Jewish World Review Oct. 4, 2002 / 28 Tishrei, 5763
A Few Thoughts On The News
- As I write this, a pair of killers is loose in the Washington, DC area who shot and killed at least five people in 16 hours, apparently at random, on the street. The incidents are part of a spree: other victims include a man pumping gas, a fellow riding a lawn mower, and an individual in the parking lot of a nursing home. Police are searching for a white van or panel truck, and are now pulling over any vehicle even close to fitting the description. So… if it's okay to profile vans because of the way they look, how come it's not okay to profile people getting on an airplane? (Let me guess: the ACLU is opposed to pulling over vans, too. Right?)
- If these two turn out to be 9/11-related terrorists, will the government finally get serious about rooting out al-Qaeda cells in America, and stop giving a veto to the politically correct crowd that says no TIPS program, no airport screening based on appearance, and no pre-emptive action allowed?
- The law exempts from taxation most non-profit groups such as churches; one of the conditions on this benefit is that the group must refrain from participating in partisan politics. Earlier this week, Congress considered carving out an exception for churches so that pastors and others may endorse or reject candidates for office, or offer their pulpits to candidates. It sounds like a significant change, but it's not really a change at all.
The rule has rarely been enforced. Remember Al Gore speaking in black churches in the 2000 election? Remember Bill Clinton doing the same thing? Remember the "plate passing" and the appeals against Republicans? Has Jesse Jackson ever appeared in a church and not talked down George W. Bush? For decades, the IRS has been too cowed to do much of anything about it. Such is the stranglehold in which political correctness hold America, right up through the government itself. I'm sure Mr. Jackson, Mr. Gore, et al heard this news from Congress and... yawned. And why not? The practice's illegality hasn't stopped them so far.
- Students at San Mateo (California) High School have formed a club devoted to Satanism. While adults are free to study whatever they wish, high school students who are minors (and who therefore have limited legal responsibilities, rights, and financial obligations) shouldn't be welcome to follow wherever whim leads them. Some ideas require more sophistication to analyze and comprehend than children have -- if not, what's the point of parenting in the first place? It is sad to see otherwise brilliant defenders of the First Amendment failing to appreciate both the lack of discretion that children have, and the counsel that they require. All ideas are not equally valuable, and some of the worst are too seductive to allow children to be exposed to them.
- Care to see judicial activism in its most obvious form? The New Jersey Supreme Court this week allowed that state's Democratic party to replace Senator Robert Torricellis's name on the ballot with someone else. (Torricelli quit the race after an ethics scandal drove him down 14 points behind his Republican opponent just five weeks before the election.) The law is very clear: if a candidate drops out 51 days or more before an election date, he may be replaced on the ballot. Torricelli missed the cut-off by about two weeks. Yet the Supreme Court of that state, in a decision that failed to include even a single passage from the law in question, said that the cut-off date in the law doesn't matter. What matters, they wrote, is getting a replacement candidate on the ballot to support the "two-party system." There is simply no way that a responsible judge can re-interpret a statute by marking through a numeric rule explicitly defined by the legislature. The judges didn't say the rule was unconstitutional or wrong, just inconvenient. The appeal is on its way to the Supreme Court and if they vote on it, the tally will likely be 6-3 to overturn. This is worth watching, as it is a case whose outcome is far more important than a New Jersey Senate seat or even control of the Senate itself. This is about whether or not we believe that the law means, literally, what the words (and in this case, numbers) say.
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JWR contributor Michael Long is a a director of the White House Writers Group. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Michael Long