Pat Buchanan joins Manhattan Declarers in ‘civil disobedience’ fappery

Pat Buchanan joins Manhattan Declarers in ‘civil disobedience’ fappery May 1, 2013

Pat Buchanan takes a break from race-baiting to pledge his support for “civil disobedience” against marriage equality. Like all the other pundits advocating this, he is unable to explain just how this would work.

How does anyone “disobey” a law that doesn’t affect them? Marriage equality, as Maurice Williamson said, “is fantastic for the people it affects,” but it does not change anything for anyone else.

Marriage equality does not compel Pat Buchanan to start doing anything. It does not compel Pat Buchanan to stop doing anything. It does not force Catholic or white evangelical clergy to conduct or celebrate same-sex weddings. It does not compel such clergy to bless, accept or acknowledge such marriages.

Marriage equality does not even require people like Pat Buchanan, or the Catholic bishops, or the signers of the Manhattan Declaration, or white evangelical clergy to be any nicer to LGBT people than they have already proven incapable of being. It requires nothing from them.

And that means “civil disobedience” is simply not possible. It is a law that people like Pat Buchanan cannot either obey or disobey.

All this talk of “civil disobedience” from anti-gay folks like Buchanan and the Manhattan Declarers is just posturing. It’s part of the fantasy role-playing game in which they stroke their egos by pretending that they’re heroic champions of morality — the rightful heirs of Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, King, Rustin, Parks, Gandhi and a host of others whom they would condemn and mock if they were still living.

Pat Buchanan, like the authors and signatories of the Manhattan Declaration, is just masturbating.


Rule No. 1
"No one ever cared what you say."

Rule No. 1
"I think that’s a big threat. There’s going to be a future president who is ..."

Rule No. 1

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Carstonio

    The whole point of civil disobedience is to call attention to injustice, whereas Buchanan’s idea would perpetuate injustice. If he were a vegetarian working as a restaurant server, he would refuse to serve patrons who eat meat, even if the patrons ordered vegetarian dishes.

    Some of the court clerks in my county had balked at officiating for same-sex weddings. (We’re not the only county in the state that has a slight Catholic majority, but to my knowledge, we had the only objectors.) The head clerk simply exempted the objectors from officiating at any weddings. In her place, I might have been tempted to invite the clerks to seek other employment. But the real issue is that the objectors haven’t demonstrated why their religious beliefs would prevent them from even officiating – apparently they wrongly equate that act with actually having a spouse of the same sex. That would be no different from an Amish-owned business turning away customers who have cable TV or landline phone service.

  • Ah, but that’s precisely why it would never happen. Anyone who opposes marriage equality believes that the religious and the political should be one and the same.

  • Carstonio

    That’s probably true for all but a tiny minority of opponents. Many offer ostensibly secular arguments that cite sexual dimorphism or gender roles or reproduction. But these usually sound like clumsy translations of some Catholic doctrines.

    Robert George is one of many who argues that procreation should take place only within marriage, but he goes further and insists that even infertile opposite-sex couples serve as role models to reinforce that norm. He doesn’t explain how same-sex marriage allegedly promotes procreation outside of marriage, although based on what other opponents have said, this may be simply fear of the dreaded two-mommy scenario.

  • For what it’s worth, I agree that married infertile opposite-sex couples reinforce the “procreation only within marriage” social norm, by contrast to unmarried infertile opposite-sex couples, in that they reinforce the social norm that marriage is part of being a family, regardless of what kind of family one is part of.

    Of course, I would say the same thing about married same-sex couples. And married mixed-gender triads, for that matter.

  • Ah, if only that were so. I know people who agree with the Church/State distinction but oppose marriage equality on the grounds that, as far as I can tell, everything should be the way it was when they were kids because change makes them uncomfortable, and also gay sex is icky.

  • > The whole point of civil disobedience is to call attention to an unjust law or situation

    Can you say more about what you mean here?

    To be more precise.. suppose there’s a law L which you and I would agree is an unjust law, and Sam publicly violates L in the hopes of calling public attention to it and thereby creating opposition to L. I’m assuming we’d agree that this is civil disobedience.

