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12/06/2002

 

SCOTUS to rule on state sodomy laws



it seems to me that the fundamental difference between western and islamic rule is that where western law seeks to create freedom, islamic law seeks to create virtue. in the united states, there are many things which are legal, but which most people would agree are immoral. adultery, for instance, can land you in hot water in divorce court but you needn't fear jail. in many theocratic arabic states, however, the distinction between legality and morality is blurred. if something is defined by the koran as being sinful, it is adopted into the legal codes of the nation as a criminal offense. can such a society every truly be virtuous? to me, for virtue to have any merit at all, it must be chosen because it is virtuous. a woman who decides not to cheat on her husband for fear of stoning may have mimicked the actions of a woman who chose not to cheat because it was the wrong thing to do, but there the similarities end. the former had no fear of The Good, rather, she was had by a fear of the bad that would befall her for choosing what someone else considered to be The Bad. the latter feared The Good itself. even if they've never thought through this distinction step by step, most people intuitively grasp it through phrases like "you cannot legislate morality."

can you?

early next year, the supreme court of the united states will hear the case of lawrence v. texas, a case in which two men were arrested for violating texas state sodomy laws. police had showed up to investigate what turned out to be a false alarm, but in the process caught the two lovers in the act. both men were fined $200 for engaging in what texas law describes as "deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex." back in '86, SCOTUS upheld a conviction obtained under a similar georgia state law, ruling by a 5-4 margin that "consenting adults have no constitutional right to private homosexual sex."

how will the court break this time? what are the important questions they need to consider? there are a few, no doubt, but the question of legislating morality, at least for me, goes most nearly to the heart of the matter. consider that a texas state appellate court upheld the lawrence conviction on the grounds that it "advances a legitimate state interest, namely, preserving public morals." no doubt the state has such an interest, but how far is it entitled to go? the arrest in question occurred under serendipitous circumstances as far as the state was concerned, but could they have deliberately invaded someone's home if they had probable cause to believe that gay sex was happening inside?

consider public drunkenness. since prohibition, few have complained about people drinking in the privacy of their own homes, but even the otherwise liberated would have serious misgivings about people walking around the community stumbling drunk and in plain site of everyone's children. although most people wouldn't consider drunkenness in and of itself a criminal offense, they nonetheless support somewhat prudish public drunkenness laws in deference to, whether they recognize it or not, what the texas appellate court called "preserving public morals." to some extent, then, americans agree upon a basic public moral code and believe that laws should exist to preserve it. i would argue that all of our laws are rooted someone's morality, be it the Ten Commandments or the creed of environmental lobbyists or the anti-tobacco crusaders. even more abstract laws, those dealing with tort reform, for instance, are (if they are any good) rooted in a presumption that equal things should be treated equally. to me, it's always been a question not of whether we can or cannot legislate morality, but of how much morality we care to legislate.

i believe that good government preserves society by executing justice: they are the guarantors of the freedoms that God has bestowed upon mankind. sadly though, the risk to society that government itself poses is often equally great, and sometimes greater, than the risk that is posed by domestic threats (whom we call criminals) or foreign threats (whom we call enemies). virtue in government lies at the mean between a zero-legislation state of anarchy and the taliban. i'm certainly no legal scholar, but to me american law has to do with "clear and present danger". something like murder or theft has an immediate and indisputable adverse effect on society. consider once more adultery: even though most would agree it's "wrong," its effect isn't as immediate or as indisputable, so it isn't a criminal act. is homosexuality one of these things? even if most people don't consider it "wrong" any more, is there still a reason for state sodomy laws?

americans recognize that your rights end where my rights begin. but as long as what you are doing in the privacy of your own home doesn't adversely effect anyone else, or as long as the punishment wouldn't do more harm than the crime, we are inclined to say live and let live. that's my first reaction to these state sodomy laws. it concerns a private activity engaged in by consenting adults, and it doesn't immediately harm anyone, so what business is it of the governments? but we must look beyond the immediate, for

