Questionable Motives

November 14, 2014

Life or culture? Which is the greater civil right?

Filed under: aboriginal culture,Healthcare,Medicine,woo — tildeb @ 6:11 pm

So which is the more important right for the judiciary to uphold if a choice must be made?

Well, in Canada, it seems a befuddled judge thinks a constitutional right to ‘practice’ one’s culture supersedes the state’s right to protect a citizen’s life from a parent’s belief in the efficacy derived from exercising Oogity Boogity rather than evidence-adduced efficacious medicine.

In a recent court decision: a Ontario judge said,

I cannot find that J.J. is a child in need of protection when her substitute decision-maker has chosen to exercise her constitutionally protected right to pursue their traditional medicine over the Applicant’s stated course of treatment of chemotherapy.

Right, because efficacious medical treatment is apparently and magically a cultural expression all of a sudden… and a substitute medical decision maker can now legitimately pick which one to apply to (what, suddenly cultural?) disease processes and still be consider a responsible adult (and not simply bat-shit crazy with belief in woo) in the eyes of the law.

The local health team who had begun real medical treatment of a treatable disease process had asked the local Children’s Aid Society to take guardianship over the child (a practice often done when the parents of an ill child deny simple blood transfusions on the basis of contrary religious belief) when the mother of the child insisted that her aboriginal rights to do whatever she wanted to do to the child trumped any rights the child had to efficacious medical treatment. The judge agreed, saying these beliefs of the mother’s were “integral” to the family’s way of life, so the ruling was to allow her to choose traditional medicine for her daughter.

In this sense, the right to impose ‘traditional medicine’ on a dependent child over and above real medicine (with an efficacy of over 90%) means death. And this is what the court is trying to tell us is a ‘constitutional’ right.

Bullshit.

Culture does not trump civil rights, and the most fundamental civil right any of us has is the right not to be killed to suit the faith-based ignorant and harmful beliefs of a parent who wishes to impose it on their dependents. This is already well established jurisprudence and this judge missed the point entirely… so busy trying to be ‘tolerant’ and ‘politically correct’ and ‘culturally sensitive’ as to elevate cultural beliefs to be superior to fundamental civil rights.

This is a really bad court decision in general that sets a terrible precedence that will be abused under the guise of ‘cultural expressions’ and particularly for the girl involved. In her case, this decision is a death sentence.

 

November 4, 2014

What is the lesson from a terrorist attack?

Filed under: Canada,Islam,military,terrorism,values — tildeb @ 10:57 am

On October 22, 2014, a recent covert to Islam decided to heed the call from ISIS to kill some people who represented the country of Canada in the name of bringing honour to Allah. Here’s the story from Wikipedia:

A series of shootings occurred on October 22, 2014, at Parliament Hill and nearby in Ottawa, Canada. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau fatally shot Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian soldier on ceremonial guard duty at the Canadian National War Memorial. He then launched an attack in the nearby Centre Block parliament building, where members of the Parliament of Canada were attending caucuses. Zehaf-Bibeau was killed inside the building in a gunfight with parliament security personnel. Following the shootings, the downtown core of Ottawa was placed on lockdown while police searched for any potential additional threats.

The shootings took place two days after an attack on military personnel in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, which also killed a Canadian soldier. Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper said both of these attacks serve as a “grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world.”

Yes these attacks were a reminder that we are a part of the world. But these attacks allowed Canadians to demonstrate to the rest of the world what secular values of nationhood mean in action:

 

highwayofheroes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a typical overpass of a four lane divided highway running along a populated corridor between Windsor, Ontario and Quebec City in Canada. The Corporal body was driven from where he was killed in Ottawa to his home town of Hamilton. The journey along this section of highway is about 350 Km and has about 50 overpasses. When Corporal Cirillo’s body was repatriated to his home town, this was a typical image that greeted the small convoy.

The point is that our national anthem includes the words “We stand on guard for thee.’ Cirillo was ceremonially doing exactly that at the National War Memorial when he was shot and killed… not for who he was but for what he represented, what he was defending. That cannot be killed. It can, however, be a value reinvigorated in our hearts and minds. And this is exactly what such attacks do. They remind all of us -again – what it is that is worth defending: the rights and freedoms all of us share. What you’re seeing in this picture is the average Canadian and local municipal forces repaying that same debt all of us share and taking our turn… to stand on guard for him.

