New Mexico City Starts Crowdfunding Effort To Pay For Its Stupid Defense Of Constitutional Violations

from the self-righteous-but-not-self-sufficient dept

Is it good for governments to supplement their normal crowdfunding efforts (taxes) with something more voluntary? That’s the question posed by this great Legally Weird post, which provides a number of examples of city governments asking citizens to dig a little deeper to pay for government things.

Whether or not they can is an unanswered legal question. No one appears to have challenged any of these efforts on policy grounds. Considering giving is completely voluntary, the efforts are usually harmless and underfunded. Whether or not they should engage in crowdfunding is a much more interesting question, although most answers will probably boil down to whether or not the person answering agrees with what the funds are being raised for.

Government crowdfunding efforts have been initiated to pay for park trash receptacles, to remove a Confederate statue, and to supply a public defenders’ office with a much-needed cash infusion. Then there’s the case that the Legally Weird post leads with.

The city of Bloomfield, New Mexico is asking citizens to pay its legal fees for it. The crowdfunding effort created by Brad Ellsworth, the city’s finance officer, hopes to raise enough money to finish paying the $700,000 the city owes to the ACLU.

When we ask rhetorically why governments pursue highly-dubious litigation using public funds, this is the sort of thing we’re talking about. The city came out on the losing end of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of two Bloomfield Wiccans who disagreed with the city’s placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the city hall lawn.

The city argued the separation of church and state was intact because the monument was paid for and created by private citizens. It even contained a disclaimer to that effect on the monument itself. The case eventually made its way to the Tenth Circuit Appeals Court, which found in favor of the ACLU. The court said that permanent monuments erected on city property are government speech, even if they’re privately-funded.

The city countered the monument wasn’t permanent. It said those providing the monuments needed to re-apply for prime city hall lawn position every 10 years. The court said there was no meaningful difference between ten years and permanent when the city placed no limit on renewals. The city petitioned the US Supreme Court, but the top court saw no reason to take up the case.

Fortunately, the city’s residents didn’t have to pay for this litigation. The Alliance Defending Freedom provided the city with pro bono legal services, saving taxpayers a considerable amount of money. But the city lost, and it now owes $700,000 to the ACLU.

Obviously, the city never prepared for this eventuality. The city has until 2021 to pay this debt off and has decided to make its first payment of $233,000 to the ACLU this year, using city budget funds. Its crowdfunding effort asks anyone — city residents included — to cough up the remaining $467,000. Its GoFundMe page contains a very self-serving statement that portrays the city as a fierce First Amendment warrior, rather than a participant in a project that violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

In an effort to protect and defend private citizens’ First Amendment rights, the City of Bloomfield opposed the ACLU’s efforts to remove a former Ten Commandments historical monument from the front lawn at City Hall. The Ten Commandments historical monument sat alongside several historical monuments, including the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Gettysburg Address. With overwhelming public support, the City of Bloomfield opposed the ACLU’s efforts by appealing all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. Unfortunately, the District Court ruled in favor of the ACLU and the City of Bloomfield was ordered to remove the Ten Commandments historical monument, which has since been completed. The Ten Commandments historical monument now resides on property owned by the Bloomfield First Baptist Church.  

An unfortunate result of the City of Bloomfield seeking to defend its private citizens’ First Amendment rights is that, because the City of Bloomfield lost the litigation, the City is required to reimburse the attorneys’ fees and costs of the ACLU relating to the Ten Commandments litigation. The City owes $467,000.00 in attorneys’ fees which must be paid by June 30, 2021. Given the overwhelming public support during the litigation, the City is reaching out to concerned citizens in an effort to help crowd fund the remaining balance owed in attorneys’ fees. The City appreciates all of the support private citizens can offer.

To call the response “tepid” would be an insult to room-temperature tap water. More than two weeks into its campaign, the city has only managed to raise $1,775 — 0.38% of its goal. Comments on the page suggest people aren’t happy the city’s attempt to stick citizens with the legal bill it racked up, especially after it apparently told residents this lawsuit wouldn’t cost them a cent.

