To Whom It May Concern,
I have always been an admirer of the Family Research Council’s work in support of the right to life, true marriage, religious liberty, and other traditional American values. For years, I have also worked towards those goals in my community and on my weblog. I fought fiercely for Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment in 2006. Like most conservatives, I have often been slandered as a bigot because I oppose same-sex marriage, civil unions, and gay adoption.
I say this so that, when I express how shocked, offended and betrayed I felt upon seeing the conduct of one of your spokesmen recently, you understand my full meaning.
FRC Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg recently appeared on MSNBC to discuss the issue of gay soldiers serving openly in the US military with Chris Matthews. The segment ended with the following exchange:
MATTHEWS: Do you think we should outlaw gay behavior?
SPRIGG: Well, I – I think certainly it’s defensible.
MATTHEWS: I’m just asking you, should we outlaw gay behavior?
SPRIGG: I think the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the sodomy laws in this country, was wrongly decided. I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.
MATTHEWS: So we should outlaw gay behavior.
SPRIGG: Uh, yes.
When I saw the headlines announcing, “Family Research Council Spokesman Advocates Criminalizing Homosexuality,” I was certain they had to be lies, more out-of-context distortions of honorable conservative beliefs. But for once, the Left appears to be correct.
Both as a matter of moral principle and of political common sense, Mr. Sprigg’s comments are indefensible. Our Founding Fathers clearly wanted American to be guided by a firm sense of morality, and believed that Judeo-Christian religious values were essential to the continued survival of a republic. But they also established the principle of limited government, authorized only to do a certain number of things and dedicated to preserving individual liberty.
The question of whether society should formally endorse homosexual behavior via civil marriage is fundamentally different from the question of whether or not homosexuals are human beings equally entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or whether or not it is just for any level of government to criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults. Indeed, one can even recognize that Lawrence was an instance of judicial overreach without supporting the merits of the statute in dispute.
As a Christian, an American, and a conservative, I am appalled that it would ever cross any of my leaders’ minds to advocate such an un-American policy as criminalizing gay behavior. Not only would such beliefs constitute genuine persecution of American citizens, but they would set the stage for a dangerous expansion of governmental power over individual liberty.
Regarding political common sense, it is baffling to me that, given the Left’s long-standing history of demonizing believers in traditional values, a prominent, experienced conservative spokesman such as Mr. Sprigg would not instantly recognize Matthews’ question as a trap and know enough not to take the bait. Liberals and gay activists have wasted no time in seizing upon his comments not just to condemn Peter Sprigg, but to condemn all of us. It is bad enough that defenders of true marriage routinely have to deal with false charges of bigotry and extremism; the last thing any of us needs is a true one.
Naturally, I would appreciate an explanation from Mr. Sprigg as to just what he meant, if he misspoke, but his comments seem clear enough that I have a hard time imagining that he did not understand the question, or that he meant something other than what he said. Mr. Sprigg’s reckless and un-conservative remarks have harmed the battle for true marriage, and they threaten to tarnish all of the good work the Family Research Council has done in the past, and will continue to do in the future. It pains me to say it, but I see only one way for the FRC to preserve—and, indeed, to deserve—its credibility: Peter Sprigg should be relieved of his duties with the organization, effective immediately. Thank you for your time.
(Update: cross-posted at NewsReal.)
72 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Family Research Council”
How about state laws against specific behavior such as sodomy? A public health issue if I ever saw one. Or is that the gay behavior you are defending?
The government’s right to act in the name of “public health” is not unlimited, and state governments cannot justly criminalize sodomy between consenting adults. Why does opposing that we throw people in jail over something automatically mean I am defending the behavior itself?
@ Calvin I have noticed this phrase popping up here and there ‘true marriage’. What do you mean by that? And what would be its opposite ‘untrue marriage’ or ‘false marriage’?
Also,@ Loren, sodomy is a sexual behavior not exclusive to any particular group. Also, when you say gay and equate it unequivocally with sodomy, I can only assume you only think in terms of men when addressing gays. However, the LGBT community is more than just the sum of whatever form their intimacy takes. It is offensive and affront to the honor and integrity of thousands of couples. And to take the idea of sexual behavior to the other side, I don’t think heterosexual couples would like it either if their love was reduced to what they do or don’t do in the privacy of their own bedrooms. Do you?
True marriage means the union of one man, and one woman.
Ok, I thought you might say that – so any condition no matter how honorable – true marriage is one man and one woman. No exceptions?
I find this interesting (speaking from direct knowledge of the next bit of information) – that a man and a woman could get married, take advantage of the benefits, protections, and added income of marriage but neither live together nor consummate it, AND go out and spend time with others of their choosing, in most minds committing adultery, BUT monogamous, dedicated, hardworking, citizens who want to commit to one person and one person only despite all that is against them, cannot because it’s not ‘true’ marriage.
Can you address that?
and sorry – you didn’t mention what false marriage or untrue marriage was. Can you also address that?
BTW – thank you for answering and starting a dialogue. It is appreciated. 🙂
I recognize that differing cultures and religions have differing conceptions of marriage. But Western Civilization has pretty clearly settled on marriage as the union of one man, and one woman. More importantly for our purposes, this is the only arrangement that the state has any legitimate interest in formalizing, because it is the one with the potential for creating children, and binding clearly-defined parents to those children. It’s simply a matter of relevance, not honor.
Yes, any given system can be scammed. But something’s failure to work properly in every single instance is rarely recognized as an argument against it’s existence.
Same-sex unions would be an example of untrue marriage.
So, even if the marriage vows are a lie, you are ok with it as long as it is a man and a woman. You could care less if they divorce when it is no longer relevant or if they abuse the institution to a point it is unrecognizable only to receive the civil benefits. BUT you do care that two people, who happen to be gay, want to take part in the insitution, honor it, believe in it, want to establish true committment and support both themselves and community thorugh it. I find that appalling and extremely backwards.
Addressing the children issue: Potential to create children is with all marriages, even gay ones – though the way in which one achieves it may be unconventional like adoption or via in-vitro (which many heterosexuals engage in as well). However, marriage is not just about kids, there are many marriages which do not want children – and I bet if you ask a new groom and bride why they are getting married the first reason is not children, but love. Years ago it would have been bloodline, or finances, or property. The reason for marriage is changing, there is no reason why we cannot be allowed to civilly partake of this institution and thus be better able to support our selves and our partners. Which brings me to states interests:
The reason the state has legitimate interest is logical – if gays are able to civilly married, they will be able to provide for their partners – i.e. insurance. Let’s just look at that one for space sake. Having insurance means being able to go to the doctor, means less or no expensive trips to the ER, means healthier people, means less burden on the States in healthcare costs…etc. I have seriously simplified this for the benefit of comment.
I could use property, life-death decisions, taxes – a host of other benefits… all denied because of the perceived inability to have children. I find this reasoning to be severely irrational.
You say, “Civilization has pretty clearly settled on marriage as the union of one man, and one woman. ” Many civilizations have been polygamous and some polyandrous. Have you read the Old Testament? Or are you implying that the Israelites were not civilized?!?
I’m well aware that polygamy pops up in the OT, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s condoned, or presented as the ideal (in fact, part of the OT’s message is that God’s people screw up a lot, yet He will never fully abandon them). Indeed, Deuteronomy 17 says, “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away.”
It’s not that I don’t care about people who’d scam the system; I simply understand that it’s unrealistic to expect any sort of law or contract on any subject to be 100% foolproof.
Marriage as a social or cultural construct may not be primarily or exclusively about children, but *civil* marriage should be. I have no interest in the government affirming *anyone’s* love or emotions. It’s simply not the role of a limited government to be any sort of arbiter of love.
When I get married, the parts of it I’m going to find fulfilling on a personal or emotional level are going to be the affirmation of my love before God and my friends & family (i.e., the freedom gays already enjoy)—not the state-issued license.
