Friday, August 13, 2010

Our Very Own Taliban

I am always amazed at the selective memory some folks have when it comes to their junior high school civics class. They remember the part about "majority rules" when it comes to elections, but, especially when it suits them, they conveniently forget the US Constitution's admonitions on equal protection for all citizens. It's happening again.

What was once a moral argument has morphed into a debate over the democratic process and the propriety of judges overturning laws approved by voters. It raises one of the oldest conflicts in the nation — the tension between "majority rule" and a Constitution designed to protect the rights of individuals against the majority.

"I thought the people voted on it," said Russell Wade, 72, who was watching children body-boarding in the waves below Huntington Beach Pier this week. "I guess it doesn't matter as long as certain groups don't like what the voters decide. The people voted on it and it should be left alone. Period."

Of course, the "morality" is still there, and is certainly not hidden by the "majority rules" argument, as Mr. Wade makes clear:

But Wade, who has been married for 52 years to his high school sweetheart, believes there are laws that trump those made by man.

"I'm a Christian and marriage is, like the Bible says, a union of a man and a woman," he said. "I'll stick with what the Lord says. No matter what any court says, I have to live by a higher law."

Now, I don't mind if Mr. Wade decides to live by "a higher law." I would fight to keep him from being forced to marry a man against his will. However, that's not what he's talking about, I'm certain. What he wants is to impose his version of "a higher law" on all of the rest of us. And that I do mind.

In fact, to a great extent Mr. Wade's version of a higher law reminds me a great deal of the Taliban's version of a higher law. Women suspected of unbecoming behavior (like getting an education or peeping out from behind a full veil) are punished severely, even horribly disfigured, as a recent Time cover reminded us. Christians suspected of proselytizing (by handing out food stuffs to the poor) are summarily executed, usually in soccer stadiums to which the local citizenry are "invited."

No, thank you, Mr. Wade. I prefer our constitutionally guaranteed equal protection before the law to your sanctimonious bibliolatry.

Oh, and while your riffing through the Old Testament for a rebuttal argument, let me direct you to the New Testament short verse which comes to mind in dealing with people who, like you, prefer a doctrine of hate to one of love:

Jesus wept.

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