So it was the Bear of ecosystem fame who stirred the Amish Applebutter pot. OK.
Let’s look at his contentions….
….the idea is to create a legal right to avoid jury duty for a special segment of the population who have a certain set of religious beliefs that the government has decided are deserving of protection not given to any other religious beliefs. (Paging the establishment clause! Establishment clause, please call your office…)
Yes, I think this is a horrible idea. The special nature of jury duty essentially requires voluntary participation: unlike paying taxes, you can’t really force a person to serve on a jury and get the result you were looking for. So I understand if judges have to exempt individual Amish from jury service — I don’t like it, but I accept it. But elevating that practice to law is both unnecessary and a disasterous precedent.
Being a citizen of the United States should mean the exact same thing to anyone, regardless of race or religion. That means every citizen should have the same rights, and the same responsibilities.
In an ideal world, the Amish would be deprived of the right to trial-by-jury, to balance their refusal to participate in providing that same right to their fellow citizens. But sacrificing the right to vote will do, I suppose.
Carve out a special exemption for the Amish to refuse this responsibility of citizenship, and why shouldn’t we offer every religious group the legal right to pick and choose the parts of our system that they like and dislike?
The rules are consistent for a reason, and with all due respect to the Amish, they should stay that way…
The whole point of religious freedom is that people can practice according to their conscience. That is the whole point. Sometimes they voluntarily lose rights and privileges, but that is their choice. It is the government that is restricted from enjoining particular ways of religion, not forcing people to enjoy their privileges.
Lots of people don’t vote. And it has nothing to do with their religion. usually anarchists don’t vote…maybe they don’t serve on juries and maybe they do, I don’t personally know….. but why persecute the Amish on this?
The greater criticism, historically, has been that the Amish don’t believe in war and thus resist serving in the military. That was a major contention for their fellow Americans during wartimes that included drafts. There are ways and manners that people who hold such beliefs conscientiously can fulfill them and also serve their nation. Conscientious Objection has historical precedence. It is part and parcel of the freedom to practice ones religion. And more, but that is the application pertinent here. There are variations on how to fulfill responsibilities to ones community.
What I don’t get is why anyone would need to carve out a special exemption for jury duty. The Bill of Rights ought to cover that. Except for the fact that it was judicially gutted pertaining to religious practice. Oh yeah,forgot that. Maybe that is why they feel the need for a law….
Practially speaking, the courts would not want guaranteed hung juries . Those who are bound by their conscience to not pass judgement on their fellow man, and believe they shouldn’t take many of the common issues to court… how will you force them to verbalize a judgement? What ideal of freedom would even consider that? Is this supposed to be “part of the rules”? and why would this -in any stretch of the imagination- serve as ground to deny them right to trial by jury? How did the Bear extrapolate that one? We recognize rights, and the duty of the government is to uphold the availability of those rights. Not to force anything down anyones throat. The Miranda rights are made known, by law, but the citizen can waive them. That is also a right.
You don’t have to vote. You can testify against yourself. You can refuse to go to war. You can protest. You can forego protest. And you can take your knocks for doing so… but ideas of “rules” – unspoken and vague “rules” of being American? Pardon me, I take issue with you… issue that you are betraying the very spirit of the freedoms you say you uphold.
“Being a citizen of the United States should mean the exact same thing to anyone, regardless of race or religion.”
It doesn’t mean that you have to regard each conviction of conscience the same way. There are standards, but you cannot require all the rules and regulations to apply across the board in all the same ways nationwide. You would soon clear away all State variations in that way, the same as you think to clear away individual variations.
He said it himself when he said this,”The special nature of jury duty essentially requires voluntary participation: unlike paying taxes, you can’t really force a person to serve on a jury and get the result you were looking for.”
And then goes on to grouse about a special law. Well, I think this is where making law by judicial activism is going to prove troublesome. Every time Americans seek to call upon their rights to practice religion, it is going to find its way into the legislating process. A morass indeed, and giving whole new meaning to the discussion on “legislating morality”.
And finally….Bear said this:”This is the exact same issue that we face with recent immigrants to America, and which Europe faces with increasing pockets of Muslim immigrants who refuse to assimilate.”
It is not the same issue at all. It has no historical correlation with that sort of assimilation. The Amish do not identify with any other nation – they try to abide by the laws of the land and they seek to live and work in harmony with their fellow Americans, as much as any of us commonly do. The reason we are having difficulties with new immigrants assimilating has more to do with our obtuse and fractured view of what it means to be American in a modern sense. It is the same crisis that affects the Church. There is no consensus on the basic definitions and thus highly individualized views are put forth as official. Some so restricted and some some so loose as to be useless.
The Amish speak English in an English speaking land. They are educated in the basics of the history and the civics…even if they don’t subscribe to all the privileges. They have gone through much of said history with the rest of us, some for more generations than many of us. They have proved themselves benign.
It is not the same as Muslim immigrants, who have different needs, desires, and challenges than many other types of immigrants.
The challenge for all of us is to protect the individual even as we cultivate the whole in our society. As always.
But it would help if we got on the same page as to what delinates the rights and privileges and how to do that… ourselves.
And as I said concerning ‘relapsed catholic’, that means stowing away the personal prejudices that we may rationally view the real issues, and discern the real dangers that are at hand.
Since I sliced my bit o’ flesh off the Bear, I ought to say I do appreciate the hard work and benefit that he provides with the ecosystem for the blogsphere.
I wouldn’t want anyone to think I don’t appreciate him – just not on this post/issue.