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Archive for December, 2008

Irrespective of our individual politics, especially surrounding contentious issues in human life, it is refreshing to read articles that appear to base arguments on the real life situation, and not on twisted interpretations or outright baseless fear-mongering. I found it interesting having these points to ponder.

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The greatest threat to the longevity of the human species on planet Earth is not in the granting of equal rights to homosexuals, or in the legal recognition of any kind of human relationship. It is not even how we perceive gender roles to be now or in the future. The greatest threat to the longevity of the human species on a planet with dwindling resources, increasing pollution, and human induced climate change, is unfettered human breeding.

I am not calling for, nor would I endorse, a program of population reduction, or of the goal of zero population growth. I only wish to point out the fallacy in the words of the Pope – someone who is a supporter of unfettered procreation; for it appears he sees the sole purpose of human coupling is procreation, something he encourages at any and every opportunity.

I don’t think people need encouragement to reproduce, they will do it as they will… Granting same sex couples equal rights and dignity will not effect the birth-rate one jot.

The Pope said that The tropical rain forests deserve our protection, this is true, but it is the very thing he is arguing for that is the greatest threat to the rainforests and other wilderness areas around the world. Homosexuality is one of the things least threatening to the longevity of the species; simple mathematics will bare this out.

As the world’s population approaches 7 billion, let use you that number to base things on.

Depending on who you believe, anything from one to ten percent of the population is exclusively homosexual. If you discount the Kinsey report’s 10% mark, and give a conservative estimate, then maybe about 3% of the population is exclusively homosexual. Add to those, those who are bisexual, transsexual, and all manner of people who are not exclusively heterosexual, and for arguments sake, let us assume that 90% of the population at any one time is exclusively heterosexual, and largely capable of reproducing.

Seven billion people, 90% equates to 6,300 million people, 10% equates to 700 million people, think about that… if only one percent of the population that is exclusively homosexual, then there is about 70 million gays in the world right now. World population is anticipated to pass 9 billion soon after the year 2050 (in just over 40 years time).

Homosexuality a threat to human ecology? or is unrestrained heterosexuality and the resulting reproduction the greater threat?

(stats from wikipedia)

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Even when taking into consideration cultural differences between countries and religions, some issues around marriage in some countries are beyond my understanding. If marriage is supposed to be strictly heterosexual (a situation I disagree with), that its primary instigation is love, and its primary purpose is procreation (something else I disagree with); marriage would seem to be something that must be entered into by two adults… But, it seems, not always.

An eight-year old Saudi Arabian girl who was married off by her father to a 58-year-old man has been told she cannot divorce her husband until she reaches puberty.

The rights of women, the rights of children.

What is the use or point of marriage when this is permitted to stand?

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This drag show has been going for centuries

What is the difference between a Catholic Priest and a Drag Queen?

LIPSTICK

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Apologists for the pope are beginning to raise their heads above their oft attacked parapet, claiming that the Pope was misquoted or mis-interpreted or translated.

This argument may on one hand be seen as disingenuous to media outlets who regularly cover the Pope and the Vatican; but on the other hand this argument undercuts the evengelical claim that the bible is the inerrent and infallible word of God.

If people cannot agree on what was said (and meant) in one language less than a week ago, how can we agree on what was said (and meant) up to 3000 years ago in a variety of ancient languages.

In what language did the Pope deliver his speech to the Curia? Was it in Latin, was it in Italian? In both cases whatever the Pope said had to be translated into English and interpreted as to its meaning. Words from one language may not have its exactly meaning counterpart in another, therefore what was meant in one language may have a different meaning after translation into another.

If the speech was delivered in Italian, then a contemporary language needed to be translated into another contemporary language, interpreted as to its meaning, taking into account political and social nuances of the time and publish it. I do not doubt that media commentators who cover the Vatican are aware of the languages used, what words mean, and what the underlying thrust of what is said.

One speech delivered about a week ago, having two translations, resulting in at least two interpretations.

What does that say about a book, some of it written as far back as 3000 years ago, in several ancient languages like Hebrew, Aramaic, Ancient Greek, and Latin, translated and re-translated into language after language through the centuries, given political interpretation after political interpretation through those same centuries, for it to arrive in our time in its various versions… the Bible!!

The inerrant and infallible word of God??

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In the history of blindly bigoted anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-different utterances that that have spewed forth from the mouths of a number of Roman Catholic Pontiffs, the most recent one is nothing short of breathtaking

Pope Benedict said on Monday that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behavior was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.

In a world where there is war, famine, genocide, massive corruption, a global economic collapse, epidemics of disease, and serious climate change, one of the world’s religious leaders sees a greater threat to mankind than any or all of these catastrophes… homosexuals and transsexuals…

The pope has named the latest scapegoats for the world’s ills. This pope, a former member of the Hitler Youth and Wehrmacht, under a regime that had its own scapegoats for its ills – the Jews… It seems that the world needs scapegoats – Is it incapable for taking responsibility for it own ills? Is the world capable of letting people live and love as they deem as their truth? Is the catholic hierarchy able to live by the words of he who they claim as their savior – <I>Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.</I>

The Pope is CEO of an organisation that oversaw the crusades, the Roman and Spanish Inquisitions, the retarding of scientific progress, and in recent times has been complicit in the systemic abuse of children and in both the covering up of the abuses and of defending abusers.

