Matt K. Lewis explains that the current (losing for conservatives) attempt to defend individual business’s right to decline to bake Gay wedding cakes or photograph Gay weddings is the next to last stop before the conflict between egalitarianism and religious freedom arrives inside the churches’ doors.
this is a tough issue that pits things we value as a society against things we value as a society.
We have reached a point in the gay rights debate where all the low-hanging fruit has been picked. We are now entering into the zero-sum game phase of the debate, where gay rights and religious liberty must collide. (In other words, the cake is only so big. If you take a piece, you are guaranteeing the other guy has less cake.)
So who’s right? My guess is one could guarantee public opinion is on either side of the issue, depending on how you frame the question. If, for example, you were to ask someone whether or not “businesses should be allowed to deny services to same-sex couples,” the answer would, of course, be “no.”
On the other hand, ask Americans if “government should have the right to forcefully coerce Christians to violate their convictions,” and the answer would also be “no.” ...
This is really a surrogate battle. A much bigger one is coming.
Opponents of these bills score points when they argue that florists and bakers aren’t exactly granting their imprimatur when they make a cake or put together a flower arrangement for a gay wedding. Additionally, they are correct in assuming that most Christians, whether they agree with same-sex marriage, or not, would still bake the cake. In fact, this could be seen as an example of Christian love.
But this is another example of how this schism cannot be easily brushed aside like so many wedding cake crumbs. In recent years, libertarian-leaning conservatives have largely sided with the gay rights argument. Proud members of the “leave us alone” coalition were apt to side with a group of people who just wanted to be left alone to love the person they love (and what happens in the bedroom is nobody’s business).
At some point, however, “leave us alone” became “bake us a cake. Or else!”
And that’s a very different thing, altogether.
The reason conservative Christians are fighting this fight today is because it’s a firewall. The real danger, of course, is that Christian pastors and preachers will eventually be coerced into performing same-sex marriages. (Note: It is entirely possible for someone to believe gay marriage is fine, and to still oppose forcing people who hold strong religious convictions to participate — but I suspect that is where we are heading.)
Think of it this way. If you were a congregant in a church, wouldn’t you expect the pastor to marry you? Why should you be treated different?
Any pastor — if he or she wants to maintain the church’s tax status, that is — had better grapple with this now.
Whether the analogy is fair, or not, refusing to officiate a gay wedding can just as easily be called “denying service.” And it will predictably also be compared to the bad old days of Jim Crow — where racist Christians opposed interracial marriage (until the courts struck down state laws prohibiting biracial marriage).
Gay rights and religious liberty are on a collision course.
CBC reports that Midlake, Ontario is beginning to resemble a dystopian fantasy written by Ayn Rand in a bad mood.
With the growing concern over the effects of competition in youth sports programs this summer, many Canadian soccer associations eliminated the concept of keeping score. The Soccer Association of Midlake, Ontario, however, has taken this idea one step further, and have completely removed the ball from all youth soccer games and practices.
According to Association spokesperson, Helen Dabney-Coyle, “By removing the ball, it’s absolutely impossible to say ‘this team won’ and ‘this team lost’ or ‘this child is better at soccer than that child.’”
“We want our children to grow up learning that sport is not about competition, rather it’s about using your imagination. If you imagine you’re good at soccer, then, you are.”
The legendary knight Zadora (supposed ancestor of the Polish Lanckoroński family) lies happy in his grave, contemplating with satisfaction the array of illustrious future generations (literally) springing from his loins.
Gregory Clark, who studies family mobility in various countries over the centuries, wants to puncture some mythical contemporary assumptions and expectations.
Studies of social mobility using surnames suggest two things. Social mobility rates are much lower than conventionally estimated. And social mobility rates estimated in this way vary little across societies and time periods. Sweden is no more mobile than contemporary England and the USA, or even than medieval England. Social mobility rates seem to be independent of social institutions (see the other studies on China, India, Japan and the USA now linked here). ...
Conventional estimates of social mobility, which look at just single aspects of social status such as income, are contaminated by noise. If we measure mobility on one aspect of status such as income, it will seem rapid.
