- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 26, 2003

Will Bush say anything?

Yesterday’s sweeping Supreme Court ruling, striking down laws that criminalize private consensual adult sex, is a big victory for those conservatives who believe in limited government, privacy and equality under the law. But there was a strange silence from the White House. The president has no need to comment on Supreme Court decisions, of course. But this one dealt with a law that, as governor of Texas, he had once upheld and publicly defended. The best bet is that Mr. Bush will stay silent on this matter. His only response to the fascinating debate now going on about the role of gays in our society is complete silence. Anything he says will roil either one part of the conservative coalition or the other. Prudence, I guess. But certainly not principle.

Scalia’s concession

I guess I was doubly surprised by the ruling yesterday. I’d bet that the court would strike down the Texas sodomy law under narrow equal protection grounds. They went much further, ascribing dignity to gay relationships, their right to the same privacy accorded to heterosexuals and their right not to have their lives and identities reduced to a sexual act. The implications of this are significant, as Justice Antonin Scalia wrote:

“If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is ‘no legitimate state interest’ for purposes of proscribing that conduct; and if, as the Court coos (casting aside all pretense at neutrality) ‘when sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring’; what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising ‘the liberty protected under the Constitution’? Surely, not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry. This case ‘does not involve’ the issue of homosexual marriage only if one entertains the belief that principle and logic have nothing to do with the decisions of the Court.”

He’s right, I think. The Supreme Court has essentially conceded that once you treat gay people as human beings and as equal citizens, there is no solid case against their right to marry. It’s coming. Soon.

Thomas’ ‘ingratitude’

It would be hard to find a more appalling example of racial animus than in Maureen Dowd’s column attacking Clarence Thomas on Wednesday. For some reason I guess I do understand, Justice Thomas isn’t just opposed by many on the left; he is hated. He is hated because he is, in Ms. Dowd’s extraordinary formulation, guilty of “a great historical ingratitude.” The good Negroes, in Ms. Dowd’s liberal-racist world, are those grateful to their massas in the liberal hierarchy: They are grateful to Howell and Gerald and Arthur; and they know their place. For them to express the psychological torment of being advanced for racist reasons, to explain in graphic, brave and bold terms the complexity of emotions many African-Americans feel as ‘beneficiaries’ of racial preferences, is unacceptable. To describe such a person who has been courageous enough to put these feelings into a powerful dissent as “barking mad” is nothing short of disgusting. Yes, there are all sorts of psychological inconsistencies in Justice Thomas’ journey. But that, in part, is the point! If Ms. Dowd supports “diversity” as a good thing in elite institutions, why isn’t it a good thing for one black justice to contribute his own experience as part of a landmark judicial ruling?

Of course, I don’t know whether Ms. Dowd supports diversity in this sense. That would require her to argue something — of which she is apparently incapable. And then Ms. Dowd, of all people, complains that Justice Thomas is more interested in his own personal dramas than “bigger issues of morality and justice.” When was the last time you read a Dowd column that grappled with “bigger issues of morality and justice”?

The difference

I’ve long believed that science will at some point render many of our current policy arguments moot. I think we’ll find that genes play far more of a role in our lives than most of us would ever want to believe. But the recent news about gender difference in our genes dwarfs the debate about the role of testosterone in gender difference. Here is the money quote from the New York Times article:

“As often noted, the genomes of humans and chimpanzees are 98.5 percent identical, when each of their three billion DNA units are compared. But what of men and women, who have different chromosomes? Until now, biologists have said that makes no difference, because there are almost no genes on the Y, and in women one of the two X chromosomes is inactivated, so that both men and women have one working X chromosome. But researchers have recently found that several hundred genes on the X escape inactivation. Taking those genes into account along with the new tally of Y genes gives this result: Men and women differ by 1 to 2 percent of their genomes, Dr. Page said, which is the same as the difference between a man and a male chimpanzee or between a woman and a female chimpanzee.’”

By far the biggest difference in the human genome is gender. Blank Slaters take another hit.

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