Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks. Not a word should be missed. In one short hour, an age of wisdom.
Any idea that needs a law to protect it from criticism is ipso facto a bad idea.
That is our own maxim. We repeat it often. It cannot be repeated often enough.
There used to be laws, in Western secular states, protecting religious ideas; usually the ideas of a particular religion favored by the state. The crime was called “blasphemy”.
Such a crime, carrying severe punishment, including the death sentence, still exists in Islamic countries.
And the crime still exists in Communist countries. As Communists do not acknowledge their ideology to be a religion, they do not call it blasphemy. It is called an offense against the state, or “dissidence”. It was often treated as a mental illness in the Soviet Union. It was also often punished by execution, not only in Russia but wherever the iron fist of the Soviet regime was the law.
In America the First Amendment to the Constituion, as everybody knows, enshrined freedom of belief and freedom of speech. Yet there lingers in the mores of the American people, generation after generation, the notion that religious beliefs should not be publicly criticized. Such criticism is felt to be a discourtesy at best, and at worst an actual defiance of the First Amendment itself!
Even some scientists respect this social taboo.
We quote a good article on the subject from the New Yorker, by Lawrence M. Krauss:
As a physicist, I do a lot of writing and public speaking about the remarkable nature of our cosmos, primarily because I think science is a key part of our cultural heritage and needs to be shared more broadly. Sometimes, I refer to the fact that religion and science are often in conflict; from time to time, I ridicule religious dogma. When I do, I sometimes get accused in public of being a “militant atheist”. Even a surprising number of my colleagues politely ask if it wouldn’t be better to avoid alienating religious people. Shouldn’t we respect religious sensibilities, masking potential conflicts and building common ground with religious groups so as to create a better, more equitable world?
I found myself thinking about those questions this week as I followed the story of Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who directly disobeyed a federal judge’s order to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and, as a result, was jailed for contempt of court. Davis’s supporters, including the Kentucky senator and Presidential candidate Rand Paul, are protesting what they believe to be an affront to her religious freedom. It is “absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberties”, Paul said, on CNN.
The Kim Davis story raises a basic question: To what extent should we allow people to break the law if their religious views are in conflict with it? It’s possible to take that question to an extreme that even Senator Paul might find absurd: imagine, for example, a jihadist whose interpretation of the Koran suggested that he should be allowed to behead infidels and apostates. Should he be allowed to break the law? Or — to consider a less extreme case — imagine an Islamic-fundamentalist county clerk who would not let unmarried men and women enter the courthouse together, or grant marriage licenses to unveiled women. For Rand Paul, what separates these cases from Kim Davis’s? The biggest difference, I suspect, is that Senator Paul agrees with Kim Davis’s religious views but disagrees with those of the hypothetical Islamic fundamentalist.
The problem, obviously, is that what is sacred to one person can be meaningless (or repugnant) to another. That’s one of the reasons why a modern secular society generally legislates against actions, not ideas. No idea or belief should be illegal; conversely, no idea should be so sacred that it legally justifies actions that would otherwise be illegal. Davis is free to believe whatever she wants, just as the jihadist is free to believe whatever he wants; in both cases, the law constrains not what they believe but what they do.
In recent years, this territory has grown murkier. Under the banner of religious freedom, individuals, states, and even — in the case of Hobby Lobby — corporations have been arguing that they should be exempt from the law on religious grounds. (The laws from which they wish to claim exemption do not focus on religion; instead, they have to do with social issues, such as abortion and gay marriage.) The government has a compelling interest in insuring that all citizens are treated equally. But “religious freedom” advocates argue that religious ideals should be elevated above all others as a rationale for action. In a secular society, this is inappropriate.
The Kim Davis controversy exists because, as a culture, we have elevated respect for religious sensibilities to an inappropriate level that makes society less free, not more. Religious liberty should mean that no set of religious ideals are treated differently from other ideals. Laws should not be enacted whose sole purpose is to denigrate them, but, by the same token, the law shouldn’t elevate them, either.
In science, of course, the very word “sacred” is profane. No ideas, religious or otherwise, get a free pass. The notion that some idea or concept is beyond question or attack is anathema to the entire scientific undertaking. This commitment to open questioning is deeply tied to the fact that science is an atheistic enterprise. “My practice as a scientist is atheistic,” the biologist J.B.S. Haldane wrote, in 1934. “That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel, or devil is going to interfere with its course and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career.” It’s ironic, really, that so many people are fixated on the relationship between science and religion: basically, there isn’t one. In my more than thirty years as a practicing physicist, I have never heard the word “God” mentioned in a scientific meeting. Belief or nonbelief in God is irrelevant to our understanding of the workings of nature—just as it’s irrelevant to the question of whether or not citizens are obligated to follow the law.
Because science holds that no idea is sacred, it’s inevitable that it draws people away from religion. The more we learn about the workings of the universe, the more purposeless it seems. Scientists have an obligation not to lie about the natural world. Even so, to avoid offense, they sometimes misleadingly imply that today’s discoveries exist in easy harmony with preëxisting religious doctrines, or remain silent rather than pointing out contradictions between science and religious doctrine. It’s a strange inconsistency, since scientists often happily disagree with other kinds of beliefs. Astronomers have no problem ridiculing the claims of astrologists, even though a significant fraction of the public believes these claims. Doctors have no problem condemning the actions of anti-vaccine activists who endanger children. And yet, for reasons of decorum, many scientists worry that ridiculing certain religious claims alienates the public from science. When they do so, they are being condescending at best and hypocritical at worst.
Ultimately, when we hesitate to openly question beliefs because we don’t want to risk offense, questioning itself becomes taboo. It is here that the imperative for scientists to speak out seems to me to be most urgent. As a result of speaking out on issues of science and religion, I have heard from many young people about the shame and ostracism they experience after merely questioning their family’s faith. Sometimes, they find themselves denied rights and privileges because their actions confront the faith of others. Scientists need to be prepared to demonstrate by example that questioning perceived truth, especially “sacred truth”, is an essential part of living in a free country.
I see a direct link, in short, between the ethics that guide science and those that guide civic life. Cosmology, my specialty, may appear to be far removed from Kim Davis’s refusal to grant marriage licenses to gay couples, but in fact the same values apply in both realms. Whenever scientific claims are presented as unquestionable, they undermine science. Similarly, when religious actions or claims about sanctity can be made with impunity in our society, we undermine the very basis of modern secular democracy. We owe it to ourselves and to our children not to give a free pass to governments — totalitarian, theocratic, or democratic — that endorse, encourage, enforce, or otherwise legitimize the suppression of open questioning in order to protect ideas that are considered “sacred”. Five hundred years of science have liberated humanity from the shackles of enforced ignorance. We should celebrate this openly and enthusiastically, regardless of whom it may offend.
