Mother convicted of “disorderly conduct” for refusing TSA grope.

The Tennessean reports that a Clarksville mom has been found guilty of “disorderly conduct” for refusing to participate in an unconstitutional violation of her right to privacy, otherwise known as a TSA “pat-down”.

Transportation Security Officer Karen King testified that before the pat-down, Abbott yelled in her face that she didn’t want anyone “touching her daughter’s crotch.”

Abbott eventually allowed her then-14-year-old daughter to undergo the pat-down, but then she refused a pat-down for herself and was arrested.

You can watch the video at the link above and see for yourself just how “disorderly” this mom really was.

A dialog between materialists

One more point I’d like to mention about the abortion debate is that it’s a dialog between materialists. Most pro-lifers are generally religious, and quite a few are conservative evangelical Christians, but when it comes to making pro-life arguments, they’re even more materialistic than the pro-choice side. All this stuff about souls and spirits is fine for sounding holy in church, but for real-life issues even believers turn to materialism.

Think about it. What is it that allegedly makes a fertilized egg qualify as a person? It’s not that the fertilized egg is “made in the image of God,” unless God is also a single cell with no thoughts, no feelings, no will, no knowledge, and no perceptions. But no, according to pro-lifers, it’s the DNA—the presence of a particular physical molecule within the physical structure of the physical cell. And it’s not just the DNA, because virtually all species have DNA of one sort or another. It’s the physical arrangement of physical nucleotides in the physical DNA molecule that form the basis for the pro-life claim that this is a real, live human being. They’ve reduced humanity down to a chemical formula, and called a mere molecule the essence of what being human means.

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Spot the difference

The boston.com news section is reporting a new TV ad being run in Maine that tries to make gay marriage look like a religious liberty issue—which it is, but not in the way the ad attempts to spin it.

In the ad, Jim O’Reilly of the Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville says he and his wife paid $30,000 to settle the lawsuit and can no longer host any weddings simply because they don’t support gay marriage because of their religious beliefs. A voiceover on the 15-second ad then says, ‘‘Vote No on Question 1 to avoid this in Maine,’’ a reference to the Nov. 6 ballot question asking residents if they want to legalize same-sex marriage.

Gay marriage opponents say that the ad sends a message that legalizing same-sex marriage in Maine will have a chilling effect on free speech and that people no longer will feel free to follow their religious convictions.

Let’s have that same report again, with one slight edit.

In the ad, Jim O’Reilly of the Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville says he and his wife paid $30,000 to settle the lawsuit and can no longer host any weddings simply because they don’t support mixed-race marriage because of their religious beliefs. A voiceover on the 15-second ad then says, ‘‘Vote No on Question 1 to avoid this in Maine,’’ a reference to the Nov. 6 ballot question asking residents if they want to legalize mixed-race marriage.

Mixed marriage opponents say that the ad sends a message that legalizing mixed-race marriage in Maine will have a chilling effect on free speech and that people no longer will feel free to follow their religious convictions.

Can you spot the difference? Me neither.

The nuanced position

In a comment on my last post, NotAnAtheist writes:

[As] I see it, there are two options:

1. You can decide that the point at which the rights of the fetus should be considered cannot be based on anything objective, and is merely a point that is decided upon for some legal / logistical / personal / societal convenience. While this is logically valid, it leaves open the question of why not draw the lines other places? We already have articles in medical journals talking about so called “after-birth” abortions, basically saying that the “line” should be pushed back past birth.

This to me, as far as I can see it, is the pro-choice position. Draw the line for purposes of convenience only, and if there are facts supporting your position, great! If not, no worries, just bluster.

2. You can decide that if there are lines to be drawn at all, they should be drawn as safely and as conservatively as possible and be based on the best data possible to avoid killing those who are “enough of” a person to have a right to life. Note that this does not mean that we must draw the line at conception. Nor does this absolutely mandate that one must believe that “before time X all abortions are ok and after X they are wrong.” It is the belief that we should act on the side of caution, and not convenience when deciding when the rights of the child should even be considered (note, I said considered, not necessarily honored).

