Sunday Reader February 15, 2009  

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Circle 'round the Moon

Civil Rights
Is Taking Life Endangering Risks Immoral?
And my reaction to young AIDS deaths is exactly as I react to the deaths of folks like Jeremy Lusk, Jim O’Brien, Steve Irwin, and Dale Earnhardt. It’s tragic. Folks do well to know of the risks they take or otherwise to minimize those risks. In a perfect world, people would always dot their i’s, cross their t’s, eat healthy, go for regular check ups to the doctor, exercise, wear seatbelts, don’t drive when you haven’t had enough sleep, never talk on your cell phone when driving, don’t smoke, always drink in no more than moderation, etc., etc. And, at the very least we need to educate ourselves and understand how to live such risk minimized lives. Until utopia or the millennium, we will never be able to avoid risks completely.

Left-Handers Threaten Nation's Moral Fiber: Same-Sex Marriage, Handedness, and the History of Bigotry
When I first read of the negative associations with left- handedness I was reminded of the kinds of intolerance and disgust expressed about people who are physically attracted to people like themselves, (which has also occurred in all cultures and throughout human history) and I hoped that as the scientific evidence of distinct brain differences between gay and straight people became more widely known that this prejudice too would abate. I was, therefore, saddened by the passage in Arizona, Arkansas and California of propositions to limit marriage to opposite sex couples. (Arkansas voters were especially heartless ordaining that "unmarried cohabiting couples" -- a phrase aimed at gay couples -- could not adopt children; every study done has shown they make just as good parents as mixed sex couples. Surely what is most important is children having secure and loving homes with two parents who are committed each other -- I'm with Judge Judy on this!).

Utah bill targets game sales to minors, could backfire
Even though past legislation involving criminalizing the sales of certain games to underage consumers has consistently failed—while costing taxpayers a good amount of money—a Utah state congressman thinks he has found a way to get around the pesky First Amendment problems that struck down past attempts at legislation. This new bill would make it a crime to advertise that you don't sell violent or graphic content (games and movies) to children... and then do so. If you think that sounds silly, you'll understand why soon enough: the bill was drafted by none other than disbarred attorney Jack Thompson.

Obama fails his first test on civil liberties and accountability -- resoundingly and disgracefully
What makes this particularly appalling and inexcusable is that Senate Democrats had long vehemently opposed the use of the "state secrets" privilege in exactly the way that the Bush administration used it in this case, even sponsoring legislation to limits its use and scope. Yet here is Obama, the very first chance he gets, invoking exactly this doctrine in its most expansive and abusive form to prevent torture victims even from having their day in court, on the ground that national security will be jeopardized if courts examine the Bush administration's rendition and torture programs -- even though (a) the rendition and torture programs have been written about extensively in the public record; (b) numerous other countries have investigated exactly these allegations; and (c) other countries have provided judicial forums in which these same victims could obtain relief.

International News
Eluana Englaro
Italy's top court awarded Englaro's father the right to stop her daughter from being fed The court's decision met with immediate criticism of the Roman Catholic Church. Ennio Cardinal Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, stated: "Eluana is in a 'vegetative state,' but she is not a vegetable. She is a person who is sleeping. The person, also when she is sleeping or disabled, retains all of her dignity. The person is valuable in herself, not for what she produces or consumes, or for the pleasure or satisfaction she gives to others."

It Takes Effort
At this funeral, the first reading was from a passage from the Book of Wisdom (not found in most Bibles, other than the Douay Catholic version). The funeral officiant mentioned in his homily how this passage was the first biblical reference to the concept of life after death. He told us that originally the Jews, and even the early Christians, didn’t really believe in a life after death, but that only later did that concept arise among Christians. This is where I became a little befuddled, because I’m not sure exactly at what point in time people began to believe, with their particular religion, that they could look forward to immortal life. It really doesn’t matter for purposes of this post, as the point I want to emphasize is the same point he chose to emphasize - that Christians really have to work hard to maintain their beliefs, especially the Big One in the Afterlife, primarily because it flies in the face of all material knowledge.

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