MISUNDERSTANDING MARRIAGE IN CALIFORNIA
By Jeff Jacoby
California's voters, unlike their counterparts in Massachusetts, will have the last word on what marriage means in their state. When the highest court in Massachusetts conjured up a constitutional right to same-sex marriage five years ago, 170,000 Bay State voters petitioned for an amendment to the state constitution that would restore the age-old definition. Their effort died on the vine when the Legislature derailed the measure before it could reach the ballot.
But citizen initiatives aren't so easily thwarted in California, where last week the state supreme court, in a 4-3 ruling, likewise overturned the timeless understanding of marriage as a union of male and female. Some 1.1 million signatures have already been submitted on behalf of a constitutional amendment making clear that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." That is far more than needed, making it virtually certain that Californians will have an opportunity to override the court's presumptuous diktat. And override it they should, for numerous reasons. Here are three:
1. It is not the business of judges to make public policy.
Reasonable men and women can disagree on whether same-sex unions should be granted legal recognition, or whether such recognition should rise to the level of marriage. The place to work out those disagreements is the democratic arena, not the courtroom.
"From the beginning of California statehood," the court's majority opinion admits, "the legal institution of civil marriage has been understood to refer to a relationship between a man and a woman." Eight years ago, Californians decisively affirmed that understanding when they adopted Proposition 22, the California Defense of Marriage Act, in a 61-39 landslide. To have legitimacy, any change in that consensus must come from the people or their elected representatives, not be forced upon them by an imperial judiciary. When judges impose their social theories without such legitimacy, the result can be years of anger and strife. California and the nation do not need another Roe v. Wade.
2. The radical transformation of marriage won't end with same-sex weddings.
In American law, certain conditions of marriage have always been nonnegotiable. A marriage joins (a) two people (b) of the opposite sex (c) who are not close relatives. Under that venerable definition, there can be no valid same-sex marriage, no polygamous or other plural marriage, and no incestuous marriage. But if the opposite-sex requirement is an unconstitutional infringement on the right to marry -- which the California court explains as "the right of an individual to establish a legally recognized family with the person of one's choice" -- then so are the restriction of marriage to two people and the ban on incestuous marriage. If two women who wish to marry each other must be permitted to do so, why not two sisters? Why not three?
In a footnote, the California court weakly tries to evade the consequences of its holding. Gay and lesbian couples are entitled to marry, writes Chief Justice Ronald George, but that "does not mean that this constitutional right . . . must . . . extend to polygamous or incestuous relationships." Why not? Well, because "our nation's culture has considered the latter types of relationships inimical to the mutually supportive and healthy family relationships promoted by the constitutional right to marry." So while the bar to homosexual marriage must be overturned because the court considers the public's opposition to it outdated, the public's opposition to incest and polygamy is still a good reason to bar *them.* As one of the dissenters notes, such logic invites a future court to overturn those prohibitions as well.
3. Society has a vested interest in promoting only traditional marriage.
Men and women are not interchangeable, and same-sex unions -- no matter how devoted and enduring -- cannot take the place of a married husband and wife. The essential function of marriage is to unite male and female. That is the only kind of union that can produce new life, and therefore the only kind of union in which society has a survival stake.
Of course many gay and lesbian relationships are stable, loving, and happy. But since they cannot do what marriage can -- bind men and women to each other and to the children that their sexual behavior may produce -- they have never been regarded in the same light as marriage. That crucial distinction somehow eluded a majority of the California Supreme Court. Happily, California voters will soon have the chance to make things right.
Marx is still with us
Marxism lost the Cold War, right? The Soviet Empire came down, Eastern Europe was liberated, China is now semi-capitalist, and post-socialist countries like India are thriving like never before. More of the world is prospering, because economic and political freedoms have spread since the USSR crumbled. Even Russia has a low, flat tax to encourage free markets. Indigenous talents and enterprise are finally being liberated, and the results are wonderful for hundreds of millions of people.
Liberals are upset today because free-market economies are growing too fast, and are therefore polluting an unsullied Mamma Earth. Tens of millions of ordinary people in China and India are doing too well. The elites seem to yearn for the good old days --- the famines in India, the massacres in Russia and China --- and that wonderful sense of being in charge of human progress.
