Friday, June 27, 2003

This piece by Claudia Winkler points out the stupidity of the Left Wing of SCOTUS. We see the pattern over and over. First, some government agency or other institution funded by government decides to undertake some mission or offer some service that goes beyond its real purpose (internet in libraries, sex ed in schools). Then, having done so, the claim is made that it must perform in the most offensive way to everybody but the ACLU, on the grounds of the Bill of Rights.

OK, those are my words, not hers. She was merely expressing frustration with those who argue that protecting children from hard core porn in libraries is just an excuse for gutting the First Amendment.

Why we need grammar lessons.

Today's Best of the Web has an item headed "Scalia Gets Dowdified." I wondered how many of our current crop of high school graduates would understand Taranto's point that:
It turns out that although Scalia's dissent does contain this sequence of words ["I have nothing against homosexuals"], the network [CNN] egregiously misquoted him. Here's what he actually wrote:
Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means.

The object of the preposition against was not homosexuals but promoting.
Ah, the power of diagramming sentences!

Andrew Sullivan is the go-to guy on matters like Lawrence v. Texas. He characterizes Scalia's dissent as,
interesting and not quite as chock-full of animus toward homosexual dignity as in the past.
I find that term "homosexual dignity" interesting. Is that what this is all about? Granting dignity to behavior that repels 97% of us?

I think I understand the deep feelings of rejection that homosexuals must feel, but I don't know how a judicial grant of dignity really helps them, any more than granting equal rights to African-Americans changes the feeling they have that this is a racist society. Breaking the back of Jim Crow was right and necessary, but it could not, in and of itself, change the hearts of racists. Overturning Texas' anti-sodomy statute was not necessary, and it certainly will not change the beliefs of most people that sodomy is unnatural and immoral, and that there is something abnormal about same-sex attraction. A lot of straights have been intimidated by the homophobic label into the Jerry Seinfeld approach, not that there's anything wrong with that, but the reason that episode was funny was that everybody knew that these straight guys were desperate NOT to appear gay.

Here's my point: If homosexuals are concerned about dignity, they should quit holding Gay Pride parades and flaunting their lifestyles, because like it or not, men dressing and acting like Charo is not dignified. It's creepy. People with rings in their eyebrows, noses and nipples or tongues are not dignified. People with purple mohawks are not dignified. Panhandlers and people in chicken suits are not dignified. It's just not dignified to go to extremes to get attention, just as it is not dignified to be constantly proclaiming one's personal doubts and difficulties with oneself and pleading for understanding, as though everyone else is your therapist.

What was won yesterday was not dignity for homosexuals. It was the right to engage in sodomy without being punished for it by the law. If gays want dignity, they should go back into the closet, and keep their private lives private. I am not saying that I think they should be ostracized, brutalized or denied protection of the law when they are assaulted. I don't hate gays. Mostly I grieve for them, and for the feelings they describe about growing up gay, or feeling "queer." At the same time, I believe in God, a personal Heavenly Father of us all, who loves each of us, and he has made it clear that homosexuality is an abomination. I can't believe that he would create homosexuals and then condemn them. He creates people with inherited diseases, but he doesn't describe them as abominations. He created male and female and commanded them to multiply and replenish the earth. That's why I can't believe that anyone is born gay, and why I feel that just accepting people "as they are" without trying to help them reach their full divine potential is not what God expects from us. He tells us to repent and to preach repentance and has provided a savior who has suffered vicariously for our sins so that we can be healed and made clean. It's a Satanic doctrine that tells us we should just accept everybody and everything the way it is, without trying to guide the lost, lift up the weak, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, teach the ignorant and free the captive. I know that those who feel that they can't change themselves will consider my attitude as dishonest, meddling and judgmental, but, as a friend of mine says, I can't help the feeling that homosexuality is wrong and that it will lead only to sorrow and greater pain; I was born that way.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

I think Justice O'Connor is trying to persuade conservatives to demand her retirement. Her votes in the last few days have seemed like "What the hell!" rulings, without logic or sound legal reasoning. In the Grutter case she seemed to regret her own vote and hope that in 25 years affirmative action will no longer be necessary, even as she was articulating a new compelling state interest to make sure that it will still be strong.

In today's decision in Lawrence v. Texas, she reverses her vote in the earlier decision dealing with anti-homosexuality state laws, Bowers v. Hardwick.

