Thursday, June 12, 2008

"and the occasional ferret"

From a Salon book review:
How did the men of Sodom propose to know Lot's houseguests? If you'd asked someone from the early 19th century to define sodomy, he would have imagined not a penitentiary-shower scenario but a whole array of "damnable conduct" that applied equally to men and men, men and women, and men and animals. (Among the most common sodomy convictions of the 1800s, writes Eskridge, was "bestiality with barnyard animals and the occasional ferret.") The notion of punishing homosexuals as a class was literally inconceivable, for the word "homosexual" had not yet entered the English language and the implicit aim of sodomy laws was to punish all non-procreative sexual acts, regardless of who performed them.


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