And yet ... in spite of years and years Leftist catastrophes, our organs of propaganda are still tilting drunkenly to the Left. Crypto-Marxism, a barely disguised revival of the old farce, is flourishing in our chattering classes. The prestige that Marxism lost in the real world soon came back in fantasy. Oh, if people only loved one another! Oh, if people only cared! Oh, if we only had real solidarity with the wretched of the earth! That's the feel-good story. But the real yearning is for power: Oh, if only people like us were in charge of everything.
In Britain, under the daily pounding of the Bolshie Beeb, the most admired "philosopher" of all time is now ... blood-dripping old Karl Marx. Freedom is routinely trashed; thieving tyrants like Hugo Chavez are celebrated.
"Crypto Marxism" --- crypto meaning "hidden" --- is a useful word to describe what's happened in the last twenty years. Because as soon as the Soviet Union crumbled, a host of barely disguised post-Marxist ideologies grabbed the microphones: the Green Movement, now furiously peddling global warming fraud; Third Way socialism in Europe, trying to hitch the welfare wagon to free markets; the European Union, a new autocracy of unelected committees, exactly what the USSR used to call "workers' Soviets"; the unbelievably corrupt, bigoted and self-serving United Nations; and all over the academic world, an explosion of anti-Western and anti-democratic fads like Post-Modernism, Multi-Culturalism, Deconstructionism, Feminism, anti-Zionism, Black Liberation Theology and other repackaged Marx imitations. It was a triumph of image-making and marketing.
Today, crypto-Marxism dominates our political discourse. It's wild --- just as if Nazi goose stepping had became a popular sport after World War Two, instead of the hula-hoop. The Nazis were horrific in their thirteen years in power. The Marxists had seventy years in the Soviet Union, and managed to kill 100 million people according to Marxist historians themselves. But here we are, twenty years later, and all that is deliberately wiped from our minds.
So --- who won the seventy-year struggle of the Cold War? We did in reality. The good guys really did triumph, and in the most profound way, going by Sun Tzu's Art of War --- not by waging a mega-war, but by constant political pressure, by far outrunning Marxist regimes economically, and by a spontaneous revulsion from within the Soviet Empire itself. Yet we fought many small wars --- and two large, bloody and unpopular ones, in Korea and Vietnam. The United States and a few allies faced down numerous Marxist threats in a very determined way. It was a huge test of our will to live and win.
And yet, today the New York Times makes a boutique specialty out of writing loving obits for flaming Old Reds, when they finally sputter out and die. No one on the American Left has ever expressed public sorrow for the estimated 100 million people killed by Marxist murderocracies; after all, they were murdered for "idealistic" reason. The crumbling of the Soviet Empire simply made it possible for the Left to walk away from Darth Vader and the Evil Empire. Soviet Union? Never heard of it.
As Rush Limbaugh often says, conservatives stopped teaching when the Soviet Union fell. Marxists, on the other hand, just accelerated their propaganda. Privately they mourned the "idealistic" experiment of the Soviet Union --- never confessing their own, whole-hearted participation in unrelenting evil. The Boomer Lefties rose to power in the 1970s, and they were not going to sacrifice their religiomania just because all the Marxist nations walked away from Marx. (Except for North Korea, which is still as murderously Stalinist as ever.)
In fact, without the Soviets our hard-core Leftists were no longer agents of a foreign power --- as the KGB archives showed that many of them were during decades of Moscow's control. So they could pretend to be running different "idealistic" movements: Red changed to Green, but that was it. The mainstream media learned to peddle that old Daily Worker agitprop instead of real news, until talk radio and the web broke the media monopoly, and conservatism revived. In Europe this is only barely beginning to happen.
Since 9/11 the Left has been telling itself how really patriotic it is --- providing that you redefine patriotism as internationalism, just like the old CP USA. And of course, the vitally important history of the Cold War is being written by the hard-core Left. It's just as if the Confederate South controlled the history of the Civil War.
Senator Joe Lieberman's fate shows what has happens to centrist Democrats: They are all but thrown out for deviationism, which is exactly what Josef Stalin used to do with the CP USA.
