Monday, March 15, 2010

Religious, racial, sexual -- hate is hate

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES : "Opening shot ...
In the spring of 1760, a well-born Scottish lawyer named James Boswell, freshly minted from the University of Glasgow, ran off to London to seek his fortune.
It was a rash act for the heir to a sprawling estate called Auchinleck. But upon arrival in London, the 20-year-old Boswell did something even more reckless -- he secretly became a Catholic.
"Reckless" isn't merely my opinion -- here's how Frederick A. Pottle, Sterling professor of English at Yale University, described the potential repercussions of Boswell's conversion:
"If this submission to the Roman Church had become known, the consequences would have been very serious. As a professed Roman Catholic, Boswell could not have been an officer in the Army or Navy, could not have been a barrister or advocate, could not have been elected to Parliament or even have voted for a member, could not have held any place under Government; finally, could not have inherited the estate of Auchinleck."
Professor Pottle does not speculate as to whether Boswell could have attended a prom, but we can make an educated guess: No.
Arbitrarily deciding what people we dislike are permitted to do is, alas, a practice not confined to Georgian England.
Last week, Constance McMillen, 18, a senior in Mississippi, drew nationwide attention because her school district canceled the prom at Itawamba Agricultural High School rather than allow McMillen, a lesbian, to attend with her date.
This is actually progress, in that five years ago the school would have simply barred McMillen. But with legal rulings emphasizing that discrimination against blameless individuals is bad, even if you're discriminating against them because they're homosexuals, the district figured that scrapping the dance altogether was the safer route. Better to disappoint the entire senior class than allow one gay couple to dance unopposed.
This follows in the fine Southern tradition of clinging so tightly to old hatreds that, when the rule of law tries to pry your grip away, you prefer to lose your fingers before letting go."

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