The Party is Victorious
So says Elizabeth Scalia, and she seems to mean The Party in the sense that it's used in one-party states. It's as good a term as any to refer to the whole amorphous yet clearly identifiable entity that includes the Obama administration, the Democratic Party, the majority of journalists and news outlets, most of academia, and most of the entertainment industry. And of course the rank and file, from the provincial liberals and college students who see themselves as following a different drummer, to the low-information voters who follow moral fashion without thinking too much about it.
The interesting thing about Scalia's lament is that it was not written about yesterday's Supreme Court decision; though published on the same day, it was written the day before. The momentum of affairs has been clear for some time. The decision was not unexpected, but it seems to be serving to clarify and crystallize perceptions about the real state of things. It may, when seen from the future, appear as a significant marker, a point where the state shifted definitively from ostensible neutrality to hostility toward religion, especially toward Christianity.
This is not overt--a key passage in the ruling says only that
...the principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage.
But the court doesn't acknowledge the existence of arguments against same-sex marriage on the merits, instead reducing opposition to, in effect, simple meanness. This is, as we all know, exactly the line of the SSM movement, and the fact that it has been adopted by the Supreme Court means serious problems for Christians. Obviously, one source of this "purpose...to demean" is the Christian religion, and, just as obviously, the only reasonable posture of government toward people engaged in meanness is to keep a watchful eye on them and restrain them when they get out of hand. In effect, the biggest legal gun in the American arsenal is now pointing straight at Christians who adhere to the idea that the word "marriage" applies to something that happens between men and women, an idea that was universal in the human race until just the other day, historically speaking.
In any case, the hope that there can be any but sporadic and rear-guard harassment of this juggernaut in the political realm seems slim indeed. The Party is victorious; mere language, inherently unstable and disputable, was never going to be enough to restrain it once those in power felt themselves emancipated from the principles and assumptions that underlay the words. The opposition is weak, confused, fragmented, a little guilty in its dissent from what everyone else sees as a noble consensus, and hopelessly, hopelessly, hopelessly unfashionable. And the press has mostly suspended its watchdog role where the Democratic party is concerned, openly working on its behalf: repeating its propaganda, hiding or explaining away its misdeeds, and attacking its enemies.
Naturally there is some over-reaction and some misinformed panic on the anti-SSM side. The decision doesn't force everyone, as I heard someone say, to accept homosexual marriages, much less require that Christian clergy perform them. But it does set wheels in motion: large, heavy wheels not likely to be slowed or turned. It makes an unstable situation, in which a couple married in New York is not married in Texas, even more so, because now they will be sort-of-married in Texas--married insofar as they reside in the United States, but not married insofar as they reside in the state of Texas. Already this morning those who favor the ruling, from the president on down, complained that it doesn't go far enough, precisely because it does not require all states to consider same-sex marriages valid, and that they will immediately press the question further. Lawsuits will be brought, cases will make their way to the Supreme Court, and Anthony Kennedy or someone of like mind will pronounce the state of affairs to be contrary to the constitution.
The phrase keeps running through my mind: this will not end well.
Ross Douthat in his NY Times column today says he’s with those who think it's time for churches and other religious groups to lawyer-up in order to "build in as many protections for religious liberty as possible along the way [to the inevitable advancement of gay marriage]".
Yet, he says:
That having to "depend in part on the magnanimity of gay marriage supporters" certainly leaves me with more than a "flicker of doubt" that they won't use all those levers.
Posted by: Marianne | 06/27/2013 at 10:52 PM
The root forces behind SSM have no magnanimity in them, the powers and principalities of darkness. Their desire is the downfall of the Church and the moral destruction of mankind. There is no doubt that they will continue to push the SSM and allied groups to constrain, compress, and eventually kill the Church (were that possible). There is no hope whatsoever in the personal magnanimity in any individual members of the SSM movement.
Posted by: Tony M | 06/28/2013 at 06:46 AM
I saw that, too, Marianne. There's no doubt that "make traditionalism as radioactive..." is precisely what a lot of them have in mind. If you read the comments on sites where the matter is discussed, you find that sentiment expressed constantly. Someone posted the Douthat piece on NRO, and one of the reactions in the comments was "No, we're not going to be magnanimous. We're going to drive you into the dust as you deserve."
Posted by: Mac | 06/28/2013 at 07:17 AM
I misread you at first, Tony M, and thought you said there would be no magnanimity from individuals. But I see now you're saying that it won't do any good. I was going to argue with the first there--I do think there will be magnanimity from individuals. But I agree that it won't much change the overall movement of things. The speed and ferocity with which the verdict of bigotry has become conventional has been alarming.
Posted by: Mac | 06/28/2013 at 07:26 AM
The problem here is elite opinion, which is contemptuous of everyone else. It manifests itself not only in Kennedy but in the 'comprehensive immigration reform' fiasco. We do not have a integral political culture congruent with democratic institutions. Rather, we have a bifurcated political culture wherein a snotty and self-aggrandizing haut bourgeois looks down on a largely apathetic public. Escalating levels of rent-seeking, inter-group antagonism, and civic withdrawal are (one suspects) what our future will be.
Posted by: Art Deco | 06/28/2013 at 11:19 AM
Yep, yep, and yep (to your last sentence).
Posted by: Mac | 06/28/2013 at 11:40 AM
Re the immigration fiasco: I continue to be mildly shocked at the way certain elements of the left are allied with big business on this, to the detriment of American citizens on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. But it does fit with what you say, as the largest and most influential wing of the left is now definitely haut bourgeois.
Posted by: Mac | 06/28/2013 at 02:04 PM
I think I'd better stop reading this bog; I'm getting depressed.
Posted by: Robert Gotcher | 06/28/2013 at 02:10 PM
Come back tonight after 7 or so Central time and there will be something much more pleasant.
Every time I post about this socio-political stuff I think "stop, that's not what this blog is about." But I think the SSM marriage business has huge implications and I can't help myself.
Also, I have to get it off my chest.
Posted by: Mac | 06/28/2013 at 02:16 PM