Focus on fact, not fantasy

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Letter-writer Doug Smith (“27th-Century thinking (BC, that is),” The Telegram, July 5) is free to disagree with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Hobby Lobby case, but he should confine his disagreement to the actual decision, not the feminist fantasy one.

Hobby Lobby (which pays its employees twice the minimum wage) provided 16 kinds of contraception coverage before there was an Obamacare mandate, and happily continued to do so afterwards.

But Obamacare made it compulsory for the employer to provide an additional four kinds to which the family owned company had moral objections.

The court made a very narrow ruling, applicable only to this type of small family company, in favour of the owners’ freedom not to violate their religious consciences. Employees are free to obtain these four contraceptives from other sources, at little or no expense.  

Smith completely misrepresents the substance of the ruling.

But the real question here is, should government be able to dictate to employers and privately owned insurance businesses what kind of health coverage policies they should offer?

This is akin to government dictating what kinds of foods a grocery store can sell.

As long as health insurance is a private-enterprise commodity, the companies should be free to decide what products they want to sell.

Americans have repeatedly rejected the adoption of Canadian-style, single-payer health care, and U.S. President Barack Obama’s attempt to mandate what they don’t want, while driving private insurance out of business, is in the process of imploding.

Claudia Brown


Organizations: Hobby Lobby

Geographic location: U.S.

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Recent comments

  • Doug Smith
    July 16, 2014 - 11:33

    Mr. Burke, I have shown you the error of your beliefs, bringing up new ones as you do, can continue forever. I think you have become so blinded to reality by your views that you refuse to see the error of your ways. That’s all I have to say for this “letter to the editor”. Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

    • Colin Burke
      July 16, 2014 - 22:13

      Mr. Smith, my continually bringing up "new beliefs" is only my trying to make the same point in different ways, hoping that a new angle will enable you to see it, but your mind seems to me to be closed to the possibility that you might be wrong: I have seen that attitude described as "bigotry." My point is simply this: Unless you can prove scientifically that what you call mere opinion cannot ever be validated objectively, then you yourself are holding that position as a mere opinion which can never be validated. I believe I asked you for scientific proof of that position quite some time before I brought up any new belief and you either dodged the question or simply re-asserted it only dogmatically without offering even evidence for it, far less proof of it. It seems to me to be not a conclusion of science but a conclusion about science made from outside science, and according to your position no such conclusion can be valid. I can indeed "continue for ever" pointing out the error of your ways and praying for you to see it.

  • Doug Smith
    July 15, 2014 - 17:07

    Mr. Burke, your statement”…that it is self-evidently true that persons deserve the effects of what they do.” is wrong for the following reasons. The word “deserve” is an opinion word not a scientific word. To use the word “deserve” is to make a judgement based on an opinion not a scientific experiment. Therefore we will never know the truth of the matter, i.e., whether the effects were deserved or not. Also, to say “that it is self-evidently true”, is an opinion also. Some people may say it is not self -evidently true. So Mr. Burke you are left with only your opinion, which is as good as anyone’s else’s but no better. There is no truth here only opinion. What the Nazi did to the Jews was terrible, but it is only an opinion, nothing scientific about it. At the time the Germans thought it was OK, but now they think it is not OK. It might change again depending on who is in power. Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

    • Colin Burke
      July 16, 2014 - 08:15

      So, Mr. Smith, you are denying that there is such a thing as intellectual insight -- or do you know what that phrase means? I believe that even understanding the meaning of the word "opinion" requires that kind of insight. And are you not contradicting yourself when you say my opinion is no more valid nor less valid than anyone else's but then declare categorically that my opinion is wrong? Contradicting themselves is what people do when they deny that insight can be valid.

  • Doug Smith
    July 14, 2014 - 23:26

    Mr. Burke, it seems you still don’t understand my reasoning. I’ll take your last question first. “Was the people’s will correct when it used to forbid contraception and abortion?” That was the law. It was correct to those who believed it to be right. Of course as time went on public opinion changed and abortion and contraception are now thought the correct policy . There is no way we can prove scientifically the current policy is correct. We just have the opinion that it is correct. Your comment about, “self-evident first principles” that only understanding can perceive, I really don’t know what they could be, so on that basis, I reject your “self-evident first principles”. Finally, if the employees’ will is the same as what the law requires of the employer, then obviously the employees are right to demand employers disobey their conscience or go out of business. Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

    • Colin Burke
      July 15, 2014 - 09:53

      Mr. Smith, I suggest that it is self-evidently true that persons deserve the effects of what they do, and that only the understanding can perceive this truth. I ask you, can you perceive with your own understanding that it is true, or do you simply fail to comprehend the meaning of that proposition or can you show me that it is false? If you simply say that you need do none of these because scientific experiment does not prove the statement, I shall be tempted to assume that I have evolved to a level of intellection to which you have not evolved. Or can you suggest a scientific experiment which might test the validity of the proposition I advanced? If not, then there must be realities to which mere science cannot attain, which again is my main point. If the law is what determines right or wrong, what about what Nazi law did to the Jews? Or are you going to say that that was not done "democratically," although the policies Obama decreed have not been subject to referenda any more than the Nazis' policies. If I don't understand your reasoning, that may be because you don't understand the process of reasoning, which consists in logical argument from first principles, whether those are self-evident or only assumed. Can you show me a prior principle from which you argue or do you merely assume that only empirical science can attain to truth? Another self-evident truth which only the understanding can perceive is: A thing cannot both exist and not-exist in the same time in the same manner. Science may show that differences exist, but only the understanding can perceive the nature of difference.

