Rev. Mark H. Creech has a problem with bare breasts, and a strange view of history, to boot. The executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina Inc., Rev Creech has penned an opinion piece at the Christian Post about breasts and equality. Like most of his ilk, the reverend thinks gays are out to destroy society, women are state-mandated baby factories, and Jesus himself was present for the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Or the Constitution. Or whatever it takes to make America a Christian nation. But today, Mr. Creech has breasts on his mind.
A couple of North Carolina Republicans have been pushing a bill to make it illegal for women to fully bare their breasts in public unless they're breastfeeding. (One suspects they have learned from watching what happens to businesses that oppose breastfeeding.) In response, a group called Go Topless has held topless protests in Asheville, NC. And this has some folks in a tizzy.
Rev. Creech takes an odd approach to defending his right to force women to cover up for his comfort. He begins by explaining that the Founding Fathers were clarifying Jesus' sensibilities in the Constitution:
When the Founders spoke of equality in the Declaration of Independence, they didn't mean that everything we do should be of equal significance, or that we should erase the differences of the sexes ordered by nature's God. Their emphasis was on the dignity of mankind – that all men are of equal significance to God – that all are made in His image.
He goes on to lambaste the "ludicrous" idea that the founders intended to actually give equal rights to everyone:
Today, however, equal rights have come to mean something ludicrous – that women in the name of reproductive rights and equality with men should be able to destroy their unborn children, that marriage should be redefined to also include the homosexual, that wealth should be redistributed to equalize the plight of the impoverished, that children should be allowed the capacity of autonomous actions over their parents, that women should serve in combat positions, that tolerance should mean every truth claim is equally valid to its counterpart. This changes the traditional concept of equality into a modern absurdity.
This paragraph alone is so riddled with... wrongness... that entire book chapters could be devoted to debunking it, but at this point, most progressives are aware of most of the errors. Even so, here are some bullet point responses that deserve to be mentioned.
- No, Roe v Wade wasn't about equal rights. It was about women's rights. Men cannot get pregnant, and thus, they cannot have abortions. So there's nothing about equality here at all. The question is whether or not anyone -- male or female -- has the right to tell a woman what she must choose when she is pregnant.
- Should we really talk about redefinition of marriage, when the good pastor's own Bible defines marriage quite differently than he does? And yes, this is most definitely about equal rights, and science clearly demonstrates that there's nothing harmful about gay marriage, and it has never, ever, ever destroyed a single society. Even though historically, it's pretty common.
- Wealth redistribution was, ironically, advocated by Jesus himself.
- There's certainly nobody on my side of the aisle claiming that all truth claims are equally valid. Quite the contrary, since we progressives spend so much of our time factually debunking the claims of people like Rev. Creech.
After all that work debunking just some of the bizarre and factually incorrect claims, there's still a glaring question we haven't even begun to address. What does any of this have to do with bare breasts? There is presumably an argument somewhere in this piece which has something to do with why Jesus doesn't like bare breasts, and why that should matter to American lawmakers. To this point, however, it's not apparent. He continues:
Of course, historical revisionist will argue that the meaning of equality is something that has always been evolving in American society. They'll cite how some Founders were slave owners and equal rights for blacks was a long time coming. But the fact of the matter is slavery was something imposed on the Founders 200 years before them.
Historical revisionists will argue that the meaning of equality evolves? The claim seems barking mad, since we have actual documents from history that prove beyond the shadow of any doubt that the meaning of equality has evolved and continues to evolve. One would have to completely ignore actual, existing words on real paper, written by the very founders he cites, to think that equality has always meant the same thing, or that the founders were not keenly aware that all elements of the constitution were subject to change in the future. And let's not even get into slavery being forced onto White slave owners. Because some propositions are not worthy of rebuttal.
Still no closer to an argument against bare breasts, he continues.
My point is a simple one: the true meaning of equality is being turned into lunacy. And there is no better example of this fact than the Go Topless organization striving to achieve "women's rights to go topless…or striving to see that men's nipples remain equally private."
I'll tell you if Go Topless ever gets its way, I make the motion that since diamond's are a girl's best friend and a man's best friend is a dog, men henceforth forgo such expenditures for women, women always get a dog, or they come up with the loot for men too.
Please, give me a break!
Finally, the rubber hits the road. If equality means that men and women can both go topless, or neither can go topless, well... he doesn't like it. He really, really doesn't like it. Therefore, women should keep their breasts covered.
The final jab, more than anything in the piece, feels like an expression of frustration and (pardon the colloquialism) butt-hurt. There's certainly no argument in it. "Women like diamonds, and men like dogs, so I'm not going to buy women diamonds. Because breasts." Or something.
In fairness, I think the reverend was trying to put together the argument that equal rights do not necessarily constitute exactly equal treatment under the law because men and women are inherently different. I think he wanted to say that there is something different about women's breasts, and because of that difference, there's a legal justification for protecting society by keeping them covered. Finally, I think he wanted to say that men have it really tough because they have to carry an unequal financial burden in relationships. But even if he had said all of these things articulately, I do not find any of them compelling.
Also in fairness, it's worth pointing out that if the author was trying to articulate these arguments, he does have one factually true point. There is something different about women's and men's breasts. Women's make milk and men's don't. What this has to do with whether there should be differences in the way we cover our respective breasts, I cannot say. Perhaps the reverend is concerned that men sometimes experience uncomfortable tumescence 'twixt their nethers while viewing female breasts. While this is also true, I am stumped as to how this constitutes a justification for unequal legal treatment.
Once it's all examined and re-examined, I cannot find in Rev. Creech's editorial an argument worthy of consideration. Should women be required to cover their breasts at all times (save breastfeeding) in public? Maybe, and maybe not. But we are certainly no closer to an answer after this discussion. What do you think? Are there any good arguments for requiring women to remain covered? Beyond personal taste or discomfort, is there anything harmful to society that could come of allowing women the freedom to take their shirts off if they feel like it?