People say there’s nothing sacred…

but it ain’t so. If you want to know what people hold sacred, it’s very easy to determine: see what they regard as blasphemy. Chesterton observed long ago that we only blaspheme what we hold sacred. Try thinking a blasphemous thought about Loki or Odin. It wouldn’t even occur to most people. Likewise, routine spitting on the commandment not to take the Lord’s name in vain doesn’t even exercise TV networks anymore. That’s because God is not sacred to the chattering classes. But that doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as blasphemy for them. As a reader writes:

You know, I saw “Midway” on TNT not too long ago, and Turner’s station had not bleeped a single blasphemous oath – but there was a “bleep” every other sentence. You know what the Forbidden Word was?

“Japs”. Despite that movie’s careful treatment of the internment camps, the whole sub-plot with the heroic pilot’s Nisei girlfriend and all, and the niggling (oh, forgive THAT word!) detail that everybody called them “Japs” at the time…

It says something to our credit as a people that we do regard racial epithets as blasphemous (and therefore regard equality under the law as sacred). I don’t poo poo that. But I do note that this sacred dogma of human equality exists more or less in isolation from any serious philosophical framework. It is a custom, not a intelligent and thought-out principle, and 9 Americans out of 10 would not know how to defend it if it came under serious and sustained intellectual attack. They assume–wrongly, as Jefferson did–that equality is “self-evident” when, in fact, it is no such thing. It is a mystical dogma having roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition and in nothing else. I am not at all confident it will survive long if the same culture that thinks nothing of blaspheming the God who made us equal continues on its present course. Remove the foundation, the house falls. For more on this, see my piece “We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident“.