Both Obama and Hillary grew up on the Alinsky Left, which only a theologian can tell from orthodox Marxism. Coming out of Yale Law, Hillary joined a crypto Marxist law outfit in Oakland, California. David Horowitz, who was part of that world until he recovered his moral center, has been pretty clear about the real roots and goals of that Greater Berkeley network.
The triumph of crypto-Marxism is not just weird, it's dangerous. The Reds haven't changed. They have just metastatized: That is why we are now so vulnerable to the next wave of totalitarianism, the Islamofascist kind. The long struggle of Western civilization against bloody tyranny is being covered up. The very real danger of new totalitarianism is being dismissed.
An American bureaucracy at work
As bad as any.
I have been trying to calm down, but I don't seem to be succeeding. Is the Post Office a government agency, a quasi government agency, or an anti government agency?I go to the Post Office in New York City. It is a horror.
The lines go on and on for the better part of an hour. They have something like 15 teller windows, but usually only a few are manned at a time. Why pay people to give service when you can just let the customer wait for free?A few days ago I went to the Post Office - it feels like an hour ago. It was hot so they kept the ceiling fans off and the outdoor fans off I suppose in the hopes that some of the customers couldn't take the heat and would go home.
After waiting twenty-five minutes the fire alarms started screeching and the manager - we will call him Mr. Blue Stuffed Suit - came running out from his four hour lunch break to tell everyone to run out of the building that this was not a drill. I never saw the postal people move that fast in my life.
Ten minutes later we were let back in. The fire alarms had sensed a melt down because it was so damn hot. Of course it was, the lines were long and the fans weren't on. Body heat added to climate change and management incompetence had combined to produce a melt down condition. How fitting. How typical of the Postal bureaucracy.
This time I got near the front of the line because most customers gave up and went home, and because some of them were waiting behind a locked side door that never was reopened. Now there were 6 tellers working furiously and all the ceiling fans and the outside fans were working. Of course they were. Mr. Blue Stuffed Suit had been woken up from his lunchtime nap and was marching up and done in the teller area looking and acting very official.
The finale to my day was when I asked to buy 10 self stick stamps, and the clerk told me the price was going up on Monday to 42 cents from 41 cents - I guess this was a self anointed reward for screwing up how a Post Office should function because there was no notice and no signs. Was the post office - notice I no longer capitalize it - planning to keep this price increase for incompetence a secret so we wouldn't get mad? I am already mad. Are you mad too? Write to your post office. It probably won't help, but it might give some postal supervisor who has nothing to do a big laugh.
This is just great. I had put 41 cent self addressed stamped envelopes in with some letters I just sent out to 2 publishing agents on 2 different novels that I wrote so now I won't get the rejection letters that usually come back in them. Maybe I am better off.
Maybe I am better off if I stop using the post office altogether. I'll use Fed Ex and the Internet. They haven't figured out yet that customer service is dead.
Maybe I'll complain to my congressmen - notice I no longer capitalize him either. He and a lot of his fellow congressmen and women haven' figured out yet that we are not voting for them any more.
The frustrations of life in overcrowded and over-governed socialist Britain
Stuck in a jam as I was approaching a roundabout, I gazed idly out of the window. A car beeped behind. In my daze I'd not noticed that the line of traffic had advanced. I caught up with the queue and as I reached the junction the beeper pulled level, his face gargoyled with rage. "You stupid c***!" he screamed in my face. As he careered off, adrenaline kicked in. For a second I considered pursuit, barging his Audi estate into the kerbside, leaping out Grand Theft Auto-style and then I'd . . . what? Kill him with a single deft blow? Rub him out with my Walther PPK? Instead I continued on a mission to the charity shop with my bin-bags of old tat.
But the incident left me oddly shaken. His obscene fury was so disproportionate to my offence. I hadn't rashly pulled out, frightened or endangered him. I had merely delayed his progress by nanoseconds. Not even that, since I was still locked in a queue.
Sometimes London life seems built upon a thin and fragile crust through which a bubbling magma of anger could, at any moment, blow. Which is what happened in a baker's shop a few miles from here last week when Jimmy Mizen, out buying sausage rolls with his brother, refused a challenge to a fight and instead had his throat cut with a shard of glass. And then in McDonald's on Oxford Street on Monday when a row over a thrown drink ended with a man bleeding to death on the pavement, a knife in his heart.