If that is what causes someone to be called a militant atheist, then no scientist should be ashamed of the label.
We have said it is a good article. And what we have quoted, we heartily agree with.
But we left out one paragraph (where the dots are).
Here it is:
This reticence can have significant consequences. Consider the example of Planned Parenthood. Lawmakers are calling for a government shutdown unless federal funds for Planned Parenthood are stripped from spending bills for the fiscal year starting October 1st. Why? Because Planned Parenthood provides fetal tissue samples from abortions to scientific researchers hoping to cure diseases, from Alzheimer’s to cancer. (Storing and safeguarding that tissue requires resources, and Planned Parenthood charges researchers for the costs.) It’s clear that many of the people protesting Planned Parenthood are opposed to abortion on religious grounds and are, to varying degrees, anti-science. Should this cause scientists to clam up at the risk of further offending or alienating them? Or should we speak out loudly to point out that, independent of one’s beliefs about what is sacred, this tissue would otherwise be thrown away, even though it could help improve and save lives?
Either the author did not watch the videos that recorded Planned Parnethood personnel talking about their trade in the body parts of aborted fetuses, or he did not hear, or chose to forget, some statements they made. The videos make it perfecty clear that the organization was not just selling the parts in order to cover costs, but carryng on the trade for profit.
Now we have nothing against trade for profit. On the contrary, we think the making of profit is the morally best and most socially useful reason for selling anything and providing any service.
But it happens that the selling of the body parts of aborted fetuses for profit is against the law. So exactly the same objection that Lawrence Krauss makes to Kim Davis’s action – that she broke the law – applies to Planned Parenthood’s action.
What seems to cloud his judgment in the case of Planned Parenthood – if he did watch the videos and take in what was said – is the fact that the body parts went to scientists for the great cause (and we do think it is a great cause) of scientific research.
But however good the cause that the illegal trade was serving, it was still illegal.
In fact, what emerges from those videos is criminal action more morally outrageous than just selling the parts of aborted fetuses. (Note, please, that we are calling them fetuses, not “babies”, in order not to use controversial language.) It is revealed, in an interview with an employee of a firm that bought the body parts, that Planned Parenthood was urging pregnant women to have an abortion – even when they were uncertain that they wanted one, and even in one case when the woman was inclined NOT to have one – so that Planned Parenthood could sell the fetus’s body parts and so make a profit.
That is iniquity.
Now scientists like Lawrence Krauss might argue persuasively that there should not be a law forbidding the selling of fetuses, whole or in parts, for profit. Just as Kim Davis might argue that there should not be a law that compels her to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. But there are such laws. And if it is wrong for Kim Davis to break the law on the grounds that it does a disservice to her idea of a higher good, so it is wrong for Planned Parenthood to break the law even if by doing so it is serving the genuinely higher good of science.
We have said that Lawrence Krauss’s judgment may be clouded by his belief in the supreme goodness of scientific research. We will not go so far as to say that he holds that end to be “sacred”, because we agree with him that the word has no place in the vocabulary of atheism. So we toss the accusation aside.
It could be said that our moral judgment of Planned Parenthood – accurate though our allegation is that the organization broke the law – may be clouded by our extreme distaste for their abortion services. (Note that we call them “services”, firmly resisting the temptation to call them “abuses”.) It is true that we have an arguably irrational prejudice in favor of human life. We very much dislike abortion – while acknowledging that there are reasonable grounds for it in certain cases, and on no account arguing for it to be made wholly illegal. But obviously our objection to it is not on religious grounds. We do not believe that it frustrates “God’s purposes”. We are against it because we are against the deliberate destruction of human life - unless the human in question has forfeited his or her life by taking someone else’s.
Those who are for abortion on demand accuse those of us who are against it of being inconsistent when we call ourselves “pro-life”, because many of us are for the death penalty. By the same token, we can accuse them of inconsistency when they are for the destruction of life in the womb, but against putting convicted murderers to death. We are for saving the innocent and punishing the guilty, while they are for destroying the innocent and saving the guilty.
(Hat-tip for the article to our reader, Stephen)
The great idea of individual freedom is what the Founders of the USA intended the new nation to embody – not Christianity.
We have selected passages on this theme from an article by Rob Boston in Church and State, denying “10 myths” about the First Amendment and its implications:
Myth One: Separation of church and state isn’t found in the U.S. Constitution.
Separation of church and state came about in America because during the colonial period there often was no separation, and this violated fundamental liberties. The system the Religious Right favors – church-state union – was tried in many colonies and found wanting.
Throughout the article, the author ascribes the myths exclusively to the “Religious Right”. In our experience, Christians of both Right and Left repeat these same fallacies.
Virginia led the way. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison worked together to disestablish the Anglican Church and pass legislation that extended true religious freedom to all. Some years later, it was Jefferson who penned the metaphor of the First Amendment erecting a “wall of separation between church and state”. Jefferson’s metaphor resonated with the public and the courts. Thus, the phrase “separation of church and state” came into being as a short-hand way of describing the First Amendment’s religion clauses. As the eminent church-state scholar Leo Pfeffer once wrote, “[I]t was inevitable that some convenient term should come into existence to verbalize a principle so widely held by the American people.”
Key Founders backed the concept. Madison, known as the “Father of the Constitution” and a primary drafter of the Bill of Rights, used similar language. In Virginia, Madison noted that he and Jefferson had created the “total separation of the church from the state”. As president, Madison was a strict advocate of this principle. He vetoed legislation that would have given a church in Washington, D.C., a symbolic charter to care for the poor, and he vetoed legislation giving a federal land grant to a church. In both cases, Madison issued veto messages citing the First Amendment.
Myth Two: The United States was founded to be a Christian nation.
This claim is easily debunked by referring to the text of the U.S. Constitution. If an officially Christian nation had been the Founders’ intent, the Constitution would say that explicitly. It doesn’t. In fact, it says the opposite.
Religion is referred to twice in the Constitution. The First Amendment bars laws “respecting an establishment of religion” and prohibiting “the free exercise thereof.” The first portion of this statement, which scholars call the Establishment Clause, cuts strongly against the notion of an officially Christian nation.
The second reference is often overlooked but is very important. Article VI contains language stating that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” What the Founders did here was ban religious qualifications for federal office – that is, they made it illegal to require that a person hold certain religious beliefs as a qualification for public office. Article VI ensures that all people – Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, etc. – can hold office at the federal level. It is impossible to square this language with the “Christian nation” concept.
