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By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 14, 2004

"Diogenes," people ask me, "what does today's well-dressed young man think about Leviticus 20?" Well just yesterday, à propos, milords May and Harrison ruled that some exercises of free speech are simply too tasteless for words:

A preacher who held up a sign in a town square calling for an end to homosexuality, lesbianism and immorality was "properly convicted" of a criminal offence, the High Court ruled yesterday. Two senior judges dismissed arguments that the conviction of the late Harry Hammond, 69, an evangelical Christian, for displaying an "insulting" sign interfered with his freedom of religious expression and infringed his human rights.

The sign caused a furore as a group of 30 to 40 people gathered round. Mr Hammond had soil thrown at him and water poured over his head. Lord Justice May, sitting with Mr Justice Harrison, said it had been open to magistrates in Wimborne, Dorset, to convict Mr Hammond in April 2002. Mr Hammond's behaviour "went beyond legitimate protest".

Need I add that Hammond's neckwear clashed most painfully with his brogues? Of course the grand tradition of First Amendment entitlement means that arbitrary penalizing of unpopular opinions could never take place in an American context. Well, almost never. Listen to Justice Scalia in his dissent in Romer (1996):

When the Court takes sides in the culture wars, it tends to be with the knights rather than the villains -- and more specifically with the Templars, reflecting the views and values of the lawyer class from which the Court's members are drawn. How that class feels about homosexuality will be evident to anyone who wishes to interview job applicants at virtually any of the nation's law schools. The interviewer may refuse to offer a job because the applicant is a Republican; because he is an adulterer; because he went to the wrong prep school or belongs to the wrong country club; because he eats snails; because he is a womanizer; because she wears real animal fur; or even because he hates the Chicago Cubs. But if the interviewer should wish not to be an associate or partner of an applicant because he disapproves of the applicant's homosexuality, then he will have violated the pledge which the Association of American Law Schools requires all its member schools to exact from job interviewers: "assurance of the employer's willingness" to hire homosexuals.

In every field, "professional" education includes an informal process of cultural grooming that parallels the academic work in the classroom. Lawyers, like male flight attendants and Catholic clergy, are products of a finishing school in which an appreciation for high-fashion sodomy is cultivated as a kind of shibboleth: outsiders declare and damn themselves by their retrograde opinions. Insiders coyly flash their earring studs the way their grandfathers displayed college neckties and rings. And that, boys and girls, is how constitutional babies are made. Take a glimpse at yesterday's Boston Herald:

The law school deans of Yale and Stanford joined 88 other professors from the country's most prestigious legal institutions Monday in arguing that only full implementation of gay marriage will meet state constitutional muster.

Eventually sexual chic mutates into political resentment, which in turn is codified (usually by life-term judges) as legal constraint. It's an anti-democratic process, of course, but then high fashion always is.

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