Everything is impossibly complicated

Archive for July, 2014

Hobby Lobby: The Left is Wrong

I’m become more and more discouraged about the thoughtless outrage from the Left about the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.

Typical of the arguments is an article on Daily Kos, SCOTUS sold your soul to the company store in Hobby Lobby case, where the claim is made that

Hobby Lobby and various other so-called “Christian” corporations are attempting to [force] their ideals upon their employees…this is all about the corporate owners forcing their belief system onto their employees

Except it’s not.

If Hobby Lobby were to tell its employees that they were not permitted to use certain forms of contraception, that would be forcing their belief system onto their employees. That’s not what’s happening. The owners of Hobby Lobby don’t want to pay for contraceptives that they find morally repugnant, because they consider them to be abortion-causing (in that they end the life of a fertilized egg). That’s part of their religion. Forcing them to pay for those contraceptives pressures them to transgress their religious beliefs and violates their freedom of religion.

Just because the religious beliefs of Hobby Lobby’s owners have real consequences that have real effects on people (their employees) doesn’t mean Hobby Lobby is forcing their beliefs on their employees. A person who decides to drop a few of his friends because of his new religion wouldn’t be forcing his religion on them. What people (and corporations) do will always affect others, because none of us lives in a vaccuum. If we want to live in a pluralistic, diverse society, we have to be ok with dealing with some negative effects of other people’s free decisions.

Even worse is the argument offered by John Oliver, in a transcript you can read at (again) Daily Kos:

What these companies are arguing is that the sincerity of their beliefs should allow them a line item veto over federal law. But government is not an à la carte system where you can pick and choose based on your beliefs.

This is the worse argument I’ve ever heard, and it reflects an appalling lack of understanding of our legal system. Congress cannot pass just any law that it wishes. It’s restricted by our Constitution, which defines what kinds of laws Congress may pass. If Congress passes a law that violates the Constitution, then companies (or individuals) can, in fact, demand and receive a line item veto over that (illegal) federal law.

But there’s even more than that. What was at issue here wasn’t even the Constitution. What was at issue was a law passed by Congress, called the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” The “contraception mandate” that was at issue was a regulation issued by President Obama the Obama administration under the authority given to him it by Congress in the Affordable Care Act. But the president can’t just issue any regulations he wants, and in particular, he can’t issue regulations that violate laws passed by Congress. Here, the contraception mandate was found to violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law passed by Congress.

Just because you don’t like something doesn’t make it irrational. The foundation of our law, and at least one individual federal law, protects certain sincerely-held religious beliefs from being violated by the government. If you’re going to attack an idea, it’s best that you understand the full idea first. Otherwise you just sound foolish.

This article from The Atlantic is worth a read: Is Evangelical Morality Still Acceptable in America? It helped shape and clarify my ideas.

Sensitive People

You were my first love
The earth moving under me
Bedroom scent, beauty ardent
Distant shiver, heaven sent

I’m the snow on your lips
The freezing taste, the silvery sip
I’m the breath on your hair
The endless nightmare, devil’s lair

Sensitive people are under-appreciated in our society (at best). The beauty they see in life and humanity inspires us with hope for meaning, and it compels us to protect what’s valuable. But their sensitivity makes them much more aware of how things we take for granted in our laws and customs can be damaging to people, and that awareness frequently sets those sensitive people at odds with the society around them.

People tend to ignore things they find painful. This sets up filters in their brains that rejects such information before it even reaches their conscious mind. But realize what this means: such people have deliberately made themselves unable to see reality for what it is. Sensitive people, who feel pain too strongly to ignore it, can’t do this, and consequently have an automatically better understanding of what is really going on.

When someone opposes you, your inclination is always to fight back, instead of understanding why the person is opposing you. If that person is a sensitive person, however, your fighting back is going to overwhelm them and make it hard for them to explain why they’re opposing you. In your mind, they’ve become angry belligerents, and their sensitivity to beauty is lost to you. That makes it easy to write off their concerns, which results in an unfortunate loss of necessary feedback — much like cutting out your eye because you don’t like what you see.

There are some people who are belligerent because they want to take power. But others do it because they want to make things better and minimize people getting hurt. Opposing the latter group results in a harsher society for everyone.

Remember this: to his society, Jesus was a belligerent. But his desire was to help people. That doesn’t mean every sensitive person is Jesus. But failing to take sensitive people seriously contributes to the destruction of people and increased suffering in society.

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