Contentious Topics 101

I was pretty impressed by the recent discussions we've seen here, where folks managed to debate a pretty heated issue without resorting to name calling and finger pointing. At the risk of ruining that harmony, I'm interested in what people think, logically, about other "hot-button' issues. I think the war debate has pretty much been beaten into the ground, despite our discussion apparently not saving or even changing in an appreciable way, the world, so here's a new topic.

On March 10, after a Federal Appeals court refused to hear arguments against a previous ruling by the 9th Circuit Court, nine states will be forced to ban the Pledge of Allegiance, citing that the words 'under God' constitute a governmental endorsement of religion. At a time when patriotism, some genuine most not, is running high, this is an interesting counter to a fervent Americanism in the US. What do you think of the decision? Is it defensible, appropriate, or a beacon of sanity in an insane world? For those of you in other countries, what's your take on it?

Discuss!

This actually makes me pretty sad. As long as children are not forced to recite the pledge against their will, or their parents will/religion/philosophy then the act of the pledge would seem to me to be a good and ultimately harmless thing for grade schools. I''m not insensitive to the arguments against it but it''s just my feeling that America seems a little smaller and sadder without it.

I have no problem with the Pledge of Allegiance, though that ""One nation under god."" line has always seemed kind of odd to me because of that whole seperation of Church and State. So do those 9 states have to stop using US currency then?

In my mind, it''s technically correct to remove the words... in theory. However, in the ""real world"", I should think that there are more important issues with which to be worried. So, yes, it''s correct, but no, don''t spend taxpayer time/money on it. Save it for a slow news day.

In my mind, it''s technically correct to remove the words... in theory

My thought''s exactly.

This isn''t the kind of thing a kid even thinks about. Really seems kind of silly, to me, for anyone to get their panties in a bunch over this, one way or the other.

Now if you want a heated discussion, we could bring up the abortion issue......

Good topic.

It seems we spend waaaay to much time making sure everybody ""feels ok"", and doesn''t ""get their feelings hurt"". We have become a society of over sensitive wimps.

In regards to the ""Under God"" part of the pledge: If you don''t like it, learn to deal with it, or better yet skip that part of the pledge. Hell there are tons of things in life I hate and don''t agree with, but I understand this is just a part of life and me bitching doesn''t make it any better. Stand up for what you believe in, but learn to choose your battles and you''ll be a lot happier.

Spend your time and money on a worth while charity or something like that.

I say toughen up people!

Things like this make me think our courts have nothing better to do. I mean, I understand both side of the argument, but there are far better things to worry about then wether or not kids in school say the pledge of allegiance. Personally, I think forcing children to (in essence) swear an oath is a little above their heads.

Well, here''s what I think is funny:

Mexico is like 95% catholic. However, decades ago, it was decided that the government and education would be totally religion-less, state and church should never be connected.

Why does the US, who have probably the largest population of non religious people in the world, mention God in an important government document?

As I see it, the line should be erased, people should accept it, and move on.

"Mex" wrote:

Well, here''s what I think is funny:

Mexico is like 95% catholic. However, decades ago, it was decided that the government and education would be totally religion-less, state and church should never be connected.

Why does the US, who have probably the largest population of non religious people in the world, mention God in an important government document?

As I see it, the line should be erased, people should accept it, and move on.

The United States is very religious, it''s like 98% of people in the country believe that there is a god. I''m not sure how ""religious"" we are...

About the Pledge: I think the words ""Under God"" should be removed. They were only added to show that we weren''t like those godless commies.

I don''t think kids should say the pledge until they understand what it means.

""In God We Trust"" has been challenged in court before. In 1996 a group of people from Colorado representing the ""Freedom From Religion Foundation"" challenged the motto in court. The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their lawsuit saying that the appearance of the motto on currency does not violate the constitutional guidelines of separation of church and state. When the group appealed to the Supreme Court, the court refused to hear the case without commenting. (Gaylor v. The United States of America)

""In God We Trust"" has been challenged in court multiple times before and has always survived. In my opinion, it will survive for many more years because there will likely never be a Supreme Court liberal enough to strike it down.

As for the case that appeared in the 9th Circuit Court, I don''t understand why the Justices decided as they did.
According to the Lemon Test, to be constitutional:
1. A law must have a secular purpose.
2. The laws primary effect must not be to advance or inhibit a religion.
3. A law must not entangle the government excessively with religion.

