Dallin Oaks Demands Special Rights: We should hold religion above reproach

Dallin Oaks’ speech was divided into five parts (six if you count the very brief introduction):

Part one is a paean to the positive influence of religion in society

Part two is relatively short and explores the importance of “freedom of religion”

Part three explores the ways in which Oaks believes freedom of religion is under attack

Part four is Oaks attempt to explain how freedom of religion has come to be under attack

Part five is the call to action

The thesis of the entire speech is simple: freedom of religion is vitally important, it is under assault by the forces of secularism and we must fight back to preserve freedom of religion.

Oaks cites polling data showing larger and larger numbers of people who identify as nonbelievers – a trend he finds deeply troubling:

Organized religion is surely on the decline. Last year’s Pew Forum Study on Religion and Public Life found that the percentage of young adults affiliated with a particular religious faith is declining significantly.8 Scholars Robert Putnam and David Campbell have concluded that “the prospects for religious observance in the coming decades are substantially diminished.”9

Whatever the extent of formal religious affiliation, I believe that the tide of public opinion in favor of religion is receding. A writer for the Christian Science Monitor predicts that the coming century will be “very secular and religiously antagonistic,” with intolerance of Christianity “ris[ing] to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes.”

There is a deep flaw in the reasoning here.  A rise in nonreligious persons does not translate into anti-religious antagonism.  Instead, what he’s bemoaning is the lack of automatic repsect given to religious beliefs.  As more people become skeptical of religious claims, those claims no longer automatically carry the day.  Claiming that one’s actions are motivated by religious belief is insufficient to justify discrimination against other persons.  Yet, that is exactly the claim he implicitly makes in his speech – that religious objections to homosexuality should be sufficient to justify not obeying anti-discrimination laws.

Oaks attempted to innoculate his claims by opening his speech with a lengthy and one sided review of the role of religion in history:

Many of the great moral advances in Western society have been motivated by religious principles and moved through the public square by pulpit-preaching. The abolition of the slave trade in England and the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States are notable illustrations. These revolutionary steps were not motivated and moved by secular ethics or coalitions of persons who believed in moral relativism. They were driven primarily by individuals who had a clear vision of what was morally right and what was morally wrong. In our time, the Civil Rights movement was, of course, inspired and furthered by religious leaders.

What he fails to mentions is that a great many religious leaders were not only outspoken but were passionately, publicly and very loudly on the other side of these issues.  He fails to mention the Mormon church’s own history of racial discrimination and segregation which lasted until the 1970s when they suddenly decided black men could hold the priesthood.  He neatly ignores, for example the role churches have historically played in the active repression of women or the thousands dead during the witch trials, the horrors of the inquisition, the key role the church played in sustaining slavery in the US, the key role churches played in sustaining Jim Crow, the key role churches have played in resisting women’s rights.  By eliding the less the positive role the church has played throughout history, Oaks allows himself and his audience to accept the myth of the church’s universal goodness.

It is that proclaimed goodness of the church which allows Oaks to claim that society is held together by people doing good because the church teaches them morals –

Our society is not held together just by law and its enforcement, but most importantly by voluntary obedience to the unenforceable and by widespread adherence to unwritten norms of right or righteous behavior. Religious belief in right and wrong is a vital influence to advocate and persuade such voluntary compliance by a large proportion of our citizens.

Marc Hauser, in Moral Minds, disputes that assertion.  Hauser argues that certain moral standards apply across all cultures regardless of their particular faith traditions – a sort of universal moral code.  In The Lucifer Effect, Philip Zimbardo explores the ease with which otherwise good people engage in horrific, morally objectionable acts, even people who are in other settings upstanding moral beings – their religious beliefs are insufficient to keep them behaving in shockingly immoral ways.

Oaks then makes the leap from declining religious faith and observance to anti-religious bigotry:

Organized religion is surely on the decline. Last year’s Pew Forum Study on Religion and Public Life found that the percentage of young adults affiliated with a particular religious faith is declining significantly.8 Scholars Robert Putnam and David Campbell have concluded that “the prospects for religious observance in the coming decades are substantially diminished.”9

Whatever the extent of formal religious affiliation, I believe that the tide of public opinion in favor of religion is receding. A writer for the Christian Science Monitor predicts that the coming century will be “very secular and religiously antagonistic,” with intolerance of Christianity “ris[ing] to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes.”10

This leap is simply not warranted.  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – what Dallin Oaks and other religous conservatives identify as antagonism or intolerance is in fact the outcome of people refusing to treat religous ideas as automatically beyond reproach.  Oaks himself says as much:

. . . some are contending that a religious message is just another message in a world full of messages, not something to be given unique or special protection

To make the case that this state of affairs is bad, Oaks has carefully constructed a false narrative in which the influence of religion is wholly good, in which religion is utterly central to the sustenance of a functioning community and that without religion, individuals are incapable of moral action.

To back himself up, Oaks cites a book (Freedom from Religion) in which the author argues that religious extremism is a sufficient threat to society that governments may need to consider curtailing extremist movements for the sake of peace which would, by definition, require placing restrictions on religious expression.  (I’m sure there’s a whole post of its on this topic!)  It’s fair to ask if restricting religious liberties would reduce or increase the radicalism of believers; I’m inclined to believe the latter.  Historically, such restrictions have been used against unpopular ideas and groups of persons.  If it is to be relevant, the church must play a role in resisting religious extremism.  To put it bluntly, Fred Phelps freedom of religion and speech doesn’t mean he should be exempt from criticism by religious figures.  Americans are guaranteed freedom of speech, not freedom from criticism.

As he nears the end of part three, Oaks identifies at long last the enemy he has been waiting to attack all along:

When Cardinal Francis George, then President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke at Brigham Young University last year, he referred to “threats to religious freedom in America that are new to our history and to our tradition.”28 He gave two examples, one concerning threats to current religious-based exemptions from participating in abortions and the other “the development of gay rights and the call for same-sex ‘marriage.'”

