Monday, December 27, 2010

Calling the Kettle Black

This is not the first of its kind, or the last of its kind. I have read several cases from several jurisdictions that are unfortunately similar.

I come across these cases because I'm in the middle of writing a piece that reviews every United States Court of Appeals' line of decisions that interpret "reasonable accommodation" from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Reasonable Accommodation specifically comes into play when an employer has discriminated against an employee on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Peterson v. Hewlett-Packard Co., comes from the 9th Circuit. 358 F.3d 599 (9th Cir. 2004). The plaintiff, Richard Peterson, sued Hewlett-Packard for "terminating him on account of his religious views and that HP failed to accommodate his religious beliefs." Id. at 601. Another case of big corporation beating up on the little guy, right? Not so much . . .

The reason that Peterson was fired was because of insubordination. Id. at 602. Hewlett-Packard began a diversity campaign by hanging posters all over the workplace. Id. at 601. One in particular showed an employee above the caption, "Black," "Blonde," "Old," "Gay," or "Hispanic." Id.

Now, Mr. Peterson describes himself as a "devout Christian," Id. As a devout Christian, Mr. Peterson sought to expose evil when confronted. Id. He saw these posters as confronting his Biblical beliefs; the one that read "Gay" in particular. Subsequently, he posted scriptures over the posters. One reading from II Corinthians, one from Isaiah, and one from the dreaded Leviticus passage . . . dun dun dun . . . ! Of course, these scriptures all relate to homosexuality being a sin and therefore warrantying condemnation (scripturally, God's condemnation at judgment, not Mr. Peterson's interpretation of man's condemnation from 9-5).

According to Mr. Peterson's own testimony, these posters were "intended to be hurtful." Id. at 602. When Hewlett-Packard attempted to allowe Mr. Peterson to remove the posters he declined and HP gave him the ol' boot to the streets. And then Mr. Peterson sued based on religious discrimination . . . And that's the Pot calling the Kettle black . . . or at least gay.

I wonder what Jesus would say about such things . . . Well I'm glad you asked, because I'm sure he did say something about how to treat other people. I think at one point, he may have said, "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35. He also said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Matthew 5:6. He instructed, "Love your enemies . . ." Matthew 5:43.

Paul, the most prolific New Testament writer stated, "Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:10. So now I can ask, without being judgmental, "What was this Peterson clown thinking?" I know it's easy to get caught in the moment and act VERY un-Christian. But, making a stand against a person in the name of Christ because they are "sinners" is like an illiterate in a library. It's not productive.

All groups can, and should, make stands against ideologies that they don't believe in. Debate is one of the great things in which Truth is found. However, people should not use discrimination, hate, or slurs to propagate their positions. After all, the balance between loving people and hating people really is an easy one to strike. LOVE PEOPLE! That is, if you're a devout Christian. And do celebrate diversity, it could be another opportunity to "fulfill the law."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Social Injustice

Innocent until proven guilty. And if proven guilty, not punished as if you were innocent. At least if you are a Hollywood celebrity.

Why is there such a divergence between justice for celebrities and the rest of us? And then further divergence for black male athletes . . .

A few examples:
1) Lindsay Lohan has been in court for violating probation, drug charges, and a DUI. She was actually sentenced to ninety days in prison followed by a three month rehabilitation program. She did actually go to jail . . . for FOURTEEN DAYS! Then she went to her three month rehab program . . . for TWENTY-THREE days! And now she is back on the scene (at least she was at the Dream Center in LA the other day, according to her Twitter page).

2) Paris Hilton was arrested for cocaine possession. She was arrested although she said it wasn't hers, she didn't know it was there, and that it was gum. She plead guilty to cocaine possession, obstructing an officer, and paid her $2,000 fine. She is supposed to complete 200 hours of community service and is on a one year suspended sentence. However, the fine is less than the purse she carries. So really, if the average woman gets arrested for cocaine possession, they should be fined around $100 and go on their way . . .

3) Charlie Sheen has been in the news several times for domestic abuse, drug abuse, and other things. His latest debacle includes admitting to cocaine use while causing $7,000 worth of damage to a hotel room. Oh, and the police found a woman locked in the hotel bathroom. His punishment? Taken to a hospital for observation and released. The case was dropped by NYPD.

(I won't take the space to discuss the Ben Rothlisberger stunt but the justice system turned its blind eye while the Steelers are exacting punishment . . .)

