June 27, 2011
It is naïve to believe that First Amendment rights will be a permanent protection against such excesses. The US Department of Education, the Justice Department, and other federal and state agencies are already monitoring our words and demanding remedies for insensitive speech in educational institutions and in the workplace. (See my book After Liberalism, pp. 107-09.) The Canadian situation is not unimaginable, because public administrators and judges have already breached guarantees of free expression and free exercise of religion. But they have done this in corporate settings, applying government pressure to alter the values and mindsets of those associated with institutions instead of censoring isolated individuals’ views. It is also incorrect to imagine that the legalization of gay marriage in New York or in any other populous state will not significantly change the degree of control that is already being exercised over us because of existing anti-discrimination laws affecting gays.
The concerns of religious organizations that the “all but inevitable” passage of the gay-marriage bill will further limit their institutional freedoms are well-founded. Henceforth discrimination against gay spouses can and will be treated (however ludicrous this may seem) as an attack on the sacred institution of marriage.
It is equally questionable whether legislators any more than judges are legitimizing gay marriage because of a democratic “consensus.” If by consensus one means a settled, widely shared opinion, this is not what we’re talking about. True consensus, as opposed to fabricated public opinion, can only arise in real communities. It cannot be manufactured by the media and entertainment industries, but unfortunately these are the influences to which our under-thirties crowd has become increasingly susceptible. Factoring in the effect of public education, one has a complete picture of the supposed consensus being formed. The Still Divided Academy (a work by two of my young former colleagues, April Kelly-Woessner and Matthew Woessner) proves that most college freshmen have already been conditioned by the educational and entertainment establishments to embrace liberal social views. Adolescents happily accept that what they are made to believe is “liberal,” often with the illusion that they are choosing their own values.
Their parents may be compared to floating objects, located somewhere between fragmented communities and the world that their offspring inhabit. These middle-aged parents do not form a “consensus” but, like the kids, they can be persuaded (albeit more slowly) to accept what is fashionable. Obviously the media and universities have been working overtime to create a “consensus.”
Up until the 1970s, when I first noticed journalists and intellectuals pushing the incipient gay agenda, it is unlikely that people favored gay marriage any more than they endorsed legalized bestiality. After all, heterosexual unions are not a recent fad but the way hominoids have lived for the last million years. It may also be historically important that the “gay community” and their advocates are browbeating uncooperative businesses, law firms, and political figures. A Bronx Democrat and state senator, Ruben Diaz, says he has received numerous death threats since he publicly stated that he had reservations about voting for gay marriage. A writer for the Advocate, Jonathan Rauch, has warned his gay allies that the time has come to cool down. It may be necessary to “leave room for homophobia” now that his side is winning. Gays, explains Rauch, shouldn’t accommodate their reactionary critics by appearing to be “bullies.” To which one might reply: “Why not?” Bullying tactics have only helped them so far.
Given these forces it is not surprising that almost overnight a “consensus” has emerged in favor of gay lifestyles and gay unions. It was also predictable that this trend should be particularly popular among minicons, RINOs, and the more recognizable left. Perhaps we should now try to fashion a new “consensus” for unions between humans and chimps. Legislators and the Post could champion this project the way they have gay marriage. The government could then depict “chimpophobes” as the sworn enemies of freedom.