James Delingpole contends that hostile exchanges on issues in today’s news between left and right on Twitter and on other Internet venues of expression of opinion are really minor skirmishes in the ongoing battle for civilization.
What all these disparate issues are really about is the things they’re always really about: the bitter, ongoing struggle between those on the one hand who cleave ardently to the statist religion of equality, diversity and sustainability in which society’s “best interests” are decided by an “enlightened” elite of bureaucrats, technocrats, petty officials, social workers, Local Agenda 21 groupuscules, administrators, UN and EU apparatchiks, Guardian editorial-writers, grandstanding politicians and members of the BBC Trust. And on the other, those of us who have sufficient faith in human nature to take the view that – barring the odd safety net here and the occasional piece of protective legislation there – the best route to creating a more fruitful, enjoyable, richer and, yes, fairer world is for us all, pretty much, to be left to live our lives the way we want to live them, unencumbered by confiscatory taxes, Nannyish government edicts and pettifogging regulation which seeks to micromanage every last detail of our daily existence from how many different coloured bags we put our rubbish in to the degree to which we’re permitted to be rude towards our enemies on Twitter.
I know which side I’m on. This columnist here seems to be equally sure which side she’s on. You can all decide for yourselves where you belong on this ideological battleground. But don’t kid yourself that this is a war where you can just sit on the sidelines or where there’s a “reasonable middle ground”. Ultimately, it’s about liberty v tyranny; about freedom of speech v creeping state control; free market capitalism v anti-growth collectivism; personal responsibility v suckling on the teat of the state; optimism v pessimism.
I grew up in Shenandoah, which is only a couple of miles north of Gilberton.
I did not know that Gilberton (with its whopping population of 867, as of 2000) was actually a borough. I would have said that it was a patch settlement in Mahanoy Township, but what do I know?
I guess they must have incorporated it as a borough back in 1873 in order to gain some kind of political advantage pertaining to access to the Anthracite coal under the ground nearby.
Anyway, Gilberton is a borough and apparently even has its own police force (which I never knew). And the current police chief, Mark Kessler, has been posting some profanity-laced videos on YouTube, which have the kind of people he refers to as “libtards” at Raw Story decidedly upset.
Example 2, in response to libtard reaction to number 1:
I’m willing to grant that Mr. Kessler’s political commentary seems to fall a little short of Edmund Burke’s, but I am naturally amused, and even a little proud, to find that the political views of a resident of today’s Schuylkill County, which I left over 40 years ago, still when you come right down to it so much resemble my own.
I do think that Police Chief Kessler is additionally a walking advertisement for Radley Balko’s new book on the Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces. That is some expensive ordinance that Police Chief Kessler is playing with in the second video. It was undoubtedly paid for by somebody’s tax dollars. And that kind of firepower, though obviously terrific fun to play with, is absolutely preposterous in relation to the character and levels of crime in as poor and little-populated a settlement as Gilberton.
Detail, Thomas Couture, Les Romains de la décadence [Romans in the Period of Decadence], 1847, Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Ron Dreher, back in April, explained the battle over Same Sex Marriage cuts very deeply into the culture, about as deeply as its possible to go.
What makes our own era different from the past, says [Philip] Rieff [in The Triumph of the Therapeutic (1966)], is that we have ceased to believe in the Christian cultural framework, yet we have made it impossible to believe in any other that does what culture must do: restrain individual passions and channel them creatively toward communal purposes.
Rather, in the modern era, we have inverted the role of culture. Instead of teaching us what we must deprive ourselves of to be civilized, we have a society that tells us we find meaning and purpose in releasing ourselves from the old prohibitions.
How this came to be is a complicated story involving the rise of humanism, the advent of the Enlightenment, and the coming of modernity. As philosopher Charles Taylor writes in his magisterial religious and cultural history A Secular Age, “The entire ethical stance of moderns supposes and follows on from the death of God (and of course, of the meaningful cosmos).” To be modern is to believe in one’s individual desires as the locus of authority and self-definition.
