Category ►►► Future of Humanity
June 25, 2011
Perversity's blowback as the savior of marriage
Now that New York State has approved same-sex marriage -- rather, now that the New York State legislature has done so, probably over the objections of a strong majority of its own citizen constituents -- we need a battleplan to hold the line against this becoming the norm.
Why? So what if the federal circus courts begin striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in this and that circuit, forcing states that oppose SSM nevertheless to have it de facto anyway. What's the big deal?
The "big deal" is that once same-sex marriage (SSM) has become nearly universal around the country, then we're going to see the same terrible effects on our society that we already see in Europe: diminished interest in marriage (it's no longer special), more domestic violence, even quicker divorces, a marked drop in the fertility rate, massive importation of fecund immigrants who have no loyalty whatsoever to the United States... and of course ever greater pressure to also allow polygamy and polyandry, group marriage, and so forth.
Pro-SSM people (like Patterico) are fond of making the argument that somebody else's SSM doesn't affect his own marriage; his marriage is still just as strong! Just as strong, perhaps; but not just as special as it used to be, not when any random association between two or more people of any gender can also be called a "marriage."
It's like counterfeiting money: If I print my own twenty-dollar bills, that doesn't physically change the real bills you have in your wallet at this moment; they don't magically change into newspaper, the ink doesn't turn a different color, Andy Jackson doesn't morph into George Soros. In that sense, my counterfeits don't directly affect your sawbucks... but my counterfeits indirectly devalue your real bills, creating uncertainty about which currency is real and which is fake, how much is out there, which is truly legal tender and which an ersatz copy that, if discovered, is worthless.
My counterfeit currency spreads fear, uncertainty, doubt. Private counterfeiting is as bad as rampant money-creation via the Federal Reserve; worse in the sense that at least the Fed must report on its activities from time to time.
By this analogy, traditional marriage is the currency backed by some form of specie, that which gives the institution of marriage itself the very cachet and social benefit that same-sex couples want to claim for their own. Contrariwise, any other form of union that is legally called marriage is the fiat or counterfeit currency; it piggy-backs on the real institution of marriage, hoping some of the moral, emotional, and sacred virtue rubs off.
Marriage is quite a special social institution; that's why it's the one to which we entrust child rearing. But to paraphrase Dash in the Incredibles, when everything is "special," then nothing is special.
So what to do, what to do? With the third largest state in the U.S. falling, I fear that train has left the station. Even if there is a later referendum in New York and the people reverse that decision, already hundreds of thousands of people across the nation will have flown to the Bug Apple and gotten legally married. And as we're finding out in California, you can't put the genie back in the bottle again, even if it was let out in despite of the voters.
You can't fight something with nothing; we need something positive to fight for, not just something negative to fight against; we can't allow ourselves to be put on the defensive by the Left and by libertarians who oppose legal marriage altogether. I believe there is only one answer: The Covenant marriage movement must become a popular front, just as the Tea Party movement already has.
Covenant marriage (CM) as a distinct legal institution arose comparatively recently, in response to the jump in the divorce rate in the 1980s. It differs significantly from normal legal marriage in ways that make it vastly more exclusive an institution:
- In a CM, couples must first undergo pre-nuptial counseling before they can marry.
- They agree to limit the grounds for divorce from the standard normal around the country -- if either party wants a divorce, that's grounds for divorce -- to a much narrower set of grounds, usually spousal or child abuse, felony conviction, or adultery. (If a state allows a CM couple to negotiate its own covenant, there can of course be more or fewer grounds for divorce.)
- Any CM passed by citizen demand would, by its enabling legislation, be restricted to the traditional definition of marriage -- one man, one woman. Creating a new form of marriage to exclude non-traditional groups of people being married is the only reason that CM legislation is likely to be passed in most states.
- CM is non-denominational and can be performed by civil authorities as well as religious; there's no religiosity requirement.
