Every Idea is an Incitement
nebraskalawprof at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 2 11:43:58 PDT 2005
Bobby: Of course, I was not comparing the harm of being excluded from the U of C to the harm of drowning in a flood. But many on this and other law prof lists are very concerned--and properly so--with law students who got out safely from N.O. but whose law schools careers have been disrupted by the floods. So being denied an educational opportunity is not a trivial harm, whether you are a law student from N.O. or a Christian high school student in California. Moreover, when some parents' memorials to their murdered children are excluded from a public forum, created as a healing response to the tragedy, because the parents expressed religious sentiments about their lost children, this adds insult to injury and is a harm that deserves to be counted.
Most theists I know care deeply about harms like poverty, racism, and disease. Some favor big government as the solution to these problems; others favor private charity and right living (the fruits of religious morality) as the solution. Secular liberals and conservative theists both care about the least of these our brethren, although there are disagreements about who counts as the object of compassion (e.g., unborn children) and what solutions to embrace.
RJLipkin at aol.com wrote:
In a message dated 9/2/2005 9:55:13 AM Eastern Standard Time, nebraskalawprof at yahoo.com writes:
Real people are affected when memorial speeches, crosses, and plaques are censored in the name of anti-establishment.
Real people are denied equal access to state universities when courses they take at academically-rigorous high schools are disqualified because their textbooks contain a religious viewpoint of science or history.
Is the contention that "real" people harmed in the above ways are harmed equally as
those who die in a flood, live in an inner city war zone, have little food, no health care, and so forth? I have no doubt that some theists are harmed in a democratic society that believes keeping significant religious rituals from the public square on the grounds of general religious liberty and the danger from overreaching religions is the best form of constitutional democracy. But is anyone seriously arguing that these harms are comparable. The problem for many nontheists (as well as for theists who do not believe the above harms have priority in their religious values) is that some theists seem to care more about the above harms than poverty, disease, crime, racism, and so forth. I am not accusing anyone on this List of having such priorities. But can it be seriously maintained that some notables in the wider society do have these priorities? And the general question then becomes which kinds of harms should citizens in a constitutional democracy take more seriously? T!
the question at the bottom of how should one react--or what is the appropriate reaction--when a citizen such as New Orleans is devastated.
Robert Justin Lipkin
Professor of Law
Widener University School of Law
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Welpton Professor of Law
University of Nebraska College of Law
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow either Galahad or Mordred: middle things are gone." C.S.Lewis, Grand Miracle
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