Sadly, the residents unwilling to donate to the city’s crowdfunding effort will end up paying for this futile, stupid legal battle anyway. When this fails — and it will — the remaining balance will be paid off using tax dollars that definitely would be better spent on almost anything else.

Far too many municipalities are willing to use public funds to pursue dubious legal claims — claims many residents likely don’t support. And when they lose, that is added to the public’s tab. Bloomfield’s idiotic defense of Constitutional violations isn’t an anomaly. The only thing that makes it stand out is its use of a crowdfunding platform to pay the legal bill. Otherwise, it’s business as usual: the defense of unsupportable positions with the involuntary support of the public.

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Comments on “New Mexico City Starts Crowdfunding Effort To Pay For Its Stupid Defense Of Constitutional Violations”

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132 Comments
Selwyn Froggit says:

Re: Churches -- Of course a Zombie hates churches!

"Ron" first Zombie of the week, but minor 30 month gap.

Ron: 25 (3), 30 mo gap; 22 mo gap; 15 Dec 2010; https://www.techdirt.com/user/ronmilner

"Ron" goes into my list at end of the "3" average per year section. — Though looks more real than many, approaching NINE years here, he’s so "engaged" that makes fewer comments than "Stone" often does in one piece! Isn’t there ANY curiosity by site as to this "phenomenon"? Or in increasing "engagement"? (My suggestion on how is to STOP rabidly attacking all dissent.)

Now have 115 "accounts" listed which average 3 per year or fewer comments, topped by "JGracey" or "Gracey", less than 0.3 a comment per year, that made its THIRD comment after 11 YEAR 10 MONTH GAP.

https://www.techdirt.com/user/jgraceystinson

Even that record gets nothing but ignored by site and fanboys!

Weirdest site on teh internets.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Churches -- Of course a Zombie hates churches!

"I think the weird thing here is your obsession with keeping track of visitors. Do you stalk people too?"

Baghdad Bob has this hobby of assuming that anyone dissenting with him MUST be a sock puppet of some sort. So yes, he stalks people.

And it’s apparently convenient that anyone taking an online Hiatus, who posts sparingly, or who goes away to dwell in Real Life (TM) for a while must be an evil-minded astroturfer.

He appears to think that people will believe his insane ramblings if he manages to marginalize the opposition.

In real life of course, sane people give credibility to the fact and logic of the argument itself, not to the demented madman who claims he’s vindicated by claiming said logic is undone by the other party allegedly being an imaginary bogeyman.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The city argued that 10 years was a limit, but the judge took umbrage with this perspective, because of the potential for unlimited renewals. It was seen, like much of the actions of the city, as a way to paper over the clear concerns. Like the way they claimed the statue was about its role as a body of law, rather than the religious connotations before they were forced to admit it was funded by a private religious organization. There is no inherent limiting factor to the duration of that statue.

In contrast, it remains the assumption that Life is universally limited in scope, and therefore life+75 with no renewals is inherently limited, if not a strictly defined amount.

Now, we could argue that Life+anything is beyond the limited scope intended by the authors of the Constitution. I would agree with that. Under the current rational, there appears no factor to prevent ‘Copyright lasts until the sun has consumed Mercury in its death expansion’ from being the standard outside no one being brazen enough to suggest it. But there is no dissonance in the question of whether Life+75 is considered inherently limited.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There’s a dissonance to the average person given a normal lifespan. That doesn’t seem limited at all – it seems to be "forever" given that it covers your entire life. That’s not limited in any real sense of the word. Limited would be one or two generations, not one or two lifetimes. That only seems limited from the perspective of a multi-generational corporation.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

As I noted, copyright lengths are so far removed from the purpose of copyright that there appears to be no logical limiting factor to where expansion should end.

But you miss another entity that might operate on timescales that 150 years seems limited – a government.