Many conservative pastors of the post-Revolution era were well aware of the secular nature of the Constitution. They knew that the document did not establish an officially Christian nation. This angered them and led to a round of pulpit attacks on the “godless” Constitution.
Myth Three: Separation of church and state was originally intended to merely bar the creation of a national church.
The text of the First Amendment goes way beyond simply banning a national church. The amendment prohibits all laws “respecting an establishment of religion”. James Madison, one of the chief drafters of the amendment, interpreted it broadly. Madison believed that tax funding of churches was unconstitutional and even concluded, later in his life, that official White House proclamations calling for days of prayer were a violation.
It is true that some colonies had official churches. But it’s worth noting that the religion enshrined in law varied from colony to colony. … This “multiplicity of sects,” as Thomas Jefferson called it, ensured an effective check on an officially established national church.
Myth Four: Most of the Founders were evangelical Christians and supported government promulgation of that mode of faith.
Evangelicalism did take hold in the colonies in the post-Revolutionary era, but it was never embraced by key Founders. Rather, they tended to align with a rival school that sought to merge certain ethical principles of Christianity with the tenets of the Enlightenment, which stressed the primacy of science and reason. …
Many Founders are identified as Deists, a theological school of thought that is less popular today. Deists believed in God but didn’t interpret the Bible in a literal fashion. They were skeptical of miraculous claims and sought to find a way to bring religion into alignment with the emerging scientific view of the world.
Yes, many Founders were Deists, but here a correction is needed. As theological terms, Deism means belief that a divine being made the universe but had nothing more to do with it; Theism. in contrast, means belief in a creator who continues to concern himself with human affairs.
Some of the signers of the Constitution did undoubtedly hold traditional Christian beliefs. But this does not mean they supported merging church and state.
Myth Five: Mottos like “In God We Trust” on currency and “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance are evidence that separation of church and state was never intended.
Both of these phrases are of much more recent origin than many people believe.
“In God We Trust” is familiar to most Americans because it appears on U.S. currency. But early American money did not carry this phrase. The Fugio cent, a penny authorized by Congress in 1787 and reportedly designed by Benjamin Franklin, contained the mottos “Mind Your Business” and “We Are One” – a reference to the 13 colonies.
“In God We Trust” didn’t appear on coins until the Civil War, when it was authorized for use on some coins minted in the North. The use of the phrase was sporadic on currency and was not codified until the 1950s. Around the same time, the phrase was adopted as the national motto. (“E Pluribus Unum” had been serving as an unofficial motto until then.) Many scholars believe that the adoption of these religious phrases was a reaction to the fight against “godless communism” during the Cold War.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a minister and a socialist. Bellamy wrote the Pledge to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Christopher Columbus. Bellamy’s Pledge, which did not include the phrase “under God,” appeared in a magazine called Youth’s Companion. After a lobbying campaign by the magazine … it was adopted for use in public schools as part of a daily flag-salute ritual. Congress added the words “under God” to the Pledge in 1954, again as a reaction to the fight against communism.
In short, the Founders had nothing to do with these religious mottos or their adoption.
Myth Six: Thanks to separation of church and state, kids can’t pray in public schools.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 1962 and 1963 banned programs of government-sponsored, compulsory prayer and Bible reading in public schools. The high court did not invalidate truly voluntary prayer and hasn’t done so since then. … Young people in public schools today may pray and read religious books in a non-disruptive way – but the choice is now theirs. No students can be compelled to take part in religious worship in a public school or singled out for refusing to do so. …
In addition, the Supreme Court has made it clear that public schools can teach about religion in an objective manner. Religion can be discussed in classes like history, art, literature and others. The Bible and other religious texts can even be read as part of a comparative religion course. As long as the approach has legitimate educational goals, public school officials will not get into trouble for teaching about religion. …
Myth Seven: Separation of church and state fosters secularism, which drains religion of its vitality.
Official government secularism is not the enemy of faith; it is the defender of it. A secular state is one that is neutral on matters of theology. An official policy of government neutrality toward religion is a positive thing for faith communities. …
The United States is a perfect example of how an official doctrine of secularism helps religion. In this country, the government long ago adopted a hands-off attitude toward religion. As a result, hundreds (if not thousands) of specific faith groups have sprung up on our shores. Religious groups remain vital, and most Americans claim a religious affiliation.
Other Western nations have either established churches or some form of government aid to religion. Ironically, it is in these nations where religion is withering away. It would seem that the official tie between church and state and the rejection of secularism as a legal principle sap faith of its vitality. In the end, religion becomes a mere creature of the state and a tool for promoting whatever policies government leaders decide are appropriate. This is not what people want, and they turn away from religion.
A thought, perhaps even a fact, that does not seem a happy one to us. If separation of church and state has actually encouraged religiosness and multiplied religions, it is not an unmitigated virtue of the Constituion after all. But it may be that freedom alone is responsible for the hundreds or thousands of churches in the US. And there is no consequence of freedom that can make it regrettable.
Myth Eight: Separation of church and state means that government must be hostile to religion.
In some countries, houses of worship are shuttered by government mandate, and religious people are persecuted. Nothing like that has occurred in the United States, which operates under the separation of church and state.
The separation principle contains two key parts: The government is to refrain from promoting, sponsoring or advocating for any faith. Yet at the same time, the government is required not to meddle in the internal affairs of religious groups or impose undue regulations and oversight on them. Church-state separation protects religion by placing it beyond the reach of government. …
Not quite “beyond the reach of government”. Government’s interfering hand has held out offerings:
Religious groups in America receive many benefits. They are wholly tax exempt and are often free from the regulatory oversight that is imposed on similarly situated secular groups. They are free to lobby and speak out on political issues. They often receive special exemptions and preferential treatment in secular law. Far from experiencing hostility, the place of religion in this nation where we separate church and state is in many ways exalted.
Myth Nine: Most religious leaders don’t support separation of church and state.
Some of the earliest proponents of separation of church and state were religious leaders. Roger Williams, a Puritan clergyman and the founder of Rhode Island, strongly advocated for separation during the colonial era. Years later, clerics like John Leland and Isaac Backus demanded separation as the best vehicle to protect the right of conscience for all.
In colonial Virginia and elsewhere, clergy from Baptist, Presbyterian and other traditions worked alongside Enlightenment thinkers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to secure church-state separation. These religious leaders knew that only separation could protect their faith and enable it to prosper.
In the modern era, many members of the clergy … [and] religious denominations are on record as officially supporting the concept.
Myth Ten: Separation of church and state stifles the public voice and presence of religion.
