January 15, 2009

A threesome of thickheadedness

Three recent stories in the news have reminded me that I haven't dished out the DIM BULB du jour in a dog's age. So without further ado, here is today's smorgasbord of stupidity.

Our first worthy recipient is chronic atheist agitator, Michael Newdow, who has once again attempted to banish God from the public square. His holy war against Publid Displays of Religion began in 2000, when he filed suit, supposedly on behalf of his daughter, to have the words "one nation under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. The suit was dismissed by the district court, but upon appeal the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the phrase was, indeed, unconstitutional. However, in 2004, the suit was again dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court: not only did Newdow lack standing because he did not have custody of his daughter, but the phrase "one nation under God" was constitutional on the basis that it was a secular slogan acknowledging national heritage. A second lawsuit arguing the same thing is currently in the court system.

In 2005, Newdow tried again, suing to have the motto "In God We Trust" removed from currency. He was, again, unsuccessful.

Following George W. Bush's first inauguration in 2001, Newdow unsuccessfully filed suit in federal court because Franklin Graham's invocation supposedly violated the separation of church and state. Now, he is trying that same stunt again:

President-elect Barack Obama wants to conclude his inaugural oath with the words "so help me God," but a group of atheists is asking a federal judge to stop him.

California atheist Michael Newdow sued Chief Justice John Roberts in federal court for an injunction barring the use of those words in the inaugural oath. . . .

Named in Newdow's lawsuit are Roberts; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; and the two pastors invited to the event, the Rev. Rick Warren and the Rev. Joseph Lowery.

[Full Story]

He will, of course, fail yet again. One wonders how many times he has to sue and lose before a binding legal precedent gets set. For his grandstanding lawsuits attempting to impose his minority religious beliefs upon all Americans, Michael Newdow is awarded our first DIM BULB du jour.

Exhibit B in our parade of poppycock is Heath Campbell. You may remember his name from a few weeks ago because he raised a stink when the local ShopRite store refused to decorate a birthday cake for his son. After all, his son's name is Adolf Hitler Campbell. His little sisters, incidentally, are named JoyceLynn Aryan Nation and HonzLynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, respectively. Seriously. Nonetheless, Heath Campbell insists that he gave his son the name "Adolf Hitler" simply because "no one else in the world would have that name." Suuure. (I think I'll name my firstborn Michael Ignatieff Eats Babies For Satan McClare, just to make sure he's never confused with anyone else.)

Now, the New Jersey division of Youth and Family Services has removed little Adolf, Aryan, and Hinler from the home; the parents are expected in court today. These cases are confidential and YFS is not forthcoming with the reason the kids have been taken away from their parents; however, YFS insists it isn't because of their names. I would certainly hope that the government would have more justification than that to take children from their parents. However, I can't help thinking that Heath Campbell's acts of public stupidity got him some unwanted attention.

Our third and final distinguised award goes to André Cornellier, the seemingly mentally challenged president of Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 279, representing bus drivers, dispatchers, and mechanics employed by OC Transpo. The union has been on strike since December 10. They originally voted overwhelmingly in favour of striking, and last week voted 75% in favour of rejecting the latest contract offer by the city of Ottawa. At that time, despite the inconvenience of no public transit, it seemed as though public opinion was also largely sympathetic to the union.

However, it appears that Cornellier and the other Powers That Be in ATU 279 are working to erode what public support they have. The local colleges and universities have set up shuttle services, thus far at their own expense, to enable students to get to and from school. This service being quite expensive, the city has offered some emergency financial assistance to the schools. In response, the union has informed the schools that if they accept city money, it would be tantamount to accepting "scab labour." Apparently, school bus drivers not employed by OC Transpo, driving students along routes not serviced by Transpo buses, now count as "replacement workers." Ditto the Para Transpo service, used by the disabled: the service is to be expanded by the city for the duration of the strike, and because they might have used non-union drivers, the union has threatened to picket this service as well. In the meantime, an agreement has been reached between the city and the union that additional Para Transpo drivers will be members of the Para Transpo bargaining unit. This doesn't change the fact that the threat was originally made.

Cornellier is a one-man PR nightmare for the ATU. He seems hell-bent on squandering whatever goodwill the union has gained. He certainly isn't making any friends by threatening the daily lives of people who are already severely inconvenienced. I still think both sides are being idiots. But at least the city of Ottawa isn't actively working to spread around the misery.