March 30, 2015

The Sunset of the West

In recent days, with the passage of the Indiana RFRA, an act mirroring that enshrined in statute or court decision in more than half the states of these United States and in the federal government, and the ensuing uproar created by those ignoring the text of the act and judging it based on feelings alone, I think we have finally reached a point where the veneer of claims about "tolerance" can be dispensed with, and social conservatives must, must, cease deluding themselves about any return to a situation of neutrality in the law.

Having now wiped away the final semblances of "equal protection under the law," and transformed all social jurisprudence into a variation on the passage from the Supreme Court case Casey v. Planned Parenthood (which states "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life"), the State turns its head towards ensuring that nothing - no person, intermediary institution, law, regulation, or smaller government - interferes with what philosopher John Haldane calls "hedonistic consequentialism," or the idea that "ethics is about promoting or respecting the good of persons, where that good is understood as consisting in the satisfaction of considered preferences."

In other words, the State is now at war with portions of its citizenry, at the command of an elite, educated, mob. This mob sees every limitation as an insult, every hesitation the result of bigotry, every pause as insufficient commitment to the cause. It has overcome resistance to contraception, abortion, gay marriage (and soon, plural marriage), pornography, adultery, norms against suicide and "assisted" suicide, and other activities through a moral crusade from which it has stolen the Christian language of rights, used recently to great effect in ending slavery, and stripping that language of any purpose beyond itself, of any boundary save consent, and any responsibility save obtaining that consent. Need we doubt that the modern mind, considering slavery, believes that the problem was that slaves had not consented to their condition, and that Lincoln's statement that "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master," is incomprehensible in at least part?

For mastery is what the modern mind seeks - mastery over nature and over self. The given-ness of life, the gift of life, is gone. There is nothing beyond oneself to thank for where one is (though perhaps one may blame others for not being a rich genius). Only in such a mind could the works of the New Atheists take hold and grow - the works which fail to understand, or attempt to understand, religious ideals - and be endless mimicked and repeated as if themselves gospel. And religious commitment is already being used as a weapon in divorce matters, whereby atheist parents (or even those seeking to get a foothold against the other party) demand that children not be taken to the religious worship of the other parent, and insinuate that such is a form of child abuse (aping the works of many a New Atheist). It will not be long (indeed, the day may already be here), before religious faith is considered a negative factor in cases where a court must balance custody decisions, and a negative factor which may implicate the intervention of child protective services. For the mob knows that the surest way to achieve its goals, even surer than courts, is to get at the children. Do we not see millennials, after years of bombardment by the media of the idea that "gay parents are just like everyone else, and are born that way, and only want to have committed loving families, and anyway, how dare we judge?" turning surely and slowly (or even rapidly) in that direction?

That the mob is a descendant of the mobs of revolutions past we need no longer doubt. Witness the slavish devotion to ideals, under girded by no support in reality, and similarly, undercut by no contrary realism. Witness the studies which at least provide pause for whether same-sex-lead families provide better or equal parenting to traditional families - they are not challenged well on any findings, but dismissed as bigoted or biased. Classical rhetoric dismissed in an emotive windstorm of ad hominems and tu quoques - calling C.S. Lewis: your Bulver's day has arrived.

The Indiana RFRA is welcome. But it is weak, and will fall in front of the storm. As predicted by a friend in a recent Facebook post, at some point in the near future, within 1 - 5 years by my own reckoning, the RFRA laws, federal and state, will be overthrown in a Supreme Court decision. This will surprise only those who have lived with their heads under rocks, for it will be the logical outcome of the Court's long jurisprudence of sexual individualism.

We are at war. It is a war we did not wish, but it is thrust upon us.  And the sooner we realize it, the sooner we can raise the barricades. We must take every opportunity in law to argue against the eventuality. But we should not expect the law to do much for us any longer. There are those who will say that what is written here is "divisive" or seeks no compromise. This is untrue. For we must compromise, if only to hold the peace as long as possible, while we form communities and keep alive what tradition and religion we can. But, while we will not breach the compromise (laughably, the RFRA is seen as such by many!), it will certainly be broken. The fleeting withdrawal from the federal RFRA has shown us as much. And the refusal to read and understand - this law, our religious faiths, the philosophy of the West - is evidence that compromise may be possible only for a little while longer.

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