Tag Archives: First Amendment

Average Joe SCOTUS – The American Legion v. American Humanist Association

Back in 1918, this park made a war memorial with a big-ass cross in it. At the time, it was a private park. In 1961 the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission took over that land and everything on it.

This cross racked up big maintenance costs over time, and the Maryland Commission was paying to maintain it. Some non-Christians at the American Humanist Association (I’m atheist, but they sound like the boringest borings that ever bored, don’t they?) were like, “Separation of Church and state, man! This is bullshit.”

So then the American Legion was like, “Listen you atheist assholes. The cross has been used to honor dead people for years. It is often a Christian symbol, sure. But sometimes, it’s secular. So give us a fucking break. Have you ever seen the World War 1 memorial? Crosses are everywhere!”

But American Humanist wasn’t having that bullshit and took them to court. They cited the old Lemon v Kurtzman decision, which sided with atheists that government couldn’t give money to non-secular schools. They were like, “It’s the same god damn thing!”

So as usual, lower courts couldn’t agree, and these peeps found their asses in the sights of SCOTUS.

SCOTUS wasn’t hearing that shit, though. They somehow argued that the cross can indeed have a secular meaning as the American Legion and sided with them accordingly, 7 to 2. Only Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented. Ginsburg was like, the cross “is the foremost symbol of the Christian faith…” I’m pretty sure she said, “are you fucking nuts?” But they bleeped it out.

Here’s the deal, this is not government establishing religion, or prohibiting free expression thereof, which is what the constitution actually says, not that there should be a separation of church and state. We’re still arguing over this nonsense because SCOTUS seems to care more about precedent than the constitution’s verbiage. As Scalia once said, “that document is dead.” Meaning it should be interpreted as that shit is written, not what you think they meant. If congress doesn’t like it, amend it.

Again, I’m atheist, but if it isn’t a law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free expression thereof, then it doesn’t violate 1A as it’s written. So amend it, or move on.

Hear oral arguments and/or read about the case here.

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Average Joe SCOTUS – Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck

OK, we all know New York would regulate the size of your bowel movements if they could, right?

These legislators in the United Socialist State of New York decided that if you’re going to operate a cable TV company in New York, and you have more than 36 channels (because they’re the kind to write arbitrary bullshit rules like that), you have to at least dedicate one channel to a public access channel that is on a “first-come, first-served” basis.

Time Warner, being a big ass cable company, were granted permission to operate there if they had four public access stations available. New York assigned a gestapo group to oversee it—Manhattan Community Access Corp. (MCAC).

Along come these beatnik assholes Halleck and Melendez and their shitty poetry and stupid socialist bullshit home video they called, “The 1% visit El Barrio.” I haven’t heard their poetry, or watched their dumb video. It’s just that all poetry is shitty, and I’d rather watch my cat lick his balls. Get a fucking job.

Because their poetry was especially shitty, these gestapo public access stations police at MCAC told them to get the fuck out and don’t come back.

Halleck and Menendez said, “First amendment, motherfuckers! I have a right to speak without you Nazi government assholes preventing me from doing so.”

But MCAC was like, “We’re a private group, not government. And frankly, you can speak to your heart’s content, just not on our fucking channel, asshole. Now get lost.”

So SCOTUS was asked to decided if MCAC was a government entity since it existed at the behest of government, even though it was a private entity. And did they violate the beatnik’s 1A rights?

The conservative justice don’t give a fuck about these beatnik’s garbage poetry and videos, and ruled for MCAC. Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan being the hippies they are dissented—poetry is life!. They were like, “you right wing assholes don’t realize that when New York set this shit up to be public access, they made it an electronic public forum. Limiting these beatnik’s ability to use this public forum is a clear violation of 1A, and you guys can eat a bag of dicks.”

So then the right-wing justices were like, “Too bad we have the majority, assholes.” 5:4 decision for MCAC.

Hear oral arguments and/or read about the case here.

Religious Liberty? Sexual-Orientation Liberty? How about just “Liberty”

In January of 2013, an Oregonian bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple who were soon to wed. Aaron and Melissa Klein, the bakery’s owners, are Christian, and felt that baking such a cake would violate their religious beliefs. As such, they refused the lesbian couple’s business.sweet_cakes_by_Melissa

As reported here by Fox, the couple faced a $150,000 fine, based on a January 29th, 2015 ruling, for discrimination as a result of such action.

Being an atheist and a libertarian, I find Aaron and Missy’s actions egregious and disgusting. I suspect many people who champion gay rights are happy to see them in trouble. But, as much as libertarians are indeed for gay rights, we are supposed to champion rights for all people, qualifiers be damned.

While the courts are doing a good job protecting the rights of the lesbian couple, they are taking away rights from the Kleins in doing so, and this is no better.

If the Constitution’s 1st amendment guarantees free speech under the law so people can say hateful things, shouldn’t the 1st amendment’s freedom of religion clause protect those who practice religion-based hate just the same?

U.S. Constitution: 1st Amendment
U.S. Constitution: 1st Amendment

If I were the gay couple looking to get the aforementioned cake, I’d be rather insulted by the Klein’s actions, but if I believe in liberty, I’d fight vehemently for them to engage in such hate, so long as their hate isn’t harming me in some way. Let the free market deal with the Kleins in the court of public opinion.

I could do so by taking my story to local media, which happened as a result of this case, but I could also go on social media like Facebook and Twitter and spread the fact that the Kleins are not gay-friendly, hoping reasonable people opt not to frequent their store, harming their business accordingly.

