What if, in the end, Lawrence v. Texas was a whodidn’t?
|March 29, 2012|
Tyron Garner and John Geddes Lawrence
From The New Yorker:
In 2003, the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Lawrence v. Texas, ruling, by a six-to-three margin, that anti-sodomy laws were unconstitutional. Even those of us who followed the case had a rather gauzy notion of what had triggered the litigation. On the night of September 17, 1998, someone made a phone call to the police, warning that a black man was “going crazy with a gun” in an apartment just outside Houston. A clutch of sheriff’s deputies stormed the apartment, and found no gun, but they arrested John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner for having sex in Lawrence’s bedroom. And, in an unlikely series of legal twists, the arrests of Lawrence and Garner became a vehicle for challenging old anti-sodomy laws that were used solely to shame and stigmatize gay couples. Lawrence and Garner were arrested for simply doing what loving couples do.
The story told in Lawrence v. Texas was a story of sexual privacy, personal dignity, intimate relationships, and shifting notions of family in America. By the time the tale poured from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s pen, in his decisive majority opinion, it was even about the physical dimension of love: “When sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring.” The opinion used the word “relationship” eleven times.
That is the story that Dale Carpenter, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, seeks to untell in his important new book, “Flagrant Conduct” (Norton), a chronicle that peels the Lawrence case back through layers of carefully choreographed litigation and tactical appeals, back to the human protagonists we never really got to know, and back again through centuries of laws criminalizing “unnatural” sexual activity. What if, Carpenter asks, this weren’t a story about love, or even sex? What if, in the end, Lawrence v. Texas was less a whodunnit than a who didn’t? And, if there was no sex, let alone an intimate relationship, in John Lawrence’s apartment that night, how did the case come to be about both?
Not long ago, my husband was working on a plaster sculpture, and when he removed his rubber gloves, he saw that his gold ring had disappeared. I came to pick my husband up at his studio and discovered him pale, bleary-eyed, babbling. I found the ring, camouflaged on a patch of beige carpet, and my husband cried with relief.
Teleology Rises from the Grave
Stephen T. Asma
It turns out that there are a few different teleology traditions, but the Anglo-American conversation has been blithely unaware of all but the simplest. The simple and loud version is the “natural theology” tradition, which claims that adaptation in nature must be the result of a supreme Designer because chance alone cannot account for gills in water, lungs on land, complex eyes and cell flagella.
The Death of Romance in the Shadow of the Colossus
These are the two modalities through which you engage the world of Shadow of the Colossus: In the journey, you are the lost soul; in the encounter, you become the lover and the warrior, carried by your passions into mortal struggles with the Colossi. These guardian monsters, your adversaries, fill in the emotional frame established by your travels through the Forbidden Land.
You may also like :
We two were sitting together on the wintry Campagna grass; the rest of the party, with their proud, tiresome horses, had disappeared beyond the pale green undulations; their carriage had stayed at that castellated bridge of the Anio. The great moist Roman sky, with its song of invisible larks, arched all round; above the rejuvenated turf rustled last year’s silvery hemlocks. The world seemed very large, significant, and delightful; and we had it all to ourselves, as we sat there side by side, my bicycle and I.
SCENE: THE TORCH-LIT office-hewn-from-rock of Skepticus, the principal chamber of his retreat, high above the city. A long work table, strewn with papers, books, scrolls, pens, pencils, and quills; at its center, a laptop computer sits open. At left of the computer, a small pile of Legos, some affixed to each other, but none made into any recognizable object. A low stool stands at attention beneath the table.