Law and prejudice 12

The Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, has vetoed a bill that would have allowed business owners who held religious objections to homosexual practices to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.

The issue has been confused by debate as to whether religious belief should trump homosexual “rights”, or vice versa.

That business owners should be able to choose whom they will serve and whom they will not, should not be a question of religious freedom but simply of freedom.

They should be free to withhold their goods and/or services for any reason or none. If they act on sheer whim, that is their “right”.

And if it is because of an opinion – even an opinion that is regarded as politically incorrect – so what?

When the opinions of individuals become the government’s business, government has become totalitarian. An orthodoxy prevails. As in Calvin’s Geneva, Catholic Spain, Stalin’s Russia,  Mao’s China, Wahhabi Saudi Arabia.  The thought police are after you. They have ways of making you reveal the thoughts you are trying to keep private.

It is THE LAW that should not discriminate. Judgment in a court of law should be untainted by  pre-judgment – or “prejudice” in the true meaning of the word. (Though there are exceptions. The law rightly discriminates on the grounds of age, holding children less responsible for their actions than adults;  and on grounds of mental capacity, holding the insane less responsible than the sane.)

But individuals living  their private lives, can, do, and must discriminate in all their judgments. We are all prejudiced. Indeed, there is no way anyone could get through life without prejudices. We have numerous ways of quickly informing ourselves about other people. In a flash we have taken in his appearance, race, color, voice, accent, and so on, and in the secret chambers of our hearts and minds are bringing ready opinions to bear on him. It is a short cut without which we would be perpetually bewildered.

We all have first impressions, and what we make of them depends on our prejudices. We all find someone attractive or repulsive, interesting or dull on first acquaintance, and those first impressions are inevitably affected by prejudice. “Oh, he’s this or that, and I like it (or don’t like it).” But then you get to know him a little and find, perhaps, that he’s not this or that after all. We leap to instant judgment, but sensible people quite naturally make the reasonable decision to wait until they know the stranger better to see whether he is someone they want as a friend or employee or whatever.

In fact, no generalization about a person’s origins, race, nationality, descent, religious affiliation, sexual proclivity, age group, or anything else can ever reasonably be applied with certainty to any individual. But still and forever we will bring our vague associations to bear on our judgments. After that, intelligence should guide us to better judgment, because it is in our interest that it should. (Not because, for instance, some religious idealist issued an impossible-to-obey instruction to love everybody.)

Below we quote from an article by John Hawkins at Townhall, dealing chiefly with reasons why Christians who disapprove of gay marriage should not have to provide services for gay weddings. (The issue which gave rise to the Arizona bill.) But he does make a general point that people can refuse their services for any reason. 

John Hawkins writes:

Businesses should generally have the right to refuse customers: Because of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow and the other abominations Democrats forced on America, we did choose as a nation to treat race differently than most other issues. So, we do not allow businesses to discriminate based on race – and that’s a good thing. However, businesses can and do turn away customers for almost every other reason imaginable. Shouldn’t they be able to do that?

Shouldn’t the Super Bowl be allowed to decline an advertisement from a porn website? Shouldn’t the NAACP be able to turn away KKK members from a speech? Shouldn’t a movie theater be allowed to tell people who insist on using cell phones in the theater that they’re not welcome? Shouldn’t Wal-Mart be allowed to refuse to carry NAMBLA literature in its stores? Shouldn’t a nightclub be allowed to tell people wearing gang colors that they’re not welcome? Shouldn’t the Democratic Party be allowed to decline ads on its website from the Republican Party? On a personal note, at my website Right Wing News I’ve declined advertisements from porn websites, a dating service for “sugar daddies,” a dating service for people who are married, and even a t-shirt seller I considered to be homophobic. …  For every American with rudimentary common sense, these questions answer themselves.

Does the law at present allow that freedom? Surely whatever is not specifically forbidden in law is allowed. (It is obviously impossible to make a comprehensive list of everything anyone might ever do and declare that it must or must not be done.) If at present people are free, in these ever less free United States, to serve whom they will and not be coerced to serve those they’d rather not, then the law Governor Brewer vetoed was superfluous.

Customers choose which business they will patronize without having to explain why they chose that one and rejected others. Why should business not have the same freedom of choice? A businessman might be foolish to turn away someone who wants to give him dollars in exchange for the merchandise or service he deals in, but he certainly should not be forced to serve anyone against his will.

Sheriff Arpaio, Western hero 1

Now that US District Judge Susan R. Bolton has emasculated the Arizona immigration law (best critical analysis of her ruling we’ve read so far is here), there’s some solace to be found in the determination of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County to do all he can to make Arizona as hot a perch as possible for “undocumented aliens”.

