(Source: The Washington Post)
A London policeman will face criminal charges for allegedly racially abusing a black man detained during last year’s London riots, prosecutors said Tuesday, reversing an earlier decision not to charge the officer.
The Crown Prosecution Service said there was enough evidence to charge Constable Alex MacFarlane with “a racially aggravated public order offense.”
A 21-year-old man who was detained during the week of riots, but not charged, recorded a police officer using a racial epithet as he arrested him. (more…)
The GOP candidates’ struggle to outdo each other in appealing to Christian fundamentalists continues. Rick Santorum, the current favorite of this constituency, topped his previous plays with his remark that John F. Kennedy’s famed 1960 speech on the importance of a separation between religion and government “makes me throw up.”
The separation of church and state is not some abstract notion, nor is it a means of oppressing people. It very reasonably keeps people from imposing their religious beliefs on other people. These are not beliefs that can be objectively measured or empirically tested—like, say, the hypothesis that public spending can affect employment levels. Religious beliefs may be comforting or helpful to some people, but no matter how deeply felt, they can have no place in a rational, shared system of managing outcomes for all Americans.
Adam Kolasinski, an MIT Doctoral student in financial economics, has written an article, “The Secular Case Against Gay Marriage.” (linked to robot-heart-politics, who generally has very good comments, and this guy, who generally doesn’t.)Unfortunately, Adam Kolasinski doesn’t make a very good case. (I thought his impressive academic pedigree would at least produce an insightful argument. I thought wrong.) He begins:
The debate over whether the state ought to recognize gay marriages has thus far focused on the issue as one of civil rights. Such a treatment is erroneous because state recognition of marriage is not a universal right. […] Homosexuals, therefore, are not the only people to be denied the right to marry the person of their choosing.
Talking about what is and is not a “universal right” is a bit of a red herring. Do we have a “universal right” to free speech? To bear arms? Are there any rights without exceptions? Of course not. And we could debate all day about whether certain rights are self-evident, where such rights came from, and how far they extend. And at the end of the day we wouldn’t agree on any of it. The claim that there is a “right” to same sex marriage need not be more radical than there being a right to relatively equal treatment by the law—and that any exceptions to that rule need to have a compelling government interest. Discussions of abstract rights frequently distract from the immediate and personal nature of injustice. This can be convenient—if you’re on the side pushing the injustice. When we talk about rights, make sure we don’t forget that that my friends in same-sex relationship may end up dying without the person they love most because of hospital visitation policies. And we should also keep in mind that another friend is gathering all kinds of benefits as her gay friend’s “domestic partner” because his actual domestic partner is ineligible.
So let’s not talk about “universal rights.” Instead, let’s talk about rights generally extended to most people in most circumstances that shouldn’t be denied from others without a damn good reason. And let’s talk about why there isn’t a good reason to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples.