. It straightened us

Wisconsin. Indiana. Utah. Hardly a week goes by that the courts don’t rule same-sex marriage street legal in another state in America (the last twenty-two consecutive cases have all come down on the side of marriage equality), making what once seemed impossible now seems unstoppable. Wedding white is the new black — and all the gays are wearing it.

So on this anniversary weekend of the Stonewall Riots, let me be the shrill voice in the back of the church, speaking now instead of forever holding my peace. I think we’re losing something. I have no desire to turn back the clock on marriage equality: it provides both real and symbolic benefits to queer communities, families and our country as a whole. But I cannot ignore the coercive (and corrosive) power that marriage holds. In this country, it is not just an option: it is the option. It is the relationship against which all others are defined, both an institution and an expectation — and you cannot have one without the other.

Before marriage was an option of first resort, queer people had been making our own ceremonies and families for (at least) a century. This will never stop, but the new expectations of marriage will curtail this kind of life-building (just ask any single straight woman over thirty how people treat her relationship choices). We will have to justify our reasons for not marrying, and any relationship that survives past a certain sell-by date will be looked at as pre-marriage.

[...]

Somewhere along the line, the gay rights movement — and maybe the gay community writ large — separated its short-term goals and some people’s immediate needs from the larger ideals of justice and societal change that initially stirred our community to action. This diminution happened by degrees, making it almost impossible to locate the moment when we could have turned around. But I suspect we will one day look back on the contentious 1999 Millennium March on Washington as the point of no return.

Maybe the same-sex marriage wave will begin a broader reconsideration of why our government is in the business of giving benefits to sexual relationships at all — gay or straight. Perhaps we will some day expand these privileges, for which we have fought so hard, to any group of people in a long-lasting relationship of care that keeps them safe, happy, and less dependent on government services — the way France tried (and largely failed) to do with their pacte civil de solidarité. Maybe we can queer the institution.

Freedom of (certain kinds of) political speech

Filed under: Law, Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:04

Mark Steyn explains why it’s not a trivial thing to allow the Internal Revenue Service to operate as the financial wing of a political party:

… we’ve had a steady stream of emails from readers explaining that this is all well and good but it’s taxable income and what I really need to do is set up a 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 or 501(c)87 or some such as a vehicle for this campaign.

To which the answer is: well, we certainly considered the possibility, and a few years ago I might have entertained the notion. But not anymore. The National Organization for Marriage, which was founded to protect the pre-revisionist definition of marriage, is, in its various arms, both a 501(c)3 and a 501(c)4. As such, its tax returns are publicly available, but not its donor lists. Nevertheless, it is obliged to report its donors on Schedule B to the Internal Revenue Service. Someone at the IRS leaked the donor lists to a man called Matthew Meisel, a gay activist in Boston. Meisel in turn passed it on to the gay group Human Rights Campaign (whose president was a national co-chair of the Obama re-election campaign), and HRC in turn published the list of donors, which was subsequently re-published by The Huffington Post.

There’s no secret about why they’d do such a thing. As we know, if you disagree with progressive orthodoxy, you have no right to host a cable-TV home-decor show or give a commencement address at an American university or be a beauty-queen contestant. But that’s not enough for these groups. If you’re not a public figure, if you’re just a Californian who puts up a yard sign or a bumper sticker on Proposition Eight, your car will be keyed and your house defaced. And likewise, if you slip a check in the mail for a modest sum, it is necessary that you also be made an example of. Brandon Eich, Richard Raddon and Scott Eckern all lost prominent positions as chief executives because of their donations. But Marjorie Christoffersen, a 67-year-old Mormon who works in the El Coyote restaurant in Los Angeles, was forced to quit because she wrote a $100 check in support of Proposition Eight.

So, when it comes to the leaking of donor lists, we’re not dealing with anything “theoretically” or “potentially” “troubling”. These guys act on this information, and act hard, and they are willing to destroy your life for a hundred bucks.

This is nothing to do with whether you support or oppose same-sex marriage. This is about whether you support free speech, public advocacy, private advocacy and ultimately — one day soon — the sanctity of the ballot box, and whether you oppose a culture of partisan thuggery.

So how did leaking the National Organization for Marriage donor lists work out for the IRS? Well, after a two-year legal battle, the Government of the United States admitted wrongdoing and agreed to settle. For $50,000.

