Religious liberty

A Wayward Order on Religious Freedom and LGBT Issues Makes for Confusing Coverage and Activism

The challenge of reporting and monitoring a very leaky Trump administration.

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Trump protests
Erik Mcgregor/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Earlier in the week, the White House put out a statement that President Donald Trump is going to maintain President Barack Obama's executive order prohibiting federal agencies and federal contractors from discriminating against gay and transgender employees. So why are some people afraid this is just a big smoke screen?

People might be a little confused at news reports that there's an executive order floating around the White House that does nearly the opposite of what they said they were doing—an order that blows big holes in discrimination policies in order to protect religious freedom. Prior to the White House's announcement on Tuesday that it would be maintaining the order, some media outlets had gotten their hands on something titled "Executive Order—Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom."

Even after the White House announcement, civil liberties and LGBT groups expressed concerns about the possibility that despite what Trump declared, something was coming down the line that was going to harm their interests. Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and others even had a media teleconference Wednesday to express concerns about the contents of this semi-mysterious order.

Wednesday evening The Nation finally published the executive order that had been circulated within the beltway, along with some analysis by legal and civil rights experts. It's a four-page, broadly-written, and pretty complicated order, both in what it attempts to accomplish and what its hidden consequences may be.

There are parts of the executive order fans of religious freedom and freedom of association would support—it spells out that religious organizations (and individuals) cannot be forced comply with mandates to fund birth control or abortions, for example. But it also has some deep constitutional and rule-of-law issues. The order establishes that federal employees (and contractors) must be "reasonably accommodated" for acting or refusing to act in accordance to a set of beliefs outlined within the order. The very particular beliefs protected: Marriage should be reserved to heterosexual couples; biological sex is immutable (in other words, transgenderism isn't real); and life begins at birth conception and abortion is bad.

This whole part of the order, then, establishes a particular set of beliefs that are protected by government order. It's not a "religious freedom" order at all. It's saying that the government will recognize and protect a particular set of religious beliefs, which is a violation of the Establishment Clause. It literally establishes a set of religious beliefs the government will give special preference to. Mississippi passed a law with similar carveouts last year. Its implementation has been blocked by a federal judge, for now.

So after all that explanation, what is the real story here? Is this order legitimate? Is Trump going to sign it? The answers so far are that yes, the executive order appears to be legitimate and was circulating within federal agencies, but no, the Trump administration is not considering it. At least for now. A White House official told ABC News Trump has no plans to "sign anything at this time." The vague possibility hangs in the air, and so apparently gay and civil rights groups are continuing activism against an the executive order anyway and treating it though it's a Sword of Damocles about to fall at any moment.

If these opening weeks of the Trump administration are an indicator, we are going to see a very, very leaky government. In most ways, this is great. It's awesome. Trump certainly doesn't appear to be a fan of transparency (at least not when it's about him, anyway). But internal resistance and conflict between parts of his administration is going to result in information about its operations and planning to make it out into the wild for the public to evaluate and even push back against at a point where it's still possible to influence the outcome.

It comes with one big challenge though, and that's trying to discern what is and isn't real and what's just somebody's agenda. This is not a new challenge. Agenda-driven political leaks have been around forever. But these leaks have ramped up, big-league, and "media literacy" in this era is going to involve trying to navigate this nebulous space between what is being discussed, what is actually being considered, and what somebody with access simply wishes were on the agenda.

Adding to the challenge is the simple truth that under Trump—a man who will say literally anything being advised by the deliberately outrageous Steve Bannon—it's impossible to look at any report coming out of the White House and say, "That doesn't seem likely." Did Trump threaten to send the military into Mexico to ramp up the drug war? That was the story last night, then for a while it seemed like it wasn't true, and then ultimately it appears as though he said it, but he was kidding. Any of those three possibilities is fully believable.

The rush to get for the media to get out information combined with an administration that appears as unpredictable as critics feared is leading to confusing and contradictory reporting. This will obviously help feed Trump and Trump supporters' tendency to blame the media and scream "fake news" at anything that makes them look bad. Though note they avoided doing so in the example of the executive order we're talking about.

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  1. So why are some people afraid this is just a big smoke screen?

    Combination TDS and the fact that the president is a liar?

      1. It’s mutating and is now a twitterborne pathogen. That is in addition to being spread through contact with contaminated blood coming out of your whatever.

        1. OUTBREAK! To the HAZMAT suits!

          1. Can you still bake me a gay-NAZI wedding cake while wearing a HazMat suit? ‘Cause if you do NOT bake me a gay-NAZI wedding cake, I’m gonna SUE ya!!!!

