That gay marriage thing again – Constitution

Despite what anyone may think or how strongly they feel about the idea of gay marriage, it is an abominable premise to think that amending the Constitution to reduce the rights of any class of people is an acceptable answer.  The Constitution embodies and enshrines the principle of equal protection and due process under the law.  To amend it in such a way is to violate those very principles and the spirit of our founding fathers.

I certainly will not claim that this is the first time the idea has been brought to the forefront of American thinking.  History has taught us that reducing rights through the Constitution is never successful.  To understand that idea you need only look at how well Prohibition worked.  It will forever be remembered as a miserable failure — an attempt to strip away the rights of the people to whom this country belongs and to whom the government ultimately answers.

Our Constitution was designed to protect the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority.  How then could it be changed in a way designed to suppress the minority?

Perhaps I am the only American who remembers early civics classes when one learned of the US Constitution and what it said and what it meant.  Perhaps I am the only American who chooses to remember.  The joke these days is that we Americans no longer need our Constitution because so many of the rights and protections it affords us have been taken away in the name of security, but amending the Constitution in such a way so as to deny a class of people the right to marry is an unconscionable crime.  I take personal offense at the very idea that we might somehow modify that holiest of American documents so as to suppress the rights of any class of American citizens.

Even more offensive an idea is that the Constitution be amended to reduce the rights of any American citizen because of a solely religious moral conviction.

It is important to understand the constitutional protections which specifically disallow such an idea on the federal or state levels.

Those who proclaim the "equal protection clause" as a reason to proscribe an amendment to the Constitution do not understand what the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment really means.

Section one of amendment fourteen specifically says that no state shall "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."  It does not, however, apply to federal law or the US Constitution.

Under the premise of the equal protection clause no state may enact a law which denies any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.  In other words, the laws of a state must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances.  Generally, the question of whether the equal protection clause has been violated arises when a state grants a particular class of individuals the right to engage in activity yet denies other individuals the same right.

The equal protection clause is not intended to provide "equality" among individuals or classes but only "equal application" of the laws.  The result, therefore, of a law is not relevant so long as there is no discrimination in its application.  This means that no law can be created which targets a specific class of people — it must instead be applied to all people equally.

This is the constitutional protection which will ultimately be the downfall of every state constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage.  Under existing state law couples are allowed to marry and are provided the state and federal protections of that legal recognition.  Any ban on gay marriage violates the existing law and, therefore, violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

Equal protection will not block the constitutional subversion an anti-gay marriage amendment would represent at the federal level.

The fourteenth amendment is, by its very terms, not applicable to the federal government.  That means it also does not apply to the Constitution.

What does apply to the Constitution is the Constitution itself, including the fifth amendment.

The fifth amendment guarantees that no person under the jurisdiction of the United States shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."  "Due process" in this context has been interpreted as binding the federal government with a number of other express provisions in the Bill of Rights guaranteeing fair procedure and non-arbitrary action.  This interpretation is based on the original usage of the phrase in chapter 39 of the Magna Carta and its subsequent usage throughout the development of the American republic.

Because of the similarities between the fifth and fourteenth amendments, some fourteenth amendment interpretations have been carried back to broaden interpretations of the fifth amendment's due process clause, such as the development of equal protection standards as an aspect of fifth amendment due process.

It is this protection, which we all enjoy, that should ensure that any attempt to amend the Constitution with explicit discrimination fails.

As we have all enjoyed the protections of both the fifth and fourteenth amendments, how is it then that any American could consider defiling them by attempting to ingrain in the Constitution any discriminatory rule?  Is it to be assumed that equal protection and due process are guaranteed only to the vocal majority and that the minority is not afforded these same rights?

The Constitution is the embodiment of protection, of guaranteed rights.  It is the foundation upon which America is based and stands to empower and protect the people.

It should therefore never be used to subvert its very meaning and desecrate the meaning of the Constitution.  This abhorrent idea is the very crux of hypocrisy when people want the protections of the Constitution only until they disagree with someone who also wants those protections.

The US Constitution is a document to be protected from such savagery.  It is to always grant rights and protections and is never to be used to subjugate any person or class of people.  Am I the only one who believes that through and through and who is wise enough to realize the Constitution itself prohibits such actions?