After two years in the toilet of American “justice”, I can tell you that 50 grand barely covers your tips to the courthouse washroom attendant. It’s nothing. The IRS budget is over $11 billion, so you figure out how many organizations’ donor lists they can leak for 50K a pop while still keeping it under “Miscellaneous” in the annual breakdown. $50,000 isn’t even a slap on the wrist — and this notwithstanding that the IRS, as it has in the Lois Lerner case, obstructed and lied, almost laughably: For example, they claimed that the leak was an inadvertent error by a low-level clerk called Wendy Peters in March 2011. But in February 2011 Mr Meisel, the gay activist, was already letting it be known that he had a source who could get him the info.

As in the Lerner case, the inconsistencies and obfuscations were irrelevant. Like Ms Lerner, Mr Meisel took the Fifth. The NOM asked the Department of Justice to grant Meisel immunity so that he could be persuaded to disclose what really happened. But Eric Holder’s corrupt Justice Department had already decided it wasn’t going to investigate the matter so it had no reason to grant Meisel immunity. The Fifth Amendment, a constitutional safeguard to protect the citizen against the state in potentially criminal matters, is being creatively transformed to protect the state against the citizens in matters for which a corrupt and selective Justice Department will never bring criminal prosecution.

So, when it comes to leaking confidential taxpayer information for partisan advantage, the IRS got away with it.

April 4, 2014

“Why do these bigots still have jobs? Let’s go get them”

Filed under: Business, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:45

In Slate, Will Saletan digs through the data to find the next set of targets:

Some of my colleagues are celebrating. They call Eich a bigot who got what he deserved. I agree. But let’s not stop here. If we’re serious about enforcing the new standard, thousands of other employees who donated to the same anti-gay ballot measure must be punished.

More than 35,000 people gave money to the campaign for Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that declared, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” You can download the entire list, via the Los Angeles Times, as a compressed spreadsheet. (Click the link that says, “Download CSV.”) Each row lists the donor’s employer. If you organize the data by company, you can add up the total number of donors and dollars that came from people associated with that company.

The first thing you’ll notice, if you search for Eich, is that he’s the only Mozilla employee who gave to the campaign for Prop 8. His $1,000 was more than canceled out by three Mozilla employees who donated to the other side.

The next thing you’ll notice is that other companies, including other tech firms, substantially outscored Mozilla in pro-Prop 8 contributions attributed to their employees. That includes Adobe, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and Yahoo, as well as Disney, DreamWorks, Gap, and Warner Bros.

Thirty-seven companies in the database are linked to more than 1,300 employees who gave nearly $1 million in combined contributions to the campaign for Prop 8. Twenty-five tech companies are linked to 435 employees who gave more than $300,000. Many of these employees gave $1,000 apiece, if not more. Some, like Eich, are probably senior executives.

Why do these bigots still have jobs? Let’s go get them.

Welcome to the church of SSM militant

Filed under: Law, Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:20

A National Review editorial on the Mozilla CEO’s short tenure after being outed as a supporter of a Californian anti-SSM ballot initiative:

In 2008, Barack Obama and Brendan Eich both were against gay marriage. Senator Obama averred his support for the one-man/one-woman view of marriage, while Mr. Eich, a cofounder of the Mozilla web-browser company, donated $1,000 to support Proposition 8 — a California ballot initiative that had the effect of making Senator Obama’s avowed marriage policy the law in California, at least until a federal court overturned it on the theory that California’s constitution is unconstitutional. Barack Obama inexplicably remains, as of this writing, president of the United States of America, but Mr. Eich has just been forced out as CEO of Mozilla because of his political views.

The various tendencies that operate under the general heading of “gay rights” have had an extraordinary run of it in the past several years, in both the political and the cultural theaters. We now have a constitutional right to commit homosexual acts (Lawrence v. Texas), while Facebook offers at last count 56 different gender options to its users (trans with or without asterisk, genderqueer, neutrois, and two-spirit among them). Having won the battle in California, the sore winners are roaming the battlefield with bayonets and taking no prisoners. Mr. Eich’s donation had been a matter of public record for some years, but Eros is a jealous god, and he will have blood from time to time. Mr. Eich’s elevation to the chief executive’s position provided occasion for critics within his firm and without to make an example of him.

[...]

