The First Amendment Doesn’t Create a “Class of Special Rights”

July 10 2020

Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided on the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of Catholic nuns dedicated to caring for the indigent sick and elderly. The court ruled—seven to two—in favor of the nuns, who have for years sought exemptions from requirements to provide employees with medical coverage for abortions and contraception. Lamenting the decision, a Washington Post columnist ascribed it to “a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, one that is determined to create a class of special rights that in practice are enjoyed only by conservative Christians.” Alexandra DeSanctis takes issue with this evaluation:

This “class of special rights” . . . is, of course, the religion clauses of the First Amendment, and conservative Christians continue showing up in court to claim its protections only because their fellow citizens and antagonistic government officials continue forcing them to do so.

Later on, after advocating the abolition of employer-based healthcare coverage—something many conservatives would welcome—[the columnist] further reveals his ignorance. One benefit of removing employer-based coverage, he avers, would be that it “would deprive religious conservatives of the ability to keep suing over contraception, which gives them a focus for their endless cries of oppression and aggrievement.”

It is difficult to imagine how one could honestly believe that the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby, the University of Notre Dame, and the Little Sisters of the Poor were overjoyed to have spent nearly a decade in court fighting merely to preserve their right to practice their faith in the public square.

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Read more at National Review

More about: First Amendment, Freedom of Religion, Hobby Lobby, Supreme Court

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter