Friday, June 26, 2015

Individual Liberty - How Does It Work?

Hey, this idea might just have legs
Actually, you really don't need to read this. I'm going to spend the next few minutes telling you something you already know. I'm really doing this because, for such a simple, obvious concept, it can be difficult to verbalize precisely, so I'm going to poke at it a bit and see what worthwhile bits fall out.

See, here's the thing. Right wing (I really can't call these extremists 'conservative' no matter how thoroughly they've co-opted the term) and Christianist bigots have concluded that if gay couples they've never met who don't even live in their neighborhood are permitted to marry, this somehow impugns on their own rights - specifically their freedom of religious worship, AKA their 'religious liberty'. Now, this is so extraordinarily nonsensical as to make you actually dizzy if you think about it too much - any common sense definition of 'religious liberty' would be about protecting how and what THEY worshiped, not how they could use their religious beliefs to control and constrain the lives of complete strangers.

In one sense, it is easy to simply describe this argument as demanding a religious exemption that allows them to discriminate, but this is both too simple and too complex to describe their actual demands. Because, in many ways, the law ALREADY grants them wide latitude to discriminate. They can still disown their children, they can still scream hate-filled invective, they can still choose not to associate with people they don't approve of. What they want goes much further than that, and even allowing that it was the legal status quo up until today, it's obviously a flawed, deeply un-democratic assumption. Based solely on THEIR specific beliefs, they want to be granted the power to control OUR lives. Just as the Islamic State imposes their theocratic beliefs on all citizens under their sway, the Christianist bigots want - nay, DEMAND - the right to decide who can and cannot marry and raise a family. The very idea of such a construct is so utterly outrageous, violating at the deepest core the fundamental American value of equality, that it already seem hard to believe it was something we countenanced. Like 'Whites Only' lunch counters, it is SO wrong it looks evil.

They HAVE religious liberty - probably more than they ought to. Look at all the odd sects and cults around the US, the Amish, the Mormons, the Mennonites, the snake dancing baptists, fucking SCIENTOLOGISTS. They are permitted to live and raise their children in extreme, bizarre and downright dangerous fashion, all in the name of religious freedom. And now that everyone can marry the person they love, those weird cults will continue their behaviors, the execrable Westboro Baptist fanatics will continue to spew their hate, occasional county clerks and state Attorneys General will throw tantrums and be punished for their acts of disobedience. And even as we mark a great day for American values, we perhaps move a little closer to the reckoning this nation so badly needs. For we have become as Sunnis and Shi'ites - so deeply and unequivocally divided ideologically, so far at odds about what America is and who we are as a people, so filled with anger and hatred and a history of violence that the illusion of a single nation in the 21st century cannot be sustained.

No comments:

Post a Comment