Anyone who believes this hasn’t been paying attention. The United States operates under separation of church and state, yet religious groups have a loud and robust public voice. They speak out – from the left, right and center – on any number of political issues. As tax-exempt entities, houses of worship are not permitted under federal law to endorse or oppose candidates for public office, but there is nothing to stop them from addressing issues. … Nor does separation of church and state result in what one foe of the principle called a “naked public square”. It’s true that government may not post or erect religious symbols, but private religious groups are often able to use public space to display them with their own money and on their own time. All that is required is that the government must treat all religious and secular groups equally; if access to public space is extended to one group, it must be extended to all.
To sum up: the Constitution does require the separation of church and state, even though the phrase itself does not appear in it.
This post adds comment to yesterday’s immediately below, The cloud of knowing.
We report there how the Chicago Council on Global Affairs urged that “the role of religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy” be “clarified”. Which means changed. Because “some parts of the world — the Middle East, China, Russia and India, for example — are particularly sensitive to the U.S. government’s emphasis on religious freedom and see it as a form of imperialism”.
“Imperialism” in the myopic eyes of the international Left is a very severe form of “racism” – its chief deadly sin.
What these thinkers who want the US to promote religion abroad are really getting at, is that for us to advocate religious tolerance is to impose our values on those who don’t believe in it.
That is to say, impose tolerance and freedom on states that have – and enforce – a state religion; or on religious groups that hold their own beliefs to be unquestionably and uniquely true.
They think (if it can be called thinking) that by objecting to the intolerance of such states and groups, we are being intolerant.
And so they imply that it’s perfectly all right for them to be intolerant, but for us to be intolerant is a sin and a scandal.
In the words of the Palestinian grievance-monger Edward Said, we are guilty of regarding people of other races and cultures and religions (he meant specifically Muslims) as “the other”, and looking down on them. He was not concerned, as neither are his followers, that they regard us as “the other”, and not merely look down on us, but plan perpetual warfare (holy war, jihad) against us, so that they may force us to convert, or – if we are lucky – pay them to let us live, or else die.
In consideration of that alone, it is obvious that our values, our political system, and our culture is immeasurably superior to theirs. And the view that we are in the wrong to look down on their intolerance, cruelty, immoral creeds, and oppressive government is hogwash.
These critics of the West – in particular of America – seem unaware that when they deplore “white privilege” they are acknowledging that our system, our way of life, our achievements, our culture, our economy, our form of government (all of which include people of many races, colors, ethnic backgrounds and religions) are better than the others. What else can they mean by “privilege”? We weren’t picked out by some great Emir in the Sky to be the recipients of his bounty more than any other society.
What the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ proposal inescapably means is that first, we should refrain from condemning (for instance): the Sunni persecution of Christians, Yezidis, and Shias; or the Shia persecution of Sunnis and Baha’i; or the general Muslim subjugation of women and demonization of Jews; or the Indonesian mass murder of Ahmadis; or Hindu actions against Muslims; or Muslim actions against Buddhists. And second, we should actively encourage it. What other meaning can be found in their recommendation?
The implications go still further. Even if we were to take a tolerant view of all that tyranny and bloodshed, we would still be in the wrong. Because our secularism is wrong.
And what does that imply if not that we too should have an enforced state religion? (Any bets on what religion it would be if President Obama could impose it by executive order?)
Also that when that happens, not only could we be intolerant of all religions that are not ours, but we positively should be – just like the others.
And finally, to attain perfect Lefty virtue, we would have to resist forever any temptation to so much as think that maybe we should all be free to believe and not believe whatever we damn well like.
If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject. – Ayn Rand
The political philosophy of the New Left is weak, shallow, and in its expression by some of its gurus, patently absurd. But it has won the West. It has won the academies of the pan-European word, and through them generations grow up steeped in the creed.
What is the creed, and why has it won?
It has won because it echoes a Christian teaching, to which some 8,000 generations (reckoning 4 generations per century) of Europeans have been subjected.
It is the notion that to be a good person you must pity other people and make sacrifices for them. Only if you do that, are you worthy and virtuous.
It has been drummed into every Christian from his earliest years, so even if he rebels against his religion, his class, his culture, his race, his nation, he clings to that idea as to the moral kingpin of his universe. Take it away, and the center will not hold.
The New Left was a rebellion by affluent, middle-class adolescents (some of them well advanced in middle age) against their class, culture, race, and nation, starting about twenty years after the end of the Second World War (1939-1945).
The old Left, a secular version of Christianity, won the support of middle-class intellectuals by directing pity on to the working-class. The intellectuals would, at whatever cost to themselves, lead the oppressed and exploited workers in revolution. In Russia to start with, they did just that before the end of the First World War.
By the late 1960s, the old Left, in the person of dictators and their henchmen, was actively oppressing millions, including the populations of the Eastern European countries and a part of Germany.
So the old Left lost its appeal partly because the Leftist regimes could not easily be held up as models of paradise on earth. In addition, the working-class in the West had generally become prosperous enough to be content with its lot.
The New Left found new victims to feel sorry for. It found them first abroad, in the Third World, which was not prosperous. It declared the people of Third World countries to be exploited and oppressed by European colonialism and imperialism, even if their countries were no longer colonies or parts of empires. Its concern extended to Third World descendants who lived in the First World.
Then it declared that in the First World, women were victims of male-dominated societies. Many women volunteered for the role.
Next, homosexuals were declared, and many declared themselves, victims of heterosexual-dominated First World societies.
The main thing was, New Left intellectuals found new groups to pity, and so new sources for pride in a feeling of self-worth.
After 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War – of which the West was the immediate winner – the old Left was held by Western intellectuals (whom Thomas Sowell calls “the self-annointed”) to have been the wrong Left. The New Left, they maintain, is the politically correct Left.
The strange thing about the (new or old) Left’s remedy for human suffering is this: While only the individual can feel pain and suffer distress; while no masses, no group, no class, no race as such can suffer or feel anything at all; yet the Plan of the Left to remedy suffering is always one that sacrifices individuals for the sake of the group. It is always a Plan that is implemented regardless of individual suffering. So important is the Plan itself, that any number of individuals may be persecuted, silenced, tortured, enslaved, killed for it.
There is no collective remedy for human suffering. The only prescription that works is individual freedom; leaving people alone to serve their own purposes in the manner they choose for themselves. (Nothing need prevent an individual from aiding other individuals if that’s what he wants to do.)
John Schindler, who calls himself “a traditional leftist”, writes about why he believes the New Left has won in an article titled Who Really Won the Cold War?, in The Federalist. I quote it in full.
While he makes some points I do not agree with (chiefly the idea he takes for granted that Leftism ideally serves the cause of “human freedom”), he makes many more that bear out what I have said about the old Left and the New Left, and how and why the New Left has won the Cold War. I found this surprising. But it explains why an essay by a “traditional leftist” appears in The Federalist.
