Edina students say Just Vote NO! | Photo by Rachel Pream Grenie
by Steve Timmer
Nov 3, 2012, 12:00 PM

An (almost) election-eve Spotty winner!

Michael Rodning Bash wins the coveted Spotty™ for his Commentary in the Strib this morning, November 3rd. Here are just a couple of grafs:

There should be no place in our public debate for an appeal to the authority of what is thought of as “natural.” Natural has a fairly checkered past. Too often, it is simply a defense for the social hierarchy prevailing at any given time.

When we were ruled by kings, the powers that be told us that the divine right of kings was natural. We got over it. When slavery existed in this country, natural again lent its support. Witness this statement by James P. Holcombe, a professor of law at the University of Virginia in 1858:

“If … a system of personal servitude gave reasonable assurance of preserving the inferior race, and gradually imparting to it the amelioration of a higher civilization, no Christian statesman could mistake the path of duty. Natural law, illuminated in its decision by History, Philosophy, and Religion, would not only clothe the relation with the sanction of justice, but lend to it the lustre of mercy. It will not, I apprehend, be difficult to show that all these conditions apply to African slavery in the United States.”

We are still living under the shadow of that one. The lesson is that we should always be wary of claims that something is or is not natural.

Appeals to what is natural are really appeals to what the writer or speaker likes, and to convention, and to the existing social order. Katherine Kersten does it all the time. Whether it’s slavery, women’s suffrage, integration, equal pay, inter-racial marriage, or gay marriage, you can depend on some yahoo to say, “It ain’t natural.”

We can in turn depend on young people — who generally have good B.S. detectors, honed from years of hearing because I’m your father (or mother) — to point out a gasbag argument when they hear one. And it isn’t just the students pictured above; it is young people across the country; this is a social justice cause that, in the end and regardless of the outcome on Tuesday — and I really do believe the amendment will fail — will not be denied. It makes me want to hum a little Bob Dylan.

Please go to the Strib website and read the entire Commentary. Remember, a Spotty™ is awarded to the writer of an op-ed piece, a letter to the editor, or a blog post that I wish I had written myself.

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