By Fran Eaton, first published at Illinois Leader.com on November 24, 2003
Via Wayback Machine, permission granted for reprint
IN THE SPOTLIGHT - Part 2 of 3 --Continuing yesterday's interview with John Cox, candidate for U.S. Senate, we talked about Cox's positions on issues of importance to social conservatives: the Second Amendment, life issues and traditional marriage.
Illinois Leader: Let's talk about some social issues . . .
Cox: Is there anything that you and I disagree on? I am opposed to the death penalty. That’s what gets me into more trouble with conservatives than anything else.
IL: Some people feel strongly about the death penalty.
Cox: It’s really a practical issue. It costs so much money to put someone away and human beings are fallible.
God is the only one, I think, who should take life. Obviously, there are exceptions, something like war. Sometimes you have to defend yourself. Someone else will kill you in those cases, so you have to defend yourself.
I guess that’s next to treason. . . Someone who commits treason is someone who should be put to death. I think it is more punishment for someone to set in a jail cell apart from their loved ones and be deprived of their freedom. I think there is better punishment and sitting there is doing them no favor.
IL: What would be the ultimate punishment then?
Cox: Sitting in the heat for twelve hours a day for the next 60 years with no cable TV, no law school, no conjugal visits. You take a life, you do something as horrible as breaking man’s law as well as God’s law, you deserve to be punished for a long, long time. I’ll tell you, if we had more punishment, we would have a lot less crime.
IL: Your position on abortion. You hold no exception for abortion, except for the life of the mother. Is that correct?
Cox: Talking to many people, I have found experiences where people say that if a doctor gave me a choice between my baby and me, I would say save the baby. So, that’s like a non-existing issue.
IL: And medically, extremely rare . . .
Cox: Two things on this, I think the debate is moving in our favor, just like welfare reform. We had lost the debate on welfare when welfare recipients were referred to as lazy people who lived off the dole. When we changed it to welfare is damaging and destructive to an individual, we won the debate then.
The same thing with abortion. We lose the debate when we talk about the healing that needs to be sought for women who kill babies. We show pictures of the fetuses. I appreciate wanting to bring that home, but there are other ways to do it. I think we should shift our debate on this to talking about what abortion does to women -- how damaging it is to women, both emotionally as well as physically.
If we get that point across, we’ll win this debate. I don’t think we will win it when we try to make people feel guilty or when we try to make people feel like they’re the anti-christ or attempt to inject or impose our religion on people.
I think when we start talking about the damage that this does to our families and women and our society, that the biggest crime.
IL: Do you agree with the President’s position on stem cell research?
Cox: I think the President’s position was a political position. I don’t think he came out strong enough on that to the extent that he could have stopped further use of stem cells.
My wife’s family has two children, two of her nieces have juvenile diabetes. Her mother died of diabetes and if they could find a cure for all these things, I’d love it.
Hitler killed a lot of people claiming that he was trying to find cures for diseases, too. Does that make what he did right?
There’s a limit to what we can do to conduct research and finding cures. We can get plenty of nice stems cells from embryonic fluid and placentas and other sources. A lot of scientists have said that this is available.
I don’t at all believe that we should create life to destroy it. So, I am going to be absolutely against them. Same on research on human embryology or any kind of thing like that. I think that medical science has advanced so much, it is a God-given miracle that we can create babies in test tubes and let people have babies that couldn’t before.
That’s wonderful, but I think God also wants us to exercise some of the responsibilities over some of the power and tools that we have.
IL: What is your position on the federal marriage amendment?
Cox: I am the only candidate that has come out strongly on the support of marriage [by holding a press conference in support of the federal marriage amendment.] It’s ironic, since I am divorced and remarried. My first marriage was annulled. I believe in the institution of marriage and I love being married.
I approach it very practically. Again, to the extent that politicians try to impose their religious beliefs on others, I think we lose in this country. We have a strong history of independence of religious beliefs and that’s going back to our history when different faiths came here for their own religious freedoms.
But we need to say that we have only so many dollars and so much time in this country to address our issues. Without children, it’s the end of civilization. So it goes without saying, we need to create an environment where children can be born. If we don’t have any new children, we don’t have any more civilization. In fact, we would fall behind the rest of the world.
It’s a national defense issue as well - our declining birth rate. I know that some people are horrified with the idea that we would have more children in this country, but frankly, we do need more children to keep up are standards in the world and keep up our retirement system. Japan is in a world of hurt because they do not have enough workers anywhere the number they need.
I’m sorry, but biologically two men can’t have a child. They can adopt, they can pay somebody to have a child, there’s a whole lot of ways to do it, but the vast majority of people it’s not feasible.