In one of the most dishonest bits of public speaking in a long time, Oaks distorts entirely the claims of glbt persons with regard to anti-gay preaching:

. . . I see a serious threat to the freedom of religion in the current assertion of a “civil right” of homosexuals to be free from religious preaching against their relationships. Religious leaders of various denominations affirm and preach that sexual relations should only occur between a man and a woman joined together in marriage.

Oaks projects his position – “Christians should be free from criticism” – onto glbt persons who believe that church leaders should find their anti-gay preaching publicly criticized.  Oaks like other religious conservatives reduces Christian moral theology to one item: heterosexual marriage.  The answer to almost any question about sexuality and relationships will be: marriage.  Such an approach reduces the realm in which Christians speak about morals to sexuality and it’s all about marriage.  Social and economic justice – which are arguably the central concerns of both the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament – are nowhere to be found.  Questions of moral purity – which in the Hebrew Bible fill several book and cover everything from what to eat to what to wear and what to plant in one’s fields – are boiled down to concerns about what people are doing with the pelvises. 

People on the right are terrified that their religious freedom is going to be abridged and that they will be punished for speaking out against gays and lesbians.  Now, let’s just be blunt: since for a very long time, simply being gay would get you punished, locked up, and so on, and that in fact at the urging of religious right leaders Uganda is trying to pass a death to the gays bill, what you see here is another case of conservative projection.  “We did it to them, they must want to do it to us.”  Given a chance, there are a great many conservatives who would force glbt persons into reparative therapy, who would allow legal discrimination against gays and lesbians, who would deny civil rights to gays and lesbians, who would gladly see gays and lesbians the victims of official and unofficial oppression and ostracism.  They figure if they want to do it to us, we must want to do it to them.

Oaks also misrepresents the Perry v Schwarzenegger decision, claiming:

Closely related to the danger of criminal prosecutions are the current arguments seeking to brand religious beliefs as an unacceptable basis for citizen action or even for argument in the public square. For an example of this we need go no further than the district court’s opinion in the Proposition 8 case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger.41

Which is not what that decision found.  The decision reads, in part:

Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples. FF 76, 79-80; Romer, 517 US at 634 (“[L]aws of the kind now before us raise the inevitable inference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected.”). Because Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification, Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

If you believe that religious/moral arguments deserve automatic deference, this might seem troubling.  However, the real meaning is that in a religiously pluralistic society, one cannot expect a religious argument by itself to be sufficient.   The primary complaint that religious conservatives raise is typical of any person or institution which has long had privilege – they don’t want to give up their privilege. 

Throughout his speech, Oaks invokes religious tradition as if it is the only moral tradition to which we have access. 

The forces that would intimidate persons with religious-based points of view from influencing or making the laws of their state or nation should answer this question: How would the great movements toward social justice cited earlier have been advocated and pressed toward adoption if their religious proponents had been banned from the public square by insistence that private religious or moral positions were not a rational basis for public discourse?

Setting aside the false assumption that there is any kind of movement to intimidate religious persons, it seems clear to me that Oaks is unfamiliar with the actual arguments made for abolition of slavery and the end of Jim Crow.  Those arguments included religious rationales, but they also included secular ones, appeals to universal values of human rights and to the shared humanity of all persons.  MLK’s soaring rhetoric worked because he calibrated so that anyone listening could share the values he was communicating.  The Civil Rights movement, as for example, was effective because it created an economic cost for segregation.  The abolitionists succeeded in portraying slavery as an institution which stripped persons of their basic human dignity and rights entirely aside from religious arguments.

The signal failure of Dallin Oaks and other religious conservatives is the failure of their moral imagination.  Morality need not be religious in nature.  Consider these lines from the Humanist Manifesto:

Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

As I come to the conclusion of this part of my response to Dallin Oaks’ address, I have two final points.

Even a cursory study of history disproves the overtly positive view of religion’s role in society that Oaks and many believers embrace.  The problem is that religion, any religion, is a human institution and will have all our human flaws.

And, the idea that religious values deserve special treatment, protection and respect, is based on that false assumption.

  1. #1 by Richard Warnick on February 9, 2011 - 2:38 pm

    Dallin Oaks is a good spokesman for the LDS Church because he fully embraces the appeal to authority. The first time I ever saw him on TV was in 1985, when he was trying to explain away the Mark Hofmann scandal.

    Some may recall that Hofmann, a master forger of old documents, faked several long-lost letters that the LDS Church wanted to stay lost. Through cut-outs, the Church bought these papers in order to suppress them. At the time of his arrest, he was trying to peddle more embarrassing documents from LDS history.

    Oaks came out and flatly denied Hofmann’s blackmail scheme, and made it stick solely on his authority as a spokesman. He’s good. Of course, the police had a murder case against Hofmann already. No need to investigate further.

    I am no expert on the LDS religion. I have noted that a key question that gets asked by Mormons when new information comes to their attention is: “Is this faith-promoting?” If it is, they are ready to believe it. If not, it seems no amount of evidence would be enough to make it credible to them.

    • #2 by Glenden Brown on February 9, 2011 - 3:07 pm

      No fair reading ahead in the text book, Richard!

      One of the issues Oaks raises in his speech is the questionof authority – he does so in a subtle way, so subtle is almost goes by you. It would reinforce what a religoius audience is expecting to hear and go right past most people.

      Some years ago, a Mormon friend of mine was having some doubts. She went to her bishop who told her to explore her doubts, to pray, to study (although only the Book of Mormon) and then to pray further and she’d get her answer. Not being stupid, she asked, “How woudl she know if the answer were right?” The response literally was “if it affirms your faith in the church, it’s God speaking, if not, then the devil is trying to deceive you.” It reminds me of the logic Martha Nibley Beck criticizes – we know the LDS church is true because people criticize it; they wouldn’t criticize it if it were false, therefore criticize proves it’s true and can sustain your faith as a member. It’s not something other than logic.

