Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Marriage and the 'wrong side of history'
by Jeff Jacoby
Thousands of Americans will rally in Washington, D.C., at a March for Marriage on Thursday in support of "the simple and beautiful message," to quote Brian Brown, that "marriage between one man and one woman is unique and critical for our society." Brown is president of the National Organization for Marriage, the event's lead sponsor.
Don't he and his supporters know that they're on the Wrong Side of History?
These days, of course, anyone who publicly opposes same-sex marriage can expect to be scorned in many quarters as a bigot or reviled as an ignoramus. No Democrat with serious political ambitions would dare to agree with Brown's traditional point of view. In some places the same is increasingly true of Republicans.
Yet until about 10 minutes ago, in historical terms, the traditional understanding of marriage as the complementary union of male and female was anything but controversial. Brown's "simple and beautiful message," now seen as so threatened that it needs to be defended at Washington rallies, was about as mainstream a position as there was in American life.
"Marriage has got historic, religious, and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time," said Hillary Clinton in 2000, "and I think a marriage is, as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman." Even after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that legal objections to same-sex marriage were irrational, many liberals stood pat. Leading Democratic presidential candidates in 2004 — John Kerry, John Edwards, Joseph Lieberman, Dick Gephardt — ran as gay-marriage opponents. So did Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008.
Has there ever been an issue so elemental on which the tide turned so swiftly?
Same-sex marriage is now lawful in more than one-third of the states, and the US Supreme Court ruled last year that such marriages must be recognized by the federal government. In recent months a flurry of lower-court rulings have struck down state bans on same-sex marriage. And there are predictions of a Supreme Court ruling next year that will knock over the remaining dominoes, legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states.
Overnight, same-sex marriage has gone from all-but-unthinkable to all-but-unstoppable. So what do those marchers in Washington think they're going to accomplish? Don't they have better things to do with their lives than fight for a cause that, if not yet entirely lost, is surely down for the count?
Why don't they wake up and smell the historical inevitability?
It would certainly be easier to make peace with the new order, especially considering the aggressiveness and hostility that many "marriage equality" activists deploy against those who oppose gay marriage.
Then again, much the same could have been said a century ago to those who insisted — in the depths of Jim Crow — that the cause of civil rights and racial fairness was worth fighting for. They too must have heard with regularity that they were on the "wrong side of history." The promise of Reconstruction was long gone. In much of the country, black enfranchisement was a dead letter. The Supreme Court had ruled 7-1 in Plessy v. Ferguson that racial segregation — "separate but equal" — was constitutional. The president of the United States was a white supremacist on whose watch black employees were fired from government positions, and public facilities in Washington were segregated.
Honorable voices argued that blacks had no realistic option but to make the best of bad situation. But there were others who insisted that the lost spirit of abolitionism could be revived, that Jim Crow could be fought and eventually overturned, that "separate but equal" was based on a falsehood and would ultimately prove untenable. They founded the NAACP in 1909, launching a movement that would eventually transform America.
Gay activists see their crusade for same-sex marriage as another civil-rights battle. It's a false analogy. Jim Crow deprived black Americans of rights they were already entitled to — rights enshrined in the 14th and 15th Amendments, then stolen away after Reconstruction. But gay marriage does not restore lost rights; it redefines "marriage" to mean something wholly unprecedented in human society.
History is littered with causes and beliefs that were thought at one point to be historically unstoppable, from the divine right of kings to worldwide Marxist revolution. In the relative blink of an eye, same-sex marriage has made extraordinary political and psychological gains. It is on a roll, winning hearts and minds as well as court cases. No wonder it seems to so many that history's verdict is in, and same-sex marriage is here to stay.
Maybe it is.
Or maybe a great national debate about the meaning of marriage is not winding down, but just gearing up. And maybe those marchers in Washington, with their "simple and beautiful message," will prove to be not bitter-enders who didn't know when to quit, but defenders of a principle that history, eventually, will vindicate.