  2. People might be a little confused at news reports that there’s an executive order floating around the White House that does nearly the opposite of what they said they were doing?an order that blows big holes in discrimination policies in order to protect religious freedom.

    Maybe it was floating around the White House. Or maybe the entire thing is a fabrication and just misinformation leaked by Trump’s opponents in governments and repeated by a willing press? I don’t know but I think either possibility is equally likely.

    Regardless, Trump affirmed the Obama order. And that should surprise no one. Trump is not a social conservative. He just got their votes because promised not to stick his boot on their faces. The gay communities freak out over Trump shows that many of them care more about leftism than they do about gay rights.

    1. Spicer addressed this at a recent press conference. He spoke about how the press keeps asking about “documents floating around the white house” that are not verifiable nor ones that have been presented as White House documents thus WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU ASKING ABOUT WHAT THE WHITE HOUSE THINKS OF THEM?

      1. Anyone can type up an EO and leak it to a reporter. What exactly makes a document “floating around the White House”? The entire thing is absurd.

        1. Somebody clipped it to a drone and flew it down Pennsylvania Avenue?

        2. I think it’s important to recognize that Trump has hired a group of people with very diverse opinions. Isn’t this supposed to be a good thing?

          Therefore it shouldn’t be surprising that they will frequently draft proposals that never make it to his desk, or that he rejects after he sees it.

          I think the usual politicos can’t get their heads around this. Apparently you’re only supposed to hire people who think exactly like you do, and won’t even draft a memo unless they know you’ll support it 100%.

          1. That is a good point

    2. The gay communities freak out over Trump shows that many of them care more about leftism than they do about gay rights.

      Assuming that gay rights= equally applied rights that everyone else has too. But I think by now it’s been made clear to everyone that gay rights= special rights and privileges. Basically anytime a leftist is talking about “rights”, it’s a nod toward protected group privileges and nothing else.

  3. Wednesday evening The Nation finally published the executive order

    The Nation; my go-to source for honest reportage.

    1. Mother Jones, Rolling Stone and Vox were busy.

  4. This is just a delaying tactic while the New Gestapo are in training and the death camps are being built. LITERALLY.

      1. *sits agape, recovers and starts furious applause*

        1. That coinage is going to save a lot of pixels over the next 4 to 8 years.

  5. PICTURED: The gay community’s Mike M.

    1. I thought it was Micheal Hihn in the picture.

      1. No – it’s during daylight hours, and there are 4 words on the signs instead of 400.

        1. Yeah. The other Progs no doubt find Hihn tiresome and boring.

          1. Y’all shouldn’t be so hard on Mikey. I mean, he single handed lay brought the libertarian party to Washington and would have gotten some real libertarian policies put in place if it wasn’t for those fucking so-cons.

            1. True, but it’s all been downhill since he got the dementia in 1973.

        2. yeah, he post start posting in earnest until he’s sundowning.

  6. The vague possibility hangs in the air, and so apparently gay and civil rights groups are continuing activism against an the executive order anyway and treating it though it’s a Sword of Damocles about to fall at any moment.

    You know what else hangs in the air? My sword and testocles, if you catch my meaning.

    1. Your naked TDS is flapping in the wind.

      1. Tuchus Dick Schlong?

        1. TITANIC DICK SCHLONG!

          *hitches up pants with a grin*

          1. Just don’t hit an iceberg or you may get shrinkage.

  7. The rush to get for the media to get out information combined with an administration that appears as unpredictable as critics feared is leading to confusing and contradictory reporting.

    Just as the rush to get blog posts about Donald Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanors leads to a deplorable and grammatically confusing lack of proofreading.

  8. But internal resistance and conflict between parts of his administration is going to result in information about its operations and planning to make it out into the wild for the public to evaluate and even push back against at a point where it’s still possible to influence the outcome.

    Hence the warning-free release of the freakout-worthy executive order on immigration.

    1. Sure, but does anyone think Trump changed his mind and did anything differently because the left and the media lost their minds over something?

      It is cute that Scott thinks Trump’s critics are coherent and effective enough to push back against something at all much less effectively enough to get Trump to change his mind.

  9. People might be a little confused at news reports that there’s an executive order floating around the White House that does nearly the opposite of what they said they were doing?an order that blows big holes in discrimination policies in order to protect religious freedom.

    The reports of the floating executive order are designed to confuse people and keep them afraid that the Funny-Haired Ogre is ready to leap out of their recently vacated closets and carry them off to extermination camps.

    1. Do you think so? Can they really not see how self defeating this is? What did they accomplish here but another day of sustained outrage that the public tunes out more and more every day? And on top of that Trump did the opposite, which makes the next outrage of the day even less credible.