  2. #3 by cav on February 9, 2011 - 4:54 pm

    Mares eat oaks, and goats eat oaks, and little lambs eat ivy…
    __

    If you speak to god, that’s prayer – If god is speaking to you, that’s schizophrenia.

    Illich

  3. #4 by Jewel on February 9, 2011 - 10:42 pm

    OBAMA FULFILLING THE BIBLE

    Can you guess which Bible verses Barack Hussein Obama likes to avoid?
    Proverbs 19:10 (NIV): “It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury – how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!”
    Also Proverbs 30:22 (NIV) which says that the earth cannot bear up under “a servant who becomes king.”
    And Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 (KJV) advises: “let thy words be few…a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.”
    Although Obama is not descended from slaves, he may feel that he’s destined to become a black-slavery avenger.
    Or maybe an enslaver of all free citizens!
    For some stunning info on Pres. Obama and his fellow subversives, Google “Michelle Obama’s Allah-day,” “Obama Supports Public Depravity,” “David Letterman’s Hate Etc.,” “Un-Americans Fight Franklin Graham” and also “Sandra Bernhard, Larry David, Kathy Griffin, Bill Maher, Joan Rivers, Sarah Silverman.” Also Google “Prof. F. N. Lee’s ISLAM IN THE BIBLE [PDF].”
    PS – Since Christians are commanded to ask God to send severe judgment on persons who commit and support the worst forms of evil (see I Cor. 5 and note “taken away”), Christians everywhere should constantly pray that the Lord will soon “take away” or at least overthrow all US leaders who continue to sear their conscience and arrogantly trample the God-given rights of the majority including the rights of the unborn. Do we need a second American Revolution?
    PPS – For a rare look at the 181-year-old endtime belief which has long neutralized millions of American patriots by promising them an “imminent rapture” off earth – which has diverted them away from being prepared to stand against all enemies, domestic as well as foreign – Google “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” and “Pretrib Rapture – Hidden Facts” – all by the author of the bestselling nonfiction book “The Rapture Plot” (the most accurate documentation on the pretrib rapture’s long hidden birth in Britain in 1830 – see Armageddon Books). Also Google “Stamping Out Harold Camping.”

  4. #5 by Richard Warnick on February 10, 2011 - 12:36 am

    Jewel–

    Thanks for bringing the crazy. Always appreciated!

    Can you believe that right-wingers got upset at me when I said George W. Bush was the Worst President Ever? But I never called him an “enemy,” or “evil.” I never labeled him a “subversive,” despite his statement that the Constitution is “just a goddamned piece of paper.” The hate speech on the right these days is something to behold.

  5. #6 by Uncle Rico on February 10, 2011 - 6:37 am

    PPPS – God hates fags!

  6. #7 by shane on February 10, 2011 - 8:01 am

    Hey Jewel, come the rapture, can i have your car?

  7. #8 by John on February 10, 2011 - 9:25 am

    It’s amazing who comments on articles of religion. You have the crazy Christians who try to defend the article and end up making things worse – throwing verses at people to condemn and chastise. Then the secular who just want to point out everything wrong in Christianity (and yes, Christians are human and faults are inherent) and burn any Christian they can. Every religious post or youtube video I see, they just go back and forth. As one of those “right-wing crazies,” I want to apologize on behalf of the Christians who are accusatory and belligerent. There is so much that Christianity has done in the history of the world that has been very notable and often forgotten dismissed. Usually in the mind of the accusatory, the faults and evils of a people are remembered (repression, slavery, etc). For those things there is no defense except that we are all human. Evil men will always want to take the place of a religious leader.

    • #9 by Glenden Brown on February 10, 2011 - 10:48 am

      John,

      A few years ago, the UCC did something amazing – at a denominational level, they acknowledged the role they played in undermning and ending Hawaii’s status as an independent nation and sought ways to atone for those actions. Even though it was over 100 years ago, it was a difficult thing for the church to publicy and honeslty face the dark parts of its history. I’m one of those happy clappy hippy dippy types who actually believes the process itself in this case was more valuable than the actual outcomes, one that strengthened the denomination and its spiritual vitality – because the process allowed honesty and openness, it required difficult discussions but also discussions that opened up other areas for consideration and concern. It was very powerful.

      But, you’re right. It’s easy to sling insults, to cherry pick bible verses and argue they prove your point and it’s easy to focus on the wrongs committed by the church in the name of God. And both are too common.

  8. #10 by James Farmer on February 10, 2011 - 10:43 am

    An interesting point related to the subject: point.

    Oh my, just what would the wingnuts do without the Bible to throw at gays?

  9. #11 by Richard Warnick on February 10, 2011 - 10:49 am

    I think most people have no problem with religion in general (and Christianity in particular) as long as it doesn’t get in the way of equal rights under the law. When something like California Prop 8 comes along, an effort by religious institutions to take away people’s constitutional rights, then we have a problem.

  10. #12 by brewski on February 10, 2011 - 10:58 am

    Richard, apparently the current resident of the White House and constitutional law professor disagrees with you that same sex marriage is a constitutional right.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/12/obama-defends-antigay-def_n_214764.html

  11. #13 by Richard Warnick on February 10, 2011 - 11:29 am

    You mean, the same constitutional law professor who stood in the National Archives — just a few feet away from an original copy of the U.S. Constitution — and advocated indefinite preventive detention without the right of habeas corpus?

    Then there is Article 2 of the Constitution, where it says the President must “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” President Obama disregards that when he says there will be no investigations of illegal acts by the Bush administration. The U.N. Convention Against Torture, signed by President Reagan, requires prompt investigation of all allegations of torture, without any exceptions.

    I can’t say I’m impressed with President Obama’s adherence to the Constitution. If you take a look at the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, you will find that:

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States… nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    That could not be any clearer. Marriage laws must apply equally to all citizens of the United States. DOMA is unconstitutional.