In my opinion, the Pledge does none of these. The primary purpose of the Pledge is to inspire patriotism. The Pledges primary effect neither advances, nor inhibits religion. The Pledge does not entangle the government with religion.

Just to inform you, I''m an Undergraduate Political-Science major at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. I plan on attending law school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

I really don''t see why banning is the first option the courts turn to. In my school, we aren''t forced to say the pledge as it is written, we can modify it however we please. I cut out the ""under God"" part and am just fine with it. My chemistry teacher has a quite modified version that cuts out ""to the flag"" and adds ""with liberty, justice and equality for all"" at the end. It''s not like the Pledge is some kind of tribal chant that can not be altered, it is a personal expression of each person. If you don''t like a part of the pledge, don''t say it, or cahnge it to something more acceptable. If you think the whole thing is a load of crap, then fine, don''t say any of it. To each his own I say; after all, isn''t America supposedly based on the freedom of speech?

"asands2" wrote:

I really don''t see why banning is the first option the courts turn to. In my school, we aren''t forced to say the pledge as it is written, we can modify it however we please. I cut out the ""under God"" part and am just fine with it. My chemistry teacher has a quite modified version that cuts out ""to the flag"" and adds ""with liberty, justice and equality for all"" at the end. It''s not like the Pledge is some kind of tribal chant that can not be altered, it is a personal expression of each person. If you don''t like a part of the pledge, don''t say it, or cahnge it to something more acceptable. If you think the whole thing is a load of crap, then fine, don''t say any of it. To each his own I say; after all, isn''t America supposedly based on the freedom of speech?

Only if that speech doesn''t offend someone.

Only if that speech doesn''t offend someone.

Not true. Protected speech is allowed to offend people. One of the only limits on free speech is that it must not actively encourage violence. Also, speech must not present a ""clear and present danger"" to national security. Therefore, sharing government secrets or telling people how they can bomb the White House is not protected. These are not the only limits, but are are some of the most important.

Only if that speech doesn''t offend someone.

LOL. Yeesh, scoli, look up the amendment that covers sarcasm, because you clearly missed it.

No, I saw the sarcasm, but I also saw the chance to showcase my astounding intellect.

Inable to recognize sarcasm or not, scoli presents us with an excellent summary of which speech is allowed in the US and I think it applies to the general civilised world too.

It seems we spend waaaay to much time making sure everybody ""feels ok"", and doesn''t ""get their feelings hurt"". We have become a society of over sensitive wimps.

Thats a bit short-sighted there, Johnson. Most of the euphemisms you are, obviously, referring to were introduced with good reason. It prevents the _inherent_ stereotyping by use of bigoted words, expressions etc.
You arent''f forced to use euphemisms, however, most ""oversensitive"" words that have been introduced the last couple of years are mearly an alternative that provides us with ways of unbiased and fair communication.

I''m too damn lazy to look it up, but wasn''t this the bit they added during the Cold War years as a direct response to communism? Or am I thinking of something else?

I''d agree it should be removed. The line violates the seperation of church v. state. We''ve got enough neo-religious political stuff in plenty of other areas; just yank the damn line and be done with it.

I understand the whole PC debate- I live in one of the most PC-nazi infested urban areas in the entire country. And yet, is it really so bad to be strict, as a society, about this kind of thing? Seems to me any community needs some basic rules to function. Freedom of expression is vital; but being required to say ""under god"" pretty clearly crosses the freedom of belief line for some folks....

I''m starting a movement to remove ""In God We Trust"" from our currency. In the mean time, please send all of your money to me, I accept Paypal, and I will ""dispose"" of it properly.

I don''t know about everyone but in my Junior High, we were forced to say it daily at 8:00am... and felt like a brain wash, or some other evil intention... So basically I agree that not only ""Under God"" should be removed, but we should not make it a requirement for children to say it...

I have nothing against Pledge of Allegiance, but I don''t like to be forced into this Patriotism gig!

...where folks managed to debate a pretty heated issue without resorting to name calling and finger pointing.

