I was more alert than usual last night, I suppose, when I had my wits about me watching the State of the Union Address from President Barack Obama. But when Senator Marco Rubio came riding in on the President's coat-tails I was changing the channel--because he doesn't interest me--and the station changed just after I heard Rubio say this:
"Good evening. I’m Marco Rubio. I’m blessed to represent Florida in the United States Senate. Let me begin by congratulating President Obama on the start of his second term. Tonight, I have the honor of responding to his State of the Union address on behalf of my fellow Republicans." (Transcription from ABC News)
Wait, how's that again? Goodness gracious, I didn't know that American citizens are "blessed" to hold elected office--shucks, don't we just have an election and count the votes?
I think that the recent magazine cover and talk of Marco Rubio being "the savior of the GOP" have gone to his head. In case you aren't aware of it (he certainly isn't), Rubio is not anointed to save the Republican Party in the Senate but rather he is an elected public servant who is accountable to his constituents in Florida. Where did he get the idea that he is any different from anyone else serving in the Congress?
Well, if he didn't get that idea from his parents--rich lucky Cuban boy that he is--he must have gotten it as he made his ambitious, wealthy way through his career. Click on the link below for the tiresome story about how he made money hand over fist on his way to the Senate, not always ethically or even legally.
Cubans have been enjoying some extra privileges from the U. S. government ever since the richer ones began fleeing during the period of Cuba's revolutions. The Rubio family is one; another was the entertainer Desi Arnaz, who, if I remember correctly, was born into a Cuban family that produced and exported Bacardi rum, and according to Wikipedia:
"According to Arnaz himself, in his autobiography A Book (1976), the family owned three ranches, a palatial home, and a vacation mansion on a private island in Santiago Bay, Cuba. Following the 1933 Cuban Revolution, led by Fulgencio Batista, which overthrew President Gerardo Machado, Alberto Arnaz [his father] was jailed and all of his property was confiscated. He was released after six months when U.S. officials, who believed him to be neutral, intervened on his behalf. The family then fled to Miami, Florida, where Desi attended St. Patrick Catholic High School."
Today's immigration law stipulates that a Cuban who sets foot on the shore of the United States is allowed into our country, while Mexicans and Central/South Americans are thrown over the border into hellish "shelters" with just the clothes on their backs. I have written before that had Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban child who was rescued in a shipwreck, had been a little Mexican boy he would have been dumped over the border the day after he was found. If you think that this atrocious discrepancy is lost on the Latino population, wake up.
But that isn't all I planned to write about. I also came across talk about sin and crime in my reading of the various news pages that I visit every day, and of course it made me think about this in regard to religion.
The low-information authors who contribute to the Christian Post seem to think not only that homosexuality is a sin, but also a crime that they must punish. So that led me to ask: what is the difference between a sin and a crime?
Dictionary.com defines sin as:
"1. transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam.
2. any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.
3. any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; great fault or offense: It's a sin to waste time."
For our purposes, a sin can be defined as a transgression of a moral law. But this doesn't settle the matter--who decides what is a moral law? Well, that has been one of the traditional bailiwicks of religion; over many centuries there have been some principles that, besides being self-evident, also carry a certain gravitas of being "the right thing to do." Hence we think of lying or stealing as sins because it is self-evident that lying and stealing weaken human relationships and tear at the fabric of society.
We also move on to bigger arenas such as war--organized acts of murder that are sanctioned by governments--and persecution as sins. And when we designate persecution (discrimination, racism, etc.) as sinful, we pull the rug out of the arguments of some who claim that it is okay to persecute just certain people.
So what, then is a crime? Dictionary.com says:
"1. an action or an instance of negligence that is deemed injurious to the public welfare or morals or to the interests of the state and that is legally prohibited.
2. criminal activity and those engaged in it: to fight crime."
Crimes have been deemed injurious to the public welfare--that puts a little space between sin and crime, don't you think? Whether you think of homosexuality as a sin or not, where is the public welfare in that? Our Founding Fathers organized this thought into the Constitution, which states that all Americans enjoy equal protection under the law. Our Pledge of Allegiance affirms "liberty and justice for all."
So let's move on to justice for all: what is a crime, then? One witty way to define a crime is to call it a sin that has a law against it. We can offer social censure to anyone who steals, but when our lawmakers make it a crime we are in another situation--a situation involving justice and punishment. But it is by no means absolute that all sins are crimes. Envy and covetousness are sinful, but there is no law against them. Yet it is a crime to perjure yourself in a court of law. I think that we have to be a little less hard-and-fast in designating what is a crime and what isn't.
That is the job of legislatures, though--defining crimes and codifying the jurisdiction of those who prosecute criminals. What we have entered into in the U. S. lately is the usurpation of the idea of crime by certain religious/moral authorities, who are fast losing their credibility because they want the government to turn their ideas about sin into laws about crime, which then can be punished.
Am I getting around to LGBT rights here? Absolutely--if you look at the judicial history of the U. S. you will see a raising of consciousness about gay and lesbian persons and the attitude towards homosexuality. Today the majority of Americans would like to live and let live--it is not an overriding issue if the couple next door is a man and a woman, two women, or two men. That is, it isn't an overriding issue to most Americans who don't feel any threat to the public welfare; we are still infested with those who cannot rest easy unless they have contributed to making gay people have a bad day.
On a typical Sunday in Tucson, I will go to the Spanish Mass at the Episcopal Church of St. Michael and All Angels and our congregation will worship together. That congregation is made up of both gay and straight parishioners; some of them are not converted to the Episcopal Church but attend because they like the place. I happen to know that one family attended once but didn't come back because on that particular Sunday our priest was out of town and a female priest said the Mass in his place. That shocked and offended the family and they haven't been back since that Sunday. It didn't have anything to do with gay priests or parishioners, just the fact that the priest was female.
There isn't anything I can do for them, so like everyone else I am not worrying about it. If a person cannot see beyond gender, how can we ask them to rise above homophobia? They aren't there yet--maybe they never will be.
So those Americans who want the "sin" of homosexuality be legislated back into the status of a "crime" are just forced to scratch their itchy trigger fingers and lament the passing of the Good Old Days when they could unleash frontier justice on some hapless man or woman trying to live their life in peace. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, who in all probability is a heavily-closeted gay man, can hardly keep his composure when he speaks of the heinous situation in America where gays and lesbians are not rounded up and packed off to someplace where he won't have to speak about them (I'm sure he thinks about them night and day, especially the gay men). That is related to my article the other day when I quoted the author who described the attitude that if you can ban it and get it out of sight, it doesn't present a problem.
But it isn't true. Those who are obsessed and fascinated with the LGBT lifestyle cannot get off that easily. Remove the gays from their day-to-day life and they will do what the crazy preachers do on Sunday mornings, teaching four-year-olds to parrot anti-gay songs even though there aren't any gays within miles of the church and they aren't ever going to deal with them. There is nowhere that the United States government could stash the gay community that would take it out of harm's way, as attested to by the preacher who wants them all rounded up and then killed.
Think you'll be absolutely sure you got each and every one of 'em after that? Will your obsession cease? You'll finally have peace of mind knowing that all the gays are gone? I don't think so.
For more info: review an article about the high points of Marco Rubio's fortune-building career here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/13/marco-rubio-finances_n_2678744....