      1. Self-defeating? For people who yearn for victimhood? I think not.

      2. This article was on RCP today about how Trump has borrowed (successful) tactics from Scott Walker.

        The unions and their supporters responded to this play by organizing massive demonstrations and sit-ins in the capitol in Madison. During the week of Feb. 14, attendance grew day by day, hitting 25,000 by Friday and more than 50,000 on the weekend. The next week, the daily average was 50,000, and the weekend attendance hit 100,000.

        While the opponents were massing in Madison, the Walker crowd was running another offense in local districts. In 2011, the Senate was barely Republican ? 17 to 16 ? and the Assembly was strongly Republican, 57 to 38. Today, the Senate is overwhelmingly Republican ? 20 to 13 ? while the Assembly is even more Republican ? 64 to 34.

        While the True Believers are out smashing shit in Berkeley or marching with Ashley Judd, Trump is showing everyone who isn’t a true believer in places like Ohio and Wisconsin that they were exactly right to vote for him, and that they might consider a Republican in the midterm for the House or Senate.

        1. An effective opposition knows when to work with the President and take credit for whatever gets accomplished and also has the credibility and ability to stop the President sometimes. The combination of stopping the President sometimes and working with him other times makes the opposition look reasonable and credible.

          Nothing makes for more ineffective opposition than opposing everything and making up for it by never succeeding. Not only does that make the opposition look unreasonable, but also makes it look ineffectual and weak. No matter what their politics, no one likes a loser and naturally gravitate towards a winner.

          By not picking their battles, refusing to work with Trump on anything, and lacking the power to actually stop him from doing anything, all the Democrats are doing is making themselves look extreme and worse powerless. Even if you hate Trump, why would you turn out to vote for an unreasonable and powerless opposition? You likely won’t. And if you like Trump or are neutral towards him, you certainly won’t.

          1. “An effective opposition knows when to work with the President and take credit for whatever gets accomplished and also has the credibility and ability to stop the President sometimes. The combination of stopping the President sometimes and working with him other times makes the opposition look reasonable and credible.

            Nothing makes for more ineffective opposition than opposing everything and making up for it by never succeeding. Not only does that make the opposition look unreasonable, but also makes it look ineffectual and weak. No matter what their politics, no one likes a loser and naturally gravitate towards a winner.”

            I think you have to divide Trump’s opposition into two parts, the Democratic Party establishment, and the street-level activists. The D Party pols are most certainly going to do what you suggest, work with Trump when it’s in their interests to do so. But the activists are not, JUST LIKE the street-level activists during the Age of Obama, i.e. the Tea Party, wanted Republicans to resist every single thing that Obama did, and even treated Republicans who compromised with Obama as being just as bad as Obama himself.

      3. John, I do think they do not see how self defeating it is. They’re accustomed to having their every fear and whim amplified by the media and catered to by the government and can’t see why fear mongering might not work so well in the altered political environment.

        1. Plus a lot of people telling me that they don’t care that the Democrats changed Senate rules to make cabinet appointments, this is the end time! Although, now that I think about it, I have gun, ammunition, friends with land, and at least some ability to be useful in a general destruction of society like Yugoslavia and Syria, so I guess at least I have options if they actually manage to destroy the fabric of society, and they don’t.

          1. I have basically zero apocalyptic skills.

            I can sort of ride a horse, and I know which end of a gun to hold.

            But don’t ask me how to plant corn.

            At least I don’t think I’ll be the whiner who gets fragged.

            1. There’s a great book for sale called: Alcohol Can be a Fuel, that teaches one exactly how to build and run a water-ethanol distillation column for minimum water in the distillate. I expect knowing how to make ‘shine and turn it into whiskey (or fuel!) would help to keep you around.

              1. Do you mean David Blume’s Alcohol Can be a Gas!, or is there a different book?

                1. Will look when I get home, but the ChemE in me hopes that he used fuel, not gas. Of course alcohol can be a gas, but that’s not super useful.

  10. The rush to get for the media to get out information combined with an administration that appears as unpredictable as critics feared is leading to confusing and contradictory reporting. This will obviously help feed Trump and Trump supporters’ tendency to blame the media and scream “fake news” at anything that makes them look bad.

    Dead Iraqi grandmas hardest hit.

  11. treating it though it’s a Sword of Damocles about to fall at any moment

    The Sword of Damocles is supposed to make people not want to be in charge.