Life+75 years is inherently limited in the real sense of the word. The retroactive expansions are what really sparks comparison. But those appear to have ended. It might be that your perception of life+75 is that it is forever, but in the real sense of the English word ‘limited’, it is not unlimited and therefore forever. In the real intent of the wording of the constitution, I would agree as stated before that it is not in line with the spirit of the limited time clause, but that does not appear to be what you are claiming.

Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s been tried, Colorado springs experimented with being a voluntary libertarian paradise, but soon found out it cost them far more than it saved. They turned off all the streetlights for example, and found people were happy to pay $300 to turn on the streetlights in their own neighborhood but not $200 to turn all the streetlights on in all neighbourhoods, and while it saved them $1.25 million in electricity, it cost them $5 million due to copper theft. No electricity made it easy and safe to loot, oh and no police and fire services as they were slashed too.

People would gut the things the US needs to run because they’re incredibly shortsighted, rather than the big wastes of money like defense because fear motivates better than helping the less fortunate.

JohnG (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That sounds a lot like tragedy of the commons, no? If everyone owns the roads then no one is responsible for maintenance and upkeep.

Did people not value police and fire services? Or did they not value them at the prices the police and fire were charging? Hard to say when the police and fire still maintained their gov-backed monopoly status.

It doesn’t sound like Colorado Springs really ran a proper experiment and it’s not that useful to draw conclusions like you did based on bad data.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Don’t like the Colorado Springs experiment results?
Have a look at the State of Kansas, they have been running an "experiment" for sometime now and their State is in a real state isn’t it?

It sounds like a tragedy of the Libertarian – no? If everyone is a greedy little child then no maintenance and upkeep is performed.

Are you suggesting that police and fire be privatized? That is a very bad idea, for obvious reasons.

It’s not that useful to draw conclusions from data you would rather ignore – got it.

JohnG (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Have a look at the State of Kansas, they have been running an "experiment" for sometime now and their State is in a real state isn’t it?

Are you referring to Kansas reducing taxes but not touching spending?

[privatized police and fire are] a very bad idea, for obvious reasons.

And what "obvious" reasons would those be? How many private police have shot unarmed people, have thrown flashbangs into baby cribs or have shot homeowners’ dogs? What is your problem with the prospect of privatized fire and ems services?

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Perverse Incentives. When firefighting is sold as a form insurance rather than a public service, firefighting companies have been known to encourage business by starting fires on properties covered by rivals. Ensure that more fires occur than a rival can handle at once. And much as people don’t buy health insurance when they are healthy, and much like we don’t like funding firefighters as a public service, people don’t like paying for fire suppression they haven’t used. So you get people who don’t buy insurance, counting on the guy next to them to get it, and firefighters needing to save the buildings surrounding the building covered. There are also issues with growth in a captive static market. Much like broadband, you don’t largely get growth in your firefighting footprint. The market is likely to stratify into defined Monopolistic territories. And of course, for public safety you need fire insurance. Your landlord will demand it, if your city doesn’t. And so people would be left without recourse.

As for private police? We don’t largely have those, so your question is unfounded. However we can use a few stand-ins. Bounty hunters are the best example. Legally allowed the use of force and protected by the law, we have seen outrageous property damage, injury and unnecessary deaths result without consequence. There remains again mob-like perverse incentives in a private police force operating for profit, which asset forfeiture highlight clearly.

ryuugami says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

As for private police? We don’t largely have those, so your question is unfounded.

FWIW: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_police

In Florida, Critical Intervention Services patrols neighborhoods and has used lethal force before.[29] They have limited power, like other private security agencies in the state, regulated by Florida Statute 493.[30] Unlike public police, there are few oversight bodies for private police. Therefore, private citizens who wish to complain against private police must do so through the courts, which is expensive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"Are you referring to Kansas reducing taxes but not touching spending?"

I am referring to the so called experiment that the GOP controlled Kansas government has exposed their constituents to for several decades. The results of said experiment are pretty, much across the board failures. Libertarian/GOP/AynRand bullshit has put many family farms on the chopping block, corporate farms are very happy. Which economy are you looking at ?

