Measured Against Reality

Friday, November 16, 2007

Picking our battles #2

I had previously mentioned the crosses in Utah, and it looks like I was right. This suit sounds pretty frivolous to me, although arguing that a cross is a secular symbol is pretty dumb, saying they should be taken down is also dumb.

I wish I could say to the plaintiffs, "Look, they're not proselytizing, they're not even erected with government money. And unless you guys have been turned down for trying to erect something, there's no evidence of preferential treatment. Who cares?"

The problem is that I'm having a lot of trouble seeing any differences between this and previous cases, like the Mount Soledad cross or the 10 Commandments in the courthouse case. But I think that the closest one is the 10 Commandment statue in Austin, Van Orden v. Perry, where the Supreme Court found a statue of the 10 Commandments on the grounds of the capitol to be legal. The rationale was that it had both a religious and secular purpose.

By that logic I think these crosses would stand, but the Mt Soledad case would give the opposite opinion (though I don't think that ever reached the Supreme Court).

In any event, I still think that, as a largely-despised minority, atheists should pick our battles. If we fight every stupid incursion of religion into society, we'll look bad and set precedents that might actually work against us. Don't get me wrong, we need to fight the big battles, but a dozen crosses on Utah's highways are not a big deal. Frankly, the plaintiff's money would be much better spent somewhere else, either in a battle that's already ongoing (like Mt Soledad), or somewhere that the intrusion of religion into the public square is, you know, dangerous.

But that's just me, apparently these guys disagree. Good luck to them, but I seriously doubt they'll win. If they do it'll just get appealed, it seems like Utah would have pretty conservative judges unlikely to be sympathetic, and I doubt this Supreme Court (if it got that far) would find them unconstitutional.

And I still stand by my previous statements about the idiocy of getting offended over trivial or minor things, especially something like these crosses. It's just an insane overreaction, and I'll never understand it.

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