He starts with a figure from the old Left who has just recently risen to prominence:
The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party has sent shockwaves far beyond Britain. There has been disbelief that the United Kingdom’s storied left-wing party opted to be led by a man so obviously contemptuous of his own society. In the wake of their recent electoral debacle under the uninspiring Ed Miliband, Labour has chosen as its leader an activist who resembles a walking leftist cliché. Corbyn’s radicalism is not in doubt. Aside from his embrace of socialist-throwback platitudes that linger on his party’s left flank on the full range of domestic issues, in adamant rejection of Blairism, Corbyn’s foreign-policy views merit attention. Openly hostile to NATO and Britain’s longstanding “special relationship” with the United States, Corbyn adds overt sympathy for numerous authoritarian regimes.
He blames the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, not the Kremlin, for the Ukraine crisis and has endorsed Russia Today, Putin’s TV propaganda network. Corbyn opposes essentially all overseas military operations by Britain and wants to parley with Bashar al-Assad, four years into Syria’s fratricide, while viewing Tehran as a partner for Middle East peace.
That said, leftist infatuation with foreign dictators is hardly new. For decades a crush on “progressive” despots safely far away from their own free country has been a staple of the Western far-Left diet. Corbyn is simply a paid-up member of his ideological tribe.
Yet Corbyn surpasses his predecessors in his fervent embrace of the social-justice message at home as well as abroad. He exudes hostility towards the Britain that made the historic Labour Party. This, after all, is a man who celebrates Hamas, Hezbollah, and related Islamist extremists as freedom-fighters, while explaining the death of Osama bin Laden was “a tragedy”.
Unsurprisingly, Corbyn enthusiastically espouses multiculturalism and says Britain should “celebrate” record numbers of immigrants entering the country — a position not popular with many voters, who see the European Union being overwhelmed by waves of migrants from Asia and Africa. Between his crush on the West’s enemies and his desire to change his country’s population, Corbyn wants to abolish Britain, not reform it.
Yet we should not regard Corbyn as a particular outlier. In truth, his cocktail of trendy “progressive” opinions, which rejects virtually everything about their own society, is commonly found among postmodern Western leftists. The only difference is that Corbyn makes no effort to mask his views. Many of his fellow travelers obscure their take, which would be considered extreme by most voters, behind moderate-sounding language.
Unlike Barack Obama, who once assured us that he did not see a Red America or a Blue America, rather a United States of America — then proceeded to govern through two terms as a highly partisan liberal Democrat — Corbyn states openly that there is only one “real” Britain, and it is deep red (which in Britain, as most of Europe, means left-wing).
Corbynism is no sudden or shocking development, but the natural culmination of 50 years of left-wing views that have shifted from a desire to reform Western democracies to an unconcealed wish to kill them, or at least change them so fundamentally that they bear little resemblance to themselves.
The Old Left, for all its sometimes horrific flaws, sought socioeconomic change to benefit average citizens, not all-out social revolution. They, in their own way, were very much a product of Western culture. After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, which split the Left worldwide into communist and social democratic groupings, the latter worked within the socioeconomic system, embracing democracy while seeking minimal deep changes to society itself.
Even the communists were hardly social revolutionaries in practice. In the initial euphoria of the revolution there was experimentation. The Soviet Union became the first society ever to allow abortion and easy divorce. In Hungary, during the short-lived red revolution at the end of World War I, Bolsheviks embraced social radicalism and introduced sex education to undermine the traditional family.
However, once firmly in power, the Soviets dropped any pretense of social revolution to mirror the politico-economic one. While religion was persecuted and mild feminism got lip service, Stalin banned abortion and the party frowned upon sexual immorality. After all, the revolution needed soldiers and workers, and who but communist women could make those?
Although the abortion ban was dropped after Stalin, Soviet social practices remained highly “heteronormative,” with homosexuality being criminal while men and women were strongly encouraged to marry and be fruitful. In its most extreme form, Nicolae Ceaușescu nearly banned abortion and contraceptives altogether in his effort to build his highly fecund socialist Romania.
Many were the Western progressives who visited the East Bloc during the Cold War, having been fed propaganda about the wondrous “new society”, only to discover that communism was actually behind the West in matters of family, sex, and gender.
While the Soviets and their clients remained mired in traditional social models, the West moved on — or forward, depending on your viewpoint. The great social revolution of the 1960s, which passed the East Bloc by because communism had insulated the countries, brought forth a New Left in the West that was interested in matters of sex, gender, and race rather than who owns the means of production.
Their “long march through the institutions” after a half-century must be judged wholly successful. While the Right has won the battle for economics across the West — calls for public ownership now seem quaint rather than threatening to capitalists — the New Left has triumphed on the social front in every arena.
In the United States, which was more resistant to the New Left agenda than many Western countries, the Obama years have witnessed the victory of social justice on all major matters of race, gender, and sexuality. Thanks to activists, politicians, and courts, Americans today are living in a very different social and sexual world than their parents and grandparents.
More than a few communists saw all this coming. Beginning in the 1970s, East Bloc secret police began to notice the impact of the New Left on their Old Left countries. Cries for radical individualism from dissidents under Western influence troubled the communists, who didn’t know what to do about this trend, which they dismissed as a bourgeois affectation.
By the 1980s, the more perceptive East Bloc security services were denouncing this Western poison, which took the form of radical feminism, sexual freedom, environmental activism, and gay rights. To traditional communists, who barely understood this new ideology, it was a scary Western import, according to the secret police. Some in Eastern Europe termed this decadence “anarcho-liberalism”, and they considered it a disease of an affluent late capitalist society burdened with excessive consumerism and leisure time.
In the end, of course, the communists lost. Lots of average people in the East Bloc wanted the freedom to own cool shoes, while some pined for the social-sexual liberties that the West offered. In many ways, the revolutions of 1989 to 1991 that changed the map and politics of Europe and beyond can be viewed with a quarter-century of hindsight as the defeat of the Old Left in the East by the New Left in the West.
We are living still with the consequences of this seismic political shift. With the sudden disappearance of the communist threat, the Right lost interest in socioeconomic fairness, a Cold War necessity to keep reds at bay on the home-front, while oddly so did the Left.
The obsessive interest of the New Left in social justice has come at the expense of economic concerns, with the result that on a wide range of topics their positions, barring lip service, differ hardly at all from the Right. Few on the Left question our basic economic arrangements; tearing down our social foundations has been their core program.
Barack Obama is the most left-wing president ever on social justice, yet he is a darling of Wall Street. Hillary Clinton, despite her belated interest in social issues, is deeply enmeshed in high finance and will never challenge it. Thus Bernie Sanders, who is an amalgam of Old and New Left, is treated like an atavism by mainstream liberals when he opens the economics can of worms.