From Newsmax:

Arpaio, whose county includes most of the Phoenix metropolitan area, promotes himself as “America’s toughest sheriff.” He has limited county inmates to two meals a day, banned “sexually explicit material” in prison, reinstituted chain gangs, and set up a “tent city” as an extension of the Maricopa County Jail.

On Wednesday a judge blocked the most controversial sections of Arizona’s new law and put them on hold. The law will still take effect on Thursday, but without some of the provisions that angered opponents — including sections that required officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws.

Nevertheless there are reports that opponents of the new law plan to block Arpaio’s jail on Thursday in an act of civil disobedience.

“There’s a rumor that they’re going to block our jails down the street,” Arpaio says in an exclusive Newsmax interview.

“You know what? They’re not going to block our jails. They’re going into the jail if they block our jail. I’m not going to succumb to these demonstrators keeping law enforcement from booking people in our jail. So we may have to take some action.”

Arpaio also vows to conduct a “crime suppression operation” on Thursday.

“This morning we raided another business and arrested five more illegal aliens with false identification. On Thursday we’re going to do our 17th crime suppression operation and go out with our volunteer posse and deputy sheriffs and catch criminals. We’ve done 16. Just by chance about two-thirds [of those arrested] happen to be here illegally.

“People say, why are you doing it on the day that the law may be put in effect? Well, should I wait? We’ve been enforcing the other state immigration laws and we’re still the only ones doing it. We’re going to continue doing our job.”

Arpaio was asked about concerns that the federal government will refuse to cooperate with a handoff of illegal aliens to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency after they are apprehended in Arizona.

“There’s been some rumbles that maybe ICE will not take the illegal aliens off the hands of law enforcement,” he responds.

“So we may have a little problem, but not that big, because most of the time we arrest illegal aliens we have them on another charge and we book them into our jail.

“After people do their time and we have them deported, if [ICE doesn’t] accept many of those people who are going to be deported, the only alternative is that they may be released on the street.

“So let’s see what the federal government does. I know they’re not happy with this new law. They’re not happy with me, because I had 100 deputies trained by Homeland Security, trained to work on the streets and function as federal officers, but they took that away when the new administration took office.”

There have been media reports that with the law taking effect, many Hispanics are moving out of Phoenix this weekend — as evidenced by a recent increase in yard sales to dispose of items before they move. Arpaio calls that “hype” and said “they have garage sales every week. Go into any Hispanic neighborhood and they’re having garage sales.

But a lot of them are moving out. I’d like to take a little credit for that, because they’re accusing me of breaking up families, they’re accusing me because people don’t want to go to church, they don’t want to go to school because they worry about the sheriff coming in and arresting people that are here illegally.

“Consequently many people have moved out. Of course they don’t all go to Mexico. They go to the sanctuary state called California and other states where they don’t care about illegal immigration. But many of them are moving out, moving back to their home country. That’s great. Now let [them] get the proper paperwork and come into this country legally.”

Newsmax also reports (here) that Sheriff Arpaio’s office is responsible for about 25% of all deportations of illegal immigrants from the US since 2006.

Joe Arpaio: hero and star of a real-life Western epic.

The fourth man 1

The president of the United States does not like the country he leads. He may sometimes feel the need to say or do something to suggest that he has America’s interests at heart, but the weight of evidence that he does not accumulates and becomes too massive to miss. Not only does he apologize for America abroad, he even has his envoys deplore its laws in talks with foreign regimes, as Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner did recently to the Communist Chinese. And he personally endorsed the criticism of the same laws – Arizona’s new legislation dealing with illegal immigration – made by Mexico’s President Calderon, when the two of them stood side by side on the White House lawn.

And now it emerges that he initiated or at the very least advocated the agreement that Iran made with Brazil and Turkey to have some uranium enriched for it – a ploy that his administration condemns as an effort to stall new UN Security Council sanctions against Iran. The sanctions would be weak, and very unlikely to stop Iran making nuclear bombs, but the administration boasts of getting Russia and China to vote for them.

Obama performed this outrageous, underhand act last month in a letter to President da Silva of Brazil.

The New York Times reports:

Brazilian officials on Wednesday provided a full copy of the three-page letter President Obama sent to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil in April, arguing that it laid the groundwork for the agreement they reached in Tehran.

“There continues to be some puzzlement” among Brazilian officials about why American official[s] would reject the deal now, a senior Brazilian official said. “The letter came from the highest authority and was very clear.”

So there was a fourth party to the agreement, which was announced one day before the US presented its draft resolution on Iran sanctions to the Security Council.

