US Supreme Court Declines to Hear American Atheists vs. Kentucky Office of Homeland Security

The US Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal by American Atheists in American Atheists vs. Kentucky Office of Homeland Security which effectively leaves Kentucky’s bizarre faith based security measure in place.

The law empowering Kentucky’s state Office of Homeland Security includes a provision that,

(2) The executive director shall:

(a) Publicize the findings of the General Assembly stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth by including the provisions of KRS 39A.285(3) in its agency training and educational materials. The executive director shall also be responsible for prominently displaying a permanent plaque at the entrance to the state’s Emergency Operations Center stating the text of KRS 39A.285(3);

KRS 39A.285(3) in turns reads,

The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God as set forth in the public speeches and proclamations of American Presidents, including Abraham Lincoln’s historic March 30, 1863, Presidential Proclamation urging Americans to pray and fast during one of the most dangerous hours in American history, and the text of President John F. Kennedy’s November 22, 1963, national security speech which concluded: “For as was written long ago: ‘Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.'”

This lawsuit goes back to 2008. American Atheists won a ruling in its favor at the Circuit Court level, but that decision was overturned by the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

In an October 2011 ruling, the Appeals Court held that the publication of the text in question was simply a recognition of the the role of religion in American life rather than an unconstitutional attempt to compel religious belief. The Appeals court argued that the law was similar to an Ohio’s designation of “With God all things are possible” as the state motto which in 2001 was held not to violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Cause.
The Kentucky State Supreme Court, like the US Supreme Court, refused to hear an appeal by American Atheists.

Just How Vital Is God to Homeland Security?

The American Atheists are suing the state of Kentucky over a provision that a fundamentalist Christian legislator managed to slip into the state’s law governing the state Office of Homeland Security,

(2) The executive director shall:
(a) Publicize the findings of the General Assembly stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth by including the provisions of KRS 39A.285(3) in its agency training and educational materials. The executive director shall also be responsible for prominently displaying a permanent plaque at the entrance to the state’s Emergency Operations Center stating the text of KRS 39A.285(3);

In this case I think the American Atheists’ lawsuit is fully warranted (and a slam dunk at that), but please can’t they find someone to write press releases that don’t sound like rants,

Can’t we let this alone?

No, we can’t.  It is our patriotic duty to protect our Constitution from threats.  The injection of religion into government offices, if left alone, would set a precedent and lead to more infringements, which would then become precedents themselves.  We have seen, first hand and in this case alone, that religion can never be satisfied — they will always want more.  The  [sic] Seaparation of Church and state is a doctrine we proudly and unapologetically defend.

Beyond that, the whole concept that the state and the country is powerless against other religious zealots without this specific god to help us screams of the same religious zealotry that got us into this war in the first place. “my god can beat up your god” is what they say before a war begins — or escalates.

Really? See, I’d have taken a different tack. If Homeland Security is dependent on ‘Almighty God’, I want to know where the hell he/she/it was on September 11, 2001? Taking a day off? (Come one, we already took God out of public schools — he can’t have much else left to do, can he?) Too busy downing some donuts to stop a few planes?

Along with the lawsuit, perhaps we should subpoena this Almighty God character and find out exactly what its role in terrorism is. If Almighty God is truly the lynchpin of anti-terrorism, it sounds like we might have grounds for a class action lawsuit here.

Judge Tosses Cockfighting Charges; Says Kentucky Law Is Too Ambiguous

Montgomery District Judge William Lane recently threw out charges against more than 500 people who were issued citations after a raid of a cockfighting operation in April. Lane said that the state statute cited by prosecutors which bans attendance at cockfights was ambiguous and could not sustain the charges against those cited.

The problem appears to be with a practice that is quite common and usually drives animal rights activists through the roof. The statute cited as banning cockfighting is quite clear that it is illegal for spectators and vendors to appear,

. . . at an event where a four (4) legged animal is caused to fight for pleasure or profit.

As the judge noted in throwing out the charges, chickens have only two legs. Typically, though, state and federal agencies have a habit of classifying animals for the purposes of law enforcement in ways that defy common sense, such as the USDA’s habit of defining non-bird species as poultry and thereby exempt from certain parts of the Animal Welfare Act. It usually has very good reasons for doing so — namely that Congress hasn’t appropriated it enough funds to actually oversee the care of the redefined animals — but it also goes against common sense. In Kentucky, prosecutors and police seem to be treating chickens as four-legged animals for the purpose of this statute.

The law also contains a highly ambiguous section that exempts “sporting activities,” but does not define that term. Lane noted that common definitions of “sporting activities” could easily encompass cockfighting, and that it is unclear what the legislature meant in that instance.

Michael Endicott, a lawyer representing some of those charged with attending the cockfight, told the Lexington Herald-Leader,

It’s not a very well-written statute. The judge is right. If the legislature wants to make cockfighting illegal, they should spit it out.

Police and prosecutors disagree. A police spokeswoman told the Lexington Herald-Leader,

We respectfully disagree that cockfighting is exempt as a sporting activity according to the statute.

The newspaper reported that prosecutors and police were still deciding whether or not to appeal the decision.

