Friday, March 2, 2012

The Parable of the Kosher Deli

Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport CT testified before the House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform on the ObamaCare mandate forcing Catholic institutions to materially cooperate with evil.  His testimony illustrated various ways in which the Obama Administration is full of baloney.
For my testimony today, I would like to tell a story. Let’s call it, “The Parable of the Kosher Deli.” 
Once upon a time, a new law is proposed, so that any business that serves food must serve pork. There is a narrow exception for kosher catering halls attached to synagogues, since they serve mostly members of that synagogue, but kosher delicatessens are still subject to the mandate.

It gets better and better from there.  Bishop Lori addresses mainstream retorts to outrage over the government's overreach.
Meanwhile, those who support the mandate respond, “But pork is good for you. It is, after all, the other white meat.” Other supporters add, “So many Jews eat pork, and those who don’t should just get with the times.” Still others say, “Those Orthodox are just trying to impose their beliefs on everyone else.”
Like all good parables, this one is instructive.  It dispenses with the superfluities and identifies the relevant question to be not whether the Jewish delicatessen is wrong, or outdated, or unpopular with its patrons, or even crazy, but whether the government may force it to conform to the government's tastes.

Naturally, if the government can do that, religion will be reduced to nothing more than a reflection of fashion--Cajun this decade, Japanese the next.  But, that's not religion's raison d'être, which is to help us conform to God's will, not conform him to our's or, even worse, to the Potemkin messiah's.

There was a time before the counter culture became the status quo that the thought of such a violation would have scandalized Liberals.  Now that they are the ones doing the coercing, it's OK.

Justice Brennan's thundering peroration about the "freedom not to conform" in the case of Michael H. v. Gerald D. (1989) is paradigmatic.
Even if we can agree, therefore, that "family" and "parenthood" are part of the good life, it is absurd to assume that we can agree on the content of those terms and destructive to pretend that we do. In a community such as ours, "liberty" must include the freedom not to conform.
His exertions for liberty thus viewed were proffered on behalf of an adulterous biological father who hoped to evade the strictures of California legislation, which presumed paternity to reside in the mother's legal husband for the purposes of law.  Justice Scalia was not swayed.
We do not accept JUSTICE BRENNAN's criticism that this result "squashes" the liberty that consists of "the freedom not to conform." ... 
It seems to us that reflects the erroneous view that there is only one side to this controversy - that one disposition can expand a "liberty" of sorts without contracting an equivalent "liberty" on the other side. Such a happy choice is rarely available. 
Here, to provide protection to an adulterous natural father is to deny protection to a marital father, and vice versa. If Michael has a "freedom not to conform" (whatever that means), Gerald must equivalently have a "freedom to conform." 
One of them will pay a price for asserting that "freedom" - Michael by being unable to act as father of the child he has adulterously begotten, or Gerald by being unable to preserve the integrity of the traditional family unit he and Victoria have established. Our disposition does not choose between these two "freedoms," but leaves that to the people of California. 
JUSTICE BRENNAN's approach chooses one of them as the constitutional imperative, on no apparent basis except that the unconventional is to be preferred.
Justice Scalia put his finger on the nub of the matter.  Justice Brennan, the Leftist lion on the Court for thirty four years, always chose the unconventional claim as the constitutional imperative.  He seemed perpetually incensed at tradition, orthodoxy and the people's judgments.

It never occurred to him or the Court's other Liberals that any argument marshaled to impugn the ordinary citizens' choices could be turned with equal legitimacy on his or their own.  Under their watchful eyes, tyranny of the majority was avoided at the cost of a less explicable tyranny: that of the minority.

Throughout the post-FDR half of the 20th century, the Supreme Court made a Constitutional habit of protecting communists, radicals, secularists, libertines, pornographers, fornicators, abortionists, protesters, feminists and other dissenters from mainstream culture--even criminals.  This century it added sodomites and foreign, enemy combatants to the list.

Not surprisingly, these groups now comprise the heart of the Democrat Party.

Since dissidents have been constitutionally favored for so many decades, while Christian and occidental traditions have been suppressed by law and defamed by constitutionally favored media, these once counter-cultural groups represent the status quo, the new mainstream.  To no one's surprise, they are less tolerant and diverse than the former dispensation was in days when perversity traveled under the banners of tolerance and diversity.

Now that heterodoxy is conventional and one of theirs is president--the scion of a broken home; a white mother who didn't bother to raise him, and a revolutionary Kenyan father she met while studying Russian in college, presumably to speak communist better (rather than read Tolstoy in the original), and who abandoned them quickly--the Left needs no longer pretend a devotion to sacred principles.

The freedom not to conform doesn't protect milenium-old traditions or the beliefs that undergird them.  As always with the Left, which makes a Party plank of fighting nature, the unconventional is to be preferred.