(And I’m against gay adoption and in-vitro for gays & straights alike.)
I and numerous other conservatives (including no less a Religious-Right boogeyman like James Dobson) have often pointed out that gay couples have access to far more than gay activists usually let on, and we’ve even voiced support for common-sense ways to give gay couples greater flexibility & ease in achieving them (hospital visitation, employer benefits, leaving property via wills, etc.).
Frankly, I’m not all that committed to the idea that either type of union—gay or straight—needs or should be provided every single benefit that civil marriage offers. I’ve written before that it would be interesting, and possibly productive, for society to reevaluate what civil marriage offers straight couples; perhaps some benefits shouldn’t be offered at all, perhaps some should only kick in upon parenthood. But in the grand scheme of things, the precise recalibration of civil marriage to achieve perfect utility & efficiency, and to account for the hurt feelings of every would-be beneficiary in America, just isn’t all that big a priority.
I may be missing something, but it seems to me that Sprigg’s comment was pretty consistent FRC’s views. I also that that FRC very often undermines true conservatism by advocating government monitoring of what goes in American bedrooms and with women’s reproductive tracts. Tony Perkins and FRC are opportunistic political manipulators that use hyperbole and fear-mongering to collect donations and galvanize voters. I think Perkins is disingenuous and dangerous.
“…advocating government monitoring of what goes in American bedrooms and with women’s reproductive tracts.”
You’re gonna have to be a little more specific if you want me to believe this statement is anything other than the usual left-wing slander of abortion opposition.
I was agreeing with you when you said, “I am appalled that it would ever cross any of my leaders’ minds to advocate such an un-American policy as criminalizing gay behavior. ”
I also think it is beyond the pale for the US government to tell me that I must carry to full term a fetus with hydrocephalus and lacking in a brain.
I respect those who work to help women in need with funding for good prenatal care and adoption counseling. I do not think that the State should be able force me to bear a conception from rape or to risk my life.
Discussions on abortion are important — within the family, church, synagogue, temple, and mosque. The State does not need to be involved (and most American women agree with me –this is not a “leftist” issue, a true conservative/libertarian would tell Government to butt out!!).
1.) It’s deeply misleading to jump straight to a case like “hydrocephalus and lacking in a brain” whenever the issue of abortion comes up. You know as well as I do that the vast majority of abortions are not performed because of rape, incest, threats to the mother, or severe fetal deformities. Besides, that was not the distinction you originally made in your “women’s reproductive tracts” comment.
2.) Even so, the case you describe still presents the question, “is it ever just for the government to decide that certain human beings do not deserve the Declaration of Independence’s promise that government is instituted first and foremost to protect their right to life?” Regardless of the ultimate answer to this question, the protection of human life is clearly a legitimate function of the government (in fact, its primary function – certainly more legit than mandating material benefits to anyone), and manifestly different than any question pertaining to marriage.
3.) No, most Americans – men or women alike – do not agree with you. In fact, there is not a clearly-defined majority that agrees with either of us. Generally, the American people think there should be more restrictions on abortion than there currently are, but they are queasy about repealing Roe v. Wade or a complete abortion ban (also, polls tend not to clearly separate every different type of abortion case). They often acknowledge that it’s morally wrong, and of late have tended to prefer calling themselves pro-life to pro-choice. And over the years, the polls have been gradually shifting in our favor.
1) Point well taken. Nonetheless, would you tell me, or women close to you (wife/sister/daughter/niece) that if she is raped she must nurture a fertilized egg, allow the blastocyte safe passage down her fallopian tube to implant in her womb when at that stage the small cluster of cells as the constitutional rights of a cancerous tumor (which also contains full human chromosomes)?
2) The Declaration of Independence, the ancient history of Judeo-Christian tradition (the conception was not viewed as a baby until the time of “quickening, ” which is about 20 weeks), the common practice of human civilizations across time and over continents have never recognized an nonviable fetus as a citizen. Far from it. Contraception, abortion, and even infanticide have existed ever since rape, famine, severe birth defects and poverty have. (This is reality, not outcomes I like.) Also, one-quarter of all conceptions result in spontaneous abortion (‘miscarriage’) — life is not always pretty. Some conceptions are so malformed that the cannot survive more than days or weeks. Sometimes the mother is so stressed (lack of nutrition, physical trauma, psychological abuse) that an abortion occurs spontaneously. My point is that God/nature kills thousands of fetuses every day and there is no lobby against God for that destruction of human chromosomes.
3) I have not seen a survey of Americans showing an overall majority favoring prohibition of abortions in all circumstances. The absolutely “no abortion” responses range from about 16% to 28%. About 66% surveyed in Gallup polls across years have thought that first-trimester abortions should be legal.
Because of the difficult moral, emotional, family, religious, financial issues involved when a woman considers abortion (always a difficult situation), I think the decision is best left to the woman, her conscience, religious counselor and family. Uncle Sam just doesn’t have a role to play.
Pragmatically, when abortions are strictly outlawed you know full well that does not stop women in desperate circumstances from seeking an abortion. It just means that the abortions performed are dangerous and more women die. That is the awful outcome of heavy-handed government intrusion. Are you willing to accept the deaths of women through prohibition of abortion rather than using influence to prevent unwanted pregnancies and providing resources for adoption?
I favor persuasion over legislation.
“Nonetheless, would you tell me, or women close to you (wife/sister/daughter/niece) that if she is raped she must nurture a fertilized egg, allow the blastocyte safe passage down her fallopian tube to implant in her womb when at that stage the small cluster of cells as the constitutional rights of a cancerous tumor (which also contains full human chromosomes)?”
Yep. And so would most of the women I know. But let me turn the question around: is there ANY circumstance in which you would *not* allow abortion?
As to point 2, it’s meaningless. Because of science, we’re now better informed about when the life of a unique, individual human being begins. And as to spontaneous fetal death, plenty of post-birth humans die naturally too, for all sorts of reasons. But nobody recognizes that as an argument for allowing their *deliberate* destruction.
Lastly, the old “do you want women to die” canard isn’t very compelling. For one thing, most abortions are not performed for “desperate” reasons, and ending abortion will save over a million lives a year. For another, the discrepancy between women who died from illegal abortions before & after Roe v. Wade has been grossly distorted (if I recall correctly, Ramesh Ponnuru examines this in great detail in his book “The Party of Death”). For a third, legal abortion has its share of dangers, too:
I don’t want anybody to die, mother or child. But it’s not society’s fault if people choose to risk undertaking dangerous, illegal actions.
Anyway, we could go on about this endlessly, but I don’t want to get too sidetracked on abortion in a threat about homosexuality. I just wanted to clear up the false impression that mainstream abortion opposition is in any way comparable to Sprigg’s belief in jailing gay people.
Okay, neither of us want to see people die unnecessarily, right?
I don’t think a blastocyte with undifferentiated cells is a person or citizen. My body is full human cells that are not affording constitutional rights.
I think that a fetus that has matured to the point that it can live unassisted outside of the womb, has no defects, and does not pose a threat to the mother life should not be aborted (and prohibiting late term abortions that meet the above criteria makes perfect sense).
However, I agree with you that rather than going back and forth on this, the focus should be in FRC’s inane notion of that gay guys or lesbian gals should be treated as criminals. I think FRC has really lost the plot on this issue and will consequently (I hope) be losing lots of dollars and political support — a lobby group willing to undermine the constitution should be deprived of donations!
It’s “unAmerican” to ban homosexual behavior? Really!!? Since the founding of this country, Americans have traditionally banned deviant and/or immoral behavior. Cursing, adultery, polygamy, etc. were all banned at the time the Bill of Rights were ratified. We still ban pedophelia, necrophelia, incest, beastiality. Is that “unAmerican” too? It has only been since 2003 (Lawrence v Texas) that prohibiting homosexual behavior suddenly became unconstitutional. But for 200+ years before that it was in almost all states at almost all times. Was it unAmerican all those years to do so?
