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This is no run-of-the-mill, every day attempt at stripping rights - Mischa's Journal
October 21st, 2008
11:46 pm

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This is no run-of-the-mill, every day attempt at stripping rights
Anti-Gay Marriage Amendments bankrolled almost entirely by Mormons
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has mobilized followers to give an estimated 77% of donations to support California's proposed marriage ban.

Californians Against Hate released figures Tuesday showing that $17.67 million was contributed by 59,000 Mormon families since August to groups like Yes on 8. Contributions in support of Prop. 8 total $22.88 million. Additionally, the group reports that Mormons have contributed $6.9 million to pass a a similar law, Proposition 102, in Arizona.

"It is a staggering amount of money and an even more staggering percentage of the overall campaign receipts," Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate said in a press release. "The Mormon Church, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, has hijacked the campaigns in both California and Arizona, where voters face constitutional amendments to end same-sex marriage."
And the stupid part is that this partly comes from some sort of twisted motivation of trying to get taken seriously by other more popular religions. I see it as a reason to be very afraid of the Mormon Church, as it finds it has the unity and zeal among its followers to control any law in any state. They have crossed the line and are threatening the authority of government, and of the people.

Left alone to the people of California, Proposition 8 would fail, there's no question.

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From:roxymartini
Date:October 22nd, 2008 07:24 am (UTC)
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this seems like it should be illegal. the out-of-state funding of one side of an initiative that only applies to the state. doesn't that seem like it'd be easy to make illegal? hmm...
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From:once_a_banana
Date:October 22nd, 2008 09:15 am (UTC)
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I agree. Although that doesn't quite solve it, given how powerful the LDS Church still is in California alone. Let's suppose almost all Mormons lived in California, and had their headquarters in Fresno. Then what? Make it illegal for them to contribute towards any ballot efforts at all? What about lobbying Congress? If illegal for them, who is it still legal for? How to distinguish religions with frighteningly unified membership from other kinds of organizations also with frighteningly unified membership (e.g., labor unions, which I nonetheless believe are important and necessary)?
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From:roxymartini
Date:October 22nd, 2008 09:24 am (UTC)
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oh, i was just objecting to the funding from out of state, not the source. i guess this is the problem with atheists. we'll never be as powerful as the religious because we have no centralized power. and we aren't so easily herded. alas - i see now why those traits are useful!

on a separate but, i guess, related note, i don't think that lobbying should be legal. haven't there been enough studies that show that just hearing something enough times will make you believe it or at least think of it favorably whether or not it's true? do we need that kind of background noise to effect people who run our country? nah.
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From:fengshui
Date:October 22nd, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
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All right, so no lobbying. So the Sierra Club or Greenpeace or Citizens against Government Waste can't talk to legislators or regulators any more either, yes? I somehow don't think that would turn out well for our country, even if it were constitutional, which it's not.
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From:oxeador
Date:October 22nd, 2008 12:53 pm (UTC)
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I am happy to keep it legal as long as the LDS Church loses its tax-exempt status.
From:lhn
Date:October 22nd, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
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Then what? Make it illegal for them to contribute towards any ballot efforts at all? What about lobbying Congress?

Personally, I find the prospect of tossing out the First Amendment (two different provisions!) a lot scarier than the LDS church. Making one's right to make political contributions subject to a religious test? (Or maybe that should be punctuated "?!?") Joining a church and listening to what its leaders say doesn't strike me as remotely grounds for treating the members' political activity differently under the law from that of any other American citizen.

How to distinguish religions with frighteningly unified membership from other kinds of organizations also with frighteningly unified membership (e.g., labor unions, which I nonetheless believe are important and necessary)?

Lots of ways. Religious organizations can't give a portion of mandatory membership fees directly to political campaigns. They also can't make members' employment dependent on membership in the religion, no one's required to give space within a private organization for them to proselytize, it would be illegal for a government to require that all its organs and subcontractors use Mormon labor, etc.

