The phrase "activist judge" will pop up in this gay marriage discussion, of course. People will insist that this judge is circumventing the will of the people, the will represented by the legislature in passing certain laws, or backing certain legal definitions over others.
I'm sorry --I'm really sorry -- but if you use the term "activist judge", then frankly you know absolutely nothing about how the US works. Nothing. Nada. You are in point of fact, and again I apologize, an idiot. Allow me to explain.
The Founding Fathers (who never, ever, EVER wanted us to completely trust the guys in charge, by the way) formed the three branches of the government -- executive/legislative/judicial -- so they would be in opposition. Laws are passed, judges decide if they make sense, the laws are overturned or approved, the executive branch referees. The branches of the government are not supposed to like each other. It's called "checks and balances", not "checks and hugs." This is the fundamental basis for the United States government. A third-grader can understand this.
I'm going to say this slowly. Judges. Are. Supposed. To. Overturn. Laws. Not all of them. But yeah, some of them. Then there are appeals, or new laws are passed, and the process starts all over again. That's how it works. That's how it's supposed to work.
You can disagree with a judge overturning a law you like, fine, that's democracy. But implying the judge has no right to overturn a law because said law represents the will of the majority, and therefore that judge is an "activist" judge, well, sadly, that reveals a depth of ignorance about the Constitution and the writings of the Founding Fathers which automatically disqualifies you from the discussion.
No, seriously. If you say you disagree with gay marriage, fine -- I disagree with you, but you're entitled to whatever opinion you have in your skull. But as soon as you use the phrase "activist judge", you take yourself out of the game. Not according to me. I like you. No, you're an idiot according to Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, John Adams, Ben Franklin, et al. So, go read the Federalist Papers, and preferably leaf through Fareed Zakaria's The Future of Freedom, and come back when you have a basic understanding of civics. And you'd better know what the Lemon Test is, too, or you -- again -- must shut your trap and go back and do the required reading.
I am reminded of one of the finest examples of practical political instruction I've ever witnessed. I was at a bar with DJ MCarthey many years ago, and some idiot tourist a few stools down started sounding off. What was particularly galling was the man's ignorance of basic history. After a few minutes of this:
DJ: "You could feel free to shut yer gob."
Tourist: "Everybody's entitled to their opinion."
At which, DJ flicked his cigarette ten feet across the bar, popping it off the man's forehead, as he replied:
"No, you ignorant fuck, everyone's entitled to their informed opinion."
A beating ensued. I believe more civics lessons would stick if delivered in this manner.