In case one might be tempted to see this event as some kind of media circus, let me assure you that it happened spontaneously. Across the country the same sentiment was expressed time and again at every local cenotaph. Poppies appeared. Hand written notes were left. Flowers set out by the anonymous. Even 3500 Km away in the recesses of the mountains of British Columbia, we find the same sentiment on display:

cenotaph William's Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is what it means to be Canadian – different in all ways imaginable yet each a part of the whole by what we share: our values of freedom, equality rights, and the dignity of personhood that resides within the living heart of each person who wears a uniform. And even though the military brass was quick to order our men and women out of uniform to avoid being targets, I saw a common and spontaneous response to that: hundreds of local cadets and retired military people don their uniforms in the following days not just to make a statement of support but remind the military itself that we are not separate groups and organizations and institutions … but one people who share in the active defense of our values. This is the lesson from a terrorist attack and one that more terrorists themselves should heed because since our inception, Canada has been and shall remain a warrior nation first and a peacekeeper only second. We really do stand on guard for thee.

July 6, 2014

Freedom: what does it mean?

Filed under: abortion,Hobby Lobby,Law,Media,Medicine,SCOTUS — tildeb @ 11:32 pm

stupid burnsFirst, we have the legal decision to declare no 35 foot buffer zone around abortion clinics because it infringes on freedom of speech.

Then we have the legal decision to allow an employer’s religious belief to determine employee healthcare coverage in the name of freedom of religion.

Note the term ‘freedom’. What does it mean?

For the addled judges and supporters of these terrible rulings who use this term in its legal sense, meaning liberty, let me suggest that  you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

How do I know?

Well, consider this full page ad bought and paid for by the recently victorious Hobby Lobby.

This ad demonstrates that these other freedoms – expression and religion – were really just a convenient cover for the kind of freedom needed to impose one’s religious beliefs on others without their consent. You know, the non-liberty kind of liberty favoured by tyrants of all pious and non pious stripes.

Freedom in the Hobby Lobby’s parlance and upheld by the highest court in the land means freedom to cherry pick quotations and revise history not because it’s true but because it is believed to properly represent the business owners’ historical revisions.

It means the freedom to misrepresent history in order to aid the addled judges to assume the separation of church and state was a mistake that they can now correct, to aid a government to act freely on behalf of the religious belief of some rich business owners for the state to sponsor their religious imposition wherever in in whatever way they believe best suits them. Impositions like religious indoctrination through public education.

This is what ‘freedom’ actually means for the religious who really care about a particular kind of equivalent freedom, another way to achieve equivalent freedom for all, meaning an equivalency that privileges a particular religious imposition so that ‘liberty’ can be enhanced for the few by limiting the liberty of the many.

And the five Catholic man majority on SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) went along with this legal doublespeak charade.

Can’t wait for sharia to make its publicly funded debut. Good times for all those other principled Hobby Lobby wannabes, eh?  (Check out The Young Turks video for a 12 minute rundown of the insanity of this ruling.)

Shame on these judges.

June 30, 2014

Why does religious privilege matter in the public domain?

crock of shitBecause when you get five white male catholics sitting on the Supreme Court of the United States, you get discriminatory laws like this one that justifies business being able to determine its employees’ health care on religious grounds.

We hold that the regulations that impose this obligation violate RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act 1993), which prohibits the Federal Government from taking any action that substantially burdens the exercise of religion unless that action constitutes the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest.

We must decide whether the challenged HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) regulations (mandating payment for insurance coverage that includes contraceptives) substantially burden the exercise of religion, and we hold that they do.

See? Healthcare on religious grounds… a perfectly reasonable privilege in law (against a public policy that just so happens to be contrary to their religious teachings) for a bunch of catholics to endorse.

Are we surprised?

Hardly.

Now, let’s see what happens when a business owner who is hindu refuses to pay coverage for gastroenterology of eaters of beef, a scientologist owner who refuses to cover psychiatric counseling and treatments, a christian science business owner who refuses to pay for dental coverage, and so on. Will this enlightened group of white catholic men continue to support religious privilege outside of their religious beliefs? Somehow, I sincerely doubt it. (We don’t even need to go so far as to consider religiously inspired  human sacrifice to imagine just how stupid and shortsighted this ruling can become; refusal to pay for any reproductive healthcare is next up). Are such religious folk who run businesses unreasonable to expect the Supreme Court to privilege their mandatory exemptions contrary to their religious teachings in the public domain? Will the Supreme Court stay true to the principle in law they’ve set down here that the public domain must privilege religious belief of individuals? Will we stand by and nod our head in pious agreement that bigotry and misogyny are to be privileged in this way because they are religious, and so their exercise trumps equality rights and freedom from legal discrimination? Apparently so.

What a stupid ruling. Colossal stupidity.

But it shouldn’t be surprising: any time we allow religion to have privilege in law, we always pay the price in a loss of legal autonomy that is rationalized to be moral. And we pay this price because religious belief itself – for all its hand waving about its benevolence and charity and comfort claims – holds zero respect for legal autonomy. Respect for our personal autonomy in law is the enemy of mandated religious fealty and privilege, which is why secular values are targeted by all religions (under the banner of secular protection, of course) to be immoral. Religion – no matter how vanilla the local flavour may appear to be – is always a tyranny working in ways to try to make it happen. We ignore this core religious value at our peril.

