Last Friday, I wrote about California attorney Matt McLaughlin’s bizarre quest to have all gay people in his state executed. In February, McLaughlin paid $200 to file a ballot measure called the Sodomite Suppression Act, which, if passed, would require that gays “be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.” Although the goal of the act is clearly illegal, McLaughlin’s support for it is a constitutionally protected act of free speech for which he probably can’t even be disbarred. Further, California’s attorney general has no power to halt the proposal, thanks to an odd gap in the law. As a result, the Sodomite Suppression Act will now move on to the signature-gathering stage—and, in the unlikely event it receives 365,880 signatures, it will appear on the ballot in November.
Frustrated by the attorney general’s inability to combat McLaughlin’s proposal, Charlotte Laws has decided to fight back with some free speech of her own. On Monday morning, Laws plans to file the Intolerant Jackass Act, accompanied by the requisite $200, with the California attorney general. Laws’ proposal cleverly mirrors and skewers the Sodomite Suppression Act, explaining that the “abominable crime known as prejudice against sexual orientation” is “a destructive view that society commands us to suppress.” Thus:
c) Any person, herein known as an “Intolerant Jackass,” who brings forth a ballot measure that suggests the killing of gays and/or lesbians, whether this measure is called the Sodomite Suppression Act or is known by some other name, shall be required to attend sensitivity training for at least three (3) hours per month for twelve (12) consecutive months. In addition, the offender or “Intolerant Jackass” must donate $5000 to a pro-gay or pro-lesbian organization.
I spoke to Laws about her initiative—which, she readily acknowledges, is not necessarily designed to become law.
“I’m fighting fire with fire,” she told me. “The only way to counter [the Sodomite Suppression Act] is … to let people know that most people in California don’t agree with something as incendiary and hateful as what this one attorney proposed.” Laws recognizes the merit of having a content-neutral initiative system, but she believes “we have a very open-minded state and country. This is one guy, and there are millions of us who do not agree with this.”
Laws, a former Los Angeles politician and community activist, has devoted the last few years to battling revenge porn, especially kingpin of the genre Hunter Moore. Her new campaign is much more lighthearted—and, of course, a bit quixotic. (Though delightful, the Intolerant Jackass Act would run headlong into the First Amendment.) Still, it’s nice to see a response to McLaughlin’s measure that mocks its gonzo sadism without giving it the courtesy of a serious response. The Sodomite Suppression Act is a ridiculous proposal. With the Intolerant Jackass Act, Laws is only giving it the ridicule it deserves.