Two Odious Comparisons (Updated)
For an interesting and different take on Scalia’s “elevation of all moral disapproval to the same level to the extent that they can be legislated by a politically elected body or the populace” and on why Scalia, “at the very least, [should] recuse himself from the upcoming cases regarding the Defense of Marriage Act and the overturning of California’s Proposition 8,” please read here
If a Supreme Court Justice can compare homosexuality to murder and bestiality, it should be perfectly proper and legitimate for a U.S. Air Force Commissioned Officer on active duty to tie the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) to bestiality and to equate bestiality to same-sex relationships between military service members.
Of course not, you say?
But, before putting words — judgments — in your mouth, it is only fair to explain and put the two cases in perspective.
In the better-known case, Supreme Court Justice Antonio Scalia appeared to reiterate his opinion, “expressed in a 2003 dissent, that a law banning sodomy is on par with laws forbidding bestiality or murder.”
“If we cannot have moral feelings against or objections to homosexuality, can we have it against anything?” Scalia said when a gay undergraduate pressed him on his views in support of anti-sodomy laws. He defended his noxious comparison: “I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective.”
“I’m surprised you weren’t persuaded,” he told the gay student of his reductio ad absurdum comparison.
Scalia is right: His comparison is unnecessary. And he shouldn’t be surprised that Americans — including his colleagues on the court — are not persuaded.
[The AP quotes Scalia’s response at Princeton University as follows:
"It's a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the 'reduction to the absurd,'" Scalia told Hosie of San Francisco during the question-and-answer period. "If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?"]
Discussing Friday’s Supreme Court’s announcement that it will take up gay marriage in the spring, Milbank points out that Scalia finds himself with a growing list of foes against his “medieval views” on gay rights:
[P]ublic opinion, empirical evidence, his own writings and an increasing number of conservative legal thinkers. Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, a Republican appointee and a conservative, wrote in an opinion striking down DOMA that “the Constitution delegated no authority to the government of the United States on the subject of marriage.”
He concludes, “This would appeal to an ‘originalist’ such as Scalia — if he weren’t more concerned with bestiality.
Others were more direct.
ThinkProgress says, “In a Princeton University speech Monday, Justice Antonin Scalia defended his opposition to LGBT equality and his previous comments equating homosexuality with murder and bestiality.”
Many will say that Scalia’s views and remarks are being taken out of context. Perhaps so. Scalia himself has said that he is not equating sodomy with murder but drawing a parallel between the bans on both.
But, in my opinion, there are no ifs and buts about what an active duty U.S. Air Force officer publicly and shamefully says about gays and lesbians in the military.
First, some background.
On November 28, the Stars and Stripes published an article reporting on the arrest of a Camp Lejeune Marine Sergeant accused of “engaging in sexual behavior with dogs in Jones County.”
Specifically, the Marine was charged by the Jones County Sheriff’s Office “with seven counts each of felony crimes against nature and misdemeanor solicitation for crimes against nature” after a concerned citizen accused the Marine “of engaging in sexual behavior with neighborhood dogs, as well as viewing internet pornography in front of his minor children.”
The report also mentions that “The Marine Corps had previously issued a military protective order on Nov. 20, followed by the issuance of an N.C. Domestic Violence Protective Order on Nov. 21, to protect Harpel’s spouse and children after he allegedly made threats against them.”
There is absolutely nothing in this report about gays and lesbians in the military or about anything even remotely resembling the repeal of DADT.
Yet, a U.S. Air Force active duty Major who calls himself the “Christian Fighter Pilot,” in a blog called “God and Country,” has this to say referring specifically to the actions of the Marine:
US Marine Arrested for Indecency with Dogs
Apparently, he thought the repeal of DADT meant he didn’t have to live a lie, and wouldn’t be punished just for loving someone…er, something…whatever. Though he hasn’t yet been put on trial, much less convicted, the Marines said
The actions of Staff Sgt. [Marc David] Harpel are contrary to the high standards of personal conduct and performance expected of Marines and will not be tolerated.
Ironically, the UCMJ prohibition on bestiality was almost repealed last year, along with the ban on homosexuality.
In a letter addressed to the Secretary of the Air Force and United States Air Force Chief of Staff, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Edith A. Disler, Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Director for LGBT Affairs, writes:
Dear Secretary Donley and U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Welsh,
Every fiber of my logic screams that Air Force Major Jonathan Dowty just isn’t worth the time it’ll take to write this letter. I can easily reason that the Air Force deserves whatever public affairs nightmare Major Dowty will eventually bring on, for the PA “train wreck” is not a matter of “if,” it’s a matter of “when.” But, in equating bestiality and same sex relationships Major Dowty has personally insulted not just all lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, not just personnel he must work with (theoretically “lead”) every day, and not just me. Please see the attached link and screenshot of Major Dowty’s post in question. Major Dowty has, by virtue of his implication, cast cowardly assertions which imply that I, my partner, and our children are but animals. So, I must speak out.
I served the Air Force as a commissioned officer for 25 years, having been an ROTC cadet and a Civil Air Patrol cadet for the nine years before that. I’m the great grandchild of a Baptist preacher, the grandchild of a Lutheran minister, the child of a Lutheran minister, and the first cousin of a Methodist minister. Never did I confuse my responsibility to respect the Constitution and take care of the people in my charge with my religious convictions or conventions. But apparently officer training, professional development, and leadership are not what they used to be. Major Dowty seems confused as regards his responsibilities to his people and his Constitution, and not one Air Force professional, apparently, has the courage to set him straight. As a result Major Dowty clearly sees himself as superior to the directives of Department of Defense and Air Force leadership. He also clearly sees himself as superior to the teachings of Christ, for the rants and insults cast by the “Christian fighter pilot” are as un-Christ-like as any I’ve ever seen or heard.
We all know that when we swear our oath of commissioning we limit our freedom of speech, and that our promise to lead our people means that we lead them equally and without prejudice, regardless of our personal convictions. Given Major Dowty’s readiness and willingness to disregard policy and leadership, do you REALLY think he’s conducting himself as an Air Force officer should? I’m immensely disappointed that the Air Force I served for so long has failed in its duty to take corrective action. This lack of disciplinary action gives the impression that Air Force leadership is cripplingly weak and being held hostage by a brand of Christianity which has pathologically misinterpreted the words of Christ. I have seen Air Force commanders punish so many enlisted members and officers for so much less, but Major Dowty’s commanders seem paralyzed to act.
On behalf of the 654 lesbian, gay and bisexual service members represented by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF: http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org), in order to send a supportive message to all people serving in the Air Force, and in the name of decency, we insist that Major Dowty’s commanders take swift and severe corrective action under Air Force Instruction (AFI) 1-1 and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Edith A. Disler, PhD, MBA, Lt. Col. (USAF) Ret.
MRFF Director for LGBT Affairs,
Advisory Board Member,
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
In the military we would have been tempted to add, “Stronger message to follow,” but Disler’s letter could not be stronger and more apropos. It just remains to be seen whether the military will take just as strong — and responsible — action.