Feminism and Its Discontents: ‘Rape culture’ at Harvard
BY HARVEY MANSFIELD
The hook-up culture denounced by conservatives is the very same rape culture denounced by feminists. Who wants it? Most college women do not; they ignore hookups and lament the loss of dating. Many men will not turn down the offer of an available woman, but what they really want is a girlfriend. The predatory males are a small minority among men who are the main beneficiaries of the feminist norm. It’s not the fault of men that women want to join them in excess rather than calm them down, for men too are victims of the rape culture. Nor is it the fault of women. Women are so far from wanting hook-ups that they must drink themselves into drunken consent—in order to overcome their natural modesty, one might suggest. Not having a sociable drink but getting blind drunk is today’s preliminary to sex. Beautifully romantic, isn’t it? The anonymous Harvard woman by getting drunk was unfortunately helping to pressure herself into consenting to a very bad experience. But she is right that the pressure comes with the encouragement of the culture. And the culture comes from the dogmas of feminism that made this mess for women and men too.
One more feature of the mess should not be omitted, the worsening of it by our federal government. Colleges today are under pressure not only from feminist students but also from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Education. A recent letter from that office, one of a series, was sent to 55 colleges, addressed to “Dear Colleague” and containing what it called “significant guidance.” Anyone who thinks that the idea of a “nanny state” is an exaggeration should read this letter. The official author, who is the assistant secretary for the OCR, purports to be the colleague of the leaders of America’s universities but treats them as if they were children being instructed with a catechism. The form of the letter is Q-and-A, the questions innocent and submissive, the answers authoritative—usually you “must,” occasionally you “may.”
The purpose behind the letter is to create an area between the law’s commands and the law’s permissions that is “significantly guided” by the government, in which the government commands but leaves the responsibility of enforcement to the universities commanded. The universities have been required to set up (and of course pay for) a “Title IX coordinator” with the duty of preventing a “hostile environment” caused by sexual assault, which may or may not be a crime prosecuted by state and local authorities. The latter police the crime, and the universities are responsible, and open to penalties, for preventing the culture of crime. Harvard responded last year by appointing as its coordinator a woman lawyer formerly employed at the OCR. It has now answered last month’s letter by hastening to hire more staff for her office. Without the slightest sign of pushback, the university volunteers to aid in the ridiculous accusation against itself. The OCR’s ridiculous accusation (and this summary does not do justice to its many absurdities) is for having failed to establish a culture of sexual adventure that never results in misadventure.
In its vocabulary, the OCR fully adopts the feminist notion of gender neutrality so that the sex of the “complainant” or the “perpetrator” is never identified. Thus the obvious difference between the sexes in regard to sexual assault is never stated, the problem never described. Are most men really potential rapists as the term “rape culture” suggests, or are some of them merely taking what is offered? Are women so colossally imprudent as to desire to get into bed with such creatures? Does a gender-neutral environment exist that will please both sexes equally? Are both sexes not independent in different ways as well as dependent on each other? Will there be an end to feminist nonsense aided by government intrusion and university compliance?
These are easy questions, but they call for the independence of mind necessary to answer the hard question that comes next: How can we recover some sense of feminine modesty and male restraint?
Plot to oust Nigel Evans from seat over his gay marriage hope: Tory MP accuses grassroots activists of 'homophobia' over bid to deselect him
A lot of older people would never vote for a homosexual so his party would be merely realistic to disendorse him
The former Commons Deputy Speaker who was cleared of rape and sexual assault faces a plot by his local party to deselect him after he revealed he would like a gay marriage.
After his trial earlier this year, Nigel Evans was welcomed back to Parliament by fellow MPs.
However, his local party has been engulfed in a row over whether he is fit to remain as candidate, while the chairman of the Tory association has quit.
Michael Ranson, 72, has supported Mr Evans since he came out as gay three years ago, and was also his election agent. But it is claimed the chairman’s ‘final straw’ came when the MP told an interviewer he would like to one day marry a man.
Opponents are also unhappy about disclosures during the court case, including Mr Evans’s admission that he slept with a 22-year-old man who was on work experience.
