I Heard It on the Radio

Late Monday evening, the Texas House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee voted unanimously to pass House Bill 911 by Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, a statute that purports to bar Texas courts from applying “foreign laws,” but is really about responding the paranoid fears and biases of those who claim Sharia law is going to “take over the country” (as one of the bill’s supporters testified in committee).

To be clear, every single member of the committee (with one member absent) voted to pass this bill, despite the fact that no one is aware of any legitimate problems the bill will address.

While introducing his bill before the committee on April 4, Rep. Berman was asked to cite “examples specifically that you’re talking about within the United States,” but he was unable to do so. Rep. Berman:

“I can’t tell you that, but the use of, but they’re being used only in the city of Dearborn, Michigan, where a large concentration of Middle Easterners are found and judges are using, or allowing to be used, decisions made under Sharia law.”

And when asked by a Dearborn, Mich., newspaper last week to further clarify this claim, Berman was even more vague:

“I heard it on a radio station here on my way in to the Capitol one day. I don’t know Dearborn, Michigan, but I heard it on the radio. Isn’t that true?”

He heard it on the radio, and 10 members on this committee were willing to take Leo Berman at his word. The same man who is an unrepentant birther because he once saw a YouTube video on the matter (“YouTubes are infallible.”).

Here is the bottom line: The U.S. Constitution already prohibits courts from imposing religious law as civil law, and since the bill authors can’t give any legitimate examples of a problem this legislation would correct, I think everyone knows what is going on here. This is about targeting one group of citizens based on their religious beliefs. If this bill singled out Baptists or Catholics for their religious practices, it wouldn’t see the light of day. But because it’s based on unfounded suspicion of Islam, you apparently don’t need facts or a reasonable argument.

Sometimes defending pluralism and religious freedom is a lonely job in a place like Texas.

HB 911 now moves on to the House Calendars Committee to await a date for consideration by the full Texas House of Representatives.

6 thoughts on “I Heard It on the Radio

  1. When speaking with a friend who lives in the Detroit area, I mentioned how Dearborn is famous in the South and asked him what he thought about Dearborn. He said there is a large portion of the population that is of Middle Eastern descent, but many, if not most, are expat Orthodox Christians. Furthermore, when he thinks of Dearborn, he thinks of Ford and hams.

    The town is obviously controlled by Muslims.

  2. Ben, that’s the funniest thing about this proposed law (and the similar law that the voters of Oklahoma actually approved) – it does ban the Ten Commandments from being used here. Even the most rabid fundie will allow as how those ten are either 1) Hebrew laws from Moses or 2) English laws from King James I. Furriners, the both of ’em.

  3. The imposition of Venusian Law is just as threatening, if not more so. I think they should pass a law banning the use of that in the courts. And how about raising an army to be led by the Texas Rangers to defend Texas from the coming alien invasion.

    On a factual note, the current mayor of Dearborn was on MSNBC the other night and he’s an Irish Catholic, not the sort to knuckle under willingly to Sharia Law or the conspiratorially minded [not] refugees from the Middle East seeking stability, civility, and opportunity under which to build better lives.

  4. I kinda wonder how this bill would impact libel suits in the UK brought against Texas residents?

  5. The social pressure is towards conformity. That sounds good in theory. However, as a matter of practice, it is precisely what sleeper agent suicide bombers do. These fruitcakes may think they want cultural conformity to some central set of norms that they value and they may also think that it somehow keeps them safe. Nope!!!!