One of the more memorable moments at the recent Indiana Senate hearing on the Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage was provided by an African-American pastor. Testifying on behalf of the ban, he objected to any comparison with the miscegenation laws that formerly forbid interracial marriages, thundering "Don’t compare my God-given black skin with human learned perversions."
One of the more memorable moments at the recent Indiana Senate hearing on the Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage was provided by an African-American pastor. Testifying on behalf of the ban, he objected to any comparison with the miscegenation laws that formerly forbid interracial marriages, thundering “Don’t compare my God-given black skin with human learned perversions.”
Webster’s defines perversions as “corruptions;” that which is deviant or abnormal.
So from my (admittedly jaundiced) vantage point, if we are cataloguing perversions, we might begin with people like the good pastor, who have transformed a religion supposedly based on love of one’s fellow-man into a vehicle for hate and an instrument of discrimination. (And just by the way—wasn’t it Jesus who coined that early admonition about separating church and state? I seem to remember something about “rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.”)
Indeed, it is difficult to look at most aspects of contemporary public life without encountering perversions, most of them practiced by the most insufferably self-righteous among us.
For examples of the corruption of our political institutions, we need look no farther than our Head of State. President Bush has recently been visiting Europe, lecturing other heads of state (notably Vladimir Putin) on the merits of—among other things—democracy and a free press. Never mind that this is the same man who has presided over a significant rollback in American civil liberties, a man who has energetically enforced the misnamed “Patriot Act,” a man who has approved policies allowing for the torture of prisoners who “might” be terrorists, a man who has bribed columnists and reporters to engage in disinformation. Never mind that this is the same man who carefully screens attendees at his “rallies” in order to ensure that only enthusiastic supporters will constitute his audiences. Never mind that this man who we see on our television sets so earnestly preaching freedom to others is the same gay-bashing “Christian” who issued coveted press credentials to a gay “escort” with a phony name who worked for a phony media outlet that was a front for a Republican operation, because that phony “reporter” could be relied upon to ask him only soft-ball questions.
I’d say having someone like George W. Bush lecture anyone on the attributes of democratic government and a free press is as close to “perversion” as anyone needs to get.
Need an example of the corruption of “family values”? Consider the most recent antics of Alan Keyes, who has loudly and very publicly disowned his daughter because she is lesbian. A parent who can “divorce” a child is certainly deviant and abnormal. Being a parent is forever; being a real parent means accepting the fact that your children are independent humans, entitled to their lives and loves whether you approve of those or not. It means loving them no matter what. Saying to a child “You are my flesh and blood only until you do something I disapprove of” is my idea of a perversion of parenthood.
Worst of all is the ongoing corruption of the very idea of the rule of law. Law, by its nature, applies to all citizens who are similarly situated. That is, in countries where “the rule of law” is valued, citizens are equal before that law. This is not equality in fact, it is not equality of results, it is not even the same thing as equality of opportunity, although it is a necessary condition of equal opportunity. Equality before the law doesn’t even mean that the same rules apply to pedestrians and motorists, or to children and adults. What it does mean is that the same rules apply to everyone who falls into the same (reasonable) categories. Competent adult citizens are afforded the same rights, and burdened with the same responsibilities, as other competent adult citizens. When the law is used as a weapon to disadvantage some citizens and to pander to the bigotries of others, the rule of law is perverted beyond recognition.
I have a friend who is a clergyman in an Evangelical church. Last week, he told me he has stopped referring to himself as evangelical, because he doesn’t want to be categorized with those who have used that label to wage a culture war on gays and lesbians.
If we are voting for the worst of all the “human learned perversions,” I cast my vote for those who use God and religion to justify their human hatreds.