As it was the work of all four leaders, Prime Minister Erdogan and Presidents Ahmadinejad, da Silva, and Obama, it should rightly be called the Iran-Brazil-Turkey-US Agreement.

Jonathan Tobin, writing at Commentary-Contentions, points out:

If the mere fact of this new deal wasn’t enough to undermine international support for sanctions, the revelation that Brazil acted with the express written permission of Obama must be seen as a catastrophe for international efforts to restrain Tehran. Why should anyone take American rhetoric about stopping Iran seriously if Obama is now understood to have spent the past few months pushing for sanctions in public while privately encouraging third parties who are trying to appease the Iranians?

Arizona’s compassionate new law 1

We have poached this letter from Mark Steyn’s website. It was sent to him by Linda Denno, of Sierra Vista, Arizona. We think it raises points that should be taken into account in the arguments raging over illegal immigration, and over the controversial measures Arizona is taking to deal with it.

I live within fifteen miles of the Mexican border, and my back fence runs along a major corridor for illegal immigrants traveling through the desert. We are accustomed to helicopters circling overhead and Border Patrol vehicles constantly patrolling the dirt road behind our house. Our beloved German Shepherd has been poisoned and our property vandalized, although I would not say that we live in fear because we are well armed and take necessary precautions.

But what I really want to mention to you is something I really have not heard in the debate over the consequences of illegal immigration. I believe that any and all measures that truly discourage immigrants from entering this country illegally — as the new Arizona law is supposedly already doing — are salutary because discouraging illegal immigration is the genuinely compassionate approach.

A couple of anecdotes: Last week, Border Patrol agents discovered a large moving truck abandoned in the desert near Douglas, Arizona (the site of the recent rancher’s murder). The truck was padlocked from the outside. When the agents cut off the lock and opened the trailer, they discovered dozens of illegal immigrants inside, abandoned by the coyotes who had obviously been “spooked” and left the people in the back of the truck to whatever fate befell them. It was a warm but not a hot day in the desert, so the illegal immigrants were still alive and in relatively good condition. The situation could have ended very differently, not to say tragically.

Secondly, my family and I were enjoying our breakfast al fresco one morning when two women came to our back fence asking for “agua.” A Border Patrol raid the night before behind our house had picked up 70 or so illegal immigrants. These two young ladies had been abandoned by the coyotes during the raid and had been wandering in the hot desert (wearing all black) for hours. My teenage daughter speaks Spanish and was able to discover that both were from El Salvador, both were the mothers of several young children, and both believed they were almost to Los Angeles (550 miles away). We brought them into our garage, gave them water and food, and called the Border Patrol. My daughter was upset about their situation, and understandably so: They were only a few years older than she was. I explained to her that as long as our government refused to enforce laws against illegal immigration, desperate people from other countries would continue to take great risks for the opportunity to live the American dream. Those people would face incredible dangers, be vulnerable to the worst kinds of thugs, and endure unspeakable hardships —  as long as the United States refused to make illegal immigration a crime for which all involved would be swiftly and severely punished. …

I just would like to add a perspective that should be thrown back in the face of the hypocrites who call us racist and mean-spirited. The anecdotes above are representative of incidents that happen in the Arizona desert constantly

The answer is not to set up “water stations” to prevent illegals from dying in the desert. The answer is to discourage them from entering illegally in the first place. That is the only truly humanitarian, compassionate approach to the plight of illegal aliens.

We heartily agree.

Posted under Commentary, government, immigration, Latin America, Law, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, May 7, 2010

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Discrimination and abuse in law enforcement 3

Q: The Obama administration constantly insists that Mexico must help stop illegal migration from its side of the border into the US, doesn’t it?

A: ?

Q: The Mexican government is in any case doing all it can to help, isn’t it?

A: What, with huge amounts of money being sent back to Mexico by illegal Mexican workers in the US?  Are you crazy?

Q: But Mexico sets a great example of tolerance and humane treatment of migrants who come illegally into Mexico, doesn’t it?

A: Let’s read what Humberto Fontova writes at Canada Free Press:

Mexican President Felipe Calderon can hardly contain his revulsion and rage against Arizona’s SB 1070. He’s “deeply troubled” reports the Associated Press over a law he denounces as “discriminatory and racist,” not to mention: “a dire threat to the whole Hispanic-American population.”

This new Arizona law, “opens the door to intolerance, hate, discrimination and abuse in law enforcement,” sputters the Mexican President.

Indeed, this “threat to Hispanics” and these “abuses in law enforcement,” have been ongoing for years. The Associated Press carried a story where a Maria Elena Gonzalez, reported how female migrants were “forced to strip by abusive police officers, supposedly to search them, but the purpose is to sexually abuse them.”

