“Tolerance” and Chicken Sandwiches in Oceania

Not wanting the Mayor of Boston to be the only jackass attacking the president of Chick-Fil-A for doubleplus ungoodthink, Philadelphia is going to “condemn” a private citizen because of his opinions.

City Councilman Jim Kenney, who is totally not pandering to the gay vote and trying to score some easy ink, wrote Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy to say “As an American you are legally entitled to your opinion, regardless of how insensitive and intolerant it may be, but as a fellow American and an elected member of Philadelphia City Council; I am entitled to express my opinion as well. So please – take a hike and take your intolerance with you. There is no place for this type of hate in our great City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.”

Just soak in the preening moral vanity of that. Cathy voices an opinion shared by the vast majority of the population, including the president up until a few months ago, and all of a sudden he’s Bull Connor. Kenney will be introducing a resolution officially condemning Cathy for his statement of traditional values. (Not for any actual discrimination, mind you: just for his thoughts.)

Meanwhile, Chicago don Rahm Emanuel says “What the CEO has said as it relates to gay marriage and gay couples is not what I believe, but more importantly, it’s not what the people of Chicago believe.” Really Rahm? None of the people of Chicago agree with him? Amazing.

And so the city fathers of various places are making an effort to vilify and drive out a private business–one that generates jobs and revenue in a time of severe economic distress–because they don’t like the views of its president. Dan Cathy has committed a thoughtcrime, and so he must be punished. Not, mind you, by citizens opting to spend their money elsewhere in protest. I have no problem with that at all. It’s the right, and perhaps the duty, of individuals to vote with their dollars. No, this is people with real power over zoning and approvals and police forces saying that they are going to use the mechanisms of the state to block a citizen’s ability to do his business because they hold his views in contempt.

In order to advance the progressive cause for each new generation, the left needs a constant state of conflict, whether such conflicts exist or not. A generation arises and sees no great suffragette, civil rights, free speech issue to galvanize the masses for revolution, and so one is invented: gay marriage! It’s a civil right! (Never mind that there’s a distinction between a right and privilege, and the newly minted idea of same sex “marriage” is certainly not a universal right.)

Anyone opposed, for whatever reason, is a bigot and a hater. Do the opponents of gay marriage have good reasons based in logic, faith, or morals? Inconceivable! Once goodthink and bellyfeel have been achieved in Oceania, why bother considering things any more deeply, when we can just move on to the next designated Emmanuel Goldstein and begin the two minute hate?

Does the PC left even realize that Orwell was writing about them?

Just to be clear: I object to same-sex “marriage” because it attempts to make marriage something it’s never been before. It is reinventing the meaning of a foundational concept of civilization, and using the worst kind of demagoguery to accomplish this change in an alarmingly short period of history. It’s like trying to reinvent the meaning of “red” or “table.” It’s not actually possible, no matter how many sad stories people tell about hospital visitation.

And I can tell you that it’s not at all about hospital visitation, or legal parity, or any of those things, which can be achieved through many different means. We have same sex unions in New Jersey that have all the benefits of actual marriage. Every last one. Except, of course, for one: we don’t call it marriage. We call it a civil union.

So what happens? The gay lobby sues New Jersey to overturn the civil union laws, because nothing short of a union that is called “marriage” will ever be good enough. It is not about legal rights. It is about mainstreaming homosexuality and forcing people to acknowledge that the union of two people of the same gender is the exact same thing as the union of opposites.

Except it’s not, and wishing won’t make it so. See that word I used a little earlier? Union. Two people of the same gender may have a deep and abiding and lasting love for one another, but one thing they cannot have is a union. They lack the complementarity that is essential to forming the kind of complete union defined by the word marriage. Our bodies, including our gender, are not incidental to our beings, and they’re certainly not incidental to an idea so rudimentary as marriage. To believe otherwise is to fall back into the old heresy of Gnosticism.

Ever since the radically politicized revision of the 1973 DSM removed homosexuality as a disorder, there’s been a effort to recast it as a mere variant of a healthy sexuality. This is pure, concentrated nonsense, and any honest gay person will admit that their same-sex attraction has its foundation in extremely complex and mysterious psychological and developmental issues. Its relative rarity tells us that this is an anomaly, not a norm.

If you have an opposite opinion, fine. It’s a complex issue, and I understand being on the other side of it. There’s an emotional response that sees love and wants to acknowledge it as fully as possibly. This response elevates fairness above all other considerations. In weighing the complex factors that go into forming an opinion, there will always be those who emphasize one element (empathy, equality, truth, reason, etc) over another. For supporters of gay marriage who refuse to see any distinction between straight sex and gay sex (because, in the end, sex or sexual attraction is the central defining element of marriage) it simply comes down to a matter of fairness, and all other considerations fall by the wayside.

