National Cliches

President Obama did it again yesterday. The law professor with the most smarts in the nation’s capital (so some think) appealed to the masses by turning Tom Brady’s victory over the NFL into a case for labor unions. As Boomer Esiason pointed out this morning, the president has it all wrong. It was the NFL players union that got Brady into all the trouble with Roger Goodell by giving the commissioner almost complete power to arbitrate player misconduct.

That reminded me of how lame the president’s praise for the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage was. In another cliche that is unbecoming a man of some intelligence, the president used the all too simple ideal of equality to congratulate the court:

Progress on this journey often comes in small increments, sometimes two steps forward, one step back, propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens. And then sometimes, there are days like this when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.

This morning, the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law. That all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love.

So we needed gay marriage to vindicate equality? Why not also use gay marriage to end hunger, poverty, and war? Can’t an intelligent man do better than appeal to an ideal that makes some sense to almost every 3rd-grader, an ideal that also needs serious qualification? What about equality for Caitlyn Jenner? Why can’t she become a full woman without waiting a year and having to consult with psychological and medical professionals before having her private parts changed? Where’s the equality in that? Or what about the inequality of a widower father not being allowed to marry his daughter? No peace, no justice.

In point of fact, gay marriage was not conceived way back when by Andrew Sullivan as a way to break down another barrier of injustice and oppression. It was actually intended to be pro-family and help homosexuals walk on something like a straight and narrow path. First the pro-family part of Sullivan’s original argument:

Society has good reason to extend legal advantages to heterosexuals who choose the formal sanction of marriage over simply living together. They make a deeper commitment to one another and to society; in exchange, society extends certain benefits to them. Marriage provides an anchor, if an arbitrary and weak one, in the chaos of sex and relationships to which we are all prone. It provides a mechanism for emotional stability, economic security, and the healthy rearing of the next generation. We rig the law in its favor not because we disparage all forms of relationship other than the nuclear family, but because we recognize that not to promote marriage would be to ask too much of human virtue. In the context of the weakened family’s effect upon the poor, it might also invite social disintegration. One of the worst products of the New Right’s “family values” campaign is that its extremism and hatred of diversity has disguised this more measured and more convincing case for the importance of the marital bond.

Next, the way that marriage restrains the excesses of gay life:

Gay marriage also places more responsibilities upon gays: It says for the first time that gay relationships are not better or worse than straight relationships, and that the same is expected of them. And it’s clear and dignified. There’s a legal benefit to a clear, common symbol of commitment. There’s also a personal benefit. One of the ironies of domestic partnership is that it’s not only more complicated than marriage, it’s more demanding, requiring an elaborate statement of intent to qualify. It amounts to a substantial invasion of privacy. Why, after all, should gays be required to prove commitment before they get married in a way we would never dream of asking of straights? . . .

If these arguments sound socially conservative, that’s no accident. It’s one of the richest ironies of our society’s blind spot toward gays that essentially conservative social goals should have the appearance of being so radical. But gay marriage is not a radical step. It avoids the mess of domestic partnership; it is humane; it is conservative in the best sense of the word. It’s also practical. Given the fact that we already allow legal gay relationships, what possible social goal is advanced by framing the law to encourage these relationships to be unfaithful, undeveloped, and insecure?

Sure, you may not buy Sullivan’s argument and I do not. But at least he is not using the grade-school rhetoric of equality and freedom. He actually is trying to say something about the value of the institution of marriage while also attempting to find a way that the constraints and responsibilities of marriage might domesticate homosexuals. That is too high a price to pay for Christians intent on preserving marriages and one-man and one-woman.

But at least it’s a heck of a lot more interesting an idea than saying that gay marriage is just one more step in the march of freedom and equality. Does the president actually believe that? Do his speech writers?

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11 thoughts on “National Cliches

  1. On the other hand:

    of course same-sex marriage is not primarily about same-sex marriage but about overthrowing and stigmatizing traditional morality and religion in favor of an oppressive, highly intolerant secularist orthodoxy coercively and fiercely imposed by mainly non-democratic means, arbitrarily and often without benefit of legal process.

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  2. I know Toby would have jumped on Sam Seaborne or (Spoiler Alert:) Bill Bailey for saying something as lame as justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.

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  3. D. G. Hart
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Permalink
    On the other hand:

    of course same-sex marriage is not primarily about same-sex marriage but about overthrowing and stigmatizing traditional morality and religion in favor of an oppressive, highly intolerant secularist orthodoxy coercively and fiercely imposed by mainly non-democratic means, arbitrarily and often without benefit of legal process.

    By George, I think he’s got it.

    And there’s nothing wrong with fighting back against these [by definition] illegitimate usurpations of the power of the government, either.

