10 February 2012: DC Exile Day 17
Let’s get caught up on some news from the past week.
On Thursday, GF and I went to see the new film, Big Miracle. The film stars John Krasinski, Drew Barrymore and Kristen Bell. The film’s plot revolves around three whales trapped under ice (much like James Hetfield was) off the coast of Alaska. It takes a daring young reporter, a fiery unstoppable Greenpeace activist and a host of other characters to deal with rescuing these adorable gray whales. The film had two highlights for me. The first involved seeing a Russian tanker (that’s a type of ship for you nautical newbies). Ever since I was in elementary school I had a passive fascination with Russia. It is one place on earth that has a magical, sexy allure for me. When I was a kid, I would stand in the shower (taking a shower) and point my pointer finger in the air. My pointer finger was crooked toward the right (east if you’re facing north) and I always said aloud to myself (quietly and in what I thought was a Russian accent), “Yes. It points to Mother Russia.”
The second highlight of the film was seeing the Russian ship crew taking shots of vodka. I learned that it must be ok to drink and drive if you’re driving a massive piece of metal that is generally in open water. (“Wait, what’s that poking out of the water up ahead? That looks like ice. Nah. It can’t beahhhhhhhh! Cue the violins!”)
Halting the Big Miracle
Catholic bishops and leaders have been wrangling with President Obama regarding the decision that all women should have access to free birth control. President Obama issued a compromise to the mandate that all employers offer no-cost birth control. The coverage from Slate and Mother Jones is helpful in explaining just what the decision means for women working at religiously-affiliated charities, hospitals and schools. NARAL Pro-Choice America calls the decision a “reaffirmation of the commitment to ensuring contraceptive coverage.”
Based on my initial understanding of President Obama’s decision, it seems like a fair compromise and one that will allow all women in the US to benefit from no-cost birth control despite the Catholic bishops’ best attempt to stop women from having access to the full rights of citizens.
Why do Catholic bishops have any say in the political decisions of this country? The answer should be “they don’t,” but that is sadly not true.
I do not believe that any religious organization should be allowed to open any sort of usually-public institution. Religious organizations should not be allowed to open hospitals, schools, universities, post offices, fire departments or police stations. Religion is inherently a private matter in which private citizens can make private decisions to follow make-believe. (I did it for a large portion of my life.) But those private decisions and beliefs should never get to sway public policy. If Catholic bishops are opposed to birth control – the end. There should be no more to that sentence because it doesn’t matter what comes after their belief as far as public policy is concerned.
Sometimes I feel that we wrongly assume “freedom of religion” is synonymous with and equivalent to “freedom of unchallengeable bigotry.”