1. homosexuality, unlike heterosexuality, offers no benefits to society and
2. has done, in fact, a great deal of harm

say what you will, aids in america, formerly known in certain circles as the "gay cancer", was predominantly spread by unprotected male on male sexual acts, and that remains true today. at best, homosexuality, if offering nothing in return to society, is harmless, but at worst it has advanced a species-threatening pandemic with consequences extending far beyond the pale of its practitioners. we can talk all we like about moral decline but is that truly necessary when we have aids babies to look at? and so to say a priori that government would have no interest in forming laws to discourage sodomy seems rather rash. a homosexual advocate might point out that there exists a "pandemic" of unwed teenage pregnancies which has done equally great harm to society, but i would respond that it's the abuse of heterosexuality which has created the problem, not heterosexuality itself. for just as alcohol taken responsibly is beneficial, but in large amounts is harmful, so to heterosexuality unrestricted leads to chaos. rather than regulating heterosexual conduct, i would argue that since we only started having serious problems of unwanted pregnancy after removing the financial obstacles to irresponsible heterosexual contact by providing welfare support to unwed mothers, we need only chop out those financial roots and the problem withers away. and, indeed, we should.

homosexuality is not a constitutionally protected right. privacy, in principle, is, but we must acknowledge that practices engaged in private can nonetheless have the direst public consequences. when homosexuality ceases to become the foremost means of transmitting arguably the most disasterous communicable disease, i will be much more sympathetic to the civil libertarian's position, but the best that i can say now is that, while i believe that sodomy laws probably should remain in the books in the interests of public health, the idea of the police state necessary to enforce such laws, the fundamental violations of privacy, and the possibility that such laws could be brought against groups of which i am a member all combine to leave me teetering uncomfortably on the fence. i don't believe that gay couples are entitled to the legal protections of marriage or even that businesses should be required to extend gay partners healthcare: they do nothing for society and hence society owes them nothing in return. but that doesn't mean that i'm comfortable with the idea of hunting homosexuals like common criminals. any thoughts?

locdog will follow this case with much interest




12/05/2002

 

merry Xmas?



merry Xmas to you.

2000 years ago in a little middle-eastern town, nothing in particular happened. a certain baby was born to poor parents: a child lacking a name, a persona, or any other definable characteristics. he lived his life having never made an impact on any other human being, never influencing a single thought or gesture, word or deed, and died a complete unknown.

for his utter lack of significance, this nameless one was called "X". X, the human variable. X, the mystery man. X, the one without a personality.

today, 2000 years later, people the world over celebrate the birth of the most meaningless, unimportant human being to ever walk the face of the earth. grudgingly titling his day "Xmas", most prefer to call it "the season" or "the holiday" thinking that perhaps even the letter X gives too much credit to such a poor excuse for a person.

this season was crammed in between ramadan, hanukah, kwanza, new year's, tet, and festivus because it was believed that such an abject failure should not receive his own special month, rather, he should receive the leftovers from various other holidays in the hope that the observation of X's day would go by with as little fan fare as possible. generally, this strategy has worked, as the "holiday season" goes by in such a blur that few people even recognize Xmas as a distinct event.

X: a man with no identity given a holiday to celebrate his life, a holiday which, poetically enough, exists only to further his obscurity.

to this day, however, there remain a few dissidents who believe that X indeed had a real name. and not just any name, but a name so distinct and powerful that the very mention of it causes indescribable pain in many circles. a name imbued with power from a Man Who revolutionized the entire world. a Man Who made a greater impact on the history of the earth than any other man before or since. a Man Who's significance was so inestimably huge that the very reckoning of time itself was redefined in deference to His birth. a Man Who continues to incite social revolution and upheaval wherever His name is heard today. a Man Who serves as an inspiration to those few who manage to learn of Him. a Man Who's life was the epitome of the human experience. a Man Who died, rose again, and lives for evermore.

these few recusants huddle together in camps with voices as small and frail and unheard as that of the Man they follow. working to tell others that X was not an amorphous blob of biological jelly, but a real, distinct person with a real, distinct life. and not just any person, but the greatest Person Who ever lived. they say that Xmas was originally founded to celebrate His entry into our world, but that, over time, those who were hostile to X gained in power and influence, and banished even the remembrance of his name to total obscurity, fearing the threat to their power they believe He represents.

who was X?

locdog wonders if we remember




 

are you pro-choice? what choice?



when debating the matter of "choice" in relation to abortion, don't allow yourself to get distracted by a red-herring. abortion is a "choice" which isn't much of a choice at all. the real choices are contained in all that one did up until the point of conception. after that, one is no longer making free will decisions in the same sense. there are now consequences to those decisions which preceded the pregnancy which constrains the woman--those where she weighs or ignores the risk, then assumes it. if a woman decides to get an abortion, she isn't making the choice of a free, responsible adult, she's simply throwing money at a problem of her own devising hoping to escape its nasty aftermath. don't allow the so-called "pro-choice" side to degrade the concept of free will by comparing the choice of a condemned man between hanging and accepting a plea bargain with the much freer choice to commit the crime in the first place. in fairness, rape and in all probability incest would not fall under the umbrella of this argument, but one should keep in mind that those cases are marginal, and besides, there are other arguments to deal with them.

