Secular Principles
EdSed

Hamilton, UK

#1 Apr 27, 2014
Secular Principles

1 Freedom of Speech and Expression
2 Inclusiveness
3 Equality of sexes and genders, Male, Female and other
4 One Law for All
5 Democracy Through Representative Institutions
6 Independent, Impartial and Free Media
7 Separation of Political Powers, Executive, Legislative and Judicial
8 Constitutional Court Representative of the Electorate
9 Protection for Minority Rights
10 Respect for Human Rights
11 The Right of a Child to Know The Identity of their Biological Father and Mother
12 Full Legal Responsibility for Voting Rights by the Age of Full Legal Responsibility
13 The Right to and the Responsibility for Free Association
14 The Right of a Child not to be Mutilated or Branded for Non-Medical Reasons
15 The Right to Peaceful Protest
16 Marriage should be a matter of conscience, not law
EdSed

Hamilton, UK

#2 Apr 27, 2014
Some Explanations & Justifications.

11 is required to balance the human right of women to bear children by any man or means at their disposal.

Women cannot have the right to bear children at expense of the child’s rights or interests. Women and men are often motivated to have children by a need for personal fulfilment, but that can infringe the child’s right to know the identity of their biological parents. The child’s rights should be paramount and take precedence over parent’s wishes or needs. Society must take collective responsibility for this.

12 Rights should normally be linked to responsibilities.

Full legal responsibility sometimes starts at age 10 or lower in some countries. However, criminals between the age of 10 and voting age are considered ‘juvenile’ or otherwise less than adult. They are treated differently by the judicial system, usually attending special courts (sometimes called ‘family courts’). So, in the context above, the aim is to link voting rights to the sort of full legal responsibility that comes from the lack of any need for special treatment by the judicial system justified purely on age.

13 Obviates the requirement for both ‘Freedom of and from Religion’ and ‘Separation of Church and State’.

The reason for this is that one of the many problems caused by religion is that one cannot tell when a person is a “true member” of the religion or not. For instance honest, law-abiding Muslims Christians or Jews often distance themselves from terrorists who act in their name. Organised religions shouldn’t be unable to formally withdraw membership from groups, organisations or individuals who are in conflict with their principles of association. With the right to association comes the responsibility to see that people know and obey the rules of the association or are expelled from it. If those who wish to act in defiance of the rules cannot be expelled due to their numbers within the organisation, members who disagree have the moral obligation to leave the association, perhaps forming a distinctly different one.

16 Who can have a child and who may share a benefit or tax liability may be matters for the law but that is distinct from people who are married.

All laws should be written and framed for everyone as individuals, whether married individuals, divorced or ‘singles’. People should be taxed as individuals as well, but benefits and taxes may be affected by shared living accommodation. There should be no necessity for marriage registers to be kept by the State.
EdSed

Hamilton, UK

#3 Apr 27, 2014
17 Transparency of associations, organisations and government.

Thanks for kind responses.
Amused

Lowell, MA

#4 Apr 27, 2014
Media is never impartial. It is produced by humans with viewpoints and agendas. Trying to impose neutrality, which is always in the eye of the beholder anyway, both creates potential for censorship, and robs journalism of vitality. Being partial is not a bad thing. Muckraking journalism comes from passion, which is seldom found in impartiality.

Better to say all viewpoints should be represented, and people educated to use their critical thinking skills to evaluate the credibility of their news sources.
Amused

Lowell, MA

#5 Apr 27, 2014
Not sure about a constitutional court being representative of the electorate.

At many points, the US constitution was meant to be a counterweight against popular passions. Importing those passions into the process of passing on constitutionality of laws or government actions seems likely to erode the barriers between the long term policies of the constitution and the passion of the day.

A constitutional court representative of the electorate and sharing their views and prejudices is also unlikely to be a bastion of protection for minority rights. I doubt that a court representative of the electorate would have decreed segregation unconstitutional.
EdSed

Hamilton, UK

#6 Apr 27, 2014
Thanks Amused. Interesting points of view and I'm still considering them.

