April 30, 2009

We are what government says we are...

William C. Duncan - The Corner on National Review Online:

The New Hampshire Senate has just voted 13-11 in favor of a bill that would redefine marriage in the state. This was an amended version of a same-sex marriage bill already approved by the House, so it must now go back to the House for approval before going to the governor. The "concessions" in the Senate version distinguish civil and religious marriages (was that a question?) and allow married couples to choose to be designated as "bride," "groom," or "spouse." One senator is quoted as saying this generosity is "respectful to both sides of the debate" although bill opponents might be forgiven for sensing a patronizing note in this.

One of the many aspects of "gay marriage" that no one seems to care about is that it is a huge expansion of government power. Government never had this power in the past; it has always merely adumbrated the common traditional ideas. One would think that "libertarians" would be concerned, but I haven't seen it.

If I might adapt a common phrase, "The power to define is the power to destroy." Allowing the state to define marriage—and thus implicitely to define almost any personal matter—is a far greater step towards tyranny than the nationalizing of banks or auto companies. Why? Because those economic experiments will probably be given up in the future when their failure becomes evident. But we can never go back to the original state of things where no one even imagined the state could change what marriage or families or personal relationships should be. Or what "grooms" or "spouses" are.

Even to politically fight against gay marriage is to implicitly agree that we are what government says we are.

I don't expect leftists to be able to think clearly, but the acquiescent stupidity of "libertarians" just stupefies me. The same people who—rightly—decry government intervention in the marketplace, and point out that this will inevitably tend to grow and become oppressive, sit supinely while government decides what a family is. And they imagine that this is making them more free.

Equally stupid is the common assumption that of course no one will go any farther in defining stuff. This is the end of the project! This is the only change that will be made! Fools. (One might ponder this: Toppling the last taboo: Is incest merely a relic of a decrepit moral system?) Well, I'm telling you now, they will be back for another redefinition of marriage soon enough. Don't come bleating to me like sheep saying, "I didn't expect this to happen!"

* Update: Underlying the disastrous idea of government defining us is the deeper folly of thinking we can define ourselves. That seems like freedom on the face of it, but the problem is that we then define ourselves according to the common ideas of the moment. We subject ourselves to the tyranny of the crowd. There is no objective standard, no baseline, and so we are soon trapped in a labyrinth of fun-house mirrors. The distorted image becomes the definition of what is "real," and then the next mirror distorts reality in another direction, and that becomes what's "real," and then another...

Then I tear my hair out saying, "Can't you SEE that you've become Gumby! (And people look at me like I'm some kind of nut.)

Posted by John Weidner at April 30, 2009 8:41 AM
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