    1. Solution = Use Sword of Damocles to cut Gordian Knot, use as wrap to support Achilles Heel. Problems Solved.

      1. One problem solved. Next problem, picking out fleece to go with it.

    2. Everyone misinterprets the Sword of Damocles.

      1. “No one understands me!” whines the sword. “I mean no harm; its *gravity* that is to blame”

      2. “Don’t talk to me about being misunderstood”

        -King Canute

  12. Thank you, Scott. I know a bunch of people are bitching about the tone of the article, but I appreciate the lack of hysterical conclusions and measured tone. I think this is a totally newsworthy thing to bring up, analyze, and say there doesn’t appear much reason to believe it true.

    1. I don’t see anyone bitching about the tone of the article. I see people bitching about how gullible the media was for believing the initial leak and what craven leftists the gay rights establishment is.

    2. I know a bunch of people are bitching about the tone of the article

      Well, more like one or two people with nothing better to do than bitch 1,000 times apiece about it.

      1. That does get you to 2,000 complaints!

    3. I don’t see anything wrong with a RFRA attached to the executive order. But, Scott’s right that it shouldn’t spell out what beliefs will be accommodated, because all beliefs should be accommodated

    4. Good article, great alt-text.

      1. Scott does a good job consistently. Definitely one of the best Reason grunts.

  13. The rush to get for the media to get out information combined with an administration that appears as unpredictable as critics feared is leading to confusing and contradictory reporting.

    Lucky for you, I have a solution to this problem. And I’m willing to sell it for the low one-time price of $9,999,999,999.99.

  14. Weird take. An administration that appears unpredictable? Trump pretty much told us what he was going to do before the election, and it doesn’t look like it was a smoke screen. He’s reversed on a couple of things (mostly minor) but openly, not in a “hide the ball” sort of way. In that sense, it really is the most transparent administration I’ve ever seen.

    I also find myself feeling a bit skeptical that the number of leaks is any higher than usual, though that would be a good thing if true. It’s possible that there are just a lot of people ready to pounce on any little thing that is floated out of the Trump administration, valid or not.

    1. I doubt the leaks are any greater in number than they were under Obama. The difference is that the media is now interested in printing the leaks where they were not under Obama.

      And yes, Trump has been very predictable. He is following through on just about everything he promised during the campaign. I don’t understand why Scott would say he is unpredictable. I really don’t. He seem to be repeating the media talking points by reflect here. Trump is “unpredictable” because well he just is and that is a really bad thing. Trump is all things bad.

      1. You think the leaks aren’t greater? The civil service is in open revolt against Trump. Obama was their guy; at the very least, he wasn’t going to rock the boat, but for any agency he was likely going to expand their purview. Trump is, if not an existential threat, at least a clear enemy for most bureaucrats.

        1. But people always like to leak. But you can’t leak if no one wants to hear your story. But yeah, the leaks are probably greater and certainly more malicious.

    2. We’re getting the monkey’s paw wish as far as media scrutiny goes. We wanted skeptical coverage of Obama; what we’re getting is plate-of-spaghetti-on-the-wall coverage of Trump.

      1. Pretty good, cr. I might think “flaming paper bag filled with dog crap” coverage, were I even a bit more cynical.

    3. “You hate me, but you’ll vote for me because my supreme court picks are going to be awesome.”

      He gets the big things right.

  15. There is nothing wrong with a RFRA attached to the order. But, there is a problem with spelling out what religious beliefs will be accommodated, because all beliefs should be accommodated. I know that’s not ‘woke’ enough for Reason, but it does align pretty well with reducing the intrusive authority of the state.

    1. Meh. All beliefs? I think not. Bless your new cubicle without the chicken blood, Santeria boy.

      1. RFRA states ‘reasonable accommodation’ and that the government must show compelling interest in forcing other to violate deeply held beliefs in the least restrictive fashion.

        I’m pretty sure that chicken blood in a cubicle may fall under a governmental ‘compelling interest’, such as the spread of disease in the office, etc.

        It really isn’t that unreasonable, considering that the country abided by that standard for most of its existence.

        1. Sorry, I guess I didn’t read the part where you were referring to the current RFRA.

  16. So after all that explanation, what is the real story here? Is this order legitimate? Is Trump going to sign it? The answers so far are that yes, the executive order appears to be legitimate and was circulating within federal agencies, but no, the Trump administration is not considering it. At least for now. A White House official told ABC News Trump has no plans to “sign anything at this time.” The vague possibility hangs in the air, and so apparently gay and civil rights groups are continuing activism against an the executive order anyway and treating it though it’s a Sword of Damocles about to fall at any moment.

    Thank you, Shackford! Good paragraph and good article! It was heavy on the facts and light on the hysteria.

    1. Trump doesn’t have to sign anything. The EO was signed by Obama and is in effect until Trump says otherwise. Hasn’t Trump affirmed that he plans to keep it? What reason is there to believe he is lying?