See that? I didn’t call people on the opposite side names or try to get their business shut down or work to get them fired. I disagreed, and my disagreement is based on ideas and principles, not on blind hatred. I know that merely voicing such an opinion could cost me work down the line, and if you consider yourself a liberal that idea should leave you deeply ashamed of your political fellow-travelers. A principled liberal would never seek to punish someone for their opinions, but, again and again we see the left rising up to persecute people who deviate from the Received Wisdom on this issue. They have achieved a level of wild-eyed zealotry that is frightening in its intensity, and the response to Dan Cathy marks a turning point in this war.

There is a scorched-earth policy that has manipulated language to make this a civil rights issue the equal of racial segregation and discrimination. It’s not. This is not an attempt to extend existing rights to all people regardless of their race. This is an attempt to change an established privilege of society into something it’s never been. It’s certainly possible to make the case that this change is desirable and necessary, but it’s done through a civil debate of ideas in an open society. It’s not done by declaring the issue settled and initiating a policy of intimidation and contempt for those who continue to hold beliefs that were overwhelmingly common just a decade ago, and, indeed, throughout the entire course of human history. But if the history of progressivism tells us anything, it tells us that progressives are not a patient people. They want their change and they want it now, and if that requires the precautionary beheading of dissenters, well, such is the price of revolution.

This really wasn’t a fight I wanted. With abortion and euthanasia and war and poverty and economic ruin ripping apart humanity, it’s absurd to spend energy on this non-issue, which caters only to the vanity of a vanishingly slim percentage of the population. People are so tired of the subject they’re giving in with the faint hope that maybe then everyone will shut up about it.

I have several gay family members, and we managed to grow up and love another without incessantly about their homosexuality. That’s no longer allowed: now we’d have to pick over every detail and celebrate the wonderfulness of their sexuality with rainbow stickers and catchy slogans. One of the formative figures in my life was my mother’s cousin. I loved him dearly, and dedicated my second book to him. I wouldn’t be who I was without his efforts. Both he and his companion were a regular fixture in our (extremely conservative Catholic) home. His sexuality was never an issue. It was simply part of who he was. It would have been very low on his list of things that defined him, below high-school principal, author, expert on Jane Austen, and translator.

What the Forces of Tolerance forget is that almost every family can tell a similar story. We somehow got through our lives living with and loving gay people without endlessly talking about the rather boring and personal subject of their sexuality.

I’ve always been more or less libertarian on this issue. I don’t oppose civil unions, and I think any contract or agreement or arrangement two people wish to form is their own business. If that’s all it was, then more power to them.

But that’s not all it is. This was always a culture war. This was always a means to punish those those with traditional beliefs and get mainstream acceptance of homosexuality: to place it on utterly equal footing with conventional relationships. And once “marriage” is achieved, lawsuits against those who refuse to go along with the charade will follow. That was always the endgame: not happy middle class suburban gay couples living in bliss with their 1.5 adopted children, but punishment for those who objected. Is it any coincidence that the rise in prominence of this issue paralleled the rise of aggressive evangelical atheism? They go hand-in-glove as attempts to knock down the last bastions of principled conscience in the public square.

I haven’t written at length about this issue, because I detest the noise surrounding it, which drowns out any reasoned discourse and leads to debate-ending attempts to characterize opponents as haters and bigots.  It seems like a fabricated controversy, generated by the elite to manipulate public opinion for their own ends. Writing about it just seems to feed it.

But then I see images like this, and marvel at the overweening self-regard of the person who would post it:

Created by a Christian whose Bible doesn’t include Luke 18:11





Every one of those words applies to the person who circulates this image. It is the dominant tone of the debate, which is not debate at all, but an attempt to characterize the opposition as merely contemptible and thus end the debate. The Dan Cathy affair is a terrifying escalation of this rhetoric. We’re moving into new territory here, with political leaders using the powers of their positions to hound people who hold different beliefs. We’ve finally crossed into an area where people like myself, who were largely willing to sit on the sidelines, are going to push back. When a person can’t even express the most mild support for traditional marriage without winding up on the big screen for his two minute hate, then we’re in a dangerous place.

UPDATE: Sorry about the extreme length of this one. Elizabeth addresses things better and more briefly here. Don’t miss the video at the end.

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Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.