Judge ‘Dredd’ Mac

Montgomery County, TX Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack is opening his courtroom sessions by first reading from the Bible, followed by a prayer. He thinks there is nothing wrong with this because he starts the religious part of his public service with the following remark:

We are going to say a prayer. If any of you are offended by that you can leave into the hallway and your case will not be affected.

Naturally, this has brought him a complaint from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which requested he stop this practice.

Mac replied that he will respond to their demand at his October 23 prayer breakfast. He added that

I am not seeking the potential controversy, as I will have to respond to these groups as well. We are on strong moral and legal ground.

Well, you wouldn’t state that you are on strong legal grounds if you weren’t seeking controversy, now, would you? Can we please have a little bit more honesty, Justice?

Mac added that

I want to make a statement to show […] that not only is it acceptable to our community, but […] that God has a place in all aspects of our lives and public service.

First of all, we need to recall that in Texas, anyone, regardless of their fitness for that purpose, can be elected Justice of the Peace. This could explain why Mac seemingly doesn’t know what the foundation of the law he presides over has to say about this: the Constitution strictly forbids state-sponsored religious public service, the Establishment Clause states that government may not in any way promote, advance or otherwise endorse religion.

It does not bode well for his past rulings that his knowledge of law is so tenuous that he gets even the essentials wrong.

Once thing is for certain, though: his assertion that people may leave his court room and that this would not affect their case is blatantly, provably wrong. After all, he openly stated that he holds the moral high ground, that performing a religious ceremony is a morally superior thing. Anyone who expresses their dissent by leaving would in his eyes be morally corrupt. In a justice for peace ruling that usually means you have lost your case. What Mac is doing is that he sets up a religious Litmus test before beginning his ruling; his decisions can therefore be seen as religious law. Do we really need Christian Sharia courts? I think not.

I really hate to have to quote to these zealots from their magic book: During the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus flat out commands that you should not pray ostentatiously but only demurely in your own inner chamber (Matthew 6:5-7). OK – I admit: I love to do that.

Why is it always that religious dimwits like Mac know less of their own scripture than your average atheist?


In Rotherham more than 1400 children were systematically raped. The authorities knew about this, but did not step in. The reason? Because the perpetrators were all of Pakistani origin, and because all were Muslims, the people in charge preferred to look away, lest they be called ‘racist’. Politically correctness run amok.

Yesterday, Nazir Afzal, the Crown Prosecution Service’s lead on child sexual abuse and violence against women and girls, tried to politically correct the situation. It is an ill-advised attempt at saving something that shouldn’t be saved.

So I know that the vast majority of [sex] offenders are British white male

That’s not the point. In this case they weren’t. It is exactly this attempt at relativism that has angered the public. The children don’t really care if they have fallen prey to a statistical anomaly – they still were raped. The ethnicity and religion of the perpetrators is not in dispute. What has caused the anger was that the perpetrators were untouchable for exactly that reason. But the real scandal wasn’t their ethnicity, it was that the authorities ignored the girls.

A few weeks after the Rochdale case, we dealt with a case of 10 white men in North Yorkshire who had been abusing young girls, and they were all convicted and they got long sentences. It didn’t get the level of coverage

And neither got as much attention as Jimmy Savile who abused hundreds of children. It’s not the media’s job to attribute attention justly. It’s the authorities’ job.

He argues that evidence suggests that victims were not targeted because they were white but because they were vulnerable and their vulnerability caused them to seek out “warmth, love, transport, mind-numbing substances, drugs, alcohol and food”.

Except that the girls were all white, and did not represent the demographical average. Why argue against facts?

Afzal was disturbed at the way that some responded by muddling the actions of those prosecuted with their religious backgrounds. […] Someone called the Radio 4 Any Answers programme. “He said the Qu’ran supports paedophilia. I’m not paraphrasing, that is what he said. He wasn’t cut off”

That is probably because the Qu’ran does support paedophilia: As the Hadith narrates, Aisha was married to Mohammed at age 6, raped (Mohammed ‘consummated’ the marriage) at age 10 (Sahih al-Bukhari, 7:62:64). Again, this is not in dispute. Why argue the facts?

if there are lessons to be learned from the Rotherham tragedy, they are less to do with the dangers of political correctness, and more with the need for a radical shift in the way that victims of this kind of crime are treated.