  12. #14 by Uncle Rico on February 10, 2011 - 12:13 pm

    the current resident of the White House and constitutional law professor disagrees with you that same sex marriage is a constitutional right.

    That is not a conclusion that can be drawn from the administration’s unfortunate decision to defend DOMA.

  13. #15 by brewski on February 10, 2011 - 12:27 pm

    Richard,

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States… nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    That could not be any clearer

    It could also not be any clearer that race preference laws, gender preference laws, ethnicity preference laws, are all illegal.

    I am still waiting for the left, and you, to admit that truth.

  14. #16 by James Farmer on February 10, 2011 - 12:33 pm

    brew:

    I think Richard was referring to equal protection under the law, which is a constitutional right.

  15. #17 by brewski on February 10, 2011 - 12:36 pm

    James,
    Then I assume you agree that race preference laws, gender preference laws, ethnicity preference laws, are all unconsitutional.

  16. #18 by James Farmer on February 10, 2011 - 12:36 pm

    brew:

    You need to revisit the various scrutiny tests applied in constitutional settings. Your opinion that preference laws are unconstitutional is just that – an opinion, and one not grounded in law or fact.

  17. #19 by Richard Warnick on February 10, 2011 - 12:55 pm

    brewski–

    Do you think DOMA is constitutional? It’s not clear from what you wrote above.

  18. #20 by brewski on February 10, 2011 - 2:40 pm

    James,
    Under our current race preference laws, people who are children of doctors, lawyers and professors and scientists are deemed to be underprivileged due to their skin tone and children of dishwashers and coal miners are considered to be privileged due to their skin tone. This is fact.

    Richard, I will be happy to trade you one DOMA for one race preference law.

  19. #21 by Richard Warnick on February 10, 2011 - 2:56 pm

    Is DOMA constitutional or not, in your opinion brewski?

    What are these “race preference laws”? Are they actual laws passed by Congress or state legislatures, or just administrative policies decided on by small municipalities, universities, etc.?

  20. #22 by James Farmer on February 10, 2011 - 3:10 pm

    brew:
    Under our current race preference laws, people who are children of doctors, lawyers and professors and scientists are deemed to be underprivileged due to their skin tone and children of dishwashers and coal miners are considered to be privileged due to their skin tone. This is fact.

    If this is fact, and the occurrence(s) is more than isolated to a few oddities, then please, do tell. Precisely which children of doctors, lawyers, etc., have been deemed underprivileged and how?

  21. #23 by brewski on February 10, 2011 - 3:14 pm

    The children of doctors etc. are not underprivilged. But they are deemed to be underprivileged for the sole reason of their skin tone. The children of the coal miners are not privielged, but they are deemed to be privileged for the sole reason of their skin tone.

  22. #24 by brewski on February 10, 2011 - 3:17 pm

    James,
    Real question: How many white male high school kids did you know who got sent free plane tickets for himself and his family to visit Princeton even though he never applied there?

  23. #25 by Richard Warnick on February 10, 2011 - 3:20 pm

    Focus, brewski. Is DOMA constitutional or unconstitutional?

  24. #26 by James Farmer on February 10, 2011 - 3:28 pm

    brew:

    WTF? What support do you have that children of doctors, etc., are deemed underprivileged? You say it is “fact.” Well, support that fact assertion.

    PS. In answer to your question, zero. So what?

  25. #27 by shane on February 10, 2011 - 3:37 pm

    This is why I have come to the troll conclusion…

  26. #28 by brewski on February 10, 2011 - 3:39 pm

    A childhood friend of mine. A tremndous guy. Great student. Leader. Everything. Now, I don’t begrudge anything good that ever happened to him because he deserved everything good that happned to him. But Princeton calls him up out of the blue and sent him plane tickets for his family and him to visit Princeton. He had never applied there, but they found out who he was and chased him down and woo-ed him. Now, I know other people who were smarter and of less means. But he was black, so that made him a valuable commodity. He was an Ivy League caliber black guy which is far more valuable than an Ivy League caliber white student who may actually have been underprivileged. But Princeton knew what mattered. They need the black guy to meet their numbers. You know, they have those Federal Affirmative Action numbers to meet and the compliance report to file which doesn’t seem to count children of white coal miners. So you can tell me all about equal protection all you want. But it is all bullshit.

  27. #29 by brewski on February 10, 2011 - 3:48 pm

    James, under race preference laws ALL people who are not black and not Asian are deemed to be underprivilged and ALL white people Asians are deemed to be privileged. It does not matter one whit if the Hispanic person grew up with servants on an estate [like a college girlfriend of mine did] or if the white person is the child of a postman [like a college friend of mine]. It doesn’t matter what the reality is for those people. It only matters what their race or ethincity is, period. That’s why they are are called raced-based preferences. They give preference based on race. Duh!

  28. #30 by David from Sandy UT on February 10, 2011 - 4:04 pm

    Oaks is an expert at circular arguments and logical fallacies. Given his obvious intelligence, I’m surprised that he can say some of the things he does and keep a straight face.

    Utah—Hypocrisy Elevated

  29. #31 by cav on February 10, 2011 - 4:16 pm

    Since we just saw the PATRIOT act symbolically scoffed at, and know full well that it’s the lies – repeated and repeated, it is reasonable to suggest we have placed altogether too much trust in the government and other authoritarians like Mr. Oaks.

    But, since theyve provided themselves such clear loopholes, it’s not like it’s going to make a heck of a lot of difference anyway. Particular Thrones, await particular hinies.

  30. #32 by James Farmer on February 10, 2011 - 4:17 pm

    brew:

    So what I am reading here is:

    1) your wife’s experience provides conclusive evidence that systemic discrimination among women (at least in academia) is false; and

    2) your black friend’s experience proves blacks are provided special privileges based on being deemed inferior

    Hmmm. Interesting anecdotes, but I really have grown to expect more substance from you.

