Rob Smith's Reviews > Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion, and Law from America's Origins to the Twenty-First Century

Sex and the Constitution by Geoffrey R. Stone
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it was amazing
bookshelves: law-and-order

This isn't a statement I declare for every book I read: this book should be read and owned by every American in the United States today. Almost every theme and message it imparts is one every American should have etched and bronzed into their brains.

Sex and the Constitution is an excellent and wide spanning history detailing the the views and sex lives of Americans in colonial and post 1776 times. It is split into two halves: a chronological history, and a lineage of court cases that endowed us with the modern rights we take for granted today. Rights like privacy, same-sex marriage, freedom to purchase contraception, pornography, etc. These rights were hard-won, and to keep them will require constant vigilance.

That's not me hyping up the book. To put it simply, most Americans broadly didn't give a damn until a time just after the Civil War when the first abortion restrictions began to be put into place. Was homosexuality or pre-martial sex condoned by these ancient American societies? No. But the government didn't go out of their way to stamp out any immoral conduct.

So what changed in America? Broadly and simply: religious evangelicals got involved heavily in politics. To anyone who grew up in a strict religious (in my case, Catholic-steeped) household and drifted away from that life, religious busybodies is gonna hit close to home. Prudes like Comstack started raiding people for pornography and immoral conduct.

While I have no qualms with people and religion, I start to chafe when religious people start telling me how to live my life. And one of the underlying implications in this book, is that these religious busybodies tried to legislate their religious lifestyle down everyone else's throat. And we let them for more than century, and in many cases with the abortion debate still a hot topic we still do. There's also the implicit assumption, and I read this almost month ago now and I can't remember if Stone outright says it, that the reason we don't have a right to privacy enshrined in 2017 America is because the religiously motivated made sure we weren't allowed it. That means the reason we have Google and Facebook and the government spying on us, is essentially because someone couldn't abide in the 19th century of women having an abortion, or men having a preference for men.

The other underlying message I took away in this book, is that you have to be vigilant and zealous for your rights, before someone else comes along to take away. And not just with regards to sex, it applies to sex, gender, privacy, all your rights could be taken away by a politically active minority hellbent on legislating their lives into your spine.

I can't imagine why in President Trump's America that lesson might still be relevant.

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Reading Progress

August 20, 2017 – Shelved
September 6, 2017 – Started Reading
September 8, 2017 – Finished Reading

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