I think others have addressed this issue rather well, perhaps you should read their comments. Why do you think a private business police force would not throw flash bangs into cribs? Our present police force is apparently owned and operated by private forces and just look at the results. You want everyone to experience the Ferguson effect … why?

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Define “proper experiment” and “bad data”. When we’re dealing with sociological experiments on this scale and case studies like this, you kinda have to relax certain expectations for what makes a “proper experiment”. And I really don’t understand what you mean by “bad data” here. Unless you mean “data I don’t like”, in which case f*ck off, you’re clearly not saying that in good faith.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"People would gut the things the US needs to run because they’re incredibly shortsighted, rather than the big wastes of money like defense because fear motivates better than helping the less fortunate."

Game theory is unfortunately on the point there. People are, in general, risk-takers, willing to assume that "someone" will deal with issues such as infrastructure, and that "someone" won’t be them. The libertarian ideal is as far-fetched as the communist’s worker’s utopia, as far as I can tell.

And that’s why, wasteful or not, core infrastructure HAS to be paid for by the institutionalized theft called "taxes".

Problem is when government screws up as it always does, John Q Doe will similarly assume that "someone" will deal with it and that "someone" won’t be him.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Agreed in full. Libertarianism is an offshoot of communism. If you put their main principles into a Venn diagram there’d be a fair amount of overlap. On the Libertarian side, the idea is that everything is voluntary and the individual’s rights trump the commonwealth. On the Communist side, the opposite is the case.

In both ideologies, human nature gets in the way of the ideal working out in practice.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"In both ideologies, human nature gets in the way of the ideal working out in practice."

Well, i CAN point out working examples of both. Look at the way a computer allocates resources and we’re there.

So if human beings were mathematical formulas, either ideology would work. Otherwise not so much.

Anonymous Coward says:

Funny how despite there being 10 commandments, only 2 of them are laws, with a third only applying in some circumstances. Perhaps if they only displayed the ones that were laws, there wouldn’t have been a problem.

But no…they’ve got to get their god bullshit in, one way or another.

Maybe they should pray the bill goes away.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I find it funnier that all these fights stem from a film promotion:

In the 1940s, [Minnesota juvenile count judge] Ruegemer launched a nationwide campaign to post copies of the Ten Commandments in juvenile courts across the country. His goal – to provide a moral foundation for troubled youth. When [film director Cecil B.] DeMille caught wind of the idea, he suggested to the judge that they work together to erect granite monuments of the Ten Commandments across the nation. DeMille’s goal – to plug a new film. A deal was made.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 One Simple Fix

Ah, but can you prove that there is no statue?

Well you said "just put up a pedestal", "just" meaning "only", which indicates there is no statue.

my statue is also intangible in order to best capture the essence of the Invisible Pink Unicorn

It’s the Invisible Pink Unicorn, not the Intangible Pink Unicorn. I’ve never heard anyone say she cannot be touched, have you?

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 One Simple Fix

Okay, sure, but I meant “you” as the person on the street, not the “you” I’m talking to right now.

At any rate, it was just meant to be a joke rather than a serious proposal. That’s why I mentioned the dragon and the teacup, which are references to other cases where the idea of an undetectable thing can be assumed to not exist, much like the IPU does with God.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

This is … the … ACLU showing it’s opposed to the entire Judeo-Christian tradition.

No, this case was an example of the ACLU fighting for the separation of church and state — i.e., the principle that the government should remain neutral towards religions and religious beliefs. Putting a monument that represents a single religion’s beliefs on government property amounts to an endorsement of that religion. Whether the religion is shared by a majority of citizens in a given region matters not.

The government should, in theory, hold no favoritism towards any given religion (or atheism). It shouldn’t be picking a “winner” in re: religion/spirituality, then using that pick to privilege those who chose the “correct” religion.