We will be with all the world

The heroes of all time have gone before us.  The labyrinth is thoroughly known.  We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god.  And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves.  Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence.  And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.

— Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces

I began to respond to Jenny’s comments to this posting and eventually realized that my response was going to be more than just another set of comments.  I therefore decided I would dedicate a new posting to my response.

Let’s begin with Jenny’s comments.

I was checking the weather around the country and saw how cold it was in Buffalo, thought of how much Derek hated the cold. It made me sad, very very sad to think of that. He loved sunshine and warmth, heat even. I think of him alot actually, I wish he could see my house and garden. And I berate myself for not acting sooner and more forcibly, not doing something, maybe there was something I could have said or done…. I just wish I’d grabbed him and hauled him off somehow to the hospital when he was so thin, when I knew he was sick……

Now let me respond.

I have given much thought to this situation since Derek’s passing last September.  My response below is what I myself have been learning since then.

Hindsight is always 20/20.  If second-guessing every decision which was not ours to make and every event which was not ours to control ever produced an ounce of usable action which cold somehow reverse the course of events which already are, the world would be a far different — a far better — place.  It is through regret that we mature and it is through loss that we learn to cherish what we have, yet it is through hindsight that we deprecate our own lives and diminish the good within by trying to convince ourselves of some failure, some shortcoming, some awful deed we committed or some critical deed we left undone.  Sadly this accomplishes little except to berate our own sense of self worth.

I do look back and think that he might have been better had he sought medical attention much sooner than he did, but that is not something anyone except Derek could have made happen.  The choice, ultimately, was his and no one else’s.

We tried, Sweetie, but he didn’t listen.  We pushed and he pushed back.  We did everything we could, but the impetus was ultimately on Derek to take action and he didn’t until it was already too late.

It’s sad, it’s disheartening, it’s upsetting, it’s lamentable, but it’s not your fault and it’s not my fault.  It’s also not Derek’s fault because there is no blame except for the disease itself.  Sure, had Derek sought medical care earlier things might not have gotten so bad and he might still be alive today, but I will not attempt to unravel the mysteries of why things happen the way they happen just to second-guess what already is, what was, what cannot be changed.  It accomplishes nothing.

What might have been has never changed what is.

Derek is gone and no amount of hindsight will ever change that.  The decisions that were made were his to make and there was nothing we could have done to change them.  Every person is endowed with free will and the responsibility to make their own decisions; that will never change.  We made it clear what needed to be done, but it was still up to Derek to do as he wished.

Death is a natural progression of life.  It’s the end of the journey for every person on the planet, for every living thing.  It’s normal even when we don’t like it, even when it hits close to him, even when we think we could have changed the outcome by responding differently to those events which seemed to portend the realization of mortality.

One cannot reach enlightenment by running from death.

The universe is simply too large for us to be able to control events to the degree which we would like.  In the grand scheme of things, we simply have very little control over how things unfold.

The best we can do is judge ourselves by the intentions of our actions and not by the actions or their outcomes.

Let me close by paraphrasing a rather Taoistic television character.

The success or failure of your deeds does not add up to the sum of your life.  Your spirit — the motivation which drives you to do the things you do — cannot be weighed.  Judge yourself by the intention of your actions and by the strength with which you faced the challenges that have stood in your way.

The universe is vast and we are so small.  There is really only one thing we can ever truly control: whether we are good or evil.


