The devil’s playground

A June 30 letter to The News and Sentinel from Mr. Brant of Belpre (“Stand up to evil”) was a hateful, but at least sincere, expression of this individual’s displeasure with the Supreme Court overruling DOMA. Less honest was the response of another writer, Mr. Davis of Marietta, who began his July 7 letter (“Opening a can of worms”) by stating “the homosexual lobby has won its argument about same-sex marriage by persuading most people that to be anti-same-sex marriage is to be homophobic.”

Davis wants it both ways. He wants to maintain his “right” to be homophobic, but he doesn’t want anyone calling him “homophobic.” By suggesting the SCOTUS decision on DOMA will lead to “fraud,” Davis uses the familiar “slippery-slope” argument of extremists like Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Michele Bachmann who claim extending marriage rights to same-sex couples will “undoubtedly” lead to “polygamy,” “pedophilia” and “marriage to dogs and cats.” Malarkey!

I notice the outrage of both of these writers doesn’t extend to the more-recent Supreme Court decision to gut Section IV of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Similar arguments are currently being used in some “red” states to deny voting rights to certain minorities based upon the false premise that “widespread fraud” will occur if stringent local or state requirements aren’t enacted immediately. These claims are as bogus as Davis’ fantasy claims about same-sex marriages.

Davis also claimed same-sex marriages were not among the “self-evident truths” mentioned by Thomas Jefferson. He forgets the man who coined lofty phrases like “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” forgot to include slaves, Native-Americans, women and anyone who didn’t own property. Has it even occurred to this writer that personal choices in matters such as marriage or family-planning are really none of his business?

While Davis nitpicks and obfuscates, Brant comes right out and uses terms like “evil” to describe anything he doesn’t understand. I won’t deny that “evil” exists, but, I’ve never used that term to describe ignorance or even prejudice. Ignorance and prejudice become “evil” – as it did in Cromwell’s England, Nazi Germany, the “Jim Crow” era in certain southern states, or in the backrooms of some state legislatures today – when ignorant or bigoted people demand their so-called “majority” views (which may not be really a “majority” according to most recent U.S. polls) be transformed by ignorant and bigoted lawmakers into ignorant and bigoted public policies. An idle (or closed) mind can indeed become “the devil’s playground!”

Fred O’Neill