This made me mad. It’s from the Washington Times, so no wonder.
“This tendency toward judicial activism in the last 50 years is a result of our institutional abandonment of moral absolutes. Judicial activism is grounded in moral relativism and sustained by the notion there are no moral standards that cannot be bent or broken to conform to society’s ever-changing moral condition.
“When our constitutional freedoms are planted in the unstable footings of moral relativism, they are but a step away from extinction….”
And here’s a beaut:
“Regardless of what you think about the propriety of state laws criminalizing sodomy, under our constitutional system, it is a matter for the state governments to decide.”
Let’s do a thought experiment:
Regardless of what you think about the propriety of state laws prohibiting interracial marriage, under our constitutional system, it is a matter for the state governments to decide.
Regardless of what you think about the propriety of state laws prohibiting women from voting, under our constitutional system, it is a matter for the state governments to decide.
Sodomy is not immoral. Gay sex is not immoral. Expressing your love for someone is totally moral.
Being ignorant of your HIV status and having sex without a condom, that’s immoral. Should it be illegal? I don’t know. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. Some people don’t get that. Some people see this as all or nothing, like if we allow gay marriage, we’re going to throw all rationality out the door and start having sex on the floors of kindergarten classrooms. Maybe they’re afraid of admitting their own inner passions. Or maybe they just don’t trust other people to stay rational.
It’s all about fear.
I think it’s immoral to prevent two people who love each other from legally protecting their relationship.
I’ve thought a lot about my political beliefs lately. I think it’s easy to confuse the question of whether one is a liberal or a conservative with the question of whether one is a Democrat or Republican. The Democrats and Republicans are not ideologically pure parties; the members of those parties are not ideologically pure. To decide whether one is a Democrat or a Republican does not necessarily answer the question of where one’s political beliefs lie.
I’m gay, and I’m Jewish, and I’m from the Northeast, so the probabilities point to me being a Democrat. But lately I haven’t wanted to just mindlessly accept the package of beliefs that go along with the Democratic Party. Am I really a liberal deep down, or is it just that I associate conservatism with lots of people who annoy me? Party affiliations have been based on stupider things. “I’m a Republican because my daddy was a Republican and because my neighbors are all Republicans.”
I wanted to read more about conservatism, just to see if I was having a knee-jerk reaction. I wanted to honestly see if the tenets of conservatism appealed to me. So I managed to find the Conservatism FAQ, as well as the Sexual Morality FAQ by the same author. I read them.
I am totally not a conservative.
Are these the best arguments conservatism can make? Because from reading these FAQs, I can sum up conservatism as follows: Traditions and traditional morality are important, because they have worked in the past, and if you tamper with them, there might be unintended consequences.
But how about the counterargument? Traditional morality has not always worked in the past. Not for everyone. There have been lots of unhappy people through the centuries who were oppressed by traditional morality, but either they spoke and nobody listened to them, or they were too afraid to speak, or they didn’t even consider speaking because they didn’t realize there was an alternative to the lives they were living in the first place.
It’s true that we can’t live in a society in which everyone is happy. But if we’re going to choose between making you happy by keeping me from doing something that has no effect on you, or making me happy by letting me do something that has no effect on you, which is the right choice? Which is more valid: me being angry that I can’t get married, or you being angry that I can? Which anger is easier to get over? Yours. If I can get married, you can get over my marriage and tend to your own garden. If I can’t get married, what am I supposed to do?
And don’t think preventing gay marriage is going to make you, the conservative, happy anyway. If you’re worried about the downfall of society, stopping gay marriage isn’t going to keep you from finding other things to worry about.
So you, the conservative, are going to be unhappy in either scenario. And I’m going to be happy in one of the scenarios. So why don’t we pick the scenario that at least lets me be happy? Or are conservatives just like Puritans, who, according to H.L. Mencken, are afraid that “someone, somewhere may be happy?”
I think we should live in a society that allows for the maximum amount of happiness. And sometimes that requires making some changes.
But conservatism seems to be motivated by a fear that the sky is going to fall if we tamper with things.
Traditional conservatives seem to long for the past. But how can anyone know what the past was like? You can only know what your own past was like. You can learn about other people’s pasts, and you can learn about history, but you can’t claim that the past was better unless you actually lived through it. And even if you did live through it, nostalgia is an unreliable judge. Sure, the past was better in some ways. But it was worse in some ways, too.
Human beings are resilient creatures. The sky isn’t going to fall if we make some changes in society. Will those changes lead to unintended consequences? Of course they will! But you know what? We can discuss the changes before we make them, and we’ll deal with the consequences. They won’t be disastrous. Again, we’re resilient. We’ll have more discussion. We’ll figure out what to do.
But change is necessary. It’s necessary in order to achieve maximum human happiness. Not universal human happiness — attempts at utopia end in failure — but as much happiness as we can possibly have. Don’t be afraid of happiness.
Change is natural. Morality changes. Society changes. Everything changes. The universe expands. Change is the law of the universe.
Good Lord, you traditionalist conservatives.
Relax a little.