Archive for May 5th, 2012
John Yoo, the Bush attorney who authored memos authorizing torture is immune from civil lawsuit invited by his memos, based on a recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. This ruling is unsurprising, in that it comports with a disturbing trend. Glenn Greenwald explains:
[C]onsider these two facts:
(1) not a single War on Terror victim — not one — has been permitted to sue for damages in an American court over what was done to them, even when everyone admits they were completely innocent, even when they were subjected to the most brutal torture, and even when the judiciary of other countries permitted their lawsuits to proceed; and,
(2) not a single government official — not one — has been held legally accountable, either criminally or even civilly, for any War on Terror crimes or abuses; perversely, the only government officials to pay any price were the ones who blew the whistle on those crimes.
That is how history will record the behavior of American federal judges in the face of the post-9/11 onslaught of anti-Muslim persecution and relentless erosions of core rights.
The trend is further supported by a recent report that out of almost 1800 FISA requests (most for eavesdropping) filed by the federal government in 2011, none of them were denied. This statistic begs for the following commentary by Greenwald:
This is a perfect expression of how the federal judiciary, in general, behaves in the face of claims of National Security from the Executive Branch: as an impotent, eager rubber-stamping servant.
Vilayanur Ramachandran described the alleged need to define one’s terms carefully by telling the following story:
After his triumph with heredity, [Francis] Crick turned to what he called the “second great riddle” in biology—consciousness. There were many skeptics. I remember a seminar he was giving on consciousness at the Salk Institute here in La Jolla. He’d barely started when a gentleman in attendance raised a hand and said, “But Doctor Crick, you haven’t even bothered to define the word consciousness before embarking on this.” Crick’s response was memorable: “I’d remind you that there was never a time in the history of biology when a bunch of us sat around the table and said, ‘Let’s first define what we mean by life.’ We just went out there and discovered what it was—a double helix. We leave matters of semantic hygiene to you philosophers.”
Does the bible prohibit gay marriage, or are conservative Christians again up to their favorite trick, cherry-picking? The following excerpt from The Miami Herald suggests that cherries are being picked in earnest.
[Matthew] Vines is a Christian, a 22-year-old Harvard undergrad raised in a conservative evangelical church in Kansas. He is also gay and says he grew up being taught that the Bible condemns his sexual orientation. He took two years off from school to research and study whether or not that assertion is true. The result is The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality. It’s a video. . . Vines’ speech is a masterwork of scriptural exegesis and a marvel of patient logic, slicing and dicing with surgical precision the claim that homophobia is God ordained. So effective is the video that after viewing it, Sandra Delemares a Christian blogger from the United Kingdom who had, for years, spoken in staunch opposition to same sex marriage, wrote that it “revolutionised” her thinking.
Vines points out, for instance, that the frequently quoted condemnation (homosexuality is an “abomination”) from the Old Testament lawbook of Leviticus has no application to Christians, who are bound by the teachings of the New Testament. He explains that St. Paul’s admonitions about the “effeminate” and “abusers of themselves with mankind” stem from modern mis-translations of ancient Greek terminology.
With that as an introduction, here is the video featuring Matthew Vines:
This is an impressive presentation. At the 16 minute mark, Matthew begins to examine the six bible passages that supposedly condemn homosexuality. None of them survive his scrutiny.