  • Doug Smith
    July 11, 2014 - 20:15

    Mr. Burke, everyone’s beliefs and opinions are equally valid unless scientific experiment proves one is correct. In matters of public policy there is often no scientific proof available, therefore the people through elected representatives decide what is acceptable and what is not. In the Hobby Lobby case the people of the United States , through President Obama and elected members of Congress decided that the Affordable Health Care for America Act would include forms of contraception. Obamacare said contraception was to be provided, therefore it must be. By the Supreme Court voting against the section of Obamacare that dealt with contraception they have said one class of people’s beliefs (the owners of Hobby Lobby) are better and override the rights of another class of people( all women ) This is their mistake . The people’s will as expressed through Obamacare is being unjustly thwarted and the people’s rights as given through Obamacare are being trampled on by five men of the Supreme Court. Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

    • Colin Burke
      July 13, 2014 - 17:18

      Mr. Smith, do you have scientific proof for your contention that all opinions are of equal worth unless scientific experiment proves one of them correct? Or is it just one of those beliefs you choose to accept because science hasn't proved it wrong? Or do you think that that distinction matters in this case, since you might like to hold that particular belief regardless? If you have a scientific proof of it, what is that proof, please? Not that I expect to see one, since I myself believe that valid conclusions are achievable by rational argument from "self-evident first principles" which only the understanding, but not the senses, can perceive. You say the people's will is being unjustly thwarted, but you seem to have no standard of justice but the people's will; if that is so, your use of the word "unjustly" is a tautological redundancy adding no further meaning to the people's will being thwarted. Does it being the people's will make it all right for employees to demand that their employers disobey the latters' conscience? Was the people's will correct when it used to forbid contraception and abortion?

  • Doug Smith
    July 11, 2014 - 09:12

    Mr. Burke, the killing of the enemy combatants of the US , whether by drones, rifles, bombs, missiles or what ever is a fact of war. Why are you complaining that war involves killing? Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

    • Colin Burke
      July 11, 2014 - 09:45

      Mr. Smith, not all the people Obama had killed with drones were "enemy combatants." That's why I called it murder. Also, since we're here again, why have you so far ignored this question: Why is it wrong for employers to "force their beliefs" on employees by not giving those employees all the contraceptives they would like to have, but not wrong for the employees to demand that their employers violate the employers' conscience by directly providing contraceptives which their salaries allow the employees to buy for themselves? Is the latter OK just because Obama-elected-by-the people likes it? However, I'm glad to see you admit the U.S. Supreme Court can make mistakes, because I think it made a grave one in permitting abortion. Or are courts infallible when you like their decisions?

  • Doug Smith
    July 09, 2014 - 15:47

    Mr. Burke, we the people, through our government that we elected to rule and make laws for our betterment have the right to put any duties or restrictions on business that we see fit. Private industry has no right at all to decide how our society is to be run and what will or will not be allowed. The president of the US, elected by the people, said through Obamacare, that contraception will be covered. Just because five men on the Supreme Court are willing to take a woman’s right to contraception from her doesn’t make it correct or permanent. When President Obama appoints enough women so they form a majority on the court, this retrograde ruling by men will be overturned. One final point, Mr. Burke, you reject my assertion that its government’s job to look after the wellbeing of all the people. Does that mean the Canadian Federal Government should stop regulating and testing the safety of the food we eat, the water we drink? Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

    • Colin Burke
      July 10, 2014 - 09:03

      Yes, Mr. Smith, I do believe government ought not to test food before it is eaten or sold. I believe government ought to punish the selling of bad food, and punish it severely, after the seller is convicted of selling bad food, upon the buyer's accusing that seller, or the eater's heirs accusing that seller if the eater did not survive eating it. I believe in capital punishment for the providers of foods which fatally poison. By the way, the president of the United States, elected by the people, approves the murder of other people by means of "drone" aircraft: Does that make him right to do so?

  • Doug Smith
    July 09, 2014 - 10:14

    Ms. Brown, it is you who have completely misrepresented the substance of the Hobby Lobby ruling. The real question here is should an employer be able to force his religious beliefs on his employees. The US Supreme Court ( 5 men) said yes but the 3 women and 1 male on the court rightly said no. Note, 6 men on the court and only 3 women. Another case right there of women being discriminated against. Here we have men using religion to take a benefit from women. Men and religion ganging up on women, nothing new there. How you can support that, I don’t understand. Ms. Brown, you asked, should government be able to dictate to employers and privately owned insurance businesses what kind of health coverage policies they should offer? The answer is yes. Government’s job is to look after the wellbeing of all the people. Private enterprise’s job is to make money. In this case, President Obama (Obamacare) is looking out for the good of women. Come on Ms. Brown, do the right thing, join the three women of the US Supreme Court and stand up for women’s rights. Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

    • Colin Burke
      July 09, 2014 - 13:56

      Mr. Smith, you object to an employer's "forcing his religious beliefs upon his employees." But what about employees' demanding that employers violate their own religious beliefs for the benefit of employees who ought to deem themselves benefitted enough by being given jobs which allow them to buy their own contraceptives? Are you familiar with Rev. Dwight Longenecker's comment: "If a woman's chosen form of contraception is to keep her clothes on does her employer have to pay for her wardrobe?" An employer's cutting back on salaries so employees couldn't afford contraceptives would be a genuine instance of someone's forcing his own religious beliefs upon others, but refusing to buy contraceptives for them is not such an instance, any more than my refusing, if you asked me, to buy condoms for you if you couldn't afford them. Also I reject your (unsupported) assertion that government's job is to look after the wellbeing of all the people. I would say that it's everyone's duty to look after himself, and that government's duty is to punish those whose looking after themselves wrongly obstructs someone else's looking after himself. Government is in conflict of interest when it both looks after people and makes the laws which regulate the care of people: it does that now, largely because it permits the operation of an economic system which largely prevents us from looking after ourselves but virtually requires people to employ others or to be employed by others.