The View From 1776
Friday, October 27, 2006
American Ideals and Same-Sex Marriage
Words remain the same, but lose their meaning when twisted to fit ideological aims. One such word is equality.
A New York Times editorial dated October 26, 2006, proclaims, “The New Jersey Supreme Court brought the United States a little closer to the ideal of equality yesterday when it ruled that the state?s Constitution requires that committed same-sex couples be accorded the same rights as married heterosexual couples.”
The Times editorial implicitly presumes that the “ideal of equality” means entitlement to actual equality in all respects. Same-sex marriage is just the latest in a long list of socialist intellectuals’ demands that judicial pronouncement, if not statute law, mandate equality of condition, rather than equality of opportunity.
Of course, even for the Times, equality has limits. There is no thought to equal protection of an infant’s right to life, when weighed against the “right” to sexual promiscuity implicit in the pro-choice advocacy of abortion.
Our nation was founded on a completely different understanding of equality. Not until President Lyndon Johnson’s full-bore-socialist Great Society did the politicians adopt the New York Times’s definition of equality as entitlement, rather than opportunity.
English political traditions brought to North America in the early 17th century remained the founding traditions of the United States in the 18th century, when the Constitution was written. In that framework, equality meant only that everyone was entitled to equal treatment under the law, that the ruler, as well as the ruled, was subject to a higher law of God-given morality.
The Bill of Rights was intended, not to legislate equality, but to safeguard individuals’ natural-law political liberties from arbitrary government power. One inescapable consequence of the individuality protected by the Bill of Rights is the absolute impossibility of uniform equality in social station, distinction, and income.
James Madison, a principal architect of the Constitution, explained its principles in the Federalist Papers. In Federalist No. 10, he wrote,
“The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.”
Whence came the 180-degree distortion in the meaning of equality?
The New York Times’s inclusion of same-sex marriage within the “ideal of equality” is part of the modernist philosophical disillusion that emerged from the disaster of the First World War and the Soviet Revolution of 1917. A few adjustments were required to Auguste Comte’s 1830s gnostic doctrine of the “inevitable laws of history,” which theoretically had led Western civilization out of bondage under religion and into the new scientific age.
Western intellectuals, artists, musicians, and writers began to question all of their previous certainties about the inevitability of “progress” toward enlightened, socialistic government around the world. Disillusion led to cultural destruction.
Western civilization’s art and literary forms were rejected, along with belief in God, Judaism, and Christianity. The unspoken expectation was that the act of tearing down the structure of society would result in its replacement with a Brave New World, much better than the old.
With the Soviet Union’s purported socialistic equality as a model, Greenwich Village artists, musicians, journalists, novelists, and playwrights in the 1920s disparaged American traditions as hypocrisy and championed new art forms. Freudian psychology became fashionable, substituting worship of our genitals and our sexual urges for worship of God.
The stage was set for New York Times editorialists to crawl out of the socialist sewer with their conception of equality.