A Modest Proposal
Los Angeles has a terrible District Attorney. In most jurisdictions, the District Attorney is the chief prosecutor, or law enforcement officer, who leads a group of other prosecutors in bringing persons accused of committing crimes to trial and prosecuting them so that they will be punished for their alleged crime. Obviously, this is an important responsibility as the District Attorney sets the tone for their office and, hence, the enforcement of laws in their jurisdiction. Usually, the District Attorney is elected by the people of the jurisdiction and should represent their interest in how he or she chooses to enforce prevailing law. It should be obvious that the District Attorney has wide latitude in his/her office and can be as “tough” or “easy” on certain laws as he/she sees fit, and the other prosecutors in the office follow the leader.
In 2019, George Gascon was elected District Attorney for Los Angeles County, including the City of Los Angeles. In a perfect example of what happens when liberal ideals replace common sense, Mr. Gascon quickly went to work dismantling existing policies of the office to “reform” the justice system. In short order, the office quickly eliminated cash bail, ended sentencing enhancements for crimes (such as for the use of a gun), halted seeking the death penalty, and refused to even prosecute juveniles as adults (this means a 17-year-old serial rapist (within a month of his 18th birthday) was charged and tried as a juvenile offender, even though he was 26 at the time of trial, and he laughed at the court for the lenient sentence he received (1). True story.)
Mr. Gascon’s soft-on-crime policies have resulted in a Los Angeles that resembles Mogadishu more than one of America’s greatest cities and crime is rampant, particularly shoplifting (which is rarely prosecuted), burglary and robbery. Vagrancy, drug use, homelessness and street crime have exploded to a point that, in downtown Los Angeles, people will take an Uber to go a block or two rather than walk, particularly after dark, just as people do in Johannesburg. My own daughter-in-law was in her local Walgreens in the middle of the day, when a group of people came through and casually swept shelves of cosmetics into large garbage bags and just as casually walked out, knowing that nothing would happen to them. Things have gotten so bad in Beverly Hills that the Beverly Hills police bring some cases to the Federal US Attorney, when possible, as they have no confidence in Mr. Gascon’s office (1). Indeed, even the Deputy District Attorneys in Mr. Gascon’s own office have sued to limit his power and have tried to have him removed from office. (In a Zen-like example of “people deserve the government they vote for,” Mr. Gascon has survived three recall efforts and remains supported by George Soros and the Hollywood elite crowd.) Lest you think I pick on Los Angeles excessively (because it’s so easy), it is not unique in the consequences of soft crime policy. New Jersey has held the record for auto theft year after year, while everyone in Louisiana knows that, if one makes the horrible mistake of needing gas in Orleans Parish, especially after dark, he/she holds the gas nozzle in one hand and a pistol in the other (again, true story).
Dear readers, the point of this column, however, is not to criticize the policies of “woke” District Attorneys and politicians (there are not enough hours in existence for that), but rather to illustrate the importance of the law and penalties in a civil society. We would all like to believe that evil is some sort of aberrant behavior, perpetrated by easily recognizable beings with, perhaps, pointy ears and cloven hooves. As I have previously discussed, evil is not a cartoonish Dracula or Satan, but rather is in the seemingly everyday man, sitting at the table just across the room from you in McDonald’s, or in the woman in the next cubicle over (2). Los Angeles, and literally everywhere else in the world when the rule of law fails, are examples of the very thin veneer of our “civilized” society. Despite all our appeals to Judeo-Christian, Muslim, and other religious and secular systems of ethics, when laws are not enforced and punishment is not administered, The Purge changes from a fantasy movie to a reality show.
I have been a visiting professor of anesthesiology in Saudi Arabia, and I can attest that the stories are real. While there, I was treated with remarkable hospitality and respect and felt completely safe at all times. I had no concern, whatsoever, walking the streets of Riyadh at any time of the night, and it was very clear that I could leave a wallet sitting on a street bench and would find the wallet, untouched, hours, or even days later. This was not because of the devotion of the largely Muslim population to prohibitions against theft in the Quran; it was because of vigorous and swift enforcement of the Sharia law against theft, including amputation of the thieving hand. While we are not here to debate the pros and cons of Sharia law, it is obvious that setting a law, mandating a penalty, and swift enforcement of that penalty assures compliance with said law. If the Saudis weren’t administering harsh justice every Friday in the square in Riyadh, I suspect its streets would not differ much from those of Los Angeles, Paris or Hamburg.
We spend a lot of time perseverating and gnashing our teeth over cultural offenses and insults in our society. Various advocacy and policy groups, observing the degeneration of our society and morality voice a lot of, “Oh me, oh my, what to do?” And, “Why can’t we live by the tenets of our faith/morality/ethics?”
