Things I did not know

>> Saturday, February 28, 2009

Well, this is a little embarrassing, to tell you the truth. I took an affirmation to uphold the State Constitution of North Carolina when I was licensed to practice law, and I'd thought I'd read the whole damn thing, but I guess I just focused on Article I because it's the section that comes up the most in criminal practice. But recently I learned something:

For years I've joked about how I could only get elected for office in North Carolina if I ran in Chapel Hill, and maybe not even there. Turns out I was dead wrong:

The following persons shall be disqualified for office:

First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.


Here I was, outraged that about the fact that polls show nearly two-thirds of Americans wouldn't vote for an atheist for President, and it turns out I can't even run for a local office if I wanted to (I emphatically don't). Or I could run, I'd just be disqualified to hold it.

Okay, so that provision of the State Constitution is unconstitutional under the Federal Constitution (yet another example of the evil influence of activist judges and the pernicious invasion of an expansive central, national government into local affairs). Still: if I did ever decide to run for office, I imagine I'd have to face a court challenge once my wickedness came to light. Although probably the real reason I'd win is that I intuitively know that God is real and I say he doesn't exist because I hate Him and I want to make Jesus cry.


So there you are. In addition to all the other reasons I will never run for elected office--my liberalism, the fact that electoral politics are grungy and horrible, my antisocial tendencies, my occasional social awkwardness, my nerdiness, the fact that maybe you'd have to be crazy to put yourself through that meat grinder--I now have one more: I can't. I hate to say that it doesn't seem like that much of a personal loss, but somehow the thought of not being able to do something I'd really rather not do... enh.

As the man said, "Oh well, whatever, nevermind."


Leanright,  Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 2:07:00 AM EST  

Maybe when your North Carolina forefathers drafted that document, they figured anyone going into political office would NEED to be a believer, because the job sucks so much, the office holder would need to do an awful lot of praying.

Just a thought.

Nathan Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 8:17:00 AM EST  

You'd never win anyway, you bastard. I bet you also hate kittens and puppies and baby rhinisori and even unevolved fishing lures.

Leanright,  Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 10:06:00 AM EST  

Eric would be the 2nd Democrat I'd ever voted for, if, of course I lived in NC.

The first was Chuck Quackenbush for Insurance Commissioner of California. I mean, how can you NOT vote for a guy named "Quackenbush".

Janiece Murphy Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 10:41:00 AM EST  

Eric, how many times do I have to tell you that it's not nice to make Jesus cry?

It's no wonder intelligent, well-informed, scientifically-minded people like Ray Comfort think agnostics and atheists are hateful, spiteful people with no sense of reality.

You're making my life harder, dude.

Really - get on board.

Eric Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 11:40:00 AM EST  

Nathan, I don't hate baby rhinos, I hate cleaning up after them. I think you should only have to tell a rhinoceros once to put his toys away, and then of course they cry when they don't and you step on one of their toys and break it, and you end up feeling so guilty that you have to make a special trip out to the rhinoceros toy store to get a replacement even though it's the rhino's fault and you told him to pick up after himself. And then they don't have the toy and you have to sit down and explain that to the baby rhinoceros, who causes a huge headache instinctively pulls out his blackboard and chalk and proceeds to explain how Hasbro could make so much money off of "unpopular" toys if they modified their distribution change, and you're sitting there wondering where a seven-month-old even heard the phrase "horizontal distribution" because you certainly never taught it to him. And then his mother comes home and you explain the whole thing to her and ask where the hell her son learned this shit, and she goes into a rage because you didn't pick up her son's toy yourself and she goes into that whole "mother was right" crap and you realize after she's moved out that (1)you sort of miss that baby rhinoceros after all, and you feel guilty over it, and (2)that the bitch took your Firefly DVD box set with her when she left, along with all the Bruce Springsteen albums except Lucky Town and Human Touch.

So yes, Nathan, I hate baby rhinoceroi, or maybe just that one.

But let us never speak of my first marriage again.

Jim Wright Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 5:30:00 PM EST  

The worldnet article you linked to Eric - fuck me running, I swear fundies have the worst case of ADHD I've ever seen. The thing starts out one topic and ends on another. WTF?

Here's a question though, you're an ADA, right? You get assigned to clients. Could those clients, the ones that get convicted despite your best efforts, later make a case for poor state representation if they were to find out they were represented by an Atheist? Based on the state constitution. I.e. God was pissed and let me go to jail despite my innocence because my lawyer denied the existence of the Almighty Sky Fairy - and I didn't know it. I'm a Christian, praise be to Jeebus, and I just found out, now I want a new trial.

Eric Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 5:59:00 PM EST  

Ack! Hell no, I'm not an ADA (assistant district attorney), Jim! I'm an APD (assistant public defender), on the side of the (secular) angels.

No offense taken, other than mock horror--it's a common enough mistake.

Believe me, you see all sorts of claims for relief, some of them wacky. I wouldn't actually be shocked if somebody tried to claim I wasn't Christian enough, tho' it's not a claim that would get them very far.

The tricky part with religion and the criminal justice system is really the fact that a very large percentage of rehab and addiction programs are religion-based in one sense or another. For instance AA is a cornerstone substance-abuse treatment program, and there are legitimate concerns that court-ordered AA participation violates the establishment clause (e.g. see Griffin v. Coughlin, 88 N.Y.2d 674 (1996)).

Atheist that I am, I'm pragmatic enough to take a "whatever works" approach: I've referred countless clients to church-sponsored or religion-based treatment programs (including AA/NA) and to community support systems such as their church ("if you're religious, maybe you could talk to you pastor..."), frequently with the caveat, "I'm not religious, myself, but...."

Getting back to your original question, Jim, the Constitution entitles a criminal defendant who is facing the possibility of jail time to appointed counsel, not the counsel of his choice. A religious defendant is no more entitled to a religious lawyer than the white supremacist defendant is entitled to a Caucasian. On that note, on the civil side of things the ACLU has a long and noble history of providing racists and bigots with lawyers they'd have "issues" with, a nice way of not only showing that endorsing rights is separate from endorsing those claiming them, and perhaps of challenging the beliefs of the bigots in a subtle way.

How'd we get semi-serious all of a sudden? It's Saturday! We should talk about whether or not horses should be forced to wear pants in the name of decency! (Answer: it's not necessary, because horses did not partake of the fruit of the Tree Of Knowledge and therefore do not know sin; their nakedness and public fornication is therefore without shame.)

Jim Wright Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 6:45:00 PM EST  

Oops, sooorry. ADA, APD whatever you're all lawyers.

I was just curious how that worked in a state that actually requires its office holders to be believers.

Now, as to the other issue, horses, pants. Yes. Horses should be forced to wear pants. Especially stallions. Once a women gets a gander at a stallion's, uh, horsehood, well, there's nothing a man can whip out in the bedroom to impress them.

This is also why I don't think women should be firemen - after they handle those big hoses all day...

Eric Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 8:00:00 PM EST  

I think women can't be firemen by definition, Jim, so no worries there: only manly, masculine men will handle those thick, long hoses.

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