Gradually the West lost the sense that Christianity had much to do with civilizational order, Taylor writes. In the 20th century, casting off restrictive Christian ideals about sexuality became increasingly identified with health. By the 1960s, the conviction that sexual expression was healthy and good—the more of it, the better—and that sexual desire was intrinsic to one’s personal identity culminated in the sexual revolution, the animating spirit of which held that freedom and authenticity were to be found not in sexual withholding (the Christian view) but in sexual expression and assertion. That is how the modern American claims his freedom.
To Rieff, ours is a particular kind of “revolutionary epoch” because the revolution cannot by its nature be institutionalized. Because it denies the possibility of communal knowledge of binding truths transcending the individual, the revolution cannot establish a stable social order. As Rieff characterizes it, “The answer to all questions of ‘what for’ is ‘more’.”
Our post-Christian culture, then, is an “anti-culture.” We are compelled by the logic of modernity and the myth of individual freedom to continue tearing away the last vestiges of the old order, convinced that true happiness and harmony will be ours once all limits have been nullified.
Gay marriage signifies the final triumph of the Sexual Revolution and the dethroning of Christianity because it denies the core concept of Christian anthropology. In classical Christian teaching, the divinely sanctioned union of male and female is an icon of the relationship of Christ to His church and ultimately of God to His creation. This is why gay marriage negates Christian cosmology, from which we derive our modern concept of human rights and other fundamental goods of modernity. Whether we can keep them in the post-Christian epoch remains to be seen.
Ross Douthat predicts that Americans’ future liberty of conscience will be dependent on liberal magnanimity, and wonders (characteristically) if surrendering now might produce better terms.
Unless something dramatic changes in the drift of public opinion, the future of religious liberty on these issues is going to depend in part on the magnanimity of gay marriage supporters — the extent to which they are content with political, legal and cultural victories that leave the traditional view of marriage as a minority perspective with some modest purchase in civil society, versus the extent to which they decide to use every possible lever to make traditionalism as radioactive in the America of 2025 as white supremacism or anti-Semitism are today. And I can imagine a scenario in which a more drawn-out and federalist march to “marriage equality in 50 states,” with a large number of (mostly southern) states hewing to the older definition for much longer than the five years that gay marriage advocates currently anticipate, ends up encouraging a more scorched-earth approach to this battle, with less tolerance for the shrinking population of holdouts, and a more punitive, “they’re getting what they deserve” attitude toward traditionalist religious bodies in particular. If religious conservatives are, in effect, negotiating the terms of their surrender, it’s at least possible that those negotiations would go better if they were conducted right now, in the wake of a Roe v. Wade-style Supreme Court ruling, rather than in a future where the bloc of Americans opposed to gay marriage has shrunk from the current 44 percent to 30 percent or 25 percent, and the incentives for liberals to be magnanimous in victory have shrunk apace as well.
I’m still editing my own opinion, taking out all the epithets and toning down the pejoratives.
Nicholas Poussin, The Victory of Joshua Over the Amalekites, 1624-1625, Hermitage, St. Petersburg
Eratosthenes notices that the culture wars are being waged relentlessly and with unlimited persistence, by one side which is absolutely and unequivocally determined to win everything it wants every time and which, whenever it wins, will then proceed to move the goal posts even further.
Somehow, somewhere, it has been decided that this one culture should reign supreme. It must ALWAYS win; there can be no exceptions. What do we call this culture, now. We should try to define it, if it always has to win! That’s a lot of influence. We know it by the offenses it takes. Bullying, homophobic remarks, guns. It isn’t “politically correct,” for the politically-correct culture, while also defined according to the offenses it takes, is confined to offenses taken against verbal or written statements. Guns aren’t statements. Ass-kickings are not statements either, although I suppose that may be debatable. But this is not political-correctness, and it isn’t “women over men” since it takes just as vicious umbrage against a woman brandishing a firearm in self-defense, as against any man doing likewise.
