Monday, March 28, 2011

Sharia Law Comes to Florida

What could possibly be the explanation for this?
"This case," the judge wrote, "will proceed under Ecclesiastical Islamic Law."

[Judge Richard] Nielsen said he will decide in a lawsuit against a local mosque, the Islamic Education Center of Tampa, whether the parties in the litigation properly followed the teachings of the Koran in obtaining an arbitration decision from an Islamic scholar.
It certainly appears, on the surface, to be yet another victory for the forces of radical Islam, which have become quite adept at using the weak and simple-minded to their advantage.
To all of the naysayers on the left who say that Sharia can never come to the U.S., here is the latest example of how it is slowly and stealthily creeping into our judicial system--in this case, courtesy of a foolish, non-Muslim judge (known as a useful idiot in Lenin's days).
But how did this happen? Is the judge blinded by political correctness? Or ignorant of the horrors of Sharia law? Or both?!
Several bills already have developed around the nation, including in Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee and Florida, to prevent judges from applying Shariah, which includes penalties such as beheading for leaving Islam, in the government's court systems.

In Oklahoma, voters with a 70-percent majority approved such a ban, but U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange blocked it after the Council on American-Islamic Relations argued the move was "anti-Islam."

The issue also has been the subject of a lawsuit in Michigan, where city officials in Dearborn are accused of allowing Shariah to be used to block Christians from discussing their faith at the city-sponsored Arab Fest. Under Shariah, it is illegal for a Muslim to convert to another faith.
Come to think of it, how do we know the judge is only a passive participant? Maybe he prefers Sharia law. And therefore hates America.
Whether the American people consent or not, multiculturalist elites have decided to ram sharia down our throats, apparently.
Or maybe, just maybe, Richard Nielsen, like the vast majority of judges, knows what he's doing.
People can agree to be ruled by the Wizard of Oz in arbitration if they want to. These people agreed to be ruled by Sharia law… What's happening is that the loser is saying he didn't really agree to arbitration in the first place, and now he wants to get a do-over in front of a judge with Florida law.

This happens all the time and this is why the judge wants to make clear his ruling. In other words, the judge is not sanctioning Islamic law as a basis for absolving disputes here among all people. These were two groups of people that agreed to mediation, arbitration, they wanted to do it under Sharia law, that was their contract, the judge said fine.
That's right. Rush Limbaugh, voice of reason.[1] I didn't see it coming either.

1. That's not to say that Judge Nielsen made the right decision. I have no idea if it was the right decision, as I haven't seen the disputed contract, heard the arguments made by the opposing sides, or, most importantly, spent more than a decade adjudicating disputes over arbitration agreements. You know who else hasn't done those things? Every reactionary blowhard out there calling for impeachment.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Deep-Seated Resistance to (Sex) Change

To most conservatives, gender is a fairly binary concept, and to a smaller-but-still-significant number of conservatives, a person's physical sex shouldn't (or can't) ever be changed. And yet, millions around the world claim to be living proof that gender is not binary, and a smaller-but-still-significant number of people make the difficult choice to transition from one physical sex to the other. When conservatives are reminded that transgender and transsexual people do, in fact, exist, the result, all too often, is an abundance of disrespect, nastiness, and scare quotes:
The members of the so-called Transgender/Gender queer taskforce, like most other gay activists, are simply whining emotional misfits who are trying to terrorize decent society under the guise of "tolerance" and "diversity."
It doesn't make us "tolerant" or "compassionate" to pretend that people have something they don't or that they are something they're not. It makes us liars. It's enabling a delusion, and it's very, very silly.
According to most estimates, "transgender" individuals account for less than a fraction of 1 percent of the population. Yet, [Americans for Truth president Peter] LaBarbera said, they have convinced the Obama administration to affirm their position that gender is fluid and changeable. "We should consider what transgender activism is about," he said, "which is essentially recognizing civil rights based on gender confusion." [1]
How would you react if your daughter were forced by a school to share showers and toilet rooms with a transgender? I would have raised hell about such sexual insanity – as I will if either of my two granddaughters is ordered into such absolute idiocy.
That's some awful stuff, but it's practically polite compared to—who else?—Moonbattery:
Typical of moonbat thugs who use our deranged, hyper-politicized legal system to club anyone who opposes their agenda, [Lana] Lawless is trying to prevent LPGA from holding any events in California until it knuckles under and allows male perverts who surgically mutilate themselves to perform as women.
The obvious question, then, is where is this coming from? If I were a typical radical, agenda-pushing liberal—you know, the ones conservatives have learned to completely tune out—I'd say conservatives bash transgender people because it's one of the only groups a person can still get away with bashing. Overt racism has been out of bounds for several decades now. Women, Muslims, and the handicapped have started sticking up for themselves. Hell, 21st-century conservatives can't even call a sleazy politician a "faggot" without starting a shitstorm. Insults hurled at transgender people, though? Barely a blip on the Thought Police's radar. Sure, a few people will get upset, but many, many more will gleefully join in, adding their own fuel to the stupid, hateful fire.

