I’ve been on my tour for the last several weeks promoting my new book, The Death of Right and Wrong. During my first week of interviews I was asked the same question by virtually every reporter and talk show host: What did I think of Senator Rick Santorum’s comments linking gay sex with polygamy, bigamy, incest and adultery?
Santorum’s comments greatly concerned me not because he was attacking gay sex (he wasn’t) but because he asserted that government has an interest and role in controlling the most private of acts: sex between consenting adults in the privacy of one’s own home. Frankly, I also wondered if the Senator hadn’t realized that adultery wasn’t a crime, and that polygamy and bigamy weren’t sex acts, but acts of marriage. The sexual equivalent of a bunch of people getting together is called an orgy, and that isn’t a crime either. And no matter how much that private act may offend, it shouldn’t be illegal, either.
All of this stems from a case known as Bowers v. Hardwick, with which 17 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s anti-sodomy law and consequently enshrined the idea that the government had an interest and a right to make illegal what are considered immoral acts. Make no mistake: I’ve made clear my concern about the moral vacuum perpetrated by the Left onto society. And yet, if we surrender to theocracy-lite we are abdicating what I think is one of our more important responsibilities as private citizens: the participation in the development of our culture and social structure, especially when it’s going in the wrong direction. The bottom line is: it’s our job, not the government’s.
What was the Court’s reasoning in the 1986 Bowers decision? Justice Byron White wrote: "It would be difficult, except by fiat, to limit the claimed right to homosexual conduct while leaving exposed to prosecution adultery, incest, and other sexual crimes even though they are committed in the home. We are unwilling to start down that road."
That’s just plain silly. Of course we limit rights. We do it all the time. You see, we Americans can walk and chew gum at the same time. We have been able to determine that we consider both rape (a sex crime) and adultery (not a sex crime) to be immoral. We have managed to make one illegal, and the other not.
It’s not that one act doesn’t have a "victim." Just ask the spouse of a cheating husband or wife and you’ll see the devastation wrought by betrayal.
Prostitution is an act which moves through a world of abuse which includes drug dealing, drug use, the abuse of women, violence against women, to say nothing of the buying and selling of a human being, which we as a nation roundly reject. We have figured out that cruelty to animals, even if described as "sex," is unacceptable, and is worthy of criminality. The same when it comes to "sex" with children. Sex is no more a part of molesting children than it is a part of rape. All are acts of control and power intended to destroy lives. You don’t need to be a religious person to understand this.
At the same time, as I describe in The Death of Right and Wrong there are political movements out there, run by the Leftist Elite, which seek to make everything from bestiality to child molestation socially acceptable under a sick twisting and abuse of the concepts of privacy and personal liberty, or even in the name of gay rights. My book is about we as society recognizing the hijacking of noble ideas, stigmatizing these universally reviled acts, and reclaiming our culture and values. While a few morally corrupt individuals are attempting to kill right and wrong, the last thing we need is government deciding it will legislate morality. That is the ultimate abdication of a free people. It also happens to be impossible, and we know it.
Some of you argue that homosexuality fits into the "immoral" category. While that’s your belief, it doesn’t automatically fit into the "dangerous" category. Sexual compulsion fits, so does sexual addition and promiscuity. These are acts which spread disease and destroy lives, but they are acts which are not restricted to gays, nor are they part of the "canon" of homosexuality. Personally, I’m tired of being defined by sexually compulsive gay men. Of course, plenty of heterosexuals suffer the consequences of personal sexual irresponsibility, too.
That brings me to the one of the main problems with the Bowers decision and especially the Texas anti-sodomy law, Lawrence v. Texas, which is serving as the challenge to Bowers at the Supreme Court level. The Texas law makes sodomy illegal only between people of the same sex. Heterosexuals who practice that same act, anal sex in this case, which has the same consequences of spreading AIDS and other diseases, don’t have to worry; the law doesn’t apply to them.
You see, when we allow religion to dictate our laws, no matter how well meaning, it will inevitably be applied unfairly. Sodomy, by the way, isn’t only about anal sex. It’s defined as any "abnormal" sex, i.e. anything other than a penis entering a vagina. Suddenly "sodomy" laws, if applied equally and fairly, are a little scarier, aren’t they? And yet, American values and the law itself, demand that laws be applied to everyone, equally. That is in great part what makes this nation different from the old Iraq, Cuba or North Korea.
In an abuse and manipulation of our tolerant nature, the Left Elite have created a culture which is growing more morally corrupt by the day. It is pretty disturbing, but it didn’t get this way because government doesn’t have enough laws dictating our behavior: it got this way because we allowed it, through our silence, in the social sphere. We bought the Left’s lie that personal responsibility is too complicated a subject in today’s multicultural world. We bought the lie that if we questioned the decay, we were racist, sexist or homophobic.
It has never been more important to maintain our confidence in ourselves as we do battle in this cultural civil war. Tolerance for others is fundamental, as is the right to privacy, as well as a government which stays out of our lives as much as possible. All of this is only possible, however, if dignity and decency are brought back into vogue, despite the wailing from the Left that the sky will fall if we expect more from each other. We must demand an end to the moral relativism that drives the Left and our culture, and recreate a social contract that affirms those who live with dignity, gay or straight. We must reject the current culture which rewards the worst in ourselves so bad laws like Bowers can be reversed, and specifically so good senators like Santorum don’t feel compelled to legislate morality.