Archive for the ‘Civil Liberties’ Category
The University of Mississippi’s student legislature, known as the Associated Student Body (ASB) Senate, meets weekly to draft policy recommendations for implementation within the University. Several ASB Senators are also active members of Young Americans for Liberty, and one of them recently took issue with the ASB’s practice of saying a Christian prayer prior to each session.
What follows is the text of Dan Blazo’s invocation before the Ole Miss ASB Senate:
” Please, keep your heads up and your eyes open.
I thought about giving an agnostic prayer tonight about how none of us know the answers to the big questions in life, but I realized that that would be wholly inappropriate. In fact, it would be inappropriate for the same reasons that giving a Christian prayer would be.
As senators, each of us took an oath to uphold the ASB Constitution to the best of our abilities. Accordingly, I’d like to direct your attention to Article 10, Section 7 of the ASB Constitution, which reads:
“The ASB shall not discriminate against any student based on race, gender, age, ethnicity, ability or disability, marital status, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation, or national origin. Respect, tolerance, and goodwill are the keystones to enjoying the diversity of our campus, and it is the duty of the ASB to encourage and promote these ideals. The ASB is committed to achieving an intellectual, cultural, and social environment on campus in which all are free to think and make their contribution. We will achieve an environment in which every student may think, learn, and grow without prejudice, intimidation, and discrimination. We will achieve an environment in which personal dignity and respect for the individual are recognized by all students.”
So according to the Constitution, it is our duty to encourage and promote respect and tolerance among our constituents, who comprise a beautifully diverse group of young people with many ethnicities, philosophies, and religious beliefs, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Agnosticism, Atheism, Christianity, and probably others as well. By praying to Jesus, we exclude all non-Christians from being represented by their government; we ostensibly represent only Christians. How does that promote religious tolerance? How is it respectful to our non-Christian constituents?
As representatives of a secular public university who would never trade our diverse community for one where everyone looks and talks and thinks more similarly, let us abstain from practicing any one religion at our Senate meetings. Let us open our hearts to the welfare of all people within our community by respecting the inherent dignity of us all, recognizing that our differences of race, religion, and party affiliation are only superficial.
If you wish to pray out loud together before the meetings, that’s great! I only ask that you do so on your own time. How would you feel if your student government opened every meeting with a prayer to a god you don’t believe in (say Allah, Yahweh, Krishna, or Zeus), a god who claims that all Christians are destined for Hell? Would you feel represented, or excluded and out of place? Whether or not you want to admit it, the Ole Miss Rebels don’t all pray in Jesus’ name. Our religious views are private matters. Senate meetings are inherently public affairs.
Let us separate church and government by removing the invocation from the Senate meetings. Let us remember that in the face of adversity, we need not close our eyes and look above for answers, but only recognize our own collaborative abilities to overcome any challenges that face us.
Thank you. “
Young Americans for Liberty salutes Senator Blazo for standing up for religious liberty.
“Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” – Thomas Jefferson, in Letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802.
James Robertson currently attends the University of Mississippi, where he plans to receive degrees in Political Science and English. He is the President of the Ole Miss Chapter of Young Americans for Liberty.
So how quickly did that title catch your eye? I sometimes enjoy throwing quick hits such as that out to truly get a glimpse into how ingrained our society is with government protection. Drinking and driving is no laughing matter, however. It is dangerous to the extent of immorality (in my opinion). When people drink and drive they put themselves and, more importantly, others at risk.
However, I believe the actual definition of the word ‘risk’ escapes us sometimes. Risk is not simply for the stock brokers and day traders. Human beings take risks every day. It is the necessary response to living in a world of uncertainty. You take risks just by getting out of bed in the morning. Yet, there are certain activities which seem to raise the risks of extreme casualty to unnecessary levels. It is up to the individual to decide when the level of risk is too extreme to continue with any particular task that is currently occupying his/her time. However, circumstances, understandably, change when we venture into the realm of one person’s risks causing particularly unnecessary risks to others.
Reason Magazine recently ran a story by Radley Balko about Eddie Lee Howard, an inmate on death row in Mississippi for the 1994 rape and murder of Georgia Kemp. His conviction hinged on the testimony of an expert witness, dentist Michael West, whose work in bite mark analysis was notoriously unreliable. This was the basis for Howard’s 2006 appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court, but his conviction was upheld. In 2008, though, the National Academy of Sciences released a report discrediting West and labeling his analysis as “impossible.” Despite these recent developments, Attorney General Jim Hood seeks to bar Howard from filing another appeal, on the grounds that Dr. West’s credibility had already been challenged, and found reliable, in the previous appeal.