  31. #33 by David from Sandy UT on February 10, 2011 - 4:23 pm

    >> “. . .the current resident of the White House and constitutional law professor disagrees with you that same sex marriage is a constitutional right.”

    “Marriage” is not the issue.

    THE issue is the constitutionally guaranteed RIGHT to equal protection of the laws. If the government grants certain secular benefits and protections to biologically infertile different-gender couples, the government must grant identical benefits and protections to their law-abiding, tax-paying, similarly situated, same-gender-partnered peers—or show a legitimate objective of secular government that justifies unequal treatment. The religious belief that “the gays” are icky does not meet any standard for judicial scrutiny. “Think of the children” arguments are irrelevant because our government grants these benefits and protections to couples who cannot or who choose not to have biological offspring.

    In my never-humble opinion, marriage is just a means (or perhaps one should say an excuse) for religionist bigots to vex and oppress a hated minority.

  32. #34 by brewski on February 10, 2011 - 4:27 pm

    A 2005 study by Princeton sociologists Thomas J. Espenshade and Chang Y. Chung compared the effects of affirmative action on racial and special groups at three highly selective private research universities. The data from the study represent admissions disadvantage and advantage in terms of SAT points (on the old 1600-point scale):

    Blacks: +230
    Hispanics: +185
    Asians: –50

    That means that a black person who has an SAT score of 1100 has an equal chance of getting into college as an Asian who scored 1380.
    You call that equality?

    I have no idea what your point is in #32.

  33. #35 by Richard Warnick on February 10, 2011 - 5:09 pm

    So, brewski wants his made-up “racial preference laws” to have the same standing as real laws enacted by elected representatives in a public legislative body.

    As a privately-run institution, Princeton University does not enact laws, not even for New Jersey.

    One more time. DOMA: Is it constitutional or unconstitutional? Why/why not?

  34. #36 by Uncle Rico on February 10, 2011 - 5:18 pm

    David from Sandy UT- Stop making sense!

  35. #37 by James Farmer on February 10, 2011 - 6:33 pm

    brew:

    I call it reality. Affirmative action laws were designed for a reason and pass constitutional muster. If you are arguing for their change, then perhaps you should go ahead and argue such based on what has changed since enactment. Simply stating you dislike the intended result of the laws seems a little odd (and bitter).

  36. #38 by David from Sandy UT on February 10, 2011 - 8:37 pm

    >> “Then I assume you agree that race preference laws, gender preference laws, ethnicity preference laws, are all unconsitutional.”

    The writer fails to take into account that exceptions to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment are constitutional if (and only if) the exception advances a legitimate objective of secular government (rational basis scrutiny), is substantially related to the objective (intermediate scrutiny), and is necessary to accomplish said objective (strict scrutiny), where the level of scrutiny is related to the issue being decided and the class of individuals to which the exception is being applied.

    Various web sites explain these concepts. Please visit a few.

  37. #39 by Shangri La on February 11, 2011 - 8:18 am

    When AA is overturned then it will be by the same convolusions by which it came to be. Institutionalized discrimination.

  38. #40 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 9:23 am

    Jimmie,
    So I infer that you hate Asians and that you think it is legal and moral to require an Asian to score 1380 to beat an African-American who scores 1100.

    You are a racist.

  39. #41 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 9:25 am

    Richard, you couldn’t be more wrong. Princeton as a Federal contractor is required by Federal Law to have an Affirmative Action program and report annually on their performance on meeting their quantitative “targets”.

  40. #42 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 9:36 am

    David,
    I am well aware of the rationalizations for racism against Asians. Under your theory then, as long as the government has a legitimate objective is is ok to restrict freedom of the press, freedom of religion, quarter soldiers in your home during peacetime and any other limit on government you can think of.

  41. #43 by Richard Warnick on February 11, 2011 - 10:27 am

    brewski–

    Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin at any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

    There is no federal legal requirement to implement an affirmative action program, as you claim. In fact, at least two states have passed laws against affirmative action.

    Have a pretzel, to celebrate your pretzel logic. You can’t turn the Civil Rights Act into a “race preference law.” Because it’s the opposite of that.

    Now that your little O/T detour is over, what about DOMA? Constitutional or not?

  42. #44 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 10:32 am

    Richard,
    Your naivite is charming. But the data are the data. Explain to me how this isn’t discrimination:

    A 2005 study by Princeton sociologists Thomas J. Espenshade and Chang Y. Chung compared the effects of affirmative action on racial and special groups at three highly selective private research universities. The data from the study represent admissions disadvantage and advantage in terms of SAT points (on the old 1600-point scale):

    Blacks: +230
    Hispanics: +185
    Asians: –50

    Also, those states which have outlawed AA at the state level are still required to comply with federal AA laws and continue to implement it and report on their quantitative targets.

    Does Olbermann tell you to hate Asians too?

  43. #45 by Richard Warnick on February 11, 2011 - 10:50 am

    brewski–

    You claimed that federal “race preference laws” exist. I say they do not. I think it’s up to you to cite which laws you are referring to. Same goes for “quantitative targets,” for which you have produced no evidence.

    So, is DOMA constitutional or unconstitutional? It’s a simple question.

  44. #46 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 11:06 am

    Difference in black accpetance rates and overall acceptance rates of various universities:

    Harvard University 67.0%
    MIT 98.7%
    Brown 58.4%
    Penn 42.0%
    Georgetown 39.5%

    So unless you are contending that on average, blacks are 67% more qualified than other students, this is conclusive evidence of racial discrimination.

    I show you data and you show me nothing.

  45. #47 by David from Sandy UT on February 11, 2011 - 11:06 am

    >> “I am well aware of the rationalizations for racism against Asians. Under your theory then, as long as the government has a legitimate objective is is ok to restrict freedom of the press, freedom of religion, quarter soldiers in your home during peacetime and any other limit on government you can think of.”