But how could CM become "the savior of marriage?" It's clear that the law cannot confer any greater legal status upon a couple married under CM than normal marriage confers upon the two, three, n-number of males and/or females who "marry" under that regime.
Yet that very point should make it harder for the courts to subvert CM: Same-sex couples (and later, groups of people larger than two) cannot argue that they're excluded from legal marriage, up to and including the name "marriage." They have the same legal rights and status, insofar as the secular law is concerned. Therefore, they have no legal ground to demand that Covenant marriage be forced to allow same-sex, polyamorous, group, incestuous, or under-aged marriages. The only difference between normal and Covenant marriage is that the latter has a number of restrictions not found in the former.
True, CM confers no more legal rights than normal marriage; but extra legal rights were never really the source of the specialness of marriage -- except perhaps the legal right for spouses not to testity against each other. (That last will certainly have to be revisioned when polyamorous marriages are allowed, unless we want entire Mafia families and street gangs to "marry" each other, so that nobody can squeal.)
No, the specialness of marriage has always flowed from its exclusivity and its permanence... which is why the Left has persistently attacked both those qualities by (a) twisting the definition of marriage towards making any association of any number of people a "marriage," and (b) making it easier and easier to walk away from a marriage upon the slightest pretext, provocation, or whim.
By restoring exclusivity and strengthening permanence, CM becomes the "real" marriage, and ordinary legal marriage just a trendy domestic partnership. And if that is how people begin to see it, we'll see more and more traditional couples getting married under Covenant, so they can demonstrate to the world their commitment to, and determination to work at, the union.
Ordinary legal marriage will persist, and will still confer the same legal status and rights; but it will probably fall into greater and greater disrepute among the majority: "Oh, you won't marry me with a Covenenant marriage? What, you want a back door out whenever you get bored with me? Drop dead, you creep!"
Women especially will have good reason to demand a CM or nothing: They know better than most men how vital is an intact family, with a male father and a female mother, when raising children.
A few caveats, none of which changes the basic equation:
- It's very unlikely that Congress will pass a federal version of CM. Nor should it. We have an enviable system of federalism; let it work! Each state can decide what exact kind of Covenant marriage to allow, if any, in its enabling legislation.
- Even if your state enacts a strong version of CM, it cannot make it illegal for one of the partners to move to another state, establish residency, and then get divorced under that state's no-fault divorce law that doesn't recognize the covenant. That's the price of liberty.
There will never come a time when normal marriage is abolished altogether; because if it did vanish from a state, then the Left could once again raise the spector of "unequal treatment." Specious though it is -- gays and straights alike are constrained in who they can marry; neither can marry a sibling, for example -- the judiciary has signalled that it is ready to cram SSM down our throats, and to hell with voters.
But that's a feature, not a bug; when state citizens must actually make a choice which type of marriage to enter into, they necessarily will have to think longer and harder about it that with a normal legal marriage. (As of course we all should, and do, if we believe it to be a solemn vow.)
Just as tea parties have swept the nation in a "popular front" -- and I believe I was the first person to so desribe them, back in February, 2010 -- I see Covenant marriage doing the same (with a vast overlap, most likely). And that means those of us who support traditional marriage no longer need wage a defensive war, trying to protect every state, city, village, and farm from the contagion of the "love bug," the untenable and cockamamie meme that "love is all you need" for marriage.
That bit of wrongthinking leads directly to our present discontent, the conclusion that any two or more people who "love" each other should be allowed to marry... men, women, siblings, fathers with their daughters, forty year olds with fourteen year olds, one man with eight women.
Instead, we can revert to the traditional American strategy of opening our own offensive. Rather than try to defend the status quo ante, we fight to implement a new form of marriage that is more exclusive and more permanent, bucking the leftist trend towards inclusion and impermanence. We slap both kinds of marriage on the table, then let the people choose. I predict that after an astonishingly brief time, "normal" marriage, with its unspecial universality and unserious provisional nature, will sink into desuetude, the last step before moribundity.