    Suppose there’s another law, L2, which you and I would agree is a just law, and Pat publicly violates L2 in the hopes of calling public attention to it and thereby creating opposition to L2.

    Is this not also civil disobedience?

  • Magic_Cracker

    It’s funny ’cause it’s true.

  • Carstonio

    Sure, but unlike George and his colleagues, you don’t appear to assume that homosexuality is a choice. And I suspect that you reject the claim of a moral or social obligation to limit one’s potential sexual partners to the opposite sex.

  • (nods) A well-founded suspicion, to be sure. More than that, I’m not especially committed to the idea that reinforcing the social norm that marriage is (a necessary) part of being a family is a good thing. (Though I’m not confident it isn’t, either.) I’m just sayin’, these things do in fact reinforce that norm.

  • Carstonio

    In the strictly technical sense, you’re right that the strategies are the same. The objectives are far different. Violating a just law to attract public attention and oppose justice is simply an act of whiny, selfish petulance.

  • fraser

    Oh, I think Buchanan’s fine with seeing other people carted off to jail and giving him an excuse to scream about tyranny. But in his position, I don’t see him having much opportunity (“Well, of course, if I was running a wedding-catering business, I’d be happy to go to jail, but I’m not.”). It’s like cheap grace.

  • fraser

    Not so sure. He is, after all, old enough to remember when homosexuality was a Sick Horrible Disgusting Mental Disorder and Perversion in the opinion of everyone. He longs for those days in most other aspects of his life, why not this one?

  • fraser

    If they really believed gay is a choice, anti-gays wouldn’t be so outraged about gays serving in the military. If it’s a “lifestyle choice” then all you have to do is put “don’t follow that lifestyle or you get discharged”in the regs (I would not be in favor of this, but it is a logical solution). Instead, they approach gayness as something which is fixed and not a choice.

  • Carstonio

    One trolley company owner chose to end services for weddings entirely rather than provide these for same-sex couples. That’s a case of sacrificing income directly for a matter of principle. But let’s not put him in the same moral category as, say, a magazine publisher refusing cigarette advertising.

  • Carstonio

    But most opponents didn’t want gays in the military at all. Generally they weren’t active service members, but politicians and activists who claimed to be looking out for those members. Just like activists claiming to be protecting the consciences of pharmacists regarding contraception, or bishops claiming to be looking out for Catholic employers.

    These folks expected us to believe that men who willingly face death and dismemberment in the service of their country would panic at the thought of a gay comrade ogling them in the shower. (I say men because opponents generally don’t talk about this alleged phenomenon occurring in the women’s showers.) This is projection on several levels, rooted in sexist beliefs about gender roles.

  • Oh, absolutely. Civil disobedience in defense of an unjust law is unjust, just as lobbying congress or paying for advertising or any other strategy in defense of an unjust law is unjust.

  • And I think for Christians in the US, we can afford to distinguish between the religious and political a little more.

    I can recall some arguments that I can only assume were sincere claiming that marriage has always been a religious tradition, and the government recognition of it was simply that, legal recognition of a religious tradition. Their argument was that gay people were trying to offend Christian people by clamoring for marriage, claiming that it is forcibly re-defining what they saw as being their (the religion’s) tradition to define.

    The person making the argument seemed genuinely unaware that homosexual people might want to get married to a partner of the same sex for reasons other than spite.

  • Fusina

    Sadly, it also probably comes from a phenomenon I have observed, that straight men also like girl on girl porn.

    sarcasm “Only for the love of God, they had better not get married. Ugh.” /sarcasm

  • One thing that a lot of anti-marriage equality folks often claim is that, even if pastors won’t be required to marry gays, other Christians… say, Christian wedding photographers, won’t have the option to opt out of doing gay weddings without being sued. While I confess that this argument makes no sense to me, I’d like to see that addressed, as well.

  • PatBannon

    I perk up every time I see your username here. You bring it so consistently, and you’ve done for years. I’m amazed.

  • Carstonio

    I haven’t heard the spite argument before, but I have heard many claims about religions supposedly owning marriage. One “compromise” that’s been offered would classify all legal marriages as civil unions and leave the word marriage to the religions. It’s far more likely that the concept of marriage predates religion.

