Shellfish Suppression Act Takes on Yet Another “Monstrous Evil”

Friday, April 03, 2015
Suspect shellfish (Drawing: Galah-momo)

If California Attorney General Kamala Harris thought she might have a tough time writing the initiative petition title and text for the infamous Sodomite Suppression Act (pdf), she’s going to gag when she gets to the Shellfish Suppression Act (pdf).

Joe Decker of San Jose just missed filing his request with the AG’s office on April Fool’s Day, but his April 2 submission and a check for $200 earns him a chance to watch the candidate for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat in 2016 explain his initiative in less than 100 words.

Modeled after the Sodomite Act, which Harris has asked the courts to kill before she has to put her name on its summary, Decker’s initiative begins with this pronouncement: “Shellfish are a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us in Leviticus to suppress. They also smell bad.”

The Sodomite initiative invokes homosexuality as a “monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us to suppress.” That law would require that “any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or any other convenient method.”

Decker’s initiative does not seek such a harsh penalty. He wants the law amended so, “Any person who willingly consumes or sells shellfish is guilty of a felony, and shall be fined $666 thousand per occurrence, and/or imprisoned up to 6 years, 6 months, and 6 days.” A violation would be considered a “serious felony” under Subdivision (c) of California Penal Code, Section 1192.7.

Like the author of the Sodomite Act, Orange County attorney Matthew McLaughlin, not much is known about Decker. He listed his address on his submission to the AG as 1702-L Meridian Avenue, San Jose, which appears to be a UPS store in a strip mall. But he seems to have a better sense of humor than his mentor from afar and is less demanding.

While McLaughlin, a lawyer, wants his law posted in every classroom for educational purposes, Decker does not demand his be posted in restaurants and seafood shops.

But first, both initiatives need a petition summary from Harris and 365,880 signatures to get on the ballot. McLaughlin’s petition may not get that far.

McLaughlin’s former boss, Bruce C. Bridgman, told TalkingPointsMemo that he hopes the public goes after his former employee “with a knife and a fork.” In the case of Decker, that sentiment might also include seafood accessories, like lobster crackers and oyster knives.

The conventional wisdom was that California law left Harris no choice but to write the petition summary and title and pass it along to the Secretary of State. Last week, she filed an action for declaratory relief from the Sacramento County Superior Court to not issue the title and summary for McLaughlin’s initiative. The New York Times pointed out this was unprecedented and noted the absence of legal opinions on the subject.

“This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society,” she wrote. Harris admitted that if the court couldn’t bail her out, she would have to write the summary.

But there could be relief in the form of yet another initiative proposal submitted to the attorney general’s office. The Intolerant Jackass Act (pdf), submitted a few days before Decker’s, would create a new law that reads:

“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 $500 to a pro-gay or pro-lesbian organization.”

A petition started on to have McLaughlin disbarred in California has nabbed more than 40,000 signatures of the 150,000 sought. Crustacean lovers have not yet risen up in anger.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Ex-Boss of California's “Kill All Gays” Lawyer Speaks Out: “Go After Him With a Knife and Fork” (by Brendan James, TalkingPointsMemo)

California Attorney General Kamala Harris Steps in to Block Monstrous “Sodomite Suppression Act” (by Charles Pulliam-Moore, Towleroad)

California Seeks to Head Off Initiative to Execute Gays (by Adam Nagourney, New York Times)

Sodomite Suppression Act Petition Headed for a Mall Near You (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

Shellfish Suppression Act (pdf)

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