Friday, December 02, 2005

A Libertarian View on Homosexuality from an Unexpected Source: Jamaica

Former Jamaican Attorney-General and Justice Minister, JLP's Ossie Harding has taken a progressive and aggressive position against anti-sodomy laws. Although the issue of homosexuality and gay rights is debated by the Jamaican public and in Jamaican culture, this is the first time I’ve seen a Jamaican politician take a serious stance on this issue. And it’s a progressive one, and it’s from the traditionally conservative JLP (Jamaica Labour Party). Essentially Harding argues for separation of religious morality and secular government. Proving you can be socially liberal and economically conservative/pro-capital (I was beginning to think this was a myth and that no politician is capable of speaking his own mind when contrary to popular opinion). To my mind this is an important and courageous stance.

Highlights from a Jamaica Observer
report on Harding's October 2004 Institute of Law and Economics speech on the subject:


“THE law has no business in the private bedrooms of consenting adults, such as homosexuals and prostitutes, former attorney-general and justice minister, Dr.
Oswald Harding is insisting.
...some things are just not the law's business. Harding remains unconvinced by the argument that the law should be used to enforce moral codes, and argued that the private activities of consenting homosexuals and prostitutes should not be criminalised.”

Also:

[Harding] further posited that the Wolfden Committee's report reflected those of noted philosopher John Stuart Mill in his Essay on Liberty to the effect that the function of the law "is to preserve public order and decency, to protect the citizen from what is offensive or injurious, and to provide sufficient safeguards against exploitation or corruption of others, particularly those who are vulnerable because they are young, weak in body or mind or inexperienced".

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Reframing the Culture Wars: Rove Backs Away from the Christian Right

Reframing the culture wars, an issue that feels newly relevant as pundits and real people debate the potential batting order for the presidential race in 2008...

(original post 7 Nov 2004)
Karl Rove is so smart it’s scary. He’s already downplaying the importance of abortion and gay marriage in W’s victory. (see the Meet the Press
transcript) And trying to blame the media for the morals debate instead. It’s not about gays and abortion. It’s about what’s on TV. To a certain extent, I actually agree that’s true. The role of the east coast and west coast big media in stoking the flames of cultural war and rebellion must not be underestimated. The prominence of Will and Grace and Queer Eye aren’t helping democrats any, believe me. Despite that, Reverend Dobson and the Christian right are NOT going to be happy with this looser interpretation of values and their role in the election.

On Meet the Press, Russert asked Rove, “when you read or see or hear moral values what does that mean?”

Rove: “Well I think it’s people who are concerned about the coarseness of our culture. About what they see on the television sets. What they see in the movies. What they read in the newspapers. How they see the values of the country.”

Russert: But, how about the exit polls indicating morals were a definitive factor in the elections?

Rove: “I do have a little bit of a different view of those numbers. First of all if you take Iraq and terrorism and aggregate em, which I think are different sides of the same coin, 34% of the electorate are concerned with, if you will, the security issue. If you taxes and the economy and aggregate them, they’re 25% of the electorate. And then moral values is 3rd. That’s not to denigrate the importance of moral values, which have been traditionally about 16% of the electorate - had been concerned with that as their number one issue - in past races.

“What essentially happened in this race was, people became concerned about 3 issues: 1st the war; then the economy, jobs, and taxes; then moral values. And then everything else dropped off the plate. And security grew the most in comparison with past races but values grew 2nd, the 2nd most amount.”

Right, right, and right. So, Russert asks, how does Rove think the president can/should implement laws to address this type of moral value - coarseness of culture?

Rove suggests a variety of moderate measures: laws that "protect the weak", the partial birth abortion ban, the Lacey Peterson law, letting community based organizations play a bigger role in helping the poor, and the global aids initiative.
It's a long list. What's not mentioned? No same sex marriage ban, no outlawing abortion. Asked if Bush has a debt owed to the Christian right, Rove will only say: “The president has an obligation to serve all the people of America.”

If they’re smart, unlike Rev. Dobson, the Christian right will take Rove’s cues, tread lightly right now and fly under the radar later to get things done on their agenda. But are they as smart as Karl? Under his tutelage, they just might be.