Don’t Get Me Started, Regulars and Shorts

Don’t Get Me Started: Gay Marriage in Utah and the Snowden Affair

By John deJong

Reflections on being shown the light.
by John deJong


Now that Utah has been shown the light on gay marriage, it is interesting to examine how this reflects on some local beliefs and the nature of belief with regard to the U.S. Constitution.

The fundamental objection to gay marriage stems from the misconception that we get our sense of morality from the teachings of religious institutions. This stems from the belief that we are unable to develop a natural moral sense by ourselves and need to have moral dogma taught to us in churches. From there it follows, naturally, that all church dogma should be followed. If whichever dogma you believe in says it’s a sin, it’s a sin.

Research shows that humans and many animals develop a robust and effective sense of morality from their early experiences. Religious dogma just adds a veneer of legitimacy to what most of us cultivate naturally.

The idea that gay marriage is wrong is simply a belief, as divisive or unifying as any other.

The fact that most of the resistance to gay rights comes from religious institutions should have been our first clue that the constitution would come down in favor of gay marriage.

It will be interesting to see what kind of rear-guard action the state of Utah mounts. It would also be interesting to see how much money the State of Utah spends defending unconstitutional laws that the legislature passes. How much money and how many people at the Attorney General’s office are wasted on these quixotic quests?

A case could be made that the dogmatic moralities taught by many religions actually interfere with the development of a true moral compass. Take John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff. Please.

Shurtleff and Swallow were so sure of the righteousness of their pursuit of states rights that whatever immoral things they did to get elected were okay. This is not the first time “true believers” have used every trick in the book to get their way.

Speaking of moral compasses, and moral quagmires: The dramaturgy in the Edward Snowden versus the NSA affair has been fascinating. Who would have thought six months ago that the string of revelations would continue unabated?

The fact that the NSA would be willing to consider granting Snowden amnesty is very telling. He very well may have documents detailing dozens of still secret programs, though he claims his job is done. The State Department and the White House are cool to the idea of amnesty, but they may have no idea what hasn’t been revealed. They may not even be cleared to know. Also, there may be a catch-22. Obama and his top advisors haven’t and can’t be told about the programs because to do so would violate the principle of plausible deniability: the principle where “illegal” things are done in the name of the President, but he isn’t told so he can never be accused of the illegal actions. Ronald Reagan was master of the ploy, or rather the spy establishment under Reagan was, and most likely still is, master of the art of plausible deniability.

Edward Snowden’s revelations have shown the system of checks and balances we rely on to be a sham. The NSA was and still may be out of control. Out of the court’s control. Out of Congress’s control. Out of the President’s control.

Americans can thank Snowden for shining a light on the darkest parts of our government.

This article was originally published on December 30, 2013.