      1. None. In fact, his administration has specifically said they intend to leave it alone.

      2. It’s not a matter of lying, it’s a matter of linguistic creativity where what he says often doesn’t comport with what he does, or reality.

        1. Okay. Like when? What are some examples of what you are talking about?

          1. Do you mean all those times you had to explain to everyone exactly what Trump really meant to say when he said various stupid things?

            1. Because you did that. Often.

            2. Like when? There are lots of times he has said things to get a rise out of his opponents. But those have always been blunt or at most exaggerations. When has he outright said one thing and done the opposite?

              And if these times are so frequent and obvious, list a few. it shouldn’t be hard.

              1. I have a problem with that characterization. You seem to think he’s constantly winding up these devastating haymakers, but they never land. The thing about flag burning: wtf was that? On twitter his sycophants were triumphant because, ostensibly, he was about to knock in Hillary’s teeth over her amendment. But he never did. The whole thing fizzled out. He’s not winding up anyone, it’s just ex post rationalizing by his fans.

                1. Give me an example of a devastating hay maker that doesn’t land? What do you mean by that?

                  1. That’s what I meant about the flag burning tweet. I asked the Dilbert guy what possible interpretation one might make of it other than that Trump is ignorant of case law on the subject, and I got an earful about what a brilliant strategist he is. He’s subtly referring to Clinton’s 2005 bill. If he was, he never mentioned it. That right hook his fans insisted on never manifested. Because he’s just ignorant of case law, and was shooting from the hip.

              2. Hey John,

                I decided to start looking at the older articles thinking that would be a good idea, but you seem to pretty anti-trump. I’m reviewing articles in August, 2015 so I’m assuming your switch probably happened in spring of 2016.

                In the meantime, here’s something that you said which I find fun:

                John Fund last week raised the possibility that Trump is nothing but a mole for Hillary who will after losing the nomination run as a third party for stupid people and split the vote and ensure Hillary wins even though she has no hope of ever commanding a majority or winning a fair two way race. There is some logic to that. A third party candidate for stupid people is how Bill one. It is certainly a Clinton move.

          2. That’s the thing, John, the lies are inconsequential and maybe even unintentional. Shit like the crowd size flap. It’s ingenious in a way: his adversaries were talking fucking turnout rather than anything substantive. He embodies the post-factual political landscape we now inhabit, and the media doesn’t just lap it up, they crank it up to eleven.

            1. I worked the innaguration and saw the video feed coming from aircraft overhead. I had the same access at both the 08 and 12 inaugurations. The crowd at this one was from what I saw the crowd was smaller than 09 but larger than 12. The media pictures of the crowd were taken before the crowd reached its maximum size and were in my opinion deceiving. This crowd was unlike 09 and 13, late arriving. The Mall didn’t fill up until close to noon, unlike 09 and 13 when it filled up early. The fascist riot going on on K street may have had something to do with that.

              1. Lookit the big head on John here, all “I go to inaugurations” and “I have access” and “I wear pants to work.”

                1. I can only tell you what I saw. If you don’t want to believe, I don’t know what else to say.

              2. I think the main point is: Who the fuck cares? Or perhaps better: Why does anyone care?

      3. Hasn’t Trump affirmed that he plans to keep it? What reason is there to believe he is lying?

        I think that’s Shackford’s point. Despite Trump’s affirmations, the folks who benefit the most from him lying (the LGBT activists) are trying to find every way possible to keep the crisis going. They don’t get their 15 minutes of public whining if they accept his words at face value.

        1. This. They like the victimhood and being oppressed in make believe land. That way they get attention

          1. I would politely ask you to let the original poster have their handle back. It is not really cricket to take another person’s name. Thanks.

            1. and it screws up my filters

              1. I don’t care who’s operating it, it stays blocked here.

            2. I am all on board…but they will have to pay for it as i have told him already. Since socialists are so generous in helping people i see this as a win win

            3. amsoc confirmed for Swiss sock.

              1. The plot thickens. I didnt consider that

    2. Thank you, Shackford! Good paragraph and good article! It was heavy on the facts and light on the hysteria.

      Append “Awesome alt-text” and you can pretty much paste that under any Shackford article, sight unseen.

    3. heavy on the facts and light on the hysteria.

      That seems to be Shackford’s M.O. – it’s depressing that he’s in the minority with that.

  17. “The very particular beliefs protected: Marriage should be reserved to heterosexual couples; biological sex is immutable (in other words, transgenderism isn’t real); and life begins at birth and abortion is bad.”

    These aren’t theological beliefs, they are truths about the real world – truths which the government should recognize. Of course, individuals in their private capacity should be free to believe in same-sex marriage or transgenderism or abortion, just so long as those personal beliefs aren’t allowed to affect public policy.