I'd also say conservatives bash transgender people because they're too narrow-minded to entertain challenges to their willfully-primitive views on gender and sex. In their world, men are men, women are women, and the still-growing mountain of evidence that men are sometimes women, women are sometimes men, and a lot of people are a little of both is nothing but a liberal plot to force deviant lifestyles on real Americans who just want to be left alone. If conservatives made an effort to understand the lives of people who are different from them, they might start to come around, but they don't want to make that effort—they just want to tell those people to stop being so different.

And finally, I'd be unable to resist saying at least some transgender-bashing is merely a sad reflection of the basher's profound insecurity with their own gender and/or sexuality. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are out there partying, marching in parades, and just generally having a great time being themselves,[2] and that bothers the hell out of some conservatives, because they wish it was them. And they hate that about themselves, so they dig in, hoping to bury those thoughts under layer upon layer of hate. It's a coping mechanism that has been employed over and over throughout human history, with an overall success rate of approximately zero (give or take).

But I'm not a typical radical, agenda-pushing liberal—I'm tactful and diplomatic, and I'm willing to give others the benefit of the doubt, rather than assuming the worst, and I'm not even really a liberal. So I won't say those things. Instead, I'll say this: I don't know why conservatives have so much trouble with transgender people. No idea. It's baffling. I do have a few theories, but, in the interest of me not coming across as a typical radical, agenda-pushing liberal, I'm not going to say them, so let's just move on.

In articles about the election, immigration, and an assortment of outrageous nonsense, I shared some thoughts from the Internet's most civility-impaired commenters, the idea being to illustrate that conservatives are more than capable of the same absurd extremism they seem to think is the exclusive domain of liberals (and, you know, to laugh at dumb people being dumb). I'm tempted to do it here, too, but the available material is pretty damn horrible (as it would have to be, to top what's in the actual articles). Transgender issues inspire already-rotten people to strive for—and often achieve—shocking new levels of rottenness.

That said, I do kind of like one of the comments on this story:
I have an 8 year old son and a 10 year old daughter and I can tell you – THEY ARE NOT THE SAME!!!!!!
That's right, somewhere out there one boy and one girl are different, so quit wasting your time, Science! Your services aren't needed here![3]

1. Four thoughts about the "less than a fraction of 1 percent" thing. First, the number wouldn't be appreciably less credible if it had been chosen at random (which, really, it might've been). Second, whatever the actual number is, it would undoubtedly be higher if not for scumbags like LaBarbera who devote their lives to making the world as unpleasant as possible for those who are openly transgender. Third, I'm no mathematician, but wouldn't less than a fraction of 1 percent be, at most, zero? And fourth, how, exactly, is "there aren't very many of them" an argument against civil rights?
2. The idea that the GLBT community is mostly a bunch of flamboyant, in-your-face parade-marchers is, of course, a misconception, but good luck explaining that to the average Moonbattery reader.
3. Also, I know it's a longshot, but wouldn't it be great if this person has not zero, but two transgender children? (Answer: No, because those kids would probably have to face their gender issues without the help and support of an understanding family, the difficulty of which I can't even imagine. But still.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Atlas Shrugged: Part I