As Balko points out, the Attorney General’s mission should be to seek justice, not convictions. While this new appeal also deals with Dr. West’s credibility, new evidence has come forth since that issue was previously raised before Mississippi’s high court. As the Supreme Court says, “death is different.” Taking a man’s life is no small thing, and before the state can deprive a citizen of life itself, the ultimate God-given right it is instituted to protect, every relevant fact available must be taken into consideration.
The question then remains – why does Misssissippi’s chief prosecutor seek to deny this man another chance to prove his innocence? Is it really in the state’s best interest to ensure that this accused murderer no longer lives, faulty testimony be damned? Two inmates who were sentenced to death due to West’s testimony have already been acquitted and released, the real murdered identified using DNA technology. Has Attorney General Hood lost sight of the purpose of our criminal justice system?
Glenn Greenwald reports that Obama has authorized the murder of a US citizen. Civil liberties, trial by jury, rule of law? Who needs them. Tyranny greater than Bush offered? Yes, we can.
Read Greenwald’s disturbing article here.
Democrats have just provided us with the largest expansion of the welfare state since Republicans did the same under George W Bush. But why, exactly, is Obamacare so atrocious?
For one, it represents a transfer of wealth. The many are taxed to pay for health insurance premiums for the few. Thirty-five million people (and Big Insurance) will enjoy the benefits of the money earned by the over two hundred million who actually worked for it.
Professor of History Clyde Wilson writes a brief history of the principles of nullification. In this great article, he demonstrates Jefferson’s life-long devotion to the principles of state sovereignty, a necessary component of liberty.
Read Dr Wilson’s fantastic article here.
It seems the dynamic duo of Mccain and Lieberman have joined forces once again to produce one of the most horrifying pieces of legislation to date.
It’s called the “Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010.” A post on xpostfactoid notes on the atrocities of this legislation and provides a link to the bill. If passed, this would grant the federal government the legal authority to commit any individual it considered an “enemy combatant” to indefinite detention and suspend Miranda rights.
Secretary of the Navy and Former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus recently testified before the Senate Armed Services Committe on the question of repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Mabus said that he supports the repeal of the policy while acknowledging that since the policy was matter of law, any potential change would rest in the hands of the Congress. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is widely considered a discrimatory policy, and rightly so. Mabus represents the Navy and the state of Mississippi well by supporting its repeal and recognizing the cosntitutionally correct avenue through which such a repeal should emerge. You can watch a short clip of the proceedings below.
Glenn Greenwald is definitely one of the most indispensable commentators around when it comes to exposing horrible atrocities carried out by the United States government. I have always been impressed by his ability to see through partisan politics and call out democrats and republicans alike in areas dealing with the most important of civil liberties. However, I was even more impressed with his insight in one of his more recent articles, The GOP’s “Small Government” Tea-Party Fraud.
In it, Greenwald, once again, exposes the GOP for its latest attempt at deception in order to gain power. I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise when you consider Greenwald was the man who saw through every national security lie that sprang forth from the GOP’s mouth during the Bush years. However, Greenwald expresses a clear understanding of what the GOP is up to:
There’s a major political fraud underway: the GOP is once again donning their libertarian, limited-government masks in order to re-invent itself and, more important, to co-opt the energy and passion of the Ron-Paul-faction that spawned and sustains the ”tea party” movement. The Party that spat contempt at Paul during the Bush years and was diametrically opposed to most of his platform now pretends to share his views. Standard-issue Republicans and Ron Paul libertarians are as incompatible as two factions can be…
Right-wing mavens like Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin and National Review are suddenly feigning great respect for Ron Paul and like-minded activists because they’re eager that the sham will be maintained: the blatant sham that the modern GOP and its movement conservatives are a coherent vehicle for those who believe in small government principles.
I’m sure we’re all aware of this, but I thought Greenwald did a great job of putting it into words.
RealClearPolitics posted an article this morning pointing out how recent court decisions have upheld libertarian values in the areas of campaign finance, gun control, climate change legistlation, and drug policy. These judicial victories coupled with Rep. Ron Paul’s, R-Texas, straw poll victory at CPAC offer a hopeful future for liberty in American politics. Below is an excerpt from the article; follow the accompanying link to read more.
“The last several years have not been easy for libertarians to stomach. The U.S. government, which had bloated under President George W. Bush and a Republican Congress – the annual budget had climbed from $2 to $3 trillion under Bush and that didn’t count much off-budget military spending – has grown even more under President Barack Obama and his Democrats.
The U.S. now has nationalized industries, out-of-control deficits, and a looming entitlement crunch to deal with. And that’s before we factor in Obama’s calls for even more stimulus and new programs. America, the joke goes, doesn’t have the change to afford hope any more. So why are so many libertarians smiling?”
Read the full article here.