It isn’t modern liberalism, either. It doesn’t have an opinion about labor-versus-management, or minimum wage, or affirmative action, or school vouchers. It holds a lot of appeal for people who do not self-identify as liberals. And its field of interest is very narrow. I can summarize it with a phrasing almost bumper-sticker-sized:
“When we make everything safe enough, nothing bad will happen, to anyone, ever again.”
Just outside a school on a 55 mph county highway, it isn’t good enough to take the limit down to 25. My recent experiences here in upstate New York show it has to be 15. I guess twenty-five wouldn’t show how much we care. This culture cares about children arriving at adulthood with all their limbs and with their hearts still beating, but with not too much else.
Can we call it “the nanny state” and be done with it? There is certainly some overlap. The Mayor of New York City trying to ban soda sales fits into the object of my inspection here, and it is certainly part of the nanny state. Pondering it some more, though, I find this doesn’t quite work. There are differences, and the differences matter. The nanny state is an organization, and it is a sale. It is narcissists in office who have power, trying to accumulate some more. ...
This culture — which always must win — is endangering our very society… As the nanny-state seeks to everlastingly grow by way of creating more and more rules, this culture seeks to everlastingly grow by altering the definition of “bad things happening.” It has progressed so far now, without anyone consciously noticing it evidently, that bad-feeling evidently qualifies. If nothing bad really happens, but someone feels slighted, then action is required. This, of course, has to be a selective thing. It’s okay to make a guy “feel bad” when he approaches the State Fair with a Leatherman on his belt, by commanding him to walk a mile and a half back to his car, and back again, to stow the threatening-looking device. And a twelve-year-old girl who wins a pistol shooting contest might feel good with a little bit of extra applause, but this feel-good-all-the-time culture will refrain from that, and command everyone else to refrain as well.
The Leatherman is not dangerous and the pistol is not dangerous. In some situations, they both have the potential to make someone safe.
So this culture is not concerned with safety or danger. It has definite ideas about individuals and what, or how, the individuals should be.
He’s perfectly right. It goes way beyond politics. It is a religious crusade and “the side which must always win” is determined to forcibly convert everyone else to its own entire worldview, values, and perspective.
The headlines were filled recently with gleeful liberal accounts of spaghetti-spined members of the GOP, Charles Murray and Rob Portman, advocating surrender to the left on culture issues like Same Sex Marriage.
What we are obviously seeing is the herd mentality of the community of fashion in operation.
The Left controls most engines of opinion-formation in this country. First, revolutionary proposals originate in the left’s radical fringe, then little by little, they are “bravely” embraced by one pillar of the establishment after another. When it becomes apparent that the looney tunes running American education have successfully brainwashed the lumpenstudenten mob of impressionable, emotionally volatile, and fashion-conscious young, what we experience next is the unbecoming spectacle of older non-rugged-individualists scurrying to catch up with the departing bus of fashionable opinion which they perceive as about to motor through the endpoint of success, leaving behind History’s losers.
The truth of the matter is that you do not win culture war contests with the revolutionary Left by surrendering on point after point as soon as the Left appears to be gaining the upper hand. Even when they are going to win this particular battle today, it behooves Republicans and conservatives to recognize that revolutionary victories do not necessarily last forever. People living in France are not counting how many days of Ventôse remain before the arrival of Germinal.
Absurd leftist overreach may temporarily gain ascendancy and make entire societies dance to its tune, but the worst and the silliest of the Left’s ideas will always be doomed to fall in the end of their own weight of stupidity and falsehood.
In the meantime, we ought not to be like the French Army, offering the future surplus sale of MAS rifles described as “never fired, and only dropped once.” We ought to face the Left on every culture wars issue the way the doomed Spartans faced the Persians at Thermopylae. We should not cut and run, like Godric at the Battle of Maldon, but should, like Brythold, resist every time on every point to the bitter end.