Alphonse Tomato says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

To be fair, it’s a central tenet of most religions where adherents make up most of the population. Jews and Christians, sure, but also Muslims (Sunni and Shia), Buddhists, Hindus, and I’m sure I’m leaving someone out. It’s difficult to know the cause, whether it’s "We know The Answer for sure", or politicians using convenient handles to manipulate the population.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: By the way, WHO else wants others to pay for their mistakes?

The government printed "In God we trust" on our paper money, but they didn’t say which god. They intended it to be ‘your’ god for each and every god imagined by each individual. That some want ‘that’ god to be ‘their’ god doesn’t change the nature of the god mentioned on our currency, no matter how much they want it to.

Unfortunately, using a bible during swearing in ceremonies and at least sometimes in courts when taking oaths, somewhat supports their notion. But that isn’t what was intended by the framers. They intended that people be free to choose their religion, any religion. The pro-American ACLU understand that. You don’t.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: By the way, WHO else wants others to pay for their mista

The government printed "In God we trust" on our paper money, but they didn’t say which god. They intended it to be ‘your’ god for each and every god imagined by each individual.

No, they really didn’t. ‘In God We Trust’ was added during the cold war in response to the ‘godless commies’ to show that unlike those dastardly russians america was filled with good god fearing christians. If you really think that that’s meant to be inclusive of all religions I’ve got a few bridges to sell you.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 By the way, WHO else wants others to pay for the

… are you under the impression that the first amendment was written by the same people who added ‘In God We Trust’ to the money? Because while the first may be supportive of allowing people to hold or not hold whatever religion they want without government interference the change to the money very much was not from that mindset, and was not just pro-religion but pro-christian in particular, hardly inclusive of all, theistic or not.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 By the way, WHO else wants others to pay

Please, that’s splitting hairs on a molecular level. In a predominantly christian nation(which cold war era US most certainly was) when someone says ‘God’ in a situation like that the implication is pretty clearly the christian god, which is commonly referred to as just ‘god’. At that point you might as well say that it’s not meant to imply christianity because it doesn’t say ‘In God, Jesus, And The Holy Spirit We Trust’.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: By the way, WHO else wants others to pay for their m

”In God We Trust’ was added during the cold war in response to the ‘godless commies’ to show that unlike those dastardly russians america was filled with good god fearing christians.

Yep. The fear and paranoia were strong with those folks. Interestingly, interest in socialism is growing in America today. I had a bit of a barney with two bug-eyed True Believers the other day about how to implement their Utopian vision. They baulked and made excuses when I pointed out that a totalitarian regime is required to make it happen if they can’t get people to buy into it. And the "professional classes" they love to bash wouldn’t want to buy into a system that insults them and portrays them as the enemy.

The point is, it’s nothing to be afraid of; a bit of mockery and some awkward questions will send the commies packing. I think the real reason behind the "In God We Trust" statement on the dollar was more about getting the "God-fearing Christians" to toe the capitalist line. The union-busting and dismantling of worker’s rights appears to back me up.

It annoys me no end when religion or philosophy gets co-opted for authoritarian purposes.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 By the way, WHO else wants others to pay for the

"It annoys me no end when religion or philosophy gets co-opted for authoritarian purposes."

Wendy, there’s no getting around the fact that most philosophies argue from an authoritarian standpoint of what is "right and proper".

As for religion it’s even worse since it assumes, by definition, faith in a concept of ultimate authority by whose judgment mere mortals will be punished for their transgressions or rewarded for fulfilling a set of arbitrary rules.

Philosophy can at least afford and encourage doubt. Religion, other than in the lip service aspect, can not.

Authoritarianism always relies on some sort of faith-based mechanism and organized religion is normally the natural partner.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 By the way, WHO else wants others to pay for

Wendy, there’s no getting around the fact that most philosophies argue from an authoritarian standpoint of what is "right and proper".

Okay, but now we need to agree on what constitutes authoritarianism. For me, it’s the coercive enforcement element. If I have the option to ignore someone else’s philosophy or religion without suffering financially, socially, or legally, it’s just an opinion. I can take it or leave it. If that option isn’t there, it’s authoritarian.