The US has a written constitution. Not everyone agrees that's a good idea for all nations. The UK for instance may prefer it unwritten.

The point about minority rights being protected by the Supreme Court of the USA where the electorate would have been careless of them is excellent and a lesson from which all should learn. The media point is very good too.

There's another service the constitutional court should provide in addition to ensuring the protection of minority rights. In the US and UK politicians have failed to reform lobbying where the electorate thinks it needs to be better regulated and more transparent. In the UK everyone agrees on the need for major reform of the House of Lords and it was in the manifestos of both main parties. A Bill was even drawn-up but it doesn't happen. And in Paraguay, everyone agrees on the urgent need for land reform but the majority of the politicians always end up representative of the 5% of the population who own all the land. Money talks and politicians invested in any current system can always find themselves unable to reform it even where everyone agrees on the reforms. Perhaps addressing that problem might be the primary purpose of a constitutional court?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutional_c...
A Constitutional court presumably wouldn't be composed mostly (much less entirely) of lawyers. It isn't that sort of court. That is what I had in mind when I wrote 'constitutional court', omitted mention of a supreme court and suggested it should represent the electorate - as opposed to the political establishment and money.
Amused

Lowell, MA

#7 Apr 27, 2014
We've had the debate about marriage before. While you would separate marriage from the realm of law, I see marriage as essentially a contract, and, like all contracts, involving the law to regulate the formation and performance of the contract.

Children cannot legally marry for the same reason minors cannot contract to borrow money or buy a car. Close relatives cannot marry because of the health implications for potential children. The state has a compelling interest in preventing those health problems.

When, as all to often happens, a marriage fails, the divorce laws regulate how the marriage ends, and the rights and responsibilities of the former partners concerning parental responsibilities, fair division of jointly acquired property, etc.

Marriage laws also provide bright lines to determine who is married, who is divorced, etc. there are important property rights that would become too uncertain if there were not clear divisions.

Involvement of the state does not mean that the state has arbitrary power to permit some folks to marry and deny others the same rights. The right of the state to discriminate is based only on the existence of a compelling state interest in making the distinction. In the absence of a compelling state interest, the state is obliged to treat all citizens in the same way.
EdSed

Hamilton, UK

#8 Apr 27, 2014
Amused wrote:
We've had the debate about marriage before. While you would separate marriage from the realm of law, I see marriage as essentially a contract, and, like all contracts, involving the law to regulate the formation and performance of the contract.
Children cannot legally marry for the same reason minors cannot contract to borrow money or buy a car. Close relatives cannot marry because of the health implications for potential children. The state has a compelling interest in preventing those health problems.
When, as all to often happens, a marriage fails, the divorce laws regulate how the marriage ends, and the rights and responsibilities of the former partners concerning parental responsibilities, fair division of jointly acquired property, etc.
Marriage laws also provide bright lines to determine who is married, who is divorced, etc. there are important property rights that would become too uncertain if there were not clear divisions.
Involvement of the state does not mean that the state has arbitrary power to permit some folks to marry and deny others the same rights. The right of the state to discriminate is based only on the existence of a compelling state interest in making the distinction. In the absence of a compelling state interest, the state is obliged to treat all citizens in the same way.
Yes, I'm disappointed we must disagree on that. I entirely understand that point of view and you articulate it very well.

For the record, as previously discussed: I reiterate that if human history had resulted in marriage being a matter of conscience, nothing to do with the State and laws had always been written without reference to it, I would expect you would be just as opposed to laws now being altered to accommodate whether people are married or not.

Close relatives cannot get married because of the genetic problems of having children. It is the incestuous reproduction that is and should be against the law. Marriage needn't of necessity enter into it. Hereditary law already exists for single people and I see it as unnecessary for married couples too. That's what making a will is for and everyone should do that anyway.

