Thoughts on Hobby Lobby: “Rights” Don’t Really Exist, So Let’s Stop Pretending They Do

Artist's representation of everyone on the Internet following the Hobby Lobby ruling

Artist’s representation of everyone on the Internet following the Hobby Lobby ruling

Hey, remember when everyone’s head exploded on the Internet over the Hobby Lobby ruling? That was fun, right?

I’m not here to take sides in the debate, but I will go ahead and say that every argument I’ve seen and heard about it has been really, really stupid. I don’t feel like I have much to add to the debate, so I’m not going to harp on it any more. (My original thoughts can be found here; the TLDR version is that I think the debate is a terrible question that gives birth to many terrible answers, but if I had to pick a side in the idiocy, I’d probably agree with the Court, since I don’t think the mandate clearly satisfies the standard set by the RFRA.)

O RLY?

O RLY?

What I do want to talk about is this concept of “rights” we’re all throwing around. It occurs to me that when America’s “conservatives” (who are actually not conservatives at all, but in fact classical liberals, but whatever, fine, words mean nothing, call yourselves conservatives if you want) talk about “rights,” they mean something very different than “liberals” (who are actually…y’know, I’m not really sure, but “progressives” is probably a better word) do. This may not be news to anyone, necessarily, but it certainly explains the head-slapping stupidity that results from arguments over whether corporations have the “right” to freedom of religion and whether women have the “right” to free birth control [of any sort]. Continue reading

A Brief and Somewhat Unfocused Rant About the Hobby Lobby Case

this-is-not-a-church-hobby-lobby-scotus-638x428-520x400

Reportedly, Hobby Lobby CEO Dave Green saw this sign outside the courthouse and said, “Oh wait, Hobby Lobby ISN’T a church? My mistake.” Then he retracted his lawsuit and went home.

Okay, so.

Several people have asked me to blog my thoughts about the high-profile case that’s before the Supreme Court right now. I’m honestly not sure why, since my political views tend to be pretty bland and wishy-washy, but maybe that’s what the blogosphere needs. Maybe I can be the anti-Matt Walsh: angry with no one, and reasonable towards everyone.

I can at least give it my best shot.

So, here are my primary thoughts. Continue reading

Toward a Progressive Pro-Life Ethic

I’ve posted the occasional pro-life rant on this blog, but I’ve never seen this blog as a particularly political one, in part because I don’t consider my political views to be all that interesting (they’re sort of a generic, post-evangelical “I-don’t-want-to-call-myself-progressive-but-I-guess-that’s-what-I-am”-ness, in case you’re wondering). However, this blog seems to get a lot of hits when I write about abortion, so let me see if I can use that (sort-of) platform to try to do some  good in the world. Continue reading

Kermit Gosnell’s House of Horrors: Instead of Giving Up on Life, I Thought I’d Try Writing About It

If you haven’t heard about Dr. Kermit Gosnell and his abortion clinic of horrors by now, all I can say is: get an Internet connection.

The mainstream media, for whatever reason, did its best to keep it quiet, but eventually social media called them out on it. (I usually roll my eyes when I hear the words “liberal bias,” but I’m starting to think I should take those words a bit more seriously.) The whole thing is just a horror story of filth and torture, and it’s definitely not for the weak of heart. Here’s a quick summary: beheadings by scissors, piles of rotting dead babies (with some live ones mixed in), feet preserved in jars.

If you really want to know more, you can go here (if you like to read), or here (if you prefer soundbites, pictures, and links to fluff pieces about ’90s pop culture). At the moment, I’m far too pissed off to write anything coherent, but I have to write something, so let me give you the following thoughts: Continue reading

‘Mama,’ Creepy Kids, and Six Degrees of ‘Humanae Vitae’

I'm too sexy for my encyclical.

I’m too sexy for my encyclical.

In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued what has become one of the more controversial encyclicals in recent memory. In contrast to the Protestant and Eastern Orthodox traditions, which had both been gradually inching closer toward a full embrace of contraception, Humanae Vitae reaffirmed tradition in condemning any and all use of aritificial contraception as sinful. It was a teaching so out-of-step with contemporary culture that it inspired open dissent from both clergy and laity, and even now — more than 40 years later — the encyclical’s teachings are far from popular among self-identified Catholics.

It’s a position that has come to light yet again recently, as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act — an act which I’ve by and large been supportive of — has come under scrutiny, in part for a provision that requires all employers but the most religion-y to provide their employees with healthcare that will pay for contraception. It’s a reality that has forced me to think long and hard, not only about what religious freedom means but also why one branch of my faith can be so opposed to certain substances that they’ll risk millions in fines just to avoid dirtying their hands with them.

Being raised decidedly Protestant, I spent many years completely unable to fathom how a church could take a position so legalistic and obsessive about externals. The more I think about the teaching, though, the more I understand it. I still regard the Catholic position on birth control to be a tad on the Pharisaical side, in that it adds unnecessarily to the law of Scripture, but in many ways I’ve come around to understanding and appreciating the position. If humankind is made in the image of God, then its natural and appropriate end is the creation of life. If we treat this reality as something to be avoided, our values are confused at best. Continue reading