But this is because income is a very noisy measure of the underlying status of families. The status of families is a combination of their education, occupation, income, wealth, health, and residence. They will often trade off income for some other aspect of status such as occupation. A child can be as socially successful as a low paid philosophy professor as a high paid car salesman. Thus if we measure just one aspect of status such as income we are going to confuse the random fluctuations of income across generations, influenced by such things as career choices between business and philosophy, with true generalised social mobility.
If these estimates of social mobility were anywhere near correct as indicating true underlying rates of social mobility, then we would not find that the aristocrats of 1700 in Sweden are still overrepresented in all elite occupations of Sweden. Further, the more equal is income in a society, the less signal will income give of the true social status of families. In a society such as Sweden, where the difference in income between bus drivers and philosophy professors is modest, income tells us little about the social status of families. It is contaminated much more by random noise. Thus it will appear if we measure social status just by income that mobility is much greater in Sweden than in the USA, because in the USA income is a much better indicator of the true overall status of families.
Many commentators automatically assume that low intergenerational mobility rates represent a social tragedy. I do not understand this reflexive wailing and beating of breasts in response to the finding of slow mobility rates. The fact that the social competence of children is highly predictable once we know the status of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents is not a threat to the American Way of Life and the ideals of the open society.
One ray of sunshine for those with a passion for upward mobility ought to be the reflection that History has not always been kind to families of talent and distinction. One key factor in the spectacular story of American development and success is the fact that America has provided a refuge and a second chance at opportunity to History’s losers. From the cavaliers who were defeated in England’s 17th century Civil War to my own Lithuanian ancestors dispossessed and occupied by Russia, the New World offered escape from ruin at home and (over time, at least) another chance.
Take but degree away, untune that string,
And, hark, what discord follows! —Act 1, Scene 3.
Gagdad Bob manages to combine Catholicism, Pope Benedict XVI, kid’s baseball, Title IX, liberal guilt, and Barack Obama into a terrific rant. Which muse do you suppose makes a specialty of inspiring rants?
[P]ostmodernism, is opposed in principle to hierarchy (or pretends to be), which is the secret to why it cannot recognize or tolerate quality in any dimension, right down to the most trivial activity. It is why all the kids on my son’s baseball team are forced to engage in the ritual of receiving a meaningless trophy at the end of the season.
Talk about a fake benediction! Humans don’t have the power to forgive bad baseball playing.
This refusal to acknowledge hierarchy is also how the the left can confuse a person with a single meaningful accomplishment or ability with Obama.
I was in the lobby of the Parsons School of Design when I had the sudden urge to pee. So I located the restroom, and discovered THIS SIGN on the door. I pondered my predicament for a moment, when someone noticed my hesitation and said: “Go on in, it’s for everybody.”
I opened the door slowly. This was no single-occupancy restroom. This was a multi-stalled bathroom complex. Inside there were three girls, who all made awkward eye contact with me when I walked in. One of them shrugged her shoulders: “Yep,” she said, “we’re all in here together.” She didn’t seem too excited about the fact.
I chose a stall and shut the door behind me. Aiming for that sweet spot right above the water line, I tried to pee as quietly as possible. The toilet had an automatic flusher, so when I finished, I turned around and left the stall. I heard no flush behind me. Outside, ANOTHER girl was waiting to use my stall.
Female recruits receiving hand-to-hand combat instruction at Parris Island in 2004. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Stephanie Gutman, who wrote a book titled The Kindler, Gentler Military on the Gender Neutral American Military of the Clinton-era 1990s, discusses the possibility that the latest democrat concession to Equality may provoke another great wave of lowered standards, fudging qualifications, hypocrisy, and degradation of operational efficiency and morale.
There is…. one paragraph that I find distinctly ominous. It’s the part about each service being “charged with developing policies to integrate women into every military job.” Army Times quotes a defense official who says, “For instance, it’s likely the Army will establish a set of physical requirements for infantry soldiers. The candidate, man or woman, will have to lift a certain amount of weight in order to qualify. The standards will be gender neutral.”
Erm . . .What’s wrong with current physical requirement standards for infantry soliders? Is this official implying that more woman-friendly standards will have to be developed? The male/female upper-body strength difference is by now tediously well documented. There is no question that the average woman (and yes the average enlistee is often quite average indeed) especially in our overweight times, will have difficulty, say, carrying a wounded comrade to safety and walking for days dressed in full “battle rattle.” Study after study shows that women get injured at at least twice the rate of men — and this is in a military where women are not doing the most physically demanding jobs.