It’s all enough to make the few traditional leftists among us want to pull their hair out. The broad alliance of cultural Left and corporate Right, which questions none of our economics, has triumphed in our politics — or at least had until Donald Trump came along to question “settled” issues such as mass, often illegal, immigration. The cultural Left favors this because it gradually dissolves the traditional culture, which they despise, while the corporate Right favors it for the cheap labor. Postmodern capitalism is at least as revolutionary a force as anything cooked up by any Marxist, as well as something any Social Justice Warrior can live with.
For more than a generation we have sorely lacked mainstream contributions from social democrats who seek to make our society better, not destroy it. There ought to be no illusions about what the cultural Left seeks: a full revolution of our society and its history, which they see as benighted by irredeemable racism, sexism, and Old Think. Their opponents are objectively evil and on the“wrong side of history,” as Obama himself has assured us, and they must disappear. “Error has no rights,” the mid-nineteenth-century Vatican formulation, has oddly been adapted by our postmodern Left.
As communists once predicted the state itself would wither away, resulting in complete human freedom and progress, the New Left expects that all traditional societal arrangements will wither away, thereby allowing full human freedom and progress. One offered discipline and order and sometimes gulags; the other offers sexual liberty, anti-racism, and iPhones.
Both these beliefs are illusions, and dangerous ones, rooted in a Marxist sense of “knowing” where history is going. The working class was once revered by leftists as uniquely virtuous, while for the New Left that vanguard role is played by minorities sexual and racial, who are allegedly untainted by the dominant group. The essential willingness to ignore inconvenient truths remains the same.
Let us give the Old Left, particularly its social democratic guise, credit that they did not seek the extirpation of our whole society and culture, but instead its transformation. What the New Left today fights for is far more revolutionary and utopian. A Europe that seeks a future where actual Europeans are a dying remnant, replaced by more vigorous immigrants, is but one manifestation of this worldview.
Leftists once heartily sang the “Internationale,” which promised “This is the final struggle” (C’est la lutte finale). Communists were quite wrong about that. History has moved on and left them behind everywhere but Cuba, North Korea, and Western universities. Yet their social-justice descendants believe the same thing, with a different favored fantasy class.
They will be proved wrong, too. The Corbyn vision has no future to offer most Britons. It would be incomprehensible to generations of Labour patriots who fought for Britain, her values, and her allies. The only question is how much damage to what is left of the West will be inflicted before the New Left is vanquished, too.
I wish I could share his optimism that the New Left will be vanquished (in the foreseeable future).
And what I miss in the essay is any reference to the human misery that “traditional leftism” of the redder kind has caused wherever it has had power to cause it. Of course, his focus is on the British Left, which was never – until now? – as red as all that.
I dislike his implication that collectivism (aka Leftism) of his favored – or any – kind is a valid recipe for improving what Leftists have called “the human condition”.
But I applaud his recognition that the New Left “seeks the extirpation of our whole society and culture”, and that he deplores that terrible aim.
If only he could also see that it is logically, even necessarily, derived from the old socialist collectivist thinking to which he remains faithful!
Jillian Becker September 18, 2015
Eminent domain: The compulsory purchase of private property by government “for public use”.
Eminent domain: Sheer robbery.
From Truth Revolt:
The Sheahan family has owned a 400-acre mine in the Nevada desert town of Groom, 83 miles northwest of Las Vegas, since 1889. This was long before the construction of a secret United States Air Force military base in 1950s commonly known as Area 51. But the family is suddenly facing eviction if they refuse to comply with the military’s demands. …
The Sheahan’s may have just spent their last Labor Day on the property. They [had] until [last] Thursday to accept the payment offer from the Air Force or be evicted from their property through eminent domain. However, the Sheahans say the $5 million offer would be shared by 20 people and is “woefully inadequate” to cover 400 valuable acres that includes a silver mine, and all of the mineral, water, and timber rights.
“We want them to leave us alone,” mine co-owner Joe Sheahan said. “This is our property. It’s legal. These are patents that were signed by Ulysses S. Grant. This is not new stuff.”
Co-owner Barbara Manning added, “And we are not their threat. We have been trying to be really good neighbors for all of our lives and so have our grandparents and our parents.”
The mine has been unable to be worked since 1954 when the on-site mill was blown up and destroyed, believed to be caused by a jettisoned engine from an Air Force Jet. But at least once a month, family members take turns visiting the property to carry out maintenance, or just to simply get away.
Though the family has been allowed to stay on the property for nearly 60 years alongside the military testing base, it is now considered a security risk. From the report:
The Air Force now says that private land ownership in the testing area is incompatible with security and safety concerns.
This is a different line than the family was given back in 1984 when the Air Force sent them the following in a letter:
The Air Force could only terminate your rights through condemnation or purchase of the property. We have no intention of initiating such actions.
The Las Vegas news outlet states that the Sheahans [were] hoping for Congress to step in to help them avoid eviction … But none of Nevada’s Republican or Democrat congressmen would respond to statement requests. The same goes for Senator Harry Reid and Republican Senator Dean Heller.
The use of eminent domain to confiscate this property may arguably be justified on the grounds that national security takes precedence over property rights.
But eminent domain is too often used to assist powerful commercial interests. The government seizes property and then sells it to private developers, claiming that the new owner will be serving “the public good”.
One entrepeneur who has taken advantage of eminent domain through such a process is Donald Trump.
From the Washington Times, by David Keene:
Conservatives are by their nature a fractious bunch, but through time they have consistently rallied around certain shared values. At times, national defense questions have dominated the national debate and the debate within the movement while at other times, social or economic issues have seemed to define the movement. In fact, however, while the public focus has changed based on circumstances, the basic views of all these hyphenated conservatives have never varied. The organizers of CPAC have for two decades polled attendees as to their core beliefs and have found a consistent belief in free markets and limited government as the dominant definer of the movement.
It’s time for conservatives who share these values to begin questioning the wisdom of the current fascination with Donald Trump. It is true that the man is successfully channeling the conservative frustration with our elected leaders and the media elite. Applauding his willingness to stand up to the false gods of political correctness is understandable as is the outrage at the way the oh-so-comfortable establishment has reacted to him and his rhetoric, but none of that can possibly justify elevating the man to the presidency of the United States. In fact, based on his public statements he is far more philosophically inconsistent or, dare we say it, “liberal” than any of the “establishment” candidates that so frustrate us.
