02 May 2010

Christianists and the lack of "civic courage"

Lately I've been following more of Andrew Sullivan's "Daily Dish" from The Atlantic. The other day I ran across this bit of coverage on oral arguments before the SCOTUS which finds Antonin Scalia on the same side of the street as gay rights supporters.

The crux of the case, Doe v. Reed, is that the supporters of an effort to repeal a Washington state domestic partnership law don't want people to know they signed petitions designed to get the measure on the ballot.

As Sullivan rightly notes, these individuals are the most craven of cowards, eager to use the political process and the force of law to foist their subjective beliefs onto other people's households, yet wanting to insulate themselves from any accountability for this imposition with a veil of anonymity.

Big Tony lets them have it with both barrels:

Working himself into an Originalist froth, Scalia notes that "for the first century of our existence, even voting was public—you either did it raising your hand or by voice," and then scolds that "running a democracy takes a certain amount of civic courage. And the First Amendment does not protect you from criticism or even nasty phone calls when you exercise your political rights to legislate."

Justice John Paul Stevens, the model of civility, breaks in to ask the money question: "Wouldn't it be legitimate public interest to say, I would like to know who signed the petition, because I would like to try to persuade them that their views should be modified?" He adds, "Is there public interest in encouraging debate on the underlying issue?" Bopp replies: "It's possible, but we think this information is marginal."

This leads Scalia to bring down the house with: "What about just wanting to know their names so you can criticize them?" Scalia notes that the disclosure of your name is "so you can be out there and be responsible for the positions you have taken."
Powerful words, there: "Civic courage."

Can't think of too many things more pathetic than the lack of it. If you are going to attack peoples' very families--especially over something that has nothing to do with you, personally--the least you can do is own up to your actions. If standing up for your faith is that important to you, it's more than a little curious that you'd object to actually having to stand up to the people who are affected by what you're doing.

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