Holding on to what's ours

Posted: Jul 11, 2003 12:00 AM

There’s no question why the New York Post put a photo of bikini-clad Kerry Kennedy Cuomo (soon to be simply Kerry Kennedy again) on its July 5 cover. Sex sells.

Whether you think the picture was a great leap forward for American journalism or consider it an example of how our society is going down the tubes, we should all thank heaven that our First Amendment protects a newspapers right to publish freely. And thank heaven we don’t live in Europe, where this sort of thing soon may be illegal.

 The London Telegraph reported last month that the European Commission is considering a proposal to ban advertisements that demean women. The measure also would censor television programs to make sure they didn’t promote gender stereotypes. Looks like Will and Grace won’t be syndicated to Europe.

 According to the Telegraph, “The proposals were drafted by the European Union’s employment and social affairs directorate, known in Brussels as one of the last outposts of ‘unreconstructed’ 1970s leftists.”

 The measure would make most forms of gender discrimination illegal, whether it benefited women or hurt them. The possible consequences are mind-boggling.

Sure, it means women could break into historically male-dominated fields and finally become garbage men (garbage people?) and gravediggers. There would also finally be some openings for unattractive actresses and anchorwomen, since those are fields where many women have been taking unfair advantage of their looks for years. But this certainly would mean the end of Britain’s famed “Page Three” pin-up girl pictures.

It also would be an expensive proposition. For example, it would force insurance companies to offer identical rates on policies to men and women, regardless of risk. Ironically, it might end up costing many women more, since their insurance rates usually are lower.

 Luckily, the measure is still a long way from becoming law. The 20-member European Commission, the European Parliament and a majority of European Union governments first must approve it. That’s a lot of hoops. And it should frighten Europeans that the real power group of these three -- the European Commission -- is unelected.

 Commissioners are appointed by European member states and approved by the European Parliament. E.P. members are elected, but the parliament has a limited legislative role. It’s basically a debating society.

 In other words, a proposal such as the anti-discrimination measure could be passed by bureaucrats in Brussels, approved by a slim majority of the member governments and basically rammed down the throats of the British. In one more way, they would have surrendered their national sovereignty to the European Union.

 Does this matter to anyone in the United States? Well, it should to Anthony Kennedy.

 He’s the Supreme Court justice who penned the majority decision in the recent Lawrence v. Texas case. The majority had decided to toss out a Texas law that banned sodomy.

But before they could do that, they had to overrule the court’s own 1986 decision in Bowers v. Georgia. Back then, the court ruled that states traditionally had frowned on sodomy and had the right to maintain laws against it.

Strangely enough, after Georgia won its case in the Supreme Court, it repealed its anti-sodomy law. In fact, in 1960, every state banned sodomy, but by 2003, only 13 still did. If these anti-sodomy laws were a problem, they were effectively being solved through democratic means.

In order to overturn Bowers, Kennedy set out to prove that there was no traditional ban on sodomy in western civilization. To do that, he turned to the European bureaucrats. Kennedy wrote, “almost five years before Bowers was decided the European Court of Human Rights considered a case with parallels to Bowers and to today’s case....The court held that the laws proscribing the conduct were invalid under the European Convention on Human Rights.” Thus Bowers should be set aside and the Texas case decided in favor or Lawrence.

Of course, both that European Court and that European Convention are part of the great Brussels bureaucracy -- the same people who are now considering censorship and overriding the market economy in service of “fairness” to women.

The European bureaucrats would like nothing better than for us to voluntarily join them and surrender our sovereignty, as so many Europeans already have. But as the British are finding out, that’s a poor choice.

Our Supreme Court should make it decisions based on our Constitution, our laws and our history. That means we should let our European “betters” go their own way, and suffer their own consequences.