It is one of the great pillars of American democracy that ignoramuses and douchebags are able to propose and place before the people for a vote new laws which are either stupid, awful or in some cases merely ridiculous. Then the people, perhaps first agreeing to the proposition, see through the nonsense and vote the measure down, thus vindicating the great, silent non-jackass majority and reconfirming the virtuous cycle of democratic self-government.
Of course, the system does not always work perfectly.
Or rather the first part works better than the second. But here and there, you see a case like this one that is both comical and inspiring and redeems our confidence that the long arc of the moral universe bends toward wisdom rather than derp.
Just after discussing the rise of constitutional fishing movement, I was alerted to the fact that adding fishing and hunting as rights enshrined in the constitution was getting a vote in Alabama as well as Mississippi. And if that weren’t enough, Alabamians were also getting a chance to vote on barring the imposition of Sharia law in their state.
State Senator Gerald Allen
The ballot initiative is the work of Eric Johnston of the Southeast Law Institute and state Sen. Gerald Allen (R – No Shit). An earlier amendment proposed by Allen to keep Sharia out of Alabama never got to the ballot because it explicitly evoked Sharia law and was considered demonstrably unconstitutional. This latest effort is more carefully written.
Where this gets interesting though is that quite a few of the people who you might think would be supporting this effort – conservative evangelicals – are standing up and saying, ‘We know you’re trying to appeal to people us and get us jazzed up about the threat to Christianity. But, no, this is a stupid idea and we’d like you to please go home.’
Dr. Randy Brinson
Topping the list is Dr. Randy Brinson, President of the Alabama Christian Coalition. “I understand the sentiment behind this, but Sharia law is not going to be implemented in Alabama, it just isn’t,” Brinson tells The Birmingham News. “And this would just be another stigma for Alabama, another way of saying to other countries: ‘We don’t respect your laws.'”
“This is a tremendous waste of effort. It’s is a waste of time and it costs money,” Brinson said Thursday morning, talking with AL.com between seeing patients at his medical practice in Montgomery. “This just creates a whole new headache for people involved in foreign adoptions or who get married in another country. My frustration is that people — good people — get behind something like this just because they want to score political points with the Christian community. But it’s redundant – you don’t need to amend the constitution to address these issues. I just don’t think they thought through this particular thing.”
From a different part of the city’s political, religious and racial firmament there’s the Greater Birmingham Ministries, “a multi-faith, multi-racial organization that provides emergency services for people in need and engages the poor and the non-poor in systemic change efforts to build a strong, supportive, engaged community and pursue a more just society for all people.” The GBM has joined with the state Christian Coalition to oppose the Amendment One, the official name of the Johnston-Allen idiot law.
Scott Douglas, Executive Director of the GBM says “This could simply incite religious intolerance and would interpose courts between faithful people their God. This could clog our courts with frivolous lawsuits that would have the protection of this constitutional amendment. Besides, they say they want to protect against ‘foreign law’? I think, if they check back, Christianity was not founded in Alabama.”
It’s inspiring to see people across the political spectrum, from different races, different faiths standing up and simply saying that this is ugly and stupid. We’ll see what happens on Tuesday.