  • P J Evans

    If the photographers advertise only to Christians and aren’t available to anyone else, they might be able to make that claim, If they’re advertising and open to the general public, tough: they’re in the same leaking boat as the florists and the bakers and the facilities people who have no problems with opposite-general marriages of any religion, but draw the line at same-sex marriages.

  • However, the other thing to keep in mind is that “civil disobedience” includes the willingness to accept the consequences of your behavior.

    In other words, they want to go on discriminating without consequence, and regard any attempt to impose consequence as an attack on their “freedom” by “forcing” them to serve people they do not like lest they incur a slap-on-the-wrist.

  • Risser

    So, being married in the state-sanctioned sense means that you get spousal benefits normally reserved for hetero couples. I suppose someone who wanted to practice civil disobedience could refuse to provide those benefits for spouses in a same-sex marriage. For example, refusing to let a same-sex spouse have visiting rights in a hospital or something.

  • I tried Googling them, but failed to find the story.

  • I’ll happily address it: if I provide a service to married couples generally, but I refuse to provide that service to a gay married couple, that ought to be treated the same way as if I provide a service to single people generally, but I refuse to provide that service to single gay people.

    We can then have a discussion about whether gay people should be a protected class in the first place (e.g., should I have the right to kick gay people out of my pizzeria because I don’t approve of homosexuality?), but this no longer has anything to do with marriage equality. It’s about equality for gay people more generally.

    For that matter, we can have a discussion about whether any class should be protected (e.g., should I have the right to kick Christians out of my pizzeria because I don’t approve of Christianity?).

    My own answer is “yes” to both questions.

  • Presumably they are equally baffled by why Jews get married.

  • The “marriage has always been religious” idea wouldn’t be so bad if the people currently trumpeting it didn’t automatically assume “religious = Abrahamic”, or at the very least, “religious = patriarchal religion”.

  • PatBannon

    +1 for Goblins. Brutal, horrible, amazing.

  • Yeah, look at them realizing that public funding for religious schools covers Muslim schools too, or that prayer in school covers pagan prayers too.

  • Their belief systems might be more comprehensible if you can get your mind around the concept that they believe it is possible and okay for there to be different “levels” of being-a-real-true-person. So they don’t see a problem with “sexuality is fixed and not a choice, and _those people_ are an inferior stratum from Us, deserving of fewer rights.” — that is, they don’t think that ‘These people are born that way’ means “and therefore we should not discriminate against them on this basis.”

  • One of the bizarre arguments I’ve heard is that, in essence, any time we treat as “equal” something which deviates from the “ideal”, we are damaging the ideal’s status-as-ideal, and thereby creating an environment where “anything goes”. That is, unless same-sex relationships are treated as inferior, then “procreation only within marriage” loses its status as “best”.

  • Accusing homophobes of being closeted homosexuals always strikes me as being too close to giving assent to the idea that being gay is something shameful.

    Like when George Takei called that school board member a douchebag. It was a FANTASTIC rant, but the bit where he predicts that the guy will soon make headlines by being caught in a same-sex relationship, that got close to, like, the way one schoolkid teases another by insinuating that they’re gay.

  • Lunch Meat

    Just to clarify–“yes” to which both questions? “Should gay people/any class be protected” or “should I have the right to kick gay people/Christians out”?

  • The_L1985

    The arguments I hear seem to imply that all things which are allowed are also compulsory.

    Because, you know, I’m forced to buy ice cream every day. Since it’s legal to do that. Just look at my 50 freezers full of ice cream that don’t actually exist. 9_9

  • DMG

    Even in that case he wouldn’t be practising civil disobedience against same sex marriage law. He would be civilly disobeying laws that require employers to offer particular benefits to married couples.

    A simple test is to imagine his disobedience triggered a court case and he won. The law that gets struck down would not be the one allowing same sex couples to wed – nobody’s marriage would be annulled. The best he could hope for (which wouldn’t happen) is striking down employers’ obligations to legally married couples as a group.

    So even this example does not qualify as civil disobedience against same sex marriage law.

  • Well, I meant “should gay people be protected?” and “should any class be protected”?