However, you're view's probably that of the majority so we'll cross that one off the list :-)
Thinking

Poole, UK

#10 Apr 28, 2014
Whenever I hear a news story that sounds suspect, as a minimum I try to go to the BBC, plus a publication that leans to the left of me, plus a publication that lean to the right of me.

Unfortunately the majority of news consumers don't want to be challenged.

The majority of news consumers require that their own prejudices be spoon fed back to them.
Amused wrote:
Media is never impartial. It is produced by humans with viewpoints and agendas. Trying to impose neutrality, which is always in the eye of the beholder anyway, both creates potential for censorship, and robs journalism of vitality. Being partial is not a bad thing. Muckraking journalism comes from passion, which is seldom found in impartiality.
Better to say all viewpoints should be represented, and people educated to use their critical thinking skills to evaluate the credibility of their news sources.
Thinking

Poole, UK

#11 Apr 28, 2014
I understand why marriage needs to be a legal construct because of the effects of inheritance tax and pension laws and the like on our tax system.

Perhaps I would have said that marriage should indeed be a matter of conscience, but never compulsion.
EdSed wrote:
<quoted text>Yes, I'm disappointed we must disagree on that. I entirely understand that point of view and you articulate it very well.
For the record, as previously discussed: I reiterate that if human history had resulted in marriage being a matter of conscience, nothing to do with the State and laws had always been written without reference to it, I would expect you would be just as opposed to laws now being altered to accommodate whether people are married or not.
Close relatives cannot get married because of the genetic problems of having children. It is the incestuous reproduction that is and should be against the law. Marriage needn't of necessity enter into it. Hereditary law already exists for single people and I see it as unnecessary for married couples too. That's what making a will is for and everyone should do that anyway.
However, you're view's probably that of the majority so we'll cross that one off the list :-)
Thinking

Poole, UK

#12 Apr 28, 2014
The downside of a written constitution: Westboro getting court pay outs.
EdSed wrote:
Thanks Amused. Interesting points of view and I'm still considering them.
The US has a written constitution. Not everyone agrees that's a good idea for all nations. The UK for instance may prefer it unwritten.
The point about minority rights being protected by the Supreme Court of the USA where the electorate would have been careless of them is excellent and a lesson from which all should learn. The media point is very good too.
There's another service the constitutional court should provide in addition to ensuring the protection of minority rights. In the US and UK politicians have failed to reform lobbying where the electorate thinks it needs to be better regulated and more transparent. In the UK everyone agrees on the need for major reform of the House of Lords and it was in the manifestos of both main parties. A Bill was even drawn-up but it doesn't happen. And in Paraguay, everyone agrees on the urgent need for land reform but the majority of the politicians always end up representative of the 5% of the population who own all the land. Money talks and politicians invested in any current system can always find themselves unable to reform it even where everyone agrees on the reforms. Perhaps addressing that problem might be the primary purpose of a constitutional court?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutional_c...
A Constitutional court presumably wouldn't be composed mostly (much less entirely) of lawyers. It isn't that sort of court. That is what I had in mind when I wrote 'constitutional court', omitted mention of a supreme court and suggested it should represent the electorate - as opposed to the political establishment and money.
Amused

Lowell, MA

#13 May 6, 2014
Thinking wrote:
The downside of a written constitution: Westboro getting court pay outs.
<quoted text>
I always thought Westboro was a scam, and that court payouts were the real point. Fred Phelps was a civil rights lawyer before he either went mad or created a brilliant scam. In either event, he crafted a set of doctrines and practices so loathsome that they were guaranteed to enrage the population to the point where they would be provoked into some action violating the First Amendment rights of the church members, leading to lawsuits and payouts.

