Thursday, November 18, 2010

Friday Post: "Compassion" and "Sensitivity" are Partisan Issues in the Oklahoma House

The swearing-in ceremony for the recently-elected state representatives was held at the Oklahoma capitol this week, and a reverend from Shawnee, Dr. James Hewitt, was asked to perform the invocation. This invocation is getting some coverage in conservative blogs this week because of some statements that Rev. Hewitt made, such as the following:

- "Give wisdom, sensitivity to curcumstances, and compassion to our legislators for these who labor and live among us without appropriate authorization"

- "May Oklahoma become a model for our nation of just, fair, and functional policies for immigration."

The minister also asked that God enlighten the legislators so they don't victimize the tribal peoples of Oklahoma.

These statements apparently made some legislators, including Representative Randy Terrill, a little bit peeved. But these legislators didn't want to present their grievances to the new speaker-designate Kris Steele (R-Shawnee) because, as it turns out, Kris Steele is an associate minister at Rev. Hewitt's church, and they feared retaliation by Speaker Steele in making his House committee assignments. So they got together and bitched to a conservative talk radio reporter instead, I guess.

Some of Randy Terrill's friends' complaints are that the invocation is supposed to be neutral, and that they're not supposed to refer to any issue before the legislature. Which means, apparently, that "victimizing" the tribal peoples of Oklahoma and creating disfunctional policies for immigration are two agenda items on the legislative agenda next year. Not surprising.


Ladies and gentlemen, the most ridiculous letter to the editor in opposition to Muneer Awad's well-publicized lawsuit against State Question 755, entitled "Banning Sharia Law Similar to Banning Polygamy":

Muneer Awad referred to Sharia as a set of rules that “guide” the daily life of Muslims. He further said that no government should “intrude on any religious
community's right to practice its faith.” Would this exclude a ban on polygamy? Should Kalona, Iowa, allow Amish law? Should the Wiccan community be as respected as the Muslim community?

The Constitution wasn't written to protect minority (or community) rights. It was written to protect individual rights. I can no longer exercise the way of life in which I grew up. I can't smoke where I please. A child can't ride on his mother's lap in the front seat, as I did. I have to turn packages in stores around to read the English labels. Rarely can I eat in restaurants for the spices in the food, adapted to accommodate alien palates. People neither dress nor act in the decent manner expected when I was young.

I had to adapt to the society around me. So should Awad.

The Constitution certainly does get in the way of individual rights, doesn't it? Like the right to endanger one's own child, the right to not be confronted with Spanish, the right to inflict carcinogenic pollutants on your fellow diners, and, most importantly, the right to eat bland food, dammit!


Lastly, an amazing map of Oklahoma City's racial segregation.

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