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Comment: Re:yes but (Score 1) 301

by Loki_1929 (#47429365) Attached to: Wireless Contraception

Assuming I found the idea of male or female genital mutilation and "straight camps" reprehensible I absolutely would feel the same way. See below.

I was hoping one of those might strike a cord, but consider if the Federal government stated you had to directly fund the murder of children up to say 5 years of age. Since many religious people believe that the life of a child begins at conception, that's what people like the founders of Hobby Lobby believe they are being told to do: directly fund the murder of children, not with the collection of taxes that go to a general fund, but rather by paying the private business that pays the private business that murders children. I would assume you would have significant objections to being forced to pay someone to murder children, but would you do it anyway simply to comply with the law? Or would you seek to be excluded from that requirement?

If I consider cockroaches holy I still don't have the right to forbid or obstruct a fumigator from doing his job.

No you don't, but I think you have to admit that a fetus/unborn child/baby/whatever-you-want-to-call-that-thing is significantly different from a cockroach, assuming you consider human life to be more important than insect lives. If you don't, that's fine, but I don't think we can have a good discussion. Assuming that you do, I actually still agree that no one has the legal right (though I would consider moral right a tougher call) to prevent someone from having a legal abortion or to prevent a doctor who performs abortions from doing his job. However, that isn't what's being discussed here. What we're talking about is the founders of Hobby Lobby, whose religious beliefs consider abortion to be murder, being forced by their government to directly fund that practice. In essence, from the perspective of their religion, they're being forced to directly fund the murder of children. Regardless of what you or I or any of the justices of the Supreme Court believe, it's what the founders of Hobby Lobby believe and they would almost certainly have to conclude that compliance with that law would damn their immortal souls to Hell for all eternity. I think that makes it rather difficult to defend for a nation that purports to respect religious beliefs.

There are many actions I disagree with committed in my name (and with my tax money) by the federal, state and local governments in whose jurisdiction I happen to reside. The fact I don't like how my resources are being utilized does not give me the right to refuse to pay taxes, permission to disrupt law enforcement activities or anything similar.

Your tax dollars go into a general fund. From that fund, activities you disapprove of are funded. Yet that's a far cry from them forcing you to pay for those activities directly. For instance, if you believe that all wars are evil and that fighting them and killing in them is murder (the truly convicted total pacifist), you may not like that the US government buys bombs and missiles with monies collected through taxes, but they aren't telling you that you have to write a check to Lockheed for an order of 5,000lb JDAMs so they can be dropped on someone's house. In other words, there's at least some difference between being forced to pay into a fund of fungible funds which is sometimes used for things you dislike and being forced to cut a check to pay for something that directly contradicts your firmly held beliefs.

In both cases there is a law in place. In my case I have to comply or face the consequences. In HL's case, they apparently do not have to comply with some of the law because they don't like it?

There are plenty of cases where you don't have to comply with the law. For instance, it's against the law to kill another human being. However, if that human being is trying to seriously harm you and you have no other choice to avoid that serious harm, you're exempted from the consequences of violating that law due to the circumstances. Intent is a huge component of criminal law. In many cases, a lack of intent can be a defense against criminal charges. In many of those cases where exemptions are carved out for circumstances, the beliefs of the individual and the reasonableness of those beliefs are a key factor. In this case, the founders of Hobby Lobby have beliefs that compliance with this law would constitute violation of core religious doctrine. In other words, they believed that directly funding these particular forms of birth control would damn them to Hell for financing the murder of children. Further, the other 16 methods of birth control were apparently not an issue for them, meaning they were seeking to follow the law right up to the point where it would result in eternal damnation. That's a far cry from simply declaring that one isn't going to follow the law because one dislikes it. This is a very specific, narrowly tailored exemption carved out for a relatively small group of individuals based upon an apparently reasonable religious belief.

While I understand that HL was able to summon the money and political clout to push the issue clear through the Supreme Court for an exception, I remain unconvinced that what occurred here was just/right even though it's clearly legal.

I think that what they were seeking was completely reasonable. Out of 20 birth control methods looked at, they found four methods with specific characteristics which heavily conflicted with their firmly held religious beliefs. They didn't seek exemption from the entire law or the womens' health aspects of the law or even the birth control aspects of the law. Rather, they were seeking to not have to directly fund a very small number of specific things that they believed constitute murder. Worse, that they believed constitute the murder of defenseless babies. I think if you ask 1000 people whether the Federal government can legally force someone to fund the murder of young children, at least 995 of them would say no. At that point, all that's left is to ask whether it's reasonable - based on their religious beliefs - for the Hobby Lobby founders to believe that's what's required of them if they have to fund those few specific methods.

SCOTUS found that it was reasonable for them to believe that and that as such, they had grounds to object. Further, the SCOTUS found that because there were so many alternatives for those affected by that coverage gap, the actual impact of such an exemption would be pretty limited. With those two things in mind, it became rather simple to decide that forcing a person to directly fund what they believe is the murder of small children, when not forcing them to do so has little impact on any else's rights or interests, just doesn't make sense. Thus, carving out a religiously based exemption was the best result. I think that's a perfectly sensible way for the SCOTUS to act.

OT: Thank you for your considered statements, reasonable tone and for not trying to turn this into a flame war.

