Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rights vs. tolerance vs. intolerance

The so-called President's trip to Saudi Arabia put a renewed focus on religion and intolerance.  It's a strange thing about intolerance - it can be used by a group and against that same group and the intolerance can be unethical in both cases, ethical in some cases and ethical in all cases. Think about the case of rival criminal gangs - they may both be intolerable.

But consider the strange mix of ingredients we have here; a so-called President who advocated for a Muslim ban and who says "Islam" hates the U.S. and then turning around and selling hundreds of millions of dollars of arms to Saudi Arabia, home of the most extreme sect of Islam and birthplace of Al Qaeda and most of the 9-11 hijackers!

You also have the attempt to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., and its modification by limiting it arbitrarily to certain Muslim countries that, coincidentally, the so-called President does NOT have business interests in.  And then you have the protests AGAINST that ban by numerous Americans who know a violation of the Constitution when they see one.

This is complicated; are all religions to be respected and accepted merely because they are major religions?  If they are not, is it OK to ban their spread?

I like to keep it simple and here is my take:

1) We should all have the right to practice any religion until this practice  interferes with the rights of others (including the rights of minors, by the way).
2) We should all be subject to the same laws of the land in a free, liberal democratic republic where certain rights are guaranteed for all as per the First Amendment, among other rights.
3) The First Amendment guarantees the rights of all of us to choose our religion, choose no religion and respect any religion we choose to respect or to not respect any religion we choose not to respect. 4) Not respecting a religion in no way diminishes the rights of those persons who practice that religion.  In fact, not being allowed to criticize a religion is a diminishing of our right to freedom of religion!

This is my reasoning for opposing any law that singles out or exempts a religion or singles out or exempts a religious practice for no reason other than it is the practice of a particular religion.

The Saudi Arabia trip buy the so-called President represents almost entirely the opposite of all these principles outlined above: the Muslim ban he previously proposed singled out a single religion was totally unconstitutional and the nonsense spouted in the speech in Saudi Arabia by the so-called President gave respect to a police state theocracy that enslaves women, persecutes gays and even executes all but true believers.  We need to respect the rights of others; but we should judge their beliefs on the merits, the kindness,the ethics and the humanity of those beliefs.  What we have gotten was entirely the opposite.

Here is some news from around the world to show why rights must be protected while withholding respect if warranted:

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/2-men-in-indonesia-caned-dozens-of-times-for-gay-sex/ar-BBBrpC4?OCID=ansmsnnews11

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelangelo-signorile/post_10496_b_8544540.html

http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1554629,00.html
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