    It will then be for you, most serene King, not to close your ears or your mind to such just defense, especially when a very great question is at stake: how God’s glory may be kept safe on earth, how God’s truth may retain its place of honor, how Christ’s Kingdom may be kept in good repair among us. Worthy indeed is this matter of your hearing, worthy of your cognizance, worthy of your royal throne! Indeed, this consideration makes a true king: to recognize himself a minister of God in governing his kingdom. Now, that king who in ruling over his realm does not serve God’s glory exercises not kingly rule but brigandage.

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.ii.viii.html

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  4. Tooley:

    <blockquoteHistorically and globally there are countless complications for Christian service in government. The New Testament says Christians served in Caesar’s court, even as Caesar persecuted the Church. Should those Christians have remained, quit, offered themselves in sacrifice, and/or organized direct political challenge, although few in number?

    Should Christians work for dictatorships? Should Christians work for Islamist regimes when allowed? Should the growing number of Chinese Christians work for their regime even as it periodically torments their fellow believers? Should American Christians work for state governments that subsidize abortion? What about the Christians who work at the courthouse and jail where Kim Davis has been incarcerated? Should they quit? Should they illegally free her and themselves go to jail?

    Should American Christians of past times have worked for segregationist governments or states where slavery was legal? What about members of the U.S. military before the Korean War who served in a segregated armed forces? Should they have resigned, deserted, claimed conscientious objection status, or soldiered on in unjust situations but still morally important struggles, like the war against Hitlerism, and the war against slavery?

    And how morally important must an issue be before defiance for Christians is justified? As a Methodist, I don’t like my state’s lottery. I wouldn’t work for the lottery commission, but should I on principle refuse any state job? Should I stop paying state taxes as a protest? Should I go to jail? What about casinos in other states that are even more objectionable to my Methodist branch of Christianity?

    All of these questions are complicated with no quick answers found in brief Bible quotes. They require collective moral discernment and appreciation for our own individual vocations and responsibilities as they relate to a wider panorama of cultural challenges and ethical imperatives.

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  5. Players’ union chief DeMaurice Smith says collective bargaining would provide the best outcome and points to the recent changes to the drug policy as an example. “There, we achieved independent arbitration, and both sides were able to implement desired changes to the policies,” Smith said. The NFL has been reluctant to bargain about Goodell’s unequal role in the disciplinary process. The union favors a neutral arbiter in all such decisions, but the commissioner has been reluctant to cede power.

    http://www.dailyrepublic.com/sports/nfl-union-discuss-personal-conduct-policy/

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  6. In another cliche that is unbecoming a man of some intelligence, the president used the all too simple ideal of equality to congratulate the court: . . .

    This morning, the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law. That all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love. . . .

    Sure, you may not buy Sullivan’s argument and I do not. But at least he is not using the grade-school rhetoric of equality and freedom. . . .

    Actually it’s quite sophisticated, if not also dishonest as per Orwell’s Politics and the English Language and it continues to fool lots of the yapping class as well the low info voters and Barry himself. Or as Jimmy Durante George also said, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle”.

    What’s really going on is a bait and switch routine.
    The constitutional idea of ‘equality before or under the law’ is now a dog whistle for something on the order of the French Revolution and Jacobin egalitarian idea of “equal results” or “equal outcome”.
    You don’t just get an opportunity to pursue something free of govt. interference or restraint, rather the constitution requires that govt. must guarantee that you actually possess said item, either by directly giving it to you (communism) or forcing others to give it to you (fascism).

    If not, then obviously the mortal sin of discrimination has occurred and big govt. must get further involved to rectify aka micromanage the matter. Ergo the bake the (wedding) cake beatdowns. Which is another way of saying, egalitarianism/socialism is necessarily coercive. It cannot be anything but.

    Consequently if in the original equation, heteros are free to get married, the homos now get the new version of “equal rights”.
    Never mind that they have to redefine marriage in order to get “married”, the old fashion understanding being incapable of sufficiently stroking their self esteem.
    But once that is done, bingo. Everybody is happy. Everybody is equal.

    Until . . . some of the serfs get out of line and balk at pecking on the lever for a pellet of dogfood doing their job and handing out marriage licenses.

    Which were first instituted to prevent interracial marriages.
    Which is what samesex marriages are akin to which is why discriminating against ssm is . . . . . ummm.
    We apologize, but we seem to be having a disruption corruption of the narrative temporary power outage. We will be back lying on line shortly.
    Thank you for your patience.

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  7. Darryl,

    The Freedom & Equality of the modern Left – of Obama and his co-conspirators – is that of the French Revolution not the American. And that leads inexorably to the Leviathan State. And they believe in it just as much as Robespierre did.

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