Category Archives: Constitution
As a first amendment activist, I am a believer in the upholding of the Constitution of the United States.
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”-Inigo Montoya
Along with the confounding of the meaning of faith as it applies to facts, there are a myriad of other linguistic bastardizations being disseminated for those inclined towards a less than rational approach to governance. It is unknown if the evangelical Christian – TEA Party – Republican voting base is aware of the political cryptography that’s been woven into their limited lexicon. That is entirely dependent upon each individuals capacity for introspection. However, I would bet dollars to doughnuts that many who have fallen prey to the lyrical musings of the Conservative Entertainment Complex lack the cognitive ability to make the distinction between annotation and proselytism.
Thus, the context of words and phrases within the Republican talk-o-sphere has been conveniently altered so as to equate to something very different –and sometimes the opposite– of what they were originally intended. Because most evangelical Republican voters never understood what these words and phrases meant to begin with.
While Jesus makes terrific bait to hook the Christian fish, it takes more New Testament propaganda to steer an entire socio/political movement. Those who would hope to leverage Jesus as a means to co opt the Republican party also have had to convince Republican voters that not only was the son of god a total conservative whose motto was “every man for himself”, they also have to usurp traditionally admirable words and phrases, and change their meanings so as to coincide with a Dominionist agenda. An entire vernacular has been re-written, and introduced into the Republican thesaurus in order to transform the GOP from the party of Eisenhower, into corporatist theocrats.
Hence, the TEA-vangelical movement was born.
Part of the altering of Republican perception regarding the separation of church and state, and translating that into a socio/economic movement towards an Orwellian division of wealth, is to change language. Woven into the conservative lexicon are misrepresentations of words like “Patriotism”, “Entitlements”, “Freedom”, and “Socialism”… and terms like “Class Warfare”, “Free Market” and “Family Values”. Within the GOP-giest, all of these expressions mean something entirely different today than they did a half generation ago.
Indeed, the socio/economic mechanisms which created the greatest economy and the largest middle class the world has ever seen in the years following World War ll, have become vilified as socialist, and anti American. The free market has been redefined as a collusive, rigged market. Patriotism has come to be mean having an irrational disdain for government. Class warfare is used as a term to blame the poor for being impoverished. Family Values now means Christian-only values. And in GOP terms, freedom equates to earning less, not having health care, and yearning for the bondage of trickledown economics.
Moreover, the racism inherent within Dominionist socio/economics is dismissed as politically correctness. TEA-Partiers consistently wave Confederate flags, display overtly ignorant, culturally biased signs, and champion bigots. Yet TEA-vangelicals cavalierly disregard their own bigoted ravings as the free expression of “patriots” as guaranteed by the first amendment. Saying racist things, in the TEA/GOP, somehow does not equate to racism. Moreover, to refer to a right wing racist as a racist is –in their minds–racist. It’s dizzying, I know.
The same can be said about the word “Morality.” Somewhere along the GOP party line, morality –especially as it applies to Jesus of Nazareth– has come to mean an utter lack of empathy and compassion. Screw the poor. And if the sick can’t afford decent health care, well then so be it. As Republican Jesus always used to say, “Fuck em’.”
As such, a few very wealthy people, motivated by their own self interests have decided that the best way to rally support to their cause was to prey upon their vulnerable, albeit culturally biased psyches of Christian voters. Like many before them who hope to garner more political power, TEA-publicans invoke the name Jesus for financial gain. Hence, the truly moral enterprise is to fight against an ideology whose ultimate goal is to keep the masses in poverty in favor of a reigning aristocracy. There is a patriotic, moral obligation to fight the wicked oppression of religious fundamentalism within our borders.
But to win the hearts and minds of those who revere their chains is never easy. The sado-masochistic premise from which they operate –loving both a god who reciprocates love via reward and punishment, and admiring their economic oppressors– is a difficult psychological barrier to negotiate. For it seems that the only thing that TEA-vangelical voters willfully understand less than their bible, is the Constitution.
It’s been a few days since Aaron Alexis ambled into a Naval facility in our nation’s capital and with his new, legally bought shotgun, articulated his angst. Twelve people who were going about their normal routine were killed. As such, with yet another on a long list of mass shootings under our nation’s increasing belt size, our legislators and news-ertainers will begin their monthly debate on guns and their relationship to bullets ripping through the vital organs of innocent Americans. It should continue, with the utmost sincerity until –at least– the next celebrity meltdown.
Predictably, the same vapid arguments for the escalation of gun sales will commence. As has been the case since the Republican party has been compromised by Capital interests, they will find themselves on the wrong –not to mention factually inaccurate– side of this debate. Thus, gullible middle Americans will be frightened into over-arming themselves to their own detriment, and a false narrative will be blathered that the government (read: Black guy in the White House) is ‘coming for our guns”. The constitution will be bastardized to make a convenient case for capitulating to the gun lobby. And how one interprets the second amendment will become a metaphor for how they express anxiety over the cultural topography in our nation becoming darker skinned.
The racial dynamic of the NRA is the part of the gun debate that is being left out of our discourse.