(So, votes for equalizing the status of all those potentially frightening organizations? :-) )


Edited at 2008-10-22 03:20 pm (UTC)
From:lhn
Date:October 22nd, 2008 07:54 am (UTC)
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Assuming that they're limiting themselves to persuading their members to engage in legal political activity, how are they threatening the authority of government or the people? Mormons aren't separate from the people, and religious leaders encouraging their members to vote the moral principles they ostensibly subscribe to is neither new nor inconsistent with democracy.

I don't agree with them in this particular case. But as a member of a religious minority which has been accused of being an alien presence wielding illegitimate influence in government once or twice in the course of history, the idea concerns me a little. An identical piece aimed at uncovering just how many donors to a political cause were Jews would certainly make me uneasy, even without the flat statement that their involvement constituted a "hijacking"-- particularly in a way that, e.g., soliciting contributions from out-of-state supporters of same-sex marriage isn't.

Though the Advocate piece doesn't even make clear that the money in question is coming from Mormons outside the state. If there are 770,000 LDS members in California, it wouldn't be hard for the bulk of those 59,000 donors to be in-state. (Insofar as that's relevant, given that California evidently doesn't make out-of-state contributions off-limits.)

I hope you win. I think the initiative is a dumb way to legislate, but I think that your winning on this issue will establish legitimacy for same-sex marriage before the public in a way that the pure judicial approach won't. Regardless, though, it's not clear to me that this article shows your opponents to be doing anything clearly wrong.
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From:once_a_banana
Date:October 22nd, 2008 09:06 am (UTC)
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Heh, I thought you might chime in on this. I actually agree with you somewhat more than one might assume given the alarmist tone of my post (once again the provocateur... and in this case in the service of a very specific agenda of trying to get readers riled up enough to take action).

But the reason this feels very wrong to me is that it is not merely coincidental that all of these contributors are uniting behind a common cause that is consistent with their beliefs about how they as well as everyone else should be restricted by law. This is a centralized, institutionalized system of directives to each and every member in congregations throughout California and these other states that they must make this the main priority of the current electoral season, and meet a quota of volunteer hours and monetary contributions. The slavish, cultish obedience, resulting in staggeringly successful numbers, is where this gets scary. I can solicit help from any willing acquaintance outside my state, but I have no organized way of reaching thousands and making it clear that they are not valid members of their community unless they follow my directive (nor would I want to exercise such authority). This is certainly an exaggeration, but I think illustrates the dangers of unchecked, unregulated organizations when they begin turning their vice grip on their members' rational thinking into real results at the ballot box affecting everyone else as well as themselves. We manage to get laws on the books blocking a lot of what your average worst-case-scenario cult might try to enact or take away, but it means little when the Constitution itself is so weak against tampering. We have essentially been saved by the inward directed efforts of most such groups, or we'd've been in a real mess long ago. So, in light of this all still being legal, I can't say that it's "wrong" in a legal sense, but I still think it's very dangerous and very bad.

It almost certainly should be illegal for out of state residents to contribute funds towards in-state campaigns for or against state ballot measures. More to the point, I don't see why it shouldn't be illegal for tax-exempt religious organizations to contribute funds intended to influence any laws whatsoever. It's already illegal to do this for candidates, so they are altering the State via the remaining legal channel. Members should be free to vote how they like, obviously, but I don't think that's the same as having a central authority state the platform and the schedule for organized monetary collections. I know that I'm trying (and failing) to tread a fine line between different kinds of social organizing, and what restrictions there should be, but although I don't have the answer I do think it's something that can't be ignored, given how easy it is for lies to be financed and then spread all over TV with no repercussions and no recourse for the opponents other than financing and spreading their own countermessage.

And of course we agree that it's pretty absurd how easy it is for the populace to alter the state Constitution here and in many states, making a farce of the power of the judiciary to make decisions based on constitutionality.
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From:roxymartini
Date:October 22nd, 2008 09:30 am (UTC)
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aha!

i believe you've found the solution! it isn't that churches, etc should be disallowed a say or donation rights, but that they should be taxed. that's it! tax the hell out of churches. tax their land, tax their income. why? because they have a say in our government... it's the converse of "no taxation without representation." it's "you want a say, you have to pay!"

face it, we can just assume that church leaders are expressing some opinion or other on ballot measures, and that they hold some sway in their congregation, so basically the church effectively controls some of the vote! tax churches and be done with it!
From:lhn
Date:October 22nd, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
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i believe you've found the solution! it isn't that churches, etc should be disallowed a say or donation rights, but that they should be taxed. that's it! tax the hell out of churches. tax their land, tax their income. why? because they have a say in our government... it's the converse of "no taxation without representation." it's "you want a say, you have to pay!"