On the other hand, the fact that the courts ordered those payouts is proof that the First Amendment is still taken seriously by the courts. There is some comfort in knowing that no matter how unpopular a group or individual is, acts that diminish the rights of that group will still be redressed in the courts. The most repulsive groups in our society are the canary in the coal mine for the rights of the rest of us.
Amused

Lowell, MA

#15 May 6, 2014
Thinking wrote:
Even better to have a legal system that could apply common sense as well. Otherwise get a text reader to preside over proceedings, or, if judges are totally incapable of independent thought, pay minimum wage and get someone working their way through college to do it. You could earn tips for brevity.
(from The People's Manifesto by Mark Thomas)
"We should abolish all criminal laws in this country and replace them with two offence.
1) Being out of order
2) Being bang out of order"
<quoted text>
I disagree. "Common sense" and its close cousin "judicial discretion" have no place in the defense of basic civil rights. On matters of civil rights, like the right to free speech, free press, free association and freedom of religion, absolutism is a feature, not a bug. If your right not to be taxed to support a religious undertaking were subject to a christian judge applying "common sense", hold onto your wallet, you are going to be common sensed into paying up. If a muslim judge has discretion on whether you have the right to publish cartoons of allah, he is going to discretion your right to free speech right out of existence.

The American Bill of Rights is undemocratic, and makes no apology for that fact.The rights of unpopular minorities are not dependent on the largesse or tolerance of the majority. They are defended no matter how unpopular those rights may be.

I wouldn't have it any other way.
Thinking

Winsford, UK

#16 May 6, 2014
Firstly, I've never down voted any of your posts and doubt I ever will.

A written constitution is an easy target. I prefer our system to yours. I also find it easier to speak my mind in the UK. There have been several occasions when me and my European colleagues have been complained about for telling very mild jokes indeed in the US... Free speech, my arse!

I work a lot with legal contracts, and when I find compliance issues, I ask the parties involved to remember what their intents were, as opposed to inflexibly quoting clauses back at each other.

I'd like to see that approach in other walks of life too.
Amused wrote:
<quoted text>
I disagree. "Common sense" and its close cousin "judicial discretion" have no place in the defense of basic civil rights. On matters of civil rights, like the right to free speech, free press, free association and freedom of religion, absolutism is a feature, not a bug. If your right not to be taxed to support a religious undertaking were subject to a christian judge applying "common sense", hold onto your wallet, you are going to be common sensed into paying up. If a muslim judge has discretion on whether you have the right to publish cartoons of allah, he is going to discretion your right to free speech right out of existence.
The American Bill of Rights is undemocratic, and makes no apology for that fact.The rights of unpopular minorities are not dependent on the largesse or tolerance of the majority. They are defended no matter how unpopular those rights may be.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Amused

Lowell, MA

#17 May 6, 2014
Thinking wrote:
Firstly, I've never down voted any of your posts and doubt I ever will.
A written constitution is an easy target. I prefer our system to yours. I also find it easier to speak my mind in the UK. There have been several occasions when me and my European colleagues have been complained about for telling very mild jokes indeed in the US... Free speech, my arse!
I work a lot with legal contracts, and when I find compliance issues, I ask the parties involved to remember what their intents were, as opposed to inflexibly quoting clauses back at each other.
I'd like to see that approach in other walks of life too.
<quoted text>
Free speech only guarantees that the government won't prevent your speech. It in no way guarantees that people who take offense won't complain, only that complaints to the government should fall on deaf ears. Of course, these days, classifying any and all speech that makes anyone feel even slightly uncomfortable as "hate speech" seems to be all the rage.Lots of people seem to not have gotten the memo that people living in a free society do not have a right to not have their feelings hurt.

"Bullying" is also a big buzzword here at the moment. Helicopter parents everywhere want to swaddle their children in bubble wrap against other children who might be seen as bullies because they call names, etc. Everyone is in a swoon at the mildest calling of names, with schools calling in SWAT teams of guidance counselors to talk to everyone and restore the utopian bliss threatened by the bad feelings. I think this is in large part a result of schools adopting "zero tolerance" policies regarding violence, with no common sense or flexibility allowed. When I was a kid, being a bully had its risks. Occasionally, a bully would single out the wrong kid and get bashed in the chops for his troubles. Now, the worst a bully is looking at is a stern talking to from the headmaster, or, in extreme cases, a brief suspension (read: a couple days off from school).Kids are encouraged to tell on each other if someone is breaking the rules.We are raising a generation of snitches and informants who can't stand on their own two feet and fight their own battles.(I just looked back at this last paragraph and was struck by how much like an old coot I sound, going on about how things were better in the old days and kids these days are all going to hell in a handbasket. Suddenly, I feel like going out for some fresh air to yell at some kids to get off my lawn.)