On Tax Day, fittingly enough, a nearly 40-year saga will come to something of an end with the release of Part I of the three-part film adaptation of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I don't especially care,[1] but Sean Hannity does, and, naturally, he knows what caused the delay:
Hannity: The movie is set to be released next month, something that might never have happened had Hollywood liberals gotten their way.
How can he be so sure? Because shut up, that's how. This is Sean Hannity, who I assume blames liberals when his steak is overcooked.[2] But then he brought out John Stossel for backup:
Stossel: It was hard to get the movie made.
Hannity: That's what I want to ask you next. Why [was there] a 20-year waiting period from the time that somebody bought the rights to this?
Stossel: Hollywood is liberal. They say, "oh, this is this woman who likes capitalism and selfishness. We don't like her." Still, some people signed on. Brad Pitt was interested, Angelina Jolie was going to play Dagny Taggart, but it just—the studios went, "we're not really into that." Finally, a businessman, John Aglialoro, said "I'll spend $10 million of my own money. I'm going to get this made."
So, the essence of the Hannity-Stossel Theorem is that Hollywood is so single-mindedly devoted to liberalism, they've allowed Atlas Shrugged to languish for four decades, devoting their resources instead to liberal propaganda like Red Dawn, The Passion of the Christ, V for Vendetta, and United 93. Not to mention every disaster movie where Americans save the world (i.e. every disaster movie), every movie where government operatives are sinister and/or incompetent (i.e. every movie with government operatives), and the entire contents of any of the myriad lists of "best conservative movies."[3]

But I digress. Getting back to Atlas Shrugged, I like how Stossel emphasizes that a "businessman" stepped in, because who, exactly, does he think runs the movie industry? Was it not businessmen and -women who made almost a billion dollars on a crappy CGI-fest Roger Ebert described as "a horrible experience of unbearable length"? And are they not, therefore, by Randian standards, incredibly good at their jobs?

Absent any actual evidence of an anti-objectivist conspiracy—and I haven't seen any—the idea that "Hollywood" would suppress a project for ideological reasons is absurd. In fact, the movie industry is, by all accounts, relentlessly capitalistic. People want to spend their money on formulaic drivel and mediocre sequels, and that's what the people get. Nobody wants to see a three-part adaptation of a lengthy, thematically-dense work of literature from the 1950s.

Oh, right, nevermind.

Still, Atlas Shrugged's potential to appeal to a large audience—which appears to have increased significantly now that America's gone socialist—isn't the only sticking point. There's also the clash between objectivists' notorious refusal to compromise and movie executives' notorious insistence on messing with everything. And I'd bet studios were (rather understandably) reluctant to commit to a three-part series without first knowing if Part I will have any success.

I'm not trying to argue that studios were right to be skeptical, or that I think the movie will fail.[4] Studios are wrong all the time, and the culprit isn't anti-conservatism or anti-libertarianism—they just aren't immune to bad business decisions.

But why bring capitalism into this?

1. "What the hell?," you're probably thinking. "A libertarian who isn't fanatically devoted to Ayn Rand? You at least like Rush, right?" Um…no comment.
2. He probably also blames immigrants, come to think of it.
3. A lot of surprising movies show up on those lists, but I'm most amused to see Juno, which apparently qualifies because—spoiler alert!—she doesn't have an abortion. Honorable mention goes to 300, which qualifies because it's an allegory for…shit, I don't know. Something to do with America and awesomeness.
4. I think it'll do fine. Libertarians will love it. Conservatives will like it, but some will complain that the film implicitly promotes atheism. Everyone else will find it dull and a little preachy, but not terrible. I predict a Metacritic score of 60. I also predict Sean Hannity will blame every perceived slight—up to and including Atlas Shrugged's inevitable failure to win the Academy Award for Best Picture—on liberals. And maybe immigrants.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dissenting Opinions

As I'm sure I've said before, it's not conservatism itself that bothers me as much as the perception that, on a given issue, one side is inherently "conservative" and the other is inherently not. Sometimes that's the case, but there's usually more than a little room for debate, and I can't always figure out how conservatives feel justified in clinging to a particular viewpoint so monolithically.