The Leftist methodology is to narrow its focus on some contorted rendering of reality, wrap it in an abstraction--some inapposite yet unassailable principle-- and to press for its rigorous application.  Neither its agenda nor methods fooled Justice Scalia.
FN 4. JUSTICE BRENNAN insists that in determining whether a liberty interest exists we must look at Michael's relationship with Victoria in isolation, without reference to the circumstance that Victoria's mother was married to someone else when the child was conceived, and that that woman and her husband wish to raise the child as their own...   
We cannot imagine what compels this strange procedure of looking at the act which is assertedly the subject of a liberty interest in isolation from its effect upon other people - rather like inquiring whether there is a liberty interest in firing a gun where the case at hand happens to involve its discharge into another person's body.
The ObamaCare mandate is just more of the same in an administrative context rather than a judicial venue.  An isolated, abstract, non-contextualized sacred cow is held up for worship: women's health in this case.

All ideologies work this way.  One narrow consideration becomes the lens through which all reality, and law, is to be viewed.  Everything must conform to this pinched field of vision.

We are not to question the imputation that pregnancy is a sickness, or why it is a women's right to behave as if she is sterile when she is fecund, or whether people who dissent from the new orthodoxy have rights of conscience under our constitution.  All that matters is the right to fire the imaginary gun--the imperative of women's health viewed in contorted and contentious terms--regardless of whose body the bullet penetrates.

Ideological purists are not deterred from their obsessions even though the body behind the Church's, certain to take the bullet as well, belongs to Uncle Sam.  Quite often, the Left gives the impression that it is driven by the very knowledge that Uncle Sam is situated in the line of fire.

In this particular instance, the Left has made the mistake of firing upon the penumbra of explicitly enumerated constitutional rights--not just sexual privacy or some other invention--the free exercise of religion, and freedom from an established church.  If freedom of religion includes a freedom from religion, as Leftists insist it does, then freedom from an established church encompasses freedom from an established non-church that equally impinges upon conscience.

Leftist talismans don't posses the same force when they are contra-posed to real rights.  They are even less persuasive when, as in this case, the government assumes the power to force churches and their faithful to hold still while feminists pull the trigger.

For some reason, the transgression is easier for people to see in the case of a kosher deli than it is in the case of a Christian hospital.  Bishop Lori is to be commended for making the issue understandable to everyone, even anti-Catholic bigots.

His parable ends hopefully.
This story has a happy ending. The government recognized that it is absurd for someone to come into a kosher deli and demand a ham sandwich; that it is beyond absurd for that private demand to be backed with the coercive power of the state; that it is downright surreal to apply this coercive power when the customer can get the same sandwich cheaply, or even free, just a few doors down. 
The question before the United States government—right now—is whether the story of our own Church institutions that serve the public, and that are threatened by the HHS mandate, will end happily too. Will our nation continue to be one committed to religious liberty and diversity? We urge, in the strongest possible terms, that the answer must be yes. We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to answer the same way.
I am not so confident that the present story will end happily for the United States of America.  The Left, here as everywhere, is heir to an unfortunate lineage that includes the Jacobins in France, the Bolsheviks in Russia and the Republicans in Spain.  [So as to avoid unnecessary distraction, I'll bracket the National Socialists in Germany and leave them off the family tree where I nevertheless think they belong.]

These were among the most ideological and destructive movements known to history, and they were anything but reasonable, tolerant or peaceful.  They all hated religion, and Jesus Christ most of all.

President Obama and the cadre of revolutionaries surrounding him--most notably Eric Holder, Kathleen Sibelius and Janet Napolitano--are not just testing the waters.  They are electrifying it; they are striking for the kill.

Another recent hostility was Attorney General Holder's litigation in support of the government's right to supersede a religion's choice of who shall serve as a minister.  Happily, and somewhat shockingly, the Supreme Court was unanimously unimpressed with his lawyering and reasoning, legal or otherwise.

That didn't stop him from trying, and won't in the future.  President Obama has served notice that the full power of the US government under his watch will be concentrated in the hands of secularists and feminists to pursue their agenda, the Left's agenda, at will.  That's what you get when you wed Nietzschean philosophy to a chip on the shoulder.

The ObamaCare HHS mandate is just the latest attempt to strong arm religion and impose what Pope John Paul II labeled the Culture of Death onto America.  Regardless of the outcome in this matter, the Kulturkampf is on again, and bigoted aggression is never a good thing.

Postscript: "Senators voted 51-48 to table -- and essentially kill -- an amendment designed to guard the "religious beliefs or moral convictions" of those offering and purchasing insurance under the health care law enacted in 2010."  They voted largely along Party lines, with Democrats in the majority.

1 comment:

  1. As a woman and a Catholic and a Jew, I would like it on record that I am not offended by the Kosher Deli story.