“Hige sceal þe heardra,
heorte þe cenre,
mod sceal þe mare,
þe ure mægen lytlað.
“Mind must be the harder,
heart the keener
Spirit shall be greater – as our strength lessens.”
Young people grow up. The Left’s domination of the Dummer Junger student and recent graduate crowd does not in most cases last forever.
Molly Hemingway, at Ricochet, pointed out just how worthwhile Rob Portman’s analysis really is.
Leaving apart the question of whether marriage law should be changed, this strikes me as a problematic approach. I mean, marriage law should be changed or it shouldn’t be changed—but it shouldn’t hinge on the sexual attractions of one senator’s son, should it?
What if a conservative senator said, “I’m reversing my views on whether abortion should be legal because my daughter got pregnant and wished she weren’t.”
One of the fascinating things about society today is that personal experience trumps everything else in argumentation. Very few people seem to care about fundamental truths and principles while everyone seems to care about personal experience and emotion. It’s the Oprahfication of political philosophy.
Should a conservative determine good policy this way?
Jim Geraghty, in his emailed Morning Jolt, was today in a mood to fight back against the community of fashion’s blame game.
One of my nuttier ideas was taking a Twitter conversation between Cam Edwards and Kurt Schlicter envisioning a rightward sitcom answer to HBO’s “Girls” entitled “Dudes” and trying to turn it into an actual script.
At one point, I had a character in that script rant:
I’m a married middle-aged guy with a house in the suburbs who goes to work, pays his taxes and takes care of his kids. When the hell did I turn into the villain in society? Chris Brown still walks the streets! In the time it’s taken me to finish this sentence, “Shawty Lo” has impregnated three more women and Kim Kardashian’s been on four more magazine covers! I think one of ‘em’s a fishing magazine!
Yet somehow Madison Avenue considers me to be their go-to stereotype as a doofus, I’m the butt of every joke, sneered at for unsophisticated tastes, dismissed as a relic of a fading past, accused of not paying my fair share in taxes and insufficiently globally conscious because I’m only taking care of what’s directly in front of me instead of glaciers or the Gaza Strip. How am I the problem in the world today? What the hell did I ever do?
I remember a comment from Mark Steyn a few NR cruises ago, and I’m going to paraphrase it now: “Americans are first citizens of a global superpower with no interest in conquest. We don’t want other territory, we don’t seek to subjugate other nations, we’re not trying to wipe out any culture we deem inferior. And yet through the rhetoric and of the environmental movement, you, driving your SUV and drinking your Big Gulp and eating your Big Mac, are accused of literally destroying the planet! Not even history’s most brutal dictators faced an accusation on that scale!”
Our political culture and our popular culture are the one-two punch contending that you, ordinary American, going to work or looking for work or looking for better work and just taking care of your families, have somehow become the root of the biggest problems facing the country. It’s your fault.
The latest wave of laws on abortion and gay marriage are meant to make it impossible to hold beliefs, religious or otherwise, in contradiction to those of the state. That’s a somewhat new phenomenon in the United States, but a familiar one in Europe. And the consequence of these Orwellian measures is the stratification of these societies into three categories.
The Party – This is the group whose dogma is legislated into law in a thousand formal and informal ways. Its members may belong to the government or non-profits that act as a collective political movement pushing to enact and implement even the most radical elements of that dogma. Or they may still work actual jobs. But it doesn’t really make much of a difference.
Members of the Party are a minority, but they are the vanguard, the ideologically committed core that acts as the ruling class and the force for political conformity. Party Members report thought-crimes to the government, swarm as morality mobs to shame and denounce dissenters and campaign and vote for tighter restrictions and harsher penalties.