We ban persons from even possessing pictures of naked underage children. Just possessing them. Or just looking at them on computer. We put them in jail and lock them up. We break down their doors, charge into their bedrooms and lock them up. Is that “unAmerican” too? Does agreeing with such prohibititions amount to “monitoring of bedrooms” and “undermine true conservatism”?
Calling an opposing point of view “unAmerican” does not advance your position. It only makes you look foolish because it is demonstrably untrue. It’s the same as the leftist calling conservatives racists when they are losing an argument, or those on the right calling their opponents communists. Not condemning you for hyperbole, I do it all the same, I’m just sayin…
While I’ll certainly cop to my share of hyperbole over the years 😉 , my use of “un-American” was for a specific purpose. When the Left uses it, they use it as they use everything else: as a catch-all for anything they don’t like or can’t answer substantively. I used it here in exactly the meaning the word suggests: inconsistent with, and contrary to, the core principles of the American Founding.
When I look at the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or Locke’s social compact theory on which much of the Founders’ philosophy was based, I see nothing that suggests the law may be justly used as a tool for enforcing private morality. I see the opposite: a limited government, authorized to only do a certain number of things, and a clear separation of church and state (I know as well as anybody how badly the Left has distorted the church-state separation’s meaning, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have one).
America has always had laws at various levels of government inconsistent with our stated principles. Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory despite his own doubts about the move’s constitutionality. Slavery is the obvious one, as is the fact that several Founders owned slaves (I’m not blaming them – I know very well why they couldn’t have just ended slavery then & there – I’m just saying they recognized that declaring principles and actualizing them are two different things).
Pedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality, incest, and child porn? Oh, come on. These are all obviously different from gay sex. For one thing, corpses, animals, and children can’t consent. For another thing, you could make a pretty good case that desiring sex with any of the three is a sign of serious mental issues. As for incest, there are issues with genetics & offspring in addition to its moral odiousness. Child porn too is legitimately criminal because a.) if it’s made with actual children, they were obviously abused, and b.) with the simulated stuff we don’t want it encouraging people to do things to real kids.
Calvin, I’m not blaming you, you are a product of the modern generation that is steeped in liberalism. You are, whether you know it or not, basing your position on liberal false premises: 1) The Constitution is a living breathing document, the meaning of which fluctuates and changes with the times; and 2) It violates the “separation of Church and State” to “legislate morality.”
You have the noble but misguided idea that your position is most consistent with “liberty” it is actually consistent with what used to be called licentiousness. The Founders did not view Liberty as a license to act in an immoral manner. Liberty meant the right to do as one wished so long as it was also not immoral. Hence, they did not shy away from legislating morality, such as enacting “blue laws” and forbidding cursing and pornography.
You are buying into a recent line of thinking that equates liberty with licentiousness. This line of thinking is actually a relatively recent phenomenon that gained favor after WWII. Liberty and Licentiousness originally meant two totally different things, but now the modern meaning of liberty has essentially taken on the same meaning as what used to be called licentiousness.
The Founders may have been influenced by Locke, but they did not fully accept all of his beliefs. You cannot ignore that the same people who ratified the U.S. Constitution also contemporaneously enacted laws forbidding sodomy, adultery, and polygamy. What you are in essence advocating is that the Founders did not really know what they were doing, or else they did and they were intentionally violating the Constitution. No, they were not wrong, they knew exactly what they were doing; it is those who want to suddenly change the meaning of the Constitution +200 years later are the ones who are wrong.
I am aware that animals, kids and the dead can’t consent. But are you aware that the underlying unstated premise to which you must accept in order to base your position on that? It is that ANYTHING that consenting adults do in private is acceptable. This country was not based upon such a position, again it is a rather recent change.
The following is gross but I will do it anyway to show the absurdity of such a position. Some perv who enjoys looking at pictures of prepubescent children in the privacy of his own home is not harming anyone. The picts are old, taken of people who are now 50 years old. He did not take the childrens’ picts, he might not have been born when they were taken, but we still outlaw such behavior and he can be locked up for it. Is that “un-American”?
People can “consent” to dispose of their body after death. They can donate it to science for use as a cadaver, they can be cremated, they can be embalmed. Under your way of thinking, they should be able to “consent” to be used for sex. You rightly are apalled at such a thought but with the premises that you have accepted you have no logical reason to consistently forbid such a position. Calling them crazy because you disagree with their disgusting desires does not answer the question, because homosexuality not too long ago was considered a mental disorder as well.
And I’ll go further with disgusting. There is no logical consistent reason to forbid incest if all of the participents are adults and if they can not conceive. On what consistent logical basis can you forbid a woman who has entered menopause from having sex with her adult son? Or on what basis do you forbid brother and sister sex if one or both is fixed? You can’t. Sure, it disgusts you, but remember, you don’t legislate morality or ban something just because it disgusts you. Likewise, you can’t ban polygamy. Nobody is harmed, and all “consent.”
That’s where the position that you have accepted logically leads, whether you want to admit it or not. Far from agreeing with your misguided notion of “Liberty,” the Founding Fathers would turn over in their graves if they knew that their words were being used to support such a position.
I’m taking this time to make these points because I think you have the potential to be a leader for years to come. You have obviously thought much deeper about this than others your own age. I’m from an older generation when it was normal and people thought nothing of it to ban homosexual behavior. A young but moral person who came of age in Soddam and Gomorrah probably wondered what the fire and brimstone was all about, too: “Hey, that [fill in the blank] ain’t so bad, all my neighbors do it!”
I invite you to actually look up the meaning of licentiousness. I’ve posted on my blog someone else’s excellant article that explains the difference. Just search for it. I’m not being a know it all, nor am I putting you down, I’m trying to give a friendly different perspective.
While I’ll be the first to admit the limits of my own knowledge, you have made several very false assumptions about what I do and do not know. I know the cultural presuppositions of liberalism (more accurately named as progressivism), and how they deviate from classical liberalism & the Founding era, in and out.
I know the difference between judicial originalism & the “living Constitution” very well – in fact, I challenge you to find a single word in anything I’ve written that would indicate I believe the meaning of the Constitution’s language should change with the times.
I am familiar with the difference between liberty and license/licentiousness. As I have understood it (including as it has been explained by members of the Hillsdale political science dept – not libertarians, I assure you), liberty is the freedom to do whatever you are allowed to do under natural law, but license is the freedom to do anything you want. With every explanation I have encountered, the dividing line has been the violation of the natural rights of others.
I need not believe that the Founders either “did not really know what they were doing,” or that they were “were intentionally violating the Constitution.” IF their views in this regard were as you claim, then I simply disagree with them. I admire them as brilliant, courageous men of intellect and principle that is to this day unmatched, but they did not claim to be gods, and they often disagreed with each other on numerous points. Sue me.
As to your various examples of other nasty things society forbids, you seem to have offered no justification for criminalizing them yourself other than they “disgust” you. Sorry, but that ain’t gonna fly.
On your blog, you have semi-regularly posted pictures of attractive, scantily-clad women (http://maaadddog.wordpress.com/?s=rule+5). While none of these are outright pornographic, they are certainly risque, and occasionally borderline Not Safe For Work. Surely somebody could easily be “disgusted” by them, or consider them immoral for objectifying women or tempting people into lust. On what grounds can you say the government has no right to regulate the sexual content of Smash Mouth Politics?
Lastly, I’m utterly at a loss as to how you think the following statement is applicable to me:
“A young but moral person who came of age in Soddam and Gomorrah probably wondered what the fire and brimstone was all about, too: ‘Hey, that [fill in the blank] ain’t so bad, all my neighbors do it!'”
I have never said anything implying that homosexuality is no big deal, or “ain’t so bad,” so this statement is bizarre enough. But not only have I never advocated cultural or personal indifference to homosexuality, I have a record of writing spanning several years, including THIS VERY POST, that attests to the exact opposite!
p.s. One small example of “legislating morality” that you may not have ever considered. All laws against “cruelty to animals.” Such laws are merely society’s collective judgment that such behavior should be outlawed. We outlaw dog fighting and cock fighting. Spain has a different morality and readily condones bull fighting.