    1. life begins at birth

      I don’t think this is keeping with Catholic truths.

      1. They got the document wrong, it says “? the belief…that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life”

        And what do you mean “Catholic truths” – it’s either true or it isn’t.

        1. What about someone who has the belief that the life of, say, a disabled child does not merit protection? Is this a matter of mere opinion, or a matter of truth or falsehood?

          1. Well, a couple of things. I realize that at the moment of conception a wholly new being with unique DNA is generated. However, if the legal definition of life — which affects how people treat each other and are judged for treating each other — begins at conception then basically every woman who has sex and doesn’t progress in pregnancy needs to be investigated every month to make sure she didn’t unduly deprive that being of a chance to be born. Me personally, I think that picking a different standard for life is humane, especially for women who conceive and don’t carry a viable child to term. Do we really need to investigate every miscarriage as a potential manslaughter/negligent homicide? If not, then you don’t really believe that life begins at conception because you have a special set of legal circumstances from life to some other point. Maybe a 90% viability outside the womb threshold, or whatever you want to fight about, but conception is a bad place to legally define life, if you are going to take sanctity of life to be one of the things the law should preserve above all else.

            1. “If [you believe in the Fourth Amendment], then you don’t really believe” etc.

              If you want to say that a miscarriage is always probable cause to justify a search warrant, then by all means explain why this is so.

              1. Eddie only wants possible homicides investigated when it suits him.

                1. Yes, because old-folks homes are teeming with detectives.

                2. What would constitute probable cause in your view, or are you simply pulling your pud?

                  1. A miscarriage is the production of a dead human being by your standards. Dead persons aren’t investigated?

                    1. Oh, sure, the cops send their homicide squad to investigate every single death.

                    2. Dead persons aren’t investigated?

                      Going with the info I have at hand, ~2.4M people died in the US in 2004. source, see p. 8. Of that 2.4M, ~955k were referred to a medical examiner/coroner, and ~486k were accepted for investigation by a ME/coroner. source, see p. 3

                      Roughly 20% of the deaths in the US are investigated, according to the info I found.

            2. if the legal definition of life — which affects how people treat each other and are judged for treating each other — begins at conception then basically every woman who has sex and doesn’t progress in pregnancy needs to be investigated every month to make sure she didn’t unduly deprive that being of a chance to be born.

              I find this rather unconvincing, and here’s why. People die all the time without a full-on medical investigation. Sure, if there’s a question of foul play, there will be an investigation, but in a situation where 40-60% of people don’t survive the next 3 months (supposed miscarriage rate over the first trimester that I’ve seen cited on here), then it makes no sense to investigate without some form of corroborating evidence showing that there was an abortion.

              1. I’m pretty sure that a doctor or ME has to sign a death certificate saying they examined the deceased and established a cause of death. In this case, the mother would also need to be examined. What if she had traces of alcohol or nicotine in her urine?

                1. If Trshmnstr is right, at least as of 2004, 1 in 5 deaths had some sort of investigation. At least a medical investigation.

                  So we should *already* be freaking out at all these investigations, since the horrible Orwellian scenario already exists under our abortion-friendly legal regime.

                  Or perhaps the scary scenario is when the cops start investigating suspicious deaths – but cops are restrained by the 4th Amendment – and such 4th Amendment abuses as exist today exist despite the legality of abortion.

                2. In this case, the mother would also need to be examined.

                  By a doctor, maybe. But why are we assuming that a miscarriage is going to be investigated the same way that a death of a toddler will be? Given the extremely different risk profiles (a miscarriage is rather common, death of a toddler is rather rare), it would seem that a miscarriage would be handled much more like other high-risk classes of people (elderly, terminally ill, etc.). From my (admittedly limited) understanding, much more of the “investigatory burden” is placed on the physician in those situations. In essence, the doctor writes down a cause of death and that’s it. It only gets referred out when there is something fishy or medically complicated going on.

              2. This is one reason it’s problematic to punish women for having an abortion. Schroedinger’s fetus was 1/2 dead already.

        2. What’s so special about conception? Why doesn’t a life begin when the sperm and egg are created through meiosis?

          1. Right now I’m arguing that it’s *either true or false.*

            1. OK. It seemed as if you were declaring it to be true.

              1. Sure, but my first point is that it is either true or false.

                I also give some attention to the question of truth, but I reject the frame where these things are mere personal opinions.

                As a matter of religious freedom, there’s a broad right to hold views at variance with reality – eg, that some men are merely chicks with dicks – and such beliefs may be protected by the First Amendment – but there are non-religious-freedom reasons to recognize the reality of sex distinctions.

