Freedom of Conscience
There’s a group in our country who wants what they want. They communicate these wants through their leaders.
So, what do they want?
One example is something they want is atheists out of America. We know this through messages (called sermons) from official representatives of their organizations (called churches) led by official spokespersons (called preachers). Further, we know these messages are official because the membership (called congregations) has indicated support by voting (called money) for these representatives.
Another example (as if we needed more) is elected representatives (called Republicans) trying to control other human beings (called legislation) extending the “rights” of some to the detriment of others. These are the so-called Freedom of Conscience laws.
A few attempts have failed so far, including the one in Arizona just this week, but make no mistake about it. More are on the way. This will continue until one becomes the law of the land, at which point it will be appealed (at great expense) where it will finally be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Now, I know that this combative group isn’t representative of all religious, conservative, Republican folks out there. There are lots of good, sincere and well-intentioned people on both sides of most any issue. (Even if one side stubbornly refuses to admit it.) But these types are supported by enough people that their messages often have as much power as a gathering storm.
The Freedom Of Conscience strategy represents a shift from the time-honored traditions of “abomination” and “you’re going to Hell.” One thing about the Culture War: It never ends and scouts are always being dispatched to probe for weaknesses along enemy lines.
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This topic is so outrageous I don’t need to be quippy in the post title. I’ll just let the subject speak for itself…
I’d like to start this post with a Newt Gingrich joke. And this has nothing to do with his wife, either. It’s about him on a hot sex date. ba-doom-boom!
I keed, I keed. Seriously, though. I’m here all week.
So here’s the joke:
Gingrich is out on a date and things are going swimmingly. He drops his pants and says to the young woman, “Check out this Eye of Newt!”
Well, at least we can say this much about my sense of humor. It’s painfully obvious that I write my own material.
I woke up this morning planning a Newt Gingrich post. A quick check of Google News, though, and I feel like my thunder is about to be stolen away before I can even start. Check out some of these headlines:
- Our bizarre political theater
- Commentary: Newt Gingrich’s political suicide
- Gingrich, in N.H., tries to refocus his campaign
- Republican Gingrich defiant over Tiffany’s account
- Gingrich takes few questions, avoids press at NH town hall
- Gingrich’s campaign blindsided by bling
- Newt Gingrich Defends Paul Ryan From People Saying Same Things Newt Said
- Political Lolapalooza: Newt Gingrich’s Diamond Studded Hypocrisy & Other Tales From The Crypt
Note: These are all real headlines shown exactly as I found them while writing this post.
Apparently the Gingrich campaign is not long for this world. It’s about to slip the surly bonds of Earth and touch the face of God. Or something like that.
Even so, I’m still in the mood to discuss my planned topic. And that’s doctors. Let’s give Gingrich a chance here. Let’s focus on the issues.
With all of the issues facing our country, what does Gingrich see as the cornerstones of his campaign?
- Repeal The Affordable Health Care Act
- Preserve Bush-era tax cuts for top 2 percent
- Combating radical Islamism
- Emphasis on math and science to give the U.S. military the “most advanced and powerful weapons in the world”
- Dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and replace with an “Environmental Solutions Agency” which would view the environmental based on job creation and energy costs
- Defund Planned Parenthood
- Protect religious expression (creches, crosses, menorahs) on public property
- Protect healthcare workers’ “right to conscience”
- Provide access to government funds for home schooled students
- Protect rights of teachers to discuss religion in the classroom
- Protect frail, infirm and elderly from the state’s arbitrary decision to terminate life
Wow, Newt! See the boogeyman much?
There’s so much meat here, but if I take too big of a bite and I won’t be able to digest and then, well, I’ll be irregular. So let’s just take a nibble. Besides, since he’s got no chance, this is all just a thought experiment. A quick look, though, could still be a bit of fun.
I really want to discuss the doctor thing, but first, a brief history lesson on the biggest boogeyman of all-time. At least since abortion was made the end-all distraction issue of conservatives.
Planned Parenthood facts:
- Opened in 1916 as the first birth control clinic in the United States.
- In 1970 President Richard M.Nixon (Republican) signed the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act. This provided government funding to Planned Parenthood. The act had bipartisan support by liberals (who saw it as giving families greater control over their lives) and conservatives (who saw it as a way to keep people off welfare).
- Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the United States, which constitutes about 3% of the health care services it provides.
- Receives about one-third of its funding from the government.
- By law does not use any federal funding for abortions.
Now, the doctor thing. Gingrich essentially wants “healthcare workers” to have the right to “refuse service to anyone.” No big surprise that this one has to do with abortion. Gingrich wants to make sure that doctors are not forced to participate in or refer procedures such as abortion.
A couple of thoughts. First, is this a big problem facing our country? Do you lose a lot of sleep over this? Excuse the fuck out of me, but really. Boo-fucking-hoo. I don’t even know what to make if this. Has there ever been a doctor forced to do anything he/she didn’t want to? I find that hard to imagine.
