Tag Archives: law

Ethics at QTC

We’ve got an Ethics intensive this week. I’m pretty excited. I’ll be blogging some stuff at Venn Theology. We’re being lectured by a British guy named Jonathon Burnside he has been in Dr Who. So he’s cool. This is his website.

He’s a “reader in law” who specialises in OT law. And he’s big on basing our Christian ethics on the OT. Which should be fun.

“We should feel free to draw on the whole of Scripture in forming our ethics”

The basis for not applying laws about shrimp is:

“There is ethical continuity but there is ethnic discontinuity.”

I was thinking about this yesterday. I was thinking about the very literal way the New Atheists read Old Testament laws. It doesn’t match the way we read any laws in a modern setting. We don’t apply the laws literally, the courts interpret the laws. And they do so via an Acts Interpretation Act (there’s the entire benefit of my 2.5 years as a law student).

I’m thinking that Deuteronomy 6:5 acts as a paradigmatic “Acts Interpretation Act”… and thus, the need to know the law involves being able to interpret it properly.

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Which makes it extra interesting that Jesus then refers back to that as the most important commandment in all three synoptic gospels.

What do you reckon? I’m going to try to get into an argument with an atheist and see how that line flies.

Check out Venn Theology for Ethics posts.

Benny on parenting

The last post I did touched on the issue of non-hetero couples having the right to have children.

Nathan suggested that having children has become a right.

Then he asked if parents have the right to raise children as they want.

Addressing the third issue first, current international law and domestic legislation favours the wellbeing of the child over the rights of the parents.

Section 61DA of the Family Law Act (Cth) requires the Court to apply a rebuttable presumption that it is in the best interests of the child for the child’s parents to have equal shared parental responsibility for the child (also see s 65DAA). Section 60CA cements the position that the Child’s best interests are paramount when making a parenting order. A child also gets their own representation separate from all other party’s whose primary task is to ensure the child’s best interested are represented.

In my opinion the current ideals are a little weak in recognising a parent’s right to raise their own child. for example, if a child is removed from their parents custody at a young age, say they are given to their father’s parents, and a few years later a mother, now single with the father gone, wants to retrieve custody of the child from the grandparents, the grandparents will have a very strong case to retain custody, on the grounds it is in the best interests of the child (s 65C Family Law Act). This concerns me as I think it may not necessarily lead to a presumption that the best interests of the child would be a longer-term plan focused on returning the child to the parent’s custody, despite the parent’s efforts.

However, back to Nathan’s issues, the legislation doesn’t recognise a parent’s right to do whatever they want with their child. I think to a certain degree the State should put limitations on parenting. Like with most topics, I think a certain level of regulation of parenting is beneficial. I think in this sense, acting in the best interests of the child is the correct approach. However, it should take into consideration where possible the wants of the parents.

So, now onto the bit I think Nathan really wants me to address, evil homosexuals deserve the right to have children?

My basic though process, which I admit I think needs further refinement, is that the State (and international bodies such as the UN, see the Wiki article on rights of a child,  has defined the requirements of parentage, and can further add and vary these requirements. There is nothing in my mind that suggests that homosexual parents would not be in the best interests of the child. Aside from issues that derive from social stigmas, a child with same-sex parents should have as quality an upbringing as any other. So really, the only reason a child with same-sex parents should be at a disadvantage is because of the segment of society who doesn’t believe in this lifestyle and chooses to create difficulties.

Same-sex parents aren’t the enemy to children, or adults. The bad things in this world are violent people, inconsiderate people, people that willingly cause harm or distress to others. Homosexuality does not mean that a person carries these traits. They are not mutually exclusive, but they are also definitely not psychologically attached.

Provided parents provide adequately for their children, that’s where the judgement should end. We should put our efforts into making society more accommodating, rather than reinforcing its limitations.

So I think the problem is not should “non-traditional” couples be allowed to have children, but rather how it should be implemented, as even traditional couples who can’t have children have not found the path to having a family easy. And I guess this leads to Nathan’s last question, is having children a right. I would like to say everyone who deserves children should be able to have them, however I don’t think this is possible, due to if nothing else supply constraints. I think many people think of children as a right to the point that they believe they should be supported in their right to have children, to the point society should subsidise and provide for their right. I do not agree with this. I think, like anything in life, children are something parents should have to work for, and provide for themselves. I do think there are instances where the State can assist, but not to the extent I think many people believe they are entitled to. One area that I think State can assist in is equality in opportunity, and for this reason I find no difficulty supporting consideration of extending the surrogacy laws.

Tequila Mockingbird

For those not interested in US race politics here’s a quick snapshot of a story going on in the US now that will make this post make sense…

An African American professor was arrested in his own home recently for breaking into his own home. The police were called by a neighbour, who didn’t recognise the guy as the home owner. The guy told the police that he was the homeowner, established this fact, and was still taken to the police station – Barack Obama commented on the situation, which is inappropriate given the separation of powers between executive and judicial arms of government. Everybody got mad. Then Obama invited the professor and the police man around to his house for a beer so they could have some laughs and move on with life…

Pretty cool hey. It’s a bit like To Kill A Mockingbird – because it’s about Racism, and a guy who knows the law really well doing his bit for reconciliation and to bring equality to the legal system.

Anyway, XKCD has produced this comic strip – which was funny.

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Presumption of innocence

One of the pillars our legal system is built on is the idea that the law must consider people innocent until proven guilty. I learned that in my few years of soul destroying legal studies. And from Law and Order. Which I don’t watch. The courts have a responsibility to consider defendants innocent until proven guilty. As does the media – they can’t be seen to unduly influence court proceedings. Trial by media is dangerous – particularly in jury trials where perception can become reality.

Dr Death Part 2: the terrorist Indian is a case that has thrust the doctrine of presumption of innocence into the spotlight. The government has been lambasted for revoking Dr Haneef’s visa before any conclusive findings have emerged. While political pundits point at this move as blatant wedge realpolitiking (creating a divisive issue in the national interest) and point scoring with the critical (in terms of importance rather than critique) dumb masses – I’d say the onus on the government is slightly different. I don’t think the government needs to function under the same umbrella doctrine when it comes to the potential innocence of a potential terrorist. Their responsibility is different. Government’s must be slightly prejudiced to protect their citizen’s interests. The burden of proof is also different – extradition is a different kettle of fish to incarceration. Kicking someone out of the country for possibly being a threat to the populace is not the same as removing someone from the public because they’re a confirmed danger.

For anyone outside the judicial branch of government to presume the innocence of anyone charged is for us to presume that the police force, the prosecutors et al are incompetent and every arrest and charge is wrong.

While Haneef is probably – on the weight of the evidence published so far – only slightly more dangerous than your average Queensland medical practitioner – I don’t think the government can be criticised too much for wanting to put the interests of their citizens at the top of their concerns. Even if it’s been a critical success (in the positive opinion sense of the word) with the critical masses (in the essential to election success sense of the word) giving the government’s approval rating a slight bump upwards in the polls – that’s surely no reason to be cynical…