Turns out I'm not the only one. Here's a short list of prominent conservatives who, on at least one issue, break from the herd. And I'm not talking about people considered moderate, like John McCain and his "maverick" nonsense. These are conservatives who went a different direction because the "liberal" view is more compatible with their understanding of conservatism.

Dick Cheney Supports Same-Sex Marriage
I think that freedom means freedom for everyone. As many of you know, one of my daughters is gay and it is something we have lived with for a long time in our family. I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish. Any kind of arrangement they wish.
"Freedom means freedom for everyone." Assuming the "as long as you're not an enemy combatant" caveat is implied, does it get more fundamentally conservative than that? And note that Cheney unambiguously rejects the "same-sex marriage is an affront to our freedom" argument, which is one of the most baffling things conservatives are somehow able to say with a straight (so to speak) face.

Rupert Murdoch Supports Amnesty [1]
Our partnership advocates reform that gives a path to citizenship for responsible, law-abiding immigrants who are in the U.S. today without proper authority. It is nonsense to talk of expelling 12 million people. Not only is it impractical, it is cost prohibitive.

As an immigrant, I chose to live in America because it is one of the freest and most vibrant nations in the world. And as an immigrant, I feel an obligation to speak up for immigration policies that will keep America the most economically robust, creative and freedom-loving nation in the world.
So, a successful businessman argues that a government policy is patently flawed because it's impractical and it undermines natural economic forces? Sounds awfully conservative to me. Not to mention reasonable.

William F. Buckley Supported Legalization of Marijuana
Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great… And although there is a perfectly respectable case against using marijuana, the penalties imposed on those who reject that case, or who give way to weakness of resolution, are very difficult to defend.
Gay marriage might draw the silliest arguments from defenders of the status quo, but the marijuana debate is a close second. Both appear to be cases where the Urgent Need to Resist Change at All Costs has taken on a life of its own, and thus no longer requires a rational underlying foundation to sustain itself. Buckley was one of few conservatives who recognized not only that resistance to change for no good reason is intellectually dishonest, but that it's a fallacy to which defenders of the status quo are especially susceptible.

Richard Viguerie and Brent Bozell Oppose the Death Penalty
We are among a growing number of conservatives who have questions and reservations about the death penalty, believe it is no longer a necessary form of punishment based on either Lockean or biblical principles, or oppose it outright.
Maybe it's just me, but if I ever found myself advocating an ideology that sees mandatory health insurance as a deplorable abuse of government power, but sees nothing wrong with the government executing people, I'd stop and re-examine things too.

And that's the common thread here, isn't it?[2] If new information or a new perspective makes a viewpoint seem incompatible with one's ideology, the proper course of action is to re-examine the viewpoint, the ideology, or both—not to simply redefine the ideology to make the viewpoint fit.

1. I say "amnesty" because it's pithier, and because it's the term most who disagree with Murdoch would use. Like virtually anyone accused of supporting "amnesty," what he's really talking about is a set of reforms reasonably calculated to (a) avoid the logistical nightmare of deporting 12 million people, and (b) prevent a similar build-up from happening in the future, which is "amnesty" in the same sense that a plane ticket entitles you to bypass fees, lines, security, and any other hassles between you and your destination.
2. Actually, there's another common thread. Cheney has a gay daughter, Murdoch is an immigrant, Buckley smoked pot, and…ok, I doubt Viguerie or Bozell have ever been executed, but still. It's almost as if personal experience makes the idea that a certain thing threatens to destroy society seem a bit irrational.