Monday, November 29, 2004
The company one keeps
Red state, in this case, Alabama, in action:
The amendment had two main parts: the removal of the separate-schools language and the removal of a passage — inserted in the 1950s in an attempt to counter the Brown v. Board of Education ruling against segregated public schools — that said Alabama's constitution does not guarantee a right to a public education. Leading opponents, such as Alabama Christian Coalition President John Giles, said they did not object to removing the passage about separate schools for "white and colored children." But, employing an argument that was ridiculed by most of the state's newspapers and by legions of legal experts, Giles and others said guaranteeing a right to a public education would have opened a door for "rogue" federal judges to order the state to raise taxes to pay for improvements in its public school system.

Much ink has been spilled from various conservative commentators to the effect the "moral values"is not an euphemism for "gay-bashing, abortion-baiting, white Christian fundamentalism", and that most Bush voters are not God-addled extremist bigots. And of course they are right. Most conservatives, but not apparently those in South Carolina and Oklahoma, would be appalled by the suggestion teachers who are single mothers be barred from schools, or that doctors who provide abortion should be put to death. But it is suggestive that nevertheless many of them find it possible to hold their noses and keep company with such people, to vote for a party that openly appeals to gay-bashing bigotry, that openly panders to the worst tribal instincts in people to gang up against various despised minorities, a party where religious fundamentalists who want to blur the division between state and religion exercises a disproportionate influence. You are the company you keep; if you accept unsavory company, you are bound to smell bad. The compromises you make in order to have what you want say a great deal about who you are.