A Primo #Facepalm Moment
To be a citizen of the United States is to experience many face palm moments. And recent Supreme Court decisions have provided some spectacular face palm moments.
Full disclosure: I take oppression of workers a bit personally. I escaped wage slavery only by luck. And my mother worked in the sort of retail store that Hobby Lobby is.
The Hobby Lobby decision this week by the US Supreme Court supplies one more example of why humanists often get irate and irrational about religion. After all, the scenario appears to be a no-brainer: an employer has a particular religious opinion. An employee has another or none. The employer sues, protesting a benefit the employee needs. Tough taco employer. right?
A no-brainer. But . . . #facepalm! . . . not in the United States. Here, individual liberty trumps the the public good a bit too often. Now, I know, the Supreme Court is that branch of government that brought you, oh, let’s see—#facepalm!—decisions such as Dred Scott and Citizens United. But still.
To the Manor Born
Most Supreme Court decisions are routine and uncontroversial. Those don’t make the news, so most citizens get a skewed picture of the court. But, reflect for a moment on the peculiarity that US citizens do not wonder about how our Supreme Court will reason their way through a politicized case to a just decision. We only have to look at the politics of most cases to know how most decisions will go. We only need to know the platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties to forecast how “law” and “reason” will turn out.
Such was the case in the Hobby Lobby case. There was never any doubt of the decision. It’s just a matter of counting the judges who have a particular political opinion.
How many babies will be born into this nation of the brave and the free and the frayed social safety net? How much hope does a child born to a parent who works at Hobby Lobby have? Will any of those kids get lucky, like me?
It’s not likely. What’s the percentage of people who make it into the One Percent? #facepalm! (Or like lucky, lucky me, the Five Percent?) And how many of those weren’t born into the One Percent? Or Five Percent?
Cue (and Queue) the Crazies
Does this decision open the door for all kinds of religious objections to all sorts of things? Yes. For Christians, anyway. The unspoken law behind the decision is that Christianity is the only real and true religion, and the merits of others to be decided by whatever local powers there might be, in whatever courts may be nearby. (Read “Christian” jury.)
Humorist Will Rogers once said, “America has the best politicians money can buy.” Also, America has the best religion money can buy—to every citizen a religion custom- tailored to support our prejudices. Here’s the thing: whatever your religious beliefs, or lack thereof, if the top tenant of your religion is not fostering the wellbeing of your fellow human beings, it is bad religion.
As a humanist, I have no excuses for damaging the well being of another. The central focus of my ethics must be promoting the flourishing of my fellow humans, animals, and the world.
As we enjoy the fireworks in the United States, we do well to meditate a bit on the difference between rights and responsibilities. Yes, we are a nation of laws. Often those rights and those laws are (facepalm!) irresponsible.