A classic example of moral disconnect:
CNN, 2/18/05: "The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops said Friday that over the last year they received 1,092 new allegations of sexual abuse against at least 756 Catholic priests and deacons."
CNN, 2/23/05: "Homosexual marriages are part of a ‘new ideology of evil’ that is insidiously threatening society, Pope John Paul says…" The pope is further quoted as saying that the endorsement of gay marriage "attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man."
Consider the conflict the pope suggests - "human rights against the family and against man." John Paul insists on the sanctity of human life itself - opposing abortion in all cases, euthanasia, capital punishment - but he’s far less insistent on the quality of human life, on the rights of individuals. Of what value is the family, of what value is man, if we don’t first embrace the value of human rights?
Let’s try to put a tighter frame around this debate.
Can we at least agree that sexual abuse constitutes a greater threat to our society than the willful betrothal of a same-sex couple? The concept of gay marriage is admittedly, in our society, a standard deviation or two outside the norm. But simply being out of the mainstream is a far cry from being evil, nor is it justification for making it illegal.
The Israeli treatment of the Palestinians is evil, as is the Palestinian response of suicide bombers. Saddam Hussein’s treatment of his people was evil, as was the U.S. decision to invade Iraq.
Torture is evil.
The legitimate "ideology of evil" - the true insidious threat to our society - lies not in gay marriage, but in the heart of our present government. If the application of torture to helpless human beings does not constitute evil - and guilt or innocence is not even an issue here - then there is no point in having such a word.
The Bush administration - for all their public evasions - condones the use of torture, and is actively engaged in its practice.
Alberto Gonzales, acting as George W. Bush’s chief counsel, was a key architect of the infamous "torture memo" of August 1, 2002, in which "cruel, inhuman or degrading" acts were ruled outside the definition of "torture." A summary from Newsweek (12/27/04), "Gonzales helped to craft some of the most…controversial decisions of Bush’s presidency. Among them: to create military commissions for the trials of terrorists, to designate U.S. citizens as ‘enemy combatants’ and to disregard the Geneva Conventions in the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay."
One finds, with Mr. Gonzales, little respect for international law, the Constitutional rights of American citizens, or basic human decency. Earlier this month, Gonzales was confirmed as the new U.S. Attorney General.
It’s not unreasonable to describe Alberto Gonzales as "evil."
Since the facts surrounding Mr. Gonzales are well known, we can therefore expand our condemnation to those representatives who enabled him to attain his new, more powerful role in our government. That includes every Republican senator (except Conrad Burns of Montana, who did not vote) and a handful of Democrats.
Guilty of complicity in crimes against humanity: John McCain (R-AZ), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Bill Frist (R-TN), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Warner (R-VA)…it’s quite a list, and it goes on.
Let’s just call them all "evil," and be done with it. Indeed, is it unfair to suggest that every citizen who voted for George W. Bush in the last election should be labeled evil as well?
Recent reports (from the New York Times, Newsweek, and the New Yorker, among others) reveal a U.S. program involved with kidnapping individuals, then secretly flying them to countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Uzbekistan to be brutally interrogated. Our government calls the practice "extraordinary rendition." Writer Jane Mayer calls it "outsourcing torture."
If you think the issue ended with Abu Ghraib, you’re just not paying attention.
In the words of Bob Herbert (New York Times, 2/11/05): "Our [foreign] henchmen…are torturing terror suspects at the behest of a nation…that just went through a national election in which the issue of moral values was supposed to have been decisive. How in the world did we become a country in which gays’ getting married is considered an abomination, but torture is O.K.?"
In a civilized society, this should be a no-brainer - torture is wrong; it is grossly immoral; it is illegal.
Any decent human being knows that.
This category excludes George W. Bush. And Alberto Gonzales. And sixty United States senators.
And sixty-two million American voters.