Moral Low Ground


Arizona Set to Outlaw Karma

The medieval minds that govern what is arguably our nation’s most backassward state have really outdone themselves this time. Last year, Arizona captured the world’s attention with its discriminatory “show-me-your-papers” legislation that targeted Latino immigrants. SB-1070 is a law more fit for communist East Germany than for the so-called Land of the Free. But the people of Arizona overwhelmingly support it, despite many of the more enlightened among them who vociferously demonstrated against it. Then, just to show how seriously they take their discrimination (doing it, not fighting it), Arizona lawmakers banned ethnic studies classes in public schools in an attempt literally whitewash the social and historical narrative of our nation.

As for the millions of Arizonans who supported these bigoted pieces of legislation, some hoped that karma would up-jump and bite them in the ass like a diamondback rattlesnake in the Sonoran Desert. Alas, that possibility may now be impossible, for the fine folks in Phoenix are considering banning karma. Really.

Two bills before the Arizona legislature, aimed  mainly against the non-existent threat of an Islamic takeover of America, may soon attempt the impossible by banning karma as well. SB 1026 states that “a court shall not use, implement, refer to or incorporate a tenet of any body of religious sectarian law into any decision, finding or opinion as controlling or influential authority.” HB 2582, better known as the Arizona Foreign Decisions Act, would prohibit ‘religious sectarian law,’ which is defined as “any statute, tenet or body of law evolving within and binding a specific religious sect or tribe. Religious sectarian law includes sharia law, canon law, Halacha and karma but does not include any law of the United States or the individual states based on Anglo-American legal tradition and principles on which the United States was founded.”

For the uninitiated, karma is the Buddhist concept of causality, not a form of law but rather the natural consequences of our earthly actions. Karmic “law” is only law in a universal sense, like Newton’s “law” of gravity, not judicial law like the Islamic sharia law Arizona wants to ban. But the Arizona legislature is about as cosmopolitan as a saguaro cactus, and filled with nearly as many pricks. California is a foreign concept to them, so there’s no way we can expect them to understand that one can no more ban karma than she can ban gravity– assuming that karma, a supernatural force, even exists. It probably doesn’t, any more than the Christian god, the Tijuana donkey show, or SpongeBob SquarePants does.

While I’m sure the mullahs of Mesa are shaking in their dishdashas at the prospect of Arizona lawmakers foiling their grand scheme to create an American Caliphate based in Phoenix (hey, the weather’s just like it is in Mecca!), Buddhists are responding to the Grand Canyon State’s grand delusions with typical zen-like tranquility. Kyle Lovett of the Reformed Buddhist blog calmly asserted that the sponsors of these ridiculous bills “are exactly the kind of Americans that fuck everything else up for the rest of us… I spend way too much time and effort defending against anti-American xenophobic assholes, telling them America is a country of individuals, not one giant fat corporate ignorant greed machine. Thanks, you two dumb pitiful assholes for being the American stereotypes that get heard around the world, like a sloppy wet fart in an elevator. You guys are nothing more than a walking cliche. Next time, do me a favor, pick up a fucking dictionary and do a little homework before you make dumb-ass laws that make just no sense…” Oṃ śānti śānti śānti…

While it’s tempting to sit here and keep poking fun at Arizona’s unbelievably insular and unsophisticated elected officials, there is nothing funny about the insidious forces at work here. No less than thirteen states (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming) have introduced bills to ban Islamic Sharia law. These bans are 100% based in fear, 0% based in reality. It’s mildly amusing that those 13 states, which happen to be about the last places on earth, let alone in America, in danger of falling under Sharia law, are the ones most enthusiastically pursuing prohibition. You’ll see gay weddings on Salt Lake City’s Temple Square before you see Sharia law in Utah. Still, the fact that there are movements afoot in so much of America to ban Islamic law proves how deeply Islamophobia, xenophobia and Christian fundamentalism pervade the fabric of American society. This is as shameful as it is absurd. For a nation that prides itself on its religious freedom, these proposed laws yet again affirm that the United States is the world heavyweight champion of hypocrisy.

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  1. Kaitie-Lynn ParkerFebruary 22, 2011 at 9:07 pmReply

    Ok, so this law that says: “a court shall not use, implement, refer to or incorporate a tenet of any body of religious sectarian law into any decision, finding or opinion as controlling or influential authority” basically means a court cannot use religious laws or rules as the foundation for their basis, and requires them to rely ONLY on laws of the state, county, city, or federal government.
    So, what is the problem?! Isn’t this the ultimate expression of “separation of church and state”?! The state cannot use religious “law” as the basis for its decisions. That’s what the Constitution says; what the free exercise of your faith, free of persecution or prosecution under another religious system’s laws or rules.
    To say that this “bans” it from all people is a blatant attempt to mislead people. Your own citation from this law says as much- “a court shall not…” Not “no person shall”! This does nothing to prohibit any person from freely adhering to the rules and/or laws of their faith as they wish- so long as they don’t cause them to break existing (and non-religious) laws of the land. This is perfectly valid and reasonable! Those who believe in Sharia law, for example, are free to live their life by the tenets of it, as long as they don’t break the laws of the land. This is a good thing- if the courts are allowed to set a precedent by using a religious law as even just a part of their basis for their decision, then other courts would be compelled to follow suit- this would lead to courts where religious law could possibly trump legitimate law; and when this happens to one, it can happen to all- this would be a travesty of justice and a perversion of the separation of church and state! Think long and hard about arguing to allow these kinds of things to be used in consideration in court rulings- do you want a nation that could possibly become run by religious rules and laws if they are something that you do not believe in and don’t choose to adhere to? I cannot think of many who would be ok being forced to live under Sharia law if not Muslim, or under Jewish laws if not Jewish, or any one of those faiths being required to follow laws of each other’s faiths… it’s ridiculous to criticize a law protecting people from this sort of thing.

    • EditorJuly 26, 2011 at 10:13 amReply

      Thanks, I couldn’t have said it better myself. The separation of church and state is paramount to maintaining a free society and curbing tyrannical religions from controlling the masses.

  2. Kaitie-Lynn ParkerFebruary 22, 2011 at 9:10 pmReply

    Also, for what it’s worth, the second legislation quote you cited, it says that laws based upon the Anglo-Saxxon “tradition and principles” are not included. These are NOT based on religion, and ARE the founding principles of our nation- to include those would be including non-religious (and therefore unrelated) laws. This does not state that laws can be based on Anglo-Saxxon religious beliefs or rules. So, again, there’s no conflict with the Constitution, and this is merely a state law that would reflect the principle of separation of church and state. There is nothing that should cause anyone to object to this law in the text you cited.

  3. Sue Ann BowlingFebruary 23, 2011 at 11:21 amReply

    Arizona’s hardly alone in trying to ban laws of nature. I think it was Kansas that passed a law setting the value of pi (the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle) to 3. Interesting that they did not include biblical law, though.

    • Moral Low GroundFebruary 23, 2011 at 11:38 amReplyAuthor

      Like their revised value of pi, the elected officials of Kansas who passed that legislation are just a ‘little bit off!’

  4. Mohamed BadawyMarch 28, 2011 at 5:05 pmReply

    Try Sharia Law in Arizona to clean your state from drug dealers and criminals.

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 28, 2011 at 6:01 pmReplyAuthor

      No thanks, this country is founded upon the separation of church and state. Try telling that to Christian fundamentalists, though… or, as it appears from your site, Islamic fundamentalists, too!

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