Again, it is in this case a matter of culture. The nation’s full-time gay-rights professionals simply will not rest until a homogeneous and stultifying monoculture is settled upon the land, and if that means deploying a ridiculous lynch mob to pronounce anathema upon a California technology executive for private views acted on in his private life, then so be it. The gay agenda of the moment is, ironically enough, to force nonconformists into the metaphorical closet. If through the miracle of modern medicine you end up with five sets of mixed genitals, you’ll get your own section in the California civil-rights statutes; cling to nearly universal views about marriage for a few months after it’s become unfashionable, and you’re an untouchable.

Unless, that is, you’re the anti-gay-marriage candidate that all the pro-gay-marriage people voted for in 2008, in which case you get a pass, apparently on the theory that everybody assumed you were being willfully dishonest for political reasons. (That assumption provides a relatively rare point of agreement between homosexual activists and the editors of this magazine.) There simply is to be no disagreement, no dissent, and no tolerance for other points of view.

Update: In Time, Nick Gillespie says there’s both good and bad aspects of this event.

Welcome to the brave new world of socially conscious… web-browsing. In the past, consumers might patronize certain businesses (Whole Foods, say, or Ben & Jerry’s) whose stated missions extended beyond increasing shareholder value and avoided others that might have politically objectionable CEOs or reputations for being anti-abortion (Domino’s Pizza, say) or public positions opposed to certain forms of birth control (Hobby Lobby, for instance). Now we’re boycotting free products such as Firefox and demanding companies dance to the tune called by customers. I think that’s a good thing overall — but it may end up being just as difficult for consumers to live with as it will be for corporations.

Whether you care about gay marriage or politically correct web experiences, Eich’s resignation shows how businesses respond to market signals. “Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech,” writes Mitchell Baker, the organization’s executive chairwoman, in announcing Eich’s stepping down. “And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.”

Just as the Internet has empowered consumers to find cheaper prices, more-extensive reviews, and a wider variety of goods than ever before, it’s also made it easier for them to call out companies for all sorts of dastardly actions, screw-ups, and problems. I like that OKCupid’s intervention wasn’t a call for government action to limit people’s choices or ban something. Indeed, OKCupid didn’t even block Firefox users from its site — rather, it politely asked them to consider getting to the site via a different browser.

February 28, 2014

Baked-in prejudice and freedom of religion

Filed under: Business, Law, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:48

Jonah Goldberg assures us that he’s not against gay marriage, but that the Arizona baker’s case isn’t quite what it seems:

Speaking of unreasonableness, according to ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, if Arizona allows bakers to refuse to bake cakes for gay couples, gays may have to wear “yellow stars” like the Jews of Nazi Germany. It would be Jim Crow for gays according to, well, too many people to list.

Now lest you get the wrong impression, I am no opponent of gay marriage. I would have preferred a compromise on civil unions, but that ship sailed. The country, never mind the institution of marriage, has far bigger problems than gays settling down, filing joint tax returns, and arguing about whose turn it is to do the dishes. By my lights it’s progress that gay activists and left-wingers are celebrating the institution of marriage as essential. Though I do wish they’d say that more often about heterosexual marriage, too.

But I find the idea that government can force people to violate their conscience without a compelling reason repugnant. I agree with my friend, columnist Deroy Murdock. He thinks private businesses should be allowed to serve whomever they want. Must a gay baker make a cake for the hateful idiots of the Westboro Baptist Church? Must he write “God hates fags!” in the icing?

The ridiculous invocations of Jim Crow are utterly ahistorical, by the way. Jim Crow was state-enforced, and businesses that wanted to serve blacks could be prosecuted. Let the market work and the same social forces that have made homosexuality mainstream will make refusing service to gays a horrible business decision — particularly in the wedding industry!

February 18, 2014

The Tea Party’s vulnerabilities on abortion, gay marriage, and immigration

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, Religion, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:21

L. Neil Smith agrees with a lot of Tea Party positions, but correctly points out that their determination to drag (some) religion into politics undermines them in three key areas with non-Tea Party audiences:

As for abortion, gay marriage, and immigration, I was taught in college (and have since confirmed) that the populist Grange Movement of the nineteenth century never quite got off its knees because white farmers didn’t want to share their cause with black farmers. The Tea Parties are demonstrating exactly the same kind of suicidal short-sightedness.