Note: Some will point out, correctly, that an employee has to what he’s ordered to do (as long as it’s legal) or risk getting fired. True enough. I’ve been in that situation all my goddamned life. But where is the “force” in this equation? Like trillions of people have told me before, if you don’t like your job, go “vote with your feet” and find a new one. Unless the doctor is performing an abortion at gunpoint no one is legally being “forced.” Don’t like something about your job, whatever it is? Put on your big boy pants and go find a new job. This is, by the way, a basic building block of a “free market.”
And how exactly would this sort of thing be implemented? How to you legally define a “right to conscience?” Could it apply to any situation? Any medical procedure? Could it be based on hair color? The length of the patient’s skirt that is offensive to the doctor? A tattoo? A religious symbol? Gender? The color of skin? Smell?
How exactly would this conscience thing work? What would be permissible grounds for refusal and what wouldn’t?
This is exactly the sort of shit that flimflam politicians like to run up the flagpole to distract the rabble. Inflame the passions, distract, and walk your way into office with your prize money.
Another thing: Doctors are an important part of our society and we recognize them for that. They get money. The get privilege. Influence. Respect. Power. Isn’t that enough?
“So sorry, old chap. I appreciate all that, but it simply isn’t enough. I need to have total control over everything. Stat! Understood?”
What makes doctors so much more special than anyone else? I’d really like to know. How many other jobs can you imagine where the worker demands the right to refuse service?
- The firefighter won’t put out your fire
- The police officer won’t protect and serve
- The teacher won’t teach
- The mechanic won’t fix your car
- The cable company refuses to put the internet in your house
- The minister won’t administer sacraments and holy communion
Actually, that last one is already all too real. We’ve been working for millennia to end discrimination based on things like gender and the color of skin. When did it become acceptable to do it based on things like beliefs? And why, pray tell, does religion always seem to be right smack dab in the middle of it? Riddle me that, Batman!
Sure, in America, you have the right to your own personal beliefs. And we have the right to refuse service. You believe something different than us? We’ll do a little embargo of our own. Let’s see you eat nothing, you fuck! Enjoy your “rights” while you starve to death! Ha ha ha ha ha!
We’ve traded in one form of discrimination for another. I guess we can’t abide the thought of a world without some form of discrimination.
Do you know any worker who enjoys this sort of right? It sure the fuck ain’t me. I have to wait on everyone who comes my way or I get fired. Am I offended or find something repugnant about that task? Too fucking bad. Suck it up or be out of a job. That’s the everyday choice for most ordinary working people.
Why do doctors need and/or deserve different?
Doctors take an oath to do no harm. If it’s your turn in the barrel and you’re on shift when a patient is brought it, you do your fucking job. You don’t become a conscientious objector based on things like differences in personal beliefs. Saving that human spark of life – no matter what – is your job. If you won’t do that, then society has absolutely no use for you. You don’t get the option of intermittent refusal and still keep all the special goodies and prizes and what’s behind door number three, k?
And no, you can’t stand back, do nothing, and say it is the problem of something else and get to keep your “do no harm” status. Doing nothing when your actions could have made a difference is the same as causing harm.
This is one so-called “issue” that should absolutely never see the rule of law. Ever!
Jesus Christ! I can sit here and close my eyes and I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of world that Newt Gingrich wants to live in. It sounds like a scary and hateful place. It sounds twisted. It sounds un-American.
Short Film: The Veiled Commodity
Today I’d like to share something serious with you. No, not my normal lunatic ravings but an issue of vital importance that touches us all whether we realize it or not.
I recently came across an excellent award winning short film called The Veiled Commodity. The film is an extremely powerful look at human trafficking and modern-day slavery. It is serious stuff and something that socially-conscious people must see. These issues are important and demand our attention and our action.
If you click the link above and visit the official web site you can currently watch the entire film for free. Just click the menu option that says, “the film.”
The Veiled Commodity is part one of a planned three-part series. Part one focuses on slavery’s past and present day issues. Parts two and three in the series will deal with related topics like sexual slavery and child soldiers.
The animation is top-notch and superbly captures the perfect mood for the content. The film is directed by Dickson Chow and Vinh Chung. The film is movingly narrated by Carmen Lezeth Suarez.
After you watch the film you can show your support by visiting the film’s Facebook page.
The issues explored in this movie are as timely as they are vital for us to face. For a topical example ripped from this week’s headlines see this video from the New York Times.
The people who brought you the film recommend the following organizations as ways you can help:
Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org
Free The Slaves: http://www.freetheslaves.net
End Human Trafficking: http://www.endhumantrafficking.org
Not For Sale: http://www.notforsalecampaign.org
Polaris Project: http://actioncenter.polarisproject.org