This whole notion of not “legislating morality” was a modern invention of liberals. When you notice that all those on your side are liberals, you may not be wrong, but you ought to reassess your position. 😉
Two more things: First, Ronald Reagan, a man who’s certainly thought and studied more about the Founders than either of us, famously opposed a California measure that would have banned gays from teaching in public schools (http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/jtsimpson/2009/05/08/why-reagan-was-a-better-friend-to-gays-than-obama/). Was he a “squishy liberal” or “a product of the modern generation that is steeped in liberalism.”
Second, consider this quote: “Now human law is framed for a number of human beings, the majority of which are not perfect in virtue. Therefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain, and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained; thus human law prohibits murder, theft and the like.”
Ron Paul? John Stossel? Rachel Maddow? Nope. That’s Thomas Aquinas. Was he confused about the difference between liberty and licentiousness, too?
I don’t want to spend a lot more time on this issue, but for another summary of how I approached it, here’s an edited version of something I wrote to a friend:
Is it legitimate for the state to regulate human action in the interest of enforcing a moral ideal? More generally, for the state to regulate human action in situations unrelated to the harm or rights-deprivation of another? My answer to the first is that the enforcement of a moral ideal is alone not sufficient grounds to regulate something—not in America, anyway. To the second, if we are regulating something in the name of “public consequences” other than the direct harm or rights-deprivation of another, those consequences should be clearly identified. If there is are public consequences of private gay sex that I’ve failed to consider—something that justifies throwing gay people in jail—I’ll gladly hear them.
I would never argue that “people’s beliefs should have nothing to do with how they make laws,” but people also need to have a solid understanding of what secular law is and is not for. I’ll be the first to agree that the modern leftist characterization of the “separation of church and state” has egregiously exaggerated the concept’s true meaning as understood by the men who established it. What appears in many history books today is nothing short of academic malpractice. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have one. The state is simply not supposed to be a vehicle for religious enforcement.
Again, none of this is to say that our culture should be indifferent to homosexuality. Far from it. Christians can and should oppose efforts to formalize and endorse homosexuality through the state. Christians should publicly oppose it, and actively work to shape a moral culture, especially concerning today’s backwards, destructive sexual presuppositions. But the law is not an appropriate tool for that particular mission.
One could argue that the separation of church and state is wrong, and that man’s governments should be theocratic to a greater degree. I will simply refer them to Aquinas: “Now human law is framed for a number of human beings, the majority of which are not perfect in virtue. Therefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain, and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained; thus human law prohibits murder, theft and the like.” (Admittedly, I’m no Aquinas scholar, and it’s entirely possible there is some other context in his writings I’m unfamiliar with that could complicate things. But the statement seams clear enough to me.)
Conservatives especially should be wary of using government as a tool of morality enforcement. With the exception of progressivism and its intellectual offspring, we’ve reached a pretty solid consensus that a limited government, only authorized to perform a certain number of clearly-defined tasks, is the way to go (we’ve always quibbled about what precisely those tasks should be, but that’s politics). What kind of precedent would this set? We may like one administration or legislature’s ideals, but what happens when the other guys get in power? I don’t like the idea of relaxing our suspicion of government power just because “our team” is wielding it in the name of causes we personally like. No, better to draw a line and say there are some things neither majority nor minority should be able to do to one another. The Founding Fathers recognized that human nature was inherently flawed and that government and society were always going to be imperfect. We should be wary of any attempts to enforce any sort of societal purity or perfection. Heaven is the next life, not this one, and desires to form Utopia on earth are fundamentally progressive – not conservative.
As to the strategy question, ask yourself, which is the greater social danger from a Christian standpoint: gay people having sex without being fined/imprisoned/etc., or for society and government to officially recognize homosexuality not only as tolerable, but as *equivalent* to procreative heterosexuality by redefining marriage? I believe the latter is clearly of far greater concern, especially considering that there will always be people who commit all sorts of sins regardless of what the law says, and that society can, and does, stigmatize & discourage all sorts of things without criminalizing them (don’t believe me? Try denouncing the theory of evolution or saying a kind word about Sen. Joe McCarthy in the wrong crowd sometime. Hoo boy, good times!)
But not only is pursuing the former goal highly unlikely to bear any fruit (you can’t even get a majority of conservatives or Republicans to oppose gays serving openly in the military), it can only serve to harm the latter goal, by feeding into contemporary stereotypes about people who believe that marriage still means something, and scaring open-minded people and potential allies away from our cause. If we follow Sprigg’s lead, we risk allowing a much larger problem by pursuing a much smaller one.
Regarding whether to ban other disgusting behavior, you misunderstood my position: I believe a society can and should ban behavior that a vast majority find disgusting or repulsive. I was bringing up such behavior because YOU can’t logically distinguish between homosexual behavior (which in your view it is “unAmerican” to criminalize) and necrophelia and incest and polygamy which are currently criminalized. Are we treating those pervs in an “unAmerican” fashion now, too?
My remark about growing up in Soddam and Gommorah was because in your short adult lifespan homosexual behavior has been viewed as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, so it seems “unAmerican” to criminalize such behavior. But in my lifetime it was always illegal until just 6 years ago. You may think that you are immune to the societal influences about you, but I beg to differ. Polls show a majority of younger people support gay marriage.
Ronald Reagan was a western social libertarian. Obviously, you agree with him, and I disagree. My remark about you acting as a liberal was directed at what I consider to be your “the ends justify the means” reason to fire this chap. The ends is a cause you support, opposition to gay marriage. The means is firing a guy because you think his views hurt your cause.
I agree with the quote from Thom Aquinas, and I believe that homosexual behavior falls squarely within the exception that he mentioned. The vast majority do not engage in such behavior, and it is harmful.
IMO, your goal re forbidding gay marriage is laudible but it is divorced from your own logic. If you can’t forbid gay behavior, on what grounds can you forbid gay marriage? Isn’t it none of your and the state’s business? Under my view, I have no problem opposing it, because such was the tradition of this country for centuries.
Your view of things leads to people having to resort to convoluted arguments that do not hold water. For example, Gay marriage will hurt hetero marriage [no it won’t]. And marriage is defined as between a man and a woman [so change it].
The ONLY thing holding back gay marriage is people who hold views such as the guy you called “unAmerican.” They don’t go around announcing their views, because people such as you and the gay rights crowd have savagely beaten them into submission in public. But they still vote, and when they do, gay marriage goes down in flames every time. Far from helping the cause of anti-gay marriage, you are hurting the cause by denouncing this good man for his opinion, and by undermining the very rationale used by those who oppose gay marriage.
“My remark about growing up in Soddam and Gommorah was because in your short adult lifespan homosexual behavior has been viewed as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, so it seems ‘unAmerican’ to criminalize such behavior.”
I’m sorry to see that you can’t stop yourself from mischaracterizing my own beliefs. That’s the true mark of somebody who’s accepted the Left’s way of doing things – not anything I’ve said.
I’m still waiting for an explanation as to why your posting bikini & wet t-shirt pics, which is clearly more public than Andrew Sullivan’s bedroom, should be exempt from the state’s right to legislate morality…..
To say that morons who talk about criminalization are the only thing holding back gay marriage is sheer delusion (how many of the 30 or so marriage amendments currently on the books were passed on a “criminalize the freaks!” message?), as is the idea that you’re the side that’s going to be more effective in promoting that message.
To say that it’s logically inconsistent for society to maintain a narrow definition of civil marriage without criminalizing homosexual behavior is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Many conservatives have written and thought extensively about this very question, myself included. Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with actual conservative thought, rather than the nuts.
Ok, if I’ve mischaracterized your beliefs, please succintly restate them. YOU called it “unAmerican” to criminalize homosexual sex.