In the eighteenth century, most Americans were either passionately for or against slavery. When the Framers wrote the Constitution, they came to a compromise about the issue: slaves would be counted as three fifths of a person for the purpose of representation. They have been severely castigated about this compromise for a couple of centuries, but without it, there would never have been a United States of America.

I’m saying that similar compromises are possible regarding two of the three issues I’ve mentioned, and I have a question about the third.

Abortion first: I know that one side thinks it’s murder and doesn’t seem aware that half the population — with equal passion and sincerity — considers laws against it to represent expropriation and slavery.

A few years ago, I ran an admittedly unscientific abortion survey on my personal website for three years, asking this question: “Could you be satisfied with a compromise under which abortion would remain legal, but not a single cent of tax money would ever used to pay for it?”

The result was that an overwhelming eighty-five percent responded “Yes”, leaving, I assume, a disgruntled seven and a half percent at either end of the curve, who believe that women — or at least their uteruses — belong to the State, or that abortion ought to be an entitlement. Beyond the palest ghost of a shadow of a doubt, the issue is settled, then. We just need to pound it into our “leaders’” thick skulls.

[...]

The question I have about the third issue is this: by precisely what mechanism is my marriage of thirty-odd years to my lovely and talented wife in any way damaged or diminished by letting my friends George and Fred get married, too? I’m talking about nuts and bolts, here, palpable connections. I don’t want to hear about the Bible or your religion. Under the First Amendment, that’s excluded from the conversation.

Their taxes help pay for the courthouse and the judge’s salary. They are entitled, by virtue of that payment, to exactly the same services that you and I expect. What we’re talking about here is leaving George and Fred alone to live the same dream that Cathy and I have been able to live, I can’t find it in myself to deny them that hope.

February 10, 2014

Putin’s homophobia is making the case to allow same-sex marriage

Filed under: Europe, Liberty — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:46

The Russian leader’s anti-homosexual agenda is making converts of people like Telegraph columnist Cristina Odone who had been strongly against allowing same-sex marriage:

Vladimir Putin has succeeded where Peter Tatchell failed. I loathe the Russian president and admire the gay rights campaigner, but it is Putin that has made me rethink my view of gay marriage.

I have written before about my fear that legalising gay marriage would affect the special status of marriage as a sacred institution. I have argued that once gay people could demand to be married, believers who refused to open their churches or even church halls to the ceremony would be punished. But Putin’s homophobic measures have changed my mind. If I oppose gay marriage I may be seen as condoning his anti-gay campaign. I couldn’t live with that.

Russia’s anti-gay laws and practices are odious. Last summer, the Duma passed a law to “protect children from information that can bring harm to their health and wellbeing”. The legislation can stamp out any organisation seen as pro-gay and fine it up to 1 million roubles; foreigners can be arrested for 15 days and deported from the country. (Note: circulating Nazi propaganda carries a fine of up to 2,000 roubles: Russian parliamentarians regard non-traditional relations as far more pernicious.)

The new law is easy to manipulate, allowing for example the authorities to shut down a helpline for LGBT teenagers, the Children-404 project: by providing sympathetic advice to isolated, bullied, ostracised, depressed and sometimes suicidal LGBT teenagers, the group is guilty of propaganda

January 2, 2014

Chris Kluwe burns his bridges in Minnesota … and the rest of the NFL

Filed under: Football, Liberty, Media — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 13:57

He’s been looking for work since his time in Minnesota came to an end shortly after the team drafted Jeff Locke in the 2013 draft, but hasn’t been able to catch on with a team, despite his still-respectable abilities. He has strong suspicions why this might be, and he’s probably right. Now that he’s come to terms with the end of his punting career, Chris Kluwe explains what he think happened between him and the Vikings in 2012 and pretty much guarantees he will never work in the NFL again:

During the summer of 2012, I was approached by a group called Minnesotans for Marriage Equality, which asked if I would be interested in helping defeat what was known as the Minnesota Gay Marriage Amendment. The proposed amendment would have defined marriage as “only a union of one man and one woman.” (It was voted down, and same-sex marriage is now legal in Minnesota.) I said yes, but that I would have to clear it with the team first. After talking to the Vikings legal department, I was given the go-ahead to speak on the issue as long as I made it clear I was acting as a private citizen, not as a spokesman for the Vikings, which I felt was fair and complied with. I did several radio advertisements and a dinner appearance for Minnesotans for Marriage Equality. No one from the Vikings’ legal department told me I was doing anything wrong or that I had to stop.

