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Austin Cline

Tangipahoa, Louisiana: Anti-Miscegenation, Anti-Evolution, Anti-Secularism

By October 27, 2009

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You may have read by now about how Keith Bardwell, a justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, refused to issue a marriage license to a couple for one reason: they are an interracial couple. Interracial marriage has been legal for quite a while now, but there are still people who object to it. What you may not have realized when you read this story is that Tangipahoa Parish has long been a site of problems with anti-evolution and anti-secularism efforts. Coincidence? I doubt it.
"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else." ...

"There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage," Bardwell said. "I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it." ...

"I've been a justice of the peace for 34 years and I don't think I've mistreated anybody," Bardwell said. "I've made some mistakes, but you have to. I didn't tell this couple they couldn't get married. I just told them I wouldn't do it."

Source: Huffington Post

Right, the true test of racism is whether or not you let racial minorities use your bathroom. So if I let a black person use my toilet to urinate, I couldn't possibly be racist -- regardless of whether I want to ban interracial marriage, bar blacks from voting, force them to use different drinking fountains, etc. How can this make sense to anyone?

As I alluded to above, though, this is the same area in Louisiana where people think it's reasonable read prayers over a school's public address system and put evolution disclaimers in biology texts. It's not a coincidence that the same areas of the country which gave up bans on interracial marriage last are the areas where we see the worst conflicts over school prayer and evolution.

It's not about race, but by power and control. White evangelical Christians took a long time to accept racial minorities as equals because this required giving up a privileged social, political, and cultural status. It required accepting that they would have less power and control over society relative to non-whites. White evangelical Christians today want to introduce prayer and creationism into public schools because they see this as a means for reasserting power and control in society relative to other religions. When public schools stopped promoting Christianity, this was a loss of special privileges which Christians have long enjoyed.

There's a lot of overlap with people who are afraid of the loss of white privileges, people who are afraid of the loss of Christian privileges, and people who are afraid of the loss of heterosexual privileges -- as well as the loss of male privileges.

Bardwell said a justice of the peace is not required to conduct a marriage ceremony and is at liberty to recuse himself "from a marriage or anything else."

He said the state attorney general told him years ago that he would eventually get into trouble for not performing interracial marriages.

"I told him if I do, I'll resign," Bardwell said. "I have rights too. I'm not obligated to do that just because I'm a justice of the peace."

Source: Hammond Daily Star

So Keith Bardwell has known for years that doing this was illegal and it was just a matter of time before someone complained. Given this admission, it doesn't look like he will be able to make much of a case defending himself. I think we can see, though, where he may want to go with this: he has a right to refuse to issue marriage licenses to anyone which it's a matter of "conscience."

We can expect conservative Christians in government to offer a similar argument when it comes to dealing with gay marriage as that becomes legal in more areas -- but how many of them would accept such an argument when it comes to interracial marriage? Not many, which makes this case a gift to liberals who support equality for gays because it will place conservative Christians in a difficult place: trying to justify "conscience" exemptions to the process of gay marriage without also justifying similar exemptions to the process of interracial marriage.

And what about analogous situations outside of government? This could be defended in a manner very much like how people have defended pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraceptive pills and morning-after pills to the "wrong" sorts of women. The standards for government officials are obviously different from people in the private sector, but aside from that just how different would the arguments ultimately be? If it's legitimate for pharmacists to be exempt from normal professional standards when their conscience tells them to not give contraceptives to an unmarried woman, why can't a justice of the peace be exempt from the normal professional standards when his conscience tells him to not issue a marriage license to interracial couples?

October 27, 2009 at 3:18 pm
(1) Jean-Esdrace Charles says:

I am not trying to defend creationism versus evolution but logic brings to my understanding.

Scientists have yet to prove evolution. We all can agree on that.

Why should one believe in a theory without any law to prove it or some testable set of explanation during one’s lifetime or someone Else’s past lifetime?

Scientists only believe in evolution by faith in the hope to find a proof to it some day.

It seems that the only faculty that brings someone to believe in evolution is the same for someone who believes in creationism. It takes faith in evolution as well as in creationism. It does follow that creationism and evolution can be taught equally in our Universities and public schools based on the faculty of acceptation of the notions.

Both of the theories have equal rights to be accepted or refuted.

When logically analyzing Creationism, it seems to make better sense than evolution on the basis on the faculty allowing acceptation of either one of the two theories and based on the uniformity of the thought process.

For example ” We walk into a room and see a nice and glorious watch, we automatically think that some intelligent must have designed it and/or placed it there. From that same thought process, it follows that the existence of the universe is connected to the existence of some intelligent being, or alien might have designed it. It could something above and beyond the universe itself, who knows.

Let’s not use fanaticism or biases influence but pure reasoning.

October 27, 2009 at 3:27 pm
(2) SeanG says:

I want to respond the Jean-Esdrace’s comment, but I am so tired of playing whack-a-mole with the same tired creationist arguments.

October 27, 2009 at 3:33 pm
(3) Jeffrey says:

Oh boy, I can just see the comments coming that’ll tear this guy’s posting apart. (or girl, can’t quite tell by the name).

But, here’s my one little contribution. Scientists only believe in evolution by faith? They’ve yet to prove it?

Check again.


October 27, 2009 at 3:35 pm
(4) Austin Cline says:

Sean: Not only are they the same arguments that creationists keep trotting out, but they are the same arguments for Jean-Esdrace: he posted the exact same thing a few minutes ago elsewhere.