There is more than a whiff of “do it or else” in this little paragraph. Will the services now be expected to “make it work” by moving heaven and earth (changing standards, dumping qualified men) to get women into those previously closed jobs so Chuck Hagel or whoever the sec def turns out to be, can have lots of nice photo-ops to send to NOW and other feminist groups? Recall that in the ’90s, after Congress opened Navy’s combat aircraft to women, the Navy and the Air Force began a very undignified scramble to be the first to get a woman into the cockpit of a fighter jet. Critics blame the hurry-up policy on, for instance, the untimely death of Lieutenant Kara Hultgren who flew her fighter jet into the sea on a clear day during a routine training run.
The usual suspects in the mainstream media are dancing around maypoles and singing Hosannas. Trumpeted the New York Times, “women have long chafed under the restrictions.” Not quite. Some women, high-ranking, West Point and Annapolis-educated, D.C.-residing type military women have “chaffed.” But enlisted women — the women who’d actually have to live in the smelly, crowded tents and schlep all the “battle rattle” — not so much. Several major studies have shown profound apathy about combat roles among the vast majority of enlisted women. For instance, Army staff sergeant Stacey Zinda, a career counselor, told CNN yesterday that “she has yet to have a female soldier approach her about joining a combat unit.”
The other bit of pathos being draped about by mainstream-media reporters is that the Pentagon is merely putting “the official seal” as the U.K. Guardian put it, on something women have been doing for years and not gotten career-advancing credit for. “In reality,” says the New York Times, “women have frequently found themselves in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, where more than 20,000 have served. As of last year, more than 800 women had been wounded in the two wars and more than 130 had died.”
But that’s not true either and it illustrates a fuzzy civilian’s notion of combat as something to do with bullets whizzing around. Women have been in support roles. Driving supply trucks or flying helicopters, accompanying patrols as interpreters — some of them have come under fire, some of them have undoubtedly fired back, and a few may have engaged in fire-fights spurred by the need to defend themselves. But getting shot at is not “combat” — at least not the way the official military defines it. The Department of Defense defines a combat job as one in which a soldier’s primary duty is to seek out, engage and neutralize the enemy. This is a distinction that should be recognized. Special credit should be given. Operating in a combat zone requires bravery but seeking out and “engaging” an enemy requires even more bravery. Sorry, the U.S. military is — well, used to be — a meritocracy. It makes distinctions.
Now, (I think we can all stop pretending that there aren’t sex differences here) men like this seeking-out-the-enemy thing. Infantry jobs, jobs involving combat, have to be requested and young men will continue to enthusiastically request these positions. Will women? I doubt they will in great numbers. I think they will continue to swell the ranks of intelligence, management, medical, and logistical jobs, continue to do these jobs admirably, but avoid the combat roles. If so, the impact of this historic policy change may be insignificant. It may go down as more of Obama’s gestural politics.
On the other hand, if implementing this policy looks like a replay of the 1990s when the services were turned inside out to try to achieve a utopian notion of a 50/50 sex ratio force, if women are coerced, bribed, cajoled, and standards are lowered to welcome them, the policy will cost billions, sap morale, and generally degrade military readiness.
Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Nederlandse Spreekwoorden [Netherlandish Proverbs], also known as The Blue Cloak and The Folly of the World, 1559, Staatliche Museen, Berlin
Dan Greenfield has another absolutely brilliant essay on the contemporary tyranny based upon ressentiment.
[The] same noxious formula of the fight for equality shamelessly transmuted into special privilege has flowed into every struggle that models itself on the civil rights movement. And with each battle, freedom has been lost as a new layer of privilege and the regulations that protect that privilege have been added. We have long ago lost the presumption of innocence, now everyone is guilty of something and the power to wield that guilt like a whip is the ultimate privilege.
With a new wave of civil rights movements popping up every few years, backed by academic papers, grants from the Ford Foundation and “groundbreaking books” with confrontational titles, it is easy not to notice how little actual freedom we have. We spend so much time on the barricades fighting for the next wave of freedom that we are too community organized to realize how much freedom we have lost. We lost it while demanding more regulations to protect our freedom to be regulated from all the people who would take our freedom away from us by giving us back our rights as individuals.
