October 4, 2012

Censorship, blasphemy and hate speech

Lately my time has been spent far more in reading blogs than writing for this one. There is a piece I've been working on that is a rewrite of a four-part series I did a couple years ago, but that work has been slow. Recently the work was put aside altogether as I started following the news on the Muslim front reporting the insanity transpiring over a really poorly produced movie trailer. This is a pot and kettle scenario illustrating well the stupidity of religious fanaticism. 

It prompted me to get started writing a tirade condemning the overreaction and the resulting call to ban speech that is "hurtful" to one religion or another. They call it blasphemy, or hate speech... whatever... I just call it stupid and was going to write a piece on the futility of such laws... but then something else caught my attention... a brewing First Amendment separation controversy in my own home state. 

In the small East Texas town of Kountze they love them some high-school football... and they love them some Jesus too. All of this is well and fine, at least until you start mixing those two up, which in Kountze they've been doing for a very long time. Nothing really unusual in this. Similar stuff happens daily in small towns across the South. For the most part the Christians get away with it simply due to strength in numbers. 

But even in the heavily religious South every now and then someone takes offense at having Jesus served up on the taxpayer's tab... but only recently has anyone done anything about it. Non-Christians in areas where they are outnumbered 12 or 15 to one historically have held their tongue. Saying anything inevitably led to shunning by family and friends alike. But in this day, there are organizations offering to step in and keep the complainant anonymous. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is making their presence known in Texas.

This past Christmas a couple of local non-believers decided they wanted to not have their county government endorse Christianity by allowing only Christian displays on the courthouse lawn. That fight continues today with the FFRF in one corner and the Liberty Institute in the other. 

In Kountze the fight got started when an anonymous young atheist wrote a letter to the Freedom From Religion Foundation. One thing led to another and now the Texas Attorney General is sticking his nose into it... vowing to vacate the Separation Clause by any means possible. So now we have not just the Christians flailing their arms in the air claiming that their freedom to cram their beliefs down throats is being violated, but we have every taxpayer in the state being forced to foot the bill for an elected official to tilt at the same windmill.

I was going to write about all of this, but the muse, it seems, is out to lunch... and everyone else has beaten me to it anyway... so instead I've been reading what everyone else is writing. 

All of the above babbling is leading up to something... I promise. This post has a purpose... it is an endorsement of one of my favorite law blogs... Popehat... and for a fellow by the name of Ken White. Ken writes some really fine prose, but on Popehat he is relatively anonymous. He got outed some time back so I'm not actually revealing a big secret, and I was happy to learn something about the real person who has authored some really fine ass-chappings. 

Where my muse has been on strike, Ken's most certainly has not. Today he pens a doozy that eloquently and succinctly surmises the state of affairs when we attempt to use the power of government to outlaw speech. Ken accomplishes this by using such poignant, technical legalese and jargon as "censorious twatwafflery" and some other fine zingers.

Please read Ken's piece. You won't regret it.