July 5, 2014 11:01:36 PM
This has been a flag-waving week. We celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence over 300 years ago, and the 50th anniversary of the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Both are very good reasons to eat hot dogs and drink beer.
The Supreme Court has been busy handing down decisions that made a lot of voters jump up from their lawn furniture and exercise their First Amendment rights -- the part about free speech.
Evidently, the ruling, 5-4 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on Monday that for-profit employers with religious objections can opt out of providing contraception coverage under Obamacare" (Politico June 30), was quite unpopular.
This was about religious freedom, once again, guaranteed by the First Amendment. "But that does not explain why Hobby Lobby doesn't object to covering the cost of its male employees' vasectomies and Viagra." (Huffington Post, July 1)
This issue gets hornier. Mother Jones reported on Tuesday that Hobby Lobby's retirement plan has invested $73 million in the manufacturers of emergency contraception and drugs used to induce abortions.
"The companies Hobby Lobby invests in include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes the Plan B morning-after pill and ParaGard, a copper IUD, as well as Pfizer, the maker of the abortion-inducing drugs Cytotec and Prostin E2. Hobby Lobby's mutual funds also invest in two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in their health care policies." (Mother Jones; July 1)
Here in Columbus, Mississippi, the city council has instituted some new rules restricting citizen input at meetings. Now, anyone wishing to address the council must fill out a form explaining the subject they plan to present on the Wednesday before the meeting on the next Tuesday. Got that? Oh yes, and they can only address the council three times each year. Can they really do that?
My religion, "Adeletheism," believes that this country should not send more of our young people into Iraq. We have shed enough blood trying to solve a problem that is unfixable (something like my car). I do not want to dump any additional U.S. dollars into an abyss.
Do I have the right to determine how my taxes will be spent? No. I do not drive on every street in Columbus. Can I say that I refuse to have my taxes pave the streets far from my neighborhood? No. What about street lights, or the "bridge to nowhere," or police protection? Can I have my taxes prorated to cover only the services that I use? Absolutely not.
I can vote, and speak freely against decisions of the government, both federal and local. But, in the end I must respect the rules and abide by them. Hobby Lobby is not a person. They are a for-profit business, and therefore do not have any more rights than we all do.
Let's go over this again. The First Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." (Pay attention to that last line, Columbus City Council.)
It does not say that everyone must practice Adeletheism, pacifism, or vegetarianism. It also does not say that we must all accept every other belief system concerning God, birth control or blind faith in anything.
I'll step down from my soapbox now and enjoy some tube-shaped meat, filled with fat, cereal, red dye, egg white and spices. I could blame insanity on my personal choice to make brainless and dangerous decisions about the food (?) I ingest. I wonder what the supremely stupid court's explanation is for their judgments?
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.
4. A Stone's Throw: Waving flags COLUMNS