Saturday, May 5, 2012

What's Wrong With Amendment One? (original version)

This is the note that prompted the creation of this blog:

I want to make a point for all of my conservative, Christian, traditionally minded friends who think it is their responsibility to support Amendment 1. Conviction can be a wonderful thing, but it can be a stumbling block if you're distracted by irrelevant issues. I want to make the issue at the core of this amendment very clear.

First of all, you have a right to your opinion. You have a right to your beliefs. You are free to think anyone is going to hell for any reason you can extract from the Bible or any other source. You are free to share those feelings. You are free to try your best to reason with people and offer them the salvation that you have come to know. As long as your actions are independent of public funds, are benevolent and devoid of harassment or spite you will never hear me say a word against you. You will have my unflinching support.

Let's just be clear about that from the get go . . .

Now let's talk amendments. Not just this amendment, but all amendments. Not just amendments to state law, but all laws. Come to think of it, let's just talk about laws in general.

Why do we have them?

What are they for?

You may have said at some point (or heard someone else say):

"They're ought to be a law . . ."

Sometimes it's said jokingly, like, "Who in the world would paint a new car that shade of green? That ought to be illegal!" or "Ketchup on a bratwurst? . . . I'm sorry, there ought to be a law against that."

We understand that these aren't serious suggestions, but they do reflect a common misunderstanding about the nature of law and what it's supposed to do for us as citizens.

You see, the above statements suggest that laws are naturally restrictive. That laws are intended to create a barrier, or to stop something from happening. Therefore it makes sense to think that law should be used to prevent a thing from happening if we find that thing objectionable.

This is a critical mistake!!!!

All laws, be they civil or criminal, have at their core, a motive of protecting liberty. It doesn't matter if it's a law against premeditated murder or a speed limit in a school zone. While it's true that these laws specify what you are not allowed to do (kill people or race past a crossing guard) the restriction that arises does so only because the restriction is necessary to protect the rights of others to not be murdered or to cross the street in relative safety.

We Americans are allowed to live, be free and pursue happiness. The laws that restrict our behaviors do so only in the interest of protecting other people's right to do the same. Your right to do whatever you want only extends as far as my right to be safe from it. The same is true for me. 

The rights of people are central. Laws are meant to defend those rights. Period.

So it doesn't mater how much anyone objects to someone else's behavior. It doesn't matter how distasteful that particular shade of green is, or how disgusting garlic flavored ice cream is, we don't make laws against them because that's not what laws are for.

If you think something should be illegal, you must demonstrate in clear, objective, unbiased and material terms, how that thing impedes your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If that thing does not impede your reasonable pursuit thereof . . . well I'm afraid you're just going to have to learn to get over it. The law provides you with no remedy.

This is where the choruses start in:

"But what about marriage? What about 'family'? Don't they have a right to be protected?"

I am going to skip the part where I dismantle the idea that anyone is qualified to lay exclusive claim to the terms 'marriage' and 'family'. I could argue that two men pairing up and adopting a child or two women pairing up and giving birth to children from separate sperm donors are every bit as much a family as anyone, but I'm not even going to bother because it's not relevant to the point I'm making.

(See how I avoid irrelevant topics; thereby bypassing all the logical stumbling blocks that might otherwise invalidate the gravity of my conviction?)

I can actually just give you that. I can just accept your notion of 'marriage' and 'familiy' as exclusive and universal because it does not matter.

Your idea of marriage, my idea of marriage, your Aunt Ginny's idea of family, my next door neighbor's idea of family, Nashville's idea of barbeque, Greenville's idea of barbeque, the man on the moon's idea of a weekend vacation . . .

What do they all have in common?

They're all ideas. Concepts. Notions.

They are not people. They are not Americans. They do not have a right to protection under the law.

It does not matter how good an idea is . . .

It does not matter how bullet proof the rationale behind a concept is . . .

It does not matter how virtuous you believe an institution to be, at the end of the day, concepts, ideas, notions and institutions are not afforded any degree of protection under local, state or federal law. 

The only thing that has any right to expect protection through legislation is a human being. Laws and amendments to laws must therefore ALWAYS extend themselves in the defense of individual liberty; insofar as that liberty does not infringe upon the liberty of anyone else.

Two men getting married or two women getting married does not infringe upon anyone's liberty in any real, measurable or material fashion.

You may find it objectionable, and that is your right. As it is your right to carry on in the manner I opened this statement with. But it is not your right to try to use the power of law to restrict liberty when that is in fact the opposite of what law is supposed to do.

If you believe in liberty and the American way, you are obligated to oppose amendment 1 regardless of your personal feelings about homosexuality. Do not let those feelings distract you - as they are not relevant.

The ony question is: Does this amendment do what laws are supposed to do? Does it protect liberty?

The answer is, absolutely not.

You are left with one rational option.

Vote "No" 

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