June 22, 2014

What’s an earworm?

Filed under: Entertainment — tildeb @ 11:15 pm

Ohrwurm! (Thanks, Arb – I had called it a ‘brainworm’ – an idea that ironically got stuck in my head – now corrected).  It’s a German term for a song that you can’t get out of your head… let’s share.

Here’s mine:

 

June 19, 2014

Why do I hold Sam Harris in such esteem?

Filed under: Harris,Humour — tildeb @ 10:05 am

May 28, 2014

What are solar freakin’ roadways?

Filed under: Environment,Science,Technology — tildeb @ 10:00 am

They are the future that starts now. Welcome to the beginning of something special…

 

(h/t to mystro at deadwildroses)

 

May 11, 2014

What is atheism?

Filed under: Atheism,belief,evidence,faith-based beliefs,reason,Religion,Science — tildeb @ 11:38 am

I continue to be amazed at just how poorly understood is atheism by those hell-bent on criticizing it. After all, if you can’t even figure out what the term means by those who use it to define their lack of belief with it, then how can these folk justify claims that non belief inherently possesses immorality while blathering about its association with all kinds of pejorative descriptions and character assassinations for those who do not believe in some meddlesome supernatural deity or deities.

So let’s be clear and define the term for those unable or unwilling to actually listen to atheists: atheism means non belief in gods or a god. The REASONS for holding no belief in some meddlesome supernatural deity or deities are many. I sincerely hope this video will help those who demonstrate such difficulty of comprehension grasping such a simple term finally understand what atheism means and how one arrives at this conclusion.

(h/t to the Arbourist over at deadwildroses)

 

May 7, 2014

Are ‘honestly held beliefs’ reason enough to justify legal discrimination?

can of wormsWell, let’s look at the principle upon which all of us expect to be treated fairly and impartially before and by the law, namely, that

“All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” (Article 26, UN covenant on political and civil rights)

To support legal discrimination in a particular case means you must provide a reasonable justification to the benefit of all for that particular exemption against the general principle. This can be (and is) done when that justification can be shown to enhance the public good. For example, we can legally discriminate against all of us who have not achieved the age of majority or all of us who have been shown to be incapable of being responsible for our actions. Legal discrimination is permissible without breaking the principle of the covenant… but the justification must be the same FOR ALL.

Now let’s consider the idea of ‘honestly held beliefs’ to be the metric for varying what equality rights mean. The question can be formulated this way: does an ‘honestly held belief’ by another person constitute a reasonable justification to the benefit of all in your mind for the loss of your own equality before the law and the loss of its protection to guarantee them? Are you willing to have your legal rights be subject and hostage to the variability of another person’s honestly held beliefs?

There are a couple ways to come at answering this.

The straightforward answer here is either Yes or No. There is no middle ground. You are either willing to allow others (based on their ‘honestly held beliefs’) to determine the quality of your legal rights or you are not. The metric at work here is belief, and rests in the willingness to have your legal equality rights rights rest not with you, not empowered in and by the law, but in the belief-based opinion of others.  This breaks the principle that currently supports legal equality for all of us… not just against those whose legal rights and protection you wish to limit for whatever beliefs you may deem important enough but your own. Supporting the notion that ‘honestly held beliefs’ is sufficient to devalue equality rights to personal preference of beliefs means that you do not support the principle that upholds your own.

The extent of privilege our societies grant to religious belief and the institutions and speakers who represent them is truly astounding. For example, returning to the UN covenant on political and civil rights, we find the following:

“Discrimination is allowed if it is based on genuine religious beliefs or principles. This includes the actions of religious bodies or schools.”

Take a moment and think about that. What does it really mean?

Well, it means that the previous principle for all has been replaced in practice by the beliefs of some. It means all people are not equal before the law; our shared equality rights are in fact subject to the religious beliefs (and principles contained within them) of others, others who would deny them first for ‘honestly held beliefs… before any other grounds of justification are introduced! Where is the universal justification for this discrimination that demonstrates its fairness and impartiality to the good of all? It’s absent; what we have are lot of assumptions and attributions and arguments and conclusions unsupported by compelling evidence. This is faith-based belief in action… simply presumed to be justified because it is religious.  And that’s religious privilege in action and it undermines the very principle of YOUR legal rights, YOUR legal equality, YOUR legal protections. This religious privilege buolt on faith-based beliefs is incompatible with the very principle of equality law.

