I know it is not considered polite to discuss the religious angle in debating the cause of marriage equality ("Holy War," Feature, Oct. 3), but with the anti-marriage forces continuously throwing the words "God," "morality," and protecting children in my face, I am willing to speak my mind concerning all three of these things. This is not just about the 14th Amendment, but the First Amendment as well.
What many foes do not realize is that not only is there a great diversity in ethnic and sexual-orientation backgrounds, but there is also a great diversity of faiths as well. I am a garden-variety American Buddhist. Whatever I think of the Bible as a magnificent literary work, I do not use this as the touchstone for my Buddhist faith. The main tenet of my practice is to perceive and relieve suffering. This is my whole reason for existing.
By setting up the civil right for same-sex couples to marry to a referendum, I feel threatened with a subtle form of religious tax that will entice the government to actively prevent my religious freedom of expression.
I am a late baby boomer. When I was born, it was illegal in many states for two people of different races to marry. Whites could not marry blacks. Hispanics could not marry Asians. No matter how long two people of different ethnic backgrounds loved each other, their union was not recognized. Of course, there were children from these couples.
That meant that every multi-ethnic child in the country was born illegitimate. Illegitimate by government mandate. Illegitimate insofar as they could not exist legally. What incentive was there for "sanctioned" kids in school to feel free to bully and put in danger these government-mandated illegal classmates for life?
It was within my lifetime that multi-ethnic couples could marry. It was also only within my lifetime that illegitimate children could legally inherit ANYTHING.
Now, these hate-based organizations want to slap the same label on same-sex couples and their children, thus opening the door for hate crimes and attempts to deny these children their rightful inheritance materially and socially.
As a Buddhist, I cannot let this happen. If same-sex marriage does not pass, then not only will my tax money be used to support this suffering, but my money will be used to stop me from doing anything about it. It's like paying a burglary tax for the privilege of being robbed.
Religious freedom does not include the right to run over someone else's religious freedom and bury it.
I will go on record to say that if discrimination is written into Maryland's Constitution, I will mount a one-Buddhist tax revolt by refusing to pay any state tax if even one penny can be used to enforce a mandate by any religious organization I do not believe in. Here I stand.
The Downside of Oriole Fever
Game One be damned. After eight innings of competitive baseball last night and a season's worth of evidence, it's official: Baltimore is "back" as a baseball city. Even if the Oriole Magic does eventually run out and this series ends with the O's on the golf course, 2011-12 has already been a success.
As Jim Meyer astutely pointed out in his article ("Suck It Blow Sox!,"
), the Boston Red Sox sucked this season. After a $500 million bailout from the Dodgers, the Sox are awaiting a savior and sitting in Baltimore's former stable, at the bottom of the standings-boy, it is sweet.
As a Boston native bred in Baltimore, I understand the appeal. Partly because of the Birds, the insufferable horde of cocky pessimists known as Red Sox Nation are feasting on a generous humble pie-and it's good to be the chef.
In Baltimore, the atmosphere is unlike ever before. With the O's playing October ball for the first time in 15 seasons and the Ravens in their precollapse form, Charm City finally feels like a sports mecca. In Boston, we're licking our wounds, dreading next season's failures and hoping Brady and Co. can overcome the embarrassment of losing to the only team outside the Lingerie Football League to wear purple.
As a Sox fan who's gone from believing in '04 to bemoaning in '12, the transition from Cinderella story to cautionary tale is one that the so-called Greatest City in America is not immune to.
Success not only breeds arrogance but also imitation. Yes, this season will make an indelible mark on a young generation of future lifelong fans but, even if the results aren't yet visible through the nostalgia, Oriole Magic has spawned a Red Sox Nation-like mass of witless go-alongs who will embarrass true O's fans on beaches all over the world as long as the team remains successful.
Donning fashion jerseys and wondering aloud when Cal Ripken will be up, bandwagon fans will populate as ticket prices rise. They will scream wildly for Nick the Stick, revere Buck Showalter like he's a Jedi, and boo anything that isn't dressed in orange, but will bury their noses in a Boh whenever a discussion on the Milt Pappas trade breaks out. Despite their abject scorn for the Fenway Faithful, Baltimore is poised for the Pink Hat Apocalypse.
The formula is simple: stupid, colloquial catchphrases, time-worn clubhouse charm, and bullhorn-happy media jackasses. When the champagne goes flat and the ticker tape is swept away, there will be a legion of pink hats and big mouths waiting to make the drawn-out O in your voice grate like a missing R. Before long, loving your team will make you an asshole.
Alan Barysh has it exactly backward ("Don't Trust This Doctor,"
). Mr. Barysh's primary supposed counter-example of human trafficking is entirely drawn from the black market which would not exist if prostitution were legal. Does one hear of widespread human trafficking in Nevada, New Zealand, or the Netherlands-locales in which prostitution is legal? Mr. Barysh's argument amounts to "Prostitution causes human trafficking so therefore will cause human trafficking."
Mr. Barysh also conflates the idea of morality with legality. Immoral acts are permitted to be legal in free nontheocratic nations, so long as no violation of individual rights has occurred. However, Mr. Barysh clearly does not understand the concept of individual rights since he writes that individual rights are "crypto-fascist," neglecting to realize that fascism is a social system characterized by government control of private property and thus antithetical to the very idea of individual rights.
Mr. Barysh's position is reminiscent of the sentiments of those that who oppose same-sex marriage, detailed in Van Smith's article, not because it actually violates any individual right but out of a desire to legislate morality-a recipe for theocracy.
Amesh A. Adalja MD
Correction: In "An Overture It Ain't," we gave the impression that the Baltimore Rock Opera Society assigned the parts for 1814! The War of 1812 Rock Opera when, in fact, the authors of the piece, David Dudley and Dave Israel did. We regret the error.