28 November 2020

Typhoid Marys, court-empowered

Thursday's Supreme Court ruling against New York state's efforts to fight covid-19 by restricting church gatherings is an example of what we can expect now that the appointment of Coathanger Coney has entrenched the religio-wingnut majority on the highest court in the land.  Decisions will be made based on the interests of Christian supremacism, with some threadbare "reasoning" tacked on as an afterthought.

An example of the latter would be Gorsuch's comparison of church services with going to a store to buy a bicycle or a bottle of wine, as if just one person stepping inside a building for the few minutes such a transaction requires could be compared with packing many people indoors for an hour or two of singing, chanting, and whatever other intensive virus-spreading behaviors their particular sect's weird occult rituals require.  We already know how this works.  There have been countless examples of church services and events causing large-scale outbreaks of covid-19.  I have yet to hear of any such disasters being traced to liquor stores.

More salient is the assertion that New York's restrictions infringed the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion.  Here's why that's nonsense.

A guarantee of the right to free exercise of religion doesn't logically extend to behavior which is harmful to other people.  For example, if the Aztec or Phoenician religions still existed today with large numbers of adherents on US territory, would anyone argue that they should be allowed to perform human sacrifices as they did in their heyday, even though such sacrifices were absolutely central to their beliefs and practices?  Of course not.  And no other Constitutional guarantee is interpreted to include a right to inflict life-threatening danger on other people.  You can own a gun, but if you shoot somebody with it, except in self-defense, you'll be arrested.  You are free from unreasonable searches and seizures, but if the local authorities find out that you're storing large quantities of explosives in your house that could endanger the whole neighborhood, they will do something about it.  Even lesser infringements on other people's rights are not rendered acceptable by appealing to a Constitutional provision.  Yes, you have the right to "peaceably assemble", but not on my front lawn, if I don't choose to let you. It's absurd to claim that the "free exercise of religion" includes a "right" to amplify a raging pandemic.

But logic and consistency are beside the point here.  To the Christian supremacist mind-set, their primitive stew of ancient ritual, taboo, and superstition takes precedence over such concerns -- and over other modern considerations such as the actual meaning and intent of the First Amendment.  Due to a sequence of historical accidents, that mind-set has now secured a majority on the Supreme Court.  In the near term, not much can be done about this other than enlarging the Court, which is looking less likely given that it will depend on winning the Georgia runoffs and abolishing the filibuster and prioritizing Court enlargement at a time when the government will have many other problems to fix.  The time may have come to take a fresh look at the whole concept of judicial review.


Anonymous Ole Phat Stu said...

I suppose that as an Atheist I should be in favour of anything that kills off the religious nuts. But not even I an that vindictive :-)

28 November, 2020 07:21  
Blogger Mary said...

At first I felt elation at Biden’s win and still have a short term hope to see some decency and calm return.
But the long term doesn’t look so bright to me..the Supreme Court now and it’s ultra conservative slant, especially with religion in the mix.
Remember the book A Darkening Age (my all time favorite) and I fear we will slide into that for awhile, as religious extremism seems so prevalent and stuck in our country.
I fear for LGBTQ rights and minority rights, as well.
And trump and the cultists will not go away, but they will slink back for a time, only to re emerge in about 3 years, to start it all over again. I don’t think I could take this again. It has worn me out...the astounding stupidity and ignorance that permeates our country like a cancer. It can be too much at times.

28 November, 2020 07:46  
Blogger The New York Crank said...

Wait a second! Let's get back to the idea of human sacrifice. That's kind of interesting.

I happen to be a member of the Followers of Ra, supreme god of all gods, who must be appeased at least once a day with human flesh.

Fortunately, Ra is content with the flesh, even tiny morsels of flesh, of aborted fetuses, as long as he gets them regularly. This requires frequent abortions in all places Ra reigns, which is everywhere.

Therefore, any attempt to prevent abortions is not only an insult to Ra and an act of direct hostility against him, but also an infringement on my freedom of religion that must be struck down. I am confident, given her fervent support of religious freedom, that Justice Coney Barrett will want to go along with this.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank

28 November, 2020 09:07  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

People don't get it and because of that there have been big spikes in new Covid cases.

28 November, 2020 10:18  
Blogger Now Am Found! said...

not to worry. coathanger will say a novena for you

28 November, 2020 12:04  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Stu: I don't much care about them -- the problem is that they'll spread it to other people in the broader community.

Mary: Always keep in mind that religion is in strong retreat in terms of number of believers. They're organized and militant and have obtained a lot of political power (counting the Supreme Court as political these days), but that won't be able to stop the decline.

Crank: Unfortunately they only mean their own religion, or closely-allied ones like hard-core Judaism and Protestantism.

Mary K: It's going to get a lot bigger.

Found: Well, that would at least take up a few minutes of her time she might otherwise use to do something more evil.

To the person whose comment I deleted: Please don't post anything here that could at all be taken as advocating assassination. I'm not sure what my legal position would be if I allowed that, and I'm not going to take any chances.

28 November, 2020 12:18  
Blogger Kwark said...

We'll also likely see a whole series of suits where the court will proclaim the right of Christians to descriminate against anyone for any reason because their Christian religious beliefs supersede others secular rights.

28 November, 2020 22:48  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I'm sure the religio-wingnuts will be encouraged now to file such suits. I hope they hire Sidney Powell to file them.

29 November, 2020 01:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A further elaboration on 'Ole Phat Stu', I'd like to see a headline in some conspiracy website that says:

"The Supreme Court's Secret Plan To Kill Christians"

that goes on to say that by allowing, even encouraging, Christians to meet en mass during a pandemic that is killing hundreds of thousands of people, the Supreme Court is guaranteeing that many Christians that do congregate will become infected and of these some will die.

and that (here's where it gets worse!) if the Supreme Court really cared about Christians, they would want to keep them safe and healthy, and so would have banned those gatherings.
I don't know how much of my own conspiratorial paranoia I can take!

29 November, 2020 20:24  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Anon: Well, that's a thought. I don't know whether fighting conspiratardia with even nuttier conspiratardia has been seriously tried. The problem is that one would need to use wingnut media to deliver such a message, and they have no incentive to go along.

The oddity is that in a certain way it could even be considered true. The Dominionist tendency is more concerned with the supremacy of Christianity than with the survival of individual Christians.

30 November, 2020 04:06  
Blogger Kay said...

I was really startled that the Supreme Court came up with that decision at a time when we are facing a pandemic like never before... well... there was the plague (that's true), but we're supposed to be smarter now.

30 November, 2020 16:38  
Blogger CAS said...

Well said. It's shocking, however, that many seem unable to follow your argument. I hadn't heard of the ruling so thanks for pointing it out. In the midst of a pandemic, I don't think judges, namely people with no medical expertise whatsoever, should be the ones deciding what's best.

07 December, 2020 13:34  

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