Another way to understand and appreciate the scope of craziness needed to sustain the argument of privileging ‘honestly held beliefs’ over and above and preceding equality rights for all is to apply the same reasoning, the same privilege, the same lack of independent justification to some other area of public interest. We have a host to choose from but let’s take a public water supply for our analogy and see how well the justification works.

The management of that public water supply is based on the principle of providing clean water for all… and we are all in agreement that this water should be safe for all to drink because all of us drink from it! But let’s say some people in the management team decide that certain privileged exemptions to that principle are justified by the ‘honestly held beliefs’ of those involved with providing this service, making the water supply safe for some but not for others. When people complain that their water supply is, in fact, contaminated – because some people honestly believe that the addition of industrial waste products containing toxins and carcinogenics to this part of the water supply but not that part at the request of certain industries to eliminate their waste is a net benefit to all, while reassuring the rest of us that we will continue to receive only a clean water supply – how is it a justification that doesn’t directly undermine the principle of clean water for all? Would the same exemption be allowed, for example, if the quality of everyone’s water supply – including the captains of these polluting industries and the management team themselves – were to be subject to the same vagaries of who received what quality of water when? Or would we as a municipality stand united and insist that the water supply be kept clean for all? Sure, the industrialists might complain that they have a real problem with their toxic wastes, but why should the quality of our water supply be their solution… any more than threatening our shared legal rights of equality be the solution to the demands of these religious for privilege to exercise their bias and discrimination in the name of the public good?

March 30, 2014

Why should religion be kept out of healthcare?

facepalmBecause it has nothing to do with providing best practices healthcare and everything to do with promoting its theology! And the problem becomes obvious when authority for healthcare decisions must pass through religious leadership that determines – based on theology and not medicine – if best practices ALIGNS with its dogma.

This is Crazytown.

Welcome to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, a town of about 35,000 people who have one hospital called the Jane Phillips Medical Center. That hospital is part of Ascension Health, a large Catholic health care consortium.

Yeah, so what?

Well, in order to do their jobs, local obstetricians and gynecologists need to maintain privileges there.

Okay.

In order to maintain privileges, a doctor must meet the hospital’s POLICIES.

Sounds reasonable, right, because healthcare policies should be informed by best practices, right?

Wrong.

Catholic hospitals determine their polices based on Catholic doctrine first and foremost. Medical ethics are subject to this doctrine.

Are you beginning to grasp how concern about an incompatibility between religious belief and science-based treatment might arise?

Stick with me here.

What happens when Catholic doctrine stands contrary to some science-based medical service like… let’s say… oh, I don’t know… there are so many to choose from… birth control. Let’s return to Bartlesville/Crazytown and find out together, shall we?

Here is where the rubber of medical service providers meets the road of Catholic doctrine: local OB-GYN doctors who wish to maintain privileges at the one hospital can no longer prescribe birth control for birth control because it’s contrary to Catholic doctrine.

a meeting was held Wednesday to inform local doctors of gynecology and obstetrics that they can no longer prescribe contraceptives of any kind — if they are to be used as birth control. – See more at: http://examiner-enterprise.com/news/local-news/reports-jpmc-doctors-no-longer-allowed-prescribe-birth-control#sthash.O7ZbfxWK.dpuf

Who determines what healthcare services best fits the needs of patients and on what grounds: medical practitioners with advanced medical training or a group of celibate men in dresses and funny hats who pretend they can turn wine into blood and crackers into flesh by mumbling some Latin?

You are not surprised to find out that the authority – the right and god-sanctioned ethical authority – just so happens to be the group of celibate men… who require no medical expertise whatsoever who are on the basis of their religious authority better able to determine what constitutes the right medical services to provide. The specific patient’s welfare isn’t worth shit; maintaining the Church’s ethical standards are paramount, and local OB-GYNs are turned into their accomplices.

And some people are so militant, so strident, so hateful as to suggest that this hierarchy is intolerable in the public domain where there really is compelling evidence that religious belief when imposed on others is fundamentally incompatible with exercising individual autonomy to hold evidence-based science, its products, and its medical practitioners in higher esteem than religious shepherds s leading flocks of willing religious sheep. We are to vilify those who complain about this religious interference in the public domain to be superior to those who are educated and highly trained people in certain practices. After all, they must immoral because that’s what religious leadership tells us so it must be true. This is equivalent to plumbers and their expertise subject to oversight by those who think pipes can be cleared of problems caused by evil spirits through exorcism. If you have a plumbing problem, this kind of authority suddenly  becomes your concern when the plumber you must hire is obligated to not fix it for religious reasons.

The ongoing incompatibility between faith-based and science-adduced practices is so obvious, so ludicrous, so ethically screwed up, that its a mystery anyone with two neurons to rub together might think this hierarchy for determining services is in any way reasonable. It’s not; the truly delusional inmates are running the asylum… or, in this case, the hospital and its medical services.

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