October 27, 2009 at 6:19 pm
(5) fauxrs says:

When logically analyzing Creationism, it seems to make better sense than evolution on the basis on the faculty allowing acceptation of either one of the two theories and based on the uniformity of the thought process.

makes about as much sense as

When logically analyzing Creationism, it seems to make orange water given bucket of plaster allowing acceptation of either one of the raspberries uniformity my grandmothers toaster iron

October 27, 2009 at 9:07 pm
(6) AL Jeremy says:

Jean- Esdrace Charles said:

Scientists have yet to prove evolution. We all can agree on that.

No- I don’t think we can all agree to that. In the future, if you think you can make comments such as “we can all agree to that”, you are very probably dead wrong about what ever it is that you think “we can all agree” about.

The thing is that scientists have shown that evolution is true. Whether they have “proved” it or not could be debatable and is dependent on what one means when they uese the word “prove”. Have they supported the fact of evolution to 100% certainty? No but they have gotten as close to certainty as one can be without being 100% certain. In they end, they have shown that evolution has happened to such a degree that even some young earth creationists have realized how disingenuous they sound without at least agreeing to what they call “microevolution”.

Most likely though you are confusing the fact of evolution with the theory of evolution. Just skimming over the rest of your post, with passages such as “It seems that the only faculty that brings someone to believe in evolution is the same for someone who believes in creationism” indicates that it is likely because you do not even possess the most basic knowledge of science. Conversely, it is also quite likely that what you have been reading are creationist tracts, books and/ or websites. I would suggest you do something to rectify the former and a lot less of the latter.

October 28, 2009 at 3:10 am
(7) dreadful scathe says:

“Scientists have yet to prove evolution. We all can agree on that.”

Who is “we”? You and your stuffed animal collection?

“Both of the theories have equal rights to be accepted or refuted.”

No one here would argue with the teaching of another scientific theory that explains the changes in living things – but, other than evolution, there are no other theories.

October 28, 2009 at 4:17 pm
(8) BEX says:

Jean- Esdrace Charles has obviously never read anything by Richard Dawkins.
I recommend “The Greatest Show on Earth”.

October 30, 2009 at 11:48 am
(9) tracieh says:

>Scientists have yet to prove evolution. We all can agree on that.

Um, I have an American domestic tabby and a Siamese cat living in my home (actually the Siamese died recently, but…). If evolution doesn’t happen, how did I get these animals in my home? Genetic variation can be directed–people use this knowledge _all the time_. Domestic breeding programs would be “magic” if evolution wasn’t happening. Additionally, in the wild, populations have also been observed to separate and form subspecies. When I was a kid, we had something we called a “love bug.” I have no clue what it is really called. But it was a black, soft-bodied, flying insect that was populus at particular times during early Summer. They had bright orange heads. After a few years, we began to see some with black heads. And now, when you go to FL and happen to see the swarming of these bugs, you can’t find them with orange heads any longer in the central FL area.

Did god create a batch of black headed ones and kill off all the orange headed ones? Or did I see evolution at work–firsthand?

October 30, 2009 at 11:52 am
(10) tracieh says:

>We walk into a room and see a nice and glorious watch, we automatically think that some intelligent must have designed it and/or placed it there.

Someone wrote to AE recently with a story that began like this: You walk into a watch store, and you’re admiring all the gorgeous design of the many beautifully designed watches in the case. Suddenly you see a rock sitting in the case…”

I cracked up! The hysterical reality of the watch argument is that it _contrasts_ manmade objects (the watch) with nature (in the woods, is the general setting) in order to demonstrate you can see the difference between a thing that is designed and not designed.

This is then supposed to demonstrate _nature_ is obviuosly designed!

Uh–I thought “nature” was the nondesigned contrast to the watch…???

October 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm
(11) Bob says:

There is no problem with accepting children born to a couple in an interracial marriage. There is a problem with people who don’t accept them and want to make an issue of their difference.

I wonder if this man’s black acquaintances really consider him their friend. He’s taking a risk letting them use his toilet. What about those black germs!

Racism is in the mind. If you see that black and white Americans are all the same then nobody will be looked down on. I would like to point out to this man that it is only an accident of birth that he was born white. He could just as easily have been black. Then what might he have thought of discrimination.

October 31, 2009 at 8:50 pm
(12) Brent says:

Let’s allow Bardwell the right to refuse to license miscegenation officially. Unfortunately, this begs a few questions regarding the definition of race. I would wager that Bardwell determines race by skin color alone. Does he ask for a percentage breakdown of one’s racial heritage? I doubt it. Would he marry a self identified white, who is actually 50% black but has white skin) to a “pure” white? Yes, of course he would. So in fact, Bardwell is actually excercising an aesthetic discrimination. I will take him at his word that he he’s not a racist. He’s just a really stupid art critic.

November 3, 2009 at 12:11 pm
(13) Kevin Patrick says:

Can ther be an interracial marriage between an African American and a white person? All African Americans have some white blood due to rapes during slavery, if nothing else, and a large proportion of whites have some African blood. DNA tests have surprised many people who imagined they were completely white or black.
Even if that were not so what has it to do with this maniac.

November 5, 2009 at 1:26 am
(14) Beatnik Bob says:

I just saw the NY Yankees win the World Series with their shortstop and captain Derek Jeter, who has an African-American father and a European mother. The best golfer in the world is still Tiger Woods. And there is that guy who became President.

We should all suffer so much.

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