The executive committee of the Ribble Valley association in Lancashire will now vote on whether Mr Evans, who has a majority of more than 14,000, should be re-adopted as their candidate in the coming weeks. If they decide not to, Mr Evans can demand a ballot of all local Tory members.
Mr Evans, who claims he has the support of senior Tories including the Prime Minister, last night said that he was ‘confident’ that he would win the ballot, but admitted that he had heard local whisperings.
He said: ‘I’m convinced that I will get through the process with flying colours. The vast majority of people are supporting me.
‘Clearly you do get to hear some comments via other people that there are some sort of mutterings and concerns but the reality is I was acquitted by a court of all charges.
‘There’s only going to be a small element of homophobia but it’s incredibly rare to hear any of it. The vast majority were delighted when I came out in 2010, that I’m able to get on with my life, and wish me well for the future.’
Mr Ranson, who is mayor of Ribble Valley, is said to have fallen out with Mr Evans following his acquittal after he told his local newspaper, ‘I would love to have a serious, committed and special relationship with another man. I would like to have a gay marriage.’
Last night Mr Ranson declined to comment on the reselection row and declined to discuss the reasons for his resignation from the association last week. He said: ‘I would prefer not to comment at the moment, as this is an association matter.’
Asked specifically about the claim he became unhappy with Mr Evans’s comments about gay marriage, he said: ‘I do not comment on such nonsense.’
Other senior figures in the constituency spoke privately of a mood of increasing conflict within the association.
One said: ‘It’s split down the middle ... It’s nothing to do with homophobia – that’s a complete red herring introduced by Nigel.
‘Those against him simply feel that for all that he was innocent at his trial, his behaviour left a lot to be desired.
‘They’re asking whether it was right for him to surround himself with young men in and around Westminster. They see his conduct as unbecoming for an MP.’
Another said: ‘People in the Ribble Valley are generally pretty straightforward. They just want a hard-working MP to fight for them. What they’ve found in Nigel is a man who gives the impression of just going to London to have a ball.’
Meanwhile Conservative voters have written to the local paper calling for Mr Evans to step aside.
In April, Mr Evans was cleared by a jury at Preston Crown Court of raping a man and sexually assaulting six others.
When he returned to work, he was toasted with a drinks party in Westminster and was last week elected to the executive of the 1922 Committee, the powerful body of backbench Tories.
He was just being a boy
I spent rather a lot of time in mud when I was a kid -- JR
This little boy gets a firm ticking off from his mother - after getting buried up to his shoulders in mud on a Somerset beach yesterday.
The youngster got an earful after apparently straying onto mudflats which are exposed at low tide in Weston-super-Mare. He is seen bursting into tears as the furious woman wags her finger in front of his face.
The incident happened a few miles from the spot where Lelaina Hall, five, died after getting trapped in the mud at nearby Berrow beach in 2002.
And the ever-present danger was underlined during the day as emergency crews were called out several times to reports of people stuck in the mud.
Three call-outs were for missing children, who were all located safely. A seven-year-old boy had to be checked over by an ambulance crew.
Last year, fire crews had to send a hovercraft to rescue five people after they became stuck in mud on the same beach. The shallow incline of the beach means the tide comes in faster than a human can run
Mark Newman, Chairman of BARB Search and Rescue - a charity that operates hovercrafts in the area - said the mud flats present a constant danger.
'We had a very busy weekend attending incidents of people who had got stuck in the mud or had gone missing from families,' he said. 'It's a very dangerous stretch of coastline, that goes on for some way, and has strong currents and deep mud in places. 'People should always take care when going out to sea and be wary of the mud.'
Retired Roger Fry, 66, of Weston-super-Mare, took the photos as he attended the Weston Air Day on Sunday.
He said: 'I was on the beach watching the planes when I heard this great ruckus. I looked round and saw this mother screaming a a kid. "I told you not to go down there, you're filthy" and so on.
'Everyone stopped and looked around before the mother stormed off with some other children towards the car park. The muddy kid just followed on a little later.
'There is so many people that get stuck out on the mud every year that the mother must have been aware of the danger. There are plenty of warning signs around.'
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.