How many of you can remember back to when you were a child divvying up Skittles or M&M’s with your friends?
“I want a red one!”
“I get yellow!”
“Green for me!”
The last one to pick stares at what’s left.
“EEEyeeewww!” someone says. “It’s BLUE!”
And they all point and laugh at the poor fellow stuck with the blue one. He may even burst into tears and run away from the jeers and catcalls.
Of course, the issue isn’t that the Skittle or the M&M is blue. The point of this game is to make sure that someone is last, and is punished — scapegoated, ostracized, ridiculed, shamed — for being last, and therefore different. If a child in the game is already different, say a Jew, or a Mennonite, or too smart, or too small, the game will somehow contrive to make sure he is the last to choose, and therefore gets stuck with the color candy that the group collectively decided was the “wrong” color.
We are a society — a civilization — that values consistency. We speak of the Rule of Law, and all of us are taught the Laws of Nature, to a greater or lesser extent. The religious often refer to the Law of God. These laws are supposed to be uniform in structure and impartial in application. Gravity pulls on the rich and the poor. Murder is a crime whether enacted by a priest or a dock laborer. God makes the rain to fall upon the just and the unjust alike.
So we try to codify everything into Law, including our arbitrary prejudices, such as the undesirability of blue M&M’s. We even fight wars that we claim are about such nonsense.
All this came to mind with the announcement that the Supreme Court had struck down both DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act) and California’s Proposition Eight as fully unconstitutional. Justice Scalia went off at the mouth, as he is wont to do whenever he doesn’t get his way, and the Religious Right grew wrathful and even more incoherent than usual.
I read an excerpt of Justice Scalia’s rant, and an expression he used stuck in my mind: “homosexual sodomy.”
Note that this is not something I brought up. This is one of the Big National Concerns of one of the Justices of the Supreme Court Of The United States, and he launched on an extended public rant about it. So, since he introduced the topic, let’s talk about it.
What on earth is “sodomy?” In the Puritanical US, it can be (legally) as broad as anything that “incites lust” or results in an experience of sexual pleasure. Chocolate, beware! But “sodomy” is generally used to mean anal penetration.
Here are two facts about anal sex for Justice Scalia to chew on.
First, there are any number of male homosexuals who do not practice anal sex: they’ve never tried it, or they’ve tried it and didn’t like it at all. So not all male homosexuals are practicing sodomites. Even as: not all Supreme Court Justices are petulant homophobic bigots. Surely a Supreme Court Justice understands the principle of not painting groups of people with an over-broad brush.
Second, nearly half of the heterosexual women in the country admit to having tried anal sex, and roughly one third of those enjoy it — enjoy it rather a lot, apparently. It seems there’s an epidemic of “heterosexual sodomy” going on out there, quietly, between the sheets of the average little heterosexual couple’s average little bed. Though in fact, heterosexual sodomy has a long and honored tradition as a birth control method, documented back well into the Middle Ages and before.
So does heterosexual sodomy invalidate a marriage? Does it invalidate the concept of marriage between a man and a woman? Is it legitimate within marriage and not outside marriage? Or vice versa, perhaps? Does it have anything at all to do with marriage?
Seems not. At least, I’m not aware of anyone screaming that heterosexual sodomy demeans the sacred institution of marriage, or that it threatens the moral fabric of the nation, or that it invites God’s wrath in the form of city-killing hurricanes. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever really heard anyone use the expression “heterosexual sodomy.” Apparently it isn’t of concern to anyone, including Justice Scalia, even though it is far more commonplace than the homosexual variety.
So I’m trying to get my head around any substantive difference between “homosexual sodomy” and “heterosexual sodomy,” and the best I can come up with is — EEEyeeewww, it’s BLUE!
Both DOMA and Proposition 8 were attempts to codify this meaningless, arbitrary distinction into law. They needed to be struck down.
Watching a Supreme Justice in the aftermath throw a child’s tantrum because blue is no longer illegal hardly inspires public confidence in the Court.
Shame on you, Justice Scalia.