As for religion it’s even worse since it assumes, by definition, faith in a concept of ultimate authority by whose judgment mere mortals will be punished for their transgressions or rewarded for fulfilling a set of arbitrary rules.

Okay, but again, if you can opt out, it’s not authoritarian (in my book). If adherence thereto is compulsory or you lose your job or go to jail, etc., it’s compulsory. Remember, the door swings both ways; imagine being fired from your job because your atheist boss found out you’re a Christian. NOW can you see what I’m getting at.

Philosophy can at least afford and encourage doubt. Religion, other than in the lip service aspect, can not.

Okay… so you’re saying philosophies afford and encourage doubt in themselves? Sorry, I’ve not seen that anywhere except perhaps Pastafarianism, which is basically a mickey-take of religion.

Authoritarianism always relies on some sort of faith-based mechanism and organized religion is normally the natural partner.

Communism is not a religion. Neither is progressivism. Neither are Nazism and assorted right-wing positions. Yet all of these rely on some sort of faith-based mechanism and are the natural partners of authoritarianism.

Look, mate, you hate religion. I get it. That’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it and it seems to me that your bias is affecting your ability to effectively evaluate it. If you’ve ever read http://on-t-internet.blogspot.com/2017/05/who-has-lock-on-morality-left-liberals.html you’ll see I’m not a bug-eyed True Believer type, I’ve examined my positions over and over and yes, I can see the problems with religion as an arbiter of morality. The reason why I’ve not written it off because many people have used it as a fig leaf for land-grabbing and other nefarious activities is because I’m looking more at the message than the messengers. Whether or not you choose to do the same is up to you. That’s what "freedom" means.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: By the way, WHO else wants others to pay for their mistakes?

This is of course the horrible anti-American ACLU showing it’s opposed to the entire Judeo-Christian tradition.

As it should be. There’s nothing American about "the Judeo-Christian tradition", other than its followers constantly whining about non-followers not following it.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: By the way, WHO else wants others to pay for their mista

This is of course the horrible anti-American ACLU showing it’s opposed to the entire Judeo-Christian tradition.

As it should be. There’s nothing American about "the Judeo-Christian tradition", other than its followers constantly whining about non-followers not following it.

Erm, I’m going to call both of you out for those statements, AC.

Blue, the ACLU is only opposed to violations of the Constitution. America was never intended to be a theocracy. Deal with it.

AC, I’ve never whined here about non-followers not toeing the "traditional Judeo-Christian" line, and I’m not about to start now. The issue is authoritarianism, not religion. Atheists can be dreadfully authoritarian too, you know.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: By the way, WHO else wants others to pay for their m

The issue is authoritarianism, not religion.

Let me pose this question to you Wendy, since you seem to think the two are not interchangeable – is god not an authoritarian? If you feel the need to say no, then I’d ask you to explain the first commandment about being the lord, your god, and having no other gods besides that one.

Apart from showing jealousy, which is in and of itself a curious trait for an all-powerful god to have, it surely suggests that all power is consolidated to him, and him only. Kind of authoritarian, if you ask me. And it’s a core tenet of christianity or any of the other flavors of judeo-christian nonsense.

Atheists can be dreadfully authoritarian too, you know.

Sure they can. They just don’t blame it on an imaginary being’s word.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 By the way, WHO else wants others to pay for the

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190901/17093942906/new-mexico-city-starts-crowdfunding-effort-to-pay-stupid-defense-constitutional-violations.shtml#c1633

Your slip, I mean bias, is showing. Haters gonna hate. Is that not authoritarian? I mean, you’re painting me as a nut here to undermine me in the eyes of other readers. But they’re not all haters. Hate if you want to while I exercise my freedom. I don’t hate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 By the way, WHO else wants others to pay for

Your slip, I mean bias, is showing.

Your attempt to change what the word authoritarian means, such that you can use it here is also showing.

Haters gonna hate. Is that not authoritarian?