    That said, my general answer to “should/do I have the right to kick X out?” is also “yes,” with the caveat that we can (and often do, and often ought to) suspend that right in cases where allowing it creates an unreasonable burden on X. But I recognize that this is more controversial, and isn’t what I meant.

  • (nods) I’ve heard the argument as well. I agree with it as far as it goes.. if there are a dozen things just as good as X, then X is not special, sure.

    My point of departure is twofold… first, that doesn’t mean “anything goes,” it means “more than one thing goes.” I can believe that there’s more than one “best food to eat” without believing that everything is equally good to eat.

    Second, basically, so what? OK, X loses its status as “best.” That’s OK. The world is not thereby made worse.

  • If I were going to perform an act of “civil disobedience” against marriage equality, I suppose I could interrupt services in some way or sit in places that were performing weddings and glare imperiously. Or shout something at them that shows how crude I am.

  • Actually there’s only 4 states (Alaska, California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey) where it’s illegal for renters to discriminate based on marital status (that is, refuse to rent to someone who is unmarried – there are about 20 states that prohibit the opposite kind of discrimination – refusing to rent to someone who is married).

  • Fusina

    Rhode Island voted to make SSM the legal law of the land.

    Happy dance, happy dance!

  • Carstonio

    Yeah, it’s obvious that they see marriage as owned by their religion.

  • Carstonio

    Buchanan and his fellow haters aren’t necessarily talking about lawsuits against business owners who discriminate against gay couples. They’re implying that such owners will face criminal penalties. Some of them might not honesty see a practical distinction, conflating the two as the government telling them how to run their businesses. Buchanan is probably perceptive enough to know the difference but he doesn’t care.

  • Yup, that sounds about right.

    Either way, the first hundred or so times such a business gets sued for discriminatory practices, folks like Buchanan will certainly go “See? They’re making it illegal to be Christian!” even if the store owner is a homophobic atheist.

    And either that strategy will work, and we will back away from opposing discrimination against queer folk, or it will fail, and they’ll try something else.

  • Vermic

    Well, thank you very much! :)

  • Shamefulness is a subjective thing though. To a lot of the closeted people, especially those who are both closeted and anti-gay, being gay is something that they find shameful. By contrast, someone who is unashamed of being gay will be more likely to come out of the closet.

    Some of this has to do with the individual themselves, but much of the rest of it has to do with their enculturation. Someone raised in an environment where they are told that being gay is horrible and sinful will see homosexuality as shameful and if they are gay will be unlikely to come out. Likewise, someone raised in an environment where homosexuality is open, celebrated, and not sanctioned against will be more likely to see no shame in it, and if they are gay will probably feel more free to assert that.

    If people like Tim Hardaway are going to find homosexuality shameful, then I have no problem with tweaking their shame. If they do not treat it as shameful, then they should have nothing to be ashamed of.

  • DavidCheatham

    Wow, apparently you are right.. I could have sworn marital status was protected under the Federal Fair Housing Act, but that is entirely wrong. (It _is_ protected under employment law, though.)

    However, I don’t actually think that changes anything, because I’m still actually right. Just wrong about how the law changed. ;)

    In most places, hospitality laws exist that say hotels _must_ receive any guests willing to pay, plus a few other qualifiers, like not using the room for unlawful purposes. If you show up at a hotel, and they have a room, and you have cash, they have to let you rent.

    I.e., hotels have near infinite non-discriminatory restrictions. The rest of the country can refuse to do business with people who have a blue hat, or for no reason at all, but hotels can’t.

    Now, back when adulatory was illegal, hotels could, indeed, not rent rooms to unmarried people. Likewise, back when homosexual conduct was illegal, hotels could refuse to rent them rooms. As long as they had a reasonable suspicion unlawful activity would occur there, they could refuse.

    Those laws are now dead letter, and hence hotels can’t actually bar someone from renting a room on those grounds.

  • P J Evans

    The world wasn’t the way they think it was when they were kids, either. Kids never get told the big picture, and especially not the *whole* picture.

  • Pat Buchanan is so awesome on other stuff that I give him a pass here. “Whose War?” is the greatest column of our time.

    Written on the eve of the Iraq War