Posts tagged “liberty”

Libertarian endorses theocrat for U.S. Senate

October 19th, 2017

Rand Paul is a Republican I’ve spoken in favor of in the past. There’s generally little about which I agree with conservatives, but Paul has always espoused a more libertarian-leaning version of conservatism with which I found at least some common ground. In particular, he impressed me during the Republican primary debates last year, when he appeared to be the only grown-up in the room whenever the subject turned to foreign policy, in that he was the only candidate whose approach didn’t boil down to “bomb as many Middle Eastern people as possible.”

Rand Paul

But now he’s thrown all that good will away by endorsing Christian theocrat Roy Moore for Senator. Moore previously served as chief justice on Alabama’s Supreme Court, where he was twice removed from the bench. The first time was for installing a Ten Commandments monument in the courthouse. But he ran for the position again, whereupon Alabama voters returned him to the bench. He was eventually suspended again for defying the U.S. Supreme Court by instructing Alabama judges to enforce Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage, in violation of the SCOTUS ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Roy Moore

Either of those cases, the latter in particular, ought to be enough to make Moore’s candidacy a non-starter for any libertarian. But it gets worse: In 2002, the Alabama Supreme Court heard a custody case. The mother was a lesbian, but her sexual orientation was not at issue. That didn’t stop Moore from authoring a concurring opinion in which he quotes the Bible (the Old Testament, of course) and writes this lovely passage:

The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this [homosexual] lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle.

That’s right, Moore thinks gay people should be imprisoned or executed. And “libertarian” Rand Paul thinks Moore would make a fine addition to the United States Senate.

Yes, Black Lives Matter and Antifa are helping the Hurricane Harvey relief effort

September 5th, 2017

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, opportunistic demagogues have been using social media to highlight the lack of response from liberal groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa, suggesting that this betrays a lack of the compassion that these groups profess to believe in. One meme even characterizes them as “extreme hate groups” and lumps them in with the KKK, an obviously asinine position. Leaving aside the specious logic (why would an anti-fascism group be expected to respond to a natural disaster more than any other organization?), these assertions are wrong on the facts: both BLM and Antifa have been helping the relief effort.

I’ll leave the KKK to defend themselves, however.

If you wish to contribute the the Hurrican Harvey relief effort, I suggest donating to Foundation Beyond Belief, a humanist charity organization.

New Study Confirms Racial Bias in Use of Force by Police

July 12th, 2016

There are a bunch of articles going around social media about a new study that apparently found no evidence of racial bias in police shootings. These articles are of varying quality, including some that are very good but with wildly misleading headlines. As a public service, here’s the original paper they’re all reporting on.

Since everyone’s big takeaway seems to be “there’s no racial bias in policework, end of story,” these two passages should be of particular interest:

On non-lethal uses of force, blacks and Hispanics are more than fifty percent more likely to experience some form of force in interactions with police.

Our results have several important caveats. First, all but one dataset was provided by a select group of police departments. It is possible that these departments only supplied the data because they are either enlightened or were not concerned about what the analysis would reveal. In essence, this is equivalent to analyzing labor market discrimination on a set of firms willing to supply a researcher with their Human Resources data!

Also note that the paper has not undergone peer review or other independent vetting.

(This article was originally published on Facebook.)

Some Highlights from Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt

June 29th, 2016

Here are some highlights from Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the recent Supreme Court ruling striking down Texas’ anti-abortion TRAP laws:

Returning to the District Court record, we note that, in direct testimony, the president of Nova Health Systems, implicitly relying on this general fact, pointed out that it would be difficult for doctors regularly performing abortions at the El Paso clinic to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals because ‘[d]uring the past 10 years, over 17,000 abortion procedures were performed at the El Paso clinic [and n]ot a single one of those patients had to be transferred to a hospital for emergency treatment, much less admitted to the hospital.’ In a word, doctors would be unable to maintain admitting privileges or obtain those privileges for the future, because the fact that abortions are so safe meant that providers were unlikely to have any patients to admit.

Supreme Court building in Washington, DC

Nationwide, childbirth is 14 times more likely than abortion to result in death, but Texas law allows a midwife to oversee childbirth in the patient’s own home. Colonoscopy, a procedure that typically takes place outside a hospital (or surgical center) setting, has a mortality rate 10 times higher than an abortion. Medical treatment after an incomplete miscarriage often involves a procedure identical to that involved in a nonmedical abortion, but it often takes place outside a hospital or surgical center. And Texas partly or wholly grandfathers (or waives in whole or in part the surgical-center requirement for) about two-thirds of the facilities to which the surgical-center standards apply. But it neither grandfathers nor provides waivers for any of the facilities that perform abortions.

We add that, when directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.

As everyone already knew, these TRAP laws were never about making surgical procedures safer. That was only a pretense for restricting access to abortion. The Supreme Court rightly saw through the ruse.

(This article was originally published on Facebook.)


January 25th, 2010

In May of last year, late-term abortion provider George Tiller was shot and killed at his Kansas church. Scott Roeder of Kansas City, Missouri, confessed to the killing, and was unapolagetic about his actions. In an interview with the Associated Press, Roeder explained: “Because of the fact preborn children’s lives were in imminent danger, this was the action I chose…Defending innocent life—that is what prompted me. I mean, it is pretty simple.”

George Tiller

I think it’s kind of surprising that incidents like this one don’t happen more often. There are a lot of people in the United States who believe that abortion is literally murder, no less horrible than the taking of any other human life. Figures on the percentage of people who hold this belief are surprisingly difficult to find. A Gallup poll conducted last May found that more than half of all Americans consider themselves “pro-life.” Many of those pro-lifers would probably not agree that abortion is exactly equivalent to murder, but at least some do, particularly among the far-right religious crazies.

Practically everyone agrees that it’s acceptable to take a person’s life in defense of one’s own or of someone else’s. Wouldn’t Roeder’s killing of Tiller fall under this category? If Roeder really considered the fetuses that Tiller aborted to be fully human individuals (which, again, is apparently a common, everyday belief), then thier lives really were in danger, and wasn’t Roeder perfectly justified in killing Tiller to protect them?

Scott Roeder

I am not against abortions; despite what the religious zealots would have you believe, fetuses really are just clumps of cells (to be fair, Tiller performed late-term abortions, where the person-or-not issue is less clear, but let’s ignore that special case for the sake of the current argument). I am, however, against hypocrisy, and it’s hypocritical to claim that abortion is murder, and yet respond to it with any less force than one would employ against any other act of murder.

I guess we should be thankful, then, that fundamentalist Christians are such hypocrites.

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