The Problem with Moralizing

Timothy Kincaid

March 1st, 2008

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I think what — what I’m saying is — and I had not gotten into the equal protection argument, Texas has the right to set moral standards and can set bright line moral standards for its people. And in the setting of those moral standards, I believe that they can say that certain kinds of activity can exist and certain kinds of activity cannot exist.

On March 26, 2003, Charles A. Rosenthal was riding high. As district attorney for Harris County, Texas, he was enjoying the rare distinction of arguing before the Supreme Court of the United States in Lawrence v. Texas, what would become a landmark case declaring sodomy laws to be unconstitutional.

But little did Rosenthal realize that the seeds of his destruction were already growing. Not only would he lose his argument, but he would lose his job and his reputation.

In January 2002, the sheriff’s deputies performed a drug raid in southeast Houston. Sean Ibarra, a neighbor, took photographs.

The deputies came to the home of the Ibarras demanding the film. Eric Ibarra videotaped the confrontation between his brother and the sheriffs. Then the Ibarra brothers were both arrested on charges of resisting arrest.

The brothers were tried and exonerated later that year. But the Ibarras believed that their civil rights were violated and brought the matter to the district attorney, Rosenthal. When Rosenthal did not respond to their satisfaction, in 2004 they sued the Sheriff and District Attorney Rosenthal.

As part of their discovery proceedings, the Ibarras subpoenaed the district attorney’s email. What they found was not particularly relevant to their case… but it was very relevant to Rosenthal’s career. It seems Rosenthal used his office email to send love notes to his secretary and to disseminate racist jokes and pornography.

But the thing that took Rosenthal down was not his adulterous affair. Nor was it his racism.

Rosenthal scorned the judge’s orders and did not turn over all of his email. Instead, he deleted over 2,500 email just days after being ordered to remit it. This got him in a heap of trouble.

Several things could happen now. After the hearing, Judge Hoyt could accept the DA’s answers and simply move on. Or he could find Rosenthal in contempt.

“The question of contempt, civil, or criminal could lead to other things,” said Treece. “(It) could lead to obstruction of justice, which is a significant federal problem. Or even perjury.”

And so Rosenthal has resigned and may find himself sitting in jail.

You see, Rosenthal forgot that those who like to moralize about others too often think that they are better than those whom they distain. They are so fond of pointing out the mote in others’ eyes that they ignore the beam in their own. And that beam can blind them to the danger that is coming.

John

March 1st, 2008

Mr. Rosenthal’s troubles seem to be remarkably similar to the last attorney who argued before the supreme court to uphold anti-sodomy laws. If memory serves me correctly, Attorney General Bowers of the State of Georgia who won the Bowers v. Hardwick Supreme Court case also was exposed for having an affair and cheating on his wife with none other than his secretary.

Perhaps there is a lesson for these attorneys who want to preach about God and morals while trying to use the courts to deny gays and lesbians equal protection before the law.

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