I''m not going to debate the Pledge of Allegiance, as I know little about it but I have to comment on how true the above statement is especially in comparison to how bad my other favourite gamesites forum has become. I never joined Evilavatars forums despite reading the for the last 4 or 5 years but over the last year the site has become packed with trolls and other ignorant types. it''s depressed me as there are some good debaters and good people on the forum (some of which are also members here) but it''s just degenerated so badly, I had to laugh at the Metallica thread that went on there. It started out as people just expressing an opinion and very quickly deteriorated into a complete flamewar with 3leet sp34k dominating. This would have been funnier had it not been so sad. Sad that some people just can''t take their it that others might not agree with their point of view. This is why I love this site and it''s forum, long may it continue.

Same here kegboy. It''s rather depressing, I used to love reading those forums, but they really have...degenerated. What keeps something like that from happening? Admins/moderation? A ''clued in'' posting community? Being somewhat small and ''under the radar'', so to speak?

Or is it just a natural process? (ugh!)

How about a mandatory entrance exam to become a member? Register an IQ of under 110 and you are automatically banz0red.

"asands2" wrote:

How about a mandatory entrance exam to become a member? Register an IQ of under 110 and you are automatically banz0red.

I don''t think that the IQ test will help to save the forums from some people personalities....

As long as there''s no IQ test for the admins, we should remain stable.

I have an easier idea. The admins can just look for people who post words such as, and I qoute ""banz0red"" Just thought that was funny nothing personal.

Seriously though. I think the main problem with sites is that they get to caught up with the numbers game and would rather have more people visit over quality. I hope that this doesn''t happen here and the admins are not afraid to take care of the problem people if they ever decide to show up and start posting.

the evil thing is once your site gets known you somehow attract flamers. I do not know what voodoo magic is behind that, but once your site hits a certain amount of regular users there suddenly pop up a whole slew of these people ruining any decent discussion. Thankfully they have not yet found this place :).

On the topic: It surprises me a bit that this is really an issue for you in the US? I remember we had a similar case here where some parents wanted bavarian schools to remove the holy crosses from the classrooms, because they felt offended by them. Personally I doubt I can even remember if there was a cross in my classroom or not, so this certainly did not have any impact on my life :). These issues (pledge,cross) always seem to revolve about a group of parents that has way too much time on their hands. Just my €0.02

What keeps something like that from happening? Admins/moderation? A ''clued in'' posting community? Being somewhat small and ''under the radar'', so to speak?

You want to hear my theory? The Ridiculous threads that started about the time of the launch of the newest round of consoles. Sure, they were still articles for the New Yorker compared to the state of the forums now, but thats where the trolls started. Suddenly usually intelligent posters would let the arguments spill into threads that had little to do with console comparison. Someone would almost always bait a console thread to start an argument, and several people would always fall for it. This just encouraged people to bait, after all they were getting a rise out of people about it. It started out all good fun, then just snowballed. The arguing almost got legendary in scope, and that drew the attention of the trolls. You create an environment that encourages trolling and sooner or later youre going to attract people who troll.

That and alot of the people who are looking for intelligent discussion just up and moved here, sick of all the baiting and stupid console threads.

Im suprised the admins on that other site haven''t been banning assholes like crazy.

I''d agree with that theory, Pyroman. That period did coincide with the downhill slide on a few different mboards I used to frequent.

On the topic: It surprises me a bit that this is really an issue for you in the US?

I think there''s a wide-ranging ''cultural shift'' going on in american society right now over the entire spectrum of religious issues. Our country seems to be trying to figure out just what ''seperation of church and state'' really means. Bush''s administration is clearly very heavily and publicly christian/devout, and a significant chunk of the citizenry agree with his desire to bring some kind of ''religious morality'' back into the mainstream. His public stance on these issues pretty much cranks the intensity of the entire debate up a dozen notches.

And just for the record..no, I don''t care for Bush or his administration. The Cold War is over, damnit, why are these people in power again? And keep your religion out of my governance, thank you.

I didn''t like Clinton, either. Most likely, he should have been impeached, but don''t qoute me on it.

You could most definately file me under ''average US citizen disgusted and disenchanted with his representation''.

And just for the record..no, I don''t care for Bush or his administration. The Cold War is over, damnit, why are these people in power again? And keep your religion out of my governance, thank you.

Clinton used more religious talk (or equal to) than Bush, early in Clinton''s tenure. There is a long history of American Presidents using religion in their speeches, etc.

For the record, I used the word ""banz0red"" in pure irony. If I was really going for the gold I would have substitued numbers for most of the letters.