The common rationalization is, that there is no correlation whatsoever between the common use of guns as mass murder weapons and ease by which said murders might be committed. Vapid, apples to armchair analogies are continually made by myopic gun advocates such as “if guns kill people, then spoons make you fat”… or some similar drivel. As if one person overeating had the capacity to kill thirty people around them in a single spoonful of carbohydrates. Or that criminals won’t obey gun laws anyway, as if that is a rational explanation for legislating the statistically proven lie that more guns will decrease violence. For that matter, why have any laws?
But in a way, the gun lobby is kind of right. Guns –by themselves– don’t kill people. Nor for that matter do nuclear bombs. However psychologically and emotionally damaged people, who don’t have to engage in background checks –not to mention convicted felons or those on the FBI’s terrorist watch list– who bring guns into crowds of people with malicious intentions do kill people. With ease, I might add.
So it is incumbent upon rational people to call out the lies emanating from the political right regarding guns, and moreover the irrational, post-Obama interpretation of the second amendment. It is of vital national importance to expose how the GOP’s and the NRA’s position on background checks have contradicted themselves since a black President was elected office, how this pertains to a bigoted cultural reaction, and how a false narrative has been created around the actuality of gun culture. Many gun advocates –whether they admit it or not– are preying upon cultural apprehension. The reality is, gun sales is all they care about, not the second amendment, you, or your lives.
Here’s the thing… Good middle-American gun-folk are under the general impression that their singular, covert background in whatever job they might have –be it in a cubical or lifting things– and their extensive training watching action movies and playing Grand Theft Auto will adequately prepare them for that moment when a homicidal maniac opens fire in a crowd. Somewhere in their attenuated synapses, the GOP/NRA electorate envision themselves heroically springing into action with a Rambo-esque disregard for their own safety. With bullets flying, pistol-packing Patriots would undoubtedly be there to protect their fellow citizens thanks to their constitutional right to carry a firearm and “pew-pa-ching” — gun down villains holding the very automatic weapons that the NRA claims every American sociopath also has the right to carry. Because true Americans like themselves will unwaveringly quell any carnage bad guys might impose on the populace.
Then afterwards perhaps a few news interviews and a spot on Letterman.
But the reality is that you’re much more likely to cower in fear and duck for cover. You’re much more likely to be Fredo than Sonny. The hero fantasy tends to fade when ones instinct for self preservation kicks in. I understand that armed brown people might seem scary in a lily-white suburban paradise, and that carrying a loaded firearm in Applebees in the company of other people’s children might appeal to your cultural anxiety. However statistically, you and your gun will do more harm than good.
The rational thing to do would be to juxtapose how we interpret the second amendment, against the constitutional mandate to insure the domestic tranquility. Perhaps we can even say aloud in public that the words “well regulated” precede the words “shall not be infringed upon” in the second amendment. But rationality doesn’t seem to have a place in our national discourse anymore, either.
Today the Republican party finds themselves in a difficult circumstance. The GOP has left themselves in a position where they can either try to defend the indefensible, or dissent from party-line bigotry. It is an unenviable choice, but nevertheless, it is what the evangelical influence on the party has left them.
The “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) more accurately should have been titled the “Attack on same-sex Marriage Act” since it wasn’t actually defending any heterosexuals rights, or who and how they can marry. It was designed specifically to deny gay Americans the same rights and privileges that heterosexuals have. But more specifically, Section 3 of DOMA codified the non-recognition of same sex marriages for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors benefits, immigration, and the filing of joint tax returns. It was written into legislation that same sex couples had different rules applied to them. In case anyone is wondering what applying a different set of standards to selected segments of society is more commonly referred to, it’s called discrimination.
Hence, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Section 3 of DOMA.
Since then, the evangelical wing of the GOP has come out in force to denounce the SCOTUS decision, allowing for no pretence of Church/State separation while renouncing marriage equality as defying the will of the Judeo/Christian God. Sadly predictable, the evangelical right is forcing the party’s discourse towards rationalizing medieval predispositions, and reciting bigoted platitudes. Congresswoman Michele Bachman, and former Governor of Arkansas and now FOX News pundit Mike Huckabee to name just two were both defiant, and adamant about their disapproval of marriage equality… the former erroneously asserting that “Marriage was created by the hand of God”, while the latter offered the supposition that “Jesus wept.” Ugh.
This is the sociological quandary that the GOP finds themselves in. Do they capitulate to the evangelical base and their less-than-rational assertions, or acknowledge that every American citizen is entitled to equal rights under the constitution? Is it possible for some within the GOP to articulate that denying equal rights is not a right unto itself? Do they allow the bigoted predispositions of their lunatic fringe to dictate policy to the party’s detriment? Or does this become a wedge issue within the Republican party?
Ironically, before it became law in 1996, DOMA was a bi-partisan bill engineered by House Republicans led by then speaker (R) Newt Gingrich, and signed into legislation by none other than (D) President Bill Clinton. Hilariously, the thrice married Gingrich and the convicted marital vow breaker Clinton were the key figures in protecting the cherished institution of matrimony…
An institution, which by all statistical accounts has long ago had its reverence forsaken by heterosexuals like Clinton and Gingrich.