Americans may be many things, but not generally a mob: When the Left forces mob-rule upon us -- or more accurately, when they gin-up mobs to force tyranny upon the rest of us, with themselves as smug, self-satisfied tyrants -- we the people have a glorious history of rising up against them. This is true whether it's the tyranny of socialism, the tyranny of "diversity," or the tyranny of perversity.
As SSM spreads and infects more and more states, CM will grow alongside and surpass it in every venue. Soon the Obamunists will be fighting the defensive war, clinging to their "inclusive" definition of marriage. We achieve victory within the culture, despite -- even because of -- the Left's victory in the courts and legislatures. As an institution that is far more societal than legal, a solid victory within the culture is of much greater moment and future value than merely winning legal and legislative battles on the ground.
As the pushback becomes a wave, then a tsunami, and more and more states enact some version of Covenant marriage, then we'll once again have an exclusive and durable form of union to offer in preference to the liberals' and leftists marriage-lite. I sense that people, most especially young adults, have grown tired of weak tea and tolerance of everything, including intolerance itself. They crave something permanent, solid, bigger than themselves.
Give us Americans the choice, and I believe we will once again lead the rest of the world out of its moral morass.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
October 29, 2009
Why No "Celebration" of 1984's 60th Anniversary?
Calendar 2009 is the 25th anniversary of the year immortalized by George Orwell as 1984 and the 60th anniversary of the publication of the book Nineteen Eighty Four in Britain and America.
You would think that the Main Stream Media (MSM), which marks 25th anniversaries of almost every breakthrough, tragedy, and historical event -- 2009 is the 25th anniversary of the Macintosh computer, the discovery of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and of the computer game Tetris -- would outdo itself reflecting on the accuracy of Orwell’s warning of a coming totalitarianism state in Britain and America. Millions of American school children have read the classic, which introduced such universal terms as “Big Brother,” “doublethink,” “thoughtcrime,” and “Newspeak” into the vernacular. Yet no such retrospective has appeared.
You can bet that if “W” were still president and the sinister Dick Cheney still in the White House basement -- whittling away at the Constitution in between waterboarding innocent Moslem bystanders and chortling to Luke Skywalker, “I am your father!” -- that the anniversary would be front-page news. Charlie Gibson and Keith Olbermann would be asking, “Is George Bush Big Brother?” (In fact, in 2004, a quasi-documentary titled Orwell Rolls in His Grave, directed by Robert Pappas and peopled with celebrities of the Left such as Michael Moore, made that very point.)
But on the book’s 60th anniversary, with a liberal president, the MSM would rather not dwell on whether nine tenths of Nineteen Eighty Four’s “predictions” have come true, or that many occurred under liberal presidents such as Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton (yeah, they happened under the other guys too!) Such is the opinion of futurist and neuroscientist Dr. David Goodman, a Southern California resident who has devoted much of his career to the study of "George Orwell," the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair.
Goodman has collected 137 “predictions” culled from Orwell’s masterpiece. Here’s one: “Forced metrification. The chap at the local pub chatting with Winston Smith complains that he is unable to get his pint. As his lament continues, it appears that the government declared for the metric system without consideration for the people and their wishes. Certainly Orwell writing in 1947 foresaw the continental system imposed on the Brits before calendar 1984,” says Goodman.
Or this: “Speakwrite machine. Perhaps Orwell's most original prediction; Winston Smith in his cubicle at the Ministry of Truth pulls the microphone towards him and dictates his memoranda. The machine translates his spoken words into a typed message. Every time I enter my local computer store and see software converting words into type, I think of Orwell and his invention of speakwrite to eliminate secretaries who became aware through memos of black and white propaganda,” says Goodman.
There are the obvious ones: two-way television; face-recognition software; never-ending wars (such as the “war” on drugs, or the current unpleasantness formerly known as the War on Terror); and the Patriot Act, which authorized inquiries into the reading habits of library patrons. [Nb. Not everyone at Big Lizards agrees with the implication of nefariousness in this element of that act! -- DaH]
Plus citizens being under constant surveillance (think of traffic cameras in the U.S. and the U.K. and face-recognition software in casinos); technology for wireless lie-detectors; or government authorities using cell phones to track our every move.
