Monday, August 08, 2011

Roger Ebert is wrong

I agree with the wisdom of almost every thing that Ebert says in this article; but, he's missing a piece of the First Amendment and is confused about another piece. 

“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.”  U.S. Constitution.

“There are not two sides to the separation of Church and State. There is only this: They must be separated for the health of our democracy.”  Roger Ebert.

“Separation of Church and State” is a legal construct that is intended to ensure that government doesn’t get into the religious favoritism and anti-religion business.  In the meantime, people, under the “freedom” clause get to say and do pretty much what they like, including advocating an establishment of religion or trying to convince people that they have the one true religion and other contenders should be stomped.

Governor Perry, the other headliners and the 30,000 people that showed up at the “Response” rally on Saturday are a perfect example of how the First Amendment works.  They, not a government, organized it.  They assembled, spoke and prayed to their hearts content.  They may have petitioned the government.  The “press” rallied round them or against them, including Mr. Ebert.  No laws were passed.  No government did anything, just people.

The “Response” rally and how everyone reacted to it, is exactly how things in this country should go.  Are they right as to what they want?  If their God can help, great, though I don’t think our country’s political disputes are high on the celestial to do list.


The Curmudgeon said...

Dave, I am a big Roger Ebert fan. I look forward to my Friday morning train ride when I eagerly read his reviews of movies I will never see.

But, yes, he is wrong on this.

A governor, a senator, a President -- all can shout their religious views, broad or narrow, from the highest mountaintop without violating the separation of Church and State. Gov. Perry, however much his personal religious views may make me squeamish, has the right to have his rally -- as long as it wasn't on state property or paid for at state expense.

In fact, to the extent that he may put himself forward as a presidential candidate (depending on whether God gives him the OK, apparently), it was a good thing that Gov. Perry held his rally. He is not hiding his views; he is putting them out there for the people to see... and evaluate.

But you've picked (and Mr. Ebert has fumbled) the easy case. It gets harder when someone holding his views is picking out public school textbooks, because he can not help but bring his religious viewpoint to the process. On the other hand, if the folks down there elected him and that's among his assigned tasks, as long as the books selected aren't overtly religious, where can the line be properly drawn?

Dave said...

Curmudgeon, I think, God forbid, he were elected nationally, or acts as the Texas Governor to make a religious decision, I think it's okay as long as it isn't a crazy violation of a constitution. Even then, that's what constitutions and their due process and equal protection clauses, indeed, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and the courts are for.

Dave said...

And, if you like the reviews, read his blog - very often, very good.