A Clash of Rights – Part 2

Continuing from my last post, I want to discuss the idea of a clash of rights again. Let’s think about it from a political sense for a moment. Does a person have a right to associate only with those of the same political beliefs? And if so, can this right extend to those who have a business that serves the public?

An example I used on Facebook was that of a small city, where there was one event center, owned by a staunch Democrat. The mayor of the town is a Republican, and the event center owner hates him and everything he and his party stand for. Let’s say they are both white men. The mayor wants to rent out the event center for the start of his re-election campaign. The Democratic owner of the event center refuses, stating he will not rent it out for a Republican event. Is he within his rights to refuse service?

I would hope he has the right to refuse to serve the Republican, based on his political views. But maybe not. The Republican has the right not to be discriminated against for his political views, and the Democrat has the right of conscious. Which right trumps the other?

That’s not so far-fetched. And of course political rights clearly don’t trump some civil rights. If it had been a black person wanting to rent the event center for his daughter’s wedding, the white Democratic owner couldn’t refuse to rent to him on the basis of political views. Or say it was a black owner. He couldn’t say, “You know, you white Republicans have oppressed my people enough. No, I’m not going to rent it to you for your daughter’s wedding, based on my political views.  I don’t think that would be within the law.

You see, a person doesn’t choose his race, but he does chose his political opinions and actions. So should a person be allowed to refuse to serve another person based on the politics of the two? I think that’s a very important question that needs to be settled. Race is inherent; political affiliation is not. Must a person who runs a business that serves the general public be forced to serve someone of a different political stripe? If the event is a political one, I would think not. If the event is a private one (such as the wedding reception), I would still think not. I would still like to see the person retain his right to conscious based on his political beliefs. In those cases, I can’t really see how anyone’s civil rights were violated.

What say you? Do you agree with me or not? Do we have the right to act on political conscious?

I think I’ll end this post here.  In the next one I’ll start honing in more on how this relates to the homosexual situation. And in one after that, I may finally get into where I stand on the narrower issue.

 

A Clash of Rights – Part 1

Some days ago I wrote out a blog post in manuscript; not completely, but enough to get me going once I got to my computer. Alas, I have no idea where that piece of paper is. It’s not in all the usual places. I could look in unusual places, but that seems like work, more work than starting from scratch.

So, having finished my stock chart reading for the evening, and not yet ready to exit The Dungeon and read, I’ll try to recreate this.

The impetus for this post is the recent passage of religious freedom bills (RFRA) in Indiana and Arkansas, as described in this post. I won’t repeat what I said there. At least I don’t think I will. And, I’m fairly sure I won’t be able to finish my thoughts in just one post of reasonable length for a blog, maybe not in two. So I hope readers of this post will indulge me my wordiness, and come back for all doses of this. And my full argument won’t be clear until the very end. If you stop before that you may get the wrong impression of what I’m saying.

I got into a couple of Facebook debates on the state RFRAs. Nothing earth shattering. Mainly I said I hadn’t read the bills/acts in question, didn’t know what they said, but didn’t know why they were needed. The general interpretation of the acts by one side was that they gave license for people to discriminate against the homosexual community based on their own religious views. The interpretation of the other side seemed to be that the right of conscious based on religious views needed to be preserved, and government actions were leaning towards doing away with religious conscious. I hope that’s a reasonable summary, and not too repetitive of my former post.

Trying to think of this from a larger viewpoint than just the homosexual community, it seems what you have here is a clash of rights: one group’s right to be treated justly, and another group’s right to act on their conscious, regardless of the reason why they have that position.  Let’s say this was a case of a landlord not wanting to rent to a black person because his religion (or political conscious) forbids him to. The USA has determined that in such a clash of rights, the civil rights of the black person outweigh the right of conscious of a landlord, and he/she can’t behave that way. He/she cannot base rental decisions on race.