As far as rainforest destruction is concerned, the destruction of the largest rainforest in the world (the Amazon) is occuring in one of the biggest catholic countries in the world (Brazil).

The very idea that anyone gives this man, let alone the organization he leads, any moral authority on such a topic is, to me, uttely astounding.

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Rights for one are rights for all
if it be else then none at all

I will state from the outset that I do not live in the US, nor am I from the US. I live and was born in Australia, a country that does not have a bill (or charter) of rights. Laws, their interpretation, and any rights that are recognised therein are decided by judges who are not elected to their position.

There is, at present, a discussion surrounding the possibility of the implementation of a bill of rights into Australian law. I hope that such a bill of rights does not follow the path of the US bill of rights or those from the states within the US (as I understand those paths to have been). One aspect of this path is the concept of inalienable (unalienable) rights as stated in both the US declaration of independence, and the California Constitution’s Declaration of rights.

Inalienable rights are those perceived to be intrinsic to human life and society within a code of laws; expressed in the declaration of independence as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Perhaps these broad constructs (life, liberty, etc.) are the embryo of what we know today as human rights (a line traceable through the UN declaration of human rights – 60 years old this month).  Rights that are considered inalienable are those which cannot be repudiated.  they cannot be legislated away by governments, nor can they be voted away by the majority… or can they?

As I see it, within the broad constructs of life, liberty, pursuit of happiness there would be specific aspects of being that pertain largely or exclusively to one of the constructs which have been deemed inalienable rights. These specific aspects may be defined as specific individual rights, within, or being intrinsic to, ones life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness. One of these recognised individual rights is the right to marry.

In the twentieth and twenty first centuries judges and the UN have recognised marriage as a basic human (inalienable) right. In 1948 the UN, in Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognised the right to marry. In 1967 the US Supreme Court recognised that the right to marry extended to interracial couples as per the equal protection clause in the 14th amendment to the US constitution. In 2008 the Californian Supreme Court recognised that the right to marry extended to same-sex couples as per the equal protection clause in the Californian constitution. The California court determined the right of same sex couples to marry ‘to be part of fundamental liberty.’

It is now contemporary history that opponents of same sex marriage saw Proposition 8 placed onto the November 5 ballot and passed to overturn the decision of the Californian Supreme Court.

Supporters of same sex marriage have launched legal challenges against the passage of the proposition 8 claiming that the proposition was a review not an amendment to the constitution and is therefore invalid.

The California Attorney General Jerry Brown (as per his job) submitted to the court a document that supported the arguments of those who supported proposition 8, but he concluded with an argument that opposed prop 8 and called for its rejection on the grounds that a right that is recognised as inalienable should not be placed at the mercy of the majority.

In defending, and reconciling his apparent polarity of positions, he states in his brief to the California Supreme Court: Respondent Attorney General (himself) is the chief law officer of the state. In that capacity he is duty bound to uphold the whole of the constitution, not only the people’s reservation of the initiative power, but also the people’s expression of their will in the Constitutions Declaration of Rights.”

In this, I see him stating that he is the servant of two masters (the voters and the constitution), not the slave of one.  In that, he must accept, defend, and enact what the voters decide through the initiative process, but protect the rights in the constitution from the voters where necessary. He continues “In reconciling these separate constitutional protections, Respondent concludes that the initiative power could never have been intended to give the voters an unfettered prerogative to amend the Constitution for the purpose of depriving a disfavored group of rights determined by the Supreme Court to be part of fundamental human liberty.”

He appears to be arguing that there would be no point in having a declaration of rights (specifically inalienable rights of human liberty), if the voters have an unfettered prerogative to remove rights from people they don’t like at their whim. He sees this case as the thin edge of the wedge. In that while the current case is about the right of same sex couples to marry,  something determined by the Supreme Court to be part of fundamental liberty, the underlying issue goes far beyond the issue of same sex marriage; and as far as I am concerned it goes beyond just one state’s constitution, it smacks at the very relevance of a bill (or declaration) of rights. If the voters can remove the existing ‘fundamental’ right of same sex couples to marry, what rights can’t be removed from others?

If Proposition 8 is allowed to stand, there will be nothing to stop someone from proposing to overthrow the ban on interracial marriage… The precedent proposition 8 will create will place any and all protections for minorities at the will and whim of the voters. Jerry Brown poses the question; “At bottom, the question is whether rights secured under the state constitution’s safeguards of liberty as an ‘inalienable’ right may intentionally be withdrawn from a class of persons by an initiative amendment.” In my opinion, if such inalienable rights can be removed by a majority vote, then there is no such thing as an inalienable right – in fact the very idea of a bill or declaration of rights will have been rendered irrelevant.

As goes California so goes the country?

I hope those in Australia who are considering implementing a bill of rights here are watching California very closely.

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