No, they can pay someone, I suppose, to carry a baby for them and try to get their sperm mixed with some woman’s egg and do all these other kinds of things.
The vast majority of children are born to a man and a woman and psychologists say that’s the best way, and I believe that it is the best way for a child to be raised with a male influence and a female influence.
They’re different biologically, I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is. Therefore, let’s devote our limited resources to helping families.
I don’t have anything against gays. I’ve got family members who are gay and I love them dearly. They don’t want my help, and they feel that is their destiny, so that’s fine. It’s a free country, let’s not be the sex police or something like that because I am not interested in that. I am interested, though, in making sure that our limited resources and spousal benefits are for married couples, that’s what this is all about now.
We have limited ability to provide benefits to people and if we keep extending them to a lot of different relationships, that takes them away by definition from other relationships and I don’t think we can afford to do that.
IL: You held a press conference in support of the marriage amendment.
Cox: I wish it wasn’t necessary. It is only necessary because we have judges who are violating the separation of powers in our Constitution. They are taking the law into their own hands and making law. We fought a revolution 230 years ago to prevent an unelected king from making those laws.
We need to kick them out. That’s the problem here. It should be something that’s decided by state legislatures, unfortunately, it’s not, which is why we need a constitutional amendment. To get around it by saying I think it should be decided by the states, I think it is a dodge.
Leadership is about seeing what needs to be done and taking the action as necessary. In this case, I think a Constitutional amendment would be necessary.
Reporter: The Second Amendment - how do you stand?
Cox: I am for self defense. There’s a reason why the Second Amendment is in the Constitution and there’s a reason why it is the Second Amendment. It’s the basis upon which all the rest of the amendments rest, and that is what we ultimately need, to be protected against the government that would take away our rights.
If you don’t believe that, look at what’s going on in Cuba, look at what went on in Hitler’s Germany or in the Soviet Union. I go to bed every night knowing that fifty million people in this country have a weapon. If we had a government that ever tried to take away our rights, the people of this country would rebel and have the firepower and the ability to do something about it.
People look at me and say, “Are you crazy, we would never have that."
Well, I’m sure that people in Germany never thought they would lose those rights. I’m sure that people in Cuba never thought they would lose those rights and be under the hold of a dictator.
We also have to focus on practical realities, too. I mean, it was so instructive this last week to see the news articles about the shooting at the auto parts store, the stories the press wrote focusing on the tracing of the gun.
Did they once do a story about the prosecutors who didn’t prosecute this guy? I know that some witnesses would not testify, but you can prove crimes without witnesses testifying.
IL: It was reported that he had, at one time or another, five or six different guns.
Cox: He was arrested twelve times. He was convicted, I think, twice. This guy should not have been on the streets. You see, what they don’t understand is you’re doing nobody a favor.
It’s like your kid, your children and you say, “Okay Johnny, don’t take that donut.” He takes it. You just take it away, but don’t do anything about it.
“Johnny, don’t take the donut.” He does it again because his risk was not that great. The award was great because he took the donut. He shouldn’t have, but his risk was not that great because you did not do anything about it.
“Don’t take the donut,” you say. He takes it and you let him go. You’re doing little Johnny no favor by not being tough on him and then giving him a penalty for doing something wrong.
I’m not saying you should beat little Johnny, but you give him some idea that there is a risk for breaking the law or in this case, defying his parents. Same thing with criminals, if we increase the risk, you get less crime, which means you need fewer prisons. It’s ironic, isn’t it?
We can’t build prisons fast enough. Why? Because we are so easy on criminals. They take the risk. You want less crime, increase the risk, and enforce the law. That’s why we have had such a huge increase in crime over the last 30 or 40 years. I’m absolutely convinced, we’ve gotten soft with the penalties. We want to be safer.
Gun control laws only go against or are complied with by law-abiding people anyway.
This man broke six different gun control laws holding that gun. Did he care? He didn’t care about breaking the law. Oh, sure, I’ll bet he was thinking about it while he was blowing away his co-workers.
Gee, I have a handgun in the city of Chicago and my God, I might go to jail for that.
IL: They have weapons to defend themselves. . .
Cox: That’s an argument, I think. There’s an article that I saw recently that talked about the fact that the media doesn’t report the thousands of instances every year of people who legitimately and legally defend themselves against crime with a weapon of some sort. Well, that’s the media.
We’ve got to get beyond that, we’ve got to get to the idea that what we all need to be working on is stopping the crime. Look at what happened in New York when Mayor Giuliani started arresting the people that were washing windshields.
New York’s crime rate is less than Chicago, but they have two and a half times more people. There must be a lesson in there somewhere. Get tougher on crime and get less of it.
End of Part 2