Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

This is not a civil rights issue, it’s a civility issue

Posted by sanityinjection on July 20, 2009

Salt Lake City is abuzz over yesterday’s protest by gay activists and their supporters against the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Readers may recall that the gay community was already furious with the Mormons for bankrolling the anti-gay-marriage ballot question in California. However, yesterday’s protest was in reaction to the arrest for trespassing on church property of a gay couple two weeks ago. The couple claims (probably accurately) that the real reason for their arrest in an area where the public often roams freely is that they were kissing.

So yesterday, gay activists staged a “kiss-in” – first on the sidewalk, then on church property in the area where the arrest took place. Of course, counter-protesters showed up. Fortunately, no real fights took place.

Here’s the problem: You don’t have a right to do anything on someone else’s private property. If the LDS Church doesn’t want to allow kissing on its property or a particular area of their property, they’re entitled – although I would argue that prohibition should be applied equally to heterosexual as well as homosexual couples. There is a difference between exercising your civil rights, and deliberately thrusting them in the face of those you know will be offended. If anybody thinks that the gay couple that was arrested just spontaneously happened to kiss while strolling the grounds of a notoriously anti-gay religious group, and weren’t deliberately making a statement by doing so, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you.

Meanwhile, of course, the US Senate has tacked on a hate crimes amendment to the defense budget which will practically make it illegal to think anything critical about homosexuals, transgendered people. I am not anti-gay at all, but you cannot legislate prejudice out of people’s minds. Nor should you punish a murderer more severely if he killed his victim for racial reasons – that’s like saying that the life of a black victim of a black murderer is less valuable than that of a white victim.

All of this is part of a disturbing trend in which a significant group of people or even a majority declares, “I do not like X, so the government should put a stop to it.” Gone is the idea that government should only become involved when there is a compelling need. Instead, government has become simply an effective tool to accomplish a progressive social agenda whose righteousness is not open to question.

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6 Responses to “This is not a civil rights issue, it’s a civility issue”

  1. I-love-things-that-sparkle said

    I have a few questions. What constitutes a “compelling” need? Isn’t it all really subjective? I mean, some people consider hunger a compelling need, and others right-to-speech is compelling. How is the right-to-own-guns any more compelling that the need to protect your property or the need to walk around unharrassed? I agree, people like to use legislation to push all kinds of social agendas, many very legitimate, but my question to you is, what exactly do you consider a compelling need and why?

    In addition, how can we even begin to say that the gay couple’s account of what happened is probably more accurate than the church’s, other than the now-mainstream liberal assumption that all those persecuted must be right and those persecuting must be wrong? People call the police for trespassing all the time. And the church hasn’t even made any declarations that they forbid kissing on their property, whether homo- or heterosexual, that I am aware of; why assume kissing is the issue? Maybe it is, but the church operated in their own right, the couple should NOT have been trespassing, and the outrageous protest that ensued is ridiculous. I say, let’s have protests against real discrimination and not assumed discrimination.

    As for hate crimes, I agree — aren’t all crimes derived from one kind of hate or another? The problem is that the crimes against certain groups tends to be bloodier and malicious, and more degrading, than many other kinds of crimes.

    • Indeed, how you define what constitutes a “compelling need” for government to act is precisely what constitutes the difference between the political philosophies. Fundamentally, that is or should be what most political debates are about.

      On the trespassing matter, I think what may not be clear about this case is that the area in question looks and functions like a public plaza. Lots of people criss-cross it every day with the Church’s tacit approval, and you wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at it that it’s church property. The only people that got picked up for trespassing were this one gay couple that was kissing. That’s the basis of their complaint.

  2. I-love-things-that-sparkle said

    P.S. I’d like to bid on that bridge of yours. 😉

  3. And forgive my multiple misspellings I’m tired tonight . . .
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

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