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Monday, January 23, 2012

RAGE and RARE: A proposal for two new laws

In recent days I have been mulling over a notion for two related bits of possible legislation, and I would like to submit them for discussion.

It seems to me that there are some people in this land who refuse to acknowledge the right of others to seek after and call out to God as best they can, in sincere and dignified manner. I do not believe that the Founding Fathers possibly had "freedom of speech" or "freedom of expression" in mind when such individuals take drastic action to interfere with and even deprive their fellow citizens of coming together for purposes of solace and worship. In more polite days, such individuals would have been run out of town on a rail, if not outright shot for the publick good. But since the constabulary frowns on that sort of thing lately...

First, I would like to suggest the Racketeering Against Grieving Expression Act, or the RAGE Act for short.

Per this law, those convicted of conspiring among themselves to deprive others of the right to mourn in peace during funeral services would serve a mandatory sentence of one year in prison. Second-time convictions and subsequent convictions would result in two-year prison sentences, accumulative.

Secondly, I would suggest the Racketeering Against Religious Expression Act. It could also be called the RARE Act.

Similar to RAGE, RARE would make it an imprisoning offense for conspiracy to deprive others of the right to peaceful religious worship.

Every person has the right to seek God as best he or she understands Him.. But that right ends where the right of others to do the same begins.

As with RAGE, RARE offenders would serve one year in prison for the first conviction, and two years for all subsequent convictions, also cumulative.

RAGE and RARE are meant to safeguard the rights of all to speech and expression. Yes, even the rights of the idiots at Westboro Baptist Church (and others who I don't care to mention by name). But they also acknowledge that everyone else has the same rights too... and it shouldn't take too much common sense to know when to respect those.



Anonymous said...

Some people around here would have built up life imprisonment with RARE!

Scott Bradford said...

I certainly approve of the notion/intent behind these proposals... but I am the type to almost always err on the side of free speech.

I can't stand those Westboro Baptist Church folks, but as long as they don't block access to funerals or events, don't set foot on private property without permission, and don't block public streets and rights-of-way...well, then then let 'em protest.

Of course there are some gray areas that need clarification (e.g., if you're protesting in a legal, public space but you are yelling into a private space like a cemetery). You're 100% correct that your free speech and the practice of your religion stops when it interferes with another's same rights.

I worry about these kinds of laws that you propose though because they could too easily be abused.

For example, here in Northern Virginia one of our local Catholic Churches was prohibited from ringing its bells on Sunday mornings because it supposedly violated a county noise ordnance and bothered some atheists who lived near the building.

I doubt the noise ordnance was intended to stifle a religious tradition that goes back centuries (and has been done by this particular Parish, St. John Neumann Parish, since it was founded in 1979), but it was used in that way regardless.

Your bills, unless very, very carefully crafted, could be used in a similar way. We Catholics have a Eucharistic Procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi every year, and an anti-religionists could claim that seeing a bunch of Catholics walking around in procession outside of their building interferes with their daily practice of atheism.

Lots of laws intended to be pro-religion (not least of which being the 1st Amendment) have been corrupted and usurped into something anti-religion. The right to practice religion has somehow become the right to never be exposed to others practicing theirs. The separation of Church and state has somehow become a total firewall where we're told that we shouldn't vote in accordance with our faith even as individuals. Etc.

As an aside...there's an old saying that the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. Similarly, I like to say that Westboro Baptist Church isn't in Westboro, isn't Baptist, and isn't a Church ;-).

Anonymous said...

Partly true and all narcotic.

Larry said...

The problem is that the WBC, and folks like them, will use RARE to combat charges of RAGE...and they will be correct to do so. Rembember, the WBC is merely a front so that the Phelps lawyer clan can make a living tax-free.
I would rather live in a country where people are free to be jackasses, that way you can tell who they are.