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Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Stuff Conspiracy Theories Are Made Of

Both of these have probably been the subject of exaggeration, urban legend and frantic mass email forwarding. Both bother me.

The first is really a near miss. There were some other issues involved and the issue was resolved favorably. I'd still put it in this category.

The second is for real, for real. Big Brother- and not the TV show. Unbelievable, really. But true. It involves anti-war protesters, so I doubt anyone's going to care much, except to poke fun or rant about how much they "whine".

Religious Freedom?

This was referenced in a (rather conservative) religious publication I get and I heard it in the news, so I decided to look into it more. It was disconcerting to say the least if it was as it sounded at first…

Couple Ordered to Stop Holding Bible Study at Home Without Permit,2933,522637,00.html?test=latestnews

While googling, I found the entry. It doesn’t dispute this (listed as partially true), but does provide extra details regarding a car of a visitor of a neighbor being dinged by a study attendee and makes note of the results- they are allowed to hold studies. The study leader paid for it, but maybe the neighbor and his friend still held a grudge? Anyway, it appears it wasn’t necessarily as all about religion as Fox News painted it. Not that it’s not worrisome to entertain the thought of police crackdowns on religious practice in this country. I just don’t think it was happening this time.

It is not clear to me whether this land use and religious assembly law has more to do with religion or number of people. If it has purely to do with having 10 people for a weekly event at a home that grows to 1000 and being able to circumvent the freedom of religion claim that could be used to circumvent fire codes and a ton of other safety and logistical nightmares such a group converging on one home creates, then the law makes sense. But if it is unnecessarily restrictive for religious groups compared to other groups (given that other groups can’t cite freedom of religion), then we need to take a look at it. Other groups could cite freedom to assemble… I don’t know.

An apology from the county. I looked for it on Fox, since that was my first source, but I don’t know that they bothered to cover the result of the situation. Apologies are boring, I guess.

It also sounds like the "pastor" was the source of confusion about where the controversy is- parking or religion.

In this article, he talks about the parking and thinks it sparked an official complaint:
This source is a reference from the snopes site.

In a response to, he said parking was definitely not the issue- it was definitely religious freedom.

Maybe his Fox experience convinced him it was more of a freedom of religion thing or maybe he just had time to think about it and reconsidered. It seems he changed his story either way, though.

It's definitely got legs with email, though! We'll be seeing this freedom of religion scare, minus the resolution where they are allowed to have the Bible studies without paying fines and minus the apology, for years to come.

The letters collected via email are here:
San Diego County Officials told pastor that he can not hold a Bible study in his home without a permit -Truth! but Decision Reversed!

San Diego County officials barred a couple from holding Bible study sessions in their home without a “major land use” permit.

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Government infiltrating and spying on anti-war groups

I hate to post so many Democracy Now links, but they do such a great job of summarizing the issues and asking questions and getting guests you won’t see on the big networks.

Basically, this ex-military guy informs on innocent civilian protest and activist groups by infiltrating the group and asking police for info on specific groups-Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance. The reason for the spying, as I understand it, is not because they have done anything illegal or are putting people in danger, but they speak out against various government actions.

This is a WA site; I think it happened there.

I don’t know anything about this site. I don’t know who is responsible for it, but it’s probably not the military or John himself.Link

This side is rightly complaining of possible rights and law violations, but there is something wrong with someone owning your name in this way… ☺

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