No misunderstand or are deliberately mistating what I said. I said it is the philosophy (that it is perfectly acceptable to ban behavior solely for moral reasons) that is causing defeat of gay marriage. Nobody runs campaigns saying so overtly. But if you defeat that mind-set, then there are no real reasons to oppose gay marriage. You just haven’t figured that out yet, yer still in the “I’ll try to come up with some bogus reason to oppose it” mode.
Hey, I oppose gay marriage based upon semantics! What a great argument that is. NOT!
I’m sorry to see that this conversation has degenerated so far into idiocy, and that discussing this with you is virtually no different than the countless conversations I’ve had with left-wingers.
Yes, let’s start criminalizing everything that we personally disapprove of. Except smut pics on right-wing blogs, apparently……
Sorry to have pissed you off. But it IS semantics to believe that you should not allow gays to marriage based solely upon the definition of “marriage.” The simple and correct response to that is to just change the definition of marriage. End of story, your side loses.
And regarding smut, I too believe that the states and localities should have the right to regulate porn (as they always used to). That’s why you are inundated by smut in NYC but you won’t find it (outside of the internet) in say Utah. YES, YES, YES! We DO criminalize things that a majority disapprove of, all the time. Smoking in restaurants is a good recent example in Virginia. Necrophelia and incest. Nudity. Polygamy. Gambling. Eating dogs and cats. Cruelty to animals. I presume that you oppose public nudity, but on what principled basis?
My Rule 5 posts may be objectionable, but the last time I looked they were legal. Whether it ought to be illegal is a separate question. Whether a state or municipality has the power to ban such posts is yet a third question. If I lived in a state that wanted to ban such posts, I’d support their right to do so while still opposing them on the merits.
Under the original intent of the Constitution, states were free to ban porn. Only in modern times has the Supreme Court came in and said porn is speech and protected by the First Amendment. One can legitimately support a state’s right to ban porn without actually supporting such ban. Liberals, if they oppose bans on pornography and abortion, change the meaning of the Constitution to take the power away from the states. Doing so is intellectually dishonest and it is against the long traditions of this country.
Regarding maintaining a definition of civil marriage, your words make no sense whatsoever.
I never said anything about whether or not the states have the legal authority to do this stuff. In fact, if you re-read my original post, I was very clear that “Indeed, one can even recognize that Lawrence was an instance of judicial overreach without supporting the merits of the statute in dispute.” My argument is about principle, not constitutionality.
So, for the sake of argument, let’s say I don’t like you and the Other McCain spreading risque pics around the Internet. Let’s say it personally disgusts me, and I think you’re leading people into lust. Why would I be wrong to want that banned “on the merits”?
First, under current law no state or locality could ban it on the merits because it is considered speech, and banning free speech is forbidden by the First Amendment. Localities can regulate pornography, but trust me, our photos do not rise to the level of what is considered pornography under current Con Law.
But other than that, let’s say you wanted to ban those same women from appearing dressed like that on a public beach. In my view, the state should be able to regulate bathing suits IF a majority agree with that position. One of my “Rule 5″ posts showed the evolution of the bathing suit over the years. One picture showed a local sheriff years ago measuring women’s bathing suits to ensure that they were 6 ” from the knee. Custom and style and morals changed over the years, and a majority of citizens no longer support such strict clothing rules. But we still generally ban topless bathing for women, for instance, and public nudity.
Banning topless women in public is an example of basing a law purely on morals. I know from experience that Miami Beach does not ban topless sunbathing. And I for one applaud them having the right at local level to do as they please. I don’t agree with how they conduct themselves in NYC and San Fran, but it does not concern me so I do not try to run their lives. But in my general locality, I think it is perfectly permissible to try to enact laws banning things based purely on morals, so long as the law is not a right that is protected by the Constitution.
I don’t know where I would draw the line, but I think it should be up to the locality. You perhaps haven’t been to Virginia, but down here in the south there are still “dry” counties, where you can’t purchase alcoholic beverages. Not my cup of tea, but I say let the locals run their own counties as they see fit. I certainly don’t want the Federal Govt coming in and saying, Oh, No, you can’t base a law just on your morality, you have to allow purchase and consumption of alcohol.
So basically, you’re taking the current legal allowances and running with them. But surely the underlying decision whether or not to ban something is intrinsically right or wrong, irrespective of what current law or majority opinion says, no?
Not always. Some decisions to ban things are just a matter of preference, such as the choice to ban alcohol consumption or gambling. Others are close calls upon which reasonable persons can disagree without being un, un, I won’t say it. And some things are intrinsically wrong, such as adultery, abortion and the many forms of legalized theft.
So “preference” might conceivably be enough to morally justify a state or local government dictating the visual content of your website?
No, because my blog is considered speech. Speech is a protected area (First Amendment). But yes if those same ladies appeared at the public beach (not speech). Alcohol and gambling are not protected.
You’re dodging what I’m asking. “Considered” by legal convention – even by the Constitution itself – is not the same as intrinsically just/unjust.
Wasn’t trying to, just didn’t understand what you were getting at. I think what you are getting at is trying to see whether my views are effected when it applies to one of my vices. The answer is no. Examples? I drink moderately, and I gamble (Texas Hold ’em). I’ve been to dry counties, and I’ve lived in states that ban gambling. Virginia doesn’t currently ban it, but you can only gamble in private homes, not regular houses of gambling, and gambling debts are not enforceable in court.
I don’t whine about it. I accept that I currently am in the minority. If it were up to me, I’d have Virginia legalize gambling and open up casinos.
In my view, the modern courts invented the notion that soft porn is speech, and that it was entitled to First Amendment protection. Again, for centuries states banned such books if a majority wanted them banned. The liberals and progressives eroded the rights of states and localities to keep porn out that now it is virtually impossible. Again, I’m not advocating for it, but if say your hometown wants to keep an XXX rated movie theatre out of their town, I believe that they should have the right to. The Constitution was meant to apply to the Federal Govt, but in modern times–in a huge power grab in my opinion–at least in major areas it has been extended to apply to state and local governments as well.
probly too much information; short version, I don’t think Rule 5 rises to the level of “intrinsically just/unjust”, it’s merely a matter of taste. As a practical matter, I don’t see how a local government could monitor the internet, though.
All I want is an answer to whether or not there are certain things a majority of voters should never be able to do to the minority, legal conventions aside, or if is taste/disgust/moral disapproval is always acceptable as a sole grounds for regulation, as long as a big enough majority says so.
Yes, there are–the areas that are set forth in the Constitution. The Constitution limits areas that the federal government is not authorized to legislate. The problem is that the judiciary has so gone beyond the original intent that they claim that the Constitution protects many more areas than it was originally intended to protect. That sounds noble of them at first, until you realize that this is a Republican form of Democracy, not an oligarchy with life-tenured judges making the rules instead of our elected officials.
At least with a bad but constitutional law you can seek to get new elected officials and change the law. With a Supreme Court precedent such as Roe v. Wade you can’t. Roe is a great example of the Court making up a right that did not exist. Overturning Roe would not make abortion illegal, it would leave it up to the individual states where the issue belongs. States could even change their constitutions if they so desire, to protect abortion. But it would be the people’s right to decide, not a majority of 9 unelected ex-lawyers who can never be fired.
I’m talking about morally/ethically just, not legality.
You seem to think that homosexuality should be a crime because you think it is intrinsically bad. I do not think so (note: I am straight). I observe that many animals engage in homoerotic activity (i.e. god/nature has created homosexual or perhaps pansexual urges). There are human societies that have explicitly tolerated homosexuals prior to this century in Western societies. The US Constitution does not prohibit homosexuality.
In my view, homosexuality is a the same category as examples that you have given about topless sunbathing and gambling. No, actually I think that gambling is unambiguously bad (at best a stupid waste of time and money at a worst destroys families and lives).
