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Battle of Freedoms

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Message Harold Novikoff
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four score and seven years ago
four score and seven years ago
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Here we go again - another attempt by the Trump administration to set the clock of social evolution back a generation or more. As reported, the Labor Department is proposing to cancel Obama-era regulations that prohibited private government contractors from firing LBGTQ and transgender employees, based on the contractor's constitutional rights of religious beliefs. And the Justice Department is petitioning the Supreme Court to sanction the action.

In today's political climate of fundamental conflict between reactionary conservative beliefs and doctrines of social hierarchy and, on the other hand, social evolution based on democratic principles - where the former still has the upper hand - it would be surprising if the petition is not approved.

It is true that the first amendment of the constitution specifically states that no law shall prohibit the free exercise of one's religion, while no such sanction is given to the life style of LGBTQ people. But do they not have an equal right to be the persons that nature or our societies have bestowed upon them? Are they not to be counted as full human beings or only as partial beings such as we counted slaves before the Civil War? Perhaps it should be realized that the reactionaries, who think themselves superior, are not fully matured human beings.

We already have limits imposed upon the free expression of religious beliefs. Laws may contradict a person's exemption from having vaccinations based on religious beliefs. Laws prevent establishing religious monuments in government spaces. One's religious beliefs opposing government policies do not excuse him from paying taxes - which brings up the question of why religious institutions are tax exempt, except to the extent they do charitable work. Any business operating in the public marketplace may have the common right to fire employees or deny service to customers who behave uncivilly, but to base such actions on their religious beliefs would not conform to present-day ethics and laws. A new constitutional amendment is needed to clarify this issue.

A similar argument can be made about gun rights. Advocates for gun rights believe that the Constitution grants them unlimited rights to manufacture and own any kind of personal weapon. But the wording of the second amendment justifies the right to own arms only because there was no standing army at the time, and the armed citizen was needed to protect the country. In addition, "arms" at the time consisted mostly of single-shot muzzle-loading muskets. The Constitution did not anticipate the development of the rifle or the automatic weapon, so there is no constitutional basis for ownership of such weapons.

Counter-balancing the "freedom" to own arms is the right of the citizen to live in safety and without fear from irresponsible or demented owners of guns. The dangers we witness daily on a mass scale are directly proportional to the numbers and widespread distribution of such deadly weapons - far greater than in any other country - as well as to the mental health of our society, which may encourage such dangers. Our main task is to improve the "mental" health of our society by improving its foundations of economic and social justice to the highest standards, and by total dedication to the health of the Earth.

 

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Veteran, retired from several occupations (school teacher, technical writer, energy conservation business, etc.) long-time Sierra Club member


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