The truth is that despite the rhetoric about the sanctity of marriage needing to be persevered, traditional marriage was always based upon patriarchy . Of course, by “traditional”, the evangelical right means that in biblical terms, a wife is to be obedient to her husband. In a “traditional” marriage, women have a subservient role to play as defined by the scriptures, which is what’s implicated when the Christian right harkens back to “better days”. Cooking, cleaning, and baby making … ” Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church” – Ephesians 5:22
The reality is that the Christian right’s assault on same sex marriage has a collaterally negative effect on women as well.
But the hypocrisy from “Traditional Marriage Purists” runs deeper than their bias against women and gays. The denial of how traditional marriage has failed in the post “women should be barefoot and pregnant” world is matched only by the ignorance it takes to defend an institution that boasts a dismal 50% divorce rate as something “wholesome.” An even more alarming fact is that like Gingrich’s and Clinton’s poor excuses for traditional marriages, many hetero-couplings that survive a litigious end are wrought with extra-marital indiscretions. For a more detailed analysis of how and why traditional marriage is obsolescent and an exposition of secular relationship viability, see my book
However since the signing of DOMA into legislation, the Democratic Party has wisely modified its position on same sex unions to coincide with the Zeitgeist , which is what a Govt. by the people and for the people is supposed to do. While their motives may be politically feckless, Democrats have nevertheless acquiesced to reason regarding the lack of constitutionality regarding marital discrimination. Likewise, today Republican voters are faced with a choice. To side with bigots and homophobes, or to defy their party.
As for the acerbic rhetoric that the evangelical right uses to mask their bigotry, none of the anti-equality assertions appeal to anyone with the slightest sense of logic . Each rationalization for wanting to deny same sex couples equal rights under the law is as unconstitutionally lame as the next. For instance, the “change the definition of marriage” argument is utterly inane, as the simple fact that a woman would not be required to marry her rapist, or that a man cannot sell his daughter for a milk cow means that we’ve already changed the “definition” of marriage, and for the better. Just as we have “changed the definition” of “freedom” as it applies to person ownership.
Neither does the “morality” argument make sense to anyone who has the slightest grasp of what actually constitutes morals. By attaching a “moral” implication to the manner in which consenting adults fornicate, let alone who they love, it not only masks one’s bigotry by bastardizing what morals actually are, but changes the premise of the discussion from one that is based on civil rights as it applies to the Constitution, to one that must tether to ethereal, third party oversight. Indeed, if one’s “morals” are dependent upon an intrusion into people’s bedrooms in order to establish that procreation be in accordance with the Judeo/Christian God’s carnal idealism, then their morals are at best questionable.
Yet bigots rarely recognize themselves as such, and thus these rationalizations make sense to them. By comparing consensual adults engaging in same sex marriage to pedophilia and bestiality, religious bigots expose themselves as such. But they don’t see it that way. For if one has to be explained why those comparisons are not only invalid, but hateful, then they are beyond reason. Yet these are the types of arguments continually made by members of the Republican Party.
Sadly these were the same retrospectively ignorant arguments made against interracial marriage in 1967. When the Supreme Court ended all race based marital restrictions in the now famous Loving V. the State of Virginia case where Richard Loving, a white man was sentenced to a year in prison for marrying Mildred Loving, a black woman. These same arguments were made by those who hoped to deny interracial marriage. Today we mock those ignorant, racist assertions, just as we will those making the case against same sex marriage years from now.
Still, the GOP is defending the Defense of Marriage Act the way that racists in 1967 defended the Racial Integrity Act. Both sets of arguments against equality operate from the premise that who and how we love is not germane to the precepts of liberty, and moreover, are subject to Christian doctrine. Thankfully, the Supreme Court disagreed on both accounts. Regardless of whatever excuse one uses for wanting to deny certain Americans equal marital rights and privileges due to their sexual orientation, the American consensus no longer allows for such rationalizations constituting a “different opinion”. In 2013, it is generally understood that making such assertions defines one as a bigoted asshole.
But despite everything leading up to, and including the striking down of Section 3 of DOMA, there is a much more important issue, and one that should never have allowed it to get this far.
If we –as a nation– are to operate from the premise that All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, then the self evident truth is that the state can neither determine, nor define any definition of love. The striking down of Section 3 of DOMA is important because how we treat one another is what defines us as a nation. It’s what separates us from the backwards, twelfth century xenophobes we’re at war with. Just as America improved itself when we abolished slavery, gave women the vote, and allowed Richard and Mildred Loving to marry, so we did on June 26th, 2013 when the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA.
However it is inherent within the nature of humanity to forget the travails from eras past –those who suffered, sacrificed and even died so that their children’s children might lead a better life– and give back to their former oppressors that which they fought so hard to gain. Today is not the end of the struggle for Gay rights just as Loving V. Virginia did not mark the end of the struggle to achieve racial parity. This is still the beginning.
The endeavor for equality is enduring. Bigotry and ignorance are vigilant to their tasks, and we must remain ever steadfast to keep the darker parts of human nature from seeking their expression. However it is a battle worth fighting. For if history can teach us anything, it’s that equality is the hallmark of civilization.