    Sadly (for you), our constitutional government works exactly as you describe above. The government recognizes and protects our unalienable and constitutionally guaranteed rights, and the government can suspend said rights if (and only if) there is a compelling reason to do so.

    Please read the summary of Korematsu v. United States (SCOTUS 323 U.S. 214) at http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/korematsu.html, especially the following from Justice Black’s decision-of-the-court (emphasis added):

    “[Korematsu] was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders — as inevitably it must — determined that they should have the power to do just this. There was evidence of disloyalty on the part of some, the military authorities considered that the need for action was great, and time was short. We cannot — by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight — now say that at that time these actions were unjustified.

    Please take the time to flip open a basic civics text book and read a bit more about constitutional law.

    David

  46. #48 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 11:09 am

    So you are equating the constituionality of Korematsu with affirmative action.

    Thank you for resting my case for me.

  47. #49 by Richard Warnick on February 11, 2011 - 11:22 am

    brewski–

    Because you have produced no relevant references to support your contention, we must conclude there are no “race preference laws” or “quantitative targets” set by the federal government.

    How about the DOMA, which is a real federal law that actually exists in the statute books. Is it constitutional?

  48. #50 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 11:22 am

    In the real world, this is how it is implemented:

    Goals and Timetables: Program goals must be developed in conjunction with the problems identified as the result of the agency’s internal and external workforce analyses. Numerical goals must be developed utilizing methodology determined to be appropriate by the Department. Each numerical or program goal should include a brief description of the area of concern, objectives that delineate specific intentions, action items outlining steps to be taken to achieve the objectives, the individual responsible for carrying out the action item, the target date for completion, and the procedure for monitoring the progress toward meeting the goal.

    http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/056/05602520ZZ9996aR.html

    The data are what the data are.

  49. #51 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 11:24 am

    As for DOMA, far be it for me to disagree with The Chosen One. He was editor of the Harvard Law Review. And I am just some troll.

  50. #52 by David from Sandy UT on February 11, 2011 - 11:31 am

    >> “So you are equating the constituionality of Korematsu with affirmative action.
    >> “Thank you for resting my case for me.”

    Are you deliberately trying to misrepresent my comment? Or are you too intellectually dishonest (or too stooopid) to engage in a discussion without injecting deliberate misrepresentation and similar equine excrement into the conversation?

    Brew, if you want to play in the Big League, you will have to improve your game. Cheap shots may get you by in Podunk, but that nonsense doesn’t score points here.

  51. #53 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 12:02 pm

    David,
    You said that discrimination against Asians via AA is consitutional because the government has a compelling reason to do so and SCOTUS agreed. Then you said incarcerating US citizens of Japanese descent is consitutional because the government has a compelling reason to do so and SCOTUS agreed. So I am not sure how I misrepresented what you said. So your rabid anti-Asian feelings are only matched by that of SCOTUS.

  52. #54 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 12:18 pm

    The data shown above is not anecdotal. It is data collected across thens of thousands of applicants. It is certainly evidence of systematic discrimination.

    Just out of curiosity, what field is your PhD from Princeton in?

  53. #55 by James Farmer on February 11, 2011 - 12:31 pm

    brew:

    Sorry, meant to edit and ended up deleting by mistake. The ph.d. is in mechanical and aerospace engineering.

  54. #56 by Richard Warnick on February 11, 2011 - 12:43 pm

    brewski–

    Have you considered that President Obama might support repeal of DOMA while at the same time the DOJ, which is supposed to be independent, defends the law on behalf of Congress?

    Regarding your O/T diversion: since when does Illinois enact federal law?

  55. #57 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 12:53 pm

    Since the Federal government requires it to.

    What is affirmative action?
    Affirmative action is a program required of federal contractors to ensure equal employment opportunity.

    Isn’t affirmative action illegal in Washington state with the passage of I-200?
    •Washington State law requires state agencies to collect and report the same data. Initiative 200, passed by the citizens of Washington State in 1998 and now incorporated into the Washington State Law Against Discrimination prohibits preferential treatment on the basis of race, color, national origin, and sex but does not prohibit action that must be taken to establish or maintain eligibility for any federal programs, if ineligibility would result in a loss of federal funds to the state.

    Why does the University of Washington collect affirmative action information?
    •As a condition of receiving federal contracts, the University collects data and maintains an affirmative action plan regarding minorities and women. It also agrees to collect and report information on veterans and persons with disabilities. Failure to collect and report affirmative action data would result in the loss of eligibility for federal contracts.

  56. #58 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 1:05 pm

    Richard,
    I stand corrected. Obama does not and did not support DOMA. I was remembering a different law professor, attorney general and resident of the White House:

    It was Bill Clinton who signed DOMA into law. It passed overwhelmingly in the Senate (85-14) with massive Democratic support, including from Democratic icons such as Paul Wellstone, Chris Dodd, Pat Leahy, Tom Daschle, Patty Murray, Harry Reid, Barbara Mikulski, and the new Vice President-elect, Joe Biden.

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2008/11/06/doma

  57. #59 by Richard Warnick on February 11, 2011 - 1:40 pm

    brewski–

    Let me help you out, because you are obviously struggling to support a common right-wing talking point without linking to the right-wing propaganda sites. Affirmative action is a policy established by Executive Order 11246. It is a federal regulation, not a law. It is certainly NOT a “race preference law,” or intended to result in unfair discrimination.

    There may be cases where implementation of the Civil Rights Act might result in relative disadvantage to some people who used to benefit from discrimination based on race, color or national origin before the Act. Too bad, so sad. I’m one of those people. But I want to live in a more equal and diverse society, so I’m willing to pay the price.

    Back to DOMA. Just because Congress passes a bill and the President signs it, that DOES NOT make it constitutional. Congress passes unconstitutional laws all the time!

