The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

November 5, 2012

Activists should stick to the attainable

RICHMOND — Several weeks ago, I offered some advice to my friends on what we’ll call the “left.”

Making a priority of an unattainable goal that is not urgent but generates a lot of hostility will put some of their attainable goals out of reach.

Politics is the art of the possible, I said, arguing for a practical approach to public policy.

That was in regard to the proposed Fairness Ordinance that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment and public accommodations. Politicians who supported that proposal would likely lose election, I said, and other liberal objectives would suffer.

Now, I’d like to offer some advice to my friends on what we’ll call the “right.”

I think their push for lower taxes, less government spending and education reform suffered a blow when some of them tried use use a technicality in the Richmond zoning ordinance to argue that a Muslim house of worship should not be allowed in a business zone that allows Christian houses of worship.

They were angered that I called their argument un-American.

Well, freedom of religion is a longstanding, basic American principle that has set our nation apart from all others.

Even if that First Amendment guarantee originally applied only to the federal government until the Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment extended it to the states, it has come to define us.

Freedom of Worship was one of the Four Freedoms (along with Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Fear and Freedom from Want) that President Franklin Roosevelt said Americans were fighting to defend in World War II.

It is disingenuous for those who challenged the planning commission to argue they were merely concerned citizens questioning whether the zoning board had properly enforced the ordinance. While they bristled at my labeling their action un-American, I noticed they did not respond to my suggestion that they would not have questioned whether a Christian church open for only a few hours a week should be allowed in a zone created for businesses that serve the traveling public.

I generally try to avoid labels, but I couldn’t let this one pass, especially given the history of people on the right labeling some on the left as un-American.

I also found their argument ironic, because in other states some Christian groups have argued their First Amendment rights were being denied when local zoning ordinances were used to prevent their worship gatherings in homes in residential zones.

I also find it ironic that people who have repeatedly berated public officials in a condescending and even contemptuous manner cried foul and portrayed themselves as victims when met with a strenuous retort by City Attorney Garrett Fowles.

Fowles may have been too hasty when he cut off a speaker addressing the planning commission, but those who criticized him for that were unable to refute his argument that the city had to treat all religions equally, despite their interpretation of the ordinance’s terminology.

American law in such cases favors substance over form. What one religion is permitted to do, another may do.

This incident demonstrates my contention of why people of moderation, common sense and practicality should vigorously stand up for their principles.

If moderates cringe and cower, those who are loud and persistent, no matter how unreasonable, may carry the day.

However, extremists often, if not always, self destruct.

1
Text Only
Viewpoints
  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Education a priority? Don’t believe it

    They did it – more or less.

    They got a budget, they got a road plan and they got out of town on time.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don McNay.jpg Did you miss small business health-care tax credit?

    A Kentucky professional who owns his own business found that he missed getting the health-care tax credit.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Compromise is not that simple

    It’s tempting for a casual onlooker to wonder why the Democratic House and Republican Senate can’t make what on the surface looks like the obvious compromise on pension reform.
    The Senate passed a measure based on recommendations of a task force to move new employees into a hybrid, cash-balance plan but maintain existing defined benefits for current employees and retirees.

    March 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Frankfort plays ping-pong with public pension transparency

    Legislation that would make the Kentucky Retirement Systems transparent for those paying its bills has danced into the spotlight during the 2014 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
    Passage of transparency bills filed by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, and Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, would make the “names, status, projected or actual benefit payments” subject to our commonwealth’s superlative Open Records Act.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jack Strauss-BW.jpg The case of the ghostly neighbor

    Wilbur lived in a world of fears. Everything frightened him. The full extent of his courage was to admit that he had none.
    Noises in the middle of the night, his own shadow creeping up on him and, most of all, black cats scared the wits out of him.
    So, picture his chagrin, one day, when he came home from vacation only to discover that a mausoleum had been erected on property adjacent to his home.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Provisional concealed-carry law passes Senate unanimously

    Things are staying busy in Frankfort. Many bills are making their way onto the Senate floor from various committees. This past week several important pieces of legislation were debated and passed.
    I am particularly proud of the success we had in advocating for Kentuckians’ Second Amendment rights.
    I introduced Senate Bill 106 to allow anyone who has been granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order to receive a provisional CCDW permit from the Kentucky State Police in one business day. In some of these cases, victims need this type of protection as quickly as possible.

    March 8, 2014

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg 50 years makes a world of difference

    I wasn’t in Frankfort on March 5, 1964, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and Jackie Robinson led 10,000 on a march to the state Capitol in support of a public accommodations law.
    But a few months later, I stood in front of the “Music Hall,” site of the Glasgow Junior High School located on a street named Liberty, and watched black kids “walk up the hill” of College Street on the first day of integrated schools in Glasgow.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • 02.23 Mike Duncan mug.jpg Coal has kept Kentuckians warm this winter

    This winter, temperatures across the country dipped to historic lows. Here in our home state of Kentucky, the near-arctic climate caused increased power demand which resulted in an incredible strain on the electric grid and rising energy costs.

    March 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Protecting citizens’ data is a no-brainer

    Target Corp. is learning the hard way: The price is steep for retailers who don’t protect customers’ sensitive financial information.
    Target’s profits fell a whopping 50 percent during its fourth quarter of 2013 as the result of a massive security breach involving as many as 110 million of its customers’ credit- and debit-card accounts, which began the day before Thanksgiving and extended throughout much of the holiday shopping season.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Making plans for spring planting

    My brother Keith (Keeter) probably planted peas on one of those warm days last week, and I would not be at all surprised to find out that brother Steve did likewise to try to be the first two fellows in Letcher County to actually be digging the soil in their 2014 gardens.
    Keeter’s father-in-law, the late Dock Mitchell, used to get my brother to drive him a 50-mile round trip to get pea seeds and potting soil for early February planting. Dock raised mammoth melting sugar snow peas and sugar snaps around every fence on the place. 

    February 27, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

Yes
No
     View Results