News from Patrick Flynn

Balancing rights

As we’ve discussed the issue of equal rights based on sexual orientation some opponents have expressed a concern that granting equal rights for housing, employment and education to gays and lesbians would infringe on their right to practice their faith.  I’ve written about that matter before and thought the story below might offer a slightly different approach (cautionary note: this one is slightly off-color):

Is Hell Exothermic or Endothermic?

Dr. Schambaugh, of the University of Oklahoma School of Chemical Engineering, is known for asking questions such as, “why do airplanes fly?” on his final exams. His one and only final exam question in May 1997 for his Momentum, Heat and Mass Transfer II class was: “Is hell exothermic or endothermic? Support your answer with proof.”

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

“First, We postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass. If they do, then a mole of souls can also have a mass. So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving? I think we can safely assume that once a soul gets to hell, it will not leave.

Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for souls entering hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, then you will go to hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and souls go to hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change in volume in hell. Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to stay the same, the ratio of the mass of souls and volume needs to stay constant. Two options exist:

  1. If hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter hell, then the temperature and pressure in hell will increase until all hell breaks loose.
  2. If hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until hell freezes over.

So which is it? If we accept the quote given to me by Theresa Manyan during Freshman year, “that it will be a cold night in hell before I sleep with you” and take into account the fact that I still have NOT succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then Option 2 cannot be true…Thus, hell is exothermic.”

The student, Tim Graham, got the only A.

Editor’s note: I have not verified the veracity of the above account, feel free to review my source.

The point from Mr. Graham’s epistle that informs this discussion is that our world, indeed our community, has a vast array of religious beliefs that feature intrinsic conflicts with one another.  Despite this, for over 30 years Anchorage has successfully balanced those competing belief systems with a policy of non-discrimination based on, among other things, religion and I am confident we can achieve the same balance in extending that protection to gays and lesbians.  If one truly believes homosexuality is behavior-based then one should reasonably also conclude that religion is behavior-based as well.  It is clear to me that for many people one, and in some cases both, of those “behaviors” are part of their core being, yet under existing code only the latter is protected.

Following this thread to its conclusion offers two potential routes forward, which I discussed with Dan Fagan on his show on June 9.

Part 1 is here and part 2, which is where we get to the heart of the matter, is here.  I post them under slight protest because Dan edited out some of my best moments, like when I asked how much he was paying his producer such that she has a second job!

If you prefer not to listen to the whole thing here’s the short version:  Mr. Fagan advocates for a more libertarian approach by repealing protections based on religion and marital status while I support extending protections to gays and lesbians.  I understand Mr. Fagan’s point and earnestly hope we get to the point where protections are unneeded and could be repealed without negatively affecting our neighbors.  Unfortunately I feel, and some of the speakers who have appeared before the Assembly have demonstrated, that day has not yet arrived.  That said, I consider it noteworthy and am appreciative of the fact that Mr. Fagan spent some time on his show prior to my appearance calling on opponents of the ordinance to do so in a considerate matter, you can listen to those remarks here.

As the discussions continue over the next week I expect to see some compromise proposals aimed at extending rights the gay and lesbian community while trying to assuage at least some of the concerns expressed by opponents, thereby staving off the need for a referendum next April.  I’m not sure if we’ll be able to find a solution that achieves that balance but the conversation grows ever more interesting!



This contribution was made on Thursday, 11. June 2009 at 16:20 and was published under the category Other. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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  1. Listening to the third “here” from Dan Fagan gives me hope. Even if you don’t agree with a “lifestyle” please respect them as individuals. The young people bussed in from Mat-Su are being taught intolerance, even outright hatred. That’s sad and scary.

    Comment: hf – 12. June 2009 @ 7:45 pm

  2. It is so nice to think I won’t be impacted by this ordinence. The 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 % of our population pracrticing homosexuality can force their beliefs through civil action, backed by national funding, to gain social acceptance of their choice. Their impact on me and my family ( the remaining 97.5 to 98.5 % of the rest of us) is inconsequential.

    Homosexuality is a choosen lifestyle. It is not genetic, there is no proof they are “born that way”, in fact all physical evidence is contrary to that opinion.

    Homosexuality is frought with medical, physical and physicological complications, even decreased life expectancy. Why in the world do we promote this choice?

    How about special protection for Drug Addicts, Alcoholics, Drunk Drivers, Prostitutes. Society discriminates against them everyday! We need to celebrate their difference too!

    Comment: gman – 16. June 2009 @ 3:09 pm

  3. My husband and I support local efforts to promote tolerance and to guarantee equal rights for all because that is the kind of community we want for our children. “Gman,” you show your lack of understanding when you equate homosexuality with criminality. I am sure that you want justice and rights for yourself; why would you deny them to other people, just because of their sexual orientation? “Do unto others…”

    Comment: mg – 16. June 2009 @ 5:07 pm

  4. So far the preponderance of evidence points out that, there may be a physiological basis for homosexuality. The expression of homosexual behavior is repressed by social morays. I would add (to the comment mg made) that to equate homosexuality with criminality (and sin?) also illustrates a lack of compassion for the suffering of your fellow man.

    As it is drug addicts, alchoholics, drunk drivers, and prostitutes all share the same rights as you and I. Why not homosexuals? Let go of your hate, and your fear. Be at peace with your neighbor and do good deeds for your fellow man. Show kindness to all of Gods creatures and let judgement be His. Judge not for you too shall be.

    Comment: Paul – 17. June 2009 @ 8:32 pm

  5. i find it repulsive that i as a lesbian woman in anchorage have been compared and equated to being a child molester, someone who practices beasteality, a murder, etc.

    to those who say they really “love” me, they don’t hate me… i wouldn’t want to be a part of your family if THIS is love…

    Comment: rachel – 18. June 2009 @ 12:43 pm

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