One important area of concern is the sexualization of children and adolescents in things like “drag queen story hour” and “family-friendly drag shows.” In an insult to women (and other homosexuals), homosexual men dress in drag, that is, outrageously exaggerated women’s clothing, hair, make-up, artificial breasts, etc., and dance, prance and gyrate in front of an audience, often containing small children and adolescents. Drag queen story hour, for reasons forever unclear to me, is where libraries and bookstores have these individuals read books to children. This is, frankly, baffling. Are there not enough normal individuals available to read to children? (Before you liberals get upset, I know where you are going. Hold on, we’re getting there.) Are there no other artistic performances that families could watch without exposing children to the bizarre sight of bearded men in bikinis and high heels, pole dancing? We have no issue with what consenting adults may do in the privacy of their own homes. Man was given free will and, if he/she chooses to use that free will to engage in perversities and endanger their immortal soul, that is their choice. We are not necessarily charged to stop their self-destruction. Indeed, if groups of adults choose to gather in private venues and put on deviant activities (within the law), to paraphrase the Holy Father, “Who are we to judge?” The issue becomes when children, who live in a challenging world of social codes, developing intellect, moral ambiguity, and biological discovery are exposed to these very abnormal situations. While robust studies remain elusive, most evidence suggests that children exposed to sexual and confusing situations before they have a mature understanding of human sexuality and relationships suffer from various behavioral health issues, including depression, anxiety and anger (3). Furthermore, these children have difficulty forming and maintaining healthy intimate relationships and objectify their view of the opposite sex as a tool or plaything for self-gratification, rather than as a lifelong companion and partner in marriage and family (3).
Why do “drag queens” want to put on “family-friendly” shows and do story hour? These sad individuals are suffering from a psychiatric disorder and, doubtless have mental distress from behaviors and feelings that are seen as abnormal, both internally and by society as a whole. (For more on why conditions that were previously considered psychiatric disorders are now normalized for political, rather than scientific reasons, please see our previous discussion (4).) Clearly, if they can put on shows for the general public, including children, read to children and participate in other activities in their “drag” personae, their distress, at least temporarily, may lessen, as they believe themselves normal. As we have discussed previously, this false affirmation merely puts a Band-Aid on a serious mental disorder, which eventually manifests in more serious behavioral issues, including suicidal ideation and suicide (4). Exposing children to their sexual insecurities, and the collateral damage that results is incidental to their selfish desire to normalize their impulses. After all, if one has a desire to read to children, that can be done in plain clothes and without the highly-sexualized (and confusing) drag queen persona.
Who brings their kids to these shows and story hours? Parenthood is a difficult and challenging responsibility. Parents have a moral and legal obligation to raise their children from birth (or the time of adoption/guardianship) to the age of consent. This includes providing appropriate housing, clothing, nutrition, education and medical care to a national standard. For instance, a parent cannot choose to deny standard medical care, without medically justified reason, or subject their children to dangerous nutritional regimens or environments. For example, the parent of a child with severe abdominal pain and fever cannot provide care for the child with energized crystals and Evangelical prayers, in lieu of bringing him/her to an emergency room for evaluation of possible appendicitis. Similarly, a parent is prohibited from bringing their child to a casino and giving him/her complimentary alcoholic beverages for dinner. In such cases, the state will intervene to protect the child and may bring criminal charges against the parent for child endangerment.
In the case of drag queen story hour and “family-friendly” shows, someone has to bring the child to these events. Even in rural Mississippi, very few 8-year-olds drive. The LBGT agenda and trans-inclusivity are currently trending, and parents, wanting to be seen as woke and progressive, may bring their children to these events to demonstrate their “enlightened”(and trendy) worldview. The primary responsibility of a government is the protection of its citizens, including children. When parents fail in their obligation to care for their children, whether it be through preventing necessary medical care, not securing firearms safely, or taking them to harmful adult environments, the state can and does, provide for legislation to assume guardianship of the children and penalize the parents. If the state believes “family-friendly” drag shows or story hours are harmful to children, it should make exposure of children to such performances illegal and provide substantial penalties for, not only the performers but also the parents who choose to expose their children to a harmful (and illegal) environment. If a state makes exposure of a child to a sexual performance illegal (and many states are enacting just such legislation) and provides severe penalties to the performers and parents for placing their children in that situation, the “family-friendly” drag shows will stop. Societal disapproval or a fine to a venue is one thing; felony arrest, loss of custody and jail time, followed by registry as a sex offender are quite another. Make real laws, enforce real penalties and the drag shows will stop. (Then, if parents still want to take their kids to drag shows, perhaps they will have to move to California and not Florida.)
Similarly, and more importantly, there is a lot of talk in the media echo chambers about “reproductive health care,” “women’s rights,” and “bodily autonomy” in the post-Roe era. In this case, we Catholics, and others on the pro-life side, are somewhat inconsistent. We say, over and over, that we believe every person is a unique and equally worthy individual, created in the image and likeness of God, from the moment of conception to natural death. So far, so good. But are we really serious about this? I pose that question because there is a lot of confusion and mixed messaging on the pro-life side. (There is no confusion on the pro-abortion side. They are united in abortion anytime and for any reason, and the more the merrier.) The pro-life side, both in policy positions and in legislation, emphasizes penalties for those performing illegal abortions, but either does not comment on the mother, or affirmatively states that there is no intention to punish the mother. Why? Are they trying to be seen as “reasonable” and “supportive” by the pro-abortion side? I think the pro-abortion side is pretty clear.