Would that also apply to other nonprofits that take political positions? (A quick google finds various 501(c)(3)'s with clearly stated positions both generally advocating same-sex marriage and specifically opposing Prop 8 on their sites: PFLAG, the Pacific Justice Institute, Trikone, Brooklyn Pride, etc.) There's certainly an argument to be made that the nonprofit sector has gotten too large and too far away from specifically charitable concerns into straightforward interest group promotion, all across the political spectrum. (For that matter, though I speak against my professional interest, are universities really so different from other service businesses as to justify their status?) Specifically targeting religious organizations, rather than tax exempt organizations more generally, strikes me as more problematic and harder to justify.
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From:roxymartini
Date:October 22nd, 2008 07:08 pm (UTC)
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the primary difference is that these other non-profit organizations do not have "a higher power" backing them. as in, "please do as i say or else god will get you." even if that's not exactly the rhetoric that church leaders use, i must say that it's fundamentally different in 2 ways:

1. voting recommendations from church leaders are probably more likely to be followed out of loyalty to the church and faith in its leaders rather than simply agreeing with the recommendation (such as you might argue for people who listen to PFLAG and other non-profits)

2. gay marriage has very little, if anything, to do with the things that make any church a non-profit. and it seems like the church has opinions on a lot of things that do not concern their non-profit activities. the same argument cannot be made for PFLAG and various justice groups.
From:lhn
Date:October 22nd, 2008 07:51 pm (UTC)
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the primary difference is that these other non-profit organizations do not have "a higher power" backing them. as in, "please do as i say or else god will get you."

What's the relevance of this, though? Unless the government is going to act as thought police, it can't legitimately scrutinize the reasons members choose to follow the recommendations of an organization. (Especially since those reasons would tend to vary from member to member and organization to organization.) Nor do religious organizations have a monopoly on motivating their members with the possibility of a horrible alternative. (Plenty of environmental groups basically take the position of "we have to do this or we're all going to die", nuclear disarmament groups likewise.)

1. voting recommendations from church leaders are probably more likely to be followed out of loyalty to the church and faith in its leaders rather than simply agreeing with the recommendation

Why do you think that loyalty to the church and faith in its leaders is inconsistent with agreeing with the recommendation? Organizations-- particularly those that encourage active participation-- tend to attract like-minded people.

2. gay marriage has very little, if anything, to do with the things that make any church a non-profit.

Churches have been in the marriage business longer than the state has. I think it's safe to say that their interest in marriage is inherent rather than opportunistic. (PFLAG is, by comparison, a relative latecomer to the issue.)

But I really think that getting the state deeply involved in sniffing out motives and trying to decide who has a "legitimate" interest in political issues is sowing the wind. A set of criteria that just happens to silence your opponents while leaving your allies free may look attractive, but unless you're secure that those levers of power will never fall to the other side ("Well, churches have an obvious interest in marriage laws, while merely being a parent or friend of lesbians and gays doesn't really give standing, since parents and friends aren't directly affected...") you may want to avoid making them available.
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From:roxymartini
Date:October 22nd, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
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ok, i see your point. though, "thought police" is going a bit far. i think religion treads a fine line between "stuff we can't prove" and outright fraud. religious organizations have a monopoly on motivating their members with the possibility of a completely unproven and unlikely horrible alternative. hence my allegations of fraud.

1. my point with this is that i don't give religious people much credit for thinking these things through for themselves. that they'll go along with whatever their church leader says rather than actually do research or read up.