He’s spot-on right. Look at the talk these days about “Marriage Equality.” What Marriage Equality means is a small minority is demanding the right to redefine the most basic and immemorial human institution in such a way as to cause the state to recognize and enforce the moral and social equality of homosexual relations. And if you go around insisting in retaining the freedom to think as you like on that particular subject, you are defined as the oppressor.
Donald J. Boudreaux, at Cafe Hayek, makes a telling philosophical point about the inherent inconsistency of elite liberals’ obsession with inequality of income.
Paul Krugman agonizes [daily] over data that show high American income inequality. ...
[W]hy focus on inequality of monetary incomes? What about other inequalities, such as the inequality of influence in public-policy debates? Mr. Krugman is certainly a one-percenter on this front. (Indeed, he’s a 0.001-percenter!)
Shouldn’t government ‘redistribute’ parts of Mr. Krugman’s New York Times column to me and other pundits who (according to the theory) can’t help but seethe with soul-shriveling envy at Mr. Krugman’s good fortune – good fortune that (also according to the theory) has less to do with Mr. Krugman’s merits as a columnist and more to do either with chance or with his pernicious and unfair influence with the Powers-that-Be?
Surely every ‘Progressive’ believes that those of us who now possess far less access than does Mr. Krugman to the opinion pages of the Times deserve to enjoy more of the access that he currently “controls.” And no ‘Progressive’ would let mere bourgeois obsessions with property rights and freedom block the state from forcibly redistributing such private property in the name of “social justice.”
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030
To the outsider, they are a weather-beaten circle of rocks that have stood on a remote Scottish island for thousands of years.
But for officials at the Scottish Executive, the prehistoric ruins on Orkney are a potential hotbed of homophobia and racist hate crime.
The ancient Neolithic ruins have caused no discernible trouble since 3,300 BC but civil servants decided to investigate the ‘equality issues’ surrounding them – in case they discriminated against gays and ethnic minorities.
Now their findings on The Ring of Brodgar have been published in a nine-page taxpayer-funded report, one of many ‘Equality Impact Assessments’ (EQIAs) carried out over the past two years, costing the public purse up to 1 million pounds sterling.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Executive concluded the stones presented no immediate threat to gays and other minority groups – but recommended another check should be made in five years’ time. ...
Last year, they conducted an assessment to find out if Scotland’s canals were homophobic. Again unsurprisingly, the canals were found to be reasonably gay-friendly.
Byron York points to statements by supporters identifying the ideological motivation behind supposed “reform.”
It hasn’t attracted much notice, but recently some prominent advocates of Obamacare have spoken more frankly than ever before about why they supported a national health care makeover. It wasn’t just about making insurance more affordable. It wasn’t just about bending the cost curve. It wasn’t just about cutting the federal deficit. It was about redistributing wealth.
Health reform is “an income shift,” Democratic Sen. Max Baucus said on March 25. “It is a shift, a leveling, to help lower income, middle income Americans.”
In his halting, jumbled style, Baucus explained that in recent years “the maldistribution of income in America has gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy, and the middle income class is left behind.” The new health care legislation, Baucus promised, “will have the effect of addressing that maldistribution of income in America.”
At about the same time, Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and presidential candidate, said the health bill was needed to correct economic inequities. “The question is, in a democracy, what is the right balance between those at the top … and those at the bottom?” Dean said during an appearance on CNBC. “When it gets out of whack, as it did in the 1920s, and it has now, you need to do some redistribution. This is a form of redistribution.”
Summing things up in the New York Times, the liberal economics columnist David Leonhardt called Obamacare “the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.”
Now they tell us. For many opponents of the new legislation, the statements confirmed a nagging suspicion that for Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress, the health fight was about more than just insurance—that redistribution played a significant, if largely unspoken, part in the drive for national health care.
A particularly nice detail of the Health Care Bill is noted by Ben Domenech:
One such surprise is found on page 158 of the legislation, which appears to create a carveout for senior staff members in the leadership offices and on congressional committees, essentially exempting those senior Democrat staffers who wrote the bill from being forced to purchase health care plans in the same way as other Americans.
Spook86 discusses the impact of egalitarianism-at-all-costs on the Navy presently. Just wait until Obama makes his move and abolishes Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell for even more unintended consequences.
