Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mediocrity marches on

Perseverance, n. A lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success.
- Ambrose Bierce

"""Ballot measure I in the April 13th municipal elections reads, "In response to a recent complaint, with respect to the invocations that contained reference to Jesus Christ, shall the City Council continue its invocation policy in randomly selecting local clergy of different faiths to deliver the invocation without restricting the content based on their beliefs, including references to Jesus Christ?"

The complaint the measure refers to is one the ACLU of Southern California sent to city officials last August. As reported by the Times, it stated that the group had received "a number of complaints" about council members and commissioners opening their meetings with invocations given in "the name of Jesus," or containing other explicitly sectarian religious references. The ACLU called this "divisive" and "unconstitutional" and warned the city that it may face legal action if the policy continues.

As an answer, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris sponsored Ballot Measure I.

"If the vast majority of the community is in favor of this," said Mayor R. Rex Parris, "I think the court should know that."""

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Parris, an attorney, apparently missed out on the lectures on the Constitution at ACME Law School. James Madison, for one, had little positive to say about judeo-christian tradition, of any flavor, asserting that "Religion itself may become a motive to persecution and oppression". The Founders designed the First Amendment itself with the intent of controlling the pernicious influence of religious enthusiasm, not enabling fundamentalists.

First Amendment discussions were boring, like, a few dozen decades ago--yet the real issue brought up by the First Amendment pertains, we suggest, not to the endless crackerbarrel rights-talk, but to the tyranny of the majority, and thus to the problems of populism. That's boring to many as well, really--yet the populist politicians obviously still wield a great deal of power in rural and suburban areas. A populist, whether a Huckabee or a Parris, may always count upon the protestant voting bloc--really, a baptist voting bloc -- to affirm his latest quasi-moralist agenda.

Clever, PT Barnum populists often devise political measures which allow them to circumvent constitutional limitations. Proposition 8 was one such measure--whether one approves or disapproves of same-sex marriages, it's not an issue to be decided by popular vote. On a smaller scale, Measure 1, like Prop. 8, also takes advantage of a fundamentalist voting bloc, and appears to be unconstitutional to quite a few observers in Southern California.

The ACLU--hardly the representative of Liberty and Justice for all, but something-- has taken an interest in the theocratic doings of the Parris gang. Measure 1 in effect says, what the religious zealots of the AV want, they can vote in. So if they want Jee-zuss to be invoked, or shown waving a flag in front of F-18s, then He will be invoked. So, following that pseudo-reasoning, if the lemmings vast majority of the AV favors, say, arresting people who don't attend the Baptick church, that should also be law. That can't happen here, you might say, but in some parts of the USA (not only Utah, or Texass), a WASP police state may be arriving sooner than you think.

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