If you think I hate you for your religion, you’re incorrect. I don’t hate you, as that requires effort. I find you amusing, similar to other adults who may believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Martians, etc.

You’ve got some pretty pathetic statements in your linked post.

Okay, but again, if you can opt out, it’s not authoritarian (in my book). If adherence thereto is compulsory or you lose your job or go to jail, etc., it’s compulsory.

So then going to hell for ‘opting out" of religion isn’t somehow making it compulsory? Tell me – if it’s not compulsory, why would these retards consider putting that monument up in the first place? Why wouldn’t they just get rid of all but the 2 commandments that are actually laws, and keep their non-compulsory ones to themselves? This is the primary problem with religious people – they always have to shove their (in your opinion) non-compulsory bullshit in the rest of our faces. Why can’t they just obey it themselves, since I’m so free to ‘opt-out?’

Remember, the door swings both ways; imagine being fired from your job because your atheist boss found out you’re a Christian.

By all means, show me one example of this. Just one. For each one you find, I’ll provide ten of the converse being true.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 By the way, WHO else wants others to pay

This is the primary problem with religious people – they always have to shove their (in your opinion) non-compulsory **** in the rest of our faces.

The thing is, you only notice the ones who do. The ones who don’t go unnoticed and uncounted in your tally of how religious people behave. Thus you come to the conclusion that all religious people behave alike.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 By the way, WHO else wants others to

The thing is, you only notice the ones who do.

Right – for example, the ones who now will force everyone else in the community to pay this settlement for their misguided nonsense.

They’re easy to notice when they cost you money, and I don’t see anyone stepping up to say "yeah, this was our bad – we should’ve kept our beliefs to ourselves so we can go about our business of being unnoticed."

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 By the way, WHO else wants other

I don’t see anyone stepping up to say "yeah, this was our bad – we should’ve kept our beliefs to ourselves so we can go about our business of being unnoticed."

Because the ones who just go about their business unnoticed are not the ones who did this, and thus have nothing to apologize for. Why would they "step up" to take the blame for something they had nothing to do with?

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 By the way, WHO else wants other

Well, I was against defending this lawsuit from the start. I thought it was stupid. I never shove my religion into people’s faces. I firmly believe in the strict separation of church and state, and that no religious monuments should appear in courthouses. Even if I did, I knew that the Supreme Court made it crystal clear that that wouldn’t fly. I am also a Christian.

Why should I apologize for the behavior of people I don’t know, have never met, and have no control over and whose behavior I have criticized all along when I myself did not participate in the questionable behavior?

That One Guy (profile) says:

'Overwhelming support' indeed...

Given the overwhelming public support during the litigation, the City is reaching out to concerned citizens in an effort to help crowd fund the remaining balance owed in attorneys’ fees. The City appreciates all of the support private citizens can offer.

To call the response "tepid" would be an insult to room-temperature tap water. More than two weeks into its campaign, the city has only managed to raise $1,775 — 0.38% of its goal. Comments on the page suggest people aren’t happy the city’s attempt to stick citizens with the legal bill it racked up, especially after it apparently told residents this lawsuit wouldn’t cost them a cent.

Ah yes, you can just feel the public support oozing from the city towards the brave defenders/violators of the first amendment in city hall with that .38% funding number. I guess the people who supported having the monument there were only supportive of using government property to show support for a particular religion only so long as it wasn’t going to cost them anything. Soon as it came time to pay the bill suddenly there’s nary a cent to be found in their pockets, not a single bill in their wallets they can spare.

MajorityRules says:

No one has the "right" to "not be offended"... In God We Trust

Sorry, but there’s no place in the Constitution or Bill of Rights that says people cannot be offended.

Majority rule is still the standard.

2 people upset? Fuck ’em.

Until they get "the majority" of the folks to complain about the statue, the "minority" can whine and cry all day every day while the statue is up.

One site shows the population around 6749, with only 4350 being 18 and over.

That means that any demand to remove the statue would have to come from, at the very least, 2,176 of the 4350 18+ voters.