locdog thinks the abortion debate is about consequences, not choices





12/04/2002

 

choice on earth





i'm back.

this story was old before i even left last week, but i just can't resist the urge to further alienate those masochistic enough to read this pap by commenting on the now infamous choice on earth card planned parenthood has been circulating to express their wishes for "people of all beliefs [to have] a peaceful and safe holiday season."

let's parse the card, but before we do, let me point out that although planned parenthood offers the paltry defense of precedent (this card, according to them, makes use of a phrase that's a decade old) they'll get no sympathy from me: if they are identifying themselves by it, then they can certainly be held responsible for it whether they thought it up or not. now then. inside, the card reads simply "warmest wishes for a peaceful holiday season," which is a rather bland salutation. no grounds for controversy there. or is there? who wishes you a peaceful holiday season? i've been wished "happy" or "joyous" holiday seasons before, but "peaceful"? peace as opposed to what, exactly? shipping off to iraq or afghanistan? ought this message to be construed as a backhanded slap at the president's handling of the war on terror? we can safely assume, can we not, that george w. bush's name would fall on the naughty side of planned parenthood's Christmas ledger?

or is it something even more controversial? consider this story, the first one that appears on planned parenthood's homepage today.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the NOW v. Scheidler case at a time when terrorism, including politically and religiously motivated acts of violence, has changed the way we live and threatens the very freedoms at the core of our democracy.

All terrorists, including anti-abortion terrorists, should face the full force of the law when they violate our laws. And all Americans, including reproductive health care patients and providers, deserve to be protected from known terrorists.


could it be, then, that planned parenthoods "peaceful" wish isn't a criticism of the war on terror as much as it is a barrage launched on what they perceive to be one front of it, the war against "anti-abortion terrorists" who planned parenthood evidently believes to be as big a threat to our national security as osama and the boys? if you deeply care, the case described in the quote above has to do with the application of federal anti-racketeering laws to those who organize others to bomb or obstruct abortion clinics. wonder why we couldn't apply these same statutes to, say, NAMbLA, who organizes others to molest children. can't imagine why the ACLU hasn't come charging to the defense of "anti-abortion terrorists" as they did with the NAMbLA pedophiles--after all, free speech is free speech, politically unpopular or not, right? for the record, i don't condone any terrorism of any stripe, be it islamic, anti-abortion, environmental, or otherwise, but i do condone (whole-heartedly) pointing out the ACLU's hypocrisy, and do so as often as i can.

as far as the "choice on earth" slogan itself goes, let us first consider the phrase that they've chosen to mangle in its proper form, that is, "peace on earth." peace on earth is one of those generic, ecumenical holiday wishes that many doubtless believe to be secular in nature--and why shouldn't they when it's been co-opted by every hippy and humanist from sea to shining sea in reference to everything from the balkans crisis to oil spills? in truth, the phrase has a decidedly Christian origin:

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


from the second chapter of Luke.

i find it hard to believe that the many ironies of "choice on earth" escaped planned parenthood's notice. for instance, a phrase first offered in joyful announcement of birth twisted into the joyful announcement of births ended. or, despite their professed benevolence towards "people of all beliefs," that they didn't relish the opportunity to take a jab at the group they (correctly) perceive to be the greatest threat to their agenda: the fundamentalist Christian. i find it hard to believe that they intended no similarities between the Christ child, the Savior of (hu)mankind, and the abortionist, the savior of womankind. and could their substitution of "choice" for "peace" truly be based on nothing more than the slightest alliterative similarity, and not on some desire to equate the universal ideal of world peace with the bloody sacrament of their particular coven?

osama bin laden has killed thousands. saddam hussein has killed perhaps a million. adolph hitler killed six million. joseph stalin killed twenty million. since roe v. wade, the united states of america has killed forty millions of unborn children--more than all the rest combined. i realize that these aren't murders in the sense of malicious intent since the abortionists do not recognize a fetus as a human life, but still, i find it impossible to believe that Jesus would have approved of such a glib reminder of the extermination of an entire generation of americans--even if i were a non-Christian, i'd probably have a hard time swallowing that one.

as a Christian, it nearly made locdog gag