Friday, March 27, 2015

From the Crowd to the Cross: Indiana, California, and Palm Sunday

So, Indiana passes its "religious freedom" act.  And in California, a Huntington Beach lawyer takes advantage of the lax initiative process to file an initiative calling for state-sanctioned murder of LGBT people.

And it's almost Palm Sunday and Holy Week.

From Irreverin at Patheos:
I keep thinking this new law will not stand… The public outcry will be too tremendous; or the economic cost will be too great... I sure do think it will all backfire and, for money and votes at least, they’ll have to take it all back. Right?
Meanwhile. Back in California where the sun always shines and progressive is not a bad word and everybody loves the gays… this attorney in Huntington Beach wants to make it legal to execute homosexuals.
In the public eye, these stories must seem vastly disparate in their severity. Sure, open discrimination is terrible and backward and we’re not going to Indiana any more. But execution? Unheard of. That will never fly. It will never gain enough traction for a vote. No elected official would ever sign their name to such a thing. Compassionate, thinking people will prevail. 
I’m tired of talking about this. It is so asinine. Obtuse. Backward and SO two centuries ago. But I will tell you this: seeing these two stories back to back in my newsfeed today was jarring. Because really, how far is one from the other? 
If we are going back to ‘you can’t sit at the counter in this diner,’ then we aren’t too far removed from the return of the lynch mob. It’s just that simple. 
So. Maybe Holy week is the right time to talk about this after all. Because we know the distance from the legislative signature to the execution chamber is really not all that far. The journey from the thronging crowd to the cross? A matter of days. 
We’ve been here before. 
So go, Church. Go print those extra bulletins and carbo-load for next week’s marathon of holiness… Wave the palms and parade the children. Shine the brass and dust off the banners and keep dreaming of resurrection. But never forget…If we get tired, if we grow silent, if we stop banging and marching and singing, the rest of the thronging crowd just gets louder. And we get swept right along. 
It’s been known to happen. 

Our friend Doug Blanchard's image (from The Passion of Christ:  a Gay Vision)  seems particularly appropriate here. 


Kevin K said...

I had heard about the initiative. Isn't this some sort of mockery of the system for amending the California Constitution?

IT said...

Not limited to amendments, but also statutes. The Initiative process was put in place originally as a progressive move to allow the people some access to a government dominated by oligarchs. Unfortunately, it has become a very low bar (just $200 to file an initiative!).

It can't get on the ballot without signatures, the number of which is detemrmined by the turnout of the previous election. In this case that's not going to happen, but ...

BTW Thanks to the advent of professional signature gatherers, this is no longer people's process, but something easily controlled by those with deep pockets.

Kevin K said...

That is what I thought. I did not think it was intended as an actual "Kill the Gays" bill.

JCF said...

Lynchings were still happening in California in the 1930s, it's not THAT unthinkable.*

Really love how Indy's "Don't Serve The Gays" law is coming back to bite 'em in the @ss.

* I don't mean "like a lynching" murders, I mean actual IN PUBLIC LYNCHINGS. With no one prosecuted. [I was going top provide you the citation but my guilty "pleasure" (?!) "Executed Today" is currently down.]

dr.primrose said...

The California initiative in fact is a "kill the gays" proposal.

The initiative reads: “Seeing that it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God's just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating-wickedness in our midst, the People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”

The initiative proposes that any individual who distribute “sodomistic” propaganda “shall be fined $1 million per occurrence, and/or imprisoned up to 10 years, and/or expelled from the boundaries of the state of California for up to life.”

Kevin K said...

I don't think the intent of the proponent is to actually secure such a law. The language used is intended to shock, in part to show that the process for amendments to the Constitution should be more rigorous. That being said, yes, murders and lynching were pretty common throughout the US for quite a while.

IT said...

Actually, I don't think there is any intent to highlight the process here. This guy has the intent to shock, sure, but I think his motive is venting at how much he hates gays. It's yet another useful reminder that even though we are in California, we aren't necessarily safe or welcomed.

dr.primrose said...

I agree with IT that the purpose of this initiative is probably not to highlight perceived flaws in the California initiative process.

That being said, it's difficult to determine what this guy's motivation is. From what I've read, he's pretty much a cipher.

His state bar profile has an address for his "law office" but it's apparently just a box at a strip-mall "postal store." There's no fax or email listed and calls to the listed phone number go immediately to voice mail and phone messages are not returned. There's a college and law school listed.

People have Googled him name with very little results. He doesn't appear to be listed counsel in any court cases.

About 10 years ago, he sponsored another initiative to require the state to give Bibles to all students.

So what he does as a lawyer or any other part of his life appears to be mostly unknown.

Kevin K said...

People with some knowledge of the law and a mental illness can really keep lawyers busy. Sounds like he knows enough to follow the process to get an issue on the ballot. Of course, even if it was passed it would be unconstitutional under the federal constitution. It would certainly get California's constitution to stand out in a crowd.

JCF said...

Happy Easter to everybody at FoJ!

"He is Risen Indeed"