Skip to comments.Maryland’s Thought Police
Posted on 07/11/2006 12:17:16 PM PDT by DBeers
It is not without irony that Robert J. Smith, a Catholic citizen of Maryland the Catholic colony of the original 13 has been punished by that states Republican governor for exercising his right to freedom of speech and religion.
Robert Smith, a Maryland gubernatorial appointee to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) board, appeared regularly as a panelist on a local cable talk show. As the Washington Post reported, during a recent show the topic of homosexuality and federalism came up, and Smith at one point said, Thats fine, thats fine. But that doesnt mean that government should proffer a special place of entitlement within the laws of the United States for persons of sexual deviancy.
Later, Smith acknowledged the comment and reiterated it:
Homosexual behavior [emphasis added], in my view, is deviant, he said. Im a Roman Catholic. Smith said he made these comments as part of a discussion on a proposed ban on same-sex marriage. The comments I make in public outside of my [Metro board job] Im entitled to make. Moreover, Smith stated that his personal beliefs have absolutely nothing to do with running trains and buses and have not affected my actions or decisions on this board.
The reaction to these politically incorrect opinions was swift and certain. Jim Graham, another board member representing Washington, D.C., and an openly gay elected official, issued a prepared statement after a WMATA meeting calling for Smith to disavow his remarks, apologize, or for the governor to remove him. Shortly thereafter, Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich fired Smith.
The governor issued a statement that Robert Smiths comments were highly inappropriate, insensitive and unacceptable. They are in direct conflict to my administrations commitment to inclusiveness, tolerance, and opportunity.
Speaking about the governors action, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, a recent dropout from the Democratic gubernatorial primary, opined that Smiths hateful and mean-spirited comments suggest that he is unfit to serve the public, and his immediate removal is wholly justified. Graham was quick to compliment the governor: The governor appreciated the seriousness of this problem. And Dan Tangherlini, Metros interim general manager, sent an e-mail to his 10,000 employees to reaffirm to all employees that discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated.
The use of the word discrimination here is an abuse of language, conjuring up an image of homosexuals having to ride in the back of the Metro bus, or facing the risk of losing their jobs because of Smiths opinions about their behavior an absurd suggestion.
It is true, of course, that political appointees serve at the pleasure of whoever appoints them. Moreover, their political patrons do not relish appointees who freelance on a broad range of political issues, especially controversial ones, which might make things difficult for their administration, especially during a challenging election year. This is the case for Governor Ehrlich, a moderate Republican running for reelection in one of the most Democratic states in the Union.
While one might hope that the governor would have defended Smiths constitutional rights, he could at least have attempted to secure a discrete resignation from Smith, or even summarily fired him, as was his prerogative, for reasons left unspecified. Rather, he used it as an opportunity to pontificate on the subject of inclusiveness, tolerance, and opportunity, effectively equating traditional moral, ethical, and religious principles, pertaining to a subject with profound consequences for the well-being of the family and the body politic, with bigotry, intolerance, and oppression.
Governor Ehrlichs decision was perplexing as well. Chris Crain, executive editor of the Washington Blade (The nations oldest gay and lesbian newspaper), said that the governors action comes as something of a surprise because Ehrlich has a very checkered record on gay issues, most recently having backed an amendment to the states constitution that would ban gays from marrying.
Interestingly, Crain pinpoints the crux of the matter:
Smith wasnt fired for opposing gay marriage, of course, since we know Ehrlich does as well. He was fired because he allowed his own orthodox Catholic beliefs to define as deviant a class of citizens who are supposed to be protected from discrimination under the laws of Maryland, the District, and of the written policy of the Metro transit system itself.
While the misuse of the word discrimination to characterize Smiths personal judgment as to the morality of homosexual behavior is Orwellian and dishonest, Crain is exactly right that Smith was fired for daring to allow his own orthodox Catholic beliefs to form his judgment of homosexual behavior. Crain and Governor Ehrlich essentially convict Smith of thought crimes against a new orthodoxy.
