Liberals Are (Still) Right

In a spectacularly shitty bit of reporting that fails to mention Democrats had confirmed 95% of Bush’s nominees as of October, (well beyond the 81% approval rating granted Clinton, 77% granted G.H.W. Bush, and 88% granted Reagan), which is the single most pertinent fact required to properly contextualize how astonishingly disproportionate and inappropriate is the behavior of the GOP on any issue surrounding the judiciary, the NY Times brings us the story of the Republicans’ next charge: that Democrats are anti-faith for blocking 10 of Bush’s judicial nominees.
As the Senate heads toward a showdown over the rules governing judicial confirmations, Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, has agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as "against people of faith" for blocking President Bush's nominees.


Dr. Frist has threatened that the Republican majority might change the rules to require only a majority vote on nominees, and Democrats have vowed to bring Senate business to a standstill if he does.
As well they should. What a bunch of pouty, insolent babies the GOP are. Not to mention illogical and disingenuous, as per usual: another little tidbit ignored by the Times is that these are the same judicial nominees previously rejected by the Dems, but instead of finding more adequate nominees, the GOP has decided to try to ramrod through the only nominees blocked by the Dems, threatening to eradicate the filibuster and demonizing the Dems in the process.

The nominees the Dems have blocked hold some of the most conservative views found among the judiciary on abortion rights, prayer, and public religious expressions including religious displays. Hence, the Dems are now being tagged anti-faith, despite concerns that the nominees positions lend themselves to possible decisions would likely infringe upon the rights of those practicing faiths other than Christianity, in addition to separation of church and state issues. Of course, Frist and his band of Christian soldiers won’t be deterred by a little technicality like the truth, so on they plow, unconcerned for and undeterred by the lies they must tell to be “good Christians.”
Fliers for the telecast, organized by the Family Research Council and scheduled to originate at a Kentucky megachurch the evening of April 24, call the day "Justice Sunday" and depict a young man holding a Bible in one hand and a gavel in the other. The flier does not name participants, but under the heading "the filibuster against people of faith," it reads: "The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias, and it is now being used against people of faith."


Some of the nation's most influential evangelical Protestants are participating in the teleconference in Louisville, including Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; Chuck Colson, the born-again Watergate figure and founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries; and Dr. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.


The telecast also signals an escalation of the campaign for the rule change by Christian conservatives who see the current court battle as the climax of a 30-year culture war, a chance to reverse decades of legal decisions about abortion, religion in public life, gay rights and marriage.

"As the liberal, anti-Christian dogma of the left has been repudiated in almost every recent election, the courts have become the last great bastion for liberalism," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and organizer of the telecast, wrote in a message on the group's Web site. "For years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the A.C.L.U., have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms."
This is, of course, bullshit. Mr. Perkins has as much freedom to practice his religion whether abortion is legal or not, whether gays can marry or not. What he deems restricting his religious freedom is more accurately described as restricting his ability to impose his religious beliefs on others. I’ve never heard a Jew or a Muslim complaining that they were being robbed of their religious freedom because bacon’s for sale at the grocer. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to buy it. As I’ve said before:
Liberals do not want Christians to be unable to practice their religion; in fact, we want them to be able to practice their religion in any way they see fit…until, that is, it infringes on the rights of non-Christians to practice their religion, or non-believers to not practice religion at all. It is possible for all to coexist, so long as each is respectful of the others’ rights.

My rights end where yours begin. It’s such a simple but powerful concept, yet it is anathema to Conservatives, because it necessarily excludes their desire to control and force their dissenters to succumb to their will. It isn’t enough that they can change the channel when Queer Eye for the Straight Guy comes on; the show must be taken off the air altogether. It isn’t enough that they can put up Nativity scenes in their churches and in their homes and on their lawns; there must be one at City Hall, too. It isn’t enough that their children can pray and learn about creationism at home and at church; they have to be able to do it at school, too, and so must all the other kids, irrespective of their families’ views. It just isn’t ever enough.


Only having rid the country of minorities, gays, feminists, evolutionists, atheists, pacifists, abortionists, stem cell researchers, the poor, the needy, the infirm, immigrants, environmentalists, animal rights activists, non-Christians, and anyone else who disagrees with them could they be happy. Or such is their claim. But without anyone upon whom to pass judgment, I wonder how long such contentment could possibly last.
It comes down, of course, to Choice: The power, right, or liberty to choose from a number of possible alternatives. What, I wonder, is so difficult about the definition of choice as to render it incomprehensible to the religious Right? Or, is it that they understand the concept, but seek to limit choices, lest their wretched mortal souls be tempted to make the wrong ones?

Liberals are right on this issue. The judiciary should not be allowed to be stacked with those who seek to limit rights on the basis of a moral code that the entire country does not share—and more importantly, that the entire country is not compelled to share. That’s exactly what freedom of religion is all about. It’s about choice, and the attempts to limit choices only to those deemed acceptable by a single religion (and, specifically, certain denominations of a single religion) are not only outrageous—they’re un-American.

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