Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lawrence v. Texas

A play weaving elements of the Scopes trial, Inherit the Wind and Lawrence v. Texas.

Hays--The defense desires to call Mr. Rosenthal as a witness, and, of course, the only question here is whether Mr. Lawrence had unlawful relations with a member of the same gender. We think there are other questions involved, and we should want to take Mr. Rosenthal's testimony for the purpose of our record, even if your honor thinks it is not admissible in general, so we wish to call him now.

The Court--Do you think you have a right to his testimony or evidence like you did these others?

McKenzie--I don't think it is necessary to call him, calling a lawyer who represents a client.

The Court--If you ask him about any confidential matter, I will protect him, of course.

Smith--On religious matters, Rosenthal can speak for himself.

Rosenthal--If your honor please, I insist that Mr. Smith can be put on the stand, and Mr. Malone and Mr. Hays.

The Court--Call anybody you desire. Ask them any questions you wish.

Rosenthal--Then, we will call all three of them.

Smith--Not at once?

Rosenthal--Where do you want me to sit?

The Court--Mr. Rosenthal, you are not objecting to going on the stand?

Rosenthal--Not at all.

The Court--Do you want Mr. Rosenthal sworn?


Rosenthal--I can make affirmation; I can say "So help me God, I will tell the truth."

Smith--No, I take it you will tell the truth, Mr. Rosenthal.

Examination of Charles Rosenthal by Paul Smith, of counsel for the defense:

Q--You have given considerable study to the Bible, haven't you, Rosenthal?

A--Yes, sir, I have tried to.

Q--Then you have made a general study of Leviticus?

A--Yes, I have; I have studied but, of course, I have studied it more as I have become older than when I was younger.

Q--You claim that everything in it should be literally interpreted?

A--I believe everything in the Bible should be accepted as it is given there: some of the Bible is given illustratively. For instance: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." I would not insist that man was prohibited from sharing a bed out of necessity, only in regards to sinful and ungodly acts.

Q--But when you read that soul of shall not eat blood, nor shall any stranger amongst you, do you consider those ordering rare steak felons?

A—That is a dietary restriction.  One may wash himself after and be clean. I believe in a God who lets men repent. They must take imitative, however.

Q--Now, you say, you believe in redemption. Yet you believe that the man was made to act a certain way?

A--I am not prepared to say that; we are capable of choice.

Q--You don't know whether man was ordinary or made for a purpose?

A--You may guess.

Q--You are not prepared to say whether man was made to love a man or not?

A--The Bible doesn't say, so I am not prepared to say.

Q--But do you believe He made them--that He made such a man?

A--Yes, sir. Let me add: He made all of us, but we have free will and must decide our path in life. It is simply harder for others.


A--It is harder to follow God’s will for Lawrence and his unnatural lover.

Q--So, it’s perfectly easy to believe that God hates the very people he made?

A--If the Bible said so; the Bible doesn't make as extreme statements as progressives do....

Q--The Bible says in Romans 1 that men and women giving themselves over to shameful acts with the same sex are depraved much in the manner of murderers, slanderers and the like. Do you believe this?

A--I do.

Q--Do you believe that those who pass judgment on someone else condemn themself because those who pass judgment do the same things?

A--Yes, I believe the entirety of the gospel.

Q--Do you believe that the men writing said gospel believed upstanding, God fearing citizens could engage in such “immoral” behavior?

A--I don't know what they thought.

Q--You don't know?

A--I think they wrote the fact without expressing their own thoughts.

Q--Have you an opinion as to whether or not the men who wrote that thought-

Q--I read that years ago. Can you answer my question directly?  By passing judgement on those  who are homosexual aren’t you not confessing your own sins?

A--Well, I should say so.

Q-- Now, Mr. Rosenthal, have you ever pondered your commitment to the opposite sex?


Q--You have not?

A-- No; the God I believe in took care of that, Mr. Smith.

Q-- I see. Have you ever pondered what would happen if he didn’t?

A-- No.
Q--Do you think God would strike me down?
A--You testify to that when you get on the stand, I will give you a chance.

Q--Don't you believe it?

A--That is not His business. He will attend to it someday but not now.

Q--You have never investigated that subject?

A--I don't think I have ever had the question asked.

Q--Or ever thought of it?

A--I have been too busy on things that I thought were of more importance than that.

