Friends told me my predictions of January 1 were a teensy tad cynical: “You keep trying to prove you’re the Catholic Mencken. Cut it out — you’re depressing the laity,” was a comment that came back to me. More feedback: “Thanks! I’ll start the new year by slashing my other wrist.” Still more: “Why didn’t you title the piece ‘Curse God and die’?” Which of course was silly, since that’s already the bumper sticker on my ’94 Buick LeSabre. (Who said Catholics don’t quote scripture?) I wish I could backpedal at this point, revoke my misanthropic glimpse into the Magic Eight Ball, and instead make optimism serve in place of hope, spritzing the reader with pink champagne and sprinkling fairy dust. But it’s too late: My grimmest prediction has already come true. And it’s only January 5.
As you might have read a long five days ago: “The repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ will lead to the formation of powerful lobbying/pressure groups within each branch of the military service, pushing for gays to be promoted, eradicating ‘homophobic’ practices, and punishing soldiers who make ‘homophobic remarks.'” Well, some litigious Tinkerbell has already made this dream come true, as I learned on the blog of the top-notch conservative commentator Robert Stacy McCain. He cited a story in the Wall Street Journal:
The Navy will likely remove the commander of the USS Enterprise from his post after bawdy videos in which he denigrated gays and made other vulgar references became public, a defense official said.
The Navy announced it was investigating Capt. Owen Honors, the Enterprise commander, after a newspaper published excerpts of videos he recorded in 2006 and 2007. In the videos, which were broadcast over the ship’s television system, he simulates masturbation, jokes about women taking showers and uses offensive terms for gays. . . .
After viewing the videos on Sunday and Monday, top Navy officials quickly lost confidence in Capt. Honors, officials said. The Navy has a tradition of acting quickly to remove commanders after a mishap or after top officials lose confidence in the officer.
The quick action also demonstrates that the military is under pressure to show that [sic] will not tolerate slurs against the sexual orientation service members after last month’s congressional repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that barred gays from serving openly in the military. The ban on gay service members will end after top Defense Department officials certify it can be lifted without harming military readiness. . . .
In one video, Capt. Honors uses a derogatory term for gays and jokingly acknowledges the skits are likely to offend some sailors. “This evening, all of you bleeding hearts … why don’t you just go ahead and hug yourselves for the next 20 minutes or so, because there’s a really good chance you’re gonna be offended,” he said.
Producing skits and follies while a ship is on a deployment are part of a Navy tradition. Coarse language is not uncommon in such productions, which are made, after all, by sailors, a group known for salty verbiage. While some such skits may be of questionable taste, the productions are usually meant for small groups and are not recorded or broadcast across an entire ship.
Watch the videos for yourself. The cascade of profanity and seventh-grade level humor isn’t to my taste, but it’s hardly shocking that this sort of thing helps serving officers keep their sanity. You really can’t expect the manners suited to cloistered Carmelites out of the men (and, alas, the women) who embark in their early twenties on dangerous missions to protect the nation that produces films like Little Fockers and Ivy League professors like David “Who’s Your Daddy?” Epstein. Anyone who watches the video and finds himself tut-tutting should go out and defend his own damned country.
No one else is going to — not with the kind of ideological persecution to which we’ve subjected the U.S. military in the past 20 years. It was one thing to integrate the races — combating ugly, arbitrary prejudice based on the melanin content in someone’s skin. In doing that, Harry Truman was affirming the values explicitly laid out in our country’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence. The divides between the races are largely meaningless and should not be the basis for legislation or government action.
But the distinction between male and female is fundamental, the very basis for the perpetuation of the species. Feminist attempts to argue that “gender” (those bluestockings won’t say “sex”) is not biological but “socially constructed” are founded on ideological nonsense, the Cartesian wishful thinking that strives to imprint on pliant nature whatever our ego desires. You think you’re a woman trapped in the body of a man? Instead of trying to cure what is clearly a delusion, we will have a team of surgeons remake your flesh to fit your fantasy. I’ve also read of a man who thought he was “really” a tiger, who found plastic surgeons and tattoo artists willing to undo nature’s “mistake.”
Likewise, there’s nothing trivial about the distinction between straight and gay. One form of sexuality, left to itself (and 10 percent of the time, despite the best contraception), leads to the creation of new life, which is the very purpose of the family — and indeed, of our sexual organs. (If you are in charge of educating young people, you might want to pass this secret on to them; no one else is going to tell them.) The other form of sex . . . well, it really doesn’t, does it? That’s a pretty significant difference. Moving from the bedroom to the kitchen, it’s like the distinction between a fresh-picked apple and one made out of wax. A lot of us who were born preferring real fruit feel . . . uncomfortable watching other people polish their favored wax apples. While our prayers should be with them in this world and the next, we might not wish to be thrown into intimate quarters with them — and there are few quarters closer than foxholes or Navy bunks.
