Posted on | September 8, 2012 | 31 Comments
“Seizing on the triumphant narrative of the black civil-rights movement, liberals adopted the habit of framing political debates in terms of minority ‘rights’ versus majority ‘discrimination.’ . . . To disagree with a liberal, to oppose his latest policy proposal, is to invite comparisons to Bull Connor and Orval Faubus, so long as the liberal can make ‘rights’ the basis of his argument.
” ‘Rights talk’ allowed liberals a means of preemptively delegitimizing their opponents and thereby to avoid arguing about policy in terms of necessity, utility and efficacy. If all legal and political conflicts are about ‘rights,’ there is no need to argue about the specific consequences of laws and policies. Merely determine which side of the controversy represents ‘rights’ and the debate ends there.”
— Robert Stacy McCain, “Gay Rights, Gay Rage,” The American Spectator, Oct. 17, 2008
Americans have been deliberately miseducated about their own laws and history, and the teaching of logic has been abandoned altogether, so that our arguments about public policy are crowded with distracting falsehoods and emotional appeals to a liberal mythology of “progress.”
Liberalism has no fixed goal. We will never reach a point at which the liberal will say, “enough.” Grant all his demands today, and tomorrow the liberal will return to demand more.
Take for example the federal budget, which is $3,796,000,000,000 for the current year. Could we go to our liberal friends and get them to specify an amount — say, $5 trillion — at which the federal budget would be big enough? If we could ever get liberals to stipulate some final number, some ultimate limit to the remorseless expansion of Washington’s power over us, then we might be able to negotiate a settlement. But what liberals demand is always more, and so it’s like negotiating with a shark about how much of your leg he will eat.
The same principle applies in law and policy. The liberal concept of “progress” fuels a remorseless shark-like hunger for more, until eventually we find ourselves watching an illegal immigrant being celebrated on the stage of the Democratic National Convention with rhetoric suggesting that only hateful bigots can be in favor of enforcing our nation’s immigration laws. (No one bothers to point out that the law Benita Veliz’s parents violated, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, was the legislative brainchild of Ted Kennedy.)
News From the Frontier of ‘Progress’
How did we get here? And where are we heading next? Let us examine another report from this past week’s convention:
Hundreds of delegates and supporters gathered at the Charlotte Convention Center today for the 2012 Democratic National Convention’s LGBT Caucus, with much reason to celebrate history. This year the Convention plays host to more than 500 LGBT delegates, more than any other Democratic National Convention ever. . . .
The caucus meeting focused on the many advances made in LGBT rights over the past four years, including the legalization of gay marriage in several states and the increased presence of gay and lesbian members in Congress.
In case you didn’t know, LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, the last category having recently made news elsewhere:
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered state prison officials to provide a taxpayer-funded sex-reassignment surgery to a transgender inmate serving life in prison for murder.
U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled in the case of Michelle Kosilek, who was born as a man but has received hormone treatments and lives as a woman in an all-male prison. Robert Kosilek was convicted of murder in the killing of his wife in 1990.
Wolf is believed to be the first federal judge to order prison officials to provide the surgery for a transgender inmate.
Kosilek first sued the Massachusetts Department of Correction 12 years ago. Two years later, Wolf ruled that Kosilek was entitled to treatment for gender-identity disorder, but stopped short of ordering surgery. Kosilek sued again in 2005, arguing that the surgery is a medical necessity.
In his ruling Tuesday, Wolf found that surgery is the “only adequate treatment” for Kosilek’s “serious medical need.”
“The court finds that there is no less intrusive means to correct the prolonged violation of Kosilek’s Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care,” Wolf wrote in his 126-page ruling.
The Eight Amendment? If a convicted murderer doesn’t have a vagina, that’s “cruel and unusual punishment”? As strange as this sounds, it is entirely logical if you accept the premise of sexual “rights” as understood by liberals. This was evident four years ago, when gay-rights activists resorted to terroristic intimidation against supporters of Proposition 8:
The gay rage in California can be traced directly to the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, which voided a Texas sodomy law because, as Justice Anthony Kennedy declared, “our laws and traditions in the past half century … show an emerging awareness that liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex.”
The Lawrence ruling was the culmination of what Justice Antonin Scalia called “a 17-year crusade” to overturn the 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick decision (which had upheld Georgia’s sodomy statute) and, as Scalia noted in his dissent, the Court’s “emerging awareness” argument was a disingenuous way to avoid actually declaring a “fundamental right” to sodomy. The legal effect was the same, however, and Lawrence was repeatedly cited in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision five months later mandating the legalization of gay marriage in that state.