What about business-to-consumer services based on sexual orientation?  This is a harder area to define, in my mind. With regard to race, a person is whatever race they were born with. It wasn’t their choice. In the case of sexual orientation, it seems to me that the jury is still out on whether it’s a choice or an in-born trait. Or perhaps it’s always a choice or always an inborn trait. I suspect it is an inborn trait in many cases, and a choice in many as well. If it’s a choice, do the civil rights or the homosexual person (by which I mean both males and females who practice same-sex relations) trump the right-of-conscious of the straight person? Or are the rights about equal, and hence neither side should require any special mention in the law as being a protected class.

These are difficult issues in my mind. I realize people who read this might disagree—on either side. It might be clear cut to some that it’s always a choice or always an inborn trait. Someone might even say it doesn’t make a difference whether it’s a choice or inborn. It is how it is, and discrimination vs. conscious must be settled one way of the other.

Without settling the question concerning the clash of rights as it relates to homosexuals, I want to consider the broader picture of other areas of conscious. Alas, as I thought, I’m out of space in this blog post. Look for another post in a day or two—at least I’ll try to get back to this that quickly.

Am I On A Rabbit Trail? Or Two?

Confession time: I have never read Alice in Wonderland. All I know about it comes from the Disney movie, which I realize may be nothing like the book. Plus, I’ve heard or read various people talking about “rabbit trails” in connection with it. My memory of the movie is hazy, as it’s been a long time since I saw it. I guess Alice follows a rabbit trail which takes her off her intended course. That’s the best I understand it, and what I mean by the title of this post: following things that take you off course.

For the last month, maybe a little longer, I have allowed my writing focus to be diverted to two projects related to Thomas Carlyle. I’ve written about them before here. One is a comprehensive bibliography of his compositions, in chronological order. The other is a book about his book Chartism, and the literary reception it has had in the 175 years since it was published. Both of these are books that are in progress. I have computer files of both.

While the Chartism book is fairly far along, most of my recent efforts have gone into the Bibliography. It’s something I enjoy working on, something that is different than other bibliographies of his works. However, I’m learning just what an incredible rabbit hole it is.

On my noon hour I did some searching for copies of some research papers on Carlyle, from the last 25 to 30 years, which I believe will have various Carlyle compositions that were never documented, which I would like to add to my Bibliography. As I expected, these volumes are under copyright and not available on-line. I didn’t check to see where they are in any of the world’s libraries, though I’m sure they are somewhere. Also, I could possibly buy some back issues of them.

Then, I did some looking into something at the Carlyle Letters Online, the Duke University site that is a goldmine for Carlyle researchers. In five minutes of research I found reference made to two compositions that I don’t remember knowing about or seeing in any bibliography (though possibly they are there under a different title).

And, I came to the realization of the madness of it all.

I don’t have time for this. It’s something maybe 20 or 30 people in the world are interested in. Why would I write books like these? I’ve been sinking a lot of time into this lately, even after saying I was going to “button up” current research and lay it aside. I thought I did that a week ago, yet, here I am, still at it.

Last night, before getting on my Carlyle research, I proofed my Federal income taxes, found them to be correct, and stuck them in a folder to take them to work to make copies of. Except when I checked that folder this afternoon they weren’t there. What did I do with them? Then there’s Daddy-Daughter Day, sitting there with a finished cover, finished formatted book, waiting for me to take an hour to upload them to CreateSpace and order a proof copy to see if it’s truly ready to go. Did I do that last night? No, after taxes I worked on Carlyle. Madness! Sheer madness!

So, this time I’m for sure ending this. All my work is saved; copies of some things are printed for putting in a notebook. Tonight I’ll put them in the notebook. Then I’m going to find Ginny Weasley and ask her to hide the notebook (actually two notebooks, or maybe three) in the Room of Requirement, somewhere I won’t find them. Tonight, when I get home after Good Friday service, after eating supper and descending to The Dungeon, I will do the work needed on Daddy-Daughter Day. Carlyle can watch me, if he wants to, and complain that I’m ignoring the Sage of Chelsea. Let him complain. For the foreseeable future I’m done with him.

The Religious Freedom Acts Debate

I don’t often get into politics on this blog, but will today. Those who come here to read about my writing life, or engineering, or anything but politics, just gloss over this. I just discovered I have never created a blog category for “politics”, which shows how I avoid the discussion. I was going to blog about belt loops today, but will save that for another time.

