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Benjamin McGuire

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About Benjamin McGuire

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    Separates Water & Dry Land
  • Birthday August 16

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    Northern Michigan

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  1. Anijen writes: You didn't answer my question. We know that the court doesn't agree with you when it comes to the issue of employees versus employers. That is, religious activity in the context of one's employment against the wishes of the employer isn't protected. And in this context, an employee of a company that makes these invitations or that bakes cakes can be fired (without recourse) for their discrimination if it runs contrary to the employers policies. This was reiterated as recently as this past Tuesday by SCOTUS in their decision not to accept the petition in Kennedy vs Bremerton School District (where the employee was fired from his coaching job for praying on the field following games). The distinction that is made is that employers cannot regulate private speech (as opposed to public speech) in contexts where free speech is an issue. And it could be debated (but not in this case) that an action is private as opposed to public. And in connection with this, we know that the government can in fact compel speech (contrary to Provoman's assertion). While this is particularly true in the case of individuals who are employed as civil servants whose personal beliefs are largely irrelevant to the job they are required to perform, it is also true of corporations (who are regularly compelled to create speech). For example, the Surgeon General warnings on tobacco products are a recognized form of compelled speech. Teachers in particular, are considered by the courts as "speech for hire" which means that their students have considerably more free speech rights than they do within the formal context of their employment. This is well established in case law. The issue though, is that in this distinction (which you seem to be failing to recognize) between speech and speech for hire, is that there is no assumption in speech for hire of the idea that the person who is creating that speech is demonstrating their own personal beliefs. When I worked for the Daily Herald many decades ago, I routinely produced advertisements for grocery stores. No one looks at a grocery store ad, and assumes from the images that are put there for the sale on beer, that the person making that ad is endorsing the consumption of alcohol. We all recognize that the ad reflects the intentions of the grocery store who purchased the advertising (to sell alcohol). Likewise, at a wedding (or even for the recipients of a wedding invitation), no one who gets one, or goes to the wedding, cares at all about any speech that might be coming from the artist who designs the cake, or the invitation. It isn't recognized by anyone else as speech on the part of the creator. It is a speech by the person who has purchased it. This is the issue with speech for hire. We can see the normalcy in this, perhaps, from that well known painting that was requested by the LDS Church, where the Church required the artists to go back and remove all the angel wings. Was the Church refusing to let the artist's speech stand? Or was the painting really a speech act produced by the Church, employing the artist in the process? This is recognized in a number of court proceedings that are working their way through the appeals process. The wedding cake case in Colorado simply avoided this question. SCOTUS made a very narrow ruling that had little to do with the question of what constituted speech. Telescope Media Group vs Kevin Lindsey (the Minnesota case with the wedding video producer) tackles this head on - since part of the original decision involved this specific issue. And this makes it much more likely to become an issue for SCOTUS should it decide to eventually take the case on appeal. The original decision clearly identified the video as speech-for-hire. Here are a few statements from the original District Court decision which is currently being appealed: In the foot notes, the decision notes at this point that: In other words, if the product is speech-for-hire, then the producer or the "conduit" cannot themselves claim that it is protected - that can only be done by the client who purchased it. It is clear (at least to me) that the religious right is looking for a way to create a new application of free speech principles - not to to use an existing and long-standing principle to defend themselves. They want to create a new right to discriminate. This question of speech-for-hire is absolutely essential. Because it becomes the core of this argument. Taken from a religious perspective, I know of no religion that makes it a sin to bake a cake for a gay wedding, or to produce a marriage invitation to a gay wedding. There is a certain amount of absurdity in the idea that somehow, this forces people to act in a way that is contrary to their religious beliefs. And to carry this further, think of the implication of making videographers, and wedding invitations the speech of the artist. They then become liable for any suits arising from the message, and they release the client who purchased it from any liability rising from the message. That too is an absolute absurdity. I expect that the courts will eventually define things like the cake, and the wedding invitation as speech for hire, and this will have an impact on the decision to define this as not protected. Ben McGuire
  2. So Anijen, here is the question for you - When is something personal art and personal expression, and when is it merely speech for hire? Ben McGuire
  3. When this statement was introduced, Joseph Smith was heavily influenced by the restorationist movement. In particular, Joseph Smith was influenced by Sidney Rigdon, who had previously been an associate of Alexander Campbell (of the Stone-Cambell movement). Campbell had produced a new translation of much of the bible, and this shows up in a couple of places in the Joseph Smith Translation. In general, among the earliest Mormons, this was mostly about the actual words and the way they get translated. In the King Follett Discourse, Joseph Smith suggested that his German translation (referring to a German New Testament made by Luther) was the best translation he had encountered. He also suggested it was the closest to the revelations he had had, which provides evidence of what Joseph Smith considered to be a priority for his textual understanding. This is not long before his death - Joseph Smith never embraced the King James text - and while it was the only really available English translation at the time, Joseph Smith began in 1835 to push his followers to study the biblical texts in their original languages. The early LDS included issues of transmission (that you ask about) within the idea of translation, but it was not the strongest focus of his rhetoric (which really did circle around the idea of word choice). Having said that, the LDS faith as a whole deals sometimes with issues of authority, often treating all statements from their leaders as prophetic and inspired. The shift from Joseph Smith's view of the King James to the current position where the King James is elevated occurs around 1880. The first major and widely available English alternative to the King James is published in the 1880s (the RV) and contained tens of thousands of changes to the KJV text. Some of these impacted passages (including proof texts) that had been used by earlier LDS leaders including Joseph Smith. And so the LDS Church, responding to the idea of an academic translation that contracted their notion of inspiration and revelation, were quite vocal in their opposition to this new translation. Two important things occurred in this context. The first was that the LDS Church largely became a KJV only group, and second, there was within that cultural discussion about translation, a renewed interest in the translation of the Book of Mormon. This is when we start seeing interviews with Martin Harris about the translation (he was the last major participant in the translation process still alive when this discussion begins). And out of this discussion about the Book of Mormon comes the notion that the Book of Mormon is somehow a word-for-word sort of translation of the Gold Plates. You might find this link interesting: https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/august-2016/book-mormon-communicative-act The Church went on to use (and modify) study aids to the text of the King James Version when they began publishing their own editions, further cementing its relationship to that text. In many ways, the LDS Church continues to promote the KJV as best translation to use - although they have shifted the way that they discuss this just a bit - now referencing the traditional use of the KJV by the Church's early leaders, and the use of its language in the Book of Mormon as being some of the major reasons to do so. However, this clearly only matters within the English speaking LDS Church. They Church has identified its own favorite translations in other languages frequently used by Church members. Most members that I know, who have engaged in an academic study of the Bible tend to favor other translations. I have many, including original language versions. Interestingly enough, given the closeness of the Book of Mormon to the KJV text, it would be simple enough to identify the least controversial scriptural citation in the Book of Mormon and simply replace them with a more recent translation, and get a better text. This depends a great deal about personal views on the nature of the Book of Mormon translation. Many LDS would disagree, and would see the Book of Mormon as an endorsement of the KJV translation. I personally do not believe that the KJV is a terribly good translation of the Biblical text. There are several better mainstream translations. But I don't expect the Church to change its views on this issue until we shift away from our current reliance on the correlation process in the Church. It brings up a number of issues about what in the Church represents revelation and inspiration as opposed to tradition (including the interpretive traditions in which the early LDS Church participated). Ben McGuire
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