On Sept. 7, 2012, this website published a letter I had written to Maryland delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. chastising him for trampling the free-speech rights of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. The letter also detailed why I supported the rights of same-sex couples to get married. It quickly went viral.

On Sept. 8, the head coach of the Vikings, Leslie Frazier, called me into his office after our morning special-teams meeting. I anticipated it would be about the letter (punters aren’t generally called into the principal’s office). Once inside, Coach Frazier immediately told me that I “needed to be quiet, and stop speaking out on this stuff” (referring to my support for same-sex marriage rights). I told Coach Frazier that I felt it was the right thing to do (what with supporting equality and all), and I also told him that one of his main coaching points to us was to be “good men” and to “do the right thing.” He reiterated his fervent desire for me to cease speaking on the subject, stating that “a wise coach once told me there are two things you don’t talk about in the NFL, politics and religion.” I repeated my stance that this was the right thing to do, that equality is not something to be denied anyone, and that I would not promise to cease speaking out. At that point, Coach Frazier told me in a flat voice, “If that’s what you feel you have to do,” and the meeting ended. The atmosphere was tense as I left the room.

[...]

So there you have it. It’s my belief, based on everything that happened over the course of 2012, that I was fired by Mike Priefer, a bigot who didn’t agree with the cause I was working for, and two cowards, Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman, both of whom knew I was a good punter and would remain a good punter for the foreseeable future, as my numbers over my eight-year career had shown, but who lacked the fortitude to disagree with Mike Priefer on a touchy subject matter. (Frazier was fired on Monday, at the conclusion of a 5-10-1 season.) One of the main coaching points I’ve heard throughout my entire life is, “How you respond to difficult situations defines your character,” and I think it’s a good saying. I also think it applies to more than just the players.

If there’s one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story, it’s to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level. (According to the Pioneer Press, he is “the only in-house candidate with a chance” at the head-coaching job.) It’s inexcusable that someone would use his status as a teacher and a role model to proselytize on behalf of his own doctrine of intolerance, and I hope he never gets another opportunity to pass his example along to anyone else. I also hope that Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are the people they truly profess themselves to be.

Update, 3 January: The Vikings have hired two lawyers, one of them the former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, to investigate Kluwe’s allegations.

Eric Magnuson, the former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and Chris Madel, a former U.S. Department of Justice Trial attorney, will lead the investigation.

“It is extremely important for the Vikings organization to react immediately and comprehensively with an independent review of these allegations,” Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf said in a statement issued by the team Friday.

Magnuson and Madel are partners in the firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. Their investigation is already underway, according to the Vikings’ release.

“This is a highly sensitive matter that we as an organization will address with integrity,” Vikings vice president of legal affairs and chief administrative officer Kevin Warren said in the statement.

“Eric and Chris have stellar reputations in both the local and national legal community. They have handled numerous cases involving a wide range of issues, and we are confident they will move swiftly and fairly in completing this investigation.”

[...]

The Vikings investigation comes a little less than two months after the NFL hired attorney Ted Wells to investigate issues of workplace conduct with the Miami Dolphins, who asked the league for help after representatives for tackle Jonathan Martin turned over evidence of alleged abuse at the hands of teammate Richie Incognito.

The results of Wells’ investigation, which are to be made public, have not yet been released. Martin never returned to the team after a cafeteria prank Oct. 28. Incognito finished the season on the suspended list.

“The Vikings contacted us yesterday about the matter and have kept us fully informed,” league spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email to USA TODAY Sports. “We have no plans to conduct a separate review.”

John and Sherlock

Filed under: Britain, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:26

The first episode of Sherlock season three was aired in the UK yesterday. On this side of the pond, we won’t get to see it until later in the year, so we have to rely on media reaction to the show, and Tim Stanley wasn’t over-pleased with the producers’ efforts, calling it a “roller-coaster ride” that “leaves you confused and nauseous”:

Holmes has always been a wonder, but here he is wondrous to the point of smug and irritating. How can Watson love him? Presumably because they are such good friends and one of Sherlock‘s strong points is the genuine chemistry between Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch. But even this comes with an irritating postmodern twist. Everyone presumes they’re gay. Because of course if two men spend more than five minutes in each other’s company they’re obviously candidates for some Brokeback-style hot cowboy action in a tent.