2. as far as i know, none of churches' donations go to helping people get married. by "non-profit activities" i mean things like feeding and housing the homeless or whatever they get non-profit status for. PFLAG, on the other hand is an organization of friends/family of gays who presumably would be interested in equal rights for gay people!

also, there is specifically (or, there should be) a separation between church and state. no such thing exists between non-profits and state, for example. so this is actually fairly clear cut. the church should either have no say in state affairs at all (no opinions on voting, no lobbyists, no donation money going to any political cause) or it should be taxed.
From:lhn
Date:October 22nd, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
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i think religion treads a fine line between "stuff we can't prove" and outright fraud. religious organizations have a monopoly on motivating their members with the possibility of a completely unproven and unlikely horrible alternative.

Hardly a monopoly. When I grew up, there were organizations promoting environmental goals by alleging that we'd all be starving and out of oil by the late 80s. (See Paul Ehrlich, the Club of Rome, etc.) They were motivating people with an unproven horrible future which turned out to be wrong. Ditto those who said if we didn't get a nuclear freeze we'd all be killed in a US/Soviet nuclear war: unproven, unlikely, and since disproved.

(There may be similar disasters in the future, and there may not. But that won't make the original prediction of disaster twenty years ago correct retrospectively. If I predict San Francisco will have an earthquake on election night if California rejects Prop 8, and there's an earthquake in four years, or ten, I could hardly claim vindication.)

hence my allegations of fraud.

Fraud implies that the leadership doesn't believe in the religion. I doubt that's generally the case.

In any case, unless you're going to take the voters out of the equation, policy based on the presumption that religion is knowing fraud isn't going to be made even if it were true. Public policy along those lines isn't compatible with democracy, at least in the US. Freedom of religion certainly includes the freedom to have religion (and if that ever comes into question, it's freedom not to have a religion that's more likely to be endangered).

1. my point with this is that i don't give religious people much credit for thinking these things through for themselves. that they'll go along with whatever their church leader says rather than actually do research or read up.

If activism on an issue is restricted only to those who've extensively researched that issue, politics is going to get awfully lonely. But it might be worth considering the use to which mere literacy tests for voting were put, before considering requiring more extensive vetting for the right to express a political opinion.

(What fraction of the people manning the phone bank to oppose Prop 8 know why "full faith and credit" applies to divorce, but not wholly to marriage? Why same-sex marriage would have been a far more complex legal issue prior to the abolition of coverture? What public policy reasons have been used in California to deny couples (including some that could have married in other states) the right to marry at various points in history?)

2. as far as i know, none of churches' donations go to helping people get married.

Given how many marriages are officiated by and in churches, that strikes me as unlikely. Churches and other religious institutions have helped literally billions of people get married, and some of that has surely been funded by donations to churches.

also, there is specifically (or, there should be) a separation between church and state.

That's a general statement (and one that's been variously interpreted), though, not a law. All we really have to go on is the First Amendment's ban on having an established church a la England, and on "prohibiting the free exercise" of religion, plus two centuries of First Amendment jurisprudence. Making religions tax-exempt is a means of keeping the government from being tempted to interfere with the free exercise of religion via tax policy.

By contrast, there's nothing in the First Amendment that suggests that voters' opinions shouldn't be informed by their religious views. In general, freedom of conscience can't mean "freedom of conscience except for the stuff I consider crazy or fraudulent", since other voters may well think that some of your premises are crazy or fraudulent. If you don't have freedom for all, you'll have freedom for none.
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From:fengshui
Date:October 22nd, 2008 10:47 pm (UTC)
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1. my point with this is that i don't give religious people much credit for thinking these things through for themselves. that they'll go along with whatever their church leader says rather than actually do research or read up.

I think you need to meet more religious people. This seems like a very skewed view of religion. As an obvious example, just compare the Vatican's stance on abortion and contraception with the reality of catholic practice in America. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_contraception#Dissent
From:lhn
Date:October 22nd, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC)
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This is a centralized, institutionalized system of directives to each and every member in congregations throughout California and these other states that they must make this the main priority of the current electoral season, and meet a quota of volunteer hours and monetary contributions. The slavish, cultish obedience, resulting in staggeringly successful numbers, is where this gets scary. I can solicit help from any willing acquaintance outside my state, but I have no organized way of reaching thousands and making it clear that they are not valid members of their community unless they follow my directive (nor would I want to exercise such authority). This is certainly an exaggeration, but I think illustrates the dangers of unchecked, unregulated organizations when they begin turning their vice grip on their members' rational thinking into real results at the ballot box affecting everyone else as well as themselves.