  58. #60 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 1:54 pm

    The world David from Sandy supports:

    A recent study of the applicants to seven elite colleges in 1997 found that Asian students were much more likely to be rejected than seemingly similar students of other races

    http://www.nacacnet.org/EventsTraining/NC10/Baltimore/educational/Documents/C313.pdf

    http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2006/11/13/16544/

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2005/08/asian_americans_and_affirmativ.html

    http://card.wordpress.com/2007/01/08/racism-against-asians-in-affirmative-action-and-college-admissions/

  59. #61 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 1:59 pm

    There may be cases where implementation of the Civil Rights Act might result in relative disadvantage to some people who used to benefit from discrimination based on race, color or national origin before the Act

    Wrong.

    If you are are a wealthy aristocratic Chilean and you move to the US then you and your ancestors were not harmed by discrimination against Hispanics in the past. In fact, you are part of the ruling class. But when you move to the US, then you are deemed to be a victim and you now have earned the right to preferential treatment for no other reason than your skin tone.

  60. #62 by Richard Warnick on February 11, 2011 - 2:01 pm

    brewski–

    Your hypothetical wealthy Chilean does not refute what I said. Pretzel logic again.

    This is an incredibly fruitless argument. It’s like Senator Rand Paul saying he is opposed to the Civil Rights Act– but he also doesn’t want to repeal it, and has no suggestions for how to reduce racial discrimination some other way! Complete waste of time.

    Today we saw a democratic revolution take place in Egypt, brought about by nonviolent activists. The most important country in the Arab world has shown us the right way to end a dictatorship. Maybe that’s something more worthy of discussion than a tired talking point about affirmative action.

  61. #63 by David from Sandy UT on February 11, 2011 - 2:06 pm

    brewski :The world David from Sandy supports

    You have been warned not to misrepresent my comments. If I want readers to know what I do or do not support, I will say so directly.

  62. #64 by David from Sandy UT on February 11, 2011 - 2:14 pm

    brewski :David,You said that discrimination against Asians via AA is consitutional because the government has a compelling reason to do so. . .

    Are you reading the text that actually appears in my comment? Or making things up as you go along to suit your agenda.

    I made a comment concerning constitutional law.

    You incorrectly interpreted that comment in the context of what YOU were saying about affirmative action.

    Do NOT misrepresent. Do NOT assume. It just makes YOU look stooopid.

  63. #65 by James Farmer on February 11, 2011 - 2:30 pm

    Today we saw a democratic revolution take place in Egypt, brought about by nonviolent activists.

    Too bad Americans didn’t do the same thing circa 2003 during the Bush repression. ;)

  64. #66 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 2:33 pm

    Your hypothetical wealthy Chilean does not refute what I said.

    Not hypothetical. Real.

    Pretzel logic again.

    Simple logic. Nothing pretzel about it.

  65. #67 by brewski on February 11, 2011 - 3:19 pm

    Richard,
    I don’t understand this sentence of yours:

    some people who used to benefit from discrimination

    So if you are born in February 2011 to a coal miner in Appalachia, how are you a person who “used to” benefit from discrimination? You are not a person who “used to” anything since you are a person that was just born.

    I suppose what you mean is that if you are in infant born to a coal miner in Appalachia that you have similar skin tone to the Bushes of Kennebunkport and the Lyons of Martha’s Vinyard, who have benefited from their skin tone. But how has that baby of the coal miner from Appalachia benefited from anything? He and his ancestors haven’t earned any wealth or money or connections or status or anything. But yet, you assume and the Executive Order assumes (excuse me for calling it a law. I am sure you would get real far with telling the EEO office at Georgetown that there is no law, just and Executive Order which has been codified into innumerable regulations and codes and tied to compliance and funding, but it’s not a law) that this person benefited in the past even though they have no past and their family had no benefits.

    But then there is this real Chilean family who really did accrue wealth, status, education, connections, and all that you and the Executive Order deem to be victims and now need preference due to their skin tone. In fact, they are so European in heritage that their skin tone is lighter than many French people from France that I know, but that doesn’t matter since Hispanic is not a race but an ethnicity and anyone can claim any ethincity. Ethincity is a culture. So if anyone is born in El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles en Alta California, who is to say that he or she is not culturally Hispanic?

    It isn’t pretzel logic. It is the practical implementation on the ground of Executive Orders made by people, and supported by people, who don’t have to live under them.

  66. #68 by cav on February 11, 2011 - 4:05 pm

    James, Muricans want to linger at the tipping point, then let the wind do the actual decision making.

  67. #69 by shane on February 12, 2011 - 1:13 pm

    David from Sandy UT :

    brewski :The world David from Sandy supports

    You have been warned not to misrepresent my comments. If I want readers to know what I do or do not support, I will say so directly.

    David, here is the thing, ‘brewski’ is the “i will twist your words into whatever straw man i feel like arguing about” troll, ‘glenn/shangra la/half a dozen other names’ is the “i have nothing important to say, and didn’t read your post, but i will tell you an irrelevant story i read on an ultra right-wing nut site that doesn’t actually apply and tell you that you are all fools for believing anything else” troll.

    brewski is part of the “white men are so repressed” crowd. it can be fun to read. turns out women are not discriminated against. white males though…

    You get used to it.

  68. #70 by Richard Warnick on February 12, 2011 - 2:25 pm

    brewski–

    You are trying to create an issue out of nothing. This is what Faux News does to keep the Tea Partyers stirred up. There are no “racial preference laws.” There are no quotas.

    Your hypothetical Chilean obviously would add diversity to most of the student bodies in America.

