Moral/cultural engineering, to the liberal mind, is a piece of cake. It consists of one-way streets only: well-marked; patrolled by well-armed officers of the media, the entertainment industry and other closely linked institutions; stiff fines for violators. My way is the highway!
At present, liberal squad cars are pulling over and detaining state officials who have the temerity to advocate or enact public protections for citizens doubtful of the new orthodoxy in sexual matters — to wit, my sexuality is my affair and what’s it to you, bub?
The latest recruits to the cause are business leaders trying to burnish their social credentials by visiting, or threatening to visit, commercial retribution on states that bar use of women’s restrooms by anyone who conceives of himself/herself as a woman, despite birth as a male.
Gender “reassignment” is the nation’s trendiest cause, bolstered by the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision last summer, which struck down state prohibitions against same-sex marriage. So-called “bathroom laws” in various states are part of the pushback that should have been foreseen from the start. These laws ratify once-ordinary understandings of who visits which comfort facilities, never mind which sex they claim, irregularly, as their own. Similarly, the laws allow churches and private businesses to maintain long-normative understandings of who may marry. Florists and bakers, for instance, to whom the idea of a same-sex union is unwelcome, could escape legal liability for turning away the business of a same-sex couple.
The idea of “choice for everybody” lies at the heart of the “bathroom laws.” However, “choice for everybody” isn’t what our liberal engineers have in mind. Their notion is choose their way: the street that goes in just one direction.
A great uproar ensued when Georgia’s legislature passed a bathroom law. See here, guys, said the National Football League, which was considering putting the 2019 Super Bowl in Atlanta. Know what we can do? We can put our bowl anywhere but Atlanta.
It was the sports equivalent of: “Nice little family you got here. Would be a shame if something happened to them.”
The moral mobsters, abetted by Georgia businessmen distraught over possible loss of business, got their way. Gov. Nathan Deal slew the dreaded bill with a veto.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory received equivalent warnings concerning his state’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. Why, how could he sign such a thing?
PayPal, for one, said it would pull out of a multimillion-dollar expansion in North Carolina due to the presumptive denial of “equal rights” to employees: those rights trumping North Carolinians’ right to trepidation at the overthrow of existing moral arrangements. Other companies weighed in: irate, indignant. McCrory signed the law anyway. And Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert! The horror, the horror!
A similar wrangle in Mississippi ended with similar results. The people’s will prevailed. The moral/cultural engineers of the left (again with business support) shielded their eyes from the dismaying sight. Where might it all end, this resistance to the one-way moral street, this humiliating concern for liberties enshrined in the First Amendment?
Perhaps we are overdue for some examination of those liberties? It cannot have been the Founders’ intention that mobs of the morally earnest could overwhelm and muzzle opponents with alternative views of religious liberty. The moral totalitarianism of the left, as displayed in places supposedly solicitous of free thought and expression and applauded in the media of the East Coast and the Internet, is a phenomenon hardly remarked upon in the presidential campaign.
No wonder: In politics, especially of the presidential variety, the left assumes a moral superiority not dependent on facts and context. The moral engineers see themselves as bearers of unassailable truth. They want the old norms — the leftovers from Western civilization in its triumphant time — swept out of sight. To believe in the old norms is possibly permissible for now. But to attempt their enforcement? The left is having none of it; and neither is that growing corner of the business community that views commercial success — the amassment of multimillions instead of mere millions — as trumping arguments for mutual respect. As for serious discussion of differences — what a backward idea. This is America, 2016, and don’t you forget it.
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