The Party is inflexibly liberal. It hasn’t formed into a single group yet, but in its scattered pieces, it is the nexus of the American version of the Bolsheviks. In some European countries it already is a party with its own attached youth movements.
And one of the benefits of Party membership is virtual immunity from its own laws. Being a Party member allows you to have the racial sensitivity of Harry Reid, the sexual harassment cred of Bill Clinton and the environmental correctness of Al Gore’s mansion, jets and Al Jazeera sale.
The law is enforced by Party members on the People. It is infrequently enforced by Party members against fellow Party members.
The principal characters of Girls: Allison Williams (Marnie Michaels), Jemima Kirke (Jessa Johansson), Lena Dunham (Hannah Horvath), Zosia Mamet (Shoshanna Shapiro)
Kurt Schlichter, at Breitbart, issued a manifesto yesterday, demanding that conservatives take Lena Dunham’s appalling and bizarre HB0-comedy-series seriously.
There’s plenty about Girls to annoy conservatives, yet this often creepy, usually skeevy, critically-acclaimed HBO series is also a test for conservatives.
Will we finally heed Andrew Breitbart’s warnings about the importance of taking pop culture seriously or just keep fiddling as the culture burns?
If conservatives are going to be in the popular culture – and act to change it – they can’t simply ignore shows like Girls that capture the zeitgeist, even if the zeitgeist makes their skin crawl. Season two is well under way, and conservatives need to participate in the discussion.
Girls is about four young, aimless college grads living in New York. Think of Sex and the City, except Sarah Jessica Parker has doubled her weight, dresses like a potato sack and fancies herself the voice of some undefined generation. There’s sex and nudity – just not hot Homeland sex and nudity. This is the first show in the history of cable television where male viewers actively root for the heroine to keep her clothes on. ...
So, why should conservatives want any part of this?
The answer, if the fact that the show can be pretty amusing isn’t reason enough for you, is that conservatives need to be a part of big cultural events if they want to be a part of culture at large. But that begs the questions of why we conservatives would even want to be part of the culture at large. It’s a cesspool. And there’s an answer for that too – so we can participate in changing it.
I’m not sure what exactly Mr. Schlichter believes conservatives ought to do. Purchase half-an-hour of weekly air time after each Girls episode broadcasts to have some white male conservative of mature years offer a lecture on sexual morality?
Develop an alternative series, to be titled Good Girls, to be broadcast weekly on the Hallmark Network, depicting four religiously observant, socially conservative, and rationally behaving young ladies conventionally employed in Omaha, Nebraska or Salt Lake City?
Myself, I do undertake the effort (and it takes a bit of an effort) to watch the series. It certainly does have some moments of effective humor and amusement, but the life-style and perspective of the millennials depicted is actively embarrassing to watch. Lena Dunham’s frequent nude scenes and the regular depictions of inept, unsatisfying, and sometimes aspirationally perverse sex persistently gross one out. The viewer is left rather baffled at Dunham’s self-deprecatory exhibitionism, and winds up shaking his head and wondering: Do people of her generation routinely view themselves as that stupid and incompetent? And, if they do, why would they make a television program and tell everyone? There are no answers.
I suppose all we can do is write these sorts of editorials, marveling aloud, and wondering what the success and popularity of a television series like that tells us about just how far the Abendslands have Unterganged.
One correction: Oberlin is not, definitely not, an Ivy League school.
George Will, on ABC News recently, did everything but sing Hallelujah to the river gods as civilization appeared ready to slide another long mile downstream, with the Supreme Court announcing its intention to intervene in the culture wars conflict over Same Sex Marriage in the grim immediate aftermath of the 2012 election.
While Supreme Court watchers ponder how justices will come down in the debate over gay marriage, ABC’s George Will said Sunday on ABC News “This Week” it’s clear where public opinion is headed.
“There is something like an emerging consensus,” Will said, noting voters in three states recently endorsed same-sex marriage initiatives. [emphasis added] “Quite literally, the opposition to gay marriage is dying. It’s old people.”