Right now the raging debate is on religious freedom acts coming from State legislatures. As I write this, Indiana has passed one that the governor has signed. Arkansas has passed one that awaits Governor Hutchinson’s action. These two states thus join 19 others that already have such a law on the books. It’s also said these laws are similar to the Federal law passed in 1993 by bipartisan votes in the Democratic controlled Congress and signed by President Clinton. The laws from the early 1990s were for the purpose of making sure a few Native Americans could smoke their peyote (how fitting based on who supported it), and has no relationship to the current debate.

The debate centers on whether these laws are thinly veiled attempts to legalize discrimination against the homosexual community. Somewhere in the USA a baker refused to make the cake for the wedding of a same-sex couple. That case is winding its way through the court system, and is now, I believe, awaiting SCOTUS action. The homosexual community and others are against these laws, and believe that a person in a public business should not be allowed chose who they will serve and who they won’t.

Others debate that the laws are necessary because a person should be allowed to make a statement about whether they support a cause or not. Partaking in a cause through serving it as a business could be interpreted as supporting it. Hence, they want the right to refuse service as an expression of religious freedom and free speech. Refusing service is not discrimination, or if it is a person’s right to free speech trumps another’s right not to be discriminated against.

Both sides discuss this in relation to racial discrimination, some saying it’s essentially the same, others saying it’s very different. Refusing service to a person of another race is and should be against the law, all say. Some say refusing service to a person based on sexual orientation is the same as it is based on racial reasons; other say no, the two are very different. That’s the arguments, as I understand them. I could be wrong in some of these points, or over-simplifying. I have not researched this or read any of the laws involved. All I know is what I hear on television and read in the news.

My thought about this: I don’t care. Pass the laws or don’t pass the laws. Defend my free speech or take it away from me. Defend my religious liberty or take it away from me. I don’t care. How I live my life will be exactly the same.

I lived in Saudi Arabia for two and a half years, more than 30 years ago. At the time we couldn’t openly practice Christianity. There were no churches. Oh, in the western communities of Aramco there were unofficial churches, which met in Western school auditoriums, and for a while we were able to attend those. The government knew about them. Back in the early 1950s the king called in the oil executives, told them he knew all about their Christian gatherings and the pastors brought into his country as “special teachers”. You may keep them, he said, but if anyone ever tries to convert a Moslem they will be gone on the next airplane.

That had no bearing on our worshiping God, or practicing our Christianity. While we could we went to the “church” nearest us. When that was closed to us who didn’t work for the oil company, we got together with other Christians in our apartments or villas, maybe ten to twenty people, and worshipped how we wanted to. Those were very meaningful times of worship, more meaningful, in fact, because we were breaking the law to do it.

Typical of the debate I see, a Facebook friend (who I don’t really know, but I have an on-line connection to her through a common interest) posted this.

“Christians”, be careful who you condemn. You may find yourself in the next group denied service in a business because you may not be “Christian” enough to suit the owners.

I don’t know if she means this to be a warning, a prediction, or a threat. I don’t care. I find it interesting that she equates refusing to serve someone as condemnation. That is so far from true as to be laughable. Just because we oppose what someone is doing does not mean we condemn them. People in my office accept continuing education credits from vendor presentations. I understand this to be against the continuing education laws in most if not all states, and so I won’t accept those credits and encourage others not to accept them. But I don’t condemn those who accept them. We simply disagree.

But if this is a prediction or a threat, and service refusals to Christians are coming, I don’t care. Let them come. It won’t affect my worship practices one bit. I will continue to serve the living God in the way I see right. I will see being refused service because I am a practicing Christian to be a badge of honor, remembering that they did much worse to Jesus than to me.

Recently a homosexual hairdresser refused to any longer do the hair of New Mexico’s female governor because she came out in opposition to same-sex marriage. It actually doesn’t matter that he’s homosexual. He could be heterosexual and take the same position, refusing service for political reasons. I wonder what would happen to his right to refuse her service if these laws pass, or don’t pass. Of course, his reasons were political, I guess, not religious. Do we need a Political Freedom Restoration Act to protect his right to refuse to do business with a person who takes a political stand with which he disagrees? I assume he is not condemning her. he just doesn’t want to do business with her because of her political stance.