The free market appears to have done exactly that since the aforementioned article by Fox indicates they have since moved to doing business out of their home, because the loss of business cost them the ability to continue leasing their store. They opted to start a GoFundMe campaign to help them with their cause, but that later was shut down, again due to the free market flexing its muscle as gay rights groups got GoFundMe to pull the Klein’s campaign.

Religious groups on the right are calling for religious liberty, but in my opinion, they are equally bad in all of this, since I doubt many of them support the lesbian couple’s right to marry. If they do, good on them for not being hypocrites.gay-marriage1[1]

If America is indeed a free-market capitalist system, government has no right to impose its will on private enterprise in this way. Yet we Americans tolerate it because we ignore the fundamental basis of the Constitution—that we all have equal rights under the law, including business owners like the Kleins.

Equal rights under the law has to mean that any business should have the right to engage in, or refuse, business with anyone else for any reason imaginable, no matter how hateful and disgusting those reasons may be.

Why? Because it’s their business. Despite Obama’s claims to the contrary, they built it, and they own it. They should have the right to build it up or burn it down however they see fit.

But we so often call for such laws, because there seems to be this knee-jerk reaction that every time someone is wronged, instead of trusting in the free market to sort it out, we feel we must ask government to pass a law to prevent this from happening in the future instead. But that is not, nor ever should be, the purpose of government.

Government’s duty is only to protect your rights, not your feelings. In a free country, you are going to be exposed to people who offend you, but that also means you are free to walk away and not listen to them or deal with them.

The lesbian couple certainly could have found another bakery, or simply baked their own cake. Why would they want to do business with people they know don’t like them in the first place?lesbian_wedding_cake[1]

It’s certainly their right to ask the Kleins to bake them a cake, but how could anyone say they have a right to demand the Kleins bake them one? Don’t the Kleins have rights?

So as much as gay rights groups were up in arms until the January 29th decision was handed down, and now religious groups are up in arms instead, I’d call for both of them to stop being hypocrites. If you say you’re for freedom and rights, then you have to champion the rights for those who hate you too.

 

 

Cops Getting Fired Over Racial Tweets: This is NOT A Free Speech Issue

You may have read in the news recently about two Ohio police officers getting potentially fired over very racists texts to one another. One of which said, “I hate n******. That is all.” (I edited out the pejorative, as I prefer not to repeat it.)

Some people are crying out that this is a clear violation of those officer’s First Amendment free speech rights. But nothing could be further from the truth.

While I am the first to complain about our rights being violated every day, this particular claim is one born from a basic lack of understanding regarding our Constitution.

The 1st Amendment
The 1st Amendment

The first amendment (and all of the amendments in the Bill of rights, for that matter) exists to protect you from prosecution because of something you might say. It does not protect you from having any repercussions from it.

For instance, if the state of Ohio tried to pass a law that said police officers may not engage in any racists discussions under penalty of law; that would be a clear violation of the first amendment. But, that is not what happened here; they were not charged with a crime in any way. They were simply put on leave pending investigation, and may be fired as a result.

Since it’s a separate issue altogether, I will avoid pointing out that the police officer’s union may work to save their jobs. My hatred of labor unions is well documented, so I will just state that I think the unions care little about rights or justice, just benefits to their own. In my opinion however, rights nor justice will be best served if these officers are not fired.

Oddly, the ones complaining about the rights of the officers being violated are actually championing rights violations of their employers instead, essentially making them hypocrites.

For instance, let’s imagine I started a business called Gary’s Gun Shop. Then imagine I had two employees whom I saw at some restaurant on their break. They don’t see me though, and I overhear them saying, “You know, I f***ing hate Marines. I wish every one of them died in combat.”

Owning a gun shop, I know that many of my customers will be current or former military, the last thing I want are employees who hate them. I have a legitimate concern that they will treat them poorly, so I should have the right to fire them, and you damn well bet I would.

Sadly, people often fail to look outside of themselves when it comes to employers. Most people have never owned their own business, and therefore have a hard time empathizing with business owners who do in fact have the same rights they do.

Imagine the police came to your home and told you how to arrange your furniture. Would you be pretty mad? Well business owners own a business, just as you own your home, so it’s essentially the same thing.

SWAT team: AKA People I'd eventually see if I used my 12 year old death trap to give people rides via Lyft
SWAT team

Obviously these officers work for government, which is owned by the people, not a person. But whether the owner of a company is taking disciplinary action against an employee, or it’s just their boss who is making that decision doesn’t matter. A supervisor of any sort has the right to fire you if they have legitimate concerns about how you may do your job in a way that’s inconsistent with that organization’s mission statement.

People often fail to realize that you do not have the right to a job, you only have the right to pursue employment. Whether an employer wants to hire you or keep you as an employee is their right alone. Your right is with whom you choose to accept an employment offer from, and that’s it.

The other issue at play here is a serious issue many people are losing sight of—liability. Once news broke these officers were clearly racists, and specifically stated they hated black people, that information is in the public domain.

If that officer then goes on to carry out their duties against a black person, any policy they might violate would immediately be grounds for a civil suit against the police department he serves. The officer’s racist texts would be exhibit #1 for the prosecution, and it would be an immensely powerful bit of evidence.

The litigants would easily argue that the officer did not act in good faith, use his racist diatribe against him, and blame the police force for not dismissing the officer accordingly, arguing they knowingly kept someone on staff who had the propensity to violate the rights of black people. And furthermore, they’d be right!

Such suits can cost communities, and therefore taxpayers millions. So kudos to this police department for taking swift action. Let’s hope the police union breaks with tradition and sides with justice, instead of opting to protect the bad actors among their ranks—I’m not holding my breath though, they have a history…