Sunday, March 30, 2003

Bigotry and the law

If there was any question which side is right in Lawrence v. Texas—a constitutional challenge to a state law banning homosexual sodomy—syndicated columnist Cal Thomas answered it:

Before the Supreme Court rules that the Founders had the right to practice sodomy in mind when they wrote the Constitution, we should ask where the chipping away at law and morality is leading us.

Once sodomy is made legal, what's next? How about polygamy? As we have been reminded in the case of Utah's Elizabeth Smart and her abduction by a practicing polygamist, there are people who believe they have a right to that sexual and relational preference. If sodomy is legalized, can polygamists then ask the Supreme Court to end the prohibition against their "right" to engage in sex with and "marry" multiple partners? If not, on what legal grounds will they be refused? To listen to the attorneys for the Texas men seeking redress of their sexual grievances, a decision to strike down the Texas anti-sodomy law should be based on "changing times" and public opinion polls.

Right away, Thomas invokes Elizabeth Smart in order to foreclose rational debate on the question at hand. By invoking the slippery slope, Thomas employs fear over facts to make his basic case, which is nothing more than "I don't like gay people, and society should reflect my personal value judgments, so gay sodomy should be illegal."

Thomas goes on to argue that opponents of the sodomy ban are likely pedophiles. But that's not the worst of it. Not content simply to have the government enforce his prejudices, Thomas next proposes to redefine the concept of law:

In the past, the law has been viewed as something that flowed from a Law-giver, outside of the reach of humankind to create or manipulate. But since humanity now sees itself as the law-maker (the breaking of that ancient Law is now celebrated in personal behavior and encouraged in film, in magazines and on TV), who is to say whose morality, if any morality, should prevail? Having made "choice"

He has this backwards: If man is not to be the Law-giver, than who is? God? Which God would that be? Even among Christians, there's a wide disagreement as to which divine laws are applicable and which aren't. But since man is not morally entitled, according to Thomas, to judge for himself which laws are necessary, which God are we then to sacrifice our minds to? I suspect Thomas has an answer for that, and it's not one most of us would likely agree with.

Thomas concludes his bigoted remarks with a wholly illogical declaration: "If the Texas sodomy law falls, "marriage" will be redefined and the demise of the human family will be complete." Funny, many states have long repealed their sodomy laws, and families continue to function within those jurisdictions. Perhaps Thomas should have produced some proof to support his sweeping claim. Then again, that's asking too much: as mere men, we're not to seek evidence or reason, but simply accept whatever claims are made by those claiming to represent Divine will. Hey, it worked out pretty well for Iran, didn't it?

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