(I've already supplied these links to WWWTW's contributors, but want them available to readers as well. Gotten via friend Jeff Culbreath.)
This one's to an NCR piece about a recently passed law in England making it "illegal for a teacher in any school, including a Catholic school, to state that homosexual activity is morally wrong..."
The other concerns an effort of the Oregon legislature to "eliminate attitudes opposing homosexuality," although the scope of the measure is not clear to me.
There is also a move underway in California to repeal Prop 22, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
I suppose, in terms of its horrific immediacy, the English event is the one to be most concerned about, though I fail to see what's to prevent America from swiftly following suit. Maximos wrote via email that he wished he "could come up with something more analytical to say about all of this, but I'm just too stupefied to muster the strength. I always felt that this sort of iniquity was 10 years down the road, not literally imminent." (Ten years, Jeff, sounds pretty imminent to me.)
Well, back in 2003, in the wake of Lawrence v. Texas, I entered a dissent:
The law, in short, is a signal from society, a badge of shame that need not be worn in public but serves nonetheless as an ever-present, nearly invisible reminder that we do not accept what they do, and never will. It serves as a quiescent rearguard against talk of other things, like gay marriage, the cacophony of which argument will now, through the media, assault our sensibilities daily, and our personal lives more intimately.
What, for example, do you think is going to happen to certain textbooks in your children's schools? To the free speech rights of students and teachers who have moral objections to homosexual behavior? To the public posture of gay teachers of children who heretofore have found discretion the better part of a valorous "coming out?" To our civil rights laws, now that the right to a degrading sexual practice, like the right to abortion, has been enshrined in our constitutional law?
And yet, I do not think these harbingers are peculiar to, or solely to be blamed on, the agitators for the "homosexual agenda," for much more than tolerance is being required here. Tolerance, being an attitude, cannot be "required" in any case. The thought police know that thoughts cannot be controlled, but they do know that obedience can be compelled, and that only the organs of government (of which the public schools are one) can accomplish it. That government's embrace must now extend to include even those areas, like Catholic schools, where people possessed of an intolerant, absolutist morality thought they were free to husband what's left of their resources, the patrimony they would pass on to their children. To any place where people gather in some semblance of community - wherever it might seem that the 'future of society' is at stake, that a breeding ground for dissent is under cultivation - the government's invitation to oversight must be an open one.
Many would attribute this tyrannical tendency to the multiculturalist imperative, the demands of the diversity doctrine, devotion to which creed requires that all who were once deemed 'different' must now be accepted. All formerly useful distinctions must be abolished. Our differences will make us one. Or is it rather this: that no difference is worth elevating above the others, nor worth deploring as beneath the rest? This sole absolute, though oxymoronic, truth seems to underpin the entire doctrine. But even that cannot be right, for if you are different in a particular way, you will be persecuted. Melissa's story, for example, so dear to Lydia's heart, is evidence of this. And I'll bet that if someone started a private school for Nazis, the German government would close in. And many would see this as a good thing. But it would also be an odd thing to see Nazis and Christians persecuted with equal vigor. We have yet to discover, by the way, the limits to Liberalism's tolerance, which beliefs and behaviors are to be accepted, and which not. Things are still evolving.
(As an aside - in light of Daniel Larison's post - I can't help but wonder what someone like Hitchens would think of it all. He brags that "We do not hold our convictions dogmatically," which seems the same as saying he has none. Yet I know that he does not disapprove gay marriage. Does this mean he could tolerate a Supreme Court decision that imposed it upon the populace? I know that he thinks religion positively bad, but would he endorse a Germanic means to the positively good end of obliterating it? Perhaps not. "I would not prohibit it even if I thought I could." I suppose, as good Christians, we ought to trust him on this, even lacking assurance that, in his furious desire to see the world rid of its religions, the will to power is not one of his weaknesses. Most annoying of all, however, is that, after reading his peace, I confess to not knowing what 'freethinking' means, unless it is that one is truly free only when one thinks some things and not others, which sounds very dogmatic to me.)
Not being a particularly astute diagnostician, I still haven't figured out the underlying principle, and so welcome the speculations of others. Maybe it's that we will all be equal only in the absence of judgement. But to persecute Nazis or Christians or homophobes requires a judgement...and there we go again. I do at least harbor a suspicion, that in these cases where the demands of diversity are enforced by the rulings of courts or the laws of legislatures, the real object of attack is the family. They might go after the Church first, as in England, but it is from the family that the Pope gets his divisions. If it falls, all the rest will follow. It may be true in the end that your children are not your own.