More important perhaps is the matter of temperament. There is always a lot of talk about the “judicial temperament” required of judicial nominees, but the temperament of those we consider elevating to the presidency is even more important. A president’s inclination to abide by the constraints imposed on the office by the Founders is, as we have learned in recent years, directly related to his own concept of his place in the world. The current occupant of the Oval Office finds constitutional limits roadblocks to be bypassed or ignored. Listening to the Donald, one cannot escape the conclusion that he, too, sees himself as too important to be constrained by the scribblings of a bunch of dead white men. That alone is a reason to be skeptical about the man.
One only need go back to his reaction to the Supreme Court decision in the 2005 Kelo case giving government the power to expand the eminent domain power to allow the taking of private property not to build highways, but to give it to others so they can make money and the government can collect more tax money. … It didn’t trouble Mr. Trump, one of the few public figures in the country to publicly praise it. “I happen to agree with it 100 percent,” he said while conservatives around the country were tearing their hair out to find ways to restore the balance between individual property rights, government power and the public good.
Mr. Trump’s position then was predictable. He often entered into “partnerships” with local governments and got them to use their power to go after homeowners standing in the way of yet another Trump Tower, park or monument, and he couldn’t understand why private citizens should be able to stand in his way. A man who thought that way then and continues to think that way, regardless of whether he deserves applause for his positions on this or that issue is not one to be trusted with the awesome power of the presidency.
But it looks more than possible that Donald Trump could be the next president.
And he has some very good ideas. Just to start with, he wants to build a wall on the border with Mexico; hit ISIS hard; and make everybody richer (except hedge fund managers).
We think he would build the wall.
We hope he would destroy ISIS.
And wouldn’t it be luvverly if he made us all richer?
(Hat-tip for the Washington Times article to our highly valued commenter liz.)
Yet another socialist state – Greece – finds itself insolvent. When will they ever learn?
Quotations from Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, by Ludwig von Mises –
Wherever Europeans or the descendants of European emigrants live, we see Socialism at work to-day; and in Asia it is the banner round which the antagonists of European civilization gather. If the intellectual dominance of Socialism remains unshaken, then in a short time the whole co-operative system of culture which Europe has built up during thousands of years will be shattered. For a socialist order of society is unrealizable. All efforts to realize Socialism lead only to the destruction of society. Factories, mines, and railways will come to a standstill, towns will be deserted. The population of the industrial territories will die out or migrate elsewhere. The farmer will return to the self-sufficiency of the closed, domestic economy. Without private ownership in the means of production there is, in the long run, no production other than a hand-to-mouth production for one’s own needs.
All rational action is economic. All economic activity is rational action. All rational action is in the first place individual action. Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts.
The average man is both better informed and less corruptible in the decisions he makes as a consumer than as a voter at political elections.
When we call a capitalist society a consumers’ democracy we mean that the power to dispose of the means of production, which belongs to the entrepreneurs and capitalists, can only be acquired by means of the consumers’ ballot, held daily in the market-place.
Hear, Oh Greece! And Bernie Sanders fans! And Pope Francis!
Margaret the Great on the virtue of inequality and the vice of egalitarian thinking:
Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. It cost many of them everything they had. They paid it willingly.
Justice Scalia, in his dissent from the Supreme Curt’s ruling that makes same-sex marriage legal throughout the United States (see our post immediately below, Who rules America?), so despised what five of his fellow justices ruled – because they had no right to – that he wrote this :
The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.
His chief concern is that the Supreme Court was exceeding its powers and disastrously changing its proper function as a checking and balancing branch of government. Also, he declared it wrong to shut down the democratic process of debate within the states.
He firmly stated that the issue of same-sex marriage itself was not important to him.
Much as we like his dissenting opinion on the whole, on this point we disagree. While we take no position on any sexual preferences, practices, or proclivities (as long as there is no exploitation or corruption of children involved), we think that the issue of same-sex marriage is important. Its legalization throughout the United States has profound consequences.
Far from augmenting individual freedom, the ruling is radically destructive of it.
Here is an article that explains why that is the case, by Stella Morabito at The Federalist:
Same-sex marriage is a notion that contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction. I doubt many have thought this through, with the ironic exception of the elites who have been pushing the agenda the hardest.
Most people are weary of it all and going along to get along, especially since dissent has become such a socially expensive proposition, almost overnight. That in itself should deeply concern anyone who values freedom of expression.
Sure, true believers scattered across the land really do think the entire project ends with allowing same-sex couples to marry. Most persist in the blind faith that a federal ban on the standard definition of marriage will have no negative effect on family autonomy and privacy. That’s a pipe dream.
The same-sex marriage agenda is more like a magic bullet with a trajectory that will abolish civil marriage for everyone, and in doing so, will embed central planning into American life. And that, my friends, is the whole point of it. Along with Obamacare, net neutrality, and Common Core, genderless marriage is a blueprint for regulating life, particularly family life.
The Rainbow’s Arc
Unintended consequences usually come about when we are ignorant or maybe lazy about a course of action. But we usually crash land after following an arc of logic, which in this case has gone largely undiscerned and unaddressed in the public square.
Americans are in a fog about how marriage equality will lead to more central planning and thought policing. This is partly because the media and Hollywood only provide slogans to regurgitate while academics and judges push politically correct speech codes to obey.
Let’s explore the fallout of that arc of faulty logic. Included below are some 15 of the gaping holes in the “marriage equality” reasoning that Americans have not thought through.
1. The Kids Are Not Alright
Last month, six adult children from LGBT households filed amicus briefs opposing genderless marriage …
Whenever a parent is missing — for whatever reason — a child feels a primal wound. In this respect, parents belong to their children more than children belong to their parents. We ought to recognize that privileges of civil marriage should ultimately exist for children, not for adults. Children have the right to know their origins and not to be treated as commodities. Same-sex parenting — which increasingly involves human trafficking, particularly with artificial reproductive technologies (see number eight) — deliberately deprives a child of a mother and/or a father. The “marriage equality” agenda requires that such children bear that burden alone and repress their primal wound in silence.
2. Love’s Got Nothing to Do with State Interest in Marriage
“Love is love” is an empty slogan when it comes to state interest in marriage. How two people feel about one another is none of the state’s business. The state’s interest is limited to the heterosexual union because that’s the only union that produces the state’s citizenry.
And it still is, whether the union happens traditionally or in a petri dish. Each and every one of us — equally and without exception — only exists through the heterosexual union. In any free and functioning society, there is a state interest in encouraging as much as possible those who sire and bear us to be responsible for raising us.
3. The Infertility Canard
Just as the state has no litmus test for feelings or motives, it has no litmus test for any heterosexual couple who do not produce children because of intent, infertility, or age. Conflating same-sex couples with childless or elderly heterosexual couples seems to be the fallacy of composition: claiming something must be true of the whole because it’s true of some part of the whole.
