THE COGNITIVE DISSONANCE OF THE LEFTAugust 23, 2010 8:00 am Uncategorized
The Left, in its insensate perpetual rage over the culture wars, might find less spittle on its lips if it laid down, took an aspirin, and reflected as to what the real issue is.
Take abortion, which was never about a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body as an abstract proposition. That was how the issue was framed by the Left, using the typical leftist tactic of changing the subject when the subject becomes incontrovertibly inconvenient to its libertine instincts. A “woman’s right to choose” – who could refuse? – was borne out of desperation to avoid the question, when does a human life take on the dignity, the personhood that legally and morally estops others from taking its life? Because to consider the question meant having to consider the evidence, such as the remarkable humanity that emerges from a sonogram of an infant barely eight weeks old. And having considered the evidence, the implication of the choice crowd – that personhood depended upon the subjective decisions of individual mothers and, thus, was but a relative quality of humanity that depended not on the person in question but on the diktat of some other – would have been exposed for the logical absurdity it is. It is for this reason that the Supreme Court’s usurpation of the issue, cloaked in the benighted sophistry of trimesters, did not end the battle but instead ransformed it into a wound that has been festering for three decades now in the body politic.
The clock chimes, the world turns, a new issue emerges, but the cognitive dissonance of the Left remains. Gay marriage is not about gay rights. As a practical matter gays already have full civil rights accorded by both the state and by the private companies for which they work. Indeed, gays enjoy heightened legal protection against discrimination relative to heterosexuals.
No, gay marriage is the pernicious endpoint of a continuum. First, gays asked for tolerance, and society readily agreed. Live and let live. Then, gays insisted on accepting homosexuality as a normal lifestyle. Recalling that even the Greeks in their day recognized the strangeness, one might say queerness, of such uncritical acceptance (see Plato’s Symposium, for instance, and the casual observation of their near-contemporary, Paul, that the Greeks had received the consequences of their conduct in their own bodies), Americans reluctantly grew reluctant to continue the journey, although not so reluctant to actively push back against extreme homosexualism.
Against this backdrop came gay marriage, which is more than an insistence on the full acceptance of its normality. What is now demanded is the sanctification of homosexuality through the very institution through which heterosexual sex is sanctified. Homosexuality may be borne of an innate proclivity, just as pyromania and kleptomania are, although the science on this is anything but settled. Regardless, homosexuality is defined by the act, not the urge. A celibate priest may have urges but he is defined by the act of his celibacy; a pyromaniac who controls his urges is not regarded as a pyromaniac. And so a homosexual, regardless of the impetus of his sexuality, is defined by the way he engages in sex, a way which has from time immemorial been regarded as deviant. It is not unreasoning bigotry or religious fundamentalism that works against gay marriage. It is the concept itself, the demand that buggery not simply be tolerated, or even accepted – but that it be sanctified, from which society innately, inherently, recoils.