Jose Ramos, 18, reported “that extortion by border police occurs at every stop on their migratory route. Until migrants are left penniless and begging for food.”

According to this Associated Press story: “Others said they had seen migrants beaten to death by police, their bodies left near the railway tracks to make it look as if they had fallen from a train. “If you’re carrying any money, they take it from you,” said Carlos Lopez. “Federal, state, local police—all of them shake you down. If you’re on a bus, they pull you off and search your pockets, and if you have any money, they keep it all and say, get out of here.”

All of the above “hate” and “abuses in law enforcement” as reported by the Associated Press, befell Central American migrants who enter Mexico. So perhaps Mexican President Calderon knows what he’s talking about?

But what he’s also talking lately—rather than getting his own house in order—is an economic boycott of Arizona.

“Commercial ties between Mexico and Arizona will be affected by this law,” vowed President Calderon in a speech last week to the Institute for Mexicans Abroad. “We are going to act.”

Fewer US dollars may be remitted to Mexico, it’s true. But will Calderon be able to administer the coup de grace to the ailing US economy?  We wait to see.

Scofflaws rule 2

Arizona’s newly passed act enabling the police to enforce the law against illegal immigration has been condemned as ‘misguided’ by the president, and ‘racist’ by Hillary Clinton and a chorus of Democratic politicians.

How much more bizarre a scenario could be imagined than that the head of the executive branch of the federal government, members of his cabinet, and legislators, should object to the law of their country being enforced?

Conservative and atheist Heather Mac Donald , whose opinion is always well-informed and persuasive, writes in City Journal:

Supporters of Arizona’s new law strengthening immigration enforcement in the state should take heart from today’s New York Times editorial blasting it. “Stopping Arizona” contains so many blatant falsehoods that a reader can be fully confident that the law as actually written is a reasonable, lawful response to a pressing problem. Only by distorting the law’s provisions can the Times and the law’s many other critics make it out to be a racist assault on fundamental American rights.

The law, SB 1070, empowers local police officers to check the immigration status of individuals whom they have encountered during a “lawful contact,” if an officer reasonably suspects the person stopped of being in the country illegally, and if an inquiry into the person’s status is “practicable.” The officer may not base his suspicion of illegality “solely [on] race, color or national origin.” (Arizona lawmakers recently amended the law to change the term “lawful contact” to “lawful stop, detention or arrest” and deleted the word “solely” from the phrase regarding race, color, and national origin. The governor is expected to sign the amendments.) The law also requires aliens to carry their immigration documents, mirroring an identical federal requirement. Failure to comply with the federal law on carrying immigration papers becomes a state misdemeanor under the Arizona law.

Good luck finding any of these provisions in the Times’s editorial. Leave aside for the moment the sweeping conclusions with which the Times begins its screed—such gems as the charge that the law “turns all of the state’s Latinos, even legal immigrants and citizens, into criminal suspects” and is an act of “racial separation.” Instead, let’s see how the Times characterizes the specific legislative language, which is presumably the basis for its indictment.

The paper alleges that the “statute requires police officers to stop and question anyone who looks like an illegal immigrant.” False. The law gives an officer the discretion, when practicable, to determine someone’s immigration status only after the officer has otherwise made a lawful stop, detention, or arrest. It does not allow, much less require, fishing expeditions for illegal aliens. But if, say, after having stopped someone for running a red light, an officer discovers that the driver does not have a driver’s license, does not speak English, and has no other government identification on him, the officer may, if practicable, send an inquiry to his dispatcher to check the driver’s status with a federal immigration clearinghouse.

The Times then alleges that the law “empower[s] police officers to stop anyone they choose and demand to see papers.” False again, for the reasons stated above. An officer must have a lawful, independent basis for a stop; he can only ask to see papers if he has “reasonable suspicion” to believe that the person is in the country illegally. Reasonable suspicion” is a legal concept of long-standing validity, rooted in the Constitution’s prohibition of “unreasonable searches and seizures.” It meaningfully constrains police activity; officers are trained in its contours, which have evolved through common-law precedents, as a matter of course. If the New York Times now thinks that the concept is insufficient as a check on police power, it will have to persuade every court and every law enforcement agency in the country to throw out the phrase—and the Constitution with it—and come up with something that suits the Times’s contempt for police power.