So let me re-state. I think gambling is intrinsically evil and it should be criminalised and on the other hand I know many loving, Christian gay couples who most definitely should not be behind bars.
We will probably always disagree on the evils of gambling versus two guys who make a life together in a loving union. and contribute strongly to church and community.
Therefore, I think that you should keep celebrate your sexuality and respect others in a loving, nonviolent relationship with another adult, even if that other person has the same gender. And if you think it is fun to throw away money on a gamble when the odds are against you, I won’t stop you (but will vote against any community initiative to offer tax subsidizations for casinos).
I respect your opinion. But I know many loving and kind persons who gamble. I don’t doubt most homosexuals are loving and kind. To me that is irrelevant. How do you feel about say necrophelia? What if the person is really loving and kind, does that make it sex with corpses not disgusting to you? What if an adult mother and son, or an adult father and daughter, have a loving and non-violent sexual relationship? Does that make it not disgusting?
You and I agree that some things are intrinsically bad, we just disagree in the particulars. I can deal with that.
There a important differences between your examples and a gay couple which make the comparison invalid.
A corpse is not consenting, not is it expressing love when it is defiled.
Incest does harm as evidenced by the genetic degradation from interbreeding. This why no responsible animal breeder what mate closely related individuals and it is also why the State has a vested interest in prohibiting harmful reproduction (lest we end up with a nation of idiots and hemophiliacs — I will resist the temptation to make jokes about royal families). There is also a very strong natural taboo which no doubt has resulted from evolutionary processes: most people have no desire to copulate with a parent or sibling (indeed most people do not want to think of their parents in any sexual dimension at all).
I see a lot of harm people inflict on themselves and society through gambling.
Name one way which you are harmed if my friend Alex loves his partner of 20 years who is named Stephen. Why should Alex or Stephen be fined or jailed or prohibited from feeling love for each other?
homosexual men make up 1-2% of the population, yet they account for over 50% of the new HIV/AIDS cases per the Center for Disease Control. And the fact that homosexuals in general see nothing wrong with same sex partners usually leads them to conclude that there is no moral reason to be monogamous. All other VDs are similar in percentages.
I’m not arguing in favor of necrophelia or incest, I’m just showing that your argument breaks down in those areas. If one or both relative is sterile, then you have no basis under your version of how things ought to be to make incest illegal. And persons can and do “consent” to what is done to their corpse after death, e.g., organ and tissue donors, and those who donate their corpses for use as cadavers in medical schools. This is no morbid hypothetical–it was in some obscure news within the past 1-2 months that someone wanted to donate their corpse for use by those who were necropheliacs. Better get prepared, because the debauchery of humans knows no bounds when you base your morality on what “harms” other individuals.
“…the debauchery of humans knows no bounds when you base your morality on what ‘harms’ other individuals.”
It seems like you’ve been using “base your morality” and “base your law” synonymously. Is that your intent?
I have no problem basing laws on morality. This country did that for most of its history until approximately the 1960s, when suddenly the liberals and libertarians banded together to try to put that off limits. But we still do, for instance in banning polygamy, bullfighting and cockfighting, pornography, prostitution, etc. And, as I was trying to drive home to Jan, we do it in the case of incest and necrophelia. There is no legitimate reason according to the way you and she look at making laws forbidding such behavior, except that we disapprove of it on moral grounds. I see it and embrace it and say, yeah, it’s fine to legislate morality when a vast majority of citizens agree on it. You and she seem to think that there is something wrong with citizens deciding what type of society that they want to live in.
But that’s what I was trying to get you to explain – if morality alone is an acceptable standard for using the state to control human action, where do you draw the line? On what moral, ethical, or philosophical grounds (NOT legal or Constitutional) can you say the government shouldn’t crack down on Rule 5?
We live in a Republican form of Democracy. If enough people believe something strongly enough, they can legislate anything. They can amend the constitution. They did it with prohibition. If people don’t like the First Amendment, they can repeal it.
I believe the government shouldn’t crack down on Rule 5 because there is not a strong majority with the desire or will to crack down on it. We should not have laws that a majority do not want, see e.g., Prohibition and more recently marijuana laws, and even ObamaCare. And let’s be honest, America in the past HAS banned Rule 5. I’m not prepared to say that today’s anything goes, porn on demand is superior to the way it was when my parents and grandparents were growing up.
You might object that I am no different than the Taliban, but our strength is in our citizens. The majority of Americans would never go for an oppressive government. They might eventually go for a secular progressive government which bans religion. But that is why people such as you and I should band together, and not let minor disagreements seperate us.
I’m sorry, but I’m more convinced than ever that it isn’t me who needs a refresher on the Framers and conservatism.
It’s true that government gets its legitimacy from the people, but the idea that majority support can automatically make something morally right would be utterly alien to the Founders — they believed in a transcendent natural law, which government is supposed to serve, not define.
A majority cannot vote to murder an innocent man, for example. In that case, depriving somebody of “life, liberty, or property without due process of law” wouldn’t be wrong because it’s unconstitutional, but the other way around: it’s unconstitutional because it’s wrong.
Also, the Founders understood that human nature – in all places and all times – would be intrinsically flawed, and would never have been so hasty as to predict that the majority would “never” go for an oppressive government.
If you are axing me personally, If I were the dictator of America, I would say that whatever is clearly immoral in the Bible can and should be “illegal.” That does not mean we throw people in jail for homosexual acts performed in private, or cause adulterers to wear a scarlet letter. But then we are talking about degrees of punishment, not whether or not something should be illegal. I’d even be satisfied if we could bring back shame and ostracism to our society, and forget about legal punishment. We have become so steeped in political correctness and “tolerance” that we are allowing our society to go to hell. As Dictator of America I hereby decree that anyone [including me] caught doing X, Y and Z shall be shamed and ostracized until they repent of such behavior.
“That does not mean we throw people in jail for homosexual acts performed in private.”
But this is precisely what Sprigg implied by endorsing what he himself called “criminal sanctions.” And if he meant something else, nobody from Family Research Council has seen fit to set the record straight.
I’m all for social stigma and shame for immoral behavior, and I think that every Christian should prefer working through the culture to spread their idea of virtue rather than criminal law. That should be the ideal: laws are primarily for the protection of our natural rights, and leave questions of morality to be duked out in the court of public opinion.
Break man’s laws (murder, theft, etc.) and man punishes you. Break God’s laws (promiscuity, homosexuality, etc.), and He’ll punish you.
“A majority cannot vote to murder an innocent man, for example. In that case, depriving somebody of “life, liberty, or property without due process of law” wouldn’t be wrong because it’s unconstitutional, but the other way around: it’s unconstitutional because it’s wrong.”
Wrong again, Grasshopper. They can and they do all the time. Slavery. Abortion. Taking of property without just compensation. Drones over Afghanistan. Unjust wars. I agree with you that a majority agreeing on something does not make something right. But that is reality, and that is our system of government. If the evil men try to make evil laws, good men, hopefully including me and you, even if in the minority, will oppose them.
I agree with you that the Founders distrusted the masses’ opinion. That’s why they created the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and why we have a representative form of government instead of a democracy. But they also put in place the mechanism to change the Constitution. If a majority favored amending the Constitution then even the right to freedom of speech and of the press and of religion could be taken away. There is no fail-safe mechanism that aborts any attempt to foolishly amend the Constitution. That’s why we have to be ever vigilent.
As to some difference between God’s law and mans’ law, that is your own self-imposed limitation. Let’s switch facts slightly. Let’s say that everybody agreed with Calvin about what was right and what was wrong, and what should be outlawed and what shouldn’t. Would you still advocate only “man’s laws”? Why would you?
