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Majority opinion June 30, 2013

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Equality, Freedom, Law.
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In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld (Bowers v. Hardwick) a Georgia sodomy law that criminalized private sexual acts between consenting same-sex adults. The case was decided by a margin of 5 to 4.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Harry Blackmun wrote:

I believe we must analyze respondent Hardwick’s claim in the light of the values that underlie the constitutional right to privacy. If that right means anything, it means that, before Georgia can prosecute its citizens for making choices about the most intimate aspects of their lives, it must do more than assert that the choice they have made is an “abominable crime not fit to be named among Christians”…

I cannot agree that either the length of time a majority has held its convictions or the passions with which it defends them can withdraw legislation from this Court’s scrutiny…

That certain, but by no means all, religious groups condemn the behavior at issue gives the State no license to impose their judgments on the entire citizenry. The legitimacy of secular legislation depends, instead, on whether the State can advance some justification for its law beyond its conformity to religious doctrine… A State can no more punish private behavior because of religious intolerance than it can punish such behavior because of racial animus…

I can only hope that… the Court soon will reconsider its analysis and conclude that depriving individuals of the right to choose for themselves how to conduct their intimate relationships poses a far greater threat to the values most deeply rooted in our Nation’s history than tolerance of nonconformity could ever do. Because I think the Court today betrays those values, I dissent.

Equal justice under lawThe Court reversed its ruling in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas), invalidating all remaining sodomy laws — making same-sex sexual activity legal in all U.S. states. The case was decided by a margin of 6 to 3.

On June 26, 2013, the Court ruled (United States v. Windsor) that Section 3 of the “Defense of Marriage Act” is unconstitutional, and that the federal government may not discriminate against same-sex married couples.

The case was decided by a margin of 5 to 4.

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Letter from the high chief of Easter Island June 23, 2013

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Politics, Reason, Superstition.
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moaiTo my loyal clansmen,

It has come to my attention that some of you have expressed concern regarding our time-honored tradition of cutting down great palm trees in order to erect the sacred moai (source of our clan’s glory). I wish to assure you that there is nothing to fear! After all, we’ve been doing the same thing for hundreds of years and we’re still here.

Some have claimed that there are less birds to hunt than there used to be; but even if this is true, we don’t know for certain that it’s due to our tree cutting. There could be many reasons for such fluctuations — who can understand the mysteries of nature? We must simply have faith that the birds will return.

Others have pointed out that using all the tallest trees forĀ moai building leaves less for making fishing boats. Such complaints are unworthy of our hard-working ancestors. There is no shortage of fish on my dinner table; I trust the ingenuity of our brave clansmen will always find a way to extract sustenance from the seas, with or without trees.

The bottom line is this: I will not be known as theĀ ariki who brought dishonor on our clan, letting our rivals’ glory surpass our own. And just as I am responsible for sustaining our present strength, I am confident that future chiefs will have the wisdom to solve the problems of their own times.

So, do not let a few meddlesome know-it-alls scare you with their “observations” and their “experiments”. The spirits of our ancestors watch over us and protect us always. Our glorious civilization will live forever!

Editor’s note: The preceding manuscript was uncovered by Europeans who arrived at Easter Island in 1722, where they found a small, emaciated population and a deforested landscape, with no trees over 10 feet tall and no land birds. There were, however, hundreds of giant stone statues.