STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES

The Elephant in the Room, by Rich Paschall


Let’s talk about it, shall we?  I am referring to the elephant.  No, not a Ringling Brothers elephant.  That matter has been resolved to almost everyone’s satisfaction.  I say “almost” because there are some who object to the choice of land where the elephants may roam free, but that is another issue for another time.

Photo Credit: Charles W. Cushman Collection

Photo Credit: Charles W. Cushman Collection

The elephant in the room belongs to the Republicans.  You know them as the Grand Old Party, but nothing seems too grand these days.  They have splintered into pieces and the one left standing, the presumptive nominee for President of the United States of America (POTUS for you social media guys), is not one of the regular Republican politicians at all.  The Donald has ridden the anti government wave all the way to the top.  It is a wave that was ironically created by the regular Republicans and their supporters.  They now find themselves asking, “How did this happen?”  It certainly was not the game plan.

While both sides of the aisle sit and contemplate how such a man, regarded by some as a bigot and misogynist, could have stolen the lead of a major political party, the real surprise is not just that this person has a following and is running for office.  The wonder is that there are so many supporters.  Republican strategists have been trying to craft a plan that would stop their own leading candidate from gaining the presidential nomination.   While stopping the New York billionaire seems to be on Republican and Democratic minds, the problems of the major parties are just a symptom of what ails us.

Elephant in the room

Elephant in the room

Andy Borowitz, satirist, commentator and best-selling New York Times author puts it like this, “Stopping Trump is a short-term solution. The long-term solution, and it will be more difficult, is fixing the educational system that has created so many people ignorant enough to vote for Trump.”  You may have seen this quote being spread around social media like wildfire under a hot sun.  This quote is one of the ones that are true, however.  As for your other memes…

If there is one thing this campaign has proven, it is that there are a lot of stupid people.  Social media have allowed many folks to demonstrate just how stupid they are.  Since they are stupid to begin with, they do not realize how much stupidity they are demonstrating.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and (yikes!) even Word Press have given the ability to many to spread stupid all over the internet, and thus, all over the world.

There have been many times that I have tried to stop stupid in its tracks.  When I see obviously incorrect statements on facebook I like to post a Snopes rebuttal or article from a reputable news source to refute the incorrect statement, but stupid will have none of it.  People go on commenting as if the truth is unavailable and this internet mythology must certainly be true.  In this regard, I am like a pebble on the beach being stomped on by flip-flops, Crocs and other ignoble beachwear.

While US News and World Report reported the higher education system as third best in the world, elementary and secondary schools did not fare so well by others.  In the 2012 Program For International Student Assessment, among 15 year olds Americans ranked 35th in the world in math and 27th in science.  In 2015 the Pew Research Center reported “29% of Americans rated their country’s K-12 education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known as STEM) as above average or the best in the world.”  That’s rather low.  American scientists gave education a lower mark.

While major American school systems are broke, politicians talk about tax breaks for the rich and “trickle down” style economics.  Teachers in Detroit work for a school system that can not afford to educate children and teachers wonder how long they will get paid.  If you think Detroit is unique, you better have a look around.  Chicago is barely surviving while school districts in richer communities in Illinois get more money per student than those in the places where education is more difficult to administer.

Google (used as a verb) American education problems and look at the long list of articles and reports by reputable sources.  You can spend the next month reading how we have slipped into a mediocre education system, or I should say, series of systems.  The value of education in some states is rather low and some of the courses dictated by local school boards would better be categorized as propaganda than education.

With such a gap in education quality across the nation, it becomes much easier for spin machines to do their work.  While I generally hate the “back in my day” approach, or statements beginning “when I was young,” here we go anyway.  There was a time when there were only three major television networks, a few major radio outlets, a relative handful of newspaper conglomerates and news services (eg. Reuters, UPI, AP).  They worked hard at getting the story first and getting it right.  Reporting was also educating and many of them knew it.

Now the news reporting is barely that.  Networks bring on so-called experts to spin the news and in many cases it is nothing more than biased viewpoints thrown at the uneducated masses for the purpose of swaying opinion.  When I think of certain right-wing outlets (you know the ones) I think of a lot of angry guys telling us what to think.  It may have been what the Republicans wanted from their media supporters at one time, but it seems to have blown up in their faces.  Insert the Donald Trump “I love the poorly educated” statement here.

Perhaps it is best to contemplate this statement from a Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin.  Yes, this widely spread statement is true: “The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.