          2. A single sperm or a single ovum are parts of the parent organisms and incomplete. A fertilized ovum is a complete individual organism unto itself.

            1. I guess my point is to ask why that’s so important.

              To me, the important thing is the individual with a distinct mind. Which a fertilized ovum or a sperm or egg is not.

    2. How can the marriage part possibly be a truth about the real world? Marriage is entirely a human social construction.

      1. Human beings and their institutions are part of the real world, and marriage is a universal phenomenon.

        1. Which now includes same sex and plural marriages. If you want to talk about real facts about the real world, there it is.

    3. Marriage is a word describing an existing relationship. Its meaning is subject to change and interpretation.

      Biological sex is a fact. Calling it a religious belief much less a peculiar one is bizarre even for Scott. And abortion being bad is a value judgement that may or may not rely on religious belief.

      The transgender thing really amazes me. Scott is gay. He is not as far as I know transgendered. And therefore has no more or less of a dog in that fight than anyone else. Yet, Scott and the entire reason staff have bought into the claim that sex is somehow different than gender and that one does not have to coincide with the other as scientific fact, without any dissent whatsoever on anyone’s part. It is not even so much that they all believe it. It is that they all not only believe it but believe ti as absolute truth from which there is no reasonable. Sure, they support people’s right to disagree but none of them as far as I can tell entertain even the slightest possibility that those who do dissent might be correct or anything but wrong.

      When you really look at it and how radical the idea is and how quickly and completely our media and political elite have adopted it, it is pretty scary. If they will adopt something as radical as that so quickly and so completely, what other ideas will they adopt as long as it is cloaked in the language of tolerance?

      1. When you really look at it and how radical the idea is and how quickly and completely our media and political elite have adopted it, it is pretty scary. If they will adopt something as radical as that so quickly and so completely, what other ideas will they adopt as long as it is cloaked in the language of tolerance?

        This^^

        The pivot the MSM and political elites made from gay marriage to transgender rights was blindingly fast. Whoever got transgender linked up with L,G, and B issues made a brilliant tactical move, because there wasn’t even a hiccup, it was just “society has come around on the gay thing, oh and the transgender thing, too”

        1. If it weren’t for Mormons, polygamy would be legal.

          But religious people are icky.

          Especially if they are pedophiles.

        2. Whoever got transgender linked up with L,G, and B issues made a brilliant tactical move, because there wasn’t even a hiccup, it was just “society has come around on the gay thing, oh and the transgender thing, too”

          I’ve thought we should just tack a “H” on to the end of the term and just be done with it.

          Ir I could *really* start confusing everyone with my theory on Preference and Orientation being two separate factors (presuming someone hasn’t already proposed it).

    4. These aren’t theological beliefs, they are truths about the real world

      Yay! Eddie got his biases confirmed!

      1. You have views on these issues, they’re simply opposing views.

        We can’t both be right.

        1. That’s why you are wrong. But it’s OK. You have an intellectual handicap due to delusional axioms.

    5. Same-sex marriage is also a truth about the real world which the government, since it can’t fucking butt out, should recognize.

        1. obviously.

          1. Well, then, let’s get to work fighting this bigotry!

            First up, what’s with this discriminatory rule that only one of your widows gets Social Security benefits? Why not all four widows? Why not all eight?

            1. Indeed, all excellent points. Are you expecting people to disagree with this?

              1. Let’s see…so, does every widow get the same amount of pension as if she were the only widow, or are the widow’s benefits divided up equally so that the benefits for all the widows are the same as if he’d only had one widow?

            2. I’m fighting it exactly as hard as I fought for recognition of same sex marriage.

    6. So you cannot specifically protect that set of beliefs because they are religious and specfically defining them would be an establishment of religion. However, you can specifically protect the opposite opinions because they are not religious?

      That seems to be a very convenient and twisted interpretation of “establishment of religion”.

  18. The problem with laws or rules that actually fully respect religious freedom is that they would have to broadly allow anything that isn’t harmful enough to be criminal whether or not it is part of someone’s religion (e.g. human sacrifice and sex with young children are right out even if it is a sincere religious belief). As long as courts and legislators can decide what counts as protected religious belief or practice, the situation will always be that only certain, approved religious beliefs are protected. The only way to have true religious freedom is only to have laws that are justified by application of the NAP. It can’t exist without general freedom.

    1. It pretty much does already. RFRA requires the government to show a ‘compelling interest’ for violating a ‘deeply held belief’ and it must be done in the ‘least restrictive way possible’.

      This has allowed soldiers to wear turbans in the military; prisoners to grow beards, and native american religious adherents to consume peyote without repercussion.