What distinguishes a "cult" in this context from other religious organizations? How is the reasoning above different from that given in 1960 for keeping JFK out of the White House, or for denying Catholics full political rights in early modern Britain?

(And, indeed, the California Catholic Conference, the official voice of California's bishops, issued a statement encouraging parishioners "to provide both the financial support and the volunteer efforts needed for the passage of Proposition 8." Do we need to keep an eye on those Catholics, too? :-) )

What is the LDS church doing that's illegitimate? It's a voluntary organization, whose only sanction is the withdrawal of membership, not scourging or burning at the stake. What distinguishes "slavish, cultish obedience" from enthusiastic support for a cause?

The LDS church isn't "enacting" anything. They're calling on their members to exercise their political rights as Americans. 2% of the population of California isn't going to do anything to the the CA constitution unless they can persuade a majority of voters to go along with them. Their only avenue for doing that is the exercise of their basic rights of free expression.

That's the opposite of scary to me. Scary is voters being intimidated, blocked from the polls, or beaten up. Or voting being made irrelevant because the Popular Front has seized the capitol and the broadcasting stations. Or if the LDS church were shown to be stuffing the ballot box with fake names, providing Utahans with fake California IDs, or hacking into voting machines, I'd be all for throwing the book at them. (Though of course here in Chicago, we just call that sort of thing standard operating procedure.)

But exhorting their members to try to get the message out on what they consider to be a major moral issue? That's not a subversion of democracy, that is democracy.

More to the point, I don't see why it shouldn't be illegal for tax-exempt religious organizations to contribute funds intended to influence any laws whatsoever.

Is the LDS Church organization contributing funds itself? As I recall the article, it just said they were asking their members to make contributions.

What level of political activity should lead to loss of tax-exempt status (or whether religious organizations should be tax exempt at all) is something on which I don't have strong opinions, except that it should be applied evenly and not only to scary organizations or those that the legislative majority disagrees with. And with consideration for the way tax policy could be used to erode freedom of religion. ("It's not discrimination at all. We're taxing every yarmulke, in every synagogue, church, mosque, and meeting house, all at the same rate.")
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From:once_a_banana
Date:October 22nd, 2008 06:08 pm (UTC)
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I agree with you. What I'm trying to get to the bottom of, however, is what is going on here where the LDS church has managed to get 77% of the contributions from their members, but the vastly more populous Catholics haven't gone that way at all? Is it just because Catholics are generally much more moderate these days in their political opinions? How did Catholics get so moderate, when they've got such incredibly powerful worldwide centralization? Is it because the Mormons are essentially saying, "unless you work on this for us, we will spurn you!", and the Catholics aren't? I certainly do imagine situations where membership are going along with something they might not otherwise feel compelled to do, because of strong fears of mistreatment or at least isolation from the only community they've ever known. Normally, people simply aren't that unified on causes that reach out and strip rights from millions of other people, perhaps because they can imagine a detrimental backlash on their organization. Structurally, this is completely available and legal, so one wonders why it doesn't come up very often; if it did, we probably would've found a way to legally block it by now. An extremely passionate minority suddenly spending the entirety of its resources to place lies on TV and fool the majority into coming down on their side of an issue regarding another minority....

I was trying a sort of thought experiment, though it's a bit silly, so bear with me. Lets suppose a new organization springs up, a sort of spiritual/social union of pot-loving hippies who (while somehow staying on the right side of the law) all at once decide to relocate to Alaska, because it's discovered that that's where the best bud can be grown. They just pour in, and Alaska's small population means they suddenly form 70% of the new population there. Their obvious next course of action is to unify themselves with the AIP, who is more than happy with the new influence they can wield, and Alaska sets itself toward independence to free itself from federal marijuana laws and become a free-loving pot economy (shortly dismantling all their oil and gas infrastructure to better respect mother earth). Next, either there's a terrible bloody civil war because of unionist residents, supported by an effort from the armies of the lower 48, or lets say they successfully secede but then the pot crop fails one year, there is no revenue, and nearly everybody starves but for a few pallets of international aid and whatever they can scrounge with their substandard caribou hunting abilities.

