Love and Hate

Crossposted from DemConWatch

I've been thinking a lot about hatred and bigotry, in light of the comments on this post. It seems that we all have some latent, if not blatant, inherent bigotry. Last night, Scott posted a link to Ron Paul's comments about why Park51 should be allowed near Ground Zero. Scott picked one quote, I pick this one:

Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam–the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. 

I have been thinking about my lifelong, absolute, defense of First Amendment rights. In case you have forgotten, there are five: 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

And yet, I am somehow disquieted.  It's because of the Preamble to the Constitution, which says:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (emphasis mine)

What do we say about religions, and religious “idealism” that deny liberty to those amoungst us? How do we balance the right to practice one's religion when members try to force some parts of that religion down other people's throats? 

Much more after the jump. 

My friends Tim and Victor are getting married. Victor published this:

We waited two years for the order striking down Prop 8 in California. When it happened Tim and I immediately started making  plans to fly back and finally get married like we were supposed to before this this illegal piece of legislation. Then we waited till we understood the order. And then we waited to see if an appeal would happen before August 15th….well, as you know the order was stayed, and it will likely be next year before the appeals court hears the case. We waited long enough, we're not waiting any more.

Marriage for everyone is legal in 5 states. New Hampshire is one of them. We have a dear friend in New Hampshire who is a lawyer and not only that, she's a Justice of the Peace. Come this October Tim and I (and our faithful companion Cybil, the Wonder Dog) will pile into the car and make the 7 1/2 hour drive to the Live Free or Die state (how appropriate is that???). On October 14th we are getting married.

We'd like to apologize in advance for all the heterosexual marriages that will fail or be devalued because of us and for the end of civilization as we know it.

In my heart, I cannot abide those who work tirelessly to deny this couple, who have been as “married” as anyone, except in the eyes of the law, for so very many years. Marriage is, in many ways, a blessing of liberty: why should Tim and Victor, and Mike and Jim, and Debbie and KJ, and Wendy and Jill, and all the others be prevented from this? You won't find a single agnostic or atheist who is opposed. 

Why does political action in the name of religion trump basic human rights? This is not a rhetorical question: I've wondered for years, and no one has been able to give me an answer of why and how a country based on freedom of religion uses it as a stick.  

And I come back now to the Park51 project. I defend to the death the right for the project to be built. Without question. I don't, however, think it's a terribly smart idea because there is no doubt in my mind that there will be clashes there, and violence, and possibly killing. I do not believe, as the Time poll indicated 46% of Americans believe, that people born into Islam are more likely to do violence to others in the name of religion. There is too much history of violence in the name of all religions to believe that. I am, however, disquieted by how Islam treats women. I don't expect in America to see stonings, and virtual home imprisonment, and women being denied the right to drive a car, or even to be on the street without a male family member accompanying them. But that certainly goes on in Muslim nations. I am haunted, for example, by the 15 school girls made to die in a fire because they lacked the proper attire. The sect Mormons with plural marriage are not much better to their girls and women. How do I integrate in my heart supporting the rights of people under the First Amendment, when they lead lives in violation of the Preamble? I don't have a good answer. I want everyone to be allowed to practice his/her religion, but I want religion to never trump law. Is there some way to make sure that the religious “beliefs” stay internal to those religions? If so, there is no problem with Tim and Victor getting married (gift is on its way, boys!) and no problem with making sure that all women, in all areas, have the same basic rights to liberty as men.