Intriguingly, documents have surfaced in recent years -- a letter written by Orwell to Sidney Sheldon in 1949, and a poem called “End of the Century, 1984” by Orwell's first wife Eileen, written years before Nineteen Eighty Four -- that bolster the argument that it was written as a satire on the socialist Fabian Society; the book is set one-hundred years to the day after the founding of the Fabian Society in London in 1884... that is, the "end of the (Fabian) century."
For 30 years Dr. Goodman has written and been interviewed about Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four predictions. When the famous date approached, Goodman calculated that 100 of 137 predictions had come true. More have come true since then, he says.
Recently he found proof that Orwell’s book was a biting satire on political and literary figures of the day, such as Sidney and Beatrice Webb, George Bernard Shaw, and H.G. Wells, Fabians all. Most literary analyses of Nineteen Eighty Four and the publisher’s advertisement’s for the book emphasized that it was a satire on the Communist Russia of Stalin, but Goodman disputes that.
“Big Brother was supposedly Stalin and Goldstein, enemy of the people, was Trotsky and it was telling you what Russia would be thirty-five years ahead,” says Goodman. “That got me a little confused because Orwell had written Animal Farm, an obvious satire on Communist Russia -- then he got the idea for his next book. Why write two satires on Stalin?”
For many years the accepted interpretation was that Orwell was a Fabian socialist. The 1966 book Fabian Freeway: High Road to Socialism by Rose Martin lists Orwell as one of the conspirators of Fabian socialism in Britain. “I’ve read that citation all over the place, but I’ve also read several dozens of books about Orwell and found descriptions of terrible run-ins he had with influential Fabians, such as Beatrice and Sidney Webb.” Goodman believes that Goldstein in the book is fashioned after Sidney Webb. “The four ministries of Love, Peace, Plenty, and Truth, parody Fabian slogans of the 1920s. The book begins on April 4, 1984, the same date [plus a century] of the first pamphlet by the Fabian Society. When Orwell worked at the BBC during WWII he could look out his window at University College, where British Fabianism was at its strongest.”
Goodman isn’t the first to posit this type of connection. Walter Cronkite in his preface to the Signet Gold edition of Nineteen Eighty Four hypothesized that the book, “was a novelistic essay on power, how it is acquired and maintained, how those who seek it or seek to keep it tend to sacrifice anything and everything in its name.” That comment set Goodman off on his own 25 year search for the truth.
Since Fabian Freeway was published, documents have surfaced that support Goodman. One is the poem by Eileen Blair, a fierce Fabian Socialist who died in 1945. Goodman thinks it probable that references Martin found were of Orwell’s wife and not Orwell himself.
There is also a letter by author Sidney Sheldon, who wrote to Orwell shortly before the latter's death asking permission to do a play based on the book, and clarification on whether it was intended as an attack on Soviet Russia, as Sheldon had been told to stage it, or a prediction of what might happen if British socialism, which had come to power in 1945 under Clement Attlee’s Labor Party, were to continue on for another 35 years -- as Sheldon had originally proposed.
Orwell wrote him back: “Dear Mr. Sheldon, many thanks for your letter of August 9, I think your interpretation of the book’s political tendency is very close to what I meant… I was trying to chiefly imagine what communism would be like if it were firmly rooted in the English speaking countries and was no longer a mere extension of the Russian foreign office.”
Orwell’s hero, Winston Smith, was 39 in the book. That would have been about the age of Orwell’s adopted son, Richard (then aged 2), in 1984, along with an entire generation who would have grown up in a Socialist Britain.
Knowing that Orwell intended Nineteen Eighty Four as a warning against what might happen in a democracy if socialism is pursued to its ultimate goals should serve as a clear warning to the present generation in both the U.K. and the United States -- If only someone was listening to the warning!
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