Q--You believe the story of the Sodom and Gomorrah to be a literal interpretation?
A--Yes, sir.
Q--Why was it destroyed?
A--I would not attempt to find one reason.
Q--Was it a punishment for homosexuality?
A--That has been the estimate accepted today. I would not say it is entirely accurate
Q--That estimate is printed in the Bible?
A--Everybody knows, at least, I think most of the people know, that was the estimate given. and whereas think it was egregious, there was more going on
Q--But what do you think that the Bible, itself says? Don't you know how it was arrived at?
A--It was connected to rape, murder and the like.
Q--From what?
A--I could not say.
Q--From Leviticus?
A--I would not want to say that.
Q--What do you think?
A--I do not think about things I don't think about.
Q--Do you think about things you do think about?
A--Well, sometimes.
(Laughter in the courtyard.)
Policeman--Let us have order....
Stewart--Your honor, he is perfectly able to take care of this, but we are attaining no evidence. This is not competent evidence.
Witness--These gentlemen have not had much chance--they did not come here to try this case. They came here to try revealed religion. I am here to defend it and they can ask me any question they please.
The Court--All right.
(Applause from the court yard.)
Smith--Great applause from the bleachers.
Witness--From those whom you call "Yokels."
Smith--I have never called them yokels.
Witness--That is the ignorance of Texas, the bigotry.
Smith--You mean who are applauding you? (Applause.)
Witness--Those are the people whom you insult.
Smith--You insult every man of compassion and learning in the world because he does believe in your extreme agenda.
The Court--I will not stand for that.
Smith--For what he is doing?
The Court--I am talking to both of you....
Q--Wait until you get to me. Do you know anything about how many people there were in Mesopotamia 3,000 years ago, or how many people there were in China 5,000 years ago?
Q--Have you ever tried to find out?
A--No, sir. You are the first man I ever heard of who has been in interested in it. (Laughter.)
Q--Mr. Rosenthal, am I the first man you ever heard of who has been interested in the orientation of human societies and primitive man?
A--You are the first man I ever heard speak of such things at those different periods.
Q--Where have you lived all your life?
A--Not near you. (Laughter and applause.)
Q--Nor near anybody of learning?
A--Oh, don't assume you know it all.
Q--Do you know there are thousands of books in our libraries on all those subjects I have been asking you about?
A--I couldn't say, but I will take your word for it....
Q--Have you any idea when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed?
Q--The Book you have introduced in evidence tells you, doesn't it?
A--I don't think it does, Mr. Smith.
Q--Let's see whether it does; is this the one?
A--That is the one, I think.
Q--It says B.C. 1953?
A--Yes, sir....
Q--According to historical records that was before the Mesopotamian and Egyptian records.
A--Oh, no; I think it is much more recent than that.
Q--How much?
A--I couldn't say.
Q--Do you say whether the Bible itself says it is older than that?
A--I don't think it is older or not.
Q--Why would God destroy cities before and not after for acts of homosexuality?
A--The bible is not the record of all people.
Q--Doesn't it say so?
A--No, sir....
The Court--Are you about through, Mr. Smith?
Smith--I want to ask a few more questions about Sodom and Gomorrah.
The Court--I know. We are going to adjourn when Mr. Rosenthal comes off the stand for the day. Be very brief, Mr. Smith. Of course, I believe I will make myself clearer. Of course, it is incompetent testimony before the jury. The only reason I am allowing this to go in at all is that they may have it in the appellate court as showing what the affidavit would be.
Rosenthal--The reason I am answering is not for the benefit of the superior court. It is to keep these gentlemen from saying I was afraid to meet them and let them question me, and I want the Christian world to know that any atheist, agnostic, or queer can question me anytime as to my belief and I will answer him.
Smith--I want to take an exception to this conduct of this witness. He may be very popular down here in the hills....
Rosenthal--Your honor, they have not asked a question legally and the only reason they have asked any question is for the purpose, as the question about Sodom and Gomorrah was asked, for a chance to give this agnostic an opportunity to criticize a believer in the world of God; and I answered the question in order to shut his mouth so that he cannot go out and tell his atheistic friends that I would not answer his questions.
Malone--Your honor on this very subject, I would like to say that I would have asked Mr.  Rosenthal--and I consider myself as good a Christian as he is--every question that Mr. Smith has asked him for the purpose of bring out whether or not there is to be taken in this court a literal interpretation of the Bible, or whether, obviously, as these questions indicate, if a general and literal construction cannot be put upon the parts of the Bible which have been covered by Mr. Smith's questions. I hope for the last time no further attempt will be made by counsel on the other side of the case, or Mr. Rosenthal, to say the defense is concerned at all with Mr. Smith's particular religious views or lack of religious views. We are here as lawyers with the same right to our views. I have the same right to mine as a Christian as Mr. Rosenthal has to his, and we do not intend to have this case charged by Mr. Smith's agnosticism or Mr. Rosenthal's brand of Christianity. (A great applause.)
Q--Mr. Rosenthal, do you believe that the first woman was Eve?
Q--Did you ever discover where Cain got his wife?
A--No, sir; I leave the atheists to find her.
Q--You have never found out?
A--I have never tried to find
Q--You have never tried to find?
Q--The Bible says he got one, doesn't it? Weren’t there only the children of Adam and Eve?
A--I cannot say.
Q--You cannot say. Did that ever enter your consideration?
A--Never bothered me.
Q--There were no others recorded, but Cain got a wife. Perhaps he married his sister.
A--That is not what the Bible says.
Q--Where she came from you do not know. All right. But you’re willing to overlook incest?
A-- I do not think that is what the Bible necessarily means.
Q--You do not?
Q--What do you consider it to be?
A--I have not attempted to explain it. If you will take the second Genesis--let me have the book. (Examining Bible.) Verse seventeen of chapter four says: "And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived and bare Enoch.”  It says nothing of incest.
Q--But, if it were, you would be willing to embrace scripture?
A--I do not think it necessarily does.
Q--What do you think?
A--I do not think it does. You are reading it too literally.
Q--And you aren’t?
A--It is not the same as an issue at hand.
Q--What do you think about it?
A--That is my opinion--I do not know that my opinion is better on that subject than those who think it does.
Q--You do not think that?
Rosenthal--Your Honor, I think I can shorten this testimony. The only purpose Mr. Smith has is to slur at the Bible and all that is natural, but I will answer his question. I will answer it all at once, and I have no objection in the world, I want the world to know that this man, who does not believe in a God, is trying to use a court in Washington D.C.--
Smith--I object to that.
Rosenthal--(Continuing) to slur and destroy the Christian foundations this nation was built on and while it will require time, I am willing to take it.
Smith--I object to your statement. I am exempting you on your ideas that no reasonable American believes.


  1. I think I got a wee bit confused in the dialogue. I did a constitutional law class online in high school and Lawrence v. Texas was one of the cases we studied. I was trying to be a constitutional lawyer at the time. (haha...that panned out

  2. Excellent dialogue writing here,,confusing because of the issue being covered,,no possible straight answers are available in my opinion,,"judge not lest ye be judged" comes to mind though,,,


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