One of the saddest things about our culture is the death of brotherhood. Watch any of the pre-Millennium Sherlocks and you’ll be in no doubt that these men would take a bullet for one another. In the excellent Murder By Decree, Christopher Plummer and James Mason’s heroes are so tender that they share a blanket on a carriage ride — Sherlock gently tucking Watson in. When Vasily Livanov’s Holmes “dies” in the Russian version of The Final Problem, Vitaly Solomin’s Watson collapses against a tree and weeps uncontrollably. But no one ever questions their sexual preference. There’s no need to. They’re just friends.

By contrast, contemporary British culture has become so pornified and sex-obsessed that the running gag in Sherlock is that everyone thinks Cumberbatch and Freeman are in a civil partnership. Don’t get me wrong — I’m sure there’s an enjoyable version of Holmes yet to be written in which they’re at it like knives. But the constant snickering that goes on in Sherlock just adds to a sense of the show’s lack of maturity. It’s knowing, clever-clever, hip, ironic, tech-obsessed, geeky, hipster and just about everything else that gets in the way of a sophisticated yarn well told. For that, you have to go back to the Jeremy Brett Sherlock, which was distinctly lacking in action but high on good prose. Most episodes were an hour of Jeremy sitting in the gloom in Baker Street complaining that he’s got nothing to do. Compulsive viewing.

December 13, 2013

Australian territory’s gay marriage law struck down by High Court

Filed under: Law, Liberty — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:01

The Australian Capital Territory attempted to make gay marriage legal within its borders despite federal law prohibiting same-sex marriages being recognized. The Australian High Court decided yesterday that the territory cannot override federal law on this issue:

The ACT legislation had allowed gay couples to marry inside the ACT, which includes the Australian capital, Canberra — regardless of which state they live in.

Federal law, however, specified in 2004 that marriage was between a man and a woman.

Civil unions are allowed in some states in Australia.

The High Court in Canberra ruled unanimously against the ACT legislation on Thursday, saying that it could not stand alongside national-level laws.

“Whether same sex marriage should be provided for by law is a matter for the federal parliament,” it said in a statement.

“The Marriage Act does not now provide for the formation or recognition of marriage between same-sex couples. The Marriage Act provides that a marriage can be solemnised in Australia only between a man and a woman,” it added.

Attorney-General George Brandis had previously warned that the local law would face a legal challenge, because it was inconsistent with the country’s Marriage Act.

December 10, 2013

Equal rights does not mean “having the power to compel others against their rights”

Filed under: Law, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:11

In the latest Libertarian Enterprise, L. Neil Smith talks about a case in Colorado where a judge has decided that the rights of a gay couple are superior to the rights of a baker who refused to create a wedding cake for them:

They picked the wrong baker — although a local radio talk show host contends that they deliberately shopped around for a baker who would react this way — a Christian who believes that homosexuality is immoral. He told them he would be happy to sell them any other bakery goods. But he refused to create a wedding cake with two guys on the top.

Keep a mental eye on that word “create”; we’ll get back to it.

To make a short story shorter, the matter (it can’t properly be called a “dispute”, since nobody has a right to dispute another person’s private convictions before the law — that’s what America is supposed to be about) was taken before this streetcorner judge, who ruled that the baker would damned well make the cake, as specificed, or suffer fines and jail. Henceforward, the bakery would be monitored to make sure that it humbly and abjectly serves the newly-privileged class.

Now here’s where the wires begin to get crossed. This publication, and its publisher, have never been particularly fond of Christianity. Without going too deeply into it, I think it has a stultifying effect on the human mind, and has been the cause of millions of unnecessary and cruel deaths over twenty centuries. I know that other folks hold otherwise, but I have never found it to be a true friend of individual liberty.

On the other hand, The Libertarian Enterprise and I have always championed gay marriage, or at least legal equality where marriage is concerned. Taking it to the most basic level, the taxes of gay people pay for the courthouse as surely as the taxes of those who are not gay.

On the third hand (as a science fiction writer, I can do that), if we live in any kind of decent culture at all — something that seems in greater doubt with every passing day — individuals have a right to their opinions, no matter how stupid they may be, to express them freely, and act on them as long as it doesn’t physically harm anybody else.

