Saturday, 6 December 2003

Discrimination against atheists in the Tennessee Constitution

Mike Hollihan at Half-Bakered has a post on discriminiation against atheists in the Tennessee Constitution. The relevant paragraph is Article IX, Section 2, which reads

No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this State.

Earlier, however, in Article I, Section 4, the Tennessee Constitution declares

That no political or religious test, other than an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and of this State, shall never be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this State.

Now how exactly can requiring that someone not deny the existence of God, or “future state of rewards and punishments,” not amount to a religious test? It would seem to even exclude Christian Universalists, who hold that everyone will be saved and no one will go to Hell.

And I wonder how broad the phrase “any office in the civil department of this State” is supposed to be. Are atheists not allowed to be Tennessee State Troopers?

Title game quickie picks

The brain trusts at ABC and CBS have decided to put the Big XII and SEC title games up against each other in prime time. Idiots. Thank God for DirecTV with TiVo.

  • Lousiana State over Georgia (at Atlanta). The trendy pick is Georgia. I think they’re in serious trouble unless David Greene can figure out LSU’s blitz packages—something even Unitas Award winner Eli Manning couldn’t do consistently. LSU by 10.
  • Oklahoma over Kansas State (at Kansas City). Ell Roberson and K-State will probably keep it close for a while, but Oklahoma has a stifling defense and too many receivers to cover. Sooners by 9.

The rampant BCS speculation is that LSU goes to the Sugar Bowl if both USC and LSU win. That, of course, assumes the pollsters don’t play dirty pool with the polls—something I wouldn’t put past the voters, particularly the AP voters who’ve never really signed on to this whole BCS thing (hell hath no fury like a journalist scorned: ask “major league asshole” Adam Clymer). You read it here first: the fix is in, and it’s gonna be Oklahoma–USC in N'Orleans.

It's an honor just to be nominated

For some reason (probably because Matt Stinson nominated us…), Signifying Nothing is nominated in the Wizbang! 2003 Weblog Awards. As the stereotypical “they” say, VEVO—although considering that we’re nominated in the same category as professional writer Roger L. Simon, I think we’re definitely in the #16 seed position at this point.

All the usual caveats about Internet polling apply. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself to try to block out the absolute drubbing we’re receiving…

IP address bans

The following IP addresses will no longer have access to Signifying Nothing; they almost certainly host spam crawlers:


The Management

Just my ten cents

I agree with Ryan of the Dead Parrots that the idea of replacing FDR with Ronald Reagan on the dime is true, unadulterated idiocy, which—given some Republicans’ worship of all that is Reagan—borders on idolatry. Besides, any good libertarian (or political scientist, for that matter) knows that the man whose face should be on the dime is James Madison…

French versus American journalism

Jay Rosen of PressThink has an interesting interview with Rodney Benson, a professor at NYU who is comparing the journalistic practices of American and French elite-oriented newspapers. Particularly interesting (to me, at least) was the discussion of the working theory of journalism’s role in mass politics, as articulated by Rosen:

A self-governing people need reliable, factual information about what’s going on, especially within their government. News provides that. The citizen at home absorbs the news, and maybe an editorial or column, and then forms her opinions. On election day she carries the information she got from the press, plus opinions formed on her own, into the voting booth, where she operates the levers of democracy. And that’s how the system works. Perhaps the most concise statement of this theory is, “get both sides and decide for yourself.” What you decide is your opinion. Later on, you vote based on that. For both activities one needs to be informed.

I’m not entirely sold on that model of opinionation in the mass public, which seems hopelessly idealized given Converse’s evidence of nonattitudes and Zaller’s R-A-S model, but it’s an interesting model nonetheless. I also found this comment by Benson interesting:

Sociologist Herbert Gans, who wrote the classic newsroom organizational study Deciding What’s News, has said that the American press could do more to promote democracy if it were less concerned with objectivity, and more concerned with presenting multiple viewpoints. Well, the French press, both individual media outlets as well as the system as a whole, does seem to me to approach more closely this kind of a “multiperspectival” ideal.

Anyway, if this sort of stuff interests you, go RTWT™.


Russell Fox of Wäldchen vom Philosophenweg (and Arkansas State University) and his wife Melissa are the proud parents of a baby girl. Congratulations and best wishes!