Tuesday, May 5, 2015

It's All Greek to Us

You've no doubt heard the oft-used expression, "It's all Greek to me!" to explain puzzlement or bewilderment.  The phrase is especially fitting as we turn to a discussion of the United States Supreme Court's consideration of the gay marriage issue one week ago.

Please hear us out! This post is not about to argue one way or the other on the marriage topic itself.

Instead, specifically, the Platypus is interested in a line of questioning raised by Associate Justice Samuel Alito.  During an interchange between the Justice and counsel seeking to strike down laws against gay marriage, Alito opined that while ancient Greek civilization did not discourage--even celebrated-- relationships between members of the same sex, the culture did not recognize marriage between them, per se'.  As a student of history, he wanted to draw from that classic chapter of history.

It's true that we get many of our basic ideas about democracy, republics, and the jury system from Athenians... ethics too. We gain military insight from the tactics of the Spartans. Nowadays our country seems more than happy to copy the Greek approach to accumulating vast debt as well.

Our puzzling question is, if all that's so, why wouldn't the U.S. Supreme Court be open to allowing the practices of Ancient Greece to drive decision-making and lawmaking with respect to nudity?  When it comes to nakedness, well,... no one quite celebrated it like the Greeks did:  All those Olympic games and tournaments waged without a stitch of clothing. In fact, we get the word gymnasium from the place their athletes worked out in the nude.

Looking at most sculptures, statues, and architecture from the era you have to wonder whether anyone in that civilization actually ever wore a robe.  (In another case involving obscenity that took place decades ago, the Court noted that the very Supreme Court building itself was adorned with all manner of naked cherubs, boys, and girls, etc.  You can see, for example, Naked Figures on the East Frieze Supreme Court  Down the street outside the Library of Congress are fountains where water splashes over naked figures (i.e. The Court of Neptune. )  There's nude statuary outside the Rayburn House Office Building (i.e. "The Spirit of Justice")

So how about it?  Perhaps it's time we took one more chapter from the book written by those on that peninsula in the Adriatic. Let's embrace our "gymno" state!