This is a surprising conclusion, given the fact that the problem stemmed entirely from too much politically correctness – the authorities didn’t act because they were afraid that they would be called racist.

Nazir’s attempt at downplaying this is entirely misguided. At issue isn’t as much the suspicion that ‘Religion’ (Islam) and ‘Asian’ (Pakistani) origins are the cause for the rapes. The issue is with the authorities who did not help the children because they feared for their own reputation. The whole Guardian interview is a textbook example of what went wrong: diversions, misattribution and red herrings are everywhere, and to blame is no-one but the nebulous community. A pity, since Nazir seems to be a decent chap who actually wants to help. But the first step is to acknowledge that this issue is much simpler than people make it out: Islamists are very quick to use the words ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘Racist’, which has become an effective weapon because politically correct people fear being labelled that.

This will only improve once we understand that ‘Islamophobia’ is a BS term, and that religion is not a race.

And, perhaps, that it’s always a good idea to stop rapists.

Christian Rights

A few days ago, I stupidly wrote in Militant Stupidity that

Most importantly, though, there are no longer religious rights – i.e. special rights attained only through adherence to a particular religion – in the UK.

And boy, was I wrong. Not in that it shouldn’t be that way, but wrong because I failed to see that obviously, in the UK, as in most other european countries, this unfortunately is not true.

In the UK there actually are some religious rights. For the sake of clarity, with religious rights I mean special rights that you can only claim when you say that you have a certain religious belief. In addition to the fact that it breaks the ‘one law for all’ principle, religious laws have another peculiar property: There is no actual way to prove that you are a believer – you can fake belief as easily as a religion can fake their god. There is no way to prove a negative. This alone should be grounds to immediately deep-six those paragraphs, but I digress.

Anyway, there are two important religious laws in the UK that apply only to self-proclaimed religious people, and they are:

  • you must be a Christian (rather: Church of England-brand Christian) or you cannot become King/Queen of England. Since you must also have a direct blood line to the throne, few people will ever come in conflict with this silly law.
  • Members of the Roman Catholic Christian Belief, and more to point, their Organization, are exempt from a lot of important laws: The non-discrimination acts against women, gays, and people of certain marital status.

Therefore, being a Christian in the UK does indeed engender special privileges; some privileges even allow you to act in ways that would immediately land you in hot water if you weren’t religious – without adding any new responsibilities. How nice is that!

So yes, the UK does have religious rights. How silly of me to have gotten this wrong. Seeing how the US have just screwed their women over the same issue, my oversight is doubly embarrassing.

For the record, I should have said:

Most importantly, though, there should never be religious rights – special rights that apply only to people who claim to adhere to a particular religion – in the UK.

Sorry about that.

SCOTUS schmotus

The issue is simple, they solution obvious. Then religion enters the playing field, and old men make a silly choice. As a result women are placed at a disadvantage.

That about sums up what just happened at SCOTUS – the Supreme Court of the United States.

The issue: should a privately held company be forced to comply with the law, even if it conflicts with the religious beliefs of their owners?

Obviously, this is a non-issue: When your religious beliefs conflict with the law, you better abide by law, or place yourself in harm’s way. In the civilized world, Law trumps Religion, right?

Well, not so fast. SCOTUS has actually managed to shoot itself in the foot on a very, very simple, clear-cut case.

The Affordable Care Act in the US states that companies must provide contraception coverage in their insurance packages. As it should be common knowledge, ‘contraceptives’ prevent pregnancies from happening, they do not terminate them. Contraceptives include IUD (‘Coil’ or ‘Spiral’) and ECP (‘morning after pill’).

An evangelical Christian-owned company in the US now refuses to cover for IUD and ECP. On the grounds that their religious beliefs prohibits this kind of contraception, they sued the US administration. Today SCOTUS ruled in favor of the company.

There are a number of remarkable items here:

  • A company is a juridical person and, along with some other traits like skin color or sex, can’t have a religion. So even if the owners all adhere to the same religion, this is not true for their company. SCOTUS, it seems, has now ruled against a very simple principle – a ruling that leads to head-scratching and raised eyebrows around the world. How can you screw up something that simple?
  • The complaint against the administration falsely claims that using IUD and ECP are abortions. This is factually untrue. That supreme judges can’t get something right that most female European teen-agers know may have something to do with the composition of the panel; it is definitely not a testament to their knowledge or level of preparedness to rule on such an important issue

SOTUS’ ruling is disquieting because it opens the door to religious discrimination against employees. Here it allows the company’s owners to withhold rights to their employees based on religious beliefs. That is a bad precedent. Even worse, the US uses case law – which is based on precedents. This ruling thus has far greater reach than a boneheaded decision like this would have in a country built on code law.