And that’s the crux of the matter so far as I’m concerned. Disagreement does not equal condemnation. At least it doesn’t in my mind, though it seems to in this friend’s mind. She condemns “Christians” for supporting these laws, even as she accuses “Christians” of condemning homosexuals simply because of a disagreement on same-sex marriage.

The debate gets coarser and harsher. Must disagreement be interpreted and labeled as condemnation? The sides are bucking up, not simply disagreeing and going on with their friendships and lives. All of which makes me less than optimistic about the future of the USA.

Turning It Over

CS Cover-03 thumbnailOkay, I think I’m going to turn over my cover for Daddy-Daughter Day to someone. Jake has helped me with it so far. We looked at it today to discuss some tweaks. I showed him how some of his letters needed tweaking, to which he agreed. He showed me how some of my color work didn’t quite make the grade, which I could see after he pointed it out. He then said if I would send him the G.I.M.P. file he would see if he could upload it into Photoshop and take care of those few things. He also saw where some of the letters he drew were not on a straight line, which he wanted to fix.

CS Cover with green font 343x263He says he will have it done in about a day. He’s taking a few days of vacation for a stay-cation, with family in, but said he’d have plenty of time to do this. This means I might be able to upload the book to CreateSpace tomorrow, and order a proof copy pretty quick, assuming the cover size is correct. I think I did that correctly.

Turning this over to someone is both a good feeling and a not so good feeling. It feels as if I’m failing at learning how to do something. Yet at the same time it’s a relief not to have to deal with it.

Will I ever learn graphic arts programs enough to where I understand what I’m doing and feel comfortable doing it? I doubt it.

The two photos in this file are the two book covers I’m considering, after the guy’s tweaking. I posted them to Facebook and received comments. The green font one was ahead, but a decent but not comfortable margin. I’m anxious to get this done.

Deeper than an MRI

At our adult Life Group this morning I was faced with a dilemma. Our pastor is gone on Spring Break, and the youth pastor was preaching. In the first service his sermon was shorter than our pastor’s normally is, and we were out of service in just 50 minutes instead of the usual 65 or so. That meant during the second service, when I would be substitute teaching the Life Group, the time would be shorter than normal.

The man who organizes our card ministry (At the beginning of each class we prepare greeting cards for various people in the church), so that took some time to get going. Finally we got to prayer requests. The first one was by a woman (early 50s, I think) who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Two recent tests, a biopsy and an MRI, confirmed the problem, but she doesn’t yet know what the treatment will be.

One of the men in the class suggested we gather around her and her husband and pray for them right then, before we heard other requests. We did so. I was glad for it, and the whole time thing kind of melted away in my mind. This is what the class is for. The lesson is important, but prayer like this should be primary. I asked another woman in the class to lead us in the prayer. She did so with a heartfelt prayer, making one statement in it that was incredible. “Lord, you see deeper than any MRI.”

What a great statement, I thought! Indeed, God does see deeper than any MRI, any test on a biopsy, and Catscan (however that’s supposed to be spelled). He sees our deepest needs. He knows what the problem is, no matter what the problem is. That doesn’t mean that he miraculously solves all problems, instead leaving it to be worked out by human effort and ingenuity, sometimes with a good result, sometimes with a so-so or negative result. But always, always He does not leave the one with the problem alone.

Well, my problem of the amount of time I had to teach a lesson was much less of a problem than what we prayed over. But the lesson went well. We studied 2 John (first time I’ve ever seen it used in a Sunday School lesson). I had been able to pull three critical points out of it, and we found time enough to discuss each one. I think, by the end of the class, all attendees felt blessed and spiritually fed.

And we got out a little late. By the time I hit the church lobby most people had gone, so pastor Aaron must have been short-winded in the second service as well.

Now, I need to decide if this lesson was good enough to save and expand and possibly work into a Life Group lesson series. Stay tuned.

A Busy, but Good, Day

This week has been a blur of activity, at home and at work. I won’t say too much about at home, except that the Great Time Crunch is coming to a head, and for a while I’ll have less time than normal, even less than I’ve had the last five months.