This, to me is a “nuanced” position, and it is also one that is completely incompatible (as I see it) with the pro choice position.

I can’t help but notice some significant problems with this dichotomy.

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The point of viability

The day job is getting a bit intense right now so I only have time for a quick post. I’d like to address a comment made by NotAnAtheist on yesterday’s post. (The bold text is an excerpt from my post, to which NotAnAtheist is responding.)

The earliest point at which it makes sense to draw a legal line would be viability—the point where the child is formed enough to survive on its own outside the womb. At that point, if the woman wishes to terminate her pregnancy, then she can do so without killing the child, and nobody’s rights need be violated.

Well, that’s only true if the fetus is a “nobody” up until viability then afterwards its now suddenly a person, a “somebody” with rights to be violated. It can’t be both ways. If you say that before a certain point, you are certain that “nobody’s” rights are being violated and afterwards you declare abortion to be wrong, then you are drawing a line at viability.

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Blood drives

The last time I gave blood, there was a sign outside that says, “Giving blood saves lives.” As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I’d like to ask a question. If giving blood saves lives, why don’t we have people roaming the streets, grabbing healthy-looking individuals, and taking their blood by force? I think most people know the answer: it’s because each of us has a sovereign right to bodily autonomy that no one else has the right to violate, even if it might mean saving someone else’s life.

This to set the stage for a question posed in a couple comments by NotAnAtheist on yesterday’s post, concerning my remark about how the unformed child does not become a person until later on.

When does this “becoming a person” happen? … The child that is 1 hr from being born, anatomically, genetically, and in all other senses I know of, is the same child right after birth (If someone knows of some big difference, let me know).

If there is that similarity, how can it be that the child after birth is a “person”, and the child before is not? Or is it just that the idea of “personhood” has no objective referent and is simply up to the whim of the court?

I’m glad you asked.

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When is it ok to legalize murder?

One of the differences between the Obama/Biden campaign and the Romney/Ryan campaign came out during the VP debates. Biden said he was a faithful Catholic and believed his church’s teaching on abortion (in the true spirit of faith as “believing what you know ain’t so”), but he wasn’t willing to impose his religious beliefs on others (and rightly so). Ryan, on the other hand, was adamant that abortion was murder and should be immediately outlawed, except in cases of rape, incest, and the health of the mother. And that’s a very interesting set of exceptions.

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Spirit of the Sith

Today’s link goes to Mano Singham’s post, The Obama administration considers constitutional rights to be dangerous. The administration is correct: constitutional rights are dangerous, at least to those who are exploiting others from positions of privilege and power. But the absence of rights is far more dangerous, in terms of the scope and extent of everyday harm.

Atheism+: A legitimate concern

One thing that’s mystified me regarding the Atheism+ movement is why anyone would be against it. I’ve seen and heard about various forms of opposition and/or abuse aimed at trying to kill it off and silence those who speak up about it, but so far I haven’t seen anyone offer a thoughtful and reasonable argument about why Atheism+ should be opposed.

Until now. FtBlogger Edwin Kagin raises what I think is a valid concern.

Atheism means without a belief in a god. That’s it. Within that shell are many many different points of view. This became clear a few years ago when several life members quit the organization American Atheists because it’s then President was actively working for the defeat of President George Bush. The quitting life members liked Bush and thought the organization had no business being against him, or for or against anyone else for that matter. I know this because they told me.

I could not imagine any atheist being in favor of Bush. But these folks were. I have also met atheists who are members of American Atheists and who oppose a woman’s right to choose. And who are opposed to gay marriage. And all sorts of things like that. The only thing that they all have in common is being atheists. Start taking sides on social issues and learn what chaos is all about.

He gives the example of the National Rifle Association losing half its members over taking a stand on abortion, and fears that a similar fate might befall organizations such as American Atheists, severely crippling their ability to fight for the rights of atheists in society.

That’s a valid concern, but I believe it’s one that can be addressed.

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