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From personhood, corporations claim religious freedom

Corporations have accepted the personhood and freedom of speech bestowed on them as Citizens United by the Supreme Court, and some are now moving on to claim freedom of religion rights in order to circumvent certain requirements of the new health care system.

This has led me to wonder how far this is going to go.  I have many questions, many of them impertinent. 

I am also reminded that when Art Buchwald, that sharp-eyed commentator on our culture and skewerer of the pretentious, announced that he would no longer be writing his newspaper column, someone asked him why he chose that particular moment.  His answer was that the news had become so unbelievable that it was difficult to find anything to satirize.

My point of view, at present, is that much of what passes as news today is its own satire. 

At other times, there is nothing but satire that will point up some forms of weirdness.

What further rights are there for corporations, as people, to claim?

Let’s continue for a while with freedom of religion.  At least a half dozen state legislatures are considering bills similar to that vetoed in Arizona. Some of them include identical language about wanting to eliminate situations that “burden the exercise of freedom of religion.” 

Is the same group writing all of them?

Will there be information posted at the doors of businesses outlining the religious scruples of corporate headquarters?  Or will we have to continue to draw our own conclusions from the hymns being played over the PA system?  Will there be a quiz administered just inside the door or at the cash register, or will we be evaluated as we shop?  If we flunk the test, will the cashier refuse to ring up the contents of our cart, or will a note be added to our sales slip gently telling us that maybe we would be happier shopping somewhere else next time?  Will religious tracts be distributed?  Will the cashier offer to pray with us about our “situation”?

What other rights do corporations want to claim?  What sorts of behavior should they be held to?  Are advertisements for “door buster” sales simply encouragement to riot?  Should crowd permits be required?

If they want the right to vote in the elections they have the right to finance, will it be “one corporation, one vote” or will the corporation have as many votes as it does employees?  Will corporations be able to run for office?  If elected to Congress, will they have to remove all their lobbyists from the capital?  Doesn’t law prohibit a current member of Congress from being a lobbyist?

If a product manufactured by a corporation kills or maims users of that product, will the corporation be held criminally liable?  How do we set bail for a corporation?    Can a corporation be tried for murder?  How do we pick up a corporation’s passport—cancel its offshore bank accounts?  How do we carry out capital punishment on a corporation?

In lesser cases, what kind of community service would a corporation be required to do?  Picking up all those tracts that have been dropped outside the stores?  More basically, who stands in for the corporation at a trial?  Maybe there will be a slight revision of the business organization chart as they take a cue from professional baseball and add a Designated Scapegoat to the roster.

What’s next?  Second Amendment rights could be interesting. How would a corporation exercise its right in those states that have Stand Your Ground laws?  Maybe we will see a march straight through the Bill of Rights, similar to General Sherman’s march through Georgia.

Nancy Minard
Contributing editor

Copyright © March 2014 - The Fig Tree