Concerning work, I’ve had lots to do. We had two training activities on Tuesday, both involving a guest speaker, which I was responsible for coordinating. One took place off site, an advanced class to a combined group of those I was responsible for and more that another person was responsible for. Then I went back to the main office and the speaker gave a basic class on the same topic, risk management, to a whole other group. Then I rushed back to the other meeting to make a half hour presentation on a topic.

On Wednesday I went back to the offsite meeting (continuing with the smaller group) to hear a particular topic. I’m glad I did, as it was the presentation of a problem  we are having related to one particular group. I listened, helped (I think) by my comments to clarify the problem  as it was being presented and to drill into the proposed solution with three options. No decision was made, but I was glad I went, listened, and contributed, because…

…today I was able to help someone come up with what looks like a good solution to the problem. I was able to contribute in a meaningful way. Will this proposal be the right solution to the problem? Don’t know, but it looks good. But whether it works or not, being part of the problem-solving team felt good. It felt good in part because no one asked me to be on the team. I simply decided I most likely had ideas to share if I knew what the problem was. I went out of my way to try to be part of the solution. And that felt good.

In the brown bag class I taught last week, “How to Recession-Proof Your Career”, I said you do that by increasing your value to the company year over year, even month over month. I think I did that today, this week. Yes, it was exhausting, especially when combined with the busyness at home. But it was satisfying, very satisfying.

The Time Crunch Deepens

Monday morning at work I began tackling my to-do list. It was a written to-do list for a change, since, when I got to work that day I realized just how much I had to do, and knew I wouldn’t get it done if I didn’t have a plan.

The list was long, and I felt a great weight of pressure. This week we were to have training events on four days, Tuesday through Friday. The one on Tuesday was more of a software demonstration, but it was of software I have an interest in, and if the company is to buy it it will be on my recommendation. So it was something I scheduled, planned, and attended. Then, Monday in our Leadership meeting, as we discussed the one day Leadership Development training scheduled for next Tuesday, it became obvious that we would have to have a more focused meeting on the subject. So I scheduled and planned that, adding it to Tuesday.

Then, it seemed, the salesmen came out of the woodwork on Monday, contacting me, saying they would be in the area this week and wanting to meet with me. Late in the day I received an e-mail from one of our department heads, saying a construction specification I wrote last December needed two additions to it due to changes in the project and oh it’s under construction so it’s needed quickly.

In the midst of this, I was thinking of all I have to do at home. Some weeks ago I made a good start on my income taxes, but then let it go by the wayside. So those were due. I had fallen almost two weeks behind on keeping our family finances and budget up to date. That’s not bad compared to past years, but this year I’ve been trying hard to keep them up to date on a weekly basis. Almost a week’s worth of mail had piled up. I have received the book cover art and font work from two people, for Daddy-Daughter Day, and so need to go about putting a book cover together from them—if I even can. This is different from past covers. And, of course, there’s the normal stock trading work I have to do each evening if we are ever going to start making money consistently from it. And, decluttering our house is weighing heavily on my mind right now. I go home from an office that’s a mess to a house that’s mess. The office mess is my own, and I certainly have a share in the house mess.

So at work on Monday I wrote a to-do list for home. It wasn’t real long, but it had each of those items from the previous paragraph, plus a couple more, with days of the week next to them. Stock trading work on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Decluttering work on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Income taxes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Family finances on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; no, just on Monday for that, as I’m not that far behind. Notably absent is any writing work, including on the poetry book.

And, at home, just as at work, I’ve been working the to-do list. I got finances up to date on Monday, along with some decluttering and stock work. I dusted off the taxes spreadsheet on Tuesday, and made a huge dent in completing them, to the point where I can probably finish the Federal on Wednesday. I did some stock work every day, enough to keep on top of our accounts and current trades and place a couple of new ones.

Today will be another busy day at work, as I try to complete preparation for my presentation tomorrow, do final organization for the vendor lunch and learn today, do some organization on Friday’s lunch and learn, and maybe, perhaps, a little decluttering in my office. One of these days I hope to have enough time to remember what it was like to be a writer.

Author | Engineer