If we are being consistent, as we should, every human life is considered equal and worthy. The willful killing of this life is murder and murder carries specific and well-defined penalties. If, for example, someone has a rival at work that is preventing them from achieving promotion, hiring someone to kill their rival is considered, by most jurisdictions, as first-degree murder. Similarly, those who aid the contract killer in their task, including transportation, providing a weapon and covering up the crime, are also guilty of accessory to murder, with very well-defined penalties. How is this different from abortion? In a jurisdiction where abortion is illegal, for example, in the State of Texas at 10 weeks gestational age, if a boyfriend finds a clinic that provides medication for abortions (aka, mifepristone and misoprostol), brings the woman to the clinic, the clinic provides a prescription and instructions for use after evaluation, the pharmacy fills the prescription and the woman aborts her child after taking the medications, aren’t the boyfriend, clinic staff, pharmacy, pharmacist, pharmaceutical company, AND WOMAN all guilty of murder? If that is the case, then all should face very significant prison time.
It is an unfortunate reality of the secular world that not every life is considered equally worthy. In many jurisdictions, penalties for murder of the very young, the very old, the disabled and infirm are lesser than for the premeditated murder of an active adult. Nevertheless, murder is murder, and in any jurisdiction, it carries significant punishment, even if reduced at certain stages of life. The pro-abortion lobby is quite correct that, following the Dobbs decision and enactment of abortion bans, in the many states that provide criminal penalties for abortion providers, there has been a chilling effect on the abortion industry. For fear of legal prosecution and prison, abortion clinics in those states have had difficulty finding willing doctors and nurses to test the law and champion what they call “reproductive health care.” Consistency in our view that all human lives are equally valuable, regardless of age, ability or socioeconomic status demands that the woman undergoing abortion is also held liable to criminal prosecution and penalty.
Obviously, this is a complex legal theory and rife with mitigating and aggravating factors, but it is dishonest to not hold the mother accountable. Certainly, politicians will make the case that enacting such “draconian” positions will harm the potential for pro-life legislation to be passed (and, incidentally, their chances of re-election), given the widespread reluctance of society to hold the mother criminally liable. That may be true, as politics is the “art of the possible.” Our concern, however, is the truth. If it is true, that every unborn life is an equally worthy person, from the moment of conception, then everyone involved in an illegal abortion must be held accountable, including the mother. If that is not political, so be it. Right is right, wrong is wrong and truth is truth. Empty election victories and legislative handshake deals are but flyspecks on the canvas of eternity.
Certainly, laws will vary from one jurisdiction to another and what gets one a life sentence in Alabama may get her a medal in Minnesota. That is a fact of the secular world, no different from slavery being legal in South Carolina in 1840 and illegal in Massachusetts at the same time. Such is the nature of a constitutional republic and federal system of government, with considerable latitude given to the states for questions not specifically addressed in the Constitution. I suspect the founding fathers of these United States felt that abortion was so abhorrent and so far outside of anything they would consider a normal activity that it was covered under simple “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Clearly, the Supreme Court feels that abortion is not specifically discussed in the Constitution, and should be left for the States to decide. Either a nationwide ban on abortion or nationwide protection of abortion will require a Constitutional amendment, which is simply not feasible at this time in history. It is curious, however, that in the former slave states, south of the Mason-Dixon Line, people were once considered property and now, in those same states, unborn children are recognized as people, while most of the former “free” states fail to recognize the humanity of the unborn. How the world turns. Perhaps someday this country will recognize the humanity of and protect the unborn nationally, but it will take some time and a change of heart.
As it always is, the Holy Catholic Church is faithful, direct, clear and true. Children, at any age, are especially valued, as the innocent and best representation of human potential, before they are changed by the secular world. The Lord has charged us with their care and protection. As Jesus states in Matthew 18:6-7:
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come (5)!”
It should be fairly obvious how the Lord looks upon parents who abrogate their charge and expose children to drag shows, other perversions and murder them before they are born. Their earthly punishment will pale in comparison to the judgment of eternity. On this earth, however, child endangerment, child sexual abuse and murder (including that of the unborn), are crimes and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This means each and every individual who either perpetrated or assisted in the commission of these crimes, including parents, storytellers, performers, venue owners, librarians, doctors, nurses, clinic receptionists, pharmacists, and, yes, pregnant women. (For those of you that engage in “what-about-isms,” that also includes pedophile priests.)
We pray for the conversion of hearts and for men and women to understand who they are and what God expects of them. We trust, however, in the rule and enforcement of secular law, when such law exists