Friday, March 17, 2006

God and Country - Part II

During the Terry Schiavo fiasco, when a small number of reckless politicians, ignorant or disdainful of the Constitutional doctrine of separation of powers, sought to derail judicial reiterations of the right to privacy and the right to die, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback was right there in the forefront, along with Sen. Rick Santorum (a blithering halfwit with the morals of a slug) and Rep. Tom DeLay (an unscrupulous, degenerate bigot who'd sell his mother for a golf junket), and, lurking in the wings, Brownback's buddy and Operation Rescue founder, Randall Terry. In a blog supplement to his mammoth Rolling Stone portrait of Brownback, Jeff Sharlet pointed up the inconsistencies -- double standards, really -- that characterize Brownback and Company's position on capital punishment, on the one hand, and such end-of-life issues as discontinuance of life-sustaining treatment on the other.

Brownback co-sponsored, with another of his Prayer Breakfast group senators, a bill called the Streamlined Procredures Act, which would short-circuit -- foreclose, actually -- the right of a person convicted of capital punishment to appeal from state courts to federal by way of writ of habeas corpus. (Curiously, Brownback is a "reformed evangelical," having switched from fundamentalist protestantism to Catholicism at some point, and, like a majority of American -- if not worldwide -- Catholics, conveniently ignores the Vatican's condemnation of the ultimate penalty.) As Sharlet points out, habeas corpus was appropriate for intervention in the Shiavo Affair to keep a basket case alive, but not for a convicted murderer, no matter how weak (or even trumped up) the evidence.

But Brownback's Number One Pet Peeve, hands down, is homosexuality and especially the attempts of gays and lesbians to attain "special rights." Special rights are nothing more than the same privileges and perks enjoyed by stright people, including marriage. If the Sam Brownbacks have their way (and they have to a great extent), gays could never marry; a gay or lesbian partner cannot keep vigil with their significant other in a hospital room; they cannot become beneficiaries of retirement plans, and so on and on ad infinitum. The only justification offered by such bigots is that the sacred American Family must be protected, which is what marriage is all about, isn't it? The Brownbacks of this world want to have their cake and eat it, too. Gays and lesbians are unstable and can't maintain longterm relationships, so it's best to deprive them of the main thing that tends to cement relationships, the commitment of religious vows. The instability argument, vis-a-vis denial of the right to marry, just won't wash. About 50% of all straight marriages end in divorce. So, just exactly who is unstable?

The right wing religious nuts' positions on homosexuality boil down to one thing and one thing only: bigotry. They claim that gays have an "agenda" that is designed to recruit youth and initiate young people into a perverted lifestyle. This ignores medical science just as creationism ignores biology. Granted, nurture plays at least some role in the process of becoming gay, but nature dictates a genetic predisposition. One cannot "make" another person gay. Neurobiology says otherwise. But, then, no one ever accused the Brownbacks of this world of being educated or intelligent. They would rather wallow in ignorance and superstition than subject their silly notions to the cold light of scientific experimentation and confirmation of theory by statistical analysis.

The Brownbacks include such Senator Sam associates as Robert Wasinger, his chief of staff, who led a college crusade to rid Harvard of gay and lesbian faculty members, writing in a student review -- sponsored by the right wing Heritage Foundation -- that he was anti-gay because he hated to see sperm cells "swimming in feces." Perhaps aware that Biblical condemnations of homosexuality have been questioned as mistranslations of Aramaic and outright distortions, Brownback claims that his negative position on the matter is dictated by "natural law." This concept, as it is used by Brownbacks, derives from an epistle of Paul. Paul was the greatest misongynist in history and a sexually crippled closet queen who interiorized the homophobic attitudes of his fellow Zealots and illegitimated the religion he founded by perverting the Truths of its prophet. Although you might think that the word, "natural," is intended in the sense meant when someone refers to a practice as "unnatural," Paul meant an innate ability to discern between right and wrong. (Aquinus took it up, too, but it was thoroughly, wittily, devastatingly examined by Robert Anton Wilson, in Natural Law, or Don't Put a Rubber on Your Willy.) Suffice to say, natural law is about as sensible a justification for being down on queers (you should pardon the expression) as a preference for tea makes Coca-Cola unpotable.

Finally, Brownbacks view the Revelations of John of Patmos as self-fulfilling prophecy -- easily the scarriest and most dangerous idea they maintain, much worse that their desire to see women go back to coat hanger abortions in dark alleys and gays put in concentration camps or simply executed, &c. To the Brownbacks (I was going to call them Brown Shirts, but that one has already been taken), Armageddon will be the final conflict of Muslims on the one hand and a Judeo-Christer coalition on the other. Hey, I always suspected a nuclear holocaust would ensue sooner or later, burning the planet into a cinder. I just don't think Brownbacks should hurry it up.

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