 

Note:  While some rank the USA as number one in higher education in the world based on the sheer number of quality universities, no one ranks the overall education or systems of schools in the United States as anywhere near the top.

Sources: Pew Research Center
“Watch Trump Brag About Uneducated Voters, “The Hispanics,” Rolling Stone
“U.S. Millennials Come Up Short in Global Skills Study”, Education Week
“US Students Slide In Global Ranking,” NPR

WHO DO YOU TRUST?

It’s Not A Game, by Rich Paschall

Many game shows are centered around the idea of trust.  Whom do you trust to answer a question correctly or perform a task accurately?  This critical questions is, of course, tied to the winning of money and/or prizes.

In 1956 CBS television introduced a game show called “Do You Trust Your Wife?”  Married couples would answer questions for the chance to win money. The husband got to choose whether he would answer a question on a particular topic or trust his wife to do it.  The idea was to provide entertainment and comedy as much as to hand out small amounts of money.  The show was hosted by ventriloquist and comedian Edgar Bergen, father of Candice Bergen.  It was a vehicle for his famous act.

The show was handed off to a new host in 1957.  Young Johnny Carson got the chance to interview guests and provide comedy.  The show was later changed to “Who Do You Trust?” so that the contestant pair did not have to be a married couple.  After a year Ed McMahon was brought in as announcer for the show.  You probably know what happened to their careers just a few years later.

The game was similar to another popular show of the era, “You Bet Your Life?”  Here the famous member of the Marx brothers, Groucho, was host.  This gave the popular comedian a chance to show off his famous wit as he interviewed the contestants.  Unlike Carson, who frequently participated in stunts and demonstrations with contestants, Marx stay seated and left that to his announcer.  Failure to get a question right might be cause for a wisecrack from the host known for such things.  The show ran for eleven years.

You Bet Your Life

You Bet Your Life

Many game shows that followed are based on trust or at least knowledge of the other person.  The Newlywed Game is based on knowledge of a spouse.  How did he or she answer certain questions?  Family Feud asks the winning family to send one member to the final round.  It is sometimes amazing to viewers which one they trust with the chance to win big money.

There have been many other game shows that rely on an element of trust.  You might have to “Beat the Clock” to complete a task in a certain time.  The task might include your partner get wet or facing broken eggs on his head, depending on how well you did the task.  The little tasks were also meant to provide comedy for the audience.  Trust, competition, money, comedy, entertainment!  What is not to like?  Perhaps you can add more shows to the list in the comments below.

This season there are new game shows and the contestants are not very funny.  In fact, few find them entertaining at all.  There certainly is the famous issue of trust, but in this case it is whether the audience trusts the answers of the contestants.  Like all good game shows, there is a lot of money at stake.  Oddly enough, these contestants will spend a large amount of money (their own as well as others’) trying to win the final prize.  The show is periodic and will last until the Fall.

These shows are called the Democratic Debates and the Republican Debates.  The same contestants appear each time but the ones who have performed poorly in past weeks drop out.  This is so they can combine the shows into one later in the year when just one contestant from each show is left.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The eight Republican debates so far have drawn significantly higher average viewership than the six Democratic debates.”  That may be because there are more contestants and much more comedy is involved.  When the leading contestant did not show for one of the Republican debates, viewership fell.  This introduced an element of drama into the contest. Higher ratings and more contestants must be the reason for more debates for the Republican teams.  Just like American Idol, we are all waiting for the show to get down to the final two contestants.  Without Ryan Seacrest as host, the debate season seems too long.

Republican debates

Republican debates

Since the object of the debates is to get the viewers to trust them, the show is much like the old “To Tell The Truth.”  In that show the viewers see one person who is supposedly the real person to be identified and the others are imposters.  A series of questions are asked and in the end it comes down to “Who do you believe?”

The problem for the viewers of the current competition is that all of the candidates may not be telling the truth.  The Pulitzer Award winning PolitiFact finds that all of the Republican candidates are wrong on most facts.  Amazingly, the leading candidate on this show is found to be wrong almost all the time!  This does not seem to bother the viewers as he continues to have a wide base of support.  FactCheck.org (A Project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center) has dubbed the front-runner on the Republican shows “King of Whoppers.”

Can you imagine a show where the contestants consistently get the answers wrong, but win anyway?  That indeed may be what is happening.  For those unaware, this is No Truth and Major Consequences.  It is not a game either.