Sorry, but the heterosexual union, no matter how it takes place, is the only way any citizen exists, including intersex and transgender citizens. So recognizing that union without prejudice remains the only reason for state interest in marriage.
4. Same-Sex Marriage Will Settle Nothing
It’s only the starting point for a glut of philosophically related demands for state recognition and approval of many other types of relationships, including polygamy and incest. This will mark the sudden beginning of an even more sudden end for same-sex marriage, not so much because those other types of relationships prove immoral, but because they serve as exhibits for the argument that all civil marriage — including same-sex marriage — is unsustainable and discriminatory.
5. “Marriage Equality” Opens the Path for “Unmarried Equality”
There’s a movement waiting in the wings called “unmarried equality,” which argues that all civil marriage should be abolished because it privileges married people over singles. If same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, it will set the precedent for abolishing marriage. Far from getting the state out of the marriage business, it will invite the state to regulate all familial relationships, particularly those with children. Once the state doesn’t have to recognize your marriage, it is freer to treat your spouse and children as strangers to you.
6. Transgenderism Is a Big Part of This Package
Americans have not thought through the implications of same-sex marriage and how it is logically a big step to erasing all sex distinctions in law. If we become legally sexless, the implications are vast when it comes to how or whether the state will recognize family relationships such as mother, father, son, or daughter. There’s already a push to eliminate sex identification at birth, which could mean removing sex distinctions on birth certificates. This will seem logical because all gender identity non-discrimination laws already presume that everybody’s sex is something arbitrarily “assigned” to them at birth.
7. It’s an Open Invitation for State Licensing of Parents
If we allow the abolition of sex distinctions and civil marriage — both of which are written into the social DNA of same-sex marriage — we logically allow the state to gain greater control over deciding familial relationships. Civil marriage so far has presumed that a child born into a heterosexual union has the default right to be raised by his biological parents together. How can the presumption of maternity or paternity survive in a legal system that recognizes neither sex distinctions nor a marriage relationship?
The bellwethers are out there. MSNBC anchor Melissa Harris-Perry did a “Forward” spot for the Obama administration in which she stated that all children “belong” to communities, not families. Another friend of the Obama administration, gender legal theorist Martha Fineman, calls for state-subsidized care-giving units to replace marriage and the family.
8. Same-Sex Marriage Commodifies Children
You may think artificial reproductive technologies (ART) are fine as an avenue to obtain children for those unable to conceive. But in the context of genderless marriage, ART ramps up the potential for human trafficking. Check anonymousus.com to read testimonies of grief and loss felt by children who were conceived in this manner. Check the movies Eggsploitation and Breeders by the Center for Bioethics and Culture to hear stories of the exploitation of women in the industry. There is definitely an element of human bondage in all of this, particularly because human beings are being deliberately separated from their mothers and fathers, in a way that echoes the wounds of slavery’s separations and the search for one’s roots.
About the next section (9): we are leaving it in, although we care not a jot about any church’s teachings about anything, because freedom of religion must mean freedom to have no religion. The important points this author makes above and below are matters of reason and common sense .
9. It Sets a Head-On Collision Course with Freedom of Religion
The handwriting is on the wall. You need only reflect on how a screaming mob managed to conjure up total surrender from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence so he would reject that state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Catholic Charities is closing its adoption services where same-sex marriage laws pressure them to reject their church’s teachings about marriage and family. Owners of businesses that serve the wedding industry are being forced to either scrap their consciences or shut their doors. Anti-discrimination lawsuits against churches that don’t perform same-sex marriages will undoubtedly increase.
10. It Sets a Collision for Freedom of Speech and Press
Campus speech codes. Social punishment. Firing Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla for discovering his thought crime of privately believing in marriage six years prior. The utter compliance of virtually every big business in America, every media outlet, every pundit who is permitted to have a voice in the public square.
11. It’s Especially On a Collision Course with Freedom of Association
I already mentioned that abolishing civil marriage, along with legal sex distinctions, puts the government in a better position to regulate familial relationships, and probably to license parents. If we think deeply about these things, it’s hard to avoid the fact that freedom of association begins with family autonomy, a place where the state is supposed to leave you alone in your most intimate relationships. It’s hard to see how freedom of association is not affected, especially when PC speech codes have everyone constantly checking their chit chat with neighbors, co-workers, and classmates. At Marquette University, staff were told that any conversation or remarks construed to be against same-sex marriage were to be reported to Human Resources, even if just inadvertently overheard.
12. Same-Sex Kills Privacy by Growing Bureaucracy
With the erosion of family autonomy practically guaranteed by the rainbow arc of same-sex marriage, private life will tend to evaporate, just as it always does in centrally planned societies. Distrust grows because people fear punishment for expressing dissenting views. The emphasis on political correctness in the name of equality, coupled with an ever-growing bureaucracy, is a perfect environment in which to percolate a surveillance society.
13. It’s Meant to Be Global
The United States is already punishing countries and threatening to cut off aid if they don’t accept the LGBT agenda. This is especially true of developing countries, in which the whole idea is foreign to over 95 percent of the population. According to a report by Rep. Steve Stockman, corroborated by a Pentagon official, the administration held back critical intelligence from Nigeria which would have aided in locating girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. The new National Security Strategy recently released by the White House makes clear that the LGBT agenda is a global agenda. And it looks a lot like cultural imperialism of the worst kind.
14. It Promises a Monolithic Society of Conformity
In the past year or two, everyone with something to lose by opposing same-sex marriage — with the honorable exception of Eich — seems to have scuttled their principles. Five years ago, the American Psychological Association voted 157-0 — that’s right, ZERO — to support genderless marriage. For an excellent assessment of what this sort of conformity means for a free society, read Brendan O’Neill’s article in Spiked, entitled Gay Marriage: A Case Study in Conformism. The agenda was imposed by elites, entirely due to a methodical blitzkrieg of programs and enforcement dictated from above. Same-sex marriage simply could not come about without suppressing dissent in all of our institutions.
15. Expect More Severe Punishment for Dissent
If you think the bullying of businesses, churches, and individuals who don’t get with the LGBT program now is bad, it promises to get much worse once codified. Is this really the sort of society you wish to live in? Where expressing an opinion from your heart on faith [or lack of it – ed], family, marriage, relationships, love, or the very nature of reality — is routinely attacked as hate speech? Because that is exactly what you need to expect.
Justice Anthony Kennedy made it very clear in his words of the Windsor decision that any dissent on same-sex marriage was tantamount to animus. It is but a short step from presuming animus to punishing dissent.
So perhaps the biggest question hanging in the air is this: What will the authorities decide to do to dissenters?