Sunday, February 21, 2010
President Joseph Lieberman Wants Your Pork Sandwich
To take a short interlude from my discussion of Aryan Coffee, I ended the most recent piece by comparing, as I have done before, homosexuality to eating pork. They both violate verse in Leviticus. The question becomes to what extent may public officials interfere with homosexuality or the eating of non-kosher animals and, to reverse the issue, to what extent is the public required to grant validity to either of these two types of behavior.
Senator Joseph Lieberman, a former Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate, now the Independent senator from Connecticut, is an Orthodox Jew. He is certainly in his right not to eat pig. I would even go so far as to say that he has the right as a member of the United States Senate to vote to cut government subsidies for pig farming. He is even allowed to "discriminate" in favor of cows, and plausibly even cows being slaughtered in a kosher manner. He does not even have to offer any secular explanations for this. All he has to do is say "I do not like pigs so I am not voting for them." On the contrary, it would be Senator Lieberman's rights being violated if the nation's pig eating rights activists with the aid of a pork loving Supreme Court, ruled that pork is a fundamental right, that any attempt to restrict its eating or to favor other meat was a denial of the very being of pork lovers and, as such Senator Lieberman was constitutionally obligated to grant pigs equally funding as cows. (This is all assuming that you believe that the government is allowed to hand out subsidies and tax cuts to private industries in the first place.)
To take this a step further, imagine if Lieberman were to become President of the United States. I humbly suggest that he would be in his rights to make the White House kosher and ban pork from the premises. The same would go for an official White House Christmas tree and Easter egg hunt. If this is going to be a Jewish White House then we are free to make some new customs. Maybe a White House snatch the afikomen. It would seem that Lieberman would even be able to go so far as to pass a special presidential order banning the other white meat from the premises of all federal buildings, including embassies overseas. This would not be an act of forcing religion on anyone. It would be the eccentric actions of a politician putting his personal stamp on the government he runs. It is no different than President Hayes' first lady, Lemonade Lucy, banned alcohol from the White House. I am not suggesting that Lieberman or any other aspiring Jewish politician engage in such behavior. As a minority in this country, I am content to follow my chosen lifestyle in peace and have no need to see it publically validated. Certainly Lieberman, as a senator or even as president, would not have the right to directly come after private businesses like McDonalds and make them stop serving pork. Also, he would not have the right to stop federal employees from indulging their pork habits in the privacy of their own homes. But that is the crucial difference; private individuals are allowed to use their own private businesses for self-validation. They have no grounds to expect the government to provide this validation. The government has no right to interfere with individuals but otherwise is free to express the eccentricities of officeholders and those who vote them in.
To the best of my knowledge, Senator Lieberman does not have a particularly conservative record when it comes to gay rights and is unlikely to be the one to stand in the breach to stop gay couples from getting their marriage licenses, but would he have the right to? Would it be any different if he voted for a special tax break for heterosexual couples without offering a similar tax break to homosexual couples than if he offered tax breaks for cows and not pigs? People raising pigs, if they were so desperate for a tax break, could, technically, switch to raising cows. Similarly homosexual couples could choose to take up partners of the opposite sex. (I am not suggesting that they should.) Lieberman would still not be able to interfere with the private homosexual activities of federal employees, but they in turn have no right to expect validation from him.