Of Rainbow Flags and Anarchy

Of Rainbow Flags and Anarchy June 29, 2022

 

Where the Supremes meet
A 2013 photograph of the United States Supreme Court building, taken from the dome of the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

 

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Interpreter Radio Show — June 5, 2022

In the first hour of the 5 June 2022 episode of the Interpreter Radio Show, Neal Rappleye, Jasmin Rappleye, Hales Swift, and Stephen Smoot discussed the Mormon History Association and ancient trans-oceanic crossings.  The second portion of the Show was devoted to a roundtable discussing the upcoming Come Follow Me lesson #29 (2 Kings 17–25). The weekly Interpreter Radio Show can be heard live on Sunday evenings from 7 to 9 PM (MDT), on K-TALK, AM 1640.  Alternatively, you can listen to it live, uncensored, and without a safety net on the Internet at ktalkmedia.com.

 

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Owing to the fatal illness of a long-time friend, Michael Lyon, who was a hospice patient there, my wife and I visited Utah Valley Hospital yesterday afternoon.  Obviously, the most important thing that weighed on our minds was the condition of our friend.  (I received word just minutes ago that Michael has now passed away, as was anticipated.)  Still, I couldn’t help but notice a couple of rainbow flags festooning the pedestrian bridge that links the hospital campus to other medical buildings across Fifth West and, even more, the trio of flags — American, Utah, and rainbow — atop the flag poles at the main southern entrance to the hospital complex.  (There may well be other rainbow flags elsewhere but, if so, I didn’t see them.)

 

I was struck by the presence of these flags, and I wondered, frankly, why they were there.  Yes, I know it’s “Pride Month” — doesn’t everybody? see “Explorers Discover Remote Island Untouched By Pride Month” — but still I wondered.  (Wondering is, I believe, still legally and ethically permissible.)

 

If the rainbow flag is taken simply as affirming the value of treating all people (including those who experience same-sex attraction, gender dysphoria, and related matters) with kindness and respect — and I assume that many take it in much that way — then I see no problem with its display on government and quasi-government buildings such as Utah Valley Hospital.  Notwithstanding the strenuous daily efforts of a tiny group of anonymous online detractors over the past fifteen years or so, I’m very much in favor of charity and mutual respect.  But I’m not sure that that is all that the rainbow flag represents.  I may be mistaken, and I’m certainly open to re-education on the matter, but it seems to me that the flag frequently and perhaps, in a sense, primarily represents a particular ideology or complex of ideologies and a broad but specific and insistent political agenda.  In which case, I think it quite inappropriate for the rainbow flag to be displayed on any government or quasi-government building.  State institutions should not be publicly taking partisan, political, or ideological stands.

 

In that light and with the heightened awareness induced by my having seen those flags yesterday, I found this article of considerable interest:

 

“Draping Yourself in a Rainbow Flag Doesn’t Help Me Feel Loved”

 

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I’ve been remiss in calling your attention to new entries on the sadly necessary Neville-Neville Land blog.  So here are links to the most recent articles there:

 

“Heartlanders expect the apostles’ views to change”

“Elder Quentin L. Cook is a member of the citation cartel”

“Spencer Kraus’s devastating review of Jonathan Neville’s A Man that Can Translate”

“Spencer Kraus’s trenchant review of Jonathan Neville’s Infinite Goodness”

 

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Finally, I hereby designate the comments section for this blog entry as a preserve in which the reader who calls himself “The Last Danite” should feel himself completely at liberty to post his notions about democracy being merely a tyranny of the majority, about disdaining the Constitution of the United States, and about how everything would be wonderful if we just lived under stateless anarchy.  “The Last Danite” should not feel free, however, to take other threads over for such, umm, ideas.  I will try to resist the urge to interact with him here regarding his curious views — I’ve wasted too much time on them already — but any others who care to engage with him should feel entirely free to do so in comments appended to this specific blog entry.

 

I’ll get things started here by saying that there has never been a society in human history in which nobody has exercised authority over anybody else.  Moreover, pending the Millennium and the Second Coming, if even then, there will never be such a society.  In my view, the wholly voluntary society that TLD affects to favor — that is to say, an anarchic society — would very soon resemble that described by Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan: “No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”  Or, as Sir Isaiah Berlin put it, “Freedom for the wolves has often meant death for the sheep.”  Seriously advocated anarchism is, in my judgment, quite unserious fatuous utopianism.

 

TLD points out that much of my life — within my family, among my friends, and in the Church, to choose three areas that are vitally important to me — is actually lived, right now, under conditions of “anarchy.”  (I would prefer to say that I live within networks of voluntary relations.)  And, of course, most of my financial or economic life is also, happily, a matter of freely entered transactions.  As a free-market-oriented, limited government, federalist conservative, this is as I think it should be.  (I like the great George Will’s response when he was asked whether he is a libertarian.  “Libertarianish,” he replied.)  But my largely voluntary and free life is lived within, and to at least some degree structured and made possible by, a framework of laws backed by the state.  When I sign contracts, I expect them to be enforced — if need be — by the law.  I rely on the fact that, should my property rights be infringed, the courts will defend them.  Should I be threatened, the police power of the state will be there, in principle and I hope in reality, to protect me, to deter the person making the threat or to punish the offender after the fact.  I’m especially happy at this time that abortion is not a matter of lawless anarchy, and that, to some degree or another in the fifty United States, the lives of unborn children will be protected rather than be exposed to the untrammeled free choices of people who don’t value such lives.

 

I recognize that, as Mao famously said, “political power flows from the barrel of a gun.”  In other words, government power rests, ultimately, on the power to coerce.  That’s what distinguishes state power, ideally, from the power of Microsoft or that of the American Federation of Teachers:  The state claims a legal monopoly on force.  That is why I firmly believe that the scope of government should be strictly limited.  Force should be minimized in human life.  But force cannot realistically be expected to simply go away.  I cannot agree with the notion that there should be no government at all.  For, if there is no state at all to exercise force through its police, military, and judicial functions, force will nevertheless be employed within a society.  I would far rather have a government that seeks to prevent and to punish rape, for example, than a state of anarchy in which the powerful freely rape the weak when and if they choose.  The state should never have enforced slavery or segregated buses.  But it needs to exist in order to protect against lynch mobs.

 

Nor can I see how an American Latter-day Saint can disdain the Constitution of the United States while apparently claiming to be in harmony with the scriptures.  For, in Doctrine and Covenants 101: 77-78, 80, given in mid-December 1833 in Kirtland, Ohio, the Lord himself speaks of

 

the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; that every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. . . .  And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.

 

There.  That should be enough bait to bring “The Last Danite” to this blog entry’s comment section.  And, as I say, anybody who wants to engage him here should freely jump in.  I myself hope not to do so.

 

 

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