Friday, March 20, 2015

Rebutting Rabbi Sasso

In the Indystar today (why do I read it when I'm at my parents' home on my day off?) there is an editorial from "Rabbi Emeritus Sandy Sasso" telling us we should reject 'religious freedom' legislation.  It simply needs to be rebutted.

1) Sasso: The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is contrary to the Exodus of the Israelites through the Red Sea.

Me: This makes no sense whatsoever.  There is no attempt to explain this metaphor and it completely fails.  The only thing I can think is that she's trying to say, in a roundabout way, that you are somehow anti-semitic if you are for RFRA.

2) Sasso: The bill seeks to exempt individuals, including businesses and corporations, from any statute that "substantially burdens" their religious freedom.  The government would then have to prove that there is a compelling reason to require that burden."

Me: YES!  That is a great idea!

3) "In practicality, it means that business owners can refuse services or the selling of products to those who engage in legal practices that the proprietors deem contrary to their religious beliefs, such as the celebration of a gay marriage"

Me: a) why rephrase this?  It seems like she thinks we are all simpletons who need her helpful rephrasing.  There is nothing confusing at all about #2 above.  #2 above is not calculus.

b) If the acts in question weren't legal, there would be no need to discuss religious freedom in the first place.  If religious freedom is in jeopardy, it is because an act is legal that the religion disagrees with.  You wouldn't need an RFRA to protect churches from being forced to traffic cocaine because cocaine is illegal.  Churches only need protected from things that ARE legal.

4) Sasso: "Some say the bill is needed to protect people who strictly interpret the Bible"

Me: Nice.  Demonize the other side.  Those who think differently than Rabbi Emeritus Sasso are "strict interpreters" of the Bible.

5) "because those individuals don't want to bend their religious beliefs"

Me: The word "bend" is quite wrong.  It gives the impression that everything is relative, so our beliefs are "bendy" as in asking Catholics to violate their religious is simply asking them to "bend" something.  It isn't "bending" their beliefs, it is BREAKING their religious beliefs.

Everyone seems to get this with Islam - "Hey, muslims are offended when you draw the Prophet, so let's not do that, okay.  They take that really personal."  No one says Muslims should "bend" on their beliefs...but everyone else's religious beliefs are "bendy"???

6) Sasso: "This bill focuses solely on the public sphere"

Me: In the public sphere you have PEOPLE who have beliefs, and people who run companies have beliefs.  Don't buy their stuff if their beliefs upset you.  If you don't like Chik-Fil-A's stance on things, don't eat Chik-Fil-A.  It is really quite simple.

7) Sasso: "This legislation is dangerously ambiguous.  It leaves it to the courts to decide what a sincerely held religious belief belief is and what a compelling state interest is."

Me: Yes.  This is a grown up question, and a question that we ought to be able to debate and discuss in a court of law.  If the courts don't decide that, who should?   The courts are exactly where these questions need to be hammered out, and if legislation needs to develop out of those court discussions, then that is fine.

8)  Sasso: "Does a man's belief that he may attribute, albeit erroneously, to the Bible allow him to beat his wife?"

Me: Who are you trying to sway here, Bart Simpson?  This is such a sophomoric argument, and frankly it is childish journalism and a travesty of logic that wouldn't have been found in serious editorials even a decade ago.

Yeah, the courts are going to rule that a guy can beat his wife!???!  Come on.  Be serious and talk about this issue with seriousness.

9) Sasso: "Can a pharmacist who does not believe in birth control be allowed to refuse to sell it to a client"

Me: "YES!"  Let's have that discussion.  Sasso mentions it like it is such a slam dunk no brainer ridiculous example of "biblical fundamentalism" when in fact it is a very serious question that needs to be discussed.  That Sasso and others find this to be an obvious example that needs to be rejected illustrates precisely why the bill is needed.

10) Sasso: "Common sense and good will should lead to the defeat of this bill."

Me: WOW!  Paint the other side again using sophomoric debate strategies.  So those who are for the bill lack common sense and good will.  Very good.  Again, this would never be in a serious editorial until newspapers had to start competing with bloggers.  This is terrible journalism.

11)  Sasso: "We crossed the sea to freedom once; let's not have to do it again."

Me: ????????  What in the world does that mean?  Again, in her mind, apparently if you are for RFRA you are equivalent to the Egyptian anti-semites.

It is hard to read articles/stories or listen to speeches that the author or speaker THINKS pack a punch when they really don't.

Sasso's editorial is illogical, and it also is not very effective writing.  The end of an article or speech like this should at least pack an emotional narrative punch, but not only does this line not make sense, it is tough to read because you can tell Sasso DOES think it packs a punch, and that makes it even more painful.