Thursday, June 27, 2002

In Objectivity we Trust.

Wow, this just shows how out of touch I am. When the Pledge of Allegiance was ruled unconstitutional yesterday, I was surprised--not because I disagree with the ruling, but because I thought it already was ruled unconstitutional. I guess I just assumed it was, since it's clear to me that it should be.

Thus, even though it's foolish, I'm even more surprised by the
widespread outrage
at the ruling today. I realize that the majority of Americans, including those in government, believe in God and thus have no direct objection to God references. But in my youthful ignorance I thought that lawmakers understood why the government isn't supposed to endorse specific religious beliefs, even those beliefs that the lawmakers happen to hold. Especially those.

An analyst points out (correctly) that the word "God" already permeates government, but goes on to say

If any of those nine justices, having heard "God save this honorable court" every single day, if something was wrong with it, someone might have said something.

Ah, the old "it's how things currently are, how can it be wrong?" argument. Very nice.

It gets even better. This morning on the news, Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) exclaimed on the Senate Floor

I, for one, will not stand to see this country ruled by a bunch of atheists. If they're not happy with it, they can leave!

(Quoted from memory--if I can find the exact quote, I'll update it. See Comments.)

If that doesn't show a frightening lack of objectivity, I don't know what does.


  1. Yeah, I'd wondered about that one too. I knew it hadn't been ruled unconstitutional (although making kids take a daily fealty oath is pretty freakin' paranoid, not to mention feudal). But yeah, the current outcry is pretty ridiculous. I like using a conceptual trick the feminists came up with (or at least use frequently) -- replace whatever issue is being discussed with a white vs black race equivalent and see if it's still tolerable/intolerable/whatever.
    For instance, pretend that the pledge of allegiance didn't say "one nation, under God" but rather "one white nation", or "one nation, founded by caucasians" or some such. Further imagine that the clause about white people was added well after the composition of the original pledge (as was "under God"). Now say that representative Byrd was bitching not about a nation ruled by atheists, but by blacks. Voila. Now you can feel all liberally self-righteous about bashing him, if you didn't already.

  2. I'm still looking for the exact quote from Byrd. Interestingly, all the sites that quote his comments from today have
    I hope the Senate will waste no time in throwing this back in the face of this stupid judge. Stupid, that's what he is.
    ...and I believe that's the sentence he spoke immediately before the send-the-atheists-back-to-Africa quote, but nobody seems to have the atheist quote itself. Mmmm. Spin.

  3. The senate vote was 99-0. Does anyone know whether this was because someone abstained? If so, I'd love to know who. (Hmm - does the VP part count as one of the 100? Is he still in a bunker somewhere?)

  4. I found the exact quote by searching the Congressional Record. On June 26, Robert Byrd said
    I, for one, am not going to stand for this country's being ruled by a bunch of atheists. If they do not like it, let them leave.
    If you're interested, you can search or browse the Congressional Record at THOMAS, the online database system of the Library of Congress. You can also look at the text and status of legislation past or present.