Until that number is reached, the Majority Rule stands.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: No one has the "right" to "not be offended"... In God We Tru

Unfortunately, the law is not written that way.

The majority does not support Marijuana prohibition, but prohibition remains federal policy, for instance.

The issue is not offense, but the sanctioning of a specific religion by government authority in violation of the first amendment, which this statue, particularly with the proven lies employed to avoid that claim, seems to be.

The bill of rights is in place to protect the minority from the overreach of the government put in place by the majority.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Hmm, no, multiple courts say you're wrong

Sorry, but there’s no place in the Constitution or Bill of Rights that says people cannot be offended.

There is however that little tidbit about the government not being allowed to favor one religion over the others by say putting up blatantly religious monuments on government property. You might have heard of it, think it’s called something like the first amendment?

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

For the sake of a hypothetical, let’s say you’re someone who represents a minority religion where you live — I’ll go with Islam, to be intentionally provocative. Now consider how you would feel if the government put up explicitly Christian monuments — and only Christian monuments — on government property. Would you feel welcome there? Would you feel that you could get a fair shake from lawmakers, judges, etc.?

The whole point of the separation of church and state principle is to ensure an explicit lack of bias for or against any given religion (including atheism). That a given area has an overwhelmingly majority religion shouldn’t matter in that regard. The government shouldn’t choose which religion is right or wrong, best or worst. It should remain as neutral as possible towards all religions.

And if a majority religion feels as if a level playing field is oppression? Too bad. The distress of the privileged shouldn’t undo the separation of church and state.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No one has the "right" to "not be offended"... In God We Tru

In God We Trust

To be clear, as an atheist, saying that "in god you trust" doesn’t offend me. It just clarifies that I’m conversing with a moron.

Same as if I were to say for example, "fuck your impotent god, and all the bullshit he’she/it stands for." I also don’t care if that offends you. Or your impotent "god."

Feel better now?

Agammamon says:

Re: No one has the "right" to "not be offended"... In God We Tru

"Majority rule is still the standard."

You do know that we do not do and never have done a strict ‘majority rules’ thing, right?

Because that’s what all those recognitions of human rights mean – these are things the majority can’t run roughshod over just because they’re the majority.

‘majority rule’ means that 3 people can just vote to kill one of them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Right and wrong

The city is right to solicit donations before raising the money through taxes, because that gives at least the theory, if not the practice, of placing the burden on those who most care about the issue. The city was wrong to put itself in a position that it now owes legal fees far in excess of what it’s likely to be able to raise through donations. They should have sought the donations before pursuing the suit so far, and conceded defeat when they couldn’t find enough donors to fund defending the suit to the end.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Right and wrong

They should have sought the donations before pursuing the suit so far, and conceded defeat when they couldn’t find enough donors to fund defending the suit to the end.

No that would be a terrible policy. They should fight to do the right thing even it it lacks rich backers.

What they shouldn’t do is pick fights around obviously bad decisions, and then keep upping the ante by doubling down when they loose.

Agammamon says:

"Whether or not they should engage in crowdfunding is a much more interesting question"

Well, they absolutely should. Taxes are, by definition, coercive. A government that is ‘crowdfunded’ is a government that is minimizing coercion.

You seem doubtful – I would be interested in hearing what potential problems a government using crowdfunding would cause.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Um, how about the rich determining the law? Similar to the problem we have now where money is considered speech which creates the issue where those with money can speak louder than those who have less money. That doesn’t speak well for equal protections, or as it is said equal protections under the law when the law benefits one economic class more than other economic classes.

Agammamon says:

Re: Re:

Its not like governments don’t already take donations – the Federal government and pretty much every state government directly offers you the chance to pay above your tax liability on your tax forms.

And its not like the search for ever more money to spend doesn’t skew governmental priorities. Look at the war on drugs – where cops patrol the westbound lanes of the interstate to interdict money going back out but ignore the eastbound lanes with the drugs coming in.

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