So, is this all fine and okay? None of the rights of the former, non-hippie residents are being broken? We need to expect them to be aware of the situation enough to block it? Should they just move away if they don't like it? Can we expect them all to have the ability to do this? What if they actually decide the hippies are right, with the help of extremely misleading and even blatantly false TV ads informing everyone of how bad things will be if they don't go along with it?
From:lhn
Date:October 22nd, 2008 07:15 pm (UTC)
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Let's take it step by step:

1) Organization for pot-loving hippies to discuss strategies for improving access to pot: fine and okay. (They can't possess it or smoke it at their meetings without breaking the law, but meeting and talking is fine.)

2) They all decide to relocate to Alaska. Fine and okay-- no law says that people can't move within the US individually or as a community. There's a long history of communities setting up en masse somewhere, from religious groups like the Amish or various Orthodox Jewish groups to utopian colonies like Amana and Oneida.

3) They make up 70% of the Alaskan population. Fine and okay. No state has a right to a particular makeup, as incovenient as it is for older groups when they're faced with new neighbors. (Cf. concerns about immigration, gentrification, "Californication" of various cities in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, etc.) Citizenship rights don't go by seniority-- everyone gets the same vote once they gain residence.

(In the past, there were relatively long durational residency requirements for voting and various state services in some states. Those were struck down by the Warren Court in 1969, on equal protection grounds as it happens, because they were being used to limit African-Americans' right to vote and to migrate.)

4) They all join the AIP: fine and okay. Talking about independence is protected by the First Amendment.

5) They broadcast blatantly false TV ads. Well, lying per se isn't a crime, even on TV. (And I think we can trust that no large group of legislators will ever make lying in a political ad punishable.) So if they're intentionally, knowingly lying, that's not fine and proper as such, but I can't imagine a solution (other than responding in kind with accurate information) that wouldn't be orders of magnitude worse than the problem.

6) There's a terrible and bloody civil war... wait! How did that happen? Did they get both houses of Congress and 3/4 of the state legislatures to sign off on an amendment permitting secession, which it then reneged on? Well, that's not fine and okay, but the blame would be on the US for reneging.

If secession wasn't made legal, then how'd they go about attempting it? Did they engage in armed rebellion against the United States? Well that's not fine and okay-- it's federal crimes like treason and insurrection, state crimes like murder, assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism, and arson.

Those things wouldn't be considered legit if they were done by a street gang, or by a bunch of unrelated individuals. The problem has nothing to do with the fact that they're a bunch of outsiders who moved in and outnumbered the original locals, or that they were advocating measures at the polls. It has everything to do with the fact that they apparently decided to engage in illegal activities.

Likewise, if they managed to legally secede: If they were the majority population in the state, and persuaded the majority of the US to grant them independence, then why should the opinion of a few thousand long-term residents of Alaska be more influential? (The harvest failing has nothing to do with it-- if they legitimately seceded, the people of the Alaskan Free State have the same right to government mismanagement and economic disaster as any other independent country does.)

If the longer-term residents don't like what their new neighbors are doing, they may have to move themselves, but they don't have the right to tell other Americans that they can't live next door, or vote as they like, or engage in any legal activities up to and including lobbying for a constitutional amendment to permit secession. (I think the odds of their getting that amendment are low enough that the older Alaskans would have other fish to fry.)

Getting back to the Mormons, then, are they plotting armed insurrection? Are they engaging in violence in support of Prop 8? What are they doing that's comparable to AIP-NORML's fomenting of and engagement in bloody civil war?
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From:fengshui
Date:October 23rd, 2008 12:17 am (UTC)
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How did Catholics get so moderate, when they've got such incredibly powerful worldwide centralization?