Why, I wonder, is George Will apparently surprised that young people are so commonly successfully-brainwashed subscribers to establishment community of fashion articles of faith, like the principle that no mere theory should ever be allowed to stand in the way of immediate individual personal gratification, or the even more important principle that Equality is the utmost supreme value transcending all other values?
It always looks exactly this way in every culture wars battle. Young people care nothing for theories and tradition and everything for fashionable opinion and being nice.
But Mr. Will overlooks a couple of important considerations.
Young people inevitably grow older and gain experience and most of them recover from the illusions with which they were indoctrinated during their school years. Time is not really on the side of the progressive left. Conservatives and sane rational people do not just grow old, die off, and become extinct, leaving behind a Saturnalia of progressive fantasy. What really happens is that each generation of dummer jungen gradually matures, turning from radicals and fashionistas into sober and responsible burgesses, tax payers, and adults. The gleeful supporters of free love and transgressive sex turn into censorious grey-haired married couples with children of their own.
In the end, you simply wind up with the repetition of the comedy of a society always divided nearly evenly between the party of the young, the radical, and the stupid and the party of the adults.
We have a serious problem in America in having allowed too many important institutions to fall into the hands of an unworthy and only-superficially-intelligent intelligentsia. But we do not need to despair.
George Will obviously spends too much of his time in the fantasy cocoon of media culture. He has succumbed to believing in the left’s narrative of the grand march of Progress, of the inevitable and irreversible movement of society in the direction of coercive egalitarianism, materialism, and statism.
George Will has forgotten the first thing any conservative ought to remember. Magna est veritas et prævalebit. (“The truth is mighty and it shall prevail.” The Revolutionary Convention may renumber the calendar and change the name of the months to “the windy one” and “the rainy one,” an infatuated majority of supreme court justices may decide that the intention of the framers guarantees the sacramental equality of sexual perversion, but History will go on, and absurdities, grotesqueries, and the wild excesses of human folly and obsession over time typically fall of their own weight. Later generations laugh at the Victorian sexual pudeur that once installed skirts on piano legs, and succeeding generations will similarly marvel at the extravagantly bizarre positions so many in our own era were driven to by the current dementia founded upon egalitarianism.
There has never, in the entire history of the human race, been any society or culture that regarded homosexual attraction as a basis for lifelong monogamous relations or which looked upon the sterile couplings of members of the same sex as worthy of the dignity of recognition as equivalent to normal marriage.
Today’s moral breakdown and intellectual disorder may possibly lead to the official proclamation of such absolute nonsense as the new law of the land, but the left’s fools and demoniacs can never possibly in the long run succeed in establishing permanently so preposterously-based an institution as Same Sex Marriage.
The Thinking Housewife comments on another of those dramatic symbolic moments in the left’s forcible conversion of America.
I read yesterday the news stories about the first same-sex wedding ceremony at West Point’s chapel and was completely uninterested. This “wedding” between two elderly lesbians, whose enormous smiles belie an immense disdain for our heritage and for civilization itself, was news around the country but it is not news. It’s just another all-too-predictable ceremony of the liberal state. These two women, and homosexuality itself, are convenient characters in the drama. These uplifted swords, with their evocation of America’s martial past, and this Gothic chapel, with its reference to the fortress of Christianity, are magnificent props. They serve in the most theatrical way to affirm the power of the liberal state and to proclaim its victory. It has conquered our most treasured institutions. It has stolen right up to the foot of the altar. Liberalism has defeated the greatest competing authorities to itself: traditional morality, masculine initiative and the family. It has defeated God himself. This wedding is an assertion of power. There have been many like it for years and there must be more and more ceremonies of its kind. For the forces liberalism has conquered are the forces of life itself.
A lot of people have been puzzled by the Obama Campaign’s reliance on trivia and refusal to move toward the center. How can a president presiding over this economy hope to win, especially with a polarizing campaign calculated to turn off centrists?
