A forward: writing and speaking is a catharsis for me, and if I do say so myself, I've had a pretty good record as far as editorial pages go. (My favorite story concerns an opinion piece that didn't get published, because, in the Immortal Words of the editor, "Students don't care about South Africa...". This was in 1984, about six months before the first massive student protests against Apartheid began)
A warning for the faint of mind: my primary weapon in the war against injustice is the same as that used by Voltaire, Swift, and many others.
You can see my reaction to religious morality, and gays in the military. You can argue with me over email.
William Bennett, among many others, thinks that gays have no place in the military; that they weaken the military establishment; plus, of course, they violate their hazy concept of family values.
It's all true. Look at the feeble military efforts of that famous bisexual, Julius Caesar (who at one time was censured for his licentiousness...and taking "the woman's part" in an affair with the King of Bithynia. This was wrong, according to the morals of the day: Romans were always supposed to be on top...).
Going back somewhat further in time, you have the Spartans, who encouraged their soldiers to engage in relationships with their comrades (Spartan women existed mainly to bring into being the next generation of Spartan soldiers). This so weakened them that 300 Spartans couldn't even defeat a measly 10,000 Persian elite troops at Thermopylae, even with the help of 1100 Boetians. Their moral fiber was so weakened by their homosexuality that they died to the last soldier. And for what? Merely to save their fellow homosexuals, including those people in Athens with their funny political ideas about democracy and equality.
On the other hand, you have the Assyrians, who were violently opposed to homosexuality, and who devised some fascinating punishments for those they caught, punishments which, I'm sure, William Bennett and the family values crowd would love to resurrect. Everyone in the ancient world admired the way the Assyrians annihilated captured cities, mutilated prisoners of war by blinding, castrating, or killing by crucifixion, roasting alive, or other methods of slow torture; the admiration was so great that a coalition of ancient states combined and wiped the Assyrians off the face of the Earth, including their most famous city, Ninevah. Much later, Rudyard Kipling mentioned Ninevah in a poem ("Requiem"), so it's obvious that the Assyrians, fanatical heterosexuals, had the last word.
Poor God. He's always being accused of supporting things by individuals who would prefer someone else do their thinking for them. Steve Buyer of Indiana, arguing in favor of a bill to deny Federal recognition of same sex marriages, said "God laid down that one man and one woman make a marriage" (reported in the Boston Globe, July 13, 1996). Presumably Buyer means the Christian God, since the Muslim God allows up to four wives (though the ideal is one), and divorce as well. In the following, I'll explain just how you can use God (whups, I meant the Judeo-Christian God, He who wrote the Bible, at least the King James version) to support Family Values.
First, you need to make sure your audience hasn't actually read the Bible. Those who have are likely to ask you unpleasant questions, like if you're talking about the same God who cursed a fig tree because it didn't have fruit out of season (Mark 11:12-14). (Of course, if you're clever, you can use this as a justification for cancelling social programs.)
Next, you have to make sure you pick and choose only those items that are useful to you. Since the Old Testament patriarchs and others who Walked With God often indulged in bigamy, you have to ignore them: especially, you can't refer to Abraham, Jacob, David, or Solomon when you're talking about family values, since chances are someone in the audience will have heard, in a vague sort of way, that these guys had more than one wife. Also, be careful of someone who's actually read the Bible, because they may throw curves at you like Deuteronomy 21:15, which begins "If a man has two wives...", a tacit approval from God that there is nothing wrong with having two wives.
Actually, you have to discard most of the Old Testament, since it shows those favored by God doing things like slaughtering innocent people (Genesis 34 and most of invasion of Canaan). Be especially careful to dissociate yourself from people who say "God told me to do it", like Charles Manson and Oral "God told me to run for President" Roberts, because everyone will think you're a nut.
The exception to the above is when it comes to capital punishment. Jesus said "Turn the other cheek", but that's not an acceptable response to "What To Do With Crime": it certainly won't help you get elected. You have to cite "An Eye for an Eye".
Of course, the most important thing is to be able to keep a straight face when saying things like "Gays don't belong in the military". But that's all part of the art of politics in general.
Return to Jeff's home page