 

Related: Fact Checking The Eighth GOP Debate, FactCheck.org, Feb. 7, 2016

WHAT U.S. STATES WANTED TO SECEDE IN 2012?

Not one single state filed anything suggesting secession.

Why? First, because no state government was stupid enough to lose the benefits they get from the central government. Secession is illegal. The Civil War decided the issue and there’s no going back. All of those petitions were put together by groups of discontented sore losers who didn’t understand in the United States, an election decides the issue.

We don’t govern by petition. We protect your right to petition (thank you, First Amendment), but that only means we don’t throw you in jail for doing it, not that your petition has force of law.

The U.S. does not govern by opinion. No matter how often or how loudly you tell the world about your dissatisfaction on the Internet, on social media sites, or anything else, it’s the ballot box where we collect and count votes. We have a constitution. We have laws. We vote. We count votes. The winner is decided, the loser takes his marbles and goes home.

A petition by the losers of an election does not trump the right of the people of the United States to freely elect their representatives. That you have the right to petition doesn’t mean your petition is going to change anything. Its existence is a testament to how free a country this is. Most other places, you’d be jailed or shot.

75-ElectionNK-6

The reason that not a single state government has petitioned for secession is because no one running a state is as stupid as these petitioners. They know they can’t go it on their own and aren’t going to try. Not to mention that a state trying to secede is considered to be in rebellion, for which there are serious penalties. As for the argument that we seceded from England, we were never part of England. We were a colony, a far different legal position than that held by a state.

Battle of Lexington and Concord revolution

We did not secede from England. We rebelled against English rule. We are heroes because we won, but had we lost, it would have been ugly. It would have been treason.

Rebellion is a serious matter and the price of losing is dreadful. Rebels are hanged or shot, pretty much universally, so anyone who thinks they ought to rebel needs to be prepared to die.

AN HISTORICAL NOTE: The American colonists’ first choice was not to break away from England. We wanted the rights of full British citizenship and full representation in Parliament. In other words, far from preferring rebellion, we wanted inclusion. We wanted our status as a colony upgraded to the British equivalent of statehood … something that our American secessionist wannabes already have … and are too ignorant to value.

No one is going to secede. Maybe after the alien invasion, things will change. Until then, secession is a non-issue.

congress in session

For the blood-thirsty idiots who think a civil war is a good idea:

The Civil War cost more than 620,000 American lives, above and below the Mason-Dixon line. Death doesn’t care what color uniform you wear or what color skin you have. Dead is dead. The war between the states caused more American deaths than all other wars this nation has fought combined. ALL of them combined. I don’t know the actual percentage of the population that perished in that hideous conflict, the gory legacy of which we are still dealing with 150 years later, but it was a very substantial percentage. Anyone who suggests that doing that again is a good idea is a criminal.

I don’t care what you believe. No one who values human life, believes in God, or has any kind of conscience or moral compass would suggest we take up arms and start slaughtering each other.

The Peacemakers.

If we are unable to live together, we will not survive as a nation. How can anyone claim to care about this country and then suggest we destroy it because they don’t like the President? Does this sound like patriotism?

There are too many people who have yet to grasp the concept that in a contest, there are always winners and losers. You, over there, with the sign and the sour face. You lost. Deal with it.

Respect the constitution. Work within our excellent system of laws. If you don’t respect our government enough to honor its fundamental principles, you really should go live somewhere else, if you can find anywhere else that will have your sorry asses.

Does it surprise anyone that the “leaders” of this bogus “movement” to secede are largely from the same states that produced the glorious Civil War? You think race might have something to do with it?

The number of signatories, assuming that they could be verified as real people, does not come close to a majority of citizens of any state — nor even enough people to elect someone to congress. It’s a bunch of malcontents trying to get media attention. In other words, sore losers.

SEND IN THE CLOWNS

America, land of the brave and the free. Photo by Turtsman.

My father was not a wise man, but a smart one who knew how to make money. He was a lifelong Democrat, small businessman and other things I would prefer not to delve into right now. A big part of his salesman’s repertoire were one liners and jokes. This was a favorite of mine.

It isn’t what you don’t know that will get you. It’s what you DO know that’s wrong.

Albert Friedman
Self-Made American (1917 – 2010)

How true it is, and also, how sad. So many people knowing with complete certainty so much that is so wrong. For them, the motto will forever be thus:

Don’t confuse me with facts! My mind is made up.