Equally, no right exists, on the part of any individual or of the government, to compel anyone to have a different opinion (although the technical means to do that are right around the corner — science fiction writer, remember?), or to express it or act on it against his will,

And here’s where that word “create” comes in.

September 25, 2013

QotD: “Liberaltarianism”

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

Oh, so anyway, another peeve of mine is the way liberals — and many libertarians — act as if there’s a lot of common cause between liberals and libertarians. The thinking seems to be that since both liberals and libertarians are for drug legalization, gay marriage, etc., that liberals can be seduced to the libertarian cause or that libertarians and liberals should forge a new “liberaltarian” political alliance to replace the old right-leaning fusionism. This was my friend Brink Lindsey’s big cause for a while, and I never bought it. It’s also something you hear from a lot of liberal college kids who want a wee bit more plausibility when they pose as rebellious.

But the truth is that what we call liberals today — a.k.a. progressives — simply aren’t libertarian even on most of their “libertarian” issues. As I’ve written before, being a “social liberal” isn’t the same thing as being a libertarian:

Your typical liberal Democrat says she’s liberal on social issues but that doesn’t make her in any meaningful way a libertarian. For instance, the vast majority of the libertarians I know hate things like speech codes, smoking bans, racial quotas, and the vast swaths of political indoctrination that pass for “education” today. They tend to oppose gun control, think fondly of homeschooling (if not always homeschoolers) and are generally split on the question of abortion. They do not, however, think that the government should be steamrolling religious institutions with Obamacare or subsidizing birth control. Liberals tend to loathe federalism or states’ rights (though there’s been some movement there), libertarians usually love the idea. The liberals who don’t like it fear that states or local communities might use their autonomy to live in ways liberals don’t approve of. Libertarians couldn’t care less.

Sure, there’s overlap between liberalism and libertarianism on things like gay marriage. But the philosophical route libertarians and liberals take to get to that support is usually very different. Libertarians are disciples of thinkers like Hayek and von Mises. Liberals descend from thinkers like John Dewey. The former believed in negative liberty, the latter positive liberty. And therein lies all of the difference. As a gross generalization, libertarianism advocates freedom to do whatever you like (short of harming others). Liberalism supports freedom to do whatever liberals like; everything else is suspect.

[...]

That’s because libertarianism is about curbing state power to let people be and do what they want. Liberalism is about using state power to make people do and be what liberals want. And that makes all the difference in the world.

Jonah Goldberg, The Goldberg File, 2013-08-23

July 16, 2013

The authoritarian wing of the same-sex marriage campaign

Filed under: Law, Liberty, Religion, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:28

A. Barton Hinkle wonders if gay couples can live and let live:

It was a great day when the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and threw out a California case that could have undermined gay marriage in the Golden State. On that day, gay and lesbian citizens won something profoundly important: acknowledgment of the right to live as they choose, without interference from others who think they know better.

Now the question is: Will gay and lesbian citizens acknowledge that everybody else has the same right? Some certainly will. But others are challenging the notion – and thereby undermining the case for their own hard-won victory.

David Mullins and Charlie Craig, for instance. The gay Colorado couple have filed a discrimination complaint against the owners of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who declined for religious reasons to make them a wedding cake. The Colorado attorney general’s office has taken their side. So, regrettably, has the ACLU.

And they have company: Similar complaints have been brought against bakeries in Oregon, Indianapolis, and Iowa; a Hawaiian bed-and-breakfast; a Vermont inn; a Washington florist; a Kentucky T-shirt company; and more. As gay marriage gains ground, cases such as these likely will flourish.

As they do, they will lend credence to the otherwise ludicrous assertion by social conservatives that there is a “homosexual agenda.” It will remain absurd to suggest gay people are trying to turn straight people gay. Changing other people’s sexual orientation has always been a conservative project, not a liberal one. But it will cease being absurd to suggest that requests for tolerance are actually demands for approval – and that those who claim to celebrate diversity actually insist upon ideological uniformity.

July 13, 2013

Same Sex Marriage in America: What Now?

Filed under: Law, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:20

The Supreme Court’s decisions on same sex marriage are just the beginning of a long process of determining what roles marriage will play in the legal environment of states and the country. Walter Olson and Ilya Shapiro detail some of the implications of the rulings.

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