John Goodwin of the Human Society of the United States wants prosecutors to appeal. He told the Lexington Herald-Leader,

This ruling could have huge repercussions across the state. We believe it must be reviewed by a higher court.

Of course the risk there is that a higher court could agree with Lane and instead of having one district judge throwing out charges, the entire statute could be invalidated as far as cockfighting is concerned.


Judge tosses out cruelty charges from cockfight. Peter Mathews, Lexington Herald-Leader, August 16, 2005.

Edward Furlong Arrested Freeing Lobster

Actor Edward Furlong, one of the stars of “Terminator 2,” was arrested at a Meijer grocery store in Florence, Kentucky after he and several friends remove lobsters from a tank at the store.

Managers at the store called police who arrested Furlong and arrested him on a misdemeanor charge of being intoxicated at a public place.

The 27-year-old Furlong apparently has a habit of compensating for his vegetarian diet by imbibing large amounts of alcohol. In September 2001 he was arrested for driving without a license, and then four hours later arrested again on a DUI charge after causing an accident.

Furlong was in Florence shooting a movie.


‘Terminator 2’ Actor Arrested. Associated Press, September 17, 2004.

SARS, Influenza and Meat?

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome has been a major topic in the news recently, which means it was also an opportunity for animal rights groups and individuals to spread the usual nonsense and lies about zoonosis (diseases that humans may acquire from animals).

One of the major errors concerns the 1918 influenza pandemic. For such a major event with plenty of books, articles and web pages available, you’d think they could at least get this right, but alas, no.

Michael Greger, MD, weighed in with this bit of outdated information,

Animal agriculture is not just a public health hazard for those that consume meat. In fact, the single worst epidemic in recorded history, the 1918 influenza pandemic, has been blamed on the livestock industry. In that case, the unnatural density and proximity of ducks and pigs raised for slaughter probably led to the deaths of 20 to 40 million people. . . . All of these influenza strains seem to have arisen in the same region of southern China where intensive systems of animal agriculture have become a breeding ground for new killer viruses.

PETA chimes in claiming that,

The influenza epidemic of 1918 originated in pigs.

But these claims are completely dishonest distortions of what is known about the 1918 epidemic.

The 1918 influenza pandemic did not originate in Asia. The first known cases of the disease, in fact, occurred Kansas in May 1918. Five hundred soldiers became infected with a mysterious new disease, and 48 of them died. It is most likely the disease originated either in Europe or the United States — soldiers traveling both ways across the Atlantic would have quickly spread the virus.

Did the disease arise from animal agriculture? To answer that question, first consider one of the more astounding aspects of the 1918 influenza pandemic — we actually have samples of the disease that were preserved (in some cases because the bodies of victims were buried in places like Alaska, where the ground remained frozen) and have been partially sequenced.

As far as ducks are concerned, a study of waterfowl from the Smithsonian Institution’s collection found that this was unlikely. The Smithsonian has a huge collection of liquid-preserved waterfowl from which it extracted genetic material. The genetic material was tested for a specific gene that made the 1918 influenza strain so deadly. Researchers who studied the genetic material concluded that (emphasis added), “Comparisons of this sequence with that of the 1918 pandemic virus suggest that the pandemic viral HA gene was not derived directly from an avian source.”

But did the disease spread from pigs to humans? The short answer is that nobody knows, and that it is just as likely that the disease spread from human beings to pigs.

The 1918 strain could definitely infect both humans and pigs, but the 1918 pandemic was the first time that swine influenza was recognized as a disease — this was something entirely new for both pigs and human beings. The swine influenza was isolated in 1930 and human form of the disease in 1933, and they were similar enough for researchers to conclude that they were essentially the same virus.

Dr. Richard D. Slemons, DVM at Ohio State University, writes of the question of how the pandemic started,

Since swine flu was reported as a new disease entity in pigs in 1918, it was further believed that the agent was originally transmitted from humans to pigs and subsequently became established in pigs. Retrospective serologic investigations provided further data supporting the belief that the same agent was responsible for the 1918 influenza outbreaks in humans and pigs. However, these data did not provide insight into whether the virus went from humans to pigs or vice versa. The question as to whether the virus originated in humans or pigs, or even another species and then jumped to both pigs and humans, remains unanswered.

Why can’t groups like PETA ever get even basic facts right?


SARS: Another deadly virus from the meat industry. Michael Greger, April 13, 2003.

SARS Epidemic Caused by Meat?. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, April 2003.

Influenza: Past Clues Guide Future Defense. PulmonaryReviews.Com, January 2002.

History, Structure, and Function of Swine Influenza Virus. Richard D. Slemons.

Seeking the 1918 Spanish Influenza Virus. Jeffery K. Taubenberger, American Society for Microbiology, July 1999.

Origin and evolution of the 1918 “Spanish” influenza virus hemagglutinin gene. Reid AH, Fanning TG, Hultin JV, Taubenberger JK, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1999 Feb 16;96(4):1164-6.

1918 Human Influenza Epidemic No Longer Linked to Birds. Smithsonian Institution, Press Release, August 2, 2002.