If you want to maintain your bona fides as a Real American, you should continue to watch only Fox News. It will help to reinforce your unfounded opinions by presenting pseudo facts and speculation in lieu of real information and you will believe every word. Rupert Murdoch is laughing all the way to his offshore accounts.

Don’t read anything that contains facts unless they comply with your preconceptions. In fact, it might be best to avoid reading entirely. Make a flag of your ignorance. Wave it proudly. Tell the world you know nothing and don’t want to learn nothin’ neither.

Finally, proclaim that you are the prototypical American, unlike the rest of us snobbish book-reading socialist anti-Christian liberals who don’t agree with you. After that, you can wonder why the world is losing respect for the United States. Maybe it has something to do with “true Americans” like you with your passion for ignorance, bigotry, hatred, and stupidity.

You vote against your own best interests because you vote not for people who will help you, but for those who share your hates. Anyone can have you by preying on what you hate. You hate so many things that you are easily had. You are America’s fools and losers, the people about whom H.L Mencken spoke when he said:

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

H. L. Mencken
US editor (1880 – 1956)

DEAR LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD

A Citizen’s Open Letter, Richard Paschall

Dear Leader,

There are a number of problems in the world I would like to call to your attention in case you have not yet had time to notice them.  First, there is this whole thing about poverty.  The world is full of wealth and wealthy people and yet there are those without food, shelter and medicine.  Worse yet, successful corporations and wealthy businessmen get additional tax breaks that in no way benefit the poor.  Isn’t the government for all the people?  How about a little protection for the “little people?”  There seems to be no reason for people to starve.  Wouldn’t a “more perfect union” seek to help more than the top one percent?

Credit: CC0 Public Domain from pixabay

Photo Credit: CC0 Public Domain from pixabay

We seem to struggle with the issue of providing health care to the populace.  I know you have tried to get medical insurance to everyone, but the costs are still rather high.  Other top-tier countries do not force their citizens to choose between food and health care.  Costs are controlled to a greater extent.  Also, prescription drug costs at the retail level are affordable elsewhere.  Here many people must choose if they can afford life saving medicine or pay other bills.  Does that seem right? The same prescriptions that are reasonably priced in other countries are sometimes astronomical in price here.  Can you even this out?  That would seem to “promote the general welfare.”

In a nation built on immigration, as most countries were actually, we seem to have a total lack of understanding of immigration issues.  Some politicians, barely removed from their immigrant roots, block meaningful immigration reform.  Can you speak to them about that?  Maybe they do not realize that their roots are actually somewhere else, not  here.  In fact, it seems that the native population is really rather small.  We need to “establish justice.”

If children are our future and education is the most valuable component of that, can we do something to promote higher education?  Many countries provide free education as they realize the value of it.  Surely we will fall behind in the world if we do not have an educated population.  At present, the cost discourages participation or throws many students into debt for decades after graduation.  Would this not be one of the best ways to “secure the Blessings of our Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”  If our posterity is to be driven into ignorance and/or severe debt, then they are not blessed at all.

There seems to be a lot of mistrust of government, police departments and authority in general.  Can you speak to various leaders about justice and equality?  I fear we have taken steps backwards in the relationships between men and women, people of color, people of various religious backgrounds and people of different sexual orientations.  Worse yet is the use of so-called religious freedoms to justify hate.  Surely you can do something to get the dialogue back on track.  People are people.  There must be a better way to “insure domestic tranquility.”

I know you must “provide for the common defence,” but we seem to be going about it the wrong way.  Can you explain to the citizens that the second amendment was not actually handed down by god?  Since we are not living in the 1780’s and there really is no reason for all citizens to bear arms in case the states need to raise a well-regulated militia to defend themselves, we should be able to add in some sort of control.  After all, the Red Coats are not coming.  Background checks will not infringe upon my rights, I promise you.

Finally, I think programs and policies need better explanations.  Can you do a better job of that?  President Theodore Roosevelt believed that he had a “bully pulpit” and that he should use it, and use it he did.  He was not shy about going out to the people to explain himself and his policies.  Why not try to do more of that?  On the other hand, that will only mean opponents will spin the truth out of control and get more air time.  Maybe you should forget this last part.

Sincerely,
Public Citizen Richard

HATE, ANGER AND SOCIAL MEDIA

A Firestorm of Misinformation, Rich Paschall

There are always items in the news that bring out the social media commentators.  There’s the economy, Obama Care, and campaign finance laws.  There are Pipelines and Trade Agreements.  There is religious freedom and freedom of speech.  It is that Freedom of Speech thing that lets the haters and misinformers run rampant on the internet.

