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Posts Tagged ‘aclu’

Polluters of the world! If you’re looking for a religious excuse to dump untreated sewage onto your neighbors’ properties, look no farther than the Swartzentruber Amish:

The septic fight began in late 2006 when the executive director of the Cambria County Sewage Enforcement Agency, Deborah Sedlmeyer, found that human waste at the schoolhouse, where 18 children were taught, was being collected in a 50-gallon metal drum under an outhouse

“It was overrunning the barrels,” Ms. Sedlmeyer said, and it was being dumped, untreated, onto nearby fields.

The Swartzentrubers agreed to improve the outhouses, adding a larger, 250-gallon holding tank and treating the waste with lime.

But they refused to follow state law, which called for installing a 5,000-gallon precast concrete tank and allowing someone certified by the state to use an electronic meter to test the waste’s chemical content.

The elders had determined that use of a precast tank was too modern — they want to make the vat themselves — as was the electronic meter and the requirement that they obtain certification to do the testing.

Perhaps, though, their refusal to use the color orange makes them a bit too anti-modern for your tastes. In which case why not start your own Amish sect? You’ll still get the ACLU on your side, and you can decide which laws are “too modern” and which ones aren’t.

For instance, if I were to start my own Amish sect (the “Rolltreppenbenutzungshinweise Amish”), we would probably decide that the following laws were “too modern”:

We’d start a farm somewhere in Pennsylvania, grow weed, drive as fast as we want, keep our income, circumvent DRM, single-handedly finance fringe political candidates, and not piss away a trillion dollars of our neighbors money.

That sounds kind of good, actually! Who’s in?

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The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution provides (among other things) the right of those accused of crimes to confront their accusers in court.

However, there are some groups who feel that this protection is too broad. The (unfortunately-named) anti-civil-liberties group American Civil Liberties Union is suggesting that the confrontation clause should not apply, for example, when the accuser has a “sincerely held [religious] belief” that precludes him or her from confronting the accused:

The matter stems from a 2006 small-claims lawsuit in Hamtramck, Michigan, when a district judge told Ginnah Muhammad that she couldn’t testify unless she removed her veil.

Muhammad wore a niqab, – a scarf and veil to cover her face and head except for her eyes – to 31st district judge Paul Paruk’s courtroom on 11 October. She was contesting a $2,750 (£1800) repair bill from a car rental company after thieves broke into a vehicle she was using.

Paruk said he needed to see Muhammad’s face to gauge her truthfulness. Muhammad did not remove the veil and lost the case.

But why should the ACLU stop with the Sixth Amendment? Here are some suggestions for their future fights against civil liberties:

  • The US Congress shall make no law infringing the freedom of speech, except when the speech conflicts with a “sincerely held belief.”
  • The US Congress shall make no law infringing the freedom of the press, except when the speech conflicts with a “sincerely held belief.”
  • The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people, unless the others conflict with a “sincerely held belief.”
  • Slavery shall not exist in the United States, except for those people with “sincerely held beliefs” mandating it.
  • The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, except from those with “sincerely held beliefs” opposed to taxation.

Actually, the last doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. Get cracking, ACLU!

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