So women in the US again get to be told by religious people what they may, or may not do.

God bless America – her judges surely don’t.

Human vs. Religious Rights

Should human rights always outweigh religious rights?

This is the title of a recent debate produced by the BBC that aired as part of ‘The Big Question’ last sunday, January 12, 2014.

I was stunned that the question had to be asked at all, and it’s a sign for rational thinkers that there is lot to be done. For one, religious rights do not, or should not, exist. Modern rights have nothing to with religion, and everything to do with justice. But let’s assume they do. Obviously, the underlying question is really

‘if human rights and religious rights are at odds, which one should take precedence’?

If the two agree, there is nothing to discuss.

Voice for Justice UK“, is a christian belief organization that focuses on maintaining “the original Articles of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights”. Yes, you’re right – that’s a deceptively benign name for an organization whose main purpose is to fight certain human rights like freedom of sexuality or children’s rights (these were ratified after 1948). But anyway, VFJUK sent Lynda Rose to act as Voice in the debate. In a comment posted before the broadcast, she wrote:

But now, apparently, the newly claimed sexual rights of a minority are being prioritised over all other traditional rights, to the extent that ‘religious’ rights are now being assigned a separate, and seemingly subsidiary, category

First of all, it doesn’t matter if rights are new or old – they are only ‘new’ in a sense that they have been written down recently. They should have been universal from day one. Like the laws of Physics, they existed before their discovery. Unlike natural laws, they can be broken. But the human right to live didn’t just exist since 1948 – it existed before; it merely wasn’t enforced. What’s more, all rights apply to everyone, not just some minority. It’s impossible for Lynda to not know that. Claiming that a minority has ‘special rights’ is skirting dangerously close to fear mongering.

I should also point out that ‘Traditional Rights’ in the context of her comment include rights that have been discarded, like the right to own slaves, or the right to discipline your wife if she disobeys. Just because traditionally some people had them does not mean that they were well-conceived. ‘Traditional’ does not trump ‘just’, Lynda, and it troubles me greatly that I must point this out.

Not surprisingly, the ‘newly claimed’ rights that Lynda rails against are the rights of homosexuals to not being discriminated against. It really puzzles me when someone calls the human right not to be discriminated against ‘new’. It’s not new, it has been the right of every human from the dawn of time. It’s only been recognized in 1948, and somewhat later been amended to extend to sexual discrimination. Homosexuals don’t have more rights than anyone else; they have exactly the same rights, and the amendment was necessary because the civilized world recognized that some were being withheld from them.

More disappointingly, though, Lynda seemingly argues that there are universally acceptable ‘religious rights’. This is emphasized by her introduction:

what really astonished me was the easy assumption that human and ‘religious’ rights are different.

They are not.

Yes they are! There is no such thing as a ‘religious right’ – there are merely privileges that many believers feel they are entitled to – and they react violently when they are denied. There simply are no religious rights – which shows the extend of irrationality that this debate is based upon. Rights based on religion or divinity are thankfully a part of our dark past. Today’s laws are mostly built upon humanism. The right of religious freedom is not a religious right. It allows you to do to yourself, and only to yourself, whatever religious thing you want. It includes the freedom to not being religious, and therefore cannot be called a religious right. It’s called a ‘human’ right for a reason.

Most disappointingly of all, though, Lynda closes her comment with this:

On the programme I was reviled for saying we are approaching a time in this country when we may well see active persecution against Christians. I am forced to admit I was wrong – it has already begun.

It’s incredibly selfish and revealing at the same time that Rose tries to make victims out of perpetrators. New legislation was formed to stem the tide of injustice committed by believers. These people seem to think that since it is their ‘tradition’ to mistreat some people it should be kept as a ‘traditional right’. They assert that the new legislation ‘persecutes’ them. Christians in the UK don’t know what persecution is. All they are experiencing here is that some of their self-asserted privileges are being curtailed in the interest of a more ethical community. That’s not persecution. That’s merely called ‘justice’.

There are human rights, which are universal and unalienable. There are no religious rights, only religious privileges.

So, should fundamental human rights always outweigh religious privileges?

Hell yes.