The Smith episode illustrates that moral and ethical judgments critical of homosexual behavior judgments firmly expressed in Catholic teaching for 2,000 years, with antecedents in the Old Testament and roots in classical natural law philosophy have now been banished from the public square in Maryland by a Republican governor.
Joseph Bottum, the editor of First Things, warns that the Smith firing is an early warning.
Unless things change in ways now quite unforeseeable, it will not be very long before the principle of traditional Western morality that homosexual conduct is immoral will be contrary to the public policy of the United States, Bottum wrote.
Websters II New College Dictionary defines deviant as Differing from a norm or from accepted moral or societal standards. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes homosexual behavior as intrinsically disordered a more nuanced, careful phrase. Still, had Robert Smith used this latter formulation, it would have been greeted with as much disdain from Governor Ehrlich, Graham, and other bien-pensant people as did the former.
Smith was expressing a personal opinion, specifically grounded in his beliefs as a Roman Catholic. Moreover, he did not suggest or endorse any steps to limit the rights of homosexuals. He was expressing a view that is held by millions of his fellow citizens across the land.
In Maryland the issue has been joined between traditional morality and moral relativism, between freedom of speech and religion and oppressive, overweening thought control. Governor Ehrlich has made his choice evident in the cashiering of Robert Smith.
It's an anomoly that a Republican Governor ever got elected in Maryland. When I lived in Maryland in the early 90s, it was one of the most left leaning, politically correct, tax 'em to death places I'd ever lived in. It's a wonder Robert Erlich has lasted this long.
Intolerance will not be tolerated.
We will only tolerate people who are tolerent of everyone except the intolerant.
"...he is unfit to serve the public, and his immediate removal is wholly justified."
My sentiments about Robert Ehrlich exactly.
With Republicans like this, who needs Democrats?
What party will speak up for the vast majority of Americans who believe that homosexual activity IS deviant?
He's just in his first term. While I don't like many of the things he's done, he's a vast improvement over the earlier Dem govenors.
I worked on the Eastern Shore when William Donald made his infamous "outhouse" comment.......
Maryland is a beautiful state, I have many friends there - I couldn't live there.
We will only tolerate people who are tolerent of everyone except the intolerant.
Welcome to the death camp of intolerance!
I'll have this to warn the next Republican Governor in, say, 8 years or so.
If Ehrlich had stood up for his appointee, I think he would have assured his re-election. Homosexuality is deviant! If it isn't, how does the species survive?
The way the Dems have rammed through legislation allowing "early voting" in districts where I expect the turnout to be 150% and the Dems to carry 99.9%, I doubt that there will ever be another Republican elected to statewide office until the Feds come in and force a clean-up.
It still is! I escaped across the river to VA. The Sun has been adamantly opposed to Ehrlich since Day One, whereas O'Malley gets the kid-glove treatment(what happpened to the rumors of his affair with a local newscaster, since moved out of B'More?). I am hopeful for Ehrlich getting re-elected and Steele winning the Senate seat. What a two-fer that would be!
If Ehrlich hadnt fired this guy the same people attacking him now for the firing would have attacked him for not firing.
Ehrlich may not be the best thing since sliced bread for Republicans but he has done a good job ,especially when fighting the likes of that PG Couny turd Mike Miller., Remember the old days of Parris Glendenning, Marvin Mandel. Given the choice , I choose Ehrlich.
There's a CU-Boulder class called deviance in society that celebrates the word. Only lefties are allowed to call themselves deviants now, in an ironic self-aware style of course.
I wish someone like our friend NCPAC would run for Governor.
I know this guy bump.
Buh-bye, Gov. Ehrlich. You showed some promise but that was in the past. Perhaps your new homofriends will make up for the votes and contributions that you threw away to gain the favor of the Gaystapo.
That is not logical.
Given the choice , I choose Ehrlich.
I probably will do the same, but even so Ehrlich has, with that one act, ended any chance at re-election. He did not change any minds of those against him, but he did change the minds of many who used to be for him.
Who ever told you librals were logical?
If Smith had been smart the problem would have never come up. he has been in politics long enough to know he cant go calling deviants , deviants.