Libertarians will hail this decision as a victory for freedom, but I see it as debasing the peoples' right to determine the kind of society they want to live in. Nobody seems to realize that this principle is fundamental to the idea of democracy. The loss of it will polarize us as much as any issue since slavery. Most religious people will denounce it as rejecting God's laws, which it does, but I think that the more dangerous element of it is that it suggests that the consent of the governed no longer is the source of the government's power. Courts are not representative of the will of the people and should, therefore, be reluctant to overturn decisions made by bodies who are.

What drives the current willingness to nullify actions of the political branches is an overemphasis of some civil liberties and individual rights to the detriment of others which belong to majorities. This trend has been underway all of my life and has its major force due to the civil rights struggles in the last 6 decades. I would not want to see a return to the Jim Crow laws of the past, nor would I wish to see the advances in tolerance and access to the means of power and wealth eroded, but I am struck by the aptness of Yeats' lines "The best lack all convictions, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity." Attacking "injustices" can often be a path to power for those who shouldn't be trusted with it.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Peter Lewis (via Instapundit) typifies the "tech-savvy" view of the Supreme Court's ruling announced today upholding a federal law that denies federal funds to libraries which fail to protect children from internet porn. I've had personal computers in my home from the the first Commodore 64, but if I found out that my kids were accessing porn at the public library, that'd be the end of my trust in that institution. The same goes for just about everybody else in this county. Our libraries are funded by the county, but if they were allowing access to porn, there would be no internet service at all in them. It's not a free speech issue. It's about the right of parents to protect their children, and the desire of county commissioners to stay in office.

We seem to have the idea that the First Amendment requires that everything be on public display, while the Fourth prohibits any invasion of our privacy. This is why the FBI was prohibited from using the internet to investigate crime by looking at information that is freely available to anyone else. We have become shy exhibitionists, wanting to throw off all restraint, but insisting that no one should look.

Lewis writes:
Sure, some kids will use the Internet to search for porn, just as they'll snoop for dad's collection of Playboys out in the garage. I suspect that if they are blocked on the library computers, they'll simply use someone else's computer. (Or, they'll hack around the software.) Meanwhile, everyone else at the library wanting to use the Internet will be assumed to be a pervert, especially those who ask that the software filters be disabled.
This is to say that because people have a right to view sexually explicit material, the government has to provide it to them. One more reason I'm not a libertarian.

This is the next big thing! I foresee businesses in malls, starting in California, where you can drop in and have your brain tuned up. Then there will be books debunking it and criminals claiming it as a defense. It'll be all over the talk shows and there'll be plans for building your own magnetic brain enhancer on the internet.

I'll trade you one Hatch for Reid. I've never liked Hatch much, and the story on Harry Reid's nepotism is even worse. Both are LDS, which in my book, makes it worse. They should know better.

I guess it's possible that people just gave their relatives business without their prodding, but it doesn't sound that way.

The affirmative action cases split with Justice O'Connor changing the balance. The Supremes struck down the point system for undergrad admissions, but upheld the Law School's system on the grounds that the Constitution "does not prohibit the law school's narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body." So diversity is a compelling state interest.

As I wrote earlier, this seems to say that we want, nay need, minority students at major universities, not to benefit them or their communities, but to enhance the educational experience for the rest of the students. We no longer require teaching of the classics, but we must have diversity.

Update: Professor Volokh has an interesting comment on a exchange between Rehnquist and Ginsburg in the Gratz case. Justice Ginsburg seems to argue that, since universities will seek racial quotas by subterfuge anyway, it would be better to allow them to do so plainly and openly, in the interest of candor. Rehnquist responds that she seems to be arguing that the Court should wink at unconstitutional policies because "they're going to do it anyway." (My quote, not theirs) I think Ginsburg's argument is unworthy of a Supreme Court Justice, and is based on a cynical despair of ever achieving a truly race neutral society.

The real problem with racial preferences is that they imply that the majority of society knows that the minorities they stoop to reach can't achieve the levels of performance that everyone else, even people like Miguel Estrada achieve without affirmative action. They debase the legitimate achievements of individuals, and send an insidious message to minorities, "Your skin color makes you a 'special class.'" True Affirmative Action would reach out, finding ways to identify talented youth from disadvantaged backgrounds and give them opportunities to overcome their setbacks. This approach is harder to do and is less likely to focus on skin color. Maybe that's why Democrats won't support it.

My reaction to Bill Gates' solution for spam:

He said it himself:
It would be funny if it weren't so irritating.
He hypes MS' efforts to fight spam throught lawsuits and "significantly stepping up our efforts to fight spam through technological innovation and cooperation with government and industry leaders." That's Bill all right, Mr. Innovation and Cooperation.