Certainly, as I said, I'm definitely not emotionally invested in this case beyond looking for consistency and reasonableness. I really don't think this case would make any headlines if it weren't tied to the President and the ACA. I don't particularly like the legislation, but that's because I think it was poorly constructed and will bring loads of unintended consequences without actually making a significant enough impact in fixing problems like healthcare costs. Religious issues like what we're seeing in this case are just the beginning. This thing is going to slowly churn new exemptions (mostly administrative) and other changes constantly over the next decade until it's every bit as complicated as the current tax code. I think the law should be simple enough that one person can completely understand it and comply with it at all times. Our own government can't even tell us how many (just the number) of laws there are at the Federal level (seriously, the Library of Congress did a whole blog posting about this subject), let alone explain what all those laws are and how one would comply with them. That doesn't even touch all the laws in every state, county, city, township, etc. All that does is breed disrespect for the law and for the government making those laws.

Comment: Re:yes but (Score 1) 301

by Loki_1929 (#47413201) Attached to: Wireless Contraception

What an interesting perspective. Pray tell, once the baby is born, but still attached via the umbilical cord, is it still a parasite you can destroy at will? I don't actually care one way or another about abortion, but I do care about consistency. From a medical standpoint, there are some specific events such as fertilization, implantation, birth, etc which could be used as a basis for drawing the line between a non-human thing (which one might describe - as you did - as a "parasite") and a human being. Thus far, the only group that seems to define that line at a medically objective point are the religious crowd (who use fertilization as their starting point). Again, consistency.

Comment: Re:yes but...yes in fact. (Score 1) 301

by Loki_1929 (#47413183) Attached to: Wireless Contraception

Why are certain beliefs privileged?

Because the people who founded this country came here seeking relief from religious oppression. Thus, when they created their own government (the one we have today), they ensured that the highest law of the land specifically restrained the government from doing to future generations what the Crown had done to them. If you don't think religious beliefs deserve special consideration, feel free to propose an amendment to the US Constitution stating so.

Could a non-religious person decide they "believed" in not providing certain healthcare to their employees and just let the government pick up the bill instead?

That would be a more challenging case to prove. The benefit of belonging to a popular religious group is that the tenants are widely known. As such, one must only then demonstrate that one actually belongs to that group (and even so, only minimally; stating as much without evidence to the contrary would typically be enough) to gain protection from government policy, law, or action which would violate that group's religious beliefs. In the Hobby Lobby case, there were 4 specific methods of birth control out of 20 which the owners maintained violated their core beliefs. In essence, they viewed those 4 specific methods as murder, but raised no objection to the other 16. The SCOTUS found those beliefs to be sincere and reasonable, and found that there was no interest at stake compelling enough to override the protections afforded to the owners of Hobby Lobby by the US Constitution. This was found in no small part due to the multitude of other options available for those seeking to attain the goals of the underlying legislation.

It's actually a pretty mundane case and shouldn't get people this riled up, but it does because the ACA and the President are attached to it. If this case involved any other law but the President's signature legislation, nobody but SCOTUS buffs would have heard a word about it.

Comment: Re:yes but (Score 1) 301

by Loki_1929 (#47413167) Attached to: Wireless Contraception

This is getting a bit muddled, so I'd like to list a couple points of fact:

- HL is required to provide healthcare to their employees. The legislation has been enacted, it's a done deal.

- This birth control is part of that healthcare.

Nobody is telling the owners of HL not to use birth control. They have the right to make that choice for themselves.

We are talking about weather HL has the right to selectively refuse to provide this federally mandated medical care coverage to their employees because they (HL) don't like/agree/approve of it.

I tend to wonder if you'd feel the same way if you owned a business and the Federal government passed a law stating you had to pay for female genital mutilation procedures for young girls and "straight camps" for gays.

Not advocating a side, just seeking consistency. Out of 20 different birth control methods, the SCOTUS ruling continues to require HL and others like them to provide coverage for 16. There were 4 specific methods which the owners found to be abhorrent to their religious convictions. In essence, they consider those 4 specific methods to be murder. The other 16 are covered without objection and if the employees just have to use those four specific methods, there's nothing in the SCOTUS ruling stating that they can't; they'll just have to bankroll them on their own.

This doesn't strike me as a case where the concept of birth control or 'reproductive health' as a whole are under attack. Rather, this seems to be a legitimate situation wherein reasonable religious conviction clashed with law passed by Congress. The impact is quite limited and thus, the SCOTUS correctly provided reasonable latitude to the religious beliefs over the law.

People on the right are blowing this case way out of proportion because they see it as a victory against the ACA. People on the left are blowing this case way out of proportion because they either don't understand what actually happened or they're convinced it's a victory against the ACA. The reality is that it isn't any such thing; rather it's a fairly mundane case which wouldn't make it to page 4 below the fold if it weren't tied to the ACA and the President. In other words, relax, it's really no big deal.

Comment: Re:Who are these idiot futurists? (Score 1) 553

MAYBE machine intelligence will surpass humans in some ways, but where the hell do we get this idea that they’ll decide we’re unstable and wipe us out? Sci Fi? Do we get it from anything RATIONAL?

Your subject line holds the answer: Maybe the idiot futurists really are in danger of being surpassed by machines!

They just haven't figured out that the rest of us aren't idiots too.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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