When yet another young man dies, I scan the reports for words that will afford me some solace: gang slaying, feud, grudge, crack house, sink estate, 2am, drug-related, excessive alcohol . . . These words make me feel a little safer. They largely have nothing to do with my life. I can, I tell myself, protect my sons from these words. But when Jimmy's mother, Margaret Mizen, said "it was anger that killed my son", I know I am powerless. Because anger is unconfined: it lurks in the middle of the day, in public places; it erupts between total strangers. Anger turns a random encounter into deadly violence.
"There is too much anger in the world," said Mrs Mizen. There is certainly too much in London. A friend, trying to cross a road, was hit on the shoulder by the wing mirror of a passing van: it deliberately swerved to wallop her. A guy at my gym says that out cycling he slapped the face of a delivery driver who'd honked at him. Aghast, I say he could have been stabbed, but he just makes a defiant, macho bring-it-on gesture, then admits he sped off when the driver began reaching inside his glove compartment.
A study by the Mental Health Foundation found that a quarter of us worry about how angry we feel. And yet just what are we angry about, with lives of unprecedented safety, surplus and comfort? I have always marvelled at the grumpiness of guests in luxury resorts: after a short time being waited upon in paradise, having flunkies pick up damp towels, one's mood can be ruined by a deckchair being positioned at the wrong angle to the sun, a drink's insufficient chill. Similiarly with our basic needs more than satisfied and our homes piled with consumer goodies, like brattish heiresses we rail against the slightest irritation.
I spend a ludicrous amount of my life angry about nothing much. Usually casual public thoughtlessness: mothers blocking small shops with their humungous o500 prams, nurses addressing dignified elderly ladies by their first names or, in my eco-wrath, anyone buying cases of bottled still water. Or brand new arbitrary regulations imposed seemingly to irritate and confound: such as Tesco's policy of banning parents buying booze if accompanied by children.
Why do these things rile me? Because the world seems beyond control, the old certainties gone. Or am I just getting old? The anger management industry would, of course, have it that we are in need of their expensive ministrations. But are we really more angry or do we just express it more?
To lose one's temper is no longer to be diminished or shamed; it is a sign of emotional health rather than a dearth of reason. All anger is righteous now. It is conflated with drive, passion, energy, a means to affect progress. Gordon Ramsay - whose confected ire is almost unwatchable - every week says goodbye to his F-Word celebrity guest with the catchphrase "Now f*** off out of my kitchen!" and we're supposed to be endeared by his rough-diamond charm.
Anger becomes such a reflexive response that you do not realise how much it has penetrated your soul until you travel. Even New York seems less brimming with outrage, a collision in a crowd more likely to spark a "pardon me" than a glower. Visiting Australia, I heard a news item in which an educational survey had found modern Oz children the most illiterate and stupid ever. In Britain such a report would have provoked weeks of self-flagellating fury: Australia shrugged and headed for the beach.
Last summer in Slovenia, Europe's most easy-going state, I was walking with my son past a line of cars when one started to reverse right at us. My London self banged hard on the back of the vehicle and made a furious hand gesture. The passengers in the car slowly turned, their eyes wide, their mouths agape at the crazy lady. "Mum," said my son. "That was way too angry."
Yes, I was London angry: the sense that everyone is out to shaft you, nip into your parking place, rip you off, frustrate your efforts to get home, grind you into the tarmac. Anger is the sound of entitlement, the urge to have your existence acknowledged. And for the young and poor and reckless, anger voices their lack of power, control, self-esteem. And, since it will swiftly meet the anger of others, it must be armed with fists and knives, guns and hard dogs.
Anger is a buzz, an addiction. Clearly we were designed for more than our modern functions. We are healthier, stronger, better fed and educated than any humans yet born. And yet we are the most underchallenged. Here we are, creatures capable of building cathedrals, surviving trench warfare or traversing oceans, wandering dead-eyed around B&Q. "People need to find peace, not anger," said Mrs Mizen.
But alas "going off on one"- about Iraq, Cherie Blair, the tall, sweet boy in the bakery or the dozy woman driver in front - is the only time some people feel briefly and iridescently alive.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.