Stanley Kurtz seems to have found the blueprint for Obama’s strategy (and its raison d’être) in an article in last June’s New York Magazine by John Heileman.
Obama’s strategy, says Heileman, is built around the idea that he can win with a coalition of the “demographically ascendent,” African Americans, Hispanics, women, and young people. To a degree, the bad economy has pushed Obama toward this approach. The obvious hope is that economic weakness can be countered by appeals to socially liberal women and young people on cultural issues. But don’t underestimate the extent to which this strategy is a deliberate decision that could have gone otherwise, as the behind-the-scenes opposition of some Democrats indicates. Obama is clearly willing to abandon centrist voters and place his own likeability at risk for the sake of creating a socially and economically liberal Democratic coalition that would allow him
to govern securely from the left. ...
The president is going for broke. He wants to govern from the left and ignore the center. His top strategists promised a campaign that would permit this, and that’s the campaign Obama has delivered. Noticed that Obama has actually doubled down on this strategy when he still might have tried a last-minute pivot to the middle. That’s how badly Obama wants to abandon the center and take this country to the left.
In 2008, the junior senator from Illinois won in a landslide by fashioning a potent “coalition of the ascendant,” as Teixeira and Halpin call it, in which the components were minorities (especially Latinos), socially liberal college-educated whites (especially women), and young voters. This time around, Obama will seek to do the same thing again, only more so. The growth of those segments of the electorate and the president’s strength with them have his team brimming with confidence that demographics will trump economics in November—and in the process create a template for Democratic dominance at the presidential level for years to come.
Oklahoma Legislator Rebecca Hamilton remembers being corrected by her working-class red state father.
I had been caught red-handed, abusing my horse. I had no idea what Daddy was going to do, but I expected something massive. What he did instead was much more effective.
“Becky Ann, you know better than that.” he said. That was all. He didn’t yell or threaten. He didn’t even ground me from riding; just, “you know better than that.” But it was enough. I have never abused an animal again.
Years before that, when I was a pre-schooler, I stole a pack of chewing gum from a store and got caught. Daddy didn’t yell at me. He took me back to the store and made me hand the gum to the clerk and say “I stole this.” That was a long time ago, but I can still feel the humiliation of that moment. Then, to add insult to injury, he bought the gum and gave it to me.
Another lesson learned. The temptation to steal left me that day and has never returned.
Daddy was teaching more than how to ride and care for a horse, more even than not to steal. He was teaching me a whole set of values. He was also, though neither of us was aware of it, teaching me about men. There wasn’t a plan in this. I feel confident that my daddy never read a single book on how to raise kids. He didn’t make dates to “have a talk” with me or attempt to manipulate me. He just talked to me as part of our daily interactions. Like I was a person. He spent time with me. That’s how he caught me with the stolen gum, how he saw me shoot water into Shorty’s ear; he was there.
“Robin Hustle,” in the course of a Jezebel feature titled “How to Tell Your Parents You’re a Prostitute,” describes her blue state parenting experiences.
I was a typical pink-diaper baby: I sat in on my mom’s feminist book clubs, we had family outings to protest U.S. imperialism in El Salvador, and I was into Joan Armatrading while my classmates were obsessed with New Kids on the Block. Fortunately, my crushing unpopularity was alleviated by a wonderful home life. All told, I can safely say I am a product of good parenting. I was encouraged, not coddled. I learned to be responsible at an early age by being given, within limits, a great deal of independence. My appreciation for my family goes well beyond their parenting skills. They aren’t guilty liberals who stir into action when an election or a war rolls around; they have always been fully engaged in living and working in radical ways. They never imposed their politics on me — my own politics mirror theirs because they taught me to think critically and set a powerful example of how to live. I’d be embarrassed by my uncanny similarity to my parents if I didn’t think they’re, well, totally amazing.
