‘civil rights’

The Problem With Rev. Rick Warren—It Isn’t the Rick, It’s the Rev.

Rick Warren is the conservative mega-preacher from Southern California who’s giving the invocation at Barack Obama’s swearing-in on January 20. Lots of people have been criticizing Obama’s choice. They accurately note that Warren is rabidly anti-gay, anti-condom, anti-sex education, anti-reproductive choice. He brags about his supposedly great work battling AIDS in Africa, but it turns out that Warren’s ideological commitments to abstinence and against condoms have actively undermined public health in Africa. He’s a dangerous, deluded, man full of hate and fear. Obama could have chosen a different religious figure, someone whose beliefs more closely match those who elected him.…

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Flying The Erotophobic Skies of the U.S.

I’m going to Europe next week to teach. So this week, I’m erasing the porn from my laptop. Not tons of it—I don’t have tons of it—but a few pictures that I’ve accumulated here and there. I’m not afraid of bringing adult porn into Europe. I’m afraid of bringing it back into the U.S.. Because our government has given itself the right to seize and search the laptops of U.S. citizens at all international borders without probable cause. The police can’t take your laptop out of your car without a warrant or a clear reason to suspect evil-doing. But they…

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The “Moral Majority” Still Doesn’t Exist

Paul Weyrich died last week at age 66. Weyrich created the still-influential Heritage Foundation, the think tank that helped social conservatives take over the Republican party. At a 1979 meeting of religious leaders, Weyrich referred to a “moral majority” in the U.S.. The name stuck, and through the ‘80s, Jerry Falwell energized the conservative movement using this theme as a political focus. Christianity in general and America in particular have traditionally equated “morality” with limiting one’s sexual choices and experiences. And so one of the things that made the Moral Majority movement possible was Americans’ need to deny the breadth…

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The Real Christmas—Bill of Rights Day

Two hundred seventeen years ago, Americans were given a gift almost unheard of in human history. We live in a country whose government is prohibited from restricting what we say and what we publish. This amazing idea has even been extended to “expressive behavior”—to anything considered “art,” and to activities that can be construed as “political.” Good, that covers just about everything. Two exceptions to this freedom have evolved: * You can’t hurt anyone else while you’re expressing yourself. This makes sense. * You can’t discuss or portray sexuality in ways that offend a lot of people. This makes no…

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Good News Out of New Hampshire

And now the good news out of New Hampshire: adults can pay other adults to have sex on camera. For offering to pay an adult couple to have sex while he filmed them, Robert Theriault was busted by a creative prosecutor on the charge of enabling prostitution. It’s yet another case in which the government tries to get around the First Amendment, which is intended to protect people’s rights to paint, write, sculpt, sing, design, film, and otherwise non-coercively express themselves. The government admitted that a non-obscene sexually explicit film is a legal object. They were just claiming that making…

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Eleven Things About Sex I Wish Lawyers and Judges Knew

Because I periodically appear in court as an expert witness, and consult with lawyers and people in trouble, I’ve learned a bit about what attorneys and judges know about sex. Like physicians, physical therapists, and psychologists, it’s very little. They really need to know more. Not about fallopian tubes and HIV, but about the role sex plays in real peoples’ lives. About how they actually make decisions. And about how Americans are more similar to each other in the bedroom than the overheated rhetoric of Bill O’Reilly and the abstinence-only crowd suggests. The justice system gets involved with sexuality on…

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