In any event, their seems to be a big campaign to stamp out any behavior that might cause hurt feelings anywhere, at the expense of free speech. This can't be leading anywhere good.

Finally, I didn't think for a minute that it was you downvoting my posts. I apparently have a whole anti-fan club who respond to anything I post with downvotes. I rather like it. The more downvotes I get, the more theists' feelings I must have hurt. That can't be a bad thing.(see above)
Thinking

Winsford, UK

#18 May 6, 2014
I wear my negative icons as a badge of honour too.

I believe that no one has the right to be not offended. All that you described below does indeed work against that principle - at the expense of freedom.

If avoiding offence creates new practises or even legislation, you know who is going to rape that for all that they can: islamists and fundies.

On a positive note, I believe the young adults in my neighbourhood are much better behaved people than their ancestors.
Amused wrote:
<quoted text>
Free speech only guarantees that the government won't prevent your speech. It in no way guarantees that people who take offense won't complain, only that complaints to the government should fall on deaf ears. Of course, these days, classifying any and all speech that makes anyone feel even slightly uncomfortable as "hate speech" seems to be all the rage.Lots of people seem to not have gotten the memo that people living in a free society do not have a right to not have their feelings hurt.
"Bullying" is also a big buzzword here at the moment. Helicopter parents everywhere want to swaddle their children in bubble wrap against other children who might be seen as bullies because they call names, etc. Everyone is in a swoon at the mildest calling of names, with schools calling in SWAT teams of guidance counselors to talk to everyone and restore the utopian bliss threatened by the bad feelings. I think this is in large part a result of schools adopting "zero tolerance" policies regarding violence, with no common sense or flexibility allowed. When I was a kid, being a bully had its risks. Occasionally, a bully would single out the wrong kid and get bashed in the chops for his troubles. Now, the worst a bully is looking at is a stern talking to from the headmaster, or, in extreme cases, a brief suspension (read: a couple days off from school).Kids are encouraged to tell on each other if someone is breaking the rules.We are raising a generation of snitches and informants who can't stand on their own two feet and fight their own battles.(I just looked back at this last paragraph and was struck by how much like an old coot I sound, going on about how things were better in the old days and kids these days are all going to hell in a handbasket. Suddenly, I feel like going out for some fresh air to yell at some kids to get off my lawn.)
In any event, their seems to be a big campaign to stamp out any behavior that might cause hurt feelings anywhere, at the expense of free speech. This can't be leading anywhere good.
Finally, I didn't think for a minute that it was you downvoting my posts. I apparently have a whole anti-fan club who respond to anything I post with downvotes. I rather like it. The more downvotes I get, the more theists' feelings I must have hurt. That can't be a bad thing.(see above)
Amused

Lowell, MA

#19 May 6, 2014
Thinking wrote:
I wear my negative icons as a badge of honour too.
I believe that no one has the right to be not offended. All that you described below does indeed work against that principle - at the expense of freedom.
If avoiding offence creates new practises or even legislation, you know who is going to rape that for all that they can: islamists and fundies.
On a positive note, I believe the young adults in my neighbourhood are much better behaved people than their ancestors.
<quoted text>
I love the automatic negative response. It is sort of like the response Obama gets from the Republicans - no matter how mild or sensible any proposal he makes may be, the Republicans immediately repair to the fainting couches over the latest threat which will undoubtedly bring The End of The World As We Know It.

Next winter, I am hoping Obama will advise people not to eat the yellow snow, simply to enjoy all the Faux News talking heads and republican congressmen yammering on about how eating yellow snow is good for you.

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