We rarely talked about sex, and lord knows I didn’t mind. When my kindergarten teacher called home in a huff to report that Marco Torres and I were having a horizontal make-out session in gym class, my parents sat me down and told me I could do whatever I wanted with kids my own age, so long as I didn’t do it at school. When I came out as queer in junior high, it was a blip on the family radar, though a few years later my parents felt obligated to ask if I was having safe sex, and then ask me to educate them on how lesbians have safe sex. While discussing non-monogamy a few years ago, my mom casually said “Well, I’ve never really cared about sex anyway,” which raised a host of disquieting questions that will forever go unasked. To each her own, I guess.
So, tell me, which culture do you think ought to win the culture war?
The New York Times’ idea of a conservative, Harvard-man Ross Douthat warmly defends the practice of the establishment community of fashion elite “using every means at its disposal short of banning speech outright” to coercively change American culture and the private views and opinions of Americans generally in directions it deems more enlightened.
Douthat is nowhere nearly as offended as such liberals as Kevin Drum, Andrew Sullivan, and Glenn Greenwald by quasi-legal harassment of heretics by politicians on the fashionable side.
As always, the solution to noxious ideas like the ones from this chicken CEO are to rebut them, not use state power to suppress them. The virtue of gay equality has become increasingly recognized in the U.S. because people have been persuaded of its merits, not because state officials, acting like Inquisitors, forced people to accept it by punishing them for their refusal.
Greenwald and I have been over this ground a bit before, so I’ll say again what I said then: This is an idealized view of how cultures change, and it doesn’t acknowledge the link between law and culture, and the crucial role that [emphasis added -jdz] stigma, harassment and legal sanctions can play in changing attitudes and behavior. The cause of gay marriage has indeed advanced because many millions of people have been persuaded of its merits: No cause could move so swiftly from the margins to the mainstream if it didn’t have appealing arguments supporting it and powerful winds at its back. But it has also advanced, and will probably continue to advance, through social pressure, ideological enforcement, and legal restriction. Indeed, the very language of the movement is explicitly designed to exert this kind of pressure: By redefining yesterday’s consensus view of marriage as “bigotry,” and expanding the term “homophobia” to cover support for that older consensus as well as personal discomfort with/animus toward gays, the gay marriage movement isn’t just arguing with its opponents; it’s pathologizing them, raising the personal and professional costs of being associated with traditional views on marriage, and creating the space for exactly the kind of legal sanctions that figures like Thomas Menino and Rahm Emanuel spent last week flirting with.
This reality is not a judgment on the cause of gay marriage itself. Many admirable causes, including the cause of civil rights for African-Americans, have advanced through a similar legal and social redefinition of what constitutes acceptable opinion, and obviously gay people have historically been the victims, rather than the victimizers, where the human tendency to use law and custom to pathologize difference and marginalize dissent from respectable opinion is concerned. But it’s naive to think that gay marriage is only winning because of the power of sweet reason, and that the climate created by the bluster of figures like Menino and Emanuel isn’t a big part of the story as well. When David Blankenhorn, heretofore one of the leading critics of same-sex marriage, wrote last month that he was “bending the knee” on the issue, it was an explicit nod to this reality: Causes advance by persuading people to change their minds, but they win their final, sweeping victories by inducing people who haven’t really changed their mind to simply give up the fight. And there’s no surer way to gain that kind of victory than by adding legal hassles — or even just the threat of legal hassles — to the list of reasons why the fight isn’t worth having anymore.
The Jesuits used to say: if the ends are lawful, so are the means lawful. Obviously many prominent representatives of our elite establishment agree, and consider themselves empowered on the basis of their own allegedly superior moral insight to forcibly cram any change in morals, culture, faith, or opinion that they believe to be desirable right down the throats of their less powerful and influential fellow citizens, because they can and because it makes them feel so righteous and so powerful.