  69. #71 by brewski on February 12, 2011 - 11:48 pm

    Richard,
    Explain to me the data:

    Difference in black accpetance rates and overall acceptance rates of various universities:
    Harvard University 67.0%
    MIT 98.7%
    Brown 58.4%
    Penn 42.0%
    Georgetown 39.5%

    A 2005 study by Princeton sociologists Thomas J. Espenshade and Chang Y. Chung compared the effects of affirmative action on racial and special groups at three highly selective private research universities. The data from the study represent admissions disadvantage and advantage in terms of SAT points (on the old 1600-point scale):
    Blacks: +230
    Hispanics: +185
    Asians: –50

    Yes, you are right. It is just a racist executive order and racist regulations and codes and requirements for funding.

    I am not maintaining that there is unconstitutional and racist Executive Orders, regulations, codes and funding requirements. The data says so. The funding recipients say so. It is. There is no opinion. It is fact, as shown. The proof is on you to show me how that data above doesn’t exist and the statements by the states is fiction.

    You have also put words into my mouth which I did not say so you can shoot down your own straw man and congratulate yourself that you are right, all the while ignoring the data and ignoring the code, ignoring the self-described code.

    You accuse me of what you do. But all you do is ignore ignore ignore and then straw man straw man straw man. You lose.

  70. #72 by brewski on February 12, 2011 - 11:59 pm

    Richard,

    Your hypothetical Chilean obviously would add diversity to most of the student bodies in America.

    I keep telling you this wealthy Chilean is not hypothetical and you keep saying it is hypothetical. Did you learn this technique from your man-crush object Olbermann when he deliberately lies about what people actually said in order to make them look bad when in fact they never said it? Very transparent of him, and of you.

    So then, hypothetically, let’s say you applied to Georgetown and received a letter back which said

    Dear Mr. Warnick, thank you for your outstanding application. You have achieved many successes and you deserve to attend our university. However, we are going to deny your admission and admit a wealthy Chilean with servants who has had a mediocre academic career despite all of his personal advantages including elite schooling and plays polo. He really isn’t an impressive student at all, given all the advantages he has at his disposal, but we are going to admit him and not you since it would be really neato to have someone like him at our sherry parties and it would allow us to check a box on our AA compliance forms. Good luck to you at SLCC.
    Sincerely,
    Georgetown University Admissions Committee

    So your reaction to receiving this honest letter would be “Oh goodie. Finally I get to live with my own principles. Now off I go to SLCC”.

  71. #73 by cav on February 13, 2011 - 9:00 am

    And speaking of affirmative action and religious worship we could have done without:

    A week from Tuesday, when the Supreme Court returns from its midwinter break and hears arguments in two criminal cases, it will have been five years since Justice Clarence Thomas has spoken during a court argument.

    If he is true to form, Justice Thomas will spend the arguments as he always does: leaning back in his chair, staring at the ceiling, rubbing his eyes, whispering to Justice Stephen G. Breyer, consulting papers and looking a little irritated and a little bored. He will ask no questions.

    The nyt article also points out that he is fond of issuing sweeping dissents or concurrences based on issues that were never briefed or brought up in oral argument. What a douchebag.

    IOKIYAR

  72. #74 by brewski on February 13, 2011 - 9:22 am

    The date of On October 23, 1987 is the day that intellectual brilliance and competence were removed as criteria for supreme court justices. You get what you wish for.

  73. #75 by shane on February 13, 2011 - 10:29 am

    The nyt article also points out that he is fond of issuing sweeping dissents or concurrences based on issues that were never briefed or brought up in oral argument.

    LMAO! That would be like like announcing an entire ideology is wrong based on topics not even brought up in the original post on a thread like this. Too funny!

    That almost sounds like…. no…. could it….

    I mean right here in our midst?

    Is it possible he is not talking during cases because he is posting right here on oneutah!

  74. #76 by Richard Warnick on February 13, 2011 - 5:57 pm

    brewski–

    I believe we’ve been over the whole so-called issue of reverse discrimination before. Maybe private universities like Georgetown are doing things you don’t agree with, but I submit it’s not the fault of the Civil Rights Act.

    I went to Georgetown in the 1970’s, and there were lots of students from wealthy families. A friend of mine lived in the International Student House, and his roommate arrived from Saudi Arabia with one suitcase. It was full of cash. So what? You have to admit it’s a diverse student body, when a guy like that is on the same campus with a middle-class scholarship student like me.

    Your wealthy Chilean (with servants!) has no name, and the story you tell is un-sourced. The amusing letter from the Georgetown University admissions office is apparently a product of your imagination. So yeah, hypothetical.

  75. #77 by brewski on February 13, 2011 - 11:08 pm

    Thank you for not addressing my point at all.
    The point is that AA deems that all Asians and white are advantaged and that all Hispanics and Blacks are disadvantaged. Yes there are a lot of advantaged whites and Asians, and lots of disadvantaged blacks and Hispanics. But there are more than freakish outliers who are disadvantaged Asians and whites as well as advantaged blacks and Hispanics. But AA doesn’t care about actual people. It just insists on superficial racial diversity in place of actual diversity. Also, so let’s say you agree that such a system should exist and that this superficial pigmented diversity is paramount above fairness. So let’s say that out of the group of presumed advantaged Asians and whites that 10 of them have to be sacrificed in the name of your cherished superficial diversity. Which 10 will be sacrificed? Will it be the well connected Asians and whites like Chelsea Clinton, or will it be the smart but poor and unconnected kid from Corpus Christi, TX?

    So in fact, the ones who are the most advantaged are not the ones who will be asked to step aside. The exact opposite outcome that AA claims it is supposed to achieve. So much for your system.

  76. #78 by Richard Warnick on February 14, 2011 - 5:53 am

    I’m not interested in further journeys into Hypothetical Land. The least you could do is come up with one real anecdote. Not University of California Regents v. Bakke either — another one.

    IMHO the admission policies of elite universities are of little interest. What about this?

    Egypt shows what might have happened had the young people who supported Obama used the internet to empower themselves instead of him.

  77. #79 by cav on February 14, 2011 - 9:43 am

    Free the freakish outliers! Now!

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