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June 2006 Archives

June 16, 2006

Catholic Board Memeber Fired for Intolerance

This is what the future looks like.

A Catholic man served on the board of the Metro transit system in DC. On his own time, he regularly appears on a local TV political round table show. He has done this for 12 years. But the other day on the show he referred to homosexuals as "deviant." The axe came down soon thereafter.

It is true that the free speech rights of public employees can be limited, but this action strikes me as absurd. His speech was not hateful or threatening. He merely stated his opinion, one held by millions nationwide. Do all public employees have to leave their dissenting views at the door when they accept a position?

The next step, of course, is to apply this logic to actions that are apparent even if words are not. The man here is a Catholic, and that ought to be enough. Doesn't the Church also consider homosexuality deviant? Even if our poor board member had never said anything, his guilt is clear. Catholics need not apply, apparently, for government work.

June 18, 2006

New Mass Translation Coming (And Not Everyone Is Happy)

The USCCB Thursday approved many (but not all) of the recommended changes to the English translation of the Mass. The controversy surrounding these changes reveals a lot about what’s wrong with Catholicism in this country.

We have the liberals claiming that the faithful will be less connected to the Mass and the requisite Jesuit saying the changes will lead to “chaos.” But how can the Church, founded by Christ himself, lead the faithful to be less connected? At least now, for the first time in ages, the faithful will have to think about the words they speak before murmuring. The entire point is to become closer to God, to make the words in English align more closely with the actual words of the Lord as understood and interpreted by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Is it too much to ask to commit a few new phrases to memory?

These changes, which will probably not be fully implemented for as long as two years, will be an interesting litmus test. It’s a question of obedience with very little theological implications for those who don’t like it. One wonders if the usual suspects will defy this order on principle, denying Rome any right to exert leadership. After all, if they cave in on translations, they might have surrender to orthodoxy on many other issues as well.

June 29, 2006

The Male Roe?

It had to happen. A man fornicates with a women. Against his wishes, she becomes pregnant and bears a child. Man is slapped with a paternity suit. Man challenges the suit as unconstitutional, since he would have wanted the child killed in utero had he known. So, since he didn’t want the child, he should not be made to pay.

This is the logic in a culture of death. Consequence-free sex is now to be a right for both men and women. And why not? It has worked so very well for women.

Hamdan and the Fate of the Nation (No Kidding)

SCOTUS today handed down (and I mean down, from unassailable moral heights) the much-anticipated Hamdan decision. The result was predictable given previous pronouncements in Hamdi and Rasoul. However, one cannot help but reflect on the implications of this ruling that go beyond the struggle against terrorism.

A 5-3 majority (Roberts not voting) ruled that the military tribunals set up by the Bush Administration to deal with the “enemy combatants” found in the field in Afghanistan were a violation of US and international law. Conservatives assail the majority decision because it appears to flaunt a clear Congressional intent to empower the President to act as he deemed necessary. Also, the Court took the case despite a statute designed specifically to strip it of jurisdiction. Liberals, in turn, celebrate the decision as a brake on an overzealous executive and a validation of basic human rights. Liberals are also scurrying to write other complaints because the wording of the decision calls into question all aspects of the Gitmo situation, including interrogation techniques (aka torture).

At the risk of drifting into hyperbole, I’d say this case is a perfect illustration of what is wrong politically with postmodern America. First, you have an imperial judiciary acting without shame. Congress passed a statute unambiguously stripping the Supreme Court of jurisdiction in habeas corpus cases like this one. The court ignored that, taking the case anyway. They then brutalized precedent and willfully misread another statute to claim that POTUS exceeded his authority in setting up the military tribunals.

But wait? What was that about jurisdiction stripping? Indeed, when Congress really gets mad they can, under Article III of the Constitution, legislate limits on SCOTUS jurisdiction. But why would they do that? Under what circumstances would we want to suspend the power of judicial review altogether? Isn’t it essential to hear what the judiciary has to say on a disputed matter? Jurisdiction stripping is a bad move, but one that is brought up increasingly in Congress.

Why? Because Congress is frequently thwarted by the imperial judiciary and can’t seem to find the spine to address that constitutional anomaly. The majoritarian principle that lends congress its legitimacy is only operative when the court gives it the nod.

Why does Congress sit idly by while it is emasculated? Because there is no political will in the electorate for radical changes. One does not get reelected by calling for radical change. We the people bitch and moan about the status quo while reelecting incumbents at an unprecedented rate, if we go to the polls at all. We have grown accustomed to judicial pronouncements.

But don’t we have a free press? They are certainly free to harangue and proselytize. What legitimacy is there for a press that has openly declared partisan war on this administration? If Bush is in favor of the FMA, the NYT reports his intent to intern all homosexuals into gulags. If raises a finger to investigate suspicious activity, its McCarthyism. Outside the chattering classes, who is listening anymore? When the NYT reports that Gitmo detainees are being tortured, it’s met with yawns. Our free press has called wolf too many times.

This abdication of professionalism and public interest is a terrible calamity considering the bizarre behavior of Bush. Hamdan is only here because this administration thought it wise to indefinitely detain foreign militants in an offshore prison. The legality of that move is unquestionable by people not on the Supreme Court, but the wisdom is lacking. Bush has invited the questioning and ought to have known these guys would find their way into sympathetic American courts.

So we are left to reckon with Hamdan. It’s great that this man and others like him will have their cases fairly adjudicated. It’s great that this suspect activity will be drawn out of the shadows a little. It will help bring us the day when there will be no one unjustly held at Gitmo and that stain will be removed from the American conscience. It’s just too bad that we had to sacrifice the rule of law to get there.

About June 2006

This page contains all entries posted to The Seventh Age in June 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2006 is the previous archive.

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