© 2007 Nuno Pinheiro & David Vignoni & David Miller & Johann Ollivier Lapeyre & Kenneth Wimer & Riccardo Iaconelli / KDE / LGPL 3 with permission.

© 2007 Nuno Pinheiro & David Vignoni & David Miller & Johann Ollivier Lapeyre & Kenneth Wimer & Riccardo Iaconelli / KDE / LGPL 3 with permission.

It seems a lot of people have time to create graphics with so-called information and historical quotes (internet memes).  Some are very artistically created with nice pictures of a president or other important historical person in the background.  If you are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter enough, it seems some of these historical figures are speaking out of both sides of their mouths.  One of my favorite internet memes states “The problem with quotes found on the internet is that they are often not true. – Abraham Lincoln.”

Many of the quotes are easily disputed.  I like to type the first phrase of an internet quote or meme into Google search to see what I get.  Sometimes I immediately get proof the quote is false.  Sometimes I find the quote is true, but it was said by someone else.  It seems popular to attribute interesting political and social quotes to George Carlin, even if someone else said it.  Do we think a quote is more believable if a more famous person said it?

I have often seen a quote attributed to former President Jimmy Carter.  It says “If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying you want a country based on Christian Values, because you don’t.”  While it seems like something Carter may have said post-presidency, he did not say it.  Yet, it is frequently re-quoted all across the internet.  Many sites will use it to drive home their point by indicating what this thoughtful and highly regarded human being has to say.

It was actually said by comedian John Fugelsang (Snopes.com here).  I guess if the quote comes from a comedian rather than a former president, it is harder to beat people over the head with it.

In addition to a simple Google search for the quote or alleged fact, you can go to websites dedicated to debunking internet stories.

The most popular is Snopes.com.  It calls itself “the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.”  It has to work extra hard to keep up with the mountains of internet crap published daily.  Still, I usually find out whether some really convenient quote to prove a point is actually true or false. Usually they are false.

Tech Republic has a list of the Top Ten websites dedicated to debunking internet rumors and hoaxes.  Snopes leads the list but you will find other reliable websites that can help you quickly deal with stories on Facebook that seem too convenient in proving a biased point of view.

Despite easy access to the truth, haters choose to believe whatever is posted on the internet if it can be twisted to support their position. They then take the misinformation and share it with their friends, who in turn do the same. I like to post an article or link into a comment under these false memes, but it does not seem to matter.  Comments continue to be made after mine in support of the lie, as if posting the true story meant nothing. It is infuriating, to say the least.

The anger and hate behind the false stories and memes was out in full force recently due to some “hot button” topics in the news.  The confederate flag debate was raging following the murder of nine black church-goers in South Carolina.  Haters from both sides condemned the “opposition” for their point of view.  While one side says the flag represents slavery and racism, the other claims the flag is a historical battle flag, part of their heritage. The name calling continued for quite a while.

Bringing out more internet lies than you can count was the historic Supreme Court decision on gay marriage.  We previously looked at the legal aspects of the case in It Is So Ordered.”  But not many respondents on social media were interested in the facts.

Celebrants quickly hailed the decision as if their social pressure brought about change, rather than coming as a result of well argued points of law.  Detractors saw this as the downfall of society and many Republicans vowed to have such a decision overturned by some undetermined method.  Apparently they are unaware that the Supreme Court has the final word on Constitutional law.  That is probably why we call them the “Supreme Court.”

With homophobic commentary out in abundance, never was so much hate poured out in the name of God.  I had reposted some Facebook comments by Fr. James Martin, SJ on my facebook.  I had noted he had linked to some thoughtful articles on same-sex marriage.  He asked people to respond to the court’s decision with love. You know, “love thy neighbor.” 

He did not come out in favor of the decision, he just asked us to love one another.  What did he get for his trouble?  The haters let him have it full force.  They advised him “you’ll be spending your eternity in hell.”  I guess there are bad consequences to preaching love.  The next day, in response to another posting calling for love and understanding, the good Father had to add to his facebook post “NB: No ad hominem. No uncharitable comments. No homophobic comments. One to two posts per person.”  Nope, that did not work for him. 

The bad part of social media is the ease in which hate, anger and lies are spread. Impressionable people can find support for their misguided thoughts, and feel they have backing for whatever hate or heinous acts they perpetrate. While we all support the idea of Freedom of Speech, it is safe to say our founding fathers had no idea how quickly lies could become accepted as truth.