What do these instances tell us? I don't know, what do you think this tells American society? Does it tell us to get rich and famous to circumvent the law? Does it tell us idolize these people further for their ability to rise above the law? Does it tell us that the rest of us are bad enough for punishment and escape the mercy of forgiveness?

Take a look at the link provided: It is a list of mostly black athletes that have been convicted and serve jail sentences. The charges include assault and trying to use a cell phone to set up a drug deal. (Another question for another day is, "Are black athletes punished more harshly because the crimes are more violent?)

I think the our justice system fails everyone in American when the divergence between social, financial, and racial classes is marked and obvious. It is a sad commentary on the obsessions of America

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Future of Disbelief

I wonder why it seems that our culture is slower to believe. Is it because our lack of knowledge and learning, or because we are increasing our knowledge through mediums like the internet and access to formal education. You be the judge.

This statement was made during a recent exchange between friends on a social network, "There was NO Jesus, unless you believe in fairy tales that is." This could be a simple lack of precision, but I do think that it is more than that. It reminded me of this:
When I was in history class in high school, we were discussing the Middle East and its culture, its religions, etc. One student raised his hand and said (and it has been a long time so this isn't a perfect quotation) , "You can't teach me that Jesus lived, and I don't believe that he did." To this the teacher retorted, "Jesus was an historical figure, based on historical fact. But you do not have to believe his claims, that he was God and man, and the Savior of the world."
As an aside: " . . .unless you believe in fairy tales that is," is a very interesting idea tacked on to "There was NO Jesus." I say this because there is SO much nonsense that people believe that has no logical merit in their search for meaning. For instance, Nietzsche's idea of "Nothing matters, and so what if it does" nihilistic approach is almost swallowed whole by those with lofty desires to be seen as academic and mentally forward.

However, I've never thought it  lofty or academic to believe in an illogical assumption for the sake of sounding intelligent. If there is no objective morality, then it cannot matter what anyone does, whether it is Jesus claiming he's a god, or Timothy McVeigh killing 168 innocent people in domestic terrorism, or Hitler gassing six million Jews. If you think ANY one of these events is wrong, then you must concede that you believe in objective morality. Unless you want to believe that you alone set the boundaries of morality. Even in that case you must believe in objective morality and that you decide its objectivity.

So is, "There is NO Jesus . . ." simply an assertion of the desire to believe that Jesus is not our Savior, an assertion of poor education, or an assertion of the nonsense that our culture has been swallowing whole, gizzards included? Like I stated in my last post, I'm a skeptic. But I'm a skeptic for untruths and poor reasoning. I believe truth when, and if, I can ascertain it. And if an idea points to nowhere, and comes from the same, I cannot believe it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Skepticism: The Glass is Half Real

I'm a skeptic. I just am. It's hard for me to hear a statement and believe it hook, line, and sinker (maybe it's because I've never really fished). I want evidence of the fact asserted. I want concrete findings.

I'm going to relay an example by telling of a message I was told of another's message. So there will be a loss of communication and probably a loss in the original speaker's theme. However, it is a good example.

I was told that a talk show host had a Rabbi on the show. They were discussing the Tower of Babel and the implications for today's society. The Rabbi was explaining the Hebrew practices for establishing monuments to God through the compiling of stones. Stones were used as representations of people because every stone is different, like every person. The Tower of Babel was constructed with uniform bricks made by Nimrod. These bricks were designed to be exactly the same. The Rabbi posited that the Tower of Babel was a work of uniformity between the people and the use of uniform bricks was significant in that process. At this point, I'm still with the speaker in tacit acquiescence.

The analogy was made that our current society is similar to that of Babylon. We, like those building the Tower of Babel, are trying to be more alike in our thinking and living. We are trying to forego our personal differences in an attempt to live in harmony.

Then the Hebrew root of the word "mortar" was described. It means "materialism." It was stated that materialism is holding our society together. So, the assertion was that the story of the Tower of Babel is unbelievably similar to today's society in that we are becoming more uniform and being held together by materialism. And that the Bible is amazingly accurate in its portrayal of the United States of America in 2010 through a story written about the origins of different languages. Of course, all of these ideas must follow the presumption that the Bible has centered its themes on the United States and that the US will be the focal point in history. That is doubtful. If one considers the way the Bible is laid out in form and focus, it seems that the focal point in history is the Nation of Israel and God's people: The Jews.

But of course, that's just one skeptic's opinion.