If homosexuality is a right, and denying legal recognition to same-sex marriage is a violation of that right, then the rage of gay activists against their opponents is entirely justified.
Likewise, if “gender-identity disorder” is a legitimate diagnosis, and the medical community prescribes sex-change surgery as the only remedy, then denying this treatment to Michelle (neé Robert) Kosilek can indeed be construed as “cruel and unusual punishment.”
And is there anyone who doubts that, should ObamaCare be fully implemented, federal taxpayers will eventually be required to foot the bill to address the “serious medical need” of other such persons? The “right” to a government-provided sex-change may already be effectively a matter of law — sanctioned by court-ordered constitutional protection — unless Judge Wolf’s decision is overturned. If Justice Kennedy’s “emerging awareness” concept has the force of legal precedent, who can predict whither this awareness shall henceforth emerge?
Paved With Weird Intentions
In basing his ruling on science — accepting as valid the diagnosis of “gender-identity disorder” and the prescription of sex-change surgery as the “only adequate treatment” — Judge Wolf abandons our Constitution and the Anglo-American legal tradition in favor of the shifting consensus of contemporary experts.
What a majority of scientists believe about sexuality today is quite different from what they believed during the heyday of Freudianism a half-century ago, and who can predict what “discoveries” or theoretical innovations researchers will make in 10 or 20 years? Never mind that next year’s discovery may disprove this year’s consensus. The basic problem of this scientific approach to jurisprudence is that law is thereby deprived of permanence — judges are no longer applying a fixed and known rule to cases, but rather are permitted to re-write the law from the bench by reference to “rights” as determined by the latest theories of scientists.
To show how such an approach could lead to disastrous outcomes, we need merely examine the latest neurological research into the nature of another kind of “sexual orientation”:
[Canadian psychologist Hubert] Van Gjiseghem says what he and his colleagues mean by sexual orientation is a person’s inborn and unalterable sexual preference, irrespective of whether that preference is harmful to others or not. Currently, there is no significant longitudinal evidence that pedophiles can be made to not be attracted to children, and thus it can be defined as their orientation. And if pedophilia is a sexual orientation, that also means it’s futile to send pedophiles to prison in an effort to alter their attractions. . . .
Dr. James Cantor is the Head of Research in the Sexual Behaviours Clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Canada’s largest mental health and teaching hospital. He’s also an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto’s school of medicine. He’s been working on better understanding pedophiles for about 12 years now using a variety of methods. . . .
If you’re going to read the whole article at Gawker, be prepared to cope with feelings of outrage at how the “born that way” theory of homosexuality has been extended to pedophilia.
The writer of the article, Cord Jefferson, is at pains to distinguish between the term pedophile and the term child molester and, although few parents will give a damn about such semantics, it is enlightening in this regard: The scientists interviewed by Jefferson are interested in determining how crime can be prevented by persuading pedophiles not to act on their “sexual orientation.”
Yet this possibility — that persons need not act on their idiosyncratic sexual impulses — is entirely rejected by the rights-oriented legal philosophy that inspired Justice Kennedy’s Lawrence decision or Judge Wolf”s ruling in the Kosilek case. Both Kennedy and Wolf seem to presume that people have a right to satisfy their sexual desires, and there was an entire caucus at the Democrat convention dedicated to defending such rights.
If, however, the safety of citizens requires that certain sexual desires be sternly repressed, the objection of “rights” loses its force, and even such a liberal as Ta-Nehisi Coates is outraged by the tone of moral neutrality with which Cord Jefferson examines the claims of scientists about pedophilia as a sexual orientation.
Noel Sheppard notes that the Gawker writer is a “self-professed progressive,” and it is remarkable how the logic of progressivism inexorably leads to conclusions that even progressives find themselves compelled to reject — at least for now, that is.
Perhaps, as with homosexuality, our academic, legal, scientific and cultural elites can successfully destigmatize pedophilia, upending society’s moral consensus in such a way that our dread of child molesters is replaced by a horror at the benighted bigotry of those who fail to understand the science that proclaims that they’re “born that way,” and that this endows pedophiles with rights which no well-meaning person can oppose or criticize.
Oh, what wonders the “emerging awareness” provides!