And all of this happens in an era where the truth so easy to find. If you are interested in truth.

IT IS SO ORDERED

Equality and the Supreme Court, Rich Paschall

While the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage was expected by some, it was a total shock to others.  Nevertheless, people took to the street to celebrate their activism.  Many had demonstrated in front of the Supreme Court in recent weeks. People carried signs and waved rainbow flags.  Politicians made speeches about what the Supreme Court should do.  There were articles and editorials.  The rhetoric on the topic hit new highs (or lows, depending where you are) and social media exploded with cute (or not so cute) graphics (internet memes) in support of one side or the other.  None of this mattered, nor should it have.

In the Spring of 2013 when two landmark cases were about to be decided (Hollingsworth v. Perry, No. 12-144 and Windsor v. United States, No. 12-307), the Sunday Night Blog offered an opinion on another important case U.S. Supreme Court v. Public Opinion.  The first case dealt with California’s Proposition 8 which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.  The court could have side-stepped that one easily, and in a way, they did.  They ruled that those who had brought the case had no legal standing as they were not harmed.  In essence, they told the Ninth Circuit “the appeal to the Ninth Circuit should have been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction” as there was no harm to those who brought the appeal.  Same sex marriage resumed in California.  Interestingly, Judge Kennedy dissented.

In the other case Edie Winsor, whose marriage to Thea Spyer was recognized in the state of New York, found that her marriage was not recognized by the federal government when her partner died.  She lost everything for her lack of being able to inherit from her partner.  This was due to the highly controversial Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  It seems the federal government could not declare on one hand that whoever a state recognizes as married is married, and then say it does not apply to all people. DOMA was a clear violation of states’ rights as well as civil rights. Here Judge Kennedy wrote for the 5-4 majority, stating  “The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.”  While the ruling tossed out DOMA, it left gay marriage to the states.

Taken April 28, day of oral arguments to Supreme Court, CC License

Taken April 28, day of oral arguments to Supreme Court, CC License

In the court of Public Opinion, the people have no standing when it comes to the Supreme Court.  It does not matter how many people show up with rainbow flags or protest signs.  It does not matter how many politicians or activists  make speeches from the court-house steps.  It does not matter how many presidential candidates come out for or against the issue.  In fact, it is likely few candidates actually read the case or the court’s ruling.  The movement of public opinion in favor of gay marriage should actually have nothing to do with the court’s opinion.

The Supreme Court is there to rule on the law as it applies to the Constitution.  They are not there to rule in favor of shifting opinions.  They are not there to write laws.  They are not there to grant new freedoms.  They are there to hear how the case before them is to be considered in light of the law of the land, The United States Constitution.

In the case of Obergefell v. Hodges (14-556), Director Ohio Department of Health and similar cases from three other states, the justices were asked to take on the matter of same-sex marriage as being protected under the Fourteenth Amendment in all states. It became clear that any ruling by the Supreme Court would impact same-sex marriage nation wide.  So the question became, does the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution mean same-sex marriage should be recognized and legal everywhere?  When the court took on these cases as one, there was no opportunity to side step the issue.  The justices had to decide two fundamental questions.  Does the 14th amendment require states to license same-sex marriages?  Does the 14th amendment require states to recognize those married in other states?

The debate outside was not important to the court case.  The important debate was inside the Supreme Court.  What was said? These debates are not held in secret and in fact, you may hear the oral arguments of question one here and question two here. If you have the time to listen, you will hear the often debated issue of the definition of marriage being raised.  Is the court redefining marriage?

In the end, the court is not changing institutions on us or rewriting the law, they are strictly dealing with the protections of the 14th amendment.  Justice Kennedy again wrote for the 5-4 majority.  His opening line of the decision in fact stresses the law of our land is being upheld: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.”

But is the court working against the writers of the Constitution?  Do they have the right to offer an opinion that takes away the right to define marriage at the state level?  Are they working within the framework of their assigned duties.  Again, Justice Kennedy for the majority: “The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.”

So, they addressed it head on.  Many will celebrate while many, who have not read or considered the legal matters here, will bemoan the state of our nation and the Supreme Court.  Chief among the complainants is the Chief Justice himself: “Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.”  To call the majority of the justices “five lawyers” shows a level of disrespect this decision is likely to see for decades to come.  The battle for equality will continue.