      It is actually the most libertarian law that has been passed in the past hundred years. But, the new ‘woke’ version of so called libertarianism thinks that ‘religious liberty is a black hole’, primarily because they are hilariously ignorant about how the law functions.

      1. Huh. So we only have laws justified by the NAP? Could have fooled me.

        As long as someone else gets to decide what is and is not a deeply held religious belief, the RFRA means very little. You still have to get your religious beliefs approved by an agent of the state. If I say that my religion requires me to indulge in coke and whores every night, that should be that. “Compelling interest” needs to be redefined much more narrowly, or the RFRA falls well short of what it promises.

        The decision that allowed the Native American Church to use peyote legally should have invalidated all drug prohibition. If a law violates anyone’s rights, then it shouldn’t apply to anyone. Carving out narrow exceptions for special cases is not freedom, it’s privilege. The RFRA doesn’t protect religious freedom, it creates religious privilege.

        1. The decision that allowed the Native American Church to use peyote legally should have invalidated all drug prohibition

          ^^^THIS^^^

    2. The root of the problem is that the government has no business regulating freedom of association. There is a reason why speech, association and religion are all in listed in the First Amendment, because they all three are interrelated and essential to the others. You can’t have freedom of speech if people are not free to associate with whomever they like or believe in whatever religion they like. You can’t have freedom of association if people are not free to form religious associations or speak however they like. And you can’t have freedom of religion if people can’t speak their beliefs in public and practice those beliefs through association.

      Once the government pissed all over freedom of association with the public accommodation laws, freedom of speech and religion necessarily were damaged as well. The fact is you may be able to believe in a religion that preaches racial segregation but you can’t practice it in any meaningful way without running afoul of the public accommodation laws. That didn’t matter much when they were passed because only a few people on the extreme practiced such a religion. But with homosexuality that is different. The prohibition against homosexuality is virtually universal among the three Abrahamic faiths. So declaring homosexuals protected by the public accommodation laws essentially outlaws the public practice of about 90% of the organized religion in this country.

      1. Yes. religious freedom should mean no public accommodation laws, no drug laws, not laws about who (or how many) you can or can’t marry, etc.

        And I’m not saying that exceptions to certain laws for religious people is a bad thing. It’s better than nothing. But it is not the right way to achieve the true religious freedom that is guaranteed by the first amendment.

        1. Religious freedom doesn’t invalidate all laws by any stretch. The point is that religious freedom depends upon freedom of association and freedom of speech to be meaningful. That is why those three things are listed together in the 1st Amendment. None of them can be fully realized without the other two. So, once you step on one, you are necessarily damaging the other two. And the CRA did grave damage to the right of freedom of association and once lawsuits started happening freedom of speech.. It was just a matter of time before it did grave damage to freedom of religion. And that is what we are seeing now with homosexuals being included as a protected class under these laws.

          1. Not all laws. Just the laws that could reasonably be put aside to accommodate religious practice. Which for me means all laws that don’t function to protect people from force or fraud.

            If a law is unconstitutional, it should be invalidated. If a law violates anyone’s religious liberty, it is unconstitutional and must not apply to anyone.

            Of course, that’s not how the courts have been doing things. But that’s how I see it. Obamacare, for example, should have been struck down completely because of the parts that the SC found unconstitutional, not edited and reinterpreted to make it OK.

  19. I dont think trump is some sort of genius playing 3d chess but he appears to be smarter than he lets on. Like he is playing poker and enticing them into a bad bet where he can come over the top.

    I do think he is smarter and has more substance than obama does. But it doesnt come off that way.

    For lefties their image is what matters most (see the good intentions argument) while their substance is very shallow and superficial. They are obsessed with checking boxes for resume but light on actual good results

    1. He doesn’t have to be a genius – “I don’t have to outrun the lion, I just have to outrun *you.*”

  20. I’m curious to see if people lose their minds so much that gays start protesting against marriage recognition.

    1. Anything is possible. I am trying to think of a scenario where that would play out. What would Trump have to do to get the gays to do that. I am sure there is a way but one isn’t coming to me right off.

      1. Insist Muslim immigrants must celebrate a gay wedding and congratulate the happy couple, complete with kisses on the cheek?

  21. Nonsense. You’re fear-mongering just like the NYTimes, horrified (justifiably, in theory) at the thought that both SCOTUS finalists were being invited to the announcement.

    In fact, as I read it, those identifiably Christian convictions are now to be given reasonable accommodation – that is, on a par with the Muslim convictions about forbidden foods, modest dress, reverence for the prophet, and the like – rather than being disprized and disparaged. Chill.

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