If the vast majority of citizens agree on what ought to be illegal, we do it all the time. See for instance laws forbidding cruelty to animals, laws forbidding the use of marijuana, etc. It appears to me that you would be opposed to laws forbidding cruelty to animals if the Bible happened to say “Thou shalt not be cruel to animals.” I don’t know where you get this misguided notion that we can’t outlaw something–just because we want to–if it also happens to say in the Bible that God is displeased by that something, too. We can use the Bible or Confuscius or The Farmers’ Almanac to support our position. You seem to believe that we can use anything to support our position EXCEPT the Bible.
“Wrong again, Grasshopper. They can and they do all the time. Slavery. Abortion…”
*Sigh* This is yet another egregious misunderstanding of what I said. With all due respect, I’m starting to wonder if they’re intentional. As the context made obvious, I meant a majority cannot JUSTLY vote to do such things, not that they are effectively unable to.
“I agree with you that a majority agreeing on something does not make something right.”
Good. But this statement seems to be inconsistent with everything you’ve said so far.
“As to some difference between God’s law and mans’ law, that is your own self-imposed limitation.”
Nope. For one thing, it’s imposed by the First Amendment. I know the Church-State Separation doesn’t mean everything the Left claims it does. I know that America was founded on certain Judeo-Christian principles. I’ve written about both things extensively. But again, that doesn’t mean we don’t have one. America is not supposed to be a theocracy. Disagree? Your quarrel is with the Founders, not me.
For another, does God even WANT us to use secular law to punish people who don’t live up to His expectations? I know that the Old Testament has all sorts of strict regulations, punishable by death, for the Israelites. But every serious Biblical scholar I’ve come across—Dennis Prager is an excellent example—has been pretty clear that many of those laws were meant specifically for the Israelites to whom they were given, not to all of humanity for all time (indeed, many of the banned practices were associated with pagan cults into nasty stuff like child sacrifice, obviously raising the stakes for getting mixed up in such practices back then as opposed to now).
On this point, I’ll again defer to St. Thomas Aquinas’s quote above. I humbly submit that he knew the Bible a heck of a lot better, and thought about it a heck of a lot more, than you or I ever will.
“Let’s say that everybody agreed with Calvin about what was right and what was wrong, and what should be outlawed and what shouldn’t. Would you still advocate only ‘man’s laws’? Why would you?”
I honestly have no idea what you think you’re saying here. Do you?
“It appears to me that you would be opposed to laws forbidding cruelty to animals if the Bible happened to say ‘Thou shalt not be cruel to animals.’ I don’t know where you get this misguided notion that we can’t outlaw something–just because we want to–if it also happens to say in the Bible that God is displeased by that something, too.”
Okay, now I really suspect this crap is deliberate. I’m sorry, there’s simply no way you could have sincerely inferred that I have claimed anything like the straw man you’ve just constructed here. It just isn’t plausible.
OK, let me try again. This is no “straw man”, this is really the impression that you give me as to what your position is. Get p o’d if you want, but either I am dense or you are not communicating well, or this really is your position. It seems to me that you are saying that just because a majority believes something is wrong based solely upon their belief in the Bible that they can’t (under the Constitution) and shouldn’t (to avoid a “theocracy”) enact such laws.
IF that accurately summarizes your beliefs, then you are correct about the Constitution, at least as it has been MISinterpreted by modern U.S. Sup Courts. But that is a gross aberration from how it was originally interpreted. Originally, the states were free to entangle themselves as much as they wanted in “religion” because the First Amendment did not apply to states, only the Federal Govt. That’s why states had chaplains open their legislative meetings with prayer, and they had “blue laws” based soley on God’s morality, and why they outlawed adultery and sodomy and pornography etc. Their doing so did not cause this country to become a “theocracy”–it just reflected the moral values of the majority of the citizens.
Currently, the Supreme Court interprets the First Amendment to forbid governments from enacting laws based solely upon biblical principals. That is why I wrote “Thou shalt not be cruel to animals.” I thought you were buying into that modern S. Ct. interpretation of how stringently they seperate church and state. Under that interpretation, if there is no other reason to ban something other than the Bible it can’t be banned.
I’m not advocating a theocracy, nor that we enact all the laws of the Old Testament. I’m only saying that if a vast majority of citizens come to a consensus based only on biblical teachings and no other reason, then they still should be able to enact the laws that they see fit.
I believe in pushing authority as far down as possible, and thus I agree on local cities and counties having the right to for instance ban alcohol consumption. There is no logical reason to ban alcohol, other than that the people are morally opposed to it. I say that’s fine for them to do, even though I would be opposed to it if I lived in such a county.
Apparently you disagree with allowing governments such control, and believe that is violating their personal freedoms, and that we should have a more limited government. I can assure you that my view is the view that predominated for the first almost two centuries of our country. [Doesn’t make it right I know, but it is nice to have history on your side.] Only lately has that view been displaced by the “western libertarian” and progressive/liberal view. I put you in the former category, but as a general rule, whenever I see myself aligned with progressives/liberals on an issue, I take care to reevaluate and make sure I didn’t go astray in my thinking somewhere.
It seems to me that you are saying that just because a majority believes something is wrong based solely upon their belief in the Bible that they can’t (under the Constitution) and shouldn’t (to avoid a “theocracy”) enact such laws.
If “the Bible says so” is the only reason somebody has for forcing somebody else to control another, that’s an indication that they’re probably on shaky ground (one should be able to trace a law’s purpose to the purpose of government as stated in the Declaration, or in the federal or state constitution, as the case may be).
If the “free exercise of religion” doesn’t mean the right not to obey a religion one disagrees with, it doesn’t mean anything. The same with the establishment of religion: the state telling people “you have to do/stop doing x, y, z explicitly because the Bible says so” isn’t an “establishment of religion,” what would be?
“Originally, the states were free to entangle themselves as much as they wanted in ‘religion’ because the First Amendment did not apply to states, only the Federal Govt.”
I know. I’m not saying the states are legally bound to follow the First Amendment. But I think the states would be wise to follow the Amendment’s principle, as I imagine most state constitutions do these days.
“There is no logical reason to ban alcohol, other than that the people are morally opposed to it. I say that’s fine for them to do, even though I would be opposed to it if I lived in such a county.”
Well, then let’s cut to the chase: are you saying that you personally agree with Sprigg’s call for criminalizing gays, or just that he’s not as crazy as I think he is?
“Apparently you disagree with allowing governments such control, and believe that is violating their personal freedoms, and that we should have a more limited government.”
I’m just carrying the principles of the Founding to their logical conclusions. A government powerful enough to do what Sprigg wants, that has the authority to do pretty much anything it isn’t expressly forbidden to do (which was the progressive Teddy Roosevelt’s view of government, by the way), doesn’t sound anything like a “limited government” to me.
“…whenever I see myself aligned with progressives/liberals on an issue, I take care to reevaluate and make sure I didn’t go astray in my thinking somewhere.”
Having studied progressives’ definition of freedom and the foundations of their philosophy (going back to Hegel, Woodrow Wilson, and others), I am quite confident I am not “aligned” with them on this issue. In fact, I very much doubt that a major percentage of conservatives would significantly disagree with me (save a handful of hardcore “religious” types).
You are wrong when you talk about the Founders. They outlawed sodomy and adultery and even working on Sundays. Now, you can argue that they were wrong, but don’t try to sell the idea that their idea of government was that they couldn’t do such things, because they did. And yes, that is why I don’t think Sprigg was “crazy”; he is taking the exact same position as many of the states in this country had taken for decades. While you were still in three corner pants (maybe not even born yet) the Supreme Court upheld the right of Georgia to ban homosexual acts between consenting adults, finding that the U.S. The government was “powerful enough” to do it less t han twenty-five years ago and all hell didn’t break loose. Constitution did not bar them from doing so (Hardwick v. Bowers). So just because you don’t agree with the position doesn’t make it crazy; otherwise, many states in this country were crazy for the past 200 years. Virginia still had laws on the books banning sodomy until Lawrence v Texas was decided.