As the Navy brass prepares for a “co-ed” submarine force, they might consider the impact of human biology on other elements of the service.
Navy Times reports that some shore commands in Norfolk, Virginia are heavily staffed by pregnant sailors, and some commanders are complaining about the lack of proper manning to carry out their missions.
The problem—and leadership complaints—resulted in an investigation by the Navy IG. According to the IG report, some of shore-based organizations in the Norfolk area have pregnant sailors in up to 34% of their billets. And due to restrictions associated with their medical condition, the sailors (in many cases) cannot perform all of their assigned duties, placing an added strain on shore commands. ...
Talk to Navy officers and senior NCOs and you’ll get a real earful on the effects of this problem. While acknowledging that many female sailors are simply trying to balance a naval career against their desire to start a family, others are gaming the system, they say. In some cases, they say female sailors become pregnant to avoid a projected deployment, or get out of an assignment they don’t like.
Years ago, sailors who became pregnant while on active duty were immediately dismissed from the service. By comparison, today’s family-friendly Navy goes to great lengths to accommodate pregnant sailors, and there’s not much a Captain or Master Chief can do except grit their teeth and suck it up.
You’d think the IG report would offer a cautionary tale for the submarine force and its plan for mixed-gender crews. Running an attack boat or a boomer takes an exceptionally well-trained, cohesive team of officers and enlisted members. Simply stated, the silent service can’t afford the kind of turnover caused by pregnancies in other Navy organizations.
But such concerns are being ignored in the rush to break down one last bastion of male service.
Roger Scruton, in the American Spectator, describes how sloth, self-indulgence, and intellectual cowardice led the modern university to surrender to egalitarian relativism and thus to be politicized.
As universities expanded, the humanities began to displace the sciences from the curriculum. Students wished to use their time at university to cultivate their leisure interests and to improve their souls, rather than to learn hard facts and complex theories. And there arose a serious question as to why universities were devoting their resources to subjects that made so little discernible difference to the wider world. What good do the humanities do, and why should students take three or four years out of their lives in order to read books which—if they were interested—they would read in any case, and which—if they were not interested—would never do them the least bit of good?
In the days when the humanities involved knowledge of classical languages and an acquaintance with German scholarship, there was no doubt that they required real mental discipline, even if their point could reasonably be doubted. But once subjects like English were admitted to a central place in the curriculum, the question of their validity became urgent. And then, in the wake of English came the pseudo-humanities—women’s studies, gay studies and the like—which were based on the assumption that, if English is a discipline, so too are they. And since there is no cogent justification for women’s studies that does not dwell upon the subject’s ideological purpose, the entire curriculum in the humanities began to be seen in ideological terms. ...
Subjects like English and art history grew from the desire to teach young people how to discriminate art from effect, beauty from kitsch, and real from phony sentiment. This ability was not regarded as an unimportant skill like fencing or horse riding, which students are free to acquire or not, according to their interests. It was regarded as a real form of knowledge, as vital to the future of civilization as the knowledge of mathematics, and more closely connected with the moral health of society than any natural science. It was only on that assumption that the humanities acquired their central place in the modern university.
If, however, the humanities are to avoid the cultivation of taste, it is not only their central place in the curriculum that is thrown in doubt. Given their prominence in the modern university, and the fact that increasingly many students come to university who are unprepared for any other form of study, any change in the humanities is a change in the very idea of a university. Conservatives often complain about the politicization of the universities, and about the fact that only liberal views are propagated or even tolerated on campus. But they fail to see the true cause of this, which is the internal collapse of the humanities. When judgment is marginalized or forbidden nothing remains save politics. The only permitted way to compare Jane Austen and Maya Angelou, or Mozart and Meshuggah, is in terms of their rival political postures. And then the point of studying Jane Austen or Mozart is lost. What do they have to tell us about the ideological conflicts of today, or the power struggles that are played out in the faculty common room?
The true conservative cause, when it comes to the universities, ought to be the restoration of judgment to its central place in the humanities. And that shows how difficult a task the recapture of the universities will be. It will require a confrontation with the culture of youth, and an insistence that the real purpose of universities is not to flatter the tastes of those who arrive there, but to present them with a rite of passage into something better.