I should probably preface this by explaining the reason I don’t get too political on this blog. First, I want as large a reading audience I can get (I only get 10-20 hits a week so I try not to piss anyone off). Second, I hate blogs that do nothing but rant and rail about political subjects.
That said, I can’t ignore comments made by our illustrious governor, Rick Perry.
Wait, let me back up. Perry signed two bills surrounded by Evangelical Christians yelling “AMEN” at a church school in Fort Worth? Amendment I? Isn’t that the one that talks about the separation of church and…yeah, you already know don’t you?
Separation aside, Perry need to buy a dictionary, and then get someone to explain to him the definitions of the words law and morality. A quote from governor dipshit:
“One of the great myths of our time is that you can’t legislate morality…If you can’t legislate morality, then you can neither lock criminals up nor let them go free. If you can’t legislate morality, you can neither recognize gay marriage nor prohibit it. If you can’t legislate morality, you can neither allow for prayer in school nor prevent it…It is a ridiculous notion to say you can’t legislate morality. I say you can’t NOT legislate morality.”
Let’s examine three words Perry has tried so hard to blur together:
1. Law: the principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people, whether in the form of legislation or of custom and policies recognized and enforced by judicial decision. (“Law.” Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. 2nd ed. New York: Random House, 1997. 1089)
2. Morality: conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct. (“Morality.” 1249)
3. Legislate: to exercise the function of legislation; make or enact laws. (“legislate.” 1099)
Basically, Perry has said that be believes the state has the right to make laws that govern “right conduct and moral or virtuous conduct.” I don’t remember reading anything about right conduct and moral or virtuous conduct in the Constitution (word search it…you won’t find it either). You know the reason? Because none of those nebulous and subjective terms have a damn thing to do with what the Constitution sets out to do. The framers of the Constitution quite clearly explain the purpose of the document: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Morals and virtue have nothing to do with anything mentioned in the preamble. A person can still be guilty of breaking a law regardless of morals i.e. Did a teacher demand her students pray at the beginning of each class? Well…yes. Ok, what does the Constitution say about that? It says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Ok, and how has that been expanded upon by the Supreme Court? The Supreme Court ruled in both Engle V. Vitale and Abington Township V. Schempp that state funded schools may not respect one establishment of religion over another, because in doing so the school violates the First Amendment. Do you think it’s moral to publicly lead prayers in school? Doesn’t matter. Moral or not, praying in schools violates the Constitution; end of argument.
Morals are subjective and hard to define. Laws need to be defined and examined. Morals are quite personal. Laws must be inclusive or they don’t work.
To see how tricky morals can be take a look at Perry’s stance on the death penalty. His own religion tells him it is immoral. Studies show the death penalty does not deter crime, but Perry still supports it. Why? Because he knows republicans are in favor of it, and the morals behind executing people (including the retarded) can be damned.
You cannot legislate morals and have a society which offers liberty to all citizens equally. I think it’s moral to fart in a closed elevator. You don’t? Do you want to pass a law banning that? I think it’s virtuous to lie and tell everyone that once a month I fly to the moon and drink Tecate on the shores of the sea of tranquility. Lying is wrong? Really? What law says so?
Personally, I find many of the things Perry and his neo-con cronies have done to be quite immoral. Unfortunately, most of them have just been shy of unlawful.