I think a lot of this is just due to the very long history of Catholicism and the consequences of the protestant reformation. 600 years ago, Catholics were burning people at the stake for disagreeing with the church publicly. Now, some of that continued after the reformation (they had a thirty-years war!), but eventually that all calmed down.
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From:krasnoludek
Date:October 22nd, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
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Psst. It's "vise grip", though in this case "vice grip" may be even more appropriate!
From:lhn
Date:October 22nd, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC)
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Unless once_a_banana is indulging in British orthography, which would put a different colour on things. ;-)
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From:once_a_banana
Date:October 22nd, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC)
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LOL, I had not noticed my error, but yeah, I think I like my version better!
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From:mrhavisham
Date:October 22nd, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC)

Mormons

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Come on really? It’s bad enough that the Catholic Church and other REAL religions are trying to take us out, but now we’re being fucked with by nothing more than a cult! (Yea I said it) a cult.

They are just mad because polygamy is not legal

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From:asbuu
Date:October 22nd, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Mormons

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I'm personally glad I can donate to the cause, even though I'm out of state. I even had a little fundraiser party! I see it as the battlefront of the nation, as do the mormons, I guess. I don't see how donating money violates people's rights. Despite the influence of these advertisements, people still have free choice.

I agree that it's weird so many state constitutions are so fickle. I like the way the federal government has many time-rates-of-change that smooth out short lived stupidities. And the constitution should be the hardest to change!

Does anyone know what to do when a constitutional amendment passes that blatantly contradicts another part of the constitution? This seems entirely possible when it's that easy to change the darn thing. Won't that even happen if 8 passes? The rest of the California constitution still has the equal protection parts?!


From:lhn
Date:October 22nd, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)

Re: Mormons

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I don't know the specifics for California, but I believe that generally an amendment would supersede prior provisions it contradicted, construed as narrowly as possible. So it wouldn't amend the equal protection provision away, but it would establish that it didn't apply in this particular case. (Which was, after all, how the clause was being read up until this year.) There's no such thing as an unconstitutional constitutional amendment.

(With the possible exception, on the federal level, of depriving a state of equal representation in the Senate, or banning the slave trade before 1808.)
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From:once_a_banana
Date:October 22nd, 2008 11:16 pm (UTC)

Re: Mormons

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How did your fundraiser party go? That's pretty cool that you chose to do that!

While I pretty much agree with you, I remain troubled by the fact that TV ads are so effective in terms of influencing people's choices, and there are no repercussions whatsoever for outright lying, unless an adequately strong counter-force is able to muster up the funds and people to mount an effort. This applies to candidates as well. The MSM calls out some of the lies, but in modern times we're increasingly relying on passionate people in the blogosphere to spread the word and hold people accountable.
From:leech
Date:October 22nd, 2008 10:23 pm (UTC)
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A commitment to tithe 10% of one's increase is a prerequisite for baptism in the LDS church. I know of no other sizable religious group in America that is so directly involved in the finances of its members. This frightens me greatly, because they hold many beliefs that I find morally repugnant, and are using their financial/political clout to spread them. Whether or not it's legal, it's still terrible.
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From:fengshui
Date:October 22nd, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC)
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A number of conservative protestant churches require it, as do some Jewish synagogues (Technically the Jewish Maaser only applies to income/produce in the Holy Land, but many synagogues have equivalent Membership fees. For example: http://www.hvcn.org/info/bethisrael/membership.php?page=dues)

Whether you consider those as sizable is up to you, but I think it's also important to keep in mind that at most churches, a devout Christian who routinely doesn't give when the plate comes around will be frowned upon, and eventually asked why they aren't helping.
From:lhn
Date:October 22nd, 2008 11:16 pm (UTC)
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A commitment to tithe 10% of one's increase is a prerequisite for baptism in the LDS church. I know of no other sizable religious group in America that is so directly involved in the finances of its members.

Tithing isn't original to the LDS-- it comes straight out of Judaism (where it remains in force, at least among the Orthodox) and through Christianity (particularly, these days, evangelicals). The LDS are probably more effective at collecting it, but it's hard to see success at a broadly recognized religious duty as a particular count against them.

Not to put too fine a point on it, responding to voters' willingness to devote time and money to a cause is one of the mechanisms whereby a democratic society functions. It's the exact counterpart of the sort of activism that many people on this thread likely admire. (And if a single digit percentage of the population pursuing its interests by recruiting supporters and using the legal means at its disposal is wrong, where does that leave the effort that culminated with In re Marriage Cases earlier this year?)