And I see gross inconsistency in your position: presumably you oppose kiddie porn. Well, the government is powerful enough to go into peoples’ bedrooms and search their homes for picts of naked kids, and I don’t see you complaining about that. I get it–you think consenting homosexual adults are different–I’m not talking about whether one should be legal and the other shouldn’t be, I’m focusing strictly on the power of the government. If the government has the power to do it with kiddie porn, then it has the power with homosexual acts.
And making laws banning work on Sundays doesn’t “establish religion.” Neither does forbidding alcohol, or forbidding pornography. That is idiotic to suggest that. Those who don’t work Sundays can sit and watch football or go golfing or watch football, whatever they want to do. Establishing a religion would be if the government said we all had to be Christians, or we all had to be Lutherans. That’s what the Founders were against, forcing people to believe and worship or not worship as they chose.
“Establishment of religion” doesn’t mean we should get our panties all tied up in knots if we see crosses on federal property or the Ten Commandments in a courtroom. That is an absurd, extremist position that has just come into vogue in the past 40 years or so. For crying out loud, for the first 100-150 years of this nation’s existence they used the Bible as a primary reading and grammar book (don’t quote me on the dates)–now the ACLU and Americans United for the Seperation of Church and State have a cow when a teacher even mentions the bible or says Jesus Christ.
And talk about your limited government, the U.S. Sup Ct took the extreme position of telling every one of the fifty states that they could not ban abortions or ban homosexual acts. That is the opposite of the government that our founders believed in–they wanted the Feds to stay the heck out of each states’ business and let each state decide. Just because they claimed the mantle of limited government doesn’t mean those who support Lawrence v Texas are for “limited government.” They support foisting their view on everybody else.
oops. first para has a sentence stuck inside another sentence…
“You are wrong when you talk about the Founders. They outlawed sodomy and adultery and even working on Sundays.”
1.) I said I’m carrying the founding principles to their logical conclusions, not that they explicitly said what I’m saying. 2.) The fact that such laws were on the books when they were around does not automatically mean they advocated or fought for them.
“I don’t think Sprigg was ‘crazy’; he is taking the exact same position as many of the states in this country had taken for decades.”
Whether or not states have done something, or for how long, says nothing about the merits. And that dodges what I asked. Let’s make it crystal clear: if Sprigg’s proposal was on the table in your community, would you vote for it?
As for the judicial history lesson: 1.) Last time I checked, conservatives didn’t view the Supreme Court’s seal of approval as evidence that a position wasn’t crazy (Dred Scott, Roe, Kelo, etc.). 2.) Again, I’ll refer you to what I already wrote. Above I’ve clearly said that Lawrence was judicial overreach, and I have no quarrel with the constitutionality at the state & local level (provided, of course, individual state constitutions don’t have something to say on the matter). For what feels like the millionth time I’ve had to say this, I’m talking about moral principle, not legal conventions.
And if you’re still hung up on profoundly obvious differences between kiddie porn and adult consensual gay sex, either in their different effects on society or in the theoretical justification for why one falls under government’s just jurisdiction and one doesn’t, then I think you’re beyond reasoning with.
So, in your mind, the law saying “Follow this religious precept for no other reason than it’s a religious precept” doesn’t constitute any sort of establishment of religion. Wow.
“‘Establishment of religion’ doesn’t mean we should get our panties all tied up in knots if we see crosses on federal property or the Ten Commandments in a courtroom. That is an absurd, extremist position that has just come into vogue in the past 40 years or so.”
I agree it’s an absurd, extremist position—which is why I’ve never claimed anything of the sort, and why I’ve written against that absurd, extremist position as well.
“And talk about your limited government, the U.S. Sup Ct took the extreme position of telling every one of the fifty states that they could not ban abortions or ban homosexual acts.”
Agreed. Which, again, you should have figured out a long time ago. See above.
It’s been entertaining, but it hasn’t been productive I can see.
I’ll just leave you with this. The way you feel about those of us who want to keep homosexual acts illegal is the same way pro-abortionists or squishy anti-abortionists feel about those who would outlaw the taking of a human beings life through abortion. “That’s soooo un American! That is soooo Big Brother, Big Government!” they say. “Who are we to legislate our morality onto others?” they whine.
Decades of living with the fait accompli by the liberal/libertarian Supreme Court declaring that killing babies is “a choice” that cannot be legislated against has warped the thinking of otherwise rational human beings.
I’ve been around long enough to see how warped a society can become in 50 years. Society doesn’t go down hill slowly, it goes down hill expotentially. The moral depravity in San Francisco took root in the 60s. It is the thinking that lead to the depravity. I don’t expect to change your mind, but I do believe that you will look back at this moment in history–if you live another 30-40 years, and say, “Why didn’t I stand up when I still had the chance to do something to save society.” The perverts don’t just want equality, they want total depravity.
Don’t bother to reply, unless you just want the last word. I won’t be responding further. I know, now I’m just another kook in your book. I can deal with that.
“The way you feel about those of us who want to keep homosexual acts illegal is the same way pro-abortionists or squishy anti-abortionists feel about those who would outlaw the taking of a human beings life through abortion.”
Nope. Abortion leaves a corpse.
I know full well how cultural opinions, political philosophy, and legal theory have degenerated over the ages. I know that the agenda of the gay Left is nowhere near as innocent as they claim, and I’ll be on the front lines fighting them — just as I’ve always been.
You may not believe this is sincere, but I’m honestly saddened to see the way this has turned out. I took a liking to you when I saw you taking Alonzo Fyfe to task a while back. But over the course of this debate, you have not only taken a preposterous stance that can only serve to further ravage conservatism, but you have made scores of false statements about basic facts in doing so, made all the more ironic by the arrogance you displayed right off the bat. And now I see that, on your blog, you say NAMBLA and GOProud are “equally noxious to morals in the eyes of social conservatives”? *
I’m sorry, but I see a whopper like that, and I know I’m no longer dealing with an honest man.
You may have noticed that, a few days ago, I removed Smash Mouth Politics from my blogroll. As a conservative and a Christian, I can no longer in good conscience direct my readers to your website as a representation of either.
I’m sorry it ended this way. Best of luck to you in the future.
You are such a little drama queen. Anybody who disagrees with you must be forced to resign, be fired, or they must be an “honest man.” First, you are not the arbiter of what social conservatives believe. There are obviously many who disagree with you. I personally, for instance, see less problem with a 19 year old man having sex with a 16 year old girl than I do with two men having sex. I’d venture that many others feel the same way. Yet the law will throw the man in jail, and can’t seem to bother interfering with the latter. OK, I get it, you disagree with me. But I’ve never called you dishonest. You are despicable.
And this delusional creep wonders why I call him dishonest……
er, should read “a DIShonest man”
Numerous specific reasons for my assessment have been made clear in the thread above, the most glaring of which is the latest NAMBLA/GOProud equivocation. I make no apologies.
You and I don’t agree on everything, but I must say that I hold in high regard the logic, consistency, and decency manifest in your comments. My respect for you is heightened by your distancing your self from Smash Mouth Politics.
Thanks for running a blog in which ideas and viewpoints can be expressed with an intelligent response.
Thank you. I know how bad social conservative must be looking recently, what with idiots like Sprigg, juveniles like Ryan Sorba, and scum like Doe running around. And honestly, I wouldn’t blame you a bit for skepticism of us, given recent events. But having spent several years in this movement and following it closely, I hope you’ll believe me when I say that they are NOT the norm.
Some of the people dearest to me (including my parents!) are social conservatives AND good, decent, understanding people who take time to understand differing viewpoints (even if they don’t agree).
John Doe, I really don’t understand why you persist in such a vituperative manner. Can’t we have a discussion on rational grounds?
Calvin, the Defender of Pedophiles. Hey, NAMBLA just advocates “free speech.” They don’t really do anything wrong. Calvin, go join, quick, you little punk.
Last time I checked, there was nothing conservative about knowingly lying about people. Consider yourself banned, you worthless demagogue. May God have mercy on your soul.