In demanding that the military stop discharging openly homosexual personnel, liberals pretended that “all they wanted” was to remove a punitive and arbitrary policy and take private sexuality off the table, relegating it to the secret sphere of intimate relations. That was the pretense entailed in the 2003 Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas, which ruled that states cannot prohibit “private, consensual, sexual or intimate conduct that does not involve minors or coercion.”
The privacy claim was a lie, and the liars knew it. Given how intrusive our government is in enforcing egalitarianism and suppressing free association, once you remove any governmental disapproval of an action, you don’t simply make it neutral; you render it protected. You stoke up the creaky machinery of our anti-discrimination bureaucracy to ensure that private individuals who disapprove of it learn to smile and shut their mouths. By removing laws against sodomy, the Supreme Court was saying, in essence, that committing sodomy is exactly like being black — and that any laws making distinctions between eating real fruit and eating wax will sooner or later be ruled unconstitutional (like Massachusetts’s old marriage laws). Even worse, any private actions based on such arbitrary standards will be treated as harshly as racial discrimination.
It is only by the thinnest of threads that the Church still has the right to teach the biblical doctrine on sexuality and practice it in its institutions. In Britain, Catholic adoption agencies had to close because the Church’s teaching doesn’t measure up to Leviathan’s standards. If it weren’t for the political muscle of Evangelical Protestants, we’d face the same situation in America. We may soon, anyway; higher courts have upheld the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ official denunciation of Catholic teaching on homosexual adoption. How many Democratic appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court will it take before the First Amendment ceases to shelter us? As former senator Rick Santorum warned in his talk last month at the Harvard Club, influential voices like Hillary Clinton’s are already switching the language in which they describe the First Amendment. Instead of “free exercise of religion,” Clinton has started speaking of “freedom of worship.”
Those two things are very different; free exercise means that Christians, Jews, or Hindus can pursue the implications of their faith in the public square. Christians can fight abortion and pornography; Jews can lobby to keep America’s alliance with Israel; Hindus, if they wish, can push for tougher animal rights laws. Each group can pursue its religiously grounded values in law, provided they never cross the line of creating an “established church,” as banned by our First Amendment. Both good manners and good tactics, however, would urge each group to make arguments based not on revelation but reason– in terms of prudence and natural law.
“Freedom of worship” is something much closer to what the Muslims grudgingly permit the Christians in their midst: You can have your infidel services, so long as you don’t ring bells or attract too much attention. That is the kind of marginalization modern liberals wish on us. In Iraq, and Egypt, and Turkey, they have a name for it: dhimmitude.
While sexual activity should be private (get a room, people!), its consequences are extravagantly public. That Masshole who cut me off on the entrance ramp to I-293 this afternoon — where on earth did he come from? My guess is he popped out of a female primate, as the direct result of . . . heterosexual intercourse. Those kids you’re trying to figure out how to keep out of toxic public schools? If you think hard, you’ll remember how you ended up with them. The children of single mothers, who are essentially wards of the state, were not dropped from heaven into cabbage patches.
Now, homosexual intercourse has its own set of consequences; we spend far more per capita treating AIDS patients and trying to cure the disease than we do on much more common diseases like cancer. Promiscuous straight people spread their own wealth through the populace, in the form of epidemics like (cancer-causing) HPV and (incurable) herpes. Indeed, the whole of human society is the all-too-predictable outcome of “private, consensual” conduct.
And that is why our nation needs to bring back anti-sodomy laws. They can go unenforced for all I care. The penalties for breaking them shouldn’t include prison time; we could stick with symbolic penalties, such as community service that entails planting flowers in public spaces. But we must treat acts of private sodomy exactly as we do instances of racial discrimination in hiring or housing — which are likewise private actions of individuals, exercising their freedom of contract, which violate the mores of our society.
The goal isn’t to burst into people’s homes and bust them for watching Auntie Mame, but to mark out habitual sexual behavior as radically different from one’s status as a black person or an Arab. A purely libertarian society that only protected individual rights might let homosexuals form contracts and call them “marriages,” but it would also permit every citizen to react to homosexual behavior by avoiding it — if need be, by not hiring someone, or not letting him rent one’s home. In a truly free country, people have the right to make such arbitrary decisions. We do not live in such a free country. We want, and expect, the state to wipe every runny nose and kiss every booboo. We want a big, intrusive government that imposes its values on the citizenry. Right now, those values, which will soon be shoved down our throats, are radically secular and hedonist. We face a massive, thrashing Leviathan whose tentacles are everywhere. We must harness the beast and ride it, lest it crush us.