On broader legal issues, the Times is just as misleading. The paper alleges that the “Supreme Court has consistently ruled that states cannot make their own immigration laws.” Actually, the law on preemption is almost impossibly murky. As the Times later notes in its editorial, the Justice Department ruled in 2002, after surveying the relevant Supreme Court and appellate precedents, that “state and local police had ‘inherent authority’ to make immigration arrests.” The paper does not like that conclusion, but it has not been revoked as official legal advice. If states have inherent authority to make immigration arrests, they can certainly do so under a state law that merely tracks the federal law requiring that immigrants carry documentation.

The Times tips its hand at the end of the editorial. It calls for the Obama administration to end a program that trains local law enforcement officials in relevant aspects of immigration law and that deputizes them to act as full-fledged immigration agents. The so-called 287(g) program acts as a “force multiplier,” as the Times points out, adding local resources to immigration law enforcement — just as Arizona’s SB 1070 does. At heart, this force-multiplier effect is what the hysteria over Arizona’s law is all about: SB 1070 ups the chances that an illegal alien will actually be detected and — horror of horrors — deported. The illegal-alien lobby, of which the New York Times is a charter member, does not believe that U.S. immigration laws should be enforced. (The Times’s other contribution today to the prevailing de facto amnesty for illegal aliens was to fail to disclose, in an article about a brutal 2007 schoolyard execution in Newark, that the suspected leader was an illegal alien and member of the predominantly illegal-alien gang Mara Salvatrucha.) Usually unwilling for political reasons to say so explicitly, the lobby comes up with smoke screens—such as the Times’s demagogic charges about SB 1070 as an act of “racial separation”—to divert attention from the underlying issue. Playing the race card is the tactic of those unwilling to make arguments on the merits.

The Arizona law is not about race; it’s not an attack on Latinos or legal immigrants. It’s about one thing and one thing only: making immigration enforcement a reality. …

(See our other posts quoting Heather Mac Donald: ‘Conservative Atheists’, November 18, 2009; Romancing the criminal, January 5, 2010; What the have-nots do not have, January 20, 2010.)

A climate change in politics 0

The Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, has decided not to let her state become impoverished in order to save the earth from getting a mite warmer. Or cooler. Or  whatever it is the environmentalists are currently panicking about.

The Grand Canyon State avoids a big economic hole by suspending its participation in a multistate initiative to fight climate change. As climate fraud is exposed, economic reality sets in. Will California follow?

Not since King Canute have government officials engaged in an exercise as futile as in 2007, when seven U.S. states and four Canadian provinces got together to form something called the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2012.

Leading the charge for the pact was California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who insisted, “We cannot wait for the United States government to get its act together on the environment.” At the time he said the regional agreement “sets the stage for a regional cap-and-trade program which will provide a powerful framework for developing a national cap-and-trade program.”

Since then, the nation has slid into a recession, and the only thing man-made about climate change has been the manipulated and manufactured claims that we are doomed if we don’t act to fight it.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, seeing which way the snow is blowing, has issued an executive order saying her state will suspend its participation in the emission-control plan or any program that could raise costs for businesses and consumers.

Arizona joined the climate initiative under its previous governor, Janet Napolitano, now secretary of homeland security in the Obama administration.

All 50 states agreed to the cap-and-trade pact, but left implementation up to each state. Only California is ready to start its program in 2012.

Brewer also ordered Arizona’s Environmental Quality Department to take another look at stricter vehicle emission rules, based on California’s standards, set to take effect in 2012, fearing they would significantly raise new car costs. Slowly but surely, economic reality is trumping climate fantasy.

Rumblings of discontent are also being heard in California. Assemblyman Dan Logue is sponsoring an initiative for the November ballot that would halt implementation of the state’s global-warming law, Assembly Bill 32, until the state unemployment rate drops to 5.5% from the current 12.4%.

“The state’s greenhouse reduction program is not a freebie,” Gino DiCaro, a spokesman for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, said last month. “Large costs foisted on an unemployment-riddled state economy and increased electricity rates … are not affordable at this time, if ever.”

A 2009 study by economists at California State University, Sacramento, and commissioned by the California Small Business Roundtable found implementation costs … “could easily exceed $100 billion” and that by 2020 the program would raise the cost of living by $7,857 per household per year.

Even the most optimistic assessments of global pacts such as Copenhagen and Kyoto would have moderated at great cost the earth’s temperature by an amount too small to measure. The impact of a regional pact by a handful of states would be futile, especially when they are downwind from the world’s biggest polluter, the “developing” nation of China, which is exempt from such global pacts. … The pact also envisions strict emission limits on American cars at a time China has passed the U.S. as the world’s largest auto market. …  But the political climate is about to change.

– So says Investor’s Business Daily, who published this report. We think and hope it’s right. Economic necessity is a fairly reliable antidote to irrational belief.