Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ethics, Law and Equality

Note to readers: 

Please forgive me if this article seems a bit of a rant. I've made a commitment to start writing again and to be honest I'm still a little bit overwhelmed by our recent failures. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

From the first laws in the Code of Hammurabi we find the reasoning for their existance:

"To bring about righteousness in the land so that the strong will not harm the weak."

Indeed fairness seems to be a priority when making laws, and even 4,000 years ago there was special consideration for minorities, aka "the weak". In the formation of our country we see similar thinking by some of our founding fathers, like Thomas Jefferson:

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.
Another great leader and founding father Benjamin Franklin had these words of wisdom for us:

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.

There is no measure that proves GLBT equality harms society, otherwise the argument would be over and conscientious people like myself would sacrifice their needs for the betterment of society . If we are to believe there is harm then it must come from the example of their freedoms alone. How can the example of two men or two women living together in peaceful harmony with their community be so overpowering that it could dislodge the beliefs of opponents? Is this harm so powerful that we must step in and interfere via government restriction? Is the harm so prevalent that all people in this minority class should be stripped of their inherent right to Due Process regardless of the obvious discrimination that action creates? 

 Several errors seem to perpetuate the discrimination of GLBT citizens. First and foremost the bulk of the blame seems to rest directly with the GLBT community. It is not the responsibility of the wealthy few to wage our battles for us, we all need to be directly involved in fighting for our equality. If you are the type of person that complains about the current state of affairs and isn't involved in the solution then you might want to look in the mirror so you can get a better look at the problem.

Those who wish to have an opinion in matters should make sure it is an informed one, but in my years as an activist I've come to conclude the reverse is true. The moderate middle fails in its responsibility to dole fairness in government because they allow themselves to be easily fooled by untruths swaddled in fear. Time and time again, in state after state we see the same old tired lies work like miracles, and now we may see this happen in New Hampshire as well, all because people don't bother to question what they hear. We get the government we deserve via our participation, and in this instance we fail ourselves.

Most of those who bare false witness against their neighbors do so out of innocent ignorance and simple bigotry. I reserve my full ire for those few who use fear as a political tool to energize their base stating that the old ways are best, and I'd like to ask them how far back should we look in our history to find their comfort. Here's a final quote from the Code of Hammurabi for your consideration of how people in the good old days would treat those who bear false witness:

If anyone brings an accusation of any crime before the elders, and does not prove what he has charged, he shall, if a capital offense is charged, be put to death.
Perhaps in the world of  "an eye for an eye" we'd see bigots rights taken away instead? The irony would be amusing.

I still have no doubt that justice and equality will eventually prevail in matters of GLBT equality, it just seems that we should know better and do better than what I see today.