the wind blows as I sit here thinking of you
it's like watching the breath of life steal away from all that surrounds me
wisping away what was and leaving stark reality in its wake
the leaves blow, momentarily rustling around my feet before they continue their journey
moved along by the wind's hidden fingers
all seems right with the world as I behold the seasonal change
this place and this time seem perfect
yet inside me there is something wrong
I see your clear face in all of my dreams
it haunts me; you haunt me
at least that's how my memory seems to portray it
I watch the clouds darken as a storm approaches
it reminds me of…
well, it reminds me of you, of us, of what we had and how it changed
the flower beside me fades into nothingness, it's fleeting moment in the sun now gone
the trees, losing their foliage as they prepare to slumber through winter, join the flower
they journey methodically toward winter heeding the call for change
I watch autumn take control of the world around me and remove from it the beauty of summer
my heart calls out asking if it too should join this movement, this pilgrimage
you were the only one
you were my summer
you brought to me all the life that spring gives summer
now you take that life just as autumn takes it before winter
the rain begins to fall as the thunder in the distance rolls nearer still
the lightning flashes in the distance, yet not as distant as it was only moments ago
I stand and prepare to leave
forsaking this place and this time
forsaking the memories and the pain
there will be another spring, another summer
life will return to this place
I must remember to return then
for I shall again see the flower in all it's beauty
I shall again see the trees bathed in the glow of the sun as their leaves absorb its life-giving energy
I shall again see spring create life for summer
in that change I find hope
some other time, perhaps, I hope to myself
some other time I hope our paths will cross again
perhaps, when that time comes, it will be spring and not autumn
perhaps it will be life and not lifelessness
yet there is comfort here in this place as I turn to leave
there is comfort in the knowing
knowing that this is all so natural
a cycle of life to death to life again
my heart can learn from this
autumn can teach me
autumn can comfort me
autumn can show me that loss is only a part of the process
that spring, its eternal brother separated by time, will visit again
there is hope in this
hope that our paths may cross once again
just as I know autumn will visit me again one year hence

[circa 1989]

Open season on cats?

The state of Wisconsin is considering a proposal that would allow hunters to shoot and kill feral cats.

The proposal would reclassify domestic free-roaming feral cats as an “unprotected species” which could then be shot by anyone with a hunting license for small game.  It is believed that the proposal is an attempt to control the feral cat population which preys on songbirds in disproportionate numbers, but it’s truly just a disgusting right-wing attempt to provide yet another target for gun-toting, brainless rednecks who have nothing better to do with their time than try to shoot their neighbors’ cats.  Besides, skyscrapers and other man-made objects kill countless birds each year, so why not have an open season on construction workers or architects?

If such a proposal were to become law, how precisely would a hunter determine if a cat was indeed feral or just an outside cat?  Would they have to stop and check the animal for tags before shooting it?  Would they have to check the animal for an electronic identification chip?

Does anyone honestly believe this is a good idea?  Is there really a way that someone would be able to determine if a cat was feral before shooting it?  Hunting is, after all, an activity which normally requires the hunter to surprise the animal rather than meet-and-greet it before determining it’s status as protected or prey.

Going beyond what can easily be described as ridiculous, the author of the proposal, one Mark Smith of La Crosse, WI, explained the idea with this: “If you open the door and kick your cat out at night you’ve changed its status.”  He claims he is not anti-feline.  Could have fooled me.

Based on Mr. Smith’s less than stellar cognitive abilities and lack of sound reasoning and the horrific idea that Wisconsin would even consider such a thing, I believe the following proposal is as sound in judgment as they appear to be.

Anything or anyone that is without a leash, proper tags or easily identifiable guardian is fair game.  That includes children, dogs, cats, mindless idiots like Mark Smith, politicians, lawyers, gun-toting rednecks who can’t wait to shoot the next thing that moves, and anyone who seriously thinks Wisconsin should consider — or pass — such a proposal.

Honestly, I hate humans.

The Rules of Attraction

“…and it struck me then that I liked Sean because he looked, well, slutty.  A boy who’d been around.  A boy who couldn’t remember if he was Catholic or not.”

That is truly the only funny thing about The Rules of Attraction, a poorly made college angst movie.  That one line was the only part of the movie I found entertaining.  The rest of it was a messy, thoughtless menagerie of college-kids-gone-wrong clichés.  Even at that they failed to make the clichés entertaining.

The idea that all of these kids are immoral doesn’t surprise me in the least.  When people are real, they appear “immoral” to everyone who still hangs on to the puritanical religious zealotry that has always given rise to the bigotry and hypocrisy that can only be seen from outside of religious circles.  I would have expected that, with such a focus on the darker side of humanity that is enveloped in selfishness only, this movie would have provided some level of entertainment.  Wrong.

It’s the anguish of immorality and how, when it’s practiced, we often find things don’t work out quite the way we planned, that drew me to watch it.  I happen to enjoy raw comedy.  I happen to enjoy dark comedy.  I watched this movie solely based on the idea that it was an example of both.

Sadly, that was not the case.

This wasn’t comedy at all.  It was just bad writing.