If it's bad, it's bad because of what they believe, not the way in which they're pursuing those beliefs. In a world full of people willing to cheat on levels ranging from stuffing ballot boxes to blowing up polling places and murdering political opponents, the idea that an organization that appears to be playing wholly within the rules is particularly sinister strikes me as unconvincing.

(If anything looks sinister to me, it's the resemblance of various characterizations of Mormons to those previous generations used for other religious minorities.)

But I'm probably repeating myself by now, and I have a plane to catch fairly soon. (To a country untroubled by religious freedom guarantees or contested elections, as it happens.) So it's probably time for me to wrap up my participation in this thread. ("At last!" they said. :-) ) Best wishes on defeating Prop 8.
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From:once_a_banana
Date:October 22nd, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC)
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Have a great trip! (and I look forward to the extensive photo diaries...)
Sometime when you get back you might be curious to check out the photos etc from my trips to China and Japan.

I certainly value your input on this thread, and you've made the case convincingly that the reason the rules are set up to allow situations like this is that if we tried to disallow it through laws, we would do more harm than good (and often to causes we believe in).

My final thought, however, is that it strikes me that our system has no real structural safeguards: even while doing everything completely within the rules, it could easily be upended in a catastrophic way if enough people simultaneously decided to do the same thing, ruthlessly and in concert. Luckily we are fairly resistant to suddenly becoming Cylons (though this kind of fear is well documented in film and literature), and I'm left with the feeling that this is all that's saving us: our general tendency towards tolerance and, especially, towards dissent. fengshui describes above how dissent is the norm among many of the world's Catholics, for example. So when a group shows how powerful they can become, and how much influence they can wield, simply through a striking lack of dissent among their members, it makes me very nervous. There are dangers here, that the system isn't set up to defend itself against.
From:leech
Date:October 23rd, 2008 06:12 am (UTC)
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Tithing isn't original to the LDS-- it comes straight out of Judaism (where it remains in force, at least among the Orthodox) and through Christianity (particularly, these days, evangelicals).

Sorry, I should have clarified. My point is that tithing is a prerequisite for baptism: you cannot be a member of the LDS church unless you pledge to give them 10% a year. This is certainly not the case for Judaism, nor most denominations of Christianity.

If it's bad, it's bad because of what they believe, not the way in which they're pursuing those beliefs.

Exactly. They believe things which I find extraordinarily immoral. They are unusually efficient in consolidating political power, which they are using to harm people.

The fact that they are 'playing fair' excuses nothing. Most of the stuff done by Scientologists, the Westboro Baptist Church, and LaRouche followers is legal; I'm still not obligated to approve of their actions. Indeed, I think "particularly sinister" is a very accurate description.
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From:httf
Date:October 30th, 2008 10:36 pm (UTC)
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Wow. I just checked your facebook to see what you're up to these days and the answer is apparently "being super gung-ho about the no on 8 campaign". I wish I could say the same for the rest of my friends. I've been to the phone bank in the castro. It was encouraging, definitely. I'll be volunteering with No on 8 on election day.

I'm really nervous about this proposition. And I have a midterm the morning after the election, which is cruel.
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From:once_a_banana
Date:October 31st, 2008 01:20 am (UTC)
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Wow, that is cruel! Come to grad school where there are no midterms (except for ones you have to grad, LOL)!

Yeah, they are doing some great work there at the phonebank. I'm heading there in a couple hours to join them for the "Bar Crawl" in the Castro. It's the only late night "visibility exercise" on the schedule I posted in my proceeding entry. Should be fun! Maybe I'll see you on election day also (although I haven't figured out which city I'm going to get trained for yet...)
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From:httf
Date:October 31st, 2008 01:46 am (UTC)
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You're doing an all day slot, hm? I'm doing the morning slot (630-10) and the evening slot (430-830) so I can go to classes during the day.
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From:once_a_banana
Date:October 31st, 2008 02:59 am (UTC)
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I'm doing the morning slot plus the 11:00-2:00 one. Then I'm heading back to Berkeley to vote, and be back at my place for afternoon/evening watching TV (and internet) of the election results. I would never be able to concentrate on GOTV efforts by then anyway, what with needing to be glued to constant information....
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