Does anyone know if Mike Bowers is out of jail yet?
You remember Mike. He was Georgia's attorney general from 1981 to 1997. He's the high-minded moralist who prosecuted Michael Hardwick for having gay sex in his own home. In 1986, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld Hardwick's conviction and effectively upheld the nation's sodomy laws until 2003, when the court reversed itself in a case out of Texas.
In 1991, Bowers further distinguished himself by withdrawing an offer to hire a woman because he learned she was a lesbian. To hire her, he said, would be to condone her illegal activity – namely, the way she expressed love.
His résumé brimming with such family-values triumphs, Bowers resigned his position as attorney general in 1997 to run as a candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. But his political career came to a screeching halt when it was revealed that the married Protector of Our Genitals had conducted a 10-year affair with his secretary, a former Playboy Club waitress.
At that time, adultery, like gay sex, was illegal. So, of course, Bowers was arrested and thrown into jail for 10 years.
Oh, wait. He wasn't arrested. Nobody chose to enforce the wacky law on the books the way he did the sodomy law. Or the way prosecutors have in the case of young Genarlow Wilson, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for receiving a consensual blowjob from a technically underage 15-year-old girl. He was 17 at the time, old enough under the law to be regarded as an adult predator.
Wilson, now 20, was imprisoned without parole two years ago. His case has received a lot of publicity lately because of a Georgia Senate bill (SB 37) that would allow a judge to alter his sentence, along with that of a thousand others harshly sentenced under the same law.
This seems eminently fair because the law was changed last year to relax the penalties for sex between consenting teenagers. Under the changed law, Wilson would be charged only with a misdemeanor.
To make things even more surreal, be aware that it was the nature of the sex – fellatio – that earned Wilson such a, um, stiff sentence in the first place. Our holier-than-thou legislators just can't seem to stomach the idea of oral sex. Had Wilson inserted his penis into the girl's vagina rather than her mouth, he would have committed a misdemeanor instead of a felony under the original law.
At this writing, the bill that might liberate Wilson had not made it to the floor for a vote. There's an obvious effort to block it. Among those opposing it is Senate President pro tempore Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, who has pontificated at length about the sleazy circumstances of Wilson's arrest, a sex party.
Johnson and other opponents of the bill echo David McDade, the Douglas County district attorney who prosecuted the case. He claims he had no choice but to charge Wilson with child molestation under the former law. That, of course, is patently ridiculous. Just as nobody took Bowers to court for committing adultery 10 years ago, authorities were in freedom not to prosecute Wilson for violation of a law so obviously flawed that it was changed a year after its adoption.
Opponents of the bill also sanctimoniously argue that Wilson refused a plea bargain that would have reduced his prison term to five years, followed by 10 years of probation. They're angry the young man chose to fight lifelong labeling as a pedophile, even though the Legislature itself changed the law. Indeed, even the jurors who convicted him regret their decision.
It's difficult to resist the observation that Wilson is black and very likely has encountered racism. Even if you put that aside, you're left with the weird bias against oral sex. What exactly is it that makes oral sex so offensive to members of the General Assembly?
I assume it's a pure moral objection to what used to be called "unnatural sex," which is just about any sex that occurs outside the marriage bed for pure pleasure. Wilson compounded the impression of evil recreational sex by unabashedly videotaping himself. (His buddies at the sex party all copped plea bargains, thus preserving the authorities' moral objection without suffering the consequences that befell the unrepentant Wilson.)
The stubborn, willful stupidity and cruelty of people such as Johnson and McDade is almost always aimed at minorities. While Wilson languishes in jail and faces lifelong consequences, the adulterer Mike Bowers enjoys a lucrative law practice. Some justice.
Cliff Bostock holds a Ph.D. in depth psychology. For information on his private practice, go to www.cliffbostock.com.
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