Some of my brother Freemasons have joined the online movement “Blog Against Theocracy,” which ostensibly supports the ideals of maintaining the political firewall between church and state. I write “ostensibly” because in backtracking the various links, I’ve noticed a few things that gave me pause for reflection.
For one thing, the logo proposed for the “Blogswarm Against Theocracy”, designed by Mock, Paper, Scissors shows the US Statue of Liberty holding a large cross, with the international red “No” crossed circle around it. Okay, that’s cool, but what this tells me is that this is not about theocracy in general. Nobody is protesting the Sharia in the various middle-Eastern or Asian countries. I live in an area of the US with a lot of Jewish citizens, but I never hear the term “right-wing Jewish Fundamentalist”. Rather, this is about keeping (presumably) fundamentalist Christians out of American politics. Fair enough. I guess “Blogswarm Against Theocracy” is a catchier, umm, catch-phrase thingy then “Keep the Christian Fundies out of Government.”
I keep seeing the term “Democracy” bandied about, but I think that some of us miss the point: If a number of people in an area get together, vote en masse to elect politicians in agreement with their cause, and manage to change local laws to reflect their beliefs, well, isn’t that democracy?
Yes, this is not a perfect analogy, but the point is that people tend to get the government that they deserve. If you and the other people in your area do not make your views known to the local politicians – loudly and clearly, then the politicians will listen to those who do manage. No, it’s not “fair” in the sense that we would like to think that people have a reasonable expectation to not have repressive laws passed without representation, but it is fair in another sense to the people in a community who manage to make their views known to the legislature. That’s the problem with a democracy – it’s meant to be a form of representative government, but politicians themselves keep tweaking the system to get the votes. The only groups that can “win” are those who manage to tweak the politicians.
Look, I have nothing against the general concept of what “Blogswarm Against Theocracy” is trying to portray. In fact, I agree with the concept. I would like to see religious fundamentalists keep their ideals where they belong – in their communities. But by the same token, I also would like to see most other groups not force their personal ideals on the general populace. I maintain that the BAT people have got it slightly wrong; the real threat to our liberty is from those who are already infiltrated into our political system.
By that, I mean the politicians and their supporters. More specifically, the politicians who get elected and re-elected by promising things to voters that can only be given by taking things from one group and giving to another.
You’re worried about religious intolerance? Barely a week goes by without a news report of an innocent civilian wounded during a police raid on the wrong home. Recently, a 70-something woman was shot because she brandished a shotgun at what she thought were intruders during a drug raid gone bad. Another home was raided twice in the same day as police got both the address and the name wrong.
You’re worried about your neighbors having a problem with your views on religion? The “war against terror” has made business and vacation travel more costly and inconvenient as middle-aged suburbanites are hauled out of lines to be stripped of their nail-clippers and cork screws. The “war” has led to laws and edicts that tighten up on public security at the expense of the privacy of law-abiding citizens.
You’re concerned about your children having to study Intelligent Design? In several large US cities, the food police have outlawed certain food products, not because they are poisonous, but because over-indulgence can lead to heart disease.
You don’t want religious-based morals to interfere with a woman’s right to choose? Your right to choose what to do with your body has already been compromised in Orwellian ways. Most states have passed anti-smoking laws for public places, and some states have now passed anti-smoking laws for private places, as well. Not content to stop there, some towns have banned smoking in your home if you live in a multi-family dwelling. Some areas are even passing legislation to ban smoking in your car.
You don’t want certain religious groups vilifying your way of life? The perils of smoking and high-fat diets are being vilified in much the same way that alcohol was done right before the Prohibition. But more than that, some communities are looking toward regulating cell phone use, or the hours that teenagers can be at the local mall, or your the colors that you can paint your house. The color? Hell, thanks to the city of New London, CT, some people are now worried that the local government will simply take their house and hand over the land to any developer that promises to “benefit the community” by way of increased tax revenues.
Instead of protesting